Thursday, August 30, 2007

These simple gifts...

"Mommy, I made this for you."

Six words that strike fear in my heart.

I look up momentarily and see, in her shining 5-year-old glory, my clone looking upon me with a toothy grin. She holds before her an offering - to others what must look like a nonsensical assortment ( of what? Is that macaroni? dog hair? some glue? maybe some tissue? was that Kleenex used?) But not to mini-me. To her it a masterpiece that she has poured her soul into, and it is the very symbol of her love for me and her complete devotion and trust that I will do right by her.

Damn it.

Now, before you write me off as heartless please understand - the problem is not my lack of appreciation for my children's efforts. Our walls are plastered with tadpole-like renderings of our family, tissue paper pumpkins, cotton ball faced Santas and the occasional "nature collage", consisting of numerous dried leaves and what I think used to be worms. Not only are our walls covered, but our drawers and closets overflow with the stuff. Therein lies the problem. We want to keep every lovely token of their artistic expression, but we also want to keep our sanity. The guilt nearly overwhelms me when I face the challenge of culling our a year's worth of school projects.

We've even been reduced to shameless preventative tactics.

"What a lovely mobile, sweetie! You know who would REALLY love that? Nana. She was just telling me the other day how she wished he had more art depicting the life cycle of a dragonfly."

"Now honey, I'm sure when the art teacher said to take ALL your work home, she really meant just those things that begin with the letter "q"".

Alas to no avail.

For now, we accept each piece with academy award deserving gratitude. From time to time, in the dead of night, we purge a piece here and there, trying to keep those items that best represent the phase of our children's lives at the time. (A particular favorite is our daughter's "poop" phase where she painted page after page with brown finger least, I think it was finger paint...)

Anyway, I know that there will come a time when there will be no more scarecrows and groundhog puppets that pop-up out of toilet paper tubes, and I know I'll be glad we kept these tokens.

I'll put them up on the wall in my room at the insane asylum.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Who What Where When Why Wednesday

Or...the day formerly known as "Informal Survey Wednesday"!

I read this morning that on the next shuttle headed to the International Space Station, NASA will also be including a prop lightsaber from the original Star Wars movie. Can you imagine if this thing somehow found its way to deep space?

"Hey, Bleepborg - check this out"

"Good golly, Bligbot, what in Saturn's moon is that?"

"It looks like some kind of primitive earth weapon..."

"Is that cardboard? And duct tape? They're defending their planet with cardboard and duct tape?"

"We're totally invading Earth."

Which brings us to today's question: If you could send one thing into space (children don't count) that would express who you really are, what would it be?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

You might be a Beta Mom if....

You consider an evening at Medieval Times an "educational field trip".

Friday, August 24, 2007

Just because it rhymes with "fun" doesn't mean it is.

For reasons which are not entirely clear to me, I have decided I want train to run a 5k.

(Now, before you put your Beta Mom bookmark in the trash, please don't panic. I'm not one of those self-deprecating Bridget Jones wannabe women who's going to chronicle my weight and complain about my "wobbly parts" etc. Bodies are personal, eat what you eat, exercise, don't exercise, whatever. However, I know that finding time to exercise, setting personal goals and figuring out what to do with all the laundry that’s on the treadmill are commonly shared dilemmas. So, I'm posting.)

Back to the running. Up until now, I have found running completely unnecessary. Even in peak physical form (sometime during the first Clinton administration? ) I would avoid running at all costs. Unless a man was chasing me with a knife, I refused to run. Running from danger seemed appropriate. Or if there was cake. Yes, running from danger or running to cake.

And if the knife the man was carrying was a cake knife? Well, then knife man and I would run together.

And it is true that while I stated earlier I'm not entirely clear on my interior motives, my POSTERIOR motives should be enough to spur me on. I am much a feared that I've transformed from something that once resembled this: (for those of you who can't open this picture...imagine the curvacious lovliness that was Mae West)

to somthing that's more akin to this (again, for the imagineers out there.....picture a Dr. Seuss character...droopy being the primary effect we're going for):

Fortunately, I have friends who serve as motivation. My friend Katherine ran the entire NYC marathon. In one day....all at once...without stopping...or taking a cab. My friend Michelle has done a triathlon (she'll tell you it's a "mini-triathlon" but it's all the same in my book.) My most recent inspiration comes from a visit with a former mentor who's been doing the Cool Runnings "Couch to 5k" training program.

