Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mommy Vacations

One of the things I learned in my parenting class is that it's ok, nay necessary, for a Mom to take a vacation. Hurray!! Of course the definition of "vacation" in this case is quite a stretch by the standards of most. Our sage instructor did point out right away that there would be no three week vacations to Hawaii. No, none of that while one has small children at home. Oh. Drat!

So what does qualify as a Mommy Vacation? Here are some examples:

1) Taking a shower. (No kidding!!! I know plenty of women who prior to becoming mothers had been meticulously hygienic, but taking a shower is one of those things you just don't always have time for as a mom. So, when you do get one it can feel like a real treat and you really learn to enjoy it.)
2) Taking a walk. (ANY walk - not even a long one!)
3) The ultimate indulgence??? A night out with your spouse!!

How can these three things possibly qualify as a vacation? According to Merriam-Webster the definition of the word, "vacation" is:

1 a respite or a time of respite from something:intermission
2 a scheduled period during which activity (as of a court or school) is suspended, a period of exemption from work granted to an employee
3 a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation

Although prior to being a mom my definition of "vacation" would have always trended heavily towards #3, it is now clear that #1 is the only real definition of "vacation" for Mommies and Daddies. So, Mommies and Daddies, enjoy your "vacations" whatever form they may take and whenever you manage to get them!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

We're All the Same No Matter How Old

We were having a nice chat about parenthood with the father of two boys when we uncovered the revelation that no matter what age we are, it's always the same. No matter what age we are, we're always testing our limits and the limits of those around us.

At two or so, Island Boy may look right at us while performing an act he knows we won't approve of. The little darling is an expert at looking adorable while he dumps his entire box of crayons on the floor, for example.

At twenty-two or so, we're all still doing silly things like staying out too late despite being perfectly aware of the consequences the next day. At fifty-two or so, people are still testing limits with themselves and with their spouses. Hmm...I wonder what will happen if I don't take out the trash?

I'm sure at eighty-two or ninety-two or even at one hundred and two, if we're all lucky enough to be around that long, we'll still be testing our limits. Our limits are always changing and so are we, so why not?? This is one "phase" we apparently never outgrow.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Amazing Fact

I heard on the radio that Californians use an average of 40% less electricity than the average American uses. FORTY PERCENT! That seems like a LOT!

I considered the reasons why this might be true. I'm sure it has something to do with the generally mild climate that much (although not all) of the state experiences for much of the year. There are many areas of the state where we can get by with no air conditioning at all and possibly even with no heat all year. We are fortunate enough to have lots of sunny days (don't let the word on this get around!), so I think we can even get by without turning on the lights much of the time, too.

Still, the state also has Death Valley (where I'm pretty sure both air conditioning and heat are required, although there are probably relatively fewer residents there than in Greater Los Angeles) and the Sierras (where I'm pretty sure heat is a requirement during the winter months, but perhaps they all use natural gas for that).

The reporter suggested that it might also have something to do with the general increased environmental sensitivity or awareness of Californians relative to much of the country. (I wonder if there are any statistics on that?) Whatever the reasons, I found it interesting. Now if only we can all work on reducing our dependency on oil...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Market Meltdown

No, not that one. This one happened at the local Farmer's Market.

It all started innocently enough. I asked Island Boy if he'd like to go to the Farmer's Market. He said, "yes!" and nodded enthusiastically. It was going to be a quick visit. It really was. I only needed a few items and I knew exactly where to find them.

The troubles began when my normally excellent Parking Karma failed us. Instead of finding a lovely spot right where I wanted to be we circled and circled, narrowly missing a few choice spots as they opened up. Fine. Parking Karma or no, we finally found ourselves a spot (with time on the meter to make up for the lack of market proximity) and strolled towards the market.

I suppose there might have been some hints even at that early stage that something might go awry, but I wasn't picking up on them if they did exist. Instead, we managed to arrive at the first farmer's stand only to find the item we sought wasn't among the offerings for the day. Strike One!!

"Juice?", Island Boy requested. "We'll get some juice on the way back to the car, ok?", said me. Bad move.

