This Is the Most F-ed Up Toy I’ve Ever Seen

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So I’m perusing Zulily for some clothes for my daughter, and see a sale called “All About the Human Body — for budding biologists.” My son loves science, so I had to take a look. Amidst the expected puzzles, models, and books — for children — there was this:

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That’s a plush fetus. Which is f-ed up enough, but then when you squeeze it, it makes a heartbeat sound. It’s marketed as a “fun gift idea for expectant parents.” I’d kill to be a fly on the wall at the baby shower where a mom-to-be unwraps this.

It turns out the company behind this, Giantmicrobes, makes a whole series of larger than life microbial designs. What started out as educational toys have also apparently become gag gifts for med students among other things.

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Let’s play a game called “Can you spot the herpes?”

 

Some of their best sellers include Swine Flu, Salmonella, and Herpes. So now you can give Herpes to your children. Okay, that’s kind of funny. My birthday’s coming up next month, and in case you’re wondering, I do NOT want a fat cell (got enough of those already):

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Or cancer.

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Screw Prozac, I have my tulips.

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One of my most favorite things about springtime: tulips. Purple tulips in particular (Dave if you are reading this, take note).

I had an empty milk bottle and Lucky Buddha beer bottle just waiting to reinvent themselves as vases.

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I love the way tulips are always reaching for the sun, at once twisty and optimistic — I can relate to that.

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I swear with all of this rainy, snowy gray weather and never-ending onslaught of germs, I thought I might break off the top of one of these bottles and use it for a whole other not-so-Pinterest-worthy purpose. So glad spring is here … just in time:)

Is ‘Mompreneur’ a Bad Word?

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image-2-1Earlier today, I fell into a stream-of-consciousness-like click hole on Facebook, during which I discovered Bump Water. The vitamin-fortified, flavored water designed for moms-to-be was created by two women entrepreneurs in Brooklyn (one of whom is married to a guy who lived in my neighborhood growing up, hence the six degrees of Facebook).

My first thought after checking out the Bump Water website was, “Shit, I wish I had known about this when I was pregnant,” followed by an involuntary twinge of jealousy for not having thought of this myself. My second thought, after perusing their press coverage and seeing outlets like the New York Post call them “mompreneurs,” was, “Blurg,” followed by a self-righteous, guttural harumph. 

I don’t know why, but the term “mompreneur” just irks me. Wait, I do know why. It just sounds condescending. Why isn’t Bill Gates called a dadpreneur? Or why isn’t a mom who is a cancer doctor called a momoncologist? I can only imagine that a female doctor would find that term insulting just as I’m insulted for women who are launching their own businesses (not an easy feat), and because they happen to be moms, are puffy painted as bored housewives who needed a hobby to keep them busy.

Then I started to wonder, am I the only one who feels this way? So I did what any person would do: I Googled it. In searching for “mompreneur condescending,” I found that I wasn’t alone. But what surprised me most was discovering that there’s an anti-anti-mompreneur movement.

Marika Jeziorek of Mom’s 2-Hour Work Day says, “By arguing ‘mompreneur’ is a negative word, you are reinforcing the negative connotation of ‘mom,’ and are thus not improving the status of women, but are rather pushing women to be ashamed and embarrassed of being mothers.”

I don’t believe by being anti-mompreneur that I’m bolstering a negative image for the word “mom,” but I do believe that whether or not you are a mother should have no bearing on your professional accomplishments. Should a mom who launches a product be seen in a different light than a business woman who doesn’t have children? Yes, moms are busy and have a lot to balance in their lives, but so do all women, and in fact, all people.

I remember when I was in my 20s and first started a blog. It was mommy blogger madness (another term that drives me crazy). All of these mommy bloggers were able to join with other mommy bloggers in special groups with spiffy blog badges … and I felt left out. Did being a mom mean that their opinions on a certain dishwashing liquid or beauty balm was more valid than mine? Why did companies pay moms to go all over the country (and the world) to try out their products and services? What if I didn’t want to — or couldn’t — become a mom? Would I feel permanently ostracized from these blogospheric and societal privileges? So, on the other side of the mompreneur coin, there’s that.

What do you think of the term mompreneur? Are you for it or against it?