Anything that starts with me on the couch is my kind of training program.

I feel very optimistic about my plan based on the success of previous training programs. My "couch to fridge" regimen of '04, for example. As well as the "couch to bathroom" of early '05 (which was tricky because it involved a flight of stairs). And the mother of them all, the "couch to fridge to bathroom to couch" triathlon of '06.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

It's Informal Survey Wednesday!

Okay, I just made that up, but I capitalized the title so it sounds really official, right?

One of the things I really love love love about blogging are the comments and conversations that come after the posts. Yes, dear readers, it's really all about YOU - so smart and funny and insightful. So, I'm posing a question - feel free to answer...or not. Or, in true Beta style - intend to answer, forget to do it, and then remember sometime next weekend.

We are gearing up for another season of Survivor! I have a sick train-wreck relationship with this tv show. I love it and I hate it. I love it when they're racing through a challenge and someone has a spectacular wipe-out - I hate it when they pick on the old people. I love it when they get attacked by an octopus while spear fishing - I hate it when they eat slugs. I love it when they actually cast out the person I HATE. I hate it when they cast out the person I love. I fantasize about what it might be like to be on Survivor, but I realize my very Beta nature would be counter-productive to winning. So for now, I'll be contented to watch on tv...and then discontented...and contented...and so forth.

What kind of survivor would you be? Would you Outwit Outlast and Outplay...or would you simply Order Out?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


The saga of the Webkinz continues. (Please see Saturday's post - and, no, I'm not going to link you because I don't know how to do that, and, honestly, it's just a short scroll down. Everybody up to speed? Wonderful - let's continue.)

It turns out that not only is it your job to house, clothe and accessorize your little actually have to "feed" and "care" for it at regular intervals.

Wait a minute...this sounds vaguely familiar. Oh, yeah, I think I already have a couple of those.

We call them CHILDREN!

Of course, if you neglect your little Webkin a virtual social service agent does not come knocking at your door with a removal order. Oh no - if only it were that simple. If you fail to tend to your little webkin, it DIES! Not only does it die, but it comes with a tiny DNR request and the only way you can play on the webkinz site again it to....any guesses? That's right - go out and buy ANOTHER Webkinz.

Somewhere, Satan and Michael Eisner are in a hot tub, drinking martinis and laughing their heads off.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Perhaps you are familiar with the latest craze in toy technology, Webkinz? If not, allow me to fill you in. Webkinz are stuffed animals that have some kind of fancy-pants computer chip inside. You register your Webkinz online and then spend hours of mindless time setting up virtual houses, virtual gardens, virtual shopping malls, etc. for your Webkinz. You play games and earn points for your Webkinz, so you can purchase more things for your virtual houses, virtual gardens, virtual shopping malls, etc.

The children have a Webkinz.

Did I mention that there are now dozens of Webkinz on the market? For $20-$30 a pop? This particular item was a gift, as I flat out refuse to pay more for a stuffed pet that lives in a virtual world than I might for an actual pet that lives in the real world. I believe this is one of those insightful yet horrifying mommy moments when I realize that I've inherited this particular sensibility from my own mother.

You see, when I was growing up, I wasn't allowed to have Barbie dolls. This was not for all of the obvious self-image reasons you might imagine. No, I wasn't allowed to have a Barbie because my mom didn't want me to have a doll who had a higher standard of living than we did. (I think if Barbie had lived in a condo, driven a Honda and shopped at TJ Maxx, we might have been in business.) But when you own a toy who's hosting a pool party that's so exclusive you're not even invited.... you get the idea. For all of the strife and melodrama it caused growing up, I now realize that, basically, girls who own Barbies are glorified personal assistants. They pick out Barbie's clothes, clean her houses, arrange for lunches with Ken and Skipper and tip off the paparazzi if she's going to make an appearance.

And for all of that work, what do they get?

Barbie - "Ugh - where is that girl?! I told her to bring me my Malibu Sporty Swim thong, like, an hour ago."

Skipper - "And, like, what did she do to your that a rubber band? Is she just like, begging for you to end up on Perez Hilton?"

Barbie - "And what was up with that party in the sandbox yesterday? Did you see who else she brought? Pikachu? And that goody-two-shoes Cinderella? Lame!"

Skipper - "You should, like, totally fire her."

Barbie - "Totally."

So, no Barbies for Beta Mom. I have allowed Beta Daughter to have a few, but we dress them in sensible pantsuits and make them watch Whale Rider.

