Raising boys is sticky business. Case in point: Right now, I'm trying to toilet train my son without clogging our plumbing with Cheerios. And this week, research from the University of Wisconsin confirms what generations of sitcom writers have long exploited — mothers worry more when their sons marry than when their daughters marry. Studies like these make me hope that my little boy is never toilet trained. Who'd marry a man in a diaper?FULL ENTRY
When you're a Playboy model, your breasts are everybody's business. Shanna Moakler ended up on TMZ the other night declaring breastfeeding "incestual" and "gross" to plenty of public outcry. And for probably the first time ever, Salon devotes considerable analysis to Moakler, ultimately declaring that her breasts are her business. At this point it's painfully clear that there's no "right" answer in the breast versus bottle debate; both sides can be obnoxiously smug when trumpeting their brave, hard-won choices. My question is this: Why is feeding such a lightening rod for judgment? The fact that people even care and bother to get worked up about what Shanna Moakler, whose children aren't even babies anymore, has to say on the subject illustrates my point perfectly. Would this even make headlines if she declared that toy guns are OK or that TV-watching is evil? Probably not.FULL ENTRY
I’m going to take a minute to defend an innocent person: Gwyneth Paltrow. This is not a parody. Yes, diagrams have been made analyzing her loathsomeness. Her quotes—about strict eating habits, non-British people, and the middle-class—have been swirling around the Internet like a limp Kleenex floating in a Spence gym toilet for years. People just named her their 2013 most beautiful woman, and the backlash has been fierce. But why do we actually hate her so much? At its core, it’s not because she suggests buying $400 cheese graters and helpfully recommends luxury hotels with sheets made of foie on GOOP. And it’s really not because she’s a product of Hollywood nepotism—after all, so are Drew Barrymore, Kate Hudson, Miley Cyrus, the Gyllenhaals, and that witty Lena Dunham. Nobody hates them with such fervor.FULL ENTRY
For my toddler, in the wake of the bombings at the Boston Marathon, this morning was like any other . Wake up. Jump into my bed. Request a piece of toast smeared with Nutella. Down a glass of milk while watching Dora the Explorer. Get dressed. Hop into the car with his Dora balloon, who rides along with him, and head off to school. We drove the same way we do every morning: right at the big hill, sharp right downhill at the big brown house. The bumps, the turns, the people walking their dogs — everything looked and felt familiar. And then, as he always does, Andrew began to belt: "Take me out to the ballgame! Take me out to the crowwwwd..." And I just lost it.FULL ENTRY
A friend suggested I write about registry items because spring (and wedding season) is upon us. "I was at a shower today, and a friend and I were impressed by how restrained the bride-to-be's registry was. Looking back, I'm ashamed I actually thought people should buy me everything from fondue sets and silver place settings to a cake-decorating set and a breakfast in bed tray," she laments.FULL ENTRY
Right now the Princeton University website is crashing because of a letter to the editor in the Daily Princetonian penned by alum Susan Patton, Class of 1977. The title: "Advice for the young women of Princeton: the daughters I never had." A tidbit from the frozen site: "Forget about having it all, or not having it all, leaning in or leaning out ... Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I went there." Predictably, people are lashing out at her, calling her retro and presumptuous and all sorts of other names. But amid all the knee-jerk noise, there's this: Is she actually wrong?