Wordspotting #4

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I’m sure someone (if not several) people have told you in your life that the more you read, the better your vocabulary gets. My problem is that I have a horrible memory. If I’m reading a book or blog post and come across a word I love, if I don’t write it down immediately, it’s gone. So in an effort to remember and use new-to-me words that strike my fancy, I’ve been jotting them down as I discover (and in some cases rediscover) them and then sharing them in an ongoing series I call Wordspotting. If you missed the first three installments, you can check them out here.
Most of the words in this post I found while doing my job, which is editing for a website called The Cheat Sheet. I read dozens of stories every day, which expose me to lots of interesting news, facts, trivia, and when I’m lucky, intoxicating words such as these.
Definitions via Google Dictionary.

1. Quotidian

quo·tid·i·an
kwōˈtidēən/
adjective
  1. of or occurring every day; daily.
    “the car sped noisily off through the quotidian traffic”
    • ordinary or everyday, especially when mundane.
      “his story is an achingly human one, mired in quotidian details”

2. Eponymous

e·pon·y·mous

əˈpänəməs/
adjective
  1. (of a person) giving their name to something.
    “the eponymous hero of the novel”
    • (of a thing) named after a particular person.
      “Roseanne’s eponymous hit TV series”

3. Swashbuckle

[By no means a complex or new-to-me word, I just love that it exists and hate that it’s so typecast. It’s not used enough outside of the pirate realm and I think it should be.]

swash·buck·le
ˈswôSHˌbəkəl,ˈswäSH-/
verb
past tense: swashbuckled; past participle: swashbuckled
  1. engage in daring and romantic adventures with ostentatious bravado or flamboyance.
    “a crew of swashbuckling buccaneers”

4. Corporeal

cor·po·re·al
kôrˈpôrēəl/
adjective
  1. of or relating to a person’s body, especially as opposed to their spirit.
    “he was frank about his corporeal appetites”
    • having a body.
      “a corporeal God”

5. Kerfuffle

ker·fuf·fle
kərˈfəfəl/

noun

BRITISH informal
  1. a commotion or fuss, especially one caused by conflicting views.
    “there was a kerfuffle over the chairmanship”

6. Castigated

cas·ti·gate
ˈkastəˌɡāt/

verb

formal
past tense: castigated; past participle: castigated
  1. reprimand (someone) severely.
    “Some lawmakers, military analysts and former soldiers have castigated both the White House and NATO for failing to understand tribal conflicts.” ~ The Cheat Sheet

    What are some of your favorite words? 

A Mom’s Truthful Snow Day Experience in Two Texts

Across the country, moms and dads have been cooped up with their kids this week in what seems like an endless string of snow days. Fellow parents can attest that these frosty furloughs from our daily routines aren’t all rosy cheeks and hot chocolate. Sure, I “like” Facebook posts of friends’ kids out in the snow with their frozen snot mustaches atop chattering blue lips, but I relate more to the on-the-verge cries for help. When you have no physical contact with anyone over the age of nine for days on end, it’s a slippery slope from Norman Rockwell to Norman Bates.

One of my dearest friends summed it up best in a text she sent me yesterday. I give you her three stages of snow days:

Going on day 5 of snow day.

Day 1 = play in snow, hot cocoa

Day 2 = baking and crafts

Day 4 = Son on his Kindle all day while I get drunk and binge watch Veep

I haven’t left the house since Monday morning (it is now Friday). We live on a private mountain road that my husband can barely get up and down in his truck right now so my Leaf can just forget it. This means that while I’ve been housebound, he’s been able to escape. Yesterday at 3pm, I texted the following list of requested items from the outside world:

  1. milk
  2. a good bottle of red wine
  3. a deck of cards*
  4. Rock’em Sock’em Robots

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* I was teaching Jed to play black jack and we quite literally weren’t playing with a full deck.

If I were a rock star, I think I would make one hell of a rider list.

5 Shower Thoughts That Will Blow Your Mind Or Make You Think I’m Crazy. Or Both.

I get my best ideas in the shower and while driving — two times that are less than ideal to be jotting something down. And I’m not the only one. There’s an entire reddit thread devoted to shower thoughts. It’s a lot of crazy and crappy to weed through, but thankfully First To Know compiled 10 of the best reddit shower thoughts ever.

