Monday, June 24, 2013

Paula Deen - Under All That Sugar the Cake is Rotten

No, Paula, "everyone" does NOT use the N word.  Even just thinking that word makes me uncomfortable.

The days of telling jokes at the expense of nationalities, ethnicities and sexual orientation were over long ago but you did not get the memo or chose to ignore it.

I grew up during the Civil Rights movement and was subjected to the racist rants of my father when films of the riots were on the nightly news.  I listened to the stupid racist jokes my father-in-law told.  And I was glad when I knew that they had taken their attitudes with them when they departed this world.  Strangely, our mothers were silent during these episodes of hate thinly disguised as humor.  I know my mother was not racist and I know that she truly would not hurt another human being with disrespect but she was also a woman of the previous generation and as such, could not challenge her husband.

Paula Deen is only 4 years older than me so she cannot use that excuse.  Is it a Southern thing?  I certainly hope not as I would no more want to paint all southerners with the same brush that Paula would paint the objects of her jokes.

Racist jokes, racist comments, dressing your employees up as slaves is just WRONG.

I think what makes me the angriest is that Ms. Deen has caused damage to my credibility as a middle-aged white woman because what minority person will not be more apt to view me with suspicion?  Thanks, Paula. Thanks a lot.

Monday, May 20, 2013

To Work or Not to Work?

Trying to write documentation for software that should not need documenting.  It's perfectly obvious what the user needs to do.  So the question is, continue working on the documentation or go search for stray chin hairs in the magnifying mirror?  Ah, the perks of being self-employed!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Don't Hit Your Kids

I can't believe I even have to say this.  Don't hit your kids.

1.  They are smaller than you but they won't ALWAYS be smaller than you and all you've done is taught your child that smacking someone weaker than themselves is OK.  That won't sound like such a great idea when your baby boy or girl is towering over you by about 6 inches and outweighs you by 30 pounds.

2.  How would you like it if your boss came up and whacked you every time you added up a column of numbers wrong or if you were late to work by 1 minute?  It's not nice.

3.  If you don't want to raise violent children, then don't model violence in the home.  They do what they see and this can make them mighty unpopular with the administrators at school later on.  Save yourself the trouble now and stop raising violent kids.

4.  It may be tempting to give the kid a quick push, shove, whack, etc. but act your age!  You are supposed to be in control of your own temper by the time you are old enough to have kids.

5.  It doesn't work.  No, really.  It doesn't work.  Yeah, yeah.  I've heard it over and over, "My parents spanked/hit me and I turned out OK."  No, you turned out to be a person who would hit little kids.  That's NOT OK.  Jeeze, do you think it's OK to kick puppies too?  I had a father who was a proponent of corporal punishment and all it did was teach me that he was an asshole.

6.  There really are better ways of dealing with kids who are acting up.  If they are too small to reason with then STOP TRYING TO REASON WITH THEM.  Simply remove them from the situation.  I've found that  a firm hold on the child along with a soft "Shhhhhh" repeated into his/her ear can really help.

7.  Whispering is more effective than shouting.  I am serious.  Try it.

8.  If the child is old enough to talk then time-outs can be very useful.  Again, it's removal from the situation that's causing a problem.

9.  As they get older yet, you have to find out what they value most and then take it away from them.  Cell phone?  Gone.  Video games?  Gone.  TV?  Gone.  Yes, it's OK to take their bedroom door off the hinges to prevent door slamming tantrums.  No good behavior, no door, no privacy.  You'll be surprised how fast that works.

10.  HUMOR!!!!!!  More bad behavior can be derailed by humor than any smack down.  As soon as they understand English the old "I'll bet you can't keep from smiling" trick works almost every time!  Do something stupid, make a dumb joke.  Sometimes it will just piss them off more but very often it will break the tension.

11.  Misdirection.  OK, we all know this one.  Change the subject, give the child a different toy, move to another location.

And then, there are times when you just have to wait it out and here's where you have to become the adult.  Do not give in to the temptation to lash out either physically or verbally. This is a test of your character and you don't want to fail because your children are watching - you want them to develop character so show them how it's done.

Public Restroom Stupidity

If I were king...

In this health conscious era when we've all become germophobes I still cannot figure out why we don't have regulations regarding restroom doors.  It makes no sense for the doors to open inwards.  You come in with (presumably) germy hands, get them even germier in the restroom, wash them thoroughly and then have to grasp the door handle and PULL to get out and you KNOW that you are probably one in 100 people who wash their hands properly.

If there are paper towels handy this is a problem that can be solved by simply using one to pull the door open with but in restrooms with only blow driers you have no choice but to touch the handle.

No, I'm not ridiculously concerned with bacteria and viruses but I do think that it would be so damned obvious that restroom doors need to have their hinges reversed so that we can PUSH the stupid thing open with our elbows, shoulders, hip, feet, whatever.  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Story-Go-Round, Restaurant Survival Kit Item #1

You've been there...  Stuck in a restaurant with children and slow service.  OK, any service restaurant that doesn't hustle your food out to you in a bag through a drive-thru-window.

If your children have learned to write you are in luck!  Part of my Restaurant Survival Kit is a notepad and some pencils.  The first person (ME!  Because I said so, that's why.) writes the opening sentence(s) of the story and sets the stage.  The more absurd the premise, the better.

The next family member receives the notepad and adds his/her paragraph and so-on around the table.  There will always be one child who insists on being the one to write the concluding paragraph and that one child will always insist on ending the story with a gruesome death of someone, something, somehow.

