This blog post brought to you by not finishing Evie’s Halloween costume

I’ve toyed for some time with the idea of starting a “Five Favorite Things Friday” post series on The Evie Standard.  A lot of bloggers do this sort of thing, and it’s kinda cute, I think.

But you know and I know that “Five Favorite Things Friday” will start off great and then become “Five Favorite Things Every Other Friday” and then “Five Favorite Things Fridays in May” and then…

Yeah.

But today’s Friday!  Yay!  And here are five things.  I’ve used up all my commitment on watering plants and limiting caffeine intake, y’all.

1.  Update on last post:  After throwing up the last post, I noticed many more examples of Animals Gone Domestic in our fair city.  This is good for the blog, bad for me.  I fear I may end up starring in my own version of Life of Pi, trapped in a dingy in the middle of the ocean with a pissed off tiger.  Or an armadillo.  In my case it would be a pissed off armadillo.  Maybe I could finally convince the armadillo to trust me, and we could work together to find rescue.  Anyway.  What?  So, examples.

Evie and I attended a playdate at a local park this week.   The day was breezy, overcast and a pleasant 84 degrees.  As close to Fall as Florida is gonna get.  The park’s amenities included a path that wound through the surrounding woods. Before setting off on a walk on this path, another mom casually informed us that someone had said they’d seen bobcats in the woods.  Then what happened?  Everyone set off for the walk.

??**%%!!** (I just don’t have words anymore, folks.)

Also, a friend of mine posted on her Facebook page that her husband saw a panther walking around their neighborhood.  Ho-hum.  Panther.  Probably selling Amway.  Pretend you’re not home.

Someone help.

Oh!  And I wanted to show you guys this:

This sign is posted on Honeymoon Island, a state park located on a beach that we frequent.  I mean, really.  What’s a day at the ocean without a few rattlers?

2.   Gone Girl.  Readers, you know how sometimes you stumble upon a book that consumes your life?  That you can not put down?  My house is a mess, the laundry is piling up, and Evie’s Halloween costume is still not done.  But I could not put this book down.  I read it in three days.  And if I didn’t have this pesky homemaker gig to do, I’d have finished it in a day.  Or less.  I had to make myself stop reading it.  I considered picking it up at stoplights, and I almost, almost gave up nightly TV time with my husband, my favorite time of the day, to read it.

I’ve talked with others who’ve read Gone Girl, and they weren’t as impressed.  They didn’t like the ending.  They thought parts of it were unbelievable.  I agree that the ending wasn’t on par with the rest of the book.  It felt rushed.  It wasn’t as tight.  But I totally believed the rest of it.  It was kind of like a really good Law & Order episode meets Dial M for Murder meets…a Lifetime movie if you could admit you watch Lifetime movies.  Which I can’t.

Also, I read it on a Kindle, which I didn’t hate.  It was actually kind of awesome.  I recant my former statements about Kindles.

3.  The Neighbors.  This is a show you aren’t watching.  Why are you not watching it?  You should be watching it.  Quick, before it gets cancelled!  It’s about your typical American family who, seeing an opportunity to pounce upon a wicked-good deal in a tanked real estate market, buys a typical subdivided American house right smack dab in the middle of a community of aliens who have come to study our typical American ways.  Hilarity ensues!  Well, not consistent hilarity, but this show has so much potential, y’all!  It’s quirky.  It’s clever.  It’s charming.  It’ll probably never make it.  Or maybe it’ll fly below the radar like The Middle or Raising Hope as a nice filler between the Nashvilles and the Revolutions.

Besides, it stars Jami Gertz, a woman who’s got riding on the back of a kick-ass motorcycle in a gypsy skirt, legs wrapped around a late eighties Kiefer Sutherland AND holding Robert Downey Jr’s hair while he pukes up whatever battery-acid cocktail of cocaine, booze and wasted youth he’s consumed and then crying on a mid-eighties Andrew McCarthy’s shoulder about it on her resume.  And that, dear readers, make her awesome.

4.  Cats.  Why are cats such a pain in the ass?  I recant my former loving statements about cats.  Just kidding.  Sort of.  The newest little member of our family, Izzie, has upset the balance in our home.  Which I knew would happen but secretly hoped wouldn’t happen.  Sam, our other pathologically neurotic, always-on-edge cat, is determined to…just…just…make somebody pay for this!  She’s  righteously pissed that all the time she formerly spent being fat and shedding now has to be spent standing in doorways and at the top of the stairs, looking menacing.  Seriously, folks, it’s like living with an early-nineties Glenn Close.  I guess that makes Izzie Anne Archer and me Michael Douglas.  I’m fine with that.

