How to Not Incite Rage When You Tweet

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Did you watch the Oscars? I sure did, complete with a magnifique French Les Mis-themed dinner: French Onion Soup, crepes… and piping hot controversy casserole.

If you watched the show like I did, you were snuggled up with your Twitter account, scrolling along to the beat of as folks from all walks of life weighed in on everything– the dresses (Too much nip! What was she thinking?!), the host (He sucks! So lame!), the awards (What a rip he wasn’t nominated!) and… the innocent nine-year-olds (I’m not going to post what The Onion said here. Look it up yourself). Noticing a theme?

The Onion’s gross grossness slapped us all in the face with the cataclysmic levels of snarkiness, flat-out rudeness and riot-inducing cruelty that’s fully permeated our public opinions on pop culture. On each other. On sweet, sparkly dress-wearing little girls. How do we pump the breaks on all of this– and pump ‘em good?

  1. Chill On The One-Upping. It seems that he– or she (we don’t know if Offending Tweeter was a woman, after all. Stop assuming things, ya big sexist.)– who shouts loudest is re-tweeted the mostest. It’s like everyone’s just sitting there eating movie snacks and trying to think of the meanest, most shocking thing to say– just for the sake of getting attention. Not classy, not funny. That’s just being a Grade-A jerk.
  2. Nice Can Be Funny.  Host Seth MacFarlane’s getting a lot of criticism for his mean-spirited humor. But remember when Tina went googalooga over ‘Bill Rodham Clinton,” and Amy sat doe-eyed next to Clooney? Their biggest laughs came from admiring people, not making fun of them. Classy.
  3. What Would Your Mom Think? I’ll fully admit I’ve written things I’m not 100% proud of (but not ashamed of, either). Here’s the test I suggest, no matter how old you are: would you be embarrassed if your mom or dad read it? If it would shame the very people who think everything you do is all kinds of call-your-grandma fantastic, then maybe do a quick re-write.

The Onion has since apologized, and let’s hope they learned something. Maybe we can all learn something, too.  I’ll start. Hey, did you hear where Quvenzhané Wallis got her super-cute puppy purse? New Yorkie!

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A Mom’s Guide to Valentine’s Day

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5:52 a.m. Awaken to breakfast in bed. How is there literally more Cheerios than there are grains of sand at the beach under your covers?

5:57 a.m. Change Cupid’s diaper. How did Cheerios get in there, too?

6:22 a.m. Give your honey a valentine. Draw a heart around the Post-It note you left next to his keys that says, “Remember to call your mother back re: goiter surgery. Buy cat litter.”

9:16 a.m. Indulge in a sweet treat. Play the Is It Chocolate… Or Poop? Game, Valentine’s Edition! (Hint: Poop isn’t heart-shaped. Usually.)

10:46 a.m. Remember to Flirt! When you pass those three post-college dudes buying bulk toilet paper and their first Swiffer at Target, suck in your stomach until you feel your bellybutton wrap around your spine.

High Noon: Crack open a bottle of the good stuff. This isn’t a clever play on words for something parenting-related.

5:01 p.m. Go dancing! The tango? Naaaahhhh. Your Hot Dog Dance would make Julianne Hough beg for Toodles.

6:44 p.m. Savor a romantic dinner. Those Fish McBites aren’t going to try themselves.

6:48 p.m. Bust out your special lingerie… not the ratty nursing bra you still wear daily, even though you stopped breastfeeding two years ago. Wear the new nursing bra with the tags still on it.

8:06 p.m. Retire to the boudoir for another threesome… your third one this week. Hopefully, the tiny person in the middle doesn’t steal all the covers this time. Hey, is that a Cheerio?

Mommy Must-Have: Cool Socks

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Socks, you say? Yes. In my pre-baby days, I owned two varieties: thick, white ‘n ratty gym pairs, and manmade material brown and block work lady pairs. 

When Posey was a few months old, we started a music class together. Here’s the thing I never thought of– and nobody told me. At most mom/baby events (classes, story times, indoor play cafes), there are strict no-shoe policies. It makes sense to keep the floors clean when our little bugaboos are crawling around on them. 

