To Have an Ordinary Child

The 2012 Summer Olympics marked the first time I watched the games as a parent of two mobile, destructive active children. As such, I noticed different things about the coverage. I noticed the parents. They were there in the
stands going through every emotion of which a human spirit is capable (Notice how I managed to not end in a preposition by sounding like a Bronte sister. It’s August, my inner teacher needed some stretching.) as their children achieve (or failed to achieve) feats that took the body and mind to the absolute limit. Really, even though they are spectators, they are the ones who made it happen or at least started their child down the path. They figured out how to maneuver through coaches and money and schedules and school and practices to make sure their child’s Olympic dream came true. They had to decide, usually when their child was at very young age, how far they all were willing to go. It is an epic feat of parenting. There should be medals. (See what I did there? Heh.)
Is it wrong that I sort of hope that it is never me?
As a parent, aren’t I suppose to want my child to be Olympics (Am I the only one who can never type Olympic correctly the first try?) level extraordinary? Isn’t it every parents dream to have their kid achieve such a lofty goal?
It just kind of ties me in knots because I worry about my kids having an extraordinary talent. It can take over lives. It can be the end all and be all of not only that kid’s life, but the parent’s, siblings’, grandparents’, third cousins’ lives too. Striving to always be the best at something that could potential be humanly impossible is a lot to put on a kid especially when a lot of these athletes start at five or six. (Note: I apply this idea to all talents, music, art, dance, juggling, jousting, etc.)
As the parents, it would be John’s and my role to make CJ or Leila find balance if they happen to be in the upper echelon of some active community. While we would be numbing our butts in bleachers and screaming our heads off, we would also have to make sure there was time for school and friends and family and other pursuits. It would be up to us to make sure that if the dream is Olympic gold and that never happens, that life is not over.
That is a lot of pressure on parents on top of the pressure of just being a parent. The pressure of extraordinary reverberates through a person’s life, and the first choices on the path are made by the parents. Please, don’t think I am disparaging athletes or their parents. On the contrary, I am in some awe of them. But I am scared to be one. I would not let that fear stand in the way if CJ or Leila prove to have the talent and the drive, but that doesn’t stop it from existing. It will be there even if I end of being interviewed by Bob Costas.
(The parentheticals were inspired by Megan at Best of Fates, the queen of the parentheticals.)

I Throw a Little Dirt on the Fire

So for those of you keep track (John as I suspect he is my only regular reader. Thanks for the support, Growly Bear.), a couple of months back I wrote about trying out the Kindle Fire and hoping it would improve the amount of blogging I did. As anyone looking through “recent” posts can see, it didn’t take. There are a couple of reason. Mainly, it is the same thing as before the Fire, time and will power. Also I refuse to let my blogging be another guilt in my life. I come to it when I want to, not because I feel a pressure to be posting. But there are things about the Kindle Fire that also did not make it ideal for blogging and have not made it a device I use regularly.

First, the carousel home page is very annoying. Scrolling through apps and web pages and books is not efficient and often they get going too fast, and I end up tapping one I didn’t mean to tap. Then on the app tab there are only two ways to organize the apps, recent use which I hate because I don’t like my apps to change, and alphabetically. I like arranging apps by frequency of use. The selection of apps in the app store is still not that numerous especially when it comes to free stuff or at least free lite or preview versions. The exception is toddler apps. I have found several free, such as a matching game, storybooks, and shape game, that my kids really like. There is no facebook app, only a shortcut to the mobile site, and the Twitter app is almost useless as every time I do anything, write a reply or check a link, it bounces me back to the timeline instead of the list or tweet I was in.

Now for the actual blogging. The WordPress app is actually very well done. In fact, I liked it better than the iPhone app. It had more features, and it was easier to navigate, however, typing on the Fire is a problem. It is too big for me to hold like a phone and type texting-style, but the keys are too small to be able to type as on a laptop keyboard or even an iPad. I still find the iPad on screen keyboard hard to use to type, but at least there are external keyboards available for purchase. That is not so with the Fire.

Another minor issue is the lack of being able to put movies we already own on the Fire. John tried to download a DVD and put it on the Kindle. While everything on the computer said the movie was on the Kindle, it was not accessable.

