Musings About Life... After Birth

YouareviewingentriesfromRants

AresponsetoRonClark’s“Whatteachersreallywanttotellparents”

Posted by Janna on September 20, 2011

On September 6, 2011, an article by Ron Clark titled “What teachers really want to tell parents” was featured on CNN.com. I’m guessing most of you saw it because it seemed to harvest a lot of attention on Facebook and Twitter. If you missed it, I encourage you to take a look. Clark offers some important suggestions that, if put into practice, would serve our children well. 

In this article, Clark addresses what he believes are the key issues that are encouraging some really phenomenal teachers to leave the field of education. These issues are, in Clark’s opinion, due to problems with parent-teacher relationships and I gotta tell ya, he knows what he’s talking about. The challenges he mentions are real and they do make teaching more of a headache than it should have to be.

I’ve been in the field of education for six years, but right now I am taking a break as I re-evaluate my career path. There are a lot of things that I miss about being in the classroom…I miss middle schoolers. I miss the humor that can only take place inside of a school full of pre-pubescent kids. I miss opportunities to help struggling students master a new math skill. I miss exploring Greek Mythology and Shakespeare with my students. I miss working with the parents who went out of their way to help me help their children succeed.

Clark’s article, though, reminded me of what I do not miss about teaching.

For example, it is a pretty crappy thing when a parent refuses to hear something that you need them to know. Obviously, it is a problem if a student is uncooperative. Teachers need to try to help students choose to cooperate, but sometimes, even if a teacher is doing more than his or her part to keep students engaged in the lesson, some students will still choose not to cooperate. I know that I’ve done a million different things to foster student interest in my lessons. I’ve even been known to wear tap shoes to class and shuffe-shuffle-flap around the room to keep things interesting, but that didn’t stop some students from making poor choices, and when that happened I had to let their parents know. However, a lot of parents can’t handle it when you make that phone call to explain that their child is making that choice. As a result, there were many times when parents spouted off a laundry list of ridiculousness as to why it was my fault that their child was not being cooperative in the classroom instead of working with me to try to find a way to reach that kid.

And excuses were not only made for children who chose not to cooperate. I often heard them made in response to me calling to discuss behavior issues. Conversations such as this were not uncommon:

“Hi, Mrs. Jones. Do you have a minute to chat? I’m calling because I have a concern about Joey’s behavior today.” 

“Oh, he already told me about that. He says that he can’t behave because he is sitting next to Billy and that distracts him. He also told me that all the other boys in the class were misbehaving, but you didn’t discipline them. And he said that he was bored because he already knows how to multiply fractions and the way you were teaching it just confused him. And I forgot to remind him to take his medicine this morning. And we were running late, so I think that just threw him off today.”

Unfortunately, in the minds of some parents, those are all valid reasons to excuse poor behavior. Now, teachers should do what they can to prevent poor behavior in their classrooms, but even the very best classroom managers will have students who refuse to behave. And when students make poor choices, excuses being made for those choices are the last thing they need from the adults entrusted with their care.
I have also encountered parents who make excuses for their children earning poor grades instead of holding them accountable for being unprepared for assessments. If a student chooses not to study and earns a low score when they are definitely capable of a better grade, what does it teach them when mom or dad excuses that choice? I heard stuff like this on numerous occasions:

“Madeline couldn’t study because she left her book at school. And she has test anxiety (which does exist, but in my opinion is used as an excuse in too many cases). And she had an argument with her best friend yesterday, so she couldn’t concentrate. And she doesn’t like the desk you assigned her. And she couldn’t attend the tutorial you offered last week because she had basketball practice.”

Believe it or not, I even had one mother tell me her son flunked a test I gave because he didn’t have a bowel movement that morning before school. She requested that I give him a chance to re-take the test. I wanted to ask, “Are you shitting me, lady?”

As if those issues weren’t insane enough, I have also had parents attack and/or belittle me in front of their children. One occasion in particular comes to mind. We were doing a pretty cool geometry project that required the kids to each sketch a tessellation that would be used to create a fabric square for a class quilt. I cannot tell you how many times I reminded the kids to put their names on the back of these sketches. Despite my reminders, one sketch was turned in without a name and when I checked off the names of the kids who had turned them in, it became apparent that two students were missing their sketches.