Occasionally these gems stay with me until I am in a place where I can safely put them on paper (or hard drive). Here are five of my most recent shower thoughts, for better or worse.

1. If I only spoke in a bad, fake English accent around my kids, would they develop the accent? And since theirs would be real, would we call it a real fake English accent? (And would Child Protective Services come for me?)

2. Babies are hypnotized by ceiling fans, so why not create a Smartphone app with videos of different ceiling fans that they can stare at no matter where you are? You heard it here first.

3. If my name were Rhett, I’d call my blog Rhettoric. If I were a dude named Rick, I would call it RhetoRick.

4. When you think about it, it’s amazing what a popcorn kernel turns into when heated up in oil. I wonder if there’s another undiscovered snack out there that could be created by microwaving a nut kernel or the like?

5. I’m waiting for Kate Middleton to do something scandalous so we can call it KateGate. Or Bill Gates: GatesGate. Or if Bill’s daughter, Jennifer Katharine Gates, did something smear-worthy, we could dub it JKateGatesGate.

C’mon, don’t be shy. I want to hear yours, too. They can’t be weirder than mine… or can they? Gauntlet thrown down.

Here’s Why I Don’t Post About My Kids on Facebook

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My son does and says a lot of cute/funny/adorable stuff. Like every other parent, I think my own children are the smartest, most wonderful people on the planet. But the child in this photo, crying because “his sushi is too cold,” is not my child. While hilarious, this picture captures this boy’s less-than-stellar side. Do we post pictures of ourselves at our worst on our Facebook pages? No. Of course not. Our Facebook selves are our best selves. The best moments of our relationships. The most flattering selfies and TBTs. The pictures of us with our girlfriends, cocktails in hand, mid-laugh with our faces tilted at the perfect non-double chin angle. So why do we think it’s okay to post the most embarrassing photos of our children for all to see?

Kids (even the cutest babies with the cutest tushies) grow up into real live people of all different temperaments with all sorts of likes and dislikes. And some of these people are going to be very private people who don’t want their life documented online. They might not even want their own Facebook pages (gasp!). But if we, as parents, have already published every tantrum, bath, and costumed holiday, it’s a little too late for that. It’s already out there online for all to see. And once it’s out there, you can’t take it back. We’ve taken that choice away from them.

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At first glance, this doesn’t look like a photo of me at all. But see if you can spot me (…one of these things is not like the other…). There’s a very funny story behind why I look like a demented protestor in this pic, which my friend posted in her wedding album on Facebook. Which got more comments than any other pic out of the hundreds from the day. And I’m okay with it. In fact, I think it’s hilarious. But that’s me.

As someone who grew up with the dawn of the Internet, I had the luxury of choosing how much of myself I would share online. Sure, there’s been the occasional unflattering pic posted by friends (see above), but I take it with grace and the good-natured ribbing in which it was intended. I can laugh at myself as easily as I laugh at others. That’s just me. That might not be Jed or Abbie. I just don’t know yet, and I think they deserve to have the same choices as I did.

So as much as I want to share the picture of Jed dancing in his knight helmet, undies and nothing else (I call it his birthday suit of armor) — as much as I want to show you the discipline report he got from school and tell you what he did to get it — I resist. I know it will make you laugh, because it sure made me laugh. I know you will “like” it and that will make me feel good. But how will Jed feel?

I’m not judging parents who post pics of their kids on Facebook or even dedicate entire blogs to their children. That is their choice, and I totally understand. That’s them.

This is me.

11 (More) Baby Registry Tips From a Mom of Two

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Best upgrade we made: the Ubbi diaper pail

My cousins are expecting their first baby in February, so when they asked for tips, I was more than happy to oblige. (When I say cousins, I mean my first cousin and his wife, not two blood relations married to each other though I am from Kentucky.)

SO, I figured I’d share with all expecting parents while I’m at it. Because even after having two babies, there’s always more to learn through experience, and with new products popping up left and right, it’s enough to make any new parent’s head spin like an Exersaucer.