Now, there are really good things about the Fire. The parental controls are great. There is nothing like them on the iPhone and as far as I know, the iPad. (Ask Sunday, whose son purchased a thousand dollar app.) It keeps kids from making any kind of purchases. And since the most useful thing I have found about the Fire is as a tool for my kids, this is a good thing. The predictive text feature always gives you several options, but highlights the most obvious one, which I have found to be the correct one more often than not. It also learns your vocabulary very quickly and allows you to put words into the dictionary, manually.

And, of course, it is a great ebook reader. I still prefer the e-ink traditional Kindle screens for reading, but the book software on the Fire is just as user friendly and streamlined as any Kindle. If your library has an ebook catalog through OverDrive, I find the Fire to be the device that it is easiest to access library books on. You don’t need anything but the Fire while with other Kindles and all Nooks, you have to use the computer. And with the Nooks, you have to download Adobe’s Digital Editions and have an Abode account. IOS devices and Android devices also require an adobe account and the downloading of an app. None of that is necessary on the Fire.

So ultimately, the Fire is not meeting my tablet “needs”. (Yes, quotes, because who am I kidding about needs and gadgets?) As a Mac person at heart, I do still lust after an iPad. However, have you seen Windows 8 and the Surface? (I find this review very promising.) I have to admit, Microsoft has be intrigued because if it delivers, it will be the first tablet that could potential replace a laptop. And the latest rumors have it priced at $199.

So Microsoft, if you are looking for someone who will blog, tweet, facebook, Instragram the crap out of it, send me a free one. Heck, I’d tramp stamp SURFACE on my skin (at least in Henna.)

Just sayin’.

Phoenix Repost

I wrote this over over four years ago. I thought of writing something new for this challenge, and I might still, but I cannot help but share this. John and I were just starting the adoption process. It has always made the phoenix special to me because my son is my phoenix. And even though I also got my unicorn, the phoenix will always be my strength.

Mythical Creatures

I had a unicorn baby. I would glimpse his hazel eyes giggling at me from his carseat in my rearview mirror. I would hear her cries echoing through the house at three in the morning, and the phantom me would get up and go smooth her sweaty dark ringlets as she cried for no good reason. I would feel the weight of his tall-for-his-age body on my pant leg as I went about changing laundry loads and emptying the dishwasher. He was going through the clinging to Mommy phase, you see. The petite, too-small-for-her-age length of her would fit perfectly in my arms as I sat doing nothing at all but zoning in front of the TV and she slept, refusing to be put down. I had to let my unicorn baby go. He and she waved good-bye as they went to fulfill the promises of that twit, Jackie Paper, and have adventures in the Land of Hanalee. Now I have a phoenix baby. He rises out of the ashes of disappointments and fear to create hope with his golden song. She does all of the same things the unicorn baby did, taunting me from around corners, but her features are blurred like a hummingbird’s wings. Yet the outline is more defined. She is coming. He will fly, maybe long and far, maybe short and near, but he will come. And we will make her song powerful and strong to withstand and fight against the wind. I may always miss my unicorn baby, but I will always love my phoenix baby.

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While We’re Away, the Kids Will Get Hurt

Last weekend, John and I went to BlogHer. For those of you unfamiliar with the conference and too lazy to follow the link (I know who you are.), it is an event for lots of bloggers (mostly of the female variety) to get together to drink network and party boarden their blogging opportunities. It was a really amazing time. John and I are attention whores people persons, so it was great to meet friends, old and new, who until Friday and Saturday had only lived in our computers via Facebook, Twitter, and some truly wonderfully written blogs.
On Saturday evening, we were doing some pre-dinner chatting over some drinks in the hotel bar when a text came in from Alex with this picture.

Yes, that’s Leila’s foot swollen to an alarming size. (Hey, it might not be alarming to you, but it was to her mom.) Alex was asking if she could give her Benedryl. The official party line on Benedryl is that no one under four should even be able to look at the stuff. The unofficial word is that a half dose or so has saved my kids some rough times. So I told Al to do the half dose. She ended up putting some cream on it. By the time we got home on Sunday, the red was gone and the swelling was significantly less. Chances are it was some kind of a bite. She had had something similar around her eye early this summer. The doctor had said keep an eye on it. So, you know, it was not worrisome. I guess.