I spoke to those two kids the next day to try to figure out what happened. They both swore adamantly that they had turned in sketches. I showed them the sketch that was missing a name and they both swore it was theirs. Clearly, one of them was not telling the truth and because I am not a mind reader, the only fair course of action I could figure to take was to require that they both redo the assignment. Neither boy was very happy about that, of course, but there was no other choice.

Later that day as I was getting ready to go home, a man in a black suit and tie stormed into my classroom. He blocked my doorway and yelled at me for over twenty minutes about how unfair I was and how his son hated school because of me making him redo the project and how I was obviously out to get his kid and how he couldn’t believe that I was certified to teach school because I was such a horrible and mean person. I was appalled when I noticed that hovering behind him was his son, who was looking rather smug while listening as his father berated me. After the father finished his rant, I explained the details of what really happened. In the shocker of the century, it turned out that his son actually left out some of the details and added some others that simply weren’t true. Once this father had the whole story, he apologized and said he would make sure that his son handed in a new sketch the next day. I suppose that it was nice that he apologized, but the damage was already done. Once a kid sees a teacher treated with such a lack of respect, how can he or she be expected to be respectful? Not surprisingly, this student was a behavior issue for the remainder of the school year. When students see their parents treat teachers with blatant disrespect, everyone’s educational experience suffers and teachers can’t do their jobs. It isn’t fair, especially to the children.

I have a child of my own. I understand those *mama bear* feelings that burst in a parent’s heart when they feel that their child has been unfairly treated. I understand that parents love their children with a beautiful fierceness. I understand that parents want their children to have the best of everything and that parents want to protect their children from feelings of hurt or disappointment. I understand all that, because I feel all of those things for my son. I also know from teaching these last few years, that I need to not let those feelings get in the way of forming positive and supportive relationships with the teachers who educate him, because kids don’t benefit from “parents vs. teachers” environments. However, they can flourish when parents and teachers support one another. And yes, there are some terrible teachers out there…but don’t forget that there are some truly amazing ones as well, and like Ron Clark, I believe that there would be a greater number of the amazing variety if more parents were supportive of their efforts.

HowtoSoundSmarterWhenYouWrite:FreeLesson

Posted by Colleen on September 08, 2011

I was an English major, but I'm no grammar pro. My third grader asked me to check her predicate homework last night, and I was all, "Uh, sure. What's a predicate?" So we aren't talking advanced English here, folks. But please, for the love of all that's good and holy, stop treating apostrophes like jewelry for your words. They don't make them fancier. They make them wrong.

I know grammar lessons are a distant memory (hello, predicates!), so here's a crash course for those of you who need to dust the cobwebs of off that chapter of your native language.

  • Use an apostrophe if your word owns something. (Colleen's blog post.) Personal pet peeve: The signs at the end of driveways that read "The Baker's." The Baker's what? House? Driveway? Yard?
  • Use an apostrophe if a letter is missing because you've combined words. (Baby, it's cold outside.) An apostrophe does not make your word more plural. So saying "Aren't these table's GORGEOUS??" doesn't make me any more enthusiastic about your project. It makes me cringe, and by the time I'm done cringing I've probably already finished scrolling to the bottom of your page and may be pulling you off my Google Reader.

And that's it. (See what I did there?) There are other simple/common grammar mistakes, and some of them probably bother you more than others. Hell, I bet you're even annoyed by the ones I've made within this post. But here's the deal: I'm seeing apostrophes used more liberally in blog posts and professional communications than butter in a Paula Deen recipe, and y'all. It's bad.

If you're in a business environment, PEOPLE JUDGE YOU.

If you have a blog, you are a writer. It doesn't matter what you're writing about, you're a writer. Writers are allowed to break any and all rules as long as they break them on purpose. Don't abuse that right. PEOPLE JUDGE YOU.

The bottom line: The fact that your readers judge you doesn't make them shallow. Or mean. Or ugly. It makes them smart enough to consider the source of the information they're receiving. Information on the Internet is free and abundant. Don't give your readers a reason to skip over your message. You don't want them wondering if whether you're smart enough to be their boss if you weren't smart enough to proofread. Same goes for blog posts. No matter how cute your photos are, if I see a glaringly wrong error, especially in your headline, I'm not going to read your blog. Sorry.

With that, I'm going to dismount my soapbox before my pinky gets a little trigger happy and hits that apostrophe key.

If you're interested in user-friendly grammar tips, check out The Grammar Girl's posts. She'll keep you honest. And sounding smart.