It’s really all worth it, though, because there’s this:

Evie and Izzie reading a book together.  Izzie also sleeps with Evie every night.  Granted, it’s because I shut the door to Evie’s room so Izzie can’t get out, but still.  I have to protect Anne Archer from Glenn Close!

5.  Growing my hair out…again.  Oy.  This again.  Over the past ten years I’ve cycled through short hair, long hair, short hair again, highlighted hair, long hair with my natural color, badly highlighted hair, short hair again.  Really short hair.  And now I’m growing it out.  As she’s expressed to my many times, Evie likes my hair longer.  As he’s not expressed to me many times but I know it’s how he secretly feels, Gill likes my hair longer, too.  And I’m ready for a change.  I miss my ponytail.

But, holy moly, what a pain in the ass.  Worse than the cats!  I haven’t had my hair colored in a year, so the blond is now only at the very ends of a small section of my hair right in the front.  And the cut I had was many-layered, so, depending on the humidity, my selection of hair products and my level of giving a damn that day, I can look like this:

Or this:

It just depends, really.  What I really want to look like is this:


 And, dammit, one day I’m gonna find a hairdresser who’s knows what the hell I’m talking about.

Meantime, I’ve got Gene Wilder hair most days, my eyeballs have decided to reject my contacts on the same days as the Gene Wilder hair, and my skin, appalled and offended by my hair and 15-year-old glasses has decided to break out all over in mighty protest.

I’m about as far from Ms. Bancroft as one can get, friends.

But I live in Florida among the ferocious beasts.  And it’s October 26th, and I still have a kick-ass tan.

So there.

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I composed this post while rockin’ out

When we moved to Florida, I knew that Evie would undergo an adjustment period, and I was prepared to help her through it.  For a time she called our house “Daddy’s house.”  One rainy morning she fell into a little heap in my lap and cried about missing her friends.  She would not let me leave her alone at bedtime, begging me instead to sit beside her and hold her hand until she fell asleep.  And there were temper tantrums that erupted from my sweet girl that were quite unsettling, unused as I was to a person being perfectly fine one moment and then writhing and screaming on the kitchen floor the next, surrounded by a spilled box of popsicles I wouldn’t let her have. 

But, like I said, I expected all of this to happen.  I waited for it.  I girded up my loins and everything.  Eventually, “Daddy’s house” became “my house”.  What with the mom’s group we joined, her new preschool, the kids in the neighborhood and random people we meet at the mall, she’s made many new friends.  And her unpredictable explosions of anger at the unbelievable injustice of actually being denied something have downgraded into calm, intellectual arguments concerning the logical disconnect of being allowed that very thing just the day before.

Yes, there is peace in Evieland once again.  It is true what they say that children are great adjusters.  After all, their size allows them to be picked up from where they are and put into another place, so they better know how to regroup.  And Evie has always been at the forefront of adjusting.  When I couldn’t stand being hooked up anymore to a contraption that made me feel like a cow, she happily went from nursing to a bottle.  She transitioned from sleeping in a bassinet to a crib to a toddler bed seamlessly.  And although we did have some setbacks with potty training, once I pretended to call her school and tell them she couldn’t come because she still peed and pooped in her pants, she adjusted to using the toilet pretty damn quick (Devious and cruel? Maybe.  Effective?  Absolutely.)  Overall, Evie has always been the Great Accommodater.

But there is one area in Evie’s life on which she adamantly refuses to budge:  going to sleep by herself.  Before we moved, Evie was generally very easy to put to bed.  We’d read a few stories, rock for a bit and then I’d tuck her in, sing her a song, give her a kiss, say goodnight and leave the room.  I could sometimes hear her on the monitor, rustling around and whispering to stuffed animals, but within 10 minutes or so she was sound asleep.

Folks, those days are gone, baby, gone. 