So on my first day of my first class, I removed my shoes to reveal my old white gym socks, and I was shamed. Shamed, I tell you. Every other mom had cutie patooties: stripes, argyle, animals, polka dots… you name it. The next day, I went on a sock run at Target. 

Last week, I met a friend at the Kookaburra Play Cafe. In preparation, I slipped on pair of gray and purple polka dotties. Good thing, because the Lincoln Park moms were sporting all kinds of fancy feet. Neon. NEON, I TELL YOU! And who did I spot in the corner of the cafe? A new mom, cradling her teeny infant, her feet clad in ratty white gym socks.

When you know better, you do better. Go invest in some playdate socks. 

 

 

How to Hand-Wash Laundry

There is only one thing worse than checking the tag on your new sweater and finding the dreaded “dry clean only” label, and that’s finding this one:

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There are about 100 things I’d rather do than wash my laundry by hand, starting with “pay someone to hand-wash my laundry.” It’s not that I’m lazy. If you have a hole in your elephant-print Sleep ‘n Play, I’m more than happy to mend it. If you want me to remove your duvet cover, launder it, then crawl inside it to smooth out your comforter, crawl back out to admire the fresh bedding, leave the house for an hour and return to find a fresh cat barf stain right in the middle of said duvet, forcing me to start the process all over– I’m game. In fact, I practiced just today, just in case.

But I’m stuck on the hand wash thing, mostly because how do you wring the water out without stretching the piece of clothing out? And get it dry enough that it doesn’t weigh a ton and drip pink water on the floor? 

Looks like I wasted a lot of years worrying, because today I looked it up from the place that would know about stuff like this. The answer was so simple. Almost too simple:

After squeezing out water, lay the sweater on a white towel on a flat surface (a white towel prevents dye transfer from towel to sweater). Gently roll the towel and sweater together to remove moisture, squeezing and pressing as you work.

It totally worked. Any even though the water was extra-cold, sending me into a Tierra-like fit… my expensive-so-I-don’t-want-to-ruin-it Banana Republic sweater and my cheap-so-I-don’t-want-it-to-fall-apart Forever 21 peplum top are saved. Thanks, Martha!

The Groupon I’ve Waited Her Entire Life For

There is a hole in my soul in the shape of a professional family portrait.

When Posey hit the three-month mark, the six-month mark, her first birthday… I let each milestone pass without commemorating it with a classic “playing around in leaves” or “swinging child by the hands” or “fun day in the park” or “matching turtlenecks” photo shoot. But I wanted to. If we are friends on Facebook– and you have a child– there is a 100% chance that I have stared longingly at your family album, googled the photographer and spent hours browsing their portfolio. But I haven’t pulled the trigger. I haven’t found that special someone who I feel confident will get that magic shot where one or all of is not making this face:

And then, I stumbled across this deal on Groupon today. Whaaaaaaat? An in-studio session with a world-renowned portrait artist who’s shot Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, and this Mellencamp album cover, for crying out loud?

YES, PLEASE. THIS IS THE MAN FOR THE JOB. Pretty sure he’ll be able to get one where Beef’s eyes aren’t closed. This is like buying a Groupon for Richard Lewis to craft you your own tailor-made joke about your own personal insecurities. Which, Groupon, would be a pretty kick-ass offer.

So what should we wear for the big shoot? Bolo ties, or no bolo ties?

How to Fly With a Toddler In Your Lap

January 20th, 2013. 11:05 a.m.  San Diego International Airport.

“Well, that was easy,” Beef said, “because we prepared.”

Hmm… shall we back up a wee bit?

Posey’s first flight was over the summer, when we schlepped her all the way to London. At the time, it seemed like the Hardest Thing Any Parent Has Ever Done Ever. Looking back at the circumstances, she was a non-crawling sack of potatoes who slept almost the entire time in a SPECIAL BED ATTACHED TO THE WALL, kind of like those sleep chambers in Aliens:

Piece of crumpet.