Tags This entry has not been tagged yet.

WhatShouldYourChildKnow?SpotOnWisdom.

Posted by Colleen on September 07, 2011

Lately I've been a little worried about my 2 year old's academic development. Don't get all huffy, even as I write that I know how Psycho Mom it sounds. I'm not trying to get him to write symphony, but as he isn't in daycare and I'm at home with him all day, I feel the burden of responsibility pretty heavily sometimes. And while I accept that my kids are awesome just the way they are, when I notice a child has a skill they lack I worry that I've dropped the ball as their primary teacher. We spend a lot of time playing, and even more time reading. Lately I've been trying to work in about 30 minutes of (loosely) structured educational time. But whenever I speak to a child at church whose vocabulary blows my toddler's out of the water, or hear a child in the grocery store recognizing letters on packages, I worry whether I'm doing enough.

I think a little bit of worry is good, but when a friend sent me the link to this post this morning, I needed to read it. I'm betting some of you do, too. I'm copying in an excerpt of the text, but hope you'll visit A Magical Childhood's blog for the post in its entirety.

What Should a 4 Year Old Know?

It’s back to school time and children all over are starting preschool.  Many parents are frantically searching the internet to find out if their little ones are “on track” and know everything they should.

I wrote this article about what a four-year-old should know many years ago but it continues to be the most popular page on the Magical Childhood site.  I don’t think a week has passed in the past eight or so years when I have not received a letter from a parent, grandparent or teacher about it.  Parents and principals especially have said they wish more parents realized these things.

So in honor of the new school year, I’m posting it here…

What should a 4 year old know?


I was on a parenting bulletin board recently and read a post by a mother who was worried that her 4 1/2 year old did not know enough. “What should a 4 year old know?” she asked.

Most of the answers left me not only saddened but pretty soundly annoyed. One mom posted a laundry list of all of the things her son knew. Counting to 100, planets, how to write his first and last name, and on and on. Others chimed in with how much more their children already knew, some who were only 3. A few posted URL’s to lists of what each age should know. The fewest yet said that each child develops at his own pace and not to worry.

It bothered me greatly to see these mothers responding to a worried mom by adding to her concern, with lists of all the things their children could do that hers couldn’t. We are such a competitive culture that even our preschoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn’t be a race.

So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know.

 

  1. She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.1.He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.
  2. She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.
  3. He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he could care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he’ll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.
  4. She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she’s wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it’s just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that– way more worthy.

But more important, here’s what parents need to know.

  1. That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.
  2. That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.
  3. That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children “advantages” that we’re giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.
  4. That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children’s toys and they wouldn’t be missed, but some things are important– building toys like legos and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too– to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it’s absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit.
  5. That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That’s not okay! Our children don’t need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US. They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they’re a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them.

Tags This entry has not been tagged yet.

MommyMeritBadges

Posted by Colleen on August 25, 2011

If you read my last post, you know that I traveled to Chicago this past weekend to be the MOH in my cousin’s wedding. Since my husband, being the primary breadwinner in this ensemble we call a family, had to “work” Friday and Monday, that left me to fly with three kids. Alone. Both ways. Gulp.

Now that we’re safely back in Georgia, I can say it: We survived! (In person this is accompanied by Spirit Fingers. Or maybe some Jazz Hands. Which are NOT the same thing.) The trip there was a breeze, so for the return trip I figured I'd used up my good travel luck. I was scared, but was armed with activities and snacks. Neither of these helped, though, after we’d been on the damned plane for 30 minutes due to a maintenance issue and my toddler decided that he no longer wanted to wear his seatbelt. In classic toddler timing, this moment was also the exact time we started moving, thus requiring physical maternal intervention. And toddlers love physical maternal intervention that opposes what they’re trying to do.

I snapped his seatbelt back on.

And he screamed.

This wasn’t a cute little, “Hey, please don’t do that” screams, either. This was one of those “Holy hell, if you weren’t my child I would hate you right now and you just convinced all the single folks not to ever have kids kind of screams.”

At this point one of the ladies across the aisle put her earphones in, and I considered stealing them. I, after all, have to hear the kids ALL the time. She only had to bear it for the hour and a half flight.

Further proving the extent of God’s love for me, however, the two smaller kids instantly fell asleep after that, and the Tween lost herself in Angry Birds. Whew. Crisis averted. After such a rocky start, the rest of the flight was a breeze.