Nowadays, according to Evie, the worst thing that could ever happen to you is to be left alone to fall asleep by yourself.  When we first moved in to our new house, I happily allowed Evie some latitude on this.  Her room was new and unfamiliar.  Hell, her life was new and unfamiliar.  I would dutifully sit at the foot of her bed, holding her hand and patiently waiting for her eyes to flutter closed and for her little snores to begin.  On the good nights, I could carefully sneak out of the room and Evie would stay in dreamland.  On the bad nights, Evie would wake up every single time I tried to get up.  Or I would almost get to the door, and the floor, which makes no damn sound anywhere else in the damn house except for right at Evie’s damn door, would creak and I would hear, “Mommy!”.  There were nights when I had to send Gill up to pinch hit because I just couldn’t do it anymore. 

But I figured all of this would subside.  After a couple weeks or so in her new house, something in Evie would magically click, and things would go back to the way they were before, bedtime-wise.  Okay, after a couple more weeks.  Definitely by the end of next month.  Labor Day, maybe? 

No.

Y’all, I tried everything.  Reasoning and cajoling.  Bribery and begging.  Reverse psychology.  Manipulation and anger.  Nothing has worked, and Evie stands firm on her position to this day. 

Early on in this battle, I thought back to past struggles I had with Evie’s sleeping.  I have to confess that there were a couple of times when out of nowhere she would freak out at night in her crib when I left the room.  After much research and hand-wringing, I decided to Ferberize her, which is a kinder, gentler way of making her cry it out.  It worked a treat, and after of couple of nights, things went back to normal.  I chalked it up to growing pains.  Later, after moving to her toddler bed, Evie was delighted to discover that she could now get out of said bed, open the door and run willy-nilly all over the  house.  Not being so delighted myself, I put a childproof cap over her doorknob.  I swear to you, all I had to do was look my child square in the eyes and tell her that now she wouldn’t be able to open the door herself anymore, and, y’all, she never even tried.

So, I thought about employing these methods again since they had worked to well before.  First, there was putting the childproof cap on the doorknob.  But, lucky us, we don’t have doorknobs.  We have those elegant curved door handles which thrill children who can easily open every door in the house and infuriate parents because THERE ARE NO CHILDPROOF CAPS FOR THEM IN CLEARWATER, FLORIDA AND THE SURROUNDING AREA!  I think I remember seeing some in Raleigh but a hell of a lot of good that does me now.

Without the childproof caps on the door handles, there is no Ferberizing.  I mean you can try it if you want.  If you do, send me a video of it so I can laugh at you.  I will admit I tried letting Evie cry it out (with a three-year-old it’s more like scream it out), while holding the door closed.  As I stood there, my hands white-knuckled on the door handle with Evie on the other side, screaming, crying and trying desperately to pull the door open, I’ve never felt more like Carrie White’s mother.  I will not be doing that again.

I suppose I could order something off the Internets, but I’m loathe to do so.  Call me crazy, but I think Evie is old enough now to do this herself, without childproofing products or sleep methods.  Maybe I am crazy. 

So, here we are.  Evie in her bed, falling asleep and me, in the rocking chair, waiting for Evie to fall asleep.  I refuse to sit at the foot of her bed anymore (1) because it makes too much damn noise when I get up; and (2) because it gives me the illusion of control in a situation where I have none.  Do I think Evie’s trying to control me?  Absolutely.  Does that make me angry?  Absolutely.  I think every child does at least one thing that inordinately infuriates their parents.  I am surprised at the amount of patience I sometimes have with Eve, but this particular situation sends me right up the wall.  I couldn’t really explain to you why.  I know a lot of parents who stay with their children until they fall asleep, and it doesn’t bother them.  It bothers me.  Maybe it’s because I know, I know Evie can fall asleep by herself.  She used to do it EVERY NIGHT.  Maybe it’s because I’ve tried everything in my arsenal to get her to comply, and she hasn’t.  This means I’ve failed, and I don’t like that.  Maybe it’s because I’ve put in a full day as Evie’s mom, and now I’m ready to punch my timecard, go downstairs and have some Katie time.

It’s probably all of those things.  But, because Evie won’t budge, I have to reconcile myself in some way to the situation while it remains a situation.  I’ve thought about it a lot while swaying back in the forth in the rocking chair, waiting for deep breathing to come from under the blankets of the pink toddler bed across the room.  Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1)  When Evie naps nowadays (which is rare because I’ve learned that an exhausted child at bedtime means less time in the rocking chair) she goes down perfectly by herself.  It’s just like the old days, and I have to wipe a tear from my eye as I reminisce.  So, I know she still can do it at night.  Here’s the rub: Evie Langston has a good reason not to.  I don’t know what that reason is, but I know that she has given up offers of boxes of toys because of it.  The reason is very important to her.  Is she scared?  I don’t know, but she hasn’t said so, and I’m not opening up that can of worms in case she’s not.  Whatever it is, it’s a good reason to Evie, and I’ve decided to respect it.