Flash forward the moment we decide to take her to California. And not just anywhere! Let’s make it a Grand Tour, shall we? San Diego! Orange County! Santa Monica! Pasadena! Brigadoon!  After all, we did okay on the last trip, right?  The one when we stayed in a gorgeous home with great friends who also had a baby and an extra set of all the stuff that comes with a baby?  That went smashingly!

This trip, we have to pack a car seat.  And a pack and play.  And a stroller.  And her mobile, because there is only one song on the planet earth she will fall asleep to.  And this trip, the Squiggliest Baby On Earth has to sit in “our” laps for four hours and nineteen minutes.

So here’s how “we” did it:

Step 1: Ask your parents to get up at 5 a.m. and come with TWO CARS to fit your luggage and yourselves comfortably.

Step 2: Oversleep and try to get past the fact that you are flying to the land of movie stars with hair that hasn’t been washed in two days.  Two days in a row that you worked out and then didn’t shower, because that’s why the alarm is set for 5:00 a.m. on the phone with no juice left.

Things To Check as Baggage:

  • Car Seat: My pediatrician recommended bringing our own car seat. After all, you don’t know where those rental car ones have been, although my first guess is probably in the back seat of a rental car.  Luckily, they make a special bag for the occasion, which I was able to borrow from a friend during a Big Trip to the Suburbs.  It was a lifesaver.  Car seats can be checked for free on United, so stuff that sucker full. Diapers, wipes, and the things that always takes up too much room in the suitcase so thusly I never bring them on vacation: running shoes.  Maybe I hate this car seat bag.
  • Pack and Play: Perhaps you remember my fondness for Ziploc baggies? They make one big enough to protect an entire foldable crib!!!!!!!

Things To Carry On:

  • Stroller: Get a gate check ticket and ride that thing to the plane door.
  • The Mom Tote: Wait, yours isn’t an oversized pink L.L. Bean customized “Oprah’s Book Club” tote bag circa the East of Eden re-launch, 2003? That’s weird. Mine sat in my closet for a decade– and finally, it was Big Pink Tote’s time to shine.  I spent a week stocking it with the following essentials:
  • Laptop
  • DVDs for laptop (Mickey Mouse, Sesame Street*)
  • Tiny child headphones I went to a special store for
  • Pre-chewed Board book, Posey’s fave
  • Talking Minnie Mouse, Posey’s other fave
  • Little plastic blocks to clackity-clack together, Posey’s other-other fave
  • 3 boxes of Horizon shelf-stable milk**
  • An entire tube of puffs
  • 3 baby food pouches
  • Enough wipes for the entire plane
  • A day’s worth of diapers
  • Baby B’Air toddler vest (Really? Really.)
  • 2 Cliff Bars, Gum & Goldfish***
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Bottled water

*I bought this to prepare her for the Sesame-land at Sea World, but instead I got a whole lotta Erykah Badu. I’m pretty sure there’s no Badu World. 

** These don’t count as liquid, so you can bring them through security as long as you consent to a pat down. Got that? Juice box = pat down. 

***So when Beef asks, “What do we have to eat?” there is food. And when he asks, “Do we have gum?” the answer is “yes.”

Dramatic re-enactment. But I was wearing those same jeans.

Dramatic re-enactment. But I was wearing those same jeans.

Our seats are in the very last row.  The kind that don’t recline back. Middle and window. Sweatpants on the aisle looks hungover and ready to nap. Posey starts to freak. I distract her with the board book and Hemisphere Magazine and the barf bag for just long enough until the momentum of take-off catches her fancy, at which point a bottle gets shoved into her maw to protect her ears from popping.  Once we’re up and see two girls go to the bathroom, we ask Sweatpants if we can get out to go change her already twelve-ton diaper. Two Mr. Meanie flight attendants to tell us to sit back down. Sweatpants lets us back in. The fleeciness of his pants makes him agile like a serpent. The seatbelt light dings off.  This time, Mr. Meanie says, “You know there’s no changing table on board this aircraft.” No prob. We change her in our seats and leave a little parting gift on board when we leave.  (For the return trip, I doubled up on diapers.  It worked; she survived.)