Thank God. Thank God. Thank God.

When we landed, the older lady in front of me complimented my parenting and how well behaved my children were. Headphones lady agreed. I just smiled modestly and thanked them, happy to take the compliment I hadn’t really earned.

Then I waited for all the other passengers to leave while I wrestled all three kids and six carryon items (suddenly the $25 checking fee didn’t seem so unreasonable) off the plane.

I have to admit that I lost it a bit when I couldn’t find where my husband had parked the van in the Atlanta airport. I may or may not have introduced my kids to a terrible word that echoed through the cavernous garage. Whoops.

I then drove my exhausted and cranky kids almost two hours home.

My husband was happy to see us, but when we pulled in the driveway, I sort of expected fanfare. I felt as though I’d completed a marathon, implemented world peace, and cured cancer, all in a day’s work. But there wasn’t even confetti, nothing to commemorate what had to be one of my hugest accomplishments as a parent.

I’m not gonna lie. I wanted a trophy. Or at least a foot massage. I got neither. I was disappointed, and I know that I’m not the only mom who’s ever felt the burn of a minor victory go uncelebrated. So here’s what I think we should do. I propose than we implement a merit badge program. Like Scouts parading around with cute little embroidered trophies proclaiming their ability to build shelter (pshaw), I want one for “Flying Solo with a Tween, an Infant, and a Toddler with Only Carry-On Luggage.” Even if the men of the world didn’t know what my badge was for, maybe the other moms would recognize it and silently fist bump me in passing.

I think I’d put my badge on a cute scarf, or just attach it directly to my double stroller. Other badges I’ve earned might include:

· Catching vomit in bare hands
· First aid basics: Racing a child to the hospital for sever allergic reaction, deep cut requiring stitches, and/or a broken bone
· Breaking a toe in front of children without swearing
· Reading “Good Night Moon” 500 times without “accidentally” losing the book
· Learning the words to Justin Bieber songs….you know, because the Tween likes him. (Ahem.)
· And the one I’m really striving for? Raising all children to be non-felons. I’m gonna make it, girls. I can do it.

How about you? You interested in joining my troop? What mommy merit badges have you already earned, or are you working on?

Tags This entry has not been tagged yet.

JessicaAlba,Iofficiallyloveyounow.

Posted by Chelsea on August 08, 2011

When it comes to celebrities, I am most opinionated. Obviously, I know them all super-well, so I clearly have all sorts of gounds on which to form said opinions. I mean, doesn't three years of Us Weekly subscriber status offer one the right to judge? Um, I think so.....

Regarding Jessica Alba, I have never been a fan. I find her pretty and all, but my distaste for her comes from the fact that I think she's a really crappy actress who has been in a bunch of really crappy movies and therefore I think she's not so deserving of the fame she's earned. Sorry, Jess.  That's just how I feel.

When I saw Jessica on the cover of the September Lucky magazine, I groaned. She's already not my fave, and there she is, looking not one ounce pregnant despite getting ready to give birth any day now, with the cover touting that she'll share her thoughts "on nudity, hating diets and her secret splurges." Gag all around. Imagine my surprise, then, when I read the story inside and found her comments about losing baby weight (in my opinion, one of the all-time worst task EVER) refreshing, honest and just flat-out awesome. Reading what she said made me want to literally cheer out loud, and I'm not being hyperbolic. Tell me you don't love what she says:

On her post-baby shape-up plans: "I have a hard time with portion control, so I have 1,200-calorie meals delivered. But I also work out, so basically I'm starving  - it sucks." 

Seriously, thank, you, Jessica, for admitting that the way celebrities drop their baby weight in record time is to a) pay lots of money for someone else to make them portion-controlled meals and ultimately, b) work out so much that they literally starve themselves. And, naturally, that that particular course of action sucks. Of course that's what they do, because there is NO OTHER WAY to lose 35 pounds in a freaking month. At all. I just loved hearing someone admit it and not be all, "I just have really good genes," or, "I did a lot of pilates when I was pregnant." Please.

On working out: "Working out every day for even just 45 minutes is good for my mental state. But getting dressed and actually doing it is the worst. It's hard to get motivated...In the gym, I have like five things to distract me "TV, iPod, magazines. Workout partners are good, too, so you can chat and not just drown in your own misery. Sorry, does that sound bad? I just hate working out."