Off we went to pick up an herb salad. Ah! That went well!! Next stop? Grapes. Island Boy loves grapes, but this is when things began to fall apart. There I was with a bunch of grapes in one hand and a semi-boneless toddler in the other and I realized our time was up. Whether I was done or not, we were done with the market for the day.

I attempted to derail the meltdown with the promised juice. That worked! Ah, but it was only a temporary patch. We hightailed it back to the car, but the car was too far and the meltdown too fierce.

Why? Maybe it was the juice, maybe not. We may never know, but I imagine it had something to do with the fact that Mommy had a plan. Ha! What was I thinking?!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Parenting Paradox

I've been attending a parenting class. The class lasts for several weeks and it takes up several hours on a weekday evening. I was pretty surprised to learn that I was in the minority as one of the few in attendance who didn't have their spouse in tow. I felt fortunate that I was able to get hubby home from work early enough to enjoy a boys night at home so I could attend the classes, but as I looked around the room I couldn't help but whether all of the couples in the class have nannies or family nearby or what??

It turns out to be a pretty interesting class and one that is well-suited for couples (yet not to the detriment of the few of us attending without our spouses). Still, it seems a paradox to spend time away from one's child in order to learn to be a better parent. Can we become better parents by spending time away? That's what we're all hoping.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Farm Animals

I've often found it funny that one of the first things we teach our children is to recognize and perform the sounds that various farm animals make. Just how critical is this particular skill to surviving in today's world? As far as I can tell for most of us, not very. Still, for some reason we do it; they love it; the cycle continues.

Fortunately, we were prepared when we attended the LA County Fair last week. Island Boy was ready with his full repertoire of farm animal noises despite having seen very few farm animals in his short lifetime prior to this excursion.

(Tangent: One day Island Boy had a bite of beef on his fork and I told him that it was beef and that beef came from cows. He looked at me, looked at the beef, said, "MOO!!", and shoved it in his mouth. Very cute!!)

We spent much of our visit in the Big Red Barn where cows, sheep, pigs, goats, chickens and even a few farm dogs all roamed in large enclosures along with their babies. We listened for the crow of the rooster and the snorting of the pigs and watched the animals as they ate, drank, slept and played.

We enjoyed petting two docile creatures in a small pen off to the side of the festivities and learned that they were not cows as I (and apparently most visitors to the Fair) had assumed. No, one was actually a miniature yak and the other a zebu! How cool is that? I was not prepared to share with Island Boy the associated noises that these furry friends make and they didn't help me out while we were there. Although I had no idea the zebu was from South Africa until the nice lady tending to him told me so, I was able to correctly identify the geographic origin of the yak. (Thinking about the geographic origins of these two made me wonder why someone thought to pen them together...) Island Boy loved the yak and spent a good amount of time stroking its fur and exploring its little horns(!).

For reasons that I have yet to understand, the horses were nowhere to be found in the Big Red Barn, so we walked a painful distance - all the way to the other side of the Fair so that I could show Island Boy the Clydesdales, a team of horses that has always impressed me with their size and beauty. Unfortunately, our trek was not well-rewarded. While the horses were beautiful, each stood in a separate and what appeared to be a much-too-small stall with bars all the way up and the public was kept well away from them. It just didn't have the same impact as getting up close and looking one of them in the eye, or standing close enough to gain full appreciation of the size of one hoof (think very large dinner plate).

After visiting the Clydesdales, I still felt like we were missing out unless we managed to get up close to a real horse, so we located the California Mustangs. I was hoping to see an impressive herd of them galloping across the plains (ok, just kidding here, but seriously, how cool would that be??), but once again, the public was kept well back from the horses. They were in larger quarters than the Clydesdales and the bars did not extend to the ceiling, but the experience wasn't quite what I'd hoped. Let's just say the environment did not exactly convey, "wild and free".

On our way back to the Big Red Barn we had the pleasure of petting a chicken so fluffy there seemed to be nothing to it but fluff and we also explored the lovely skin of a Bearded Dragon. We hit the Big Red Barn one more time on our way out for a final rewarding visit to our farm animal friends. Although he insisted he was not ready to leave, Island Boy was asleep in his car seat before we were back on the freeway.