Back in our row, the Giant Business Man in front of me reclines his seat into Posey’s face. I don’t stop her from kicking the seat back for hours, because if it bothered him, he is welcome to move into the empty seat next to him that he’s using to keep his coat and newspaper. Strapped into her red vest that somehow makes me feel safer and better about life in general, Posey watches two and a half hours of Mickey Mouse until she falls asleep on my chest for the first time in about a year.  At first, it feels nice.  And then, she feels like a hot lava rock in my lap and I pray that the wet I feel is my sweat and not her pee. Beef enjoys watching Bradley Cooper pay the steepest of steep prices to pay in The Words.

Bad Writer!

Bad Writer!

When it’s time to land, my little traveler gets mad that there’s no Mickey to watch, so talking Minnie will have to do. And she does.

I wrestle with her down the aisle as we wait to de-plane from forty rows back, and I’m relieved to reunite with our stroller, which I’m pleased to say looks like it had a truly excellent time visiting the coal mine.

January 20th, 2013. 11:05 a.m.  San Diego International Airport.

“Well, that was easy,” Beef said, “because we prepared.”

Why I Begrudgingly Call Anne Hathaway My Hero

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I’d like to tackle a truly polarizing topic: Anne Hathaway.

It’s very rare to come across a fairly cultured, in-the-know kind of person who actually likes her, and I include myself in that group.  If you’ve paid attention to her, her interviews, or her speeches over the last few years, you’ve probably noticed the following:

  1. She’s pretentious.
  2. She takes herself very seriously.
  3. She probably uses words like “brave” to describe acting.
"I was in the movie, too... you guys?"

“I was in the movie, too… you guys?”

In 2006, she was on Oprah, along with her Brokeback Mountain co-stars, Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams and Jake Gyllenhaal.  During that interview, something struck me:  The other three were obviously very close-knit (and by “obviously,” I mean two of them had a baby together and the other one was named godfather).  Anne was the outsider– she wasn’t dark or deep or layered enough to fit in with their clique.  She probably watched Ugly Betty alone in her trailer with a pile of Jelly Bellies, while Heath, Michelle and Jake smoked and drank and talked about Jack Kerouac while playing Russian Roulette with a rusty knife for the duration of the shoot.  During that hour of daytime television, they weren’t mean to her, they didn’t ignore, her, but her whole being screamed, “Hey, what about me, guys?”

I can’t tell you how much that feeling resonates with me.  My grade school self, my high school self, my college self, my career self.

So what about her, guys?  A few years later, she’s on top of her career.  She’s alive.  She’s happily married.  She is a Golden Globe winner.  She will most likely be an Oscar winner in a few short weeks– all for a part that let her theatre geek nerd light shine, unapologetically (in a film that Beef would like to point out only got a 63 on metacritic).

She cut off her Princess Diaries hair.  She literally starved herself on lettuce leaves to look like she was dying.  She worked really, really hard, the way she wanted to– and it’s paying off for her.  She’s super happy and super proud of herself.  And she super should be.

And yet, if you Google “Anne Hathaway Annoying,” your computer will crash with a bajillion hits.  She’s still nobody’s darling.  I mean, “Thank you for this lovely blunt object that I will forever more use as a weapon against self-doubt”???  COME ON!  Nerd alert!   In fact, it is the very fact that I find Anne rather abrasive and self-important that I respect her so much.  F those Brokeback Mountain cool kids.  She did it on her terms and did what made her happy and didn’t care what anybody else said or did.

And that, my friends, is kinda brave.

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Vote for Beef’s Band!

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For those of you who read regularly, you know that Beef is my husband.  He’s also the lead singer and guitarist of a cool band called Cassettes on Tape.  They’re in the running to be named Best Emerging Chicago Artists of 2012, so if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, please visit the voting site and click on the “VOTE HERE” (that’s really hard to find on the page– it’s above the list of nominated bands on the right side of the page.)

Thank you!