2)  Some may think me too dramatic and a pushover for deciding to “respect” a three-year-old’s wishes.  “You’re the parent!  Show her you mean business!”  Imagining what others might say about the situation made me finally realize something, though.  As soon as I start letting those voices invade my head, I second-guess myself and start letting the imagined opinions of others steer the ship.  Looking back on times in my life when I let this happen, I always feel regret that I didn’t take the wheel and do what I thought was right.  Because no one knows the relationship that Eve and I have better than…Eve and me.  And since having her, every time I’ve gone with my gut and done what I thought was best, things have always worked out really well.

3)  Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, I will not be sitting in that godforsaken rocking chair waiting for a 16-year-old Evie to fall asleep.  Things will change eventually.  I don’t know when or how, but I have faith that they will.  Last night I tucked her in, said goodnight and walked out of her room.  I stood on the other side of her door to see what would happen.  It actually took a minute before I heard the soft, quick swishes of her feet on the carpet, coming to get me.  No whining, no crying.  Just coming to get me.  Probably I’ll keep trying that until one night I’ll walk out and she won’t come for me.  And that kind of makes me sad, and is another reason I stay in the rocking chair.  I joke about it all the time, but one day Evie really will be gone and out of the house.  She’ll spread her wings, leave the nest and won’t need me to sit beside her anymore and hold her hand.  That day will come.  Do I want to look back then to now and see myself frustrated because she wanted me with her for 15 minutes while she closed her eyes and slipped away from the day?  I think you know the answer to that question.

4)  Have you ever tried sitting in total silence for 15 minutes?  No TV, no laptop, no distractions, no nothing.  Just you and yourself, thinking thoughts.  It’s actually quite nice.

So, if you happen to look up at the clock tonight and see it’s 8:45, you’ll know where I am.  Rockin’.  Thinkin’.  Waitin’.  Puttin’ my baby-girl to bed.

Does this onesie make my butt look fat?

“I don wan it.” — Evie Langston

If you’re like Evie and me, you’ve noticed that the days are getting warmer, the cherry blossoms are blooming and Spring is upon us.  We’ve finally thrown off the cold, heavy blanket of winter to bound onto the green grass under the blue sky and the golden sun.  And, of course, to blow bubbles and kick Disney Princess balls in the yard.

But all is not white wine spritzers and pink plastic motorcycles.  Something looms on the horizon.  That’s right, my friends:  Now come the days of the bathing suit.  Yay.

Yes, most unfortunately, all that jiggles will soon rise, unshaven and spider veined, shuddering and quivering, to the surface and expose itself once again to the harsh light of summer days. 

As you can see, I’m looking forward to our beach trip.  I’d be more excited if I’d gotten that thigh transplant I asked Santa for, but whatevs.

So, another Spring finds me counting calories, limiting alcohol and sweets and writing “EXERCISE!!!” every week in my dayplanner and then walking right past the dusty ol’ elliptical and straight to the couch to watch reruns of thirtysomething.

Speaking of dieting, did you know Evie is watching her weight right along with me?  No, you say?  Impossible, you say?  Okay, well, below is a list of the foods Evie will consistently eat:

1. Nothing.

That’s right.  I used to be able to count on her to gobble down a bowl of her beloved spaghetti.  Or at least half a waffle.  Or one or two chicken “nunnets”.  But the other day she ate half an Oreo and handed it back to me, declaring “I done.”  I dutifully went to throw the other half away and almost tripped over my own jaw.

My baby girl doesn’t eat.  She picks.  She fiddles.  She grazes and half-heartedly snacks.  And I worry.  And fret.  And become a cliché, hovering over my toddler and five different plates of food, clutching a spoon of mashed potatoes in one hand and my string of pearls in the other, begging my child to “Come on, honey!  Eat for Mommy!  Please?”