Again, Jessica, I am loving your honesty here. i know the "I hate working out" statement isn't original or particularly Earth-shattering, but again, I love that she freely admits that working out makes her miserable and that essentially, she'd rather be sitting on the sofa watching the Real Housewives than on the treadmill. I feel that way, and I love hearing that someone else  - especially someone who looks like her - admit that they have to force themselves to work out and that they don't just "loooove the endorphins!!!!" it provides them.  A celebrity actually being real  - especially about this kind of thing - just makes me happy. 

  

Jessica, I heart you. 

 

In light of Jessica's comments, I have now decided that I officially love her and will no longer diss or avoid reading stories about her. I will not, however, go and see "Spy Kids 14" or whatever the heck her next movie will be. Sorry, but I still do have some standards. 

Tags This entry has not been tagged yet.

APrettyPerfectVisittotheDoctor

Posted by Janna on July 26, 2011

Wow.

I just got home from taking my 15-month-old in for a well-baby checkup. And like I said, wow.

It was absolute hell.

We arrived just in time to be drenched by a downpour as we crossed the parking lot toward the office. Then, as I signed in I heard everyone's fave F.Y.I.: "We're a little behind schedule today." Great.

I sat down and the kiddo started to play with some toys. Then, he decided it would be fun to bang his hands on the wall like a maniac. I went over and tried my best to redirect his attention. At this point, my usually low-key baby boy threw his first full-on temper tantrum.

I tried everything. I really, really did. I rubbed his back. I held him and swayed. I whispered soothing words. I tickled his feet. I bounced him on my knee. I offered him something to drink. I sat down on the floor with him and tried to sell him on reading a book or counting beads on an abacus. He wasn't having it. And the crying grew louder and louder. People were staring.

Oh, did I mention he just figured out how to run this week? Yeah, that's a key bit of info, considering what happened next...

In a split second, my kid jumped up and ran full speed through the waiting room, Tasmanian Devil-style. Before I could grab him, he pushed two kids, knocked over an empty stroller, and pulled a lady's diaper bag off of a chair and dumped all of the contents onto the floor. I got more than just stares after all that...I got tsk-tsks and heads shaking. I got the dreaded smile of pity that says, "Poor you. Too bad you can't keep that kid in check." *sigh*

Finally, I was able to scoop up the little monster. I held him against me and guess what? His diaper leaked. All over me. *double sigh*

I finished changing his diaper and clothes just as our names were called (By the way, we had been in the waiting room for over an hour. That was not cool.) They took my boy's vitals and stats and set us up in a room. Five seconds later, the nurse returned with shots. I braced myself for more bloodcurdling screams.

She administered the shots and just as I suspected, the kid freaked. To make this experience even more special, my darling baby reached down mid-scream and grabbed each of his band-aids...

It was the riiiiiiiip heard 'round the world.

Cue more screams. Louder screams.

The doctor came in and saw the look of defeat on my face. I guess that's why he didn't complain when I couldn't keep my boy from pushing away the stethoscope or trying to wriggle off of the exam table. He didn't fall off, but he fought me the.whole.time.

The doctor wrapped up our visit with, "Well, Mrs. Meeks, your boy checks out just fine. I'd say that's a pretty perfect visit to the doctor, wouldn't you?"

Wow. I need a drink.

Howtogetanextrafourhoursofsleep(almost)andwinanAWESOMEgiveaway!

Posted by Chelsea on May 05, 2010

One of the most-asked beauty-related questions I get from you guys and everyone out there in radio land is “How do I get rid of these damn lines and bags around my eyes?”. Trust me - I get is. What a drag it is getting old…and having kids who wake up at the crack of dawn.

Today, I’ll be joining Broads Molly and Christine of Sirius XM’s “Broadminded” to highlight the new Clarisonic Opal, which totally gets the job done. If you’d like to listen in to hear our complete review, tune in Wednesday to XM 155 or Sirius 102 at 2:30 PM EST.

The latest product from the wizards that created the Clarisonic skincare brushes, this eye-area age-fighting innovation combines sonic infusion technology with an anti-aging serum to dramatically reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles around your peepers. Kinda like a vibrator for you eyes, its gentle sonic massage infuses serum into the outer layers of the skin for 30 seconds, immediately rendering visibly smoother, firmer, more hydrated skin and minimized appearance of under-eye puffiness. With repeated use, the claim is that you’ll notice the kind of difference an extra four hours per night of sleep gets you. Sound too good to be true? We’ll be checking it out to see if it is, in fact, that miraculous!