Then the person who started the story (ME!  Because I said so, that's why) reads the resulting mash-up of a story out loud, predictably at that very moment the server shows up with the food which provokes some raised eyebrows due to the usual scatological bent of children's story-telling talents.

You would be AMAZED at the imaginations of your children and you will also be amazed by how fast the time went by while you were waiting for your food.  Keeps everyone engaged and everyone giggling.  More giggling, less wiggling.  WIN!!!!!!

Read To Them

Once upon a time...  All three of my children were born within 1.5 years of each other which means that they are in a similar age range with similar interests. This made reading to the babies easier because the books were interesting to all of them.

Reading in our big king-sized bed became a nightly ritual even before the babies could read.  It was a time for everyone to come together for some quiet time before bed but it didn't always stay quiet time as the children grew older.  Sometimes we would simply be dissolved with laughter and goofing around.  But mostly it was a good way to wind down the hyper-energy of little kids at the end of the day.

I attribute my children's success in school and life to their early introduction to the skills of reading.  After all, everything they will be challenged with involves reading and comprehension skills.

Once the kids got older and began learning to read I would have them take turns reading out loud and would assign them roles to play in each story.  My very favorite series of stories for the younger ones were the "Hank the Cowdog" stories.  These provide lots of opportunities for dialect, inflection, and just plain silliness!

The "Wayside School" stories were also big hits.  Read anything and everything to your children; do not underestimate their abilities to understand.  Mine were able to enjoy Edgar Allen Poe stories at about 4th grade level.  Expand their vocabulary and don't be afraid to admit that you don't know the definition of a word - just go look it up.

There were times when books that were assigned to them in school became our reading material.  This gave us a chance to discuss the books and gave them practice in reading comprehension.  And it taught them that reading is not just a solitary activity but can be interactive as well.

It's trite but true, reading is the key to everything (OK, maybe math too) and reading together as a family gives everyone time to relax, engage in some serious snuggling and many memorable times together.  Bonding at it's best!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Diaper Changing

What better way to start a new blog than a discussion of bodily waste?  Can it only get better from here?

OK.  Listen up new parents!  There's one thing I really don't want you to do and that's to waste money on a fancy, cute changing table no matter how adorable it makes your baby's room look.  Chances are that when the moment of doom strikes, you will be nowhere near the baby's room.

Given that you will have to baby-proof your house anyway and will be removing all items from your shelving from the waist down (it will look like someone decorated your house but stopped halfway down) you may as well set up a designated changing supplies shelf somewhere convenient.  I liked to keep supplies in my own bedroom as well as the family room.

Those supplies should include two essential items in addition to the usual diapers, wipes and bags:

1.  Go to Costco and buy several boxes of their disposable exam gloves.  You can find them near the pharmacy.  These will be of incalculable value to you during those moments when the "ick factor" is simply overwhelming and there will be many of these occasions.  Do not kid yourself, that darling pink cooing sweetie of yours will be lying in a pool of liquid shit from her head to her toes some morning when you come in to get her from her crib. The sheets, the mattress and the crib itself will be trashed.

You WILL want bio-hazard gear.  Actually, you will want a hazmat suit.

2.  Go to the neighborhood drug store and buy several packages of surgical pads.  Even better, if you have a friend who works in a hospital, get them to grab you some.  These are the pads that are soft and absorbent on one side and waterproof (usually blue) on the other.  Kind of like a puppy pad that you get from the pet store and for the same general purpose. :)

These pads make the BEST changing surface!  You can fold one up and put it in your diaper bag for changes on dirty bathroom floors or other surfaces you really don't want to expose yourself and the baby to. Do you REALLY want to take your cutesy diaper changing pad, put it on a dirty floor and then tuck it back into your diaper bag?  No.  You do not.  You want to roll that disposable pad up and dump it with the diaper.

Having these pads in different rooms of your house increase the likelihood that other family members may change the baby because they don't have to hike back to the baby's room and changing table with a stinky load in their arms.  Spread the pad out on the sofa, the floor, your bed, wherever and get that kid cleaned up FAST!

While I'm on this subject, skip the Diaper Genie thingies.  Spend your money on something fun, not diaper disposal junk.  That's what the plastic bags from the grocery store are for.  Save those and pop the dirty diaper in one, tie it up with the handles and flip it into a covered trash bin.  You'll get really good and really fast at it. Sometimes you can even do it with your eyes closed in the dark when you are super tired.

You cannot beat the gloves and surgical pads for keeping you, the baby, and the surfaces in your house just a little bit more santitary.

Words of Wisdom?

As this is the first blog I still have no real idea what this will be about other than a place to store random thoughts and bits of motherly advice some of which will be old-fashioned and some of which will be progressive.

I came to motherhood late in life, three children born after the age of 40.  With age, allegedly, comes wisdom and if not wisdom then certainly experience and patience.

Because I was raised by a mother who was a woman of the 40's and 50's, I was fortunate to be exposed to many skills that have gone by the wayside in the age of microwave, eat-out, hurry, hurry, hurry.  Furthermore, good old "Home Economics" was still taught in our high schools.

Now, a caveat to all that...  I am not a woman of the past but one of the present and future.  In addition to all the old-fashioned housewifey skills I am also a programmer and the owner of my own software business.  I have done things that were not part of the accepted practice for women of my generation and I have quite liberal social and political views but no agenda.  I will try to keep this blog from becoming preachy and I hope that buried in the tonnage you may find some nugget of useful information.

Time is running short in life and leaving some words out there (wherever "there" is) is my only goal.