I'm zooming off to the Grill at Gibbet Hill in a minute for Easter brunch, where I plan to do serious damage at the omelet station. No plans? Don't celebrate? Still want to eat out without paying a fixed price for a limp sliver of ham? Refuse to take a brunch cruise lest you wind up captive at sea with oodles of children wired on Cadbury eggs? I have ideas!FULL ENTRY
I enjoy hostessing. I like sending paper invitations, I like planning menus, and yes ... I even like cleaning my house. Before Andy was born, I had a graduation party for 90 people in a two-bedroom abode and dinner fetes for rogue guests including but not limited to the hardcore elderly and the very vegan. However: The nitty-gritty isn't always pretty, especially with a toddler underfoot. I have thrown more than one soiree that nearly ended in Brian and I murdering one another with paring knives. Which is why I'm tired of elite lifestyle "experts" peddling party porn to parents who cannot afford assistants, access to airbrushing, and detox diets that make a trot through Dean & DeLuca look economical.FULL ENTRY
What do you guys think of this T-shirt for kids with food allergies? It was designed by comedian and reality show star Kym Whitley, whose toddler son is allergic to peanut butter, among other things. Apparently, he dons it to birthday parties and whenever he's with an unfamiliar caregiver. Would you actually buy this?FULL ENTRY
So much is written about friendships and people we should hang onto during the fluid time between our early 30s and early 60s: people who knew us when we had acne, braces, bad boyfriends, tiny apartments. But as life intervenes, we maneuver the platonic puzzle pieces of our evolving lives for the here and now. By the time we’re in our sixties (I imagine; I have conducted some anthropological research on the subject but haven’t reached the milestone myself), we cling to those who are still alive, willing to speak to us, and have a valid driver’s license.FULL ENTRY
Today, a soothing departure from Marissa Mayer and thorny world of telecommuting. Thanks, everyone (OK, most of you!), for your comments. I just found out that I can indeed comment on your comments, which I'm trying to do whenever possible. Unless you're telling me that I'm out of shape, of course, because I have a yoga instructor and an inner monologue for those purposes. Anyway, I've been compiling another list of promising date-night and family-friendly restaurants. In my other life, I write about food, and I've tried some fantastic places lately. Here are a few of my new favorites.FULL ENTRY
Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer is the ultimate cool calculating corporate animal: Two weeks' worth of maternity leave, a nursery adjacent to her office (how soothing for baby!), and now she's banned telecommuting at Yahoo! While she might have the luxury of making such an arrangement somehow workable, she's thoroughly out of touch with the majority of her employees. Many dedicated workers rely on telecommuting for its family-friendly benefits: No commute, so you can make those unreasonable 5:30 daycare pickups on time. No one hovering over your desk, so maybe you can pop out at lunchtime to visit your kid at the playground or watch the school play without the questioning looks from your colleagues. With her draconian, snobbish decree, she's robbed women and men of their freedom. I thought it'd be informative to check out this popular article about the Top Five Regrets of the Dying, written by a palliative care nurse, and compare it against Mayer's philosophy.FULL ENTRY
The Atlantic has an interesting article this month by Emily Matchar titled “How Parenting Became a DIY Project.” On first glance, I envisioned parents trying to make their own baby blankets or struggling with blenders. But then the subhed made me cringe: "From home birth to homemade baby food to homeschooling, raising kids is a way for parents to express their individuality." Excuse me? A way for “parents” to express their individuality? There’s a time and a place for this, and it’s called high school. When will parents realize that having children shouldn’t be an exercise in egotism?
Sometimes people ask me: "How will I know when I'm ready to get pregnant?" To which I reply: "Show me your ovulation calendar and two years' worth of income tax statements, please!" Just kidding. More than what to worry about (have you been taking folic acid? cutting down your wine consumption from five bottles per week to one?), I think there are things that you shouldn't worry about at all before making the big leap.FULL ENTRY
I chortle along with everyone else when I read the lists that come out about once a month of things not to say to this mom or that mom (witness this popular post today on HuffPo: What Not to Say to a Working Mom). What bugs me is that the media tends to divvy up parents into segments: moms versus dads, bottle-feeders versus breast-feeders, stay-at-home moms versus working moms. I think there some universal truths that most people can agree on—moms and dads, please—whether you work 60 hours a week and pump in your conference room, or stay at home and want to climb up your walls, or don't have kids and don't plan to anytime soon.FULL ENTRY