It can be so overwhelming and there’s so much stuff! I remember the first time Dave and I tried to register at Target, I dropped the registry gun and ran from the feeding aisle in a total panic. Here’s a couple of links from my blog that might help:

1. Check out this post from earlier this year before having our second and this one after our first.
Boon grass drying rack: the bigger, the better
Boon grass drying rack: the bigger, the better
2. Updates since that last post: We opted to hold off on this co-sleeper. Waited to see what kind of sleeper she was (not colicky like Jed was, thank the Lord) and didn’t end up needing one; ended up getting this activity gym instead; and this jumparoo (LOVE!); I hear they now have a larger version of the Boon grass drying rack. I recommend the bigger one; can’t say enough good things about the Ubbi diaper pail. SO much better than the Genie and so great to be able to use regular trash bags.
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3. Comotomo baby bottles. Love them HOWEVER what you won’t see in reviews for some reason is if you don’t screw the cap on just right they leak out everywhere. Can be frustrating, but super easy to clean and baby loves them!
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4. My other new fave baby thing are these Zippy bandana drool bibs. Abbie needs a bib on 24/7 or else she’d be soaked. These are cute and work well to keep her dry and comfy.
5. Pregnant Chicken: if you have not signed up for these emails, you must. They are hilarious, fun and informative.
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6. Got Aden + Anais crib sheets this time around. Super soft but snag very easily, which is disappointing considering how much they cost. Love their swaddles though! Also got one of their changing table covers. I do not recommend putting anything that isn’t wipeable on your changing table for at least the first month. If your baby is a projectile pooper like ours, you will be doing A LOT of spot treating:)
7. Never regretted not having a wipe warmer.
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Best value ever for something that can (and will) get pooped on.
8. Circo from Target makes my fave sleep-n-plays. They are cheap, cute (but not too cute), wash well, soft and zip backwards to make for easier diaper changes in the night.
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9. Abbie loves the lounger at her daycare. If I needed another hands-free option at home I would get one.
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Twilight Ladybug from Cloud B
10. Also got these lights for her room at night. This one for middle of the night changes (so I can see but it’s not too bright for her) and this one for falling asleep time — she loves looking at the stars on the ceiling… and so do I:)
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11. Finally, for this winter, we got Abbie this down bunting from Eddie Bauer via Target. Keeps her warm and toasty but not too puffy, Maggie Simpson-style. Way cheaper than the all-too-tempting Fratagonia and it has a hole for your car seatbelt. (Took me two weeks to realize the hole was for the carseat… thought it was to check diapers. Hey, twofer.) Only wish they had one in my size!
And remember that for everything one mom feels strongly about, there’s another mom who has the exact opposite opinion. And all babies are different. No right or wrong! Just have fun and try not to go crazy. But if you do, that’s okay, too:)

How My Sister Found Her Inner Runner (While Mine is MIA)

I suck at math. This is not atypical of creative types who flourish in the right-brain arena. I have my writing, and I think I’m pretty good at it. I can accept the left-brain-lackthereof. But then, there are people like my sister, Jill, who can do it all. She was a math major at a top university, graduated summa cum laude and has a very successful finance/banking career. And then she has to go and be an amazing writer and athlete on top of it all. And she’s beautiful. I swear I didn’t develop a complex growing up. Not. At. All.

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Jill (left) and me at the Greenville Zoo a couple of years back.

But I long ago accepted that she and I both have our strengths and weaknesses (does she know all the words to Blues Traveler’s song “Hook”? Wait, she might. Damnit.), which makes it easy to be so proud of her when she writes something like this. Her running group asked her to contribute a blog post to their website about finding her inner runner. Oh yeah, she runs marathons, too. Bitch.

Since I have absolutely nothing to contribute to the running world and she did it in such a moving way, I felt compelled to share. Oh and for those of you like me who literally can’t run to save their lives, “PR” stands for “Personal Record,” not “Public Relations.” I think my inner runner is curled up on my inner sofa watching Grey’s Anatomy and eating nachos:

I sat in my car in the lot at CMC on Kings capturing a few more minutes of warmth before stripping off my sweatshirt and heading toward the start of the Hopebuilders 5K. In those few minutes, I took a moment to reflect and offer up a pre-race prayer. This was a ritual I had done countless times before races in high school, but have only recently come back to. The juxtaposition of it all is what hit me so hard sitting in my Jeep.

It was at that very hospital not more than five years earlier I sat in a room as the doctors and nurses came in to deliver the news. You know it is not a good sign when the first thing they do is hand you a box of Kleenex. When I was discharged and wheeled out to the car a week later, I had regained my ability to walk, but life certainly looked different to me. Even the sky seemed to have a different tint, like I was looking at the world through a lens.