Wanna get one for yourself? They’re $245 at sephora.com. Or, if you’re feeling lucky, we’ve got one to give away - as well as one Clarisonic Plus Skincare System to banish your body blemishes, just in time for tank top season! To win both, here’s what you need to do:

I’m in the process of writing a book about the infertility process, and I’m looking for women who’ve gone through it who will share some of their stories about the craziest thing they did or felt while they were going through it (Me, I wanted to shoot Britney Spears after hearing she got knocked up. She was pregnant and I wasn’t? WTF?). If you’ve got a wacky story like that, send it along to me at chelsea@themomtourage.com, and that will be your entry. If you haven’t, no worries! Just send me a story of what it was like watching or supporting a pal going through the infertility process.  Again, email me at chelsea@themomtourage.com and that will be your entry.

The winner will be chosen at random this Friday - good luck!

Tags This entry has not been tagged yet.

18isenough.Reallyfolks,it’senough.

Posted by Chelsea on December 19, 2008

The top story on People.com today (yeah, I read it regularly): the birth of Jim and Michelle Duggar’s 18th child - and their desire to keep on havin’ more.

The Duggars, who reside in Tontitown, Ark., have 10 sons and eight daughters, ranging in age from 17 months to 20 years, all with first names starting with the letter J, including the newborn addition, Jordyn-Grace Makiya Duggar. They are featured on the TLC network show “17 Kids & Counting” (which will no doubt have its name updated to reflect the birth of No. 18). I guess Jon and Kate Plus Eight wasn’t hard core enough for some people, so they had to go with another clan of folks who think a house full of kids is a recipe for bliss. I don’t watch either show, but I do know of Jon & Kate. I watched it once, and was so put off by how disgustingly Kate treats Jon, I had to turn it off. I guess if I had eight kids and was with them all day, I would treat my husband like crap too, but still, she’s just too harsh - even for me.

Naturally, I have all sorts of thoughts on the Duggars. Here they are, broken into categories:

Michelle

1) Sister Michelle has been pregnant for 162 months. That’s 13.5 years. Jesus. Can you imagine all that heartburn? With all the Tums she must have consumed in her lifetime, I bet her bones are like iron.

2) I wonder if she just perennially shops in the maternity department. I mean, she must, right?

3) Does she even try to get back to her pre-pregnancy weight? Does she know what it is?

4) Her hormones must be yo-yo-esque. I would hate to be her husband - or her kids.

5) I bet her nails are kick-ass. With all those pregnancies, they must be killer.

Jim

1) Initially, I thought he must be really lucky in the sex department - with all those pregnancies, it seems like he and Michelle must get it on all the time. However, after more careful analysis, I have come to the conclusion that this poor dude actually has the worst sex life in America. He wife is always pregnant AND they have a messload of kids. Think she’s in the mood often? You catch my drift.

2) I’m thinking the “J” names of the kids are all to honor him, some weirdo narcissistic George Foreman kinda thing. If so, dude, that’s lame. I mean, you’ve spread your seed 18 times, Jim. Your genetic material is all over the place. There’s really no need to brand all of them with your initial to seal the deal, is there?

Jim and Michelle

1) These people are, without a doubt, on freaking crack. 18 kids? And they want more? I’m sorry, but that’s just flat-out weird. Even if you absolutely adore kids, when you have that many, you can’t really develop these deep, meaningful relationships with each of them. It’s just impossible. I guess the kids will end up having them with each other (or at least the ones closest in age to them), and that is of value, but that’s with each other, not Jim and Michelle. So why, people? Really? Are they just gluttons for punishment? So socially awkward that they have no friends and therefore had to create a whole community of people who had to hang out with them? Members of a weirdo religious cult? I think the latter. Michelle has that horrendous cult hair (read: unnaturally long and worn in some bizarre Little House on the Prairie ‘do), as do her teenage daughters. Definitely cult.

2) What do they drive to cart around all of those kids? I know having three kids means getting a minivan, and you all know I cringe at the thought of that. But seriously,  do they own a schoolbus?