I asked the Internet what to do.  The Internet said to look at what Evie eats as a whole.  Some days she may eat a pancake, a container of yogurt and a piece of toast for breakfast and some days she may eat exactly one Cheerio.  At the end of the week, it all evens out.  Also, at Evie’s age she’s not growing a lot, so she’s not eating as much.   So, I’ve taken this into account and  looked at Evie’s eating as a whole.  And it’s not too bad.   I decided to worry endlessly about it anyway.

See, I fear I’m doing penance for all those Pediasure commercials I made fun of back in the day.  You know the ones.  The whiney toddler who doesn’t like milk or broccoli or chicken or…food, quite honestly… happily drinks a strawberry-flavored nutritional replacement beverage, and grins up at his khaki-pantsed mother who ruffles his hair and smiles contentedly.  I always scoffed at these commercials, vowing that my kids would eat what was put in front of them if they knew what was good for them.  Of course, I also planned to spank my kids, and, well, to never have kids, actually.  You see how that worked out.

So, now, I’m suffering for being my big-mouthed, know-it-all self.  I tried adopting the “she’ll eat if she’s hungry” approach, but then I realized that 1) Evie is not a dog and 2) how long should I let her go without eating?  What if I miss an opportunity to get some calories in her?  Should I just let her have the damn cookie she’s been yammering about all night instead of eating the lovely chicken soup I made for her?  Oy.  That’s it.  We’re going back to the days when I measured Evie’s food into a bottle, she drank it, and that was that.  This “solid food” crap is overrated. 

(Incidentally, what does that sound like?  Pediasure.  That’s what that sounds like.)

The sad thing  is, I was starting to become one those cool, hip, laid back and go-with-the-flow moms of legend.  You know, the moms who take things in stride and indulge their kids’ quirks in order to encourage their creativity and individuality.  In fact, this weekend I felt very cool-mom about letting Evie take a nap in her new shoes surrounded by her new Dora the Explorer sippy cups that she’d lined up like soldiers on the edge of her crib.  

I said to myself, “Self, you are a relaxed, chill, laid back mom.  Good for you.”

One thing you should know about parenting:  Never congratulate yourself.  After Evie woke up from that nap all she ate for the rest of the evening was some Goldfish and three bites of pizza.  I said to myself, “Self, in your effort not to make an issue out of food and scar your child permanently, you have caused her to become malnourished and underdeveloped.”

The next morning Evie ate an entire container of yogurt, some cereal and drained a sippy of milk.  Then she asked for a cookie.

And I thought to myself, “I done.”

I stand corrected:  Cupcakes are on the list.

In defense-cess of the princess

I was reading the archives of one of my favorite blogs the other day when I came across a post about her latest visit to Disney’s EPCOT Center.  Being a mature adult, my first thought was “Ooooh!  Disney!”, and I eagerly began reading about her trip.

About midway through her post, she lost me.  She was hilariously describing the ripped and popsicle-stained princess costumes she had seen practically falling off of sweaty, crying, exhausted little girls when she launched into a feminist mini-rant about princesses and how this unattainable ideal is ruining what little girls should really aspire to be.  Although she admitted that she couldn’t see these same little girls whirling around on the teacup ride dressed in Hilary Clinton costumes, she lamented that they were not encouraged to emulate stronger, more positive role models.

Phewy.

I’m not a feminist.  I don’t think I ever have been.  I believe that women are strong, influential and very, very powerful.  But, unlike some involved in the feminist movement, I will never believe that women are better than men.  Women should absolutely be afforded the same rights as their male counterparts.  I firmly believe that a woman is in every way equal to a man, but I do not believe that woman is the same as a man.  Thank God.

I revel in my femininity.  I love being a woman.  And I am so glad I had a little girl.  One day she’s gonna look up at me with those beautiful blue eyes and squeal, “Mommy, I’m a princess!”  And I will lean down to her and squeal back, “Yes you sure are, sugar-pie!”  And then we’ll click together our sparkly glass slippers, toss around some fairy dust and collectively flip off all those bitter, non-lipstick-wearing ol’ meanies who tried to force on us their Indigo Girl albums and clunky black shoes.

Phewy, I say again.

I would venture to say, and I will right now, that most little girls go through a princess stage.  I did.  I remember playing princesses with my best friend, Stacy, when I was four years old.  She wore the pink gown, and I wore the blue one.  There’s a picture of us both sitting on her front stoop dressed in our princessey finest, with approximately 43 pieces of costume jewelry each stacked on our wrists and around our necks, flashing big, gap-toothed grins at the camera.  We loved it.  It was fun.  It was childhood.