Likewise, I appreciate the sensibility with which my mini-clone and her older brother are approaching the whole Webkinz thing. They've arranged a simple garden, a modest house, and yesterday they bought a toilet. Very practical. Even though the Webkinz is dog and in theory could just do its business in the virtual garden.

But that would be, like, totally gross. And what would Barbie think?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Maternal Relocation Program

I have but a brief moment this morning, but I encourage you all to look at the lengthy comment left in regards to the last "you might be a Beta Mom..." post. This young woman, who I'm sure is lovely and all, is targeting mommy sites to generate leads for participants in what sounds like an interesting and enriching cultural exchange program, which also just happens to be recorded in a "documentary-style" show.

Wife Swap.

Toothless Hillbilly mom trades places with Pampered Beverly Hills mom. Hilarity and poignant drams ensue.

Monday, August 13, 2007

What I'm prepared not to do.....

As a working mom, I think I have yet to find my true stride. The job/family balance is one that we're always scrambling to achieve, but always seems just out of reach. I do know some moms who navigate these waters beautifully and yet still wish they had - more time, better childcare, higher income, (fill in your need here). I've been lucky enough to have a wonderful family and wonderful career choices - putting the two together in concert can be a challenge.

So I'm not tied to any one particular path (well, I'm sort of committed to the whole "I've had children and now I have to see them through" thing), but in my working life I'm always open to change and growth. Such potential can be overwhelming - so many choices. So, instead of narrowing down a particular path I'd like to follow, I thought it would be easier to eliminate those career opportunities I choose not to pursue.

Here are a few things I will not be when I grow up:

1. Neurosurgeon - Brains? EWWWWWWWWWWW!

2. Mrs. America - Not unless sarcastic wit becomes a talent category

3. Gardener - Look, at the end of the day I'm just glad if I can keep my kids alive, never mind a bunch of plants

4. Crystal Meth dealer - This is not because of my disrespect for the drug culture; I just don't have enough motivation to start a home business

5. Podiatrist - Feet? EWWWWWWWWWWW!

6. Hand Model - I come from Portuguese stock - mine are the decedents of hands that shredded codfish 12 hours a day.

7. Spy - I can't even keep it a secret when I bought something on clearance at Marshall’s

8. Professional list maker - This is really hard

What will you never be?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

You might be a Beta Mom if....

You consider 6 hours of PBS "just one show" because there aren't any commercials.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A cautionary tale....

Our five-year-old has a loose tooth. This is neither her first loose tooth, nor will it be her last. What makes this particular tooth unique is it's reluctance to part from my daughter's mouth. It's wiggled its way back and forth in her mouth for over a month, with no sign of surrender. It's as if it's seen the others go before it, and it's determined not to suffer the same fate. "Oh sure, you fall out and a lot of people ooh and ahh and hand you around, but come go under the pillow and YOU NEVER COME BACK!"

Well, fed up from the tedium of waiting for said tooth to drop, our daughter has developed a charming new game. She runs in from another room, yelling, "my tooth fell out, my tooth fell out!" We gasp, cheer, look.... and see that tooth hanging there, mocking us. My sweet-faced clone then races out of the room laughing hysterically.

It's not nice to trick old people.

The game is getting old. Truthfully, I know she's not doing anything wrong, and I LOVE that we have kids who have a sense of humor. But did I mention that the game is getting old? How can I gently get my point across that mommy doesn't want to play anymore?

Of course - a METAPHOR!

So last night, in a June Cleaver moment, I thought I would entertain the children with a bedtime rendition of "The boy who cried wolf". I had a six-point plan:
Story will be told,
daughter will get message,
game will end,
character will develop,
love will deepen
Parenting magazine will award to me thoughtful parent of the year award.

Simple, yet brilliant.

Teeth brushed, faces washed and jammies donned, we snuggled up on my bed for a very special story time.
Let me tell you - this story rocked. I will spare you all the tiny details, but suffice to say it included several fists of rock and a slammin' sheep impersonation. (Oddly enough, that also describes a date I once had.... but I digress.)

I finish the story; I look at my beautiful, laughing children, and ask, "So, what do you think the moral of the story is?"
I'm thinking, "Here it comes - the payoff - the moment of realization in which my children understand my point and love me even more for educating them in such a considerate and entertaining manner."

Their answer? The moral of the story?