3) Do you think they find out the sex of the baby before it’s born? I doubt it. I mean, with 10 of one sex and eight of another, do they really care? If they like to be surprised, when the baby comes out and the doctor announces its sex, do you think they’re like, “Oh, okay, cool. Whatever.”?

Things that make you go hmmmmmm….

Tags This entry has not been tagged yet.

PresidentBushandtheRepublicanscouldgiveacrapaboutyourkids’safety

Posted by Chelsea on July 29, 2008

I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican - if you’re a parent and are anything but disgusted by President Bush and the Republicans, you’re not paying attention. Here’s the deal:

In today’s Washington Post, there’s an article about how yesterday, Congressional negotiators agreed to a ban on a family of toxins found in children’s products. This ban will include three types of phthalates, which are found in plastics (they make plastic softer and more durable) commonly used in children’s toys, and to outlaw three other phthalates pending a study of their health effects in children and pregnant women. Why? Well, phthalates act as hormones and cause reproductive problems, especially in boys. Federally funded research found that male babies born to women with high levels of phthalates in their blood exhibited low sperm count, undescended testicles and other reproductive problems. Other studies have connected some phthalates to liver and kidney cancer. For purposes of global comparison, the European Union banned the six phthalates in question from children’s products in 1999 and more than a dozen other countries have done the same.

In a mind-blowing response, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said that President Bush opposes this ban. I’m going to repeat this and make it bold, because I want to make sure everyone gets this: President Bush opposes banning plastics that are harmful to children and pregnant women.

This makes me so angry that I am shaking. Shaking. Do I even need to explain why?

Joining President Bush on the deplorably disgusting list: (no shocker here) Exxon Mobil, which manufacturers the phthalate most frequently found in children’s toys. The company spent a chunk of its $22 million lobbying budget in the past 18 months to try to prevent this ban and try to get people to believe that banning phthalates may inadvertently expose children to greater risks, because manufacturers will be forced to use substitute chemicals that may be even more hazardous. Let me get this straight, Exxon Mobil: the U.S. should so allow toxic chemicals to be placed in kids’ toys because there’s a chance that whatever we decide to replace them with might end up being toxic too? Um, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and recommend we just go right on ahead and get rid of the stuff we know is highly toxic, mmmkay? I have faith that on he next go-‘round we’ll make sure that sperm and kidney-destroying chemicals aren’t allowed into rubber duckies. Seriously, how do these people sleep at night?

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who sponsored the ban, said yesterday that the action is a first step toward moving the United States closer to the European model, where industry must prove the safety of a chemical before it is allowed on the market. Now seriously, doesn’t that make sense? Perhaps some prelim research prior to a chemical additive’s approval (as opposed to waiting until children suffer health consequences and THEN taking action) is a wise plan, no? Sadly, only the Democrats agree with her. Senate and House Republicans all voted against the ban, and you know why. Of course, the jerks at Exxon Mobil, etc. poured all kinds of obscene money into the Republicans’ re-election campaigns (check their campaign finance records - it’s publicly available info) in exchange for promises that they’d vote to oppose this ban. Really, how can we not be disgusted by the fact that our governmental representatives can and are willing to be bought at the expense of our safety - ESPECIALLY that of our kids?

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that do not hide the fact that I am a liberal. To me, however, this shouldn’t a partisan issue; liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, parent or not, you should support a ban on using toxic ingredients when making kids’ toys. The record is clear, though: the lawmakers against this ban are Republicans, and the ones supporting the ban are Democrats.

We must keep this in mind when we vote this November.

 

Tags This entry has not been tagged yet.

MondayMomMust-Haves(andGiveaway!):twistWatersandBALANCEBarBareSweetandSaltybars

Posted by Chelsea on July 14, 2008

I am so sick of seeing stories about how celebrities lost their baby weight that if I read one more, I think I’ll puke until I lose all of mine. It’s neither original nor all that funny anymore to complain about how unrealistic the rates as which celebrities lose their baby weight are. Obviously, it’s their job to do so, and because they’re multi-millionaires whose job is to look amazing, they literally spend all day and millions of dollars ensuring that within 4 or so months after popping out their kids, they’re lean and mean again.  Certainly, if you and I had Jennifer Lopez’s money, we’d have nannies caring for our kids (b.s. to her and Skeletor’s claims that they don’t employ nannies, by the way) while our personal chef, trainer and nutritionist (according to this week’s US Weekly) literally worked our butts off. And then, of course, we’d be rocking bikinis four months after having twins, just as she was recently seen doing.