There’s nothing wrong with a little girl wanting to be a princess.  There’ll be plenty of time for power suits and Mother Steinem and The Beauty Myth when she takes the Gender Roles class in college and decides she knows everything.  While they’re innocent and young and want to play, I think our daughters should have less Cinderella Complex and more, well, Cinderella. 

But, just in case you still need a post-modern, feminist list of reasons why your daughter can indeed have that Snow White costume she saw at BJ’s, looky-looky what I found in my pocket!

Katie’s Listy-List of Reasons Why Sleeping Beauty Rocks and Naomi Wolf Could Maybe Stand to Lighten Up Sometimes

1.  Princess worship builds self-esteem.  Now, I know that when you think of princesses, you, like me, think of Disney’s princesses.  And when you think of Disney’s princesses, you’re thinking of a Caucasian beauty ideal.  Even Pocahontas looked like a white man’s naughty dream of a Native American hootchie-mama.  I’ll concede this.  But a quick Google search will find you many, many books and DVD’s and costumes and jewelry boxes and countless other cheap, brightly-colored junk for little girls of all skin colors to whine about to their tired, broke parents.  For almost every blonde and blue-eyed Cinderella, I can also find a beautiful, dark-skinned Princess Untombinde who lived on the dry plains of Africa.  So. 

Point is, when a little girl dons the the garb of a princess, whether it be a silvery-pink gown covered in glitter or a kimono made from the richest, finest cloth, or a head scarf with delicately  embroidered depictions of Saharan wildlife,  she looks at her reflection in the mirror, does a little pose, smiles and feels prettier on that day, comparatively, than she ever will on any other day of her life.  Not only does she feel pretty, she feels important and magical and powerful and good about herself.  And that, my dear friends, is what you call self-esteem.

2.  Princesses are brave, smart and strong.  No, really.  Okay, think about it.  I’ve devised a sub-list to help you (I do this because I love):

     a.  Cinderella:  I would like you to take as much crap from your wicked stepmother and stepsisters, be stripped of your birthright, be forced to scrub floors and still get up every morning with the steely resolve to do it all again, always steadfastly looking and waiting for salvation.  Hope requires a lot of strength, y’all.

     b.  The Little Mermaid (Disney-style):  “Betcha on land, they understand/And they don’t reprimand their daughters./Bright young women,/Sick of swimmin’,/Ready to stand!/And ready to know what the people know,/Ask ’em my questions and get some answers.”  I count bravery, intelligence, determination, curiousity, strength and ambition.  And that’s just one scene.  Ariel is SO my beotch.

    c.  Snow White (Although not a princess at the beginning of her story, Snow gets off on a technicality since she ends up marrying a prince.):    For the love of little poisoned apples, the kindness, patience and fortitude it must have taken to cook for, clean up after and generally take care of SEVENlittle men!  Can you imagine?  And it must have creeped her out a little to sleep in the same house with all them, I would think.  I mean, dwarves have urges, too, you know. 

3.  Newsflash: There are real princesses too!:  I have a friend, you know her as SchmeAnne, who is the foremost authority on all things royal.  Ask her any question, like, say, “Why is he Prince Phillip and not King Phillip?” or “What did King Henry have to do with the Protestant Reformation of England?” or “Dude, what’s up with that wave?  That’s weird.”  SchmeAnne will know.  That girl is a walking encyclopedia, I swear.  You may wonder how and why she knows all of this.  Or, you may not.  Either way, you’re gonna find out.

For all of her life, at least in her own head, SchmeAnne has been Princess SchmeAnne.  She walks around with an invisible crown on her head and a royal robe draped across her shoulders.  Her voice, in her head, is accented British-ly, and we are all her subjects.  (God, I love her.)  SchmeAnne is also an avid, avid reader.  I do not exaggerate at all when I tell you that she has read every book in publication with the word “princess” in the index.  In short, SchmeAnne’s love of princesses has led her to become an authority on the subject.  Therefore, princesses = reading = not playing videogames all day. 

(Incidentally, on her wedding day, SchmeAnne wore a tiara and a beautiful gown.  She finally got her wish!)

End list.  Whew!  We made it through another one!

Look, with the exception of SchmeAnne, most little girls grow out of all this and