"Wolves make good rugs."

Yes, yes they do. Wolves...and cheeky children.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Ye Olde Blogge

Last week our family was temporarily thrust back into the dark ages with an unexpected power outage at our house. It was quite an adventure as we waited for our local electricity provider, National Grid-lock*, to come to our rescue.

We had one of those magical moments where everything slowed down and without the electronic distractions of the outside world we were really able to focus on what was important - each other.

This lasted about 10 minutes.

Now, I'm not a high maintenance woman, but I do have an appreciation for the finer things in life. Like light, for instance, and a toilet that flushes. And, on the hottest night of the summer, a fan would be nice.

That's not to say we didn't try to make the best of our situation. Realizing that we were out of charcoal, I gathered wood from the yard and built an actual fire on which we grilled our hot dogs (and tortellini...tricky, very tricky). I felt a very Alpha-like rush of pride at this accomplishment - I build fire - I feed family. I was the sole survivor. I outwitted, outplayed and outlasted. Woman 1 - Nature 0.

Okay, so, fine - I soaked a paper bag in olive oil to start the fire. But I still think this should count as it shows MacGyver-like ingenuity. I'm certain that with a piece of gum and a shoelace I could have built a bomb. For those of you unfamiliar with this reference, you'll be back on track with the next paragraph.

This experience got me thinking, though, about what a luxury it is to provide myself with both the permission and forgiveness to be a Beta mom. If I was a pioneer mom, I would certainly have been eaten by wolves...or squirrels... or very angry mice. Pioneer moms didn't have the options that we do.

"We're on our way to find a new life for ourselves in the heartland! Where are we? New Haven? Good enough - everybody out of the wagon and let's get a pizza."

"We've got to plow the back 40 and get that corn in before the rain comes, or we'll starve come winter. What's that? Oprah's giving away butter churns to everyone in her audience - I've got to see this!"

So today, I give thanks to our foremothers who forged the path -women who reaped and sewed and gathered so that I might TiVo and order and blog.

Life is good.

*I'm sure I can't be the first person to make this joke...but it's too obvious to resist!**

**My use of asterisks is for you, Jeff Mac.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Anniversary Edition...

The story of an Alpha who gave up organization to marry the Beta he loved.

It has all of the makings of a great love story...or at least a cheesy made-for-tv movie. (In which I would be portrayed by the adorable yet plucky Valerie Bertinelli....) Yes, this weekend Beta Dad and I celebrated our eleventh wedding anniversary. Like all areas of my life, my relationship has now become fodder for the blog. (That sounds somewhat Dickensian - "You there, orphan, more fodder for the blog!")

Anywho, I've written numerous versions of this entry, all of which fall short of my incredibly high comic standards (well, if I had any standards they would be really, really twelve feet or something). Each version aspires to cast some witty light on the trials and tribulations of our married life, the frenzy of being parents, and the irony of being dually so alike and so different. I keep missing the mark, erasing the words and starting over. None of it has the tone of what I'd really like to say.

So, instead, I'm going the ABC after school special route (Ironically, I would still be played by the timeless Ms. Bertinelli.)

It's hard being a parent - much harder than I ever dreamed. I can't imagine how my great friends who go it alone do it, and I hope I never have to. My husband is patient, loving and kind. I never learned how to count high enough to relate how many times in the past 11 years I've felt lost, hopeless or completely incompetent. He usually knows just what I need in the moment, whether it's help, empathy, or a swift kick in the ass (he seems to particularly enjoy the last option.) He opens up when he needs the same. He lets me boss him around, but he doesn't tolerate my crap. He has had nice things to say about every color my hair has been...even when he had to go to the thesaurus because he ran out of adjectives. He is smart and funny, yet humble at the same time. He's an amazing musician and artist, but he also knows every sporting you call it when you know a lot about sports (clearly not my arena). He stands up for me, even when it comes at a cost to him. He is a remarkable role model for our kids, and shares the responsibility of grounding our family when we lose touch. He recognizes my strengths and overlooks my weaknesses. There is no one who I would rather share the incredible chaos and joy with.

He puts up with my crazy and digs my funny.

I love you Beta Dad - Happy Anniversary.

Thanks, everyone, for putting up with my sentimentality. We will now return you to our regular programming.
Coming soon: Ye olde blogge; the story of a pioneer blogger in the 21st century.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

You Might be a Beta Mom if....

You've ever hemmed anything with staples.