Okay, so not totally perfect, but well on her way. I hate you, Jennifer.


For us real gals, the real way to lose weight is the un-fancy “eat less and exercise” program. I’m no health expert, but I know (and, naturally, hate) the simple truth that when you burn more calories than you consume, weight comes off. When I finally decided to lose my weight after Big Bro was born, I lived on BALANCE Bar Bare Sweet & Salty bars. They come in Chocolate Almond and Peanut Butter flavors, but my favorite was Yogurt Nut. What I like about these bars is that unlike other nutrition bars, they actually taste good and not all artificial and cardboard-y. They’re the perfect combo of salty and sweet, and they really do keep you satisfied for hours (note to Weight Watchers devotees: they’re four points each).

$14.49 for 15 bars, drugstore.com. Yum.


This go-‘round, I’m still on the bars, but I’ve added Momtourage member Alicia’s not-so secret secret: drink lots of water. Because I find drinking loads of plain water rather boring and therefore somewhat painful to actually do, I’ve been guzzling this new water beverage called twist. I’m freaked out by most things artificial in my drinks (my food, not so much - see above), so this stuff has none of it. Essentially, it’s an organic, low-calorie (less than 10 per serving), preservative-free water flavored with juice and organic agave nectar for just a touch of sweetness. They come in six fruity flavors: Lemon, Mandarin White Tea, Mango Acai, Pomegranate Blueberry, West Indies Lime and Peach (my favorite, because I’m from Georgia like that).

I kinda bet these would be good with a little vodka, but that would defeat the purpose. Sigh.


Seriously - these drinks are awesome. If you need inspiration to drink yourself come water - you must try them. You can get these waters for around $1.29 for 19-ounces at specialty grocery stores (like Whole Foods) around the country. If you’d like to try them, I’ve got a set of all six flavors to give away to 10 winners each. To be eligible to win, you must be registered for The Momtourage’s mailing list, so if you’re not, click on the green “Join Our Mailing List” box at the top, right-hand corner of this page to register. 

15 (okay, 20) pounds to go…...

Page 1 of 2 pages  1 2 >

    Follow Me on Twitter!
    Subscribe to The Momtourage’s regular features

    Click on the icon below to get The Momtourage™ content updates through your feed reader whenever we update our site.

    Learn more about RSS feeds.

    Blog Feed

    Check Chelsea out on XM Radio!
    My Current Obsessions
    • The Kiefer CottageThe Kiefer Cottage
      Meet the Kiefers: a quirky, lovable family of five on a quest to transform their 1940s Kansas City bungalow into the house of their dreams. The budget is small, the dreams are big, the creativity is inspiring. Check them out - you can thank us later. Happy reading, everybody!
    • Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day® All Purpose CleanerMrs. Meyer’s Clean Day® All Purpose Cleaner
      I don't understand gals who claim to loooove cleaning. That said, I do get a certain joy from using Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day® All Purpose Cleaner to care for my home. You can't lose with this stuff...it is hard-working & earth-friendly, and will leave your abode smelling like a day spa instead of a chemical spill. Try Lemon Verbena in the kitchen and Basil in the bathroom. At only $7.99 a bottle, you can afford to pick up both!
    • True BloodTrue Blood
      Um, does this even need a caption? Doubtful, but let me just say that this is the hottest hour on television. Vampires are seriously sexy (especially Eric), and on this show you get to see a lot of them--if you get what I mean. Put the kids to bed and flip the channel to HBO on Sundays at 9 p.m. to taste the fun that is True Blood.
    • Valentino Bow Thong SandalsValentino Bow Thong Sandals
      So comfy and feminine, I know I'd wear them all summer. But dang, that much money for jellies? Possibly worth the splurge. $275, nordstrom.com
    • New Balance Kids’ Sneakers in wide sizesNew Balance Kids’ Sneakers in wide sizes
      My boys have wide feet, which means finding cute shoes for them is tough. These, however, rock. Prices vary, visit nbwebexpress.com to purchase.
    • Zoya “Laurie” Nail PolishZoya “Laurie” Nail Polish
      This sheer pink polish is, without question, the PERFECT nude pink. Plus, the polish is free of formaldehyde, toluene, camphor and dibutyl phthalate (read: yucky crap that isn't really safe for prego gals). $6, enailsupply.com.