At one time or another, most of us feel guilty about leaving our kids in someone else's care. Maybe you work and drop your child at daycare. Drop-offs can be wrenching, I know. You get back to your car, crank up the radio, and wonder if your child is splashing at the water table or spewing mucus bubbles through his nose in a state of permanent caterwaul. Or maybe you're just stealing away for dinner and happen to look back toward your house ... only to see sad eyes peeping through the blinds. Horror stories like the one about Aisling McCarthy Brady, the Quincy nanny who allegedly beat her infant charge to death, don't help. It's a piercing reminder that, yes, leaving your child with a stranger really is a leap of faith. Yesterday morning, I was on NECN offering up my tips for feeling better about your choice.FULL ENTRY
Most of us teach our kids that lying is always bad (unless you're telling a friend that her new haircut is lovely even though she looks like she stuck her finger in a toaster, etc.). However: New research from the University of California, published by the International Journal of Psychology, makes hypocrites out of us. According to the research, "The vast majority of parents lie to their children in order to get them to behave." Busted.FULL ENTRY
It's a universal realization, I suppose: Oh god. I am not 16 anymore. Maybe it hits when we bend to lift our toddler from the tub and can’t stand up again. Or when we awake on a post-book-club morning and realize that life hurts on post-Chardonnay nights. For me it came this Sunday, the morning after my 34th birthday.FULL ENTRY
OK, I’ve accomplished some of my 2013 goals already (I cheated and did ‘em over the holiday break, 'cause they were easy). These included buying actual big-girl makeup (I’d never used eyebrow pencil before—how is this possible? It gives you a whole new face, I tell ya!) and rearranging the furniture in our bedroom (our neighbor, a feng-shui consultant, gave us complimentary suggestions, since apparently our “relationship corner” was stacked with old bills). Now I just need to pay off my credit card by next week, and I’ll be happy. But I have some bigger-picture family issues that need attention.FULL ENTRY
Several days ago, a friend with two little kids posted this on her Facebook page:
What is an appropriate holiday "tip" for daycare workers? Please chime in, moms (and dads!). I was about to go in on a group give for our daycare workers until I learned how little some of the other parents are giving and am horrified. I'm considering pulling out of the arrangement and doing our own thing, as in past years. … One mom mentioned giving $5-10 total. There are 3 or 4 caregivers per room, so potentially not even $2 each.
As we all try to absorb the unspeakably disgusting mass murder that took place in Connecticut this morning, people will debate the Second Amendment, Tweet their outrage, vent their disbelief. As a parent, I think there are a few things we can all agree on. What can we learn from this? It is devastating, and it's simple.FULL ENTRY
This qualifies as a first-world problem, but I hate my hair. It looks like a squirrel mated with one of Donald Trump's old toupees. Every year around this time, I opt for a new 'do. In my fantasies, I think I'm going to strut into holiday parties and wow people with my glamorous, bouncy mane or at least get a compliment or two. Sometimes this happens. This year, I look like Danny Bonaduce in his prime.FULL ENTRY
Mine indicates the following: I let my son play with tampons and I’m a candidate for the show Hoarders.
A couple of weeks ago, I went out to brunch with friends and we did that thing where everyone dumps out the contents of her purse. (Does anyone else do this? I’m assuming it’s a common bonding experience, but let me know if I’m wrong.) Anyway, everyone else’s purse contained totally ordinary things: wallets, shiny cell phones, lip gloss, keys, maybe some loose change. Mine contained a half-eaten Nature Valley granola bar, a pacifier, a cracked-up iPhone, an unwrapped tampon with the string half-attached, a Lego man, and a faded coupon for something unidentifiable.FULL ENTRY
Tomorrow morning, I'll be on NECN talking about various ways to give back during the holidays, because tomorrow is Giving Tuesday (not to be confused with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or OMGISplitMyPants Saturday). The spot I taped was pretty short, and there wasn’t time to discuss all the amazing organizations that could really benefit over the coming weeks—and year-round, for that matter—so I asked friends to write to me with their favorite charities and organizations. Ahead is a list of various worthy causes that my community really loves. (As for me, I’m hoping to take Andrew to a local nursing home in the coming weeks to visit residents and pass out gifts.) Check out this list, and feel free to add your own special charity in the comments. To everyone who chimed in and contributed, thank you! Donate with your time or your money, but most of all, your heart.FULL ENTRY
Elmo and David Petraeus don’t have much in common except for the fact that they both keep people safe—Petraeus from terrorists and Elmo from the needs of whiny children. And, as we discovered this week, apparently they both have frisky sex lives.FULL ENTRY