25 March 2011

Driving Miss Momma

I wish I could reduce my dependency on a car. Not to be environmentally conscious, although that’s nice and all. Not to get more exercise, even though that would certainly be a perk. No, I just really hate driving.
The longest I ever went without driving at all, or very minimally, was about a period of about 7-10 years (most of the 1990s, off and on) during and immediately following college. I didn’t have access to a car for most of that time, so it was not even an option. I walked everywhere that was feasible and took the bus when I needed to. I bummed a few rides from friends here and there. Some things were more difficult (grocery shopping comes to mind) but mostly it was fine. Really. I survived for several years as an adult who didn’t own a car and lived to tell about it.
It probably doesn’t help that I currently live in southern Italy, the epitome of driving at its worse. From the lack of directions on road signs (Seriously, how hard is it to print the word “north”?) to the sidewalk-sized travel lanes, to the “I’m the only one on the road” mentality of most drivers here . . . it’s just inexplicable. And don’t even get me started on road conditions; my poor Diego takes so much abuse. (Yes; my car has a name.) For a humorous, albeit true, take on things, check out Wikinapoli's Driving in Italy, especially the sections on “Italian Drivers: How to Understand and Manage” (Oh, how I love this title!) and “Parking.”
For me, driving is a necessary evil. Without it I couldn’t get the girls to school, which they love, or run errands nearly as easily. But I really hate it. (Have I mentioned that I hate driving?) When we go somewhere as a family, my husband always drives, even on long road trips. I know I wasn’t always like this . . . I’m sure in the first few years after earning my driver’s license I loved driving everywhere I could. But that was a long time ago, and the novelty has worn off, to say the least.

14 March 2011

Yes, I Really Say That

Those of you familiar with my personal Facebook page (which is most of you) know that I affectionately refer to my children as “the Agents” . . . an idea stolen from Phineas and Ferb’s pet platypus turned secret agent, Perry. (Perry goes by the alias Agent P; my little super spies are Agent E, Agent J, and Agent A.) But this is not the only bizarre cultural/television reference we use at our house. The following three circulate pretty much daily (note the PBS/Disney theme):
Like An Octopus From Your Head!
A few weeks ago Sesame Street illustrated the definition of “separate” by having a man with an octopus stuck to his head attempt to remove said octopus. Now when the girls are wrestling, pulling hair, or driving each other crazy in the way only siblings can, I simply say, “Separate! Like An Octopus From Your Head! Separate!” Sometimes I just yell out “Octopus!” and they know exactly what Momma means.
Belgium Rocks!
In an episode of Martha Speaks, T.D. has to do a report on Belgium, so he and his friends form a rock band and sing a song about this little European country. It’s a catchy tune about waffles and Waterloo, and the last line is, “Kick off our shoes and our socks, ‘cause we know that Belgium rocks!” So, anytime we come inside I immediately shout “Belgium!” and the girls know I want them to take off their shoes and socks. (This has evolved to also include coat removal . . . in the interest of efficiency and all.)
In a scene of Monsters, Inc. Mike’s girlfriend, Celia, who tends to speak in a cutesy sing-song voice, says to Sully, “Hey, Sully Wully.” Sully is a little uncomfortable and doesn’t quite know what to say, but he responds, “Hey . . . Celia . . . Welia.” During Hubby’s deployment two years ago, Monsters became our movie of choice. As in, we watched it every single night after bath time for about six months straight. Sometime in that DVD “run” I started calling the girls Eva Weva and Julia Wulia, and it has stuck to this day. (This does not work nearly as well with Andrew.)
So, fess up: What ridiculous television or other references to you find yourself uttering around your own home?

10 March 2011

10 Things My Pre-Parenting Self Swore I Would Never Do

1. Breastfeed past one year. First child made it to three. Second to just over two. Third still going strong.

2. Have an almost-three-year-old in diapers. Yep; middle child will turn three next month. Zero motivation to learn the potty.

3. Co-sleep with my kids. Most nights we resemble a giant pile of meerkats.

4. Give up going out/adult time (and not even care). It’s not even on my radar anymore. I genuinely don’t want to leave my kids at night/bedtime.

5. Be sleep deprived . . . forever. Maybe just those first few months, right? Ha!

6. Cry over what I would have previously thought crazy. Like watching your daughter “meet” Donald Duck for the first time.

7. Lose additional brain cells with each child. My former excellent memory is gone.

8. Be my child’s friend. (For an interesting take on this, see Should parents be friends with their kids?)

9. Evolve into more Lorelai Gilmore than Annie Camden. Darn you, television parenting models!

10. Have kids who misbehave in public. I don’t even know where to *begin* with this one.

01 March 2011

To TV Or Not To TV

We all know that television is the devil incarnate. No good could possibly come of having Mickey Mouse engage your child in learning colors, shapes, or counting. Oh, the horror!

I personally do not watch ANY television (not even the news . . . I read that online), so it’s not like I expose my children to inappropriate content and language. We’re talking age-appropriate shows/networks . . . PBS, Disney, and (some) Nickelodeon. We watch mostly DVDs, as we live overseas and television options are limited, so they also have very little experience with commercials. I am almost always in the room with them when they are watching, hence how I have 27 different kid-friendly yet somewhat annoying little jingles bouncing around my brain at any given moment. We talk about what they are watching. The shows they view engage them in interesting ways (answering questions, imitating physical movements, etc.). Both girls have learned a lot from their favorite TV shows and characters. 
Probably the most irritating comment from the anti-television crowd is promoting the idea of Doing Other Things besides watching TV. Usually it comes across similarly to the anti-school logic (see previous rant on homeschooling): Get outside! Read books together! Do a craft! Have them help you in the kitchen! Encourage them to use their imaginations!
Yes, because my children never do *any* of those things. Really, they do nothing else but watch television during their free time. I practically have to peel them off the living room floor just to bathe them. Sometimes I have to apply eye drops because they’ve stopped blinking.
Ah, I’m enjoying this ranting thing way too much. What will be next?