That began a year where every day was punctuated with anxiety. Would this be the day I had another attack? And would I recover this time? What would happen to my family, my children? But life marched on and suddenly I was not so acutely conscious on a daily basis. To the point where reminders now consist of doctors’ appointments and near quarterly infusions.

Sitting in my car, it seemed nothing short of God’s grace and the strength it inspired that brought me from a time where I was exiting this lot via a wheelchair to this morning where I was limbering up to run a 5K – inarguably in the best shape of my adult life.

As I neared the last tenth of a mile, the timer indicated it would be near impossible to break the personal goal I had set for myself. Sure enough, I finished off by just 10 seconds. Undoubtedly, I left 10 seconds somewhere out there on the course. However, instead of racking my mind to determine where in the 3.1 miles I had let that go, I chose to focus on the fact that this was a PR for my post high school/collegiate career and more than a two-minute improvement over my time on the same course last year.

What happened between then and now? FiA. It has been nearly two years since I showed up at my first workout. While I do not deny the relative success I enjoyed as a runner as part of the Ballard cross country and track teams, the joy in running had long since faded for me. On my first Tuesday run – now affectionately known as the Diva Run – I was unsure whether I would make it five miles and was certainly not tied to any goal pace. Over the past couple of years, I have watched my mileage increase, my times drop, and even have my first marathon under my belt.

However, given all these tangible accomplishments, I am most grateful for the love of running that has been re-awakened. And this I owe to the friendships and the inspiration that comes from being part of FiA. It is so much more than being a member of a workout group. It is transformative – physically, mentally, spiritually.

For me, running had become a source of frustration – a reminder of what I used to be, but would never be again. Instead of joy, each step had become painful. My relationship with FiA inspired a running epiphany – the beauty of being part of a running community and letting the sheer joy of it carry you each step of the way. It is the “attitude of gratitude” that I now strive to always hold at the top of my conscious. It may not be my best day. Perhaps, I am sick, or deprived of sleep, or over-stressed. But when the alarm goes off in the wee hours of the morning, I get out of bed because I am so grateful for the opportunity. Grateful for my body that allows me to log in the miles, grateful for the women who are there to greet me and listen and share.

This epiphany is much bigger than running. It is more pervasive than that. It is a collective gratitude that applies to all facets of my work, my family, my relationships – including that with myself. I recognize that this is a journey and I am certainly not implying that I have everything figured out. But in re-discovering my inner-runner, I am getting re-acquainted with myself and the type of person that I want to be. For this, I am indebted to the beautiful friendships I have found in FiA.

New Moms in Skinny Jeans and Other Grievances

I’m a very impatient person. I want the Walmart checkout line/Internet connection/school bus on the highway to move faster. I want my post-baby belly gone now. I want this weight (which is quite heavy for being invisible) lifted off my chest yesterday. I wonder which I’ll lose first: The weight or the crazy?

They say it takes nine months for your body to get that way, and that long — or longer — for it to go back to “normal.” I hate They. (Almost as much as I hate the women I see who had babies after me who are already back in their skinny jeans.)

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So while I feel paralyzed by my anxiety and while I’m stomping mentally on the inside like a two-year-old because I’m not getting what I want right now, I’m at least thinking about making healthy decisions. Planning — whether it comes to fruition or not — keeps me from pushing my cuticles down past my knuckles. It’s possible none of this stuff will happen, but better to obsess virtually via Internet searches, going blurry-eyed from the bright screen light than to turn inward. It’s dark in there.

I’m thinking about:

But it’s not all talk and no walk. I said before that I was going to ask for help, and I did. Unfortunately, the perfect person to help me is not available until mid-December, but I’m going to wait it out. It’s like when you have a craving for a specific dish, but when you get to the restaurant, it’s a 45-minute wait. If you leave and try somewhere else, it will likely take almost as long but the result won’t be nearly as satisfying. So I’m going to hold out another six weeks for the ultimate mental health veggie burrito as it were.

I’ve also discovered the healthy wonder that is spaghetti squash. Not figuratively, but the real thing. The way it transforms when you scoop it out with a spoon? Blows my mind.