Now, my sister and my mother did everything I or John would have done for Leila. In no way shape or form would our presence in Carlisle instead of NYC have changed any treatment or conditions. 

Try telling that to my mom guilt heart. I did enjoy myself for the evening over a lovely Italian dinner and too many Asian appetizers, but part of me, more than would have been pre-text message, was trying to parent through my phone; texting questions. Was the foot hot to the touch? Was she favoring it? Did she have a fever? None of which were really constructive, but when your kid is remotely injured or sick, you must know everything. And not being there to find out was painful. While laughing and chatting and watching dogs and bloggers strut down a runway (If you don’t know, you don’t really need to.) a part of me was calculating the potential cabfare and time back to Will’s apartment in Brooklyn (where we stayed) then the drive home if any of the answers my mom or sister were sending me proved too vexing. Maybe hopping a train would be quicker?

Essentially, the point  of the post is, parental love is not logical thus should not be trusted to respond reasonably even if the said parent appears to be acting reasonably. You may find this knowledge useful at some point if you end up dealing with a parent in such a state.

Because I Must – BlogHer12

I could write a post full of all the amazing people I met at BlogHer. I could tell you how Megan is an amazing ball of awkward, funny and intelligent and I love her even more than I did before which was a lot. Also, we are making trolls sexy. (Not the colored hair kind. The under the bridge kind.) I could tell you that Vicki is my new favorite drunk person because how many inebriated people do you know who will start a fundraiser for AIDS based on the number of glow sticks poked into their hair? I could tell you that John and I are food super heroes who saved Brandy’s BlogHer experience. I could tell you that meeting the Librarians was a little like meeting celebrities, and that The Suniverse knows stuff, yo’. I could say that running into Diana and talking briefly of adoption warmed my heart (along with her wanting a pictures with us) and that I am so hopeful for her. I could thank Suburban Mom for the Hasbro swag that entertained my kids all day. I might talk about all the new people I met like Faith, Shanili, and Tricia and many, many more. I could talk about all that.

Instead, I am going to talk about the swag. And in a nod to my education roots, I organized it in a Venn Diagram.

(I apologize for the not great picture. I could not get high enough and hold the phone still.)

The two sides of the diagram are fun and useful. In the middle are things that are both.

Solidly in the middle? The vibrators. And cockrings.

I believe their placement is self explanatory.

In the middle are also the reuseable coffee cups from Aiming Low. I love reuseable coffee cups that look like the non-reuseable ones. Love them. And Aiming Low. So much love.

The t-shirts are kinda hanging out in the middle. They will be night shirts, but one is about heavy periods (useful) and one is about the evil known as math (fun).

Moving into the useful side things get less fun. Pens and lip balm are close. (After I thought about moving the chap stick because it really kept my daughter entertained like all afternoon.) The Lysol cleaner while great to have, is not fun. As well as Quilted Northern coupons.

And, well, the tote bags are really at the top of the useful circle. I meant, they are always so in abundance at any expo, and they are useful, but not always is such quantity. I have to give the biggest props to Land O’ Lakes for the insulated bag and PetSmart for actual canvas shopping bags that are cute too. (People, you should have seen the scrum for the pile of free dog costumes and toys at the fashion show. Blogger bitches love their bitches.)

Onto the fun. Some food that barely makes the fun side because it is Diet Coke and cookies that must be made of air with all of the things that aren’t in them according to the label.

Then the toys. The kids found ways to thoroughly smack the crap out of each other with the slinky elephants. Basically it was a game of chicken. They each held an end and walked away from each other. Whoever let go first, won the satisfaction of seeing his/her sibling cry.

Dog toys worked their way over to the very end of fun. They use to be hilarious in our house then our dogs got old. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks or get them to do the young dog tricks especially when you subject them to two toddlers everyday.

Then there is a pile of paper in its own little circle, not intersecting. Yeah, ads. I read them. I discarded them. Thanks and sorry. I can’t afford 6PM right now even with the coupons. If only they carried Toms. I want some Toms. (Hint to Toms.)

Anyway, there you go.

So much fun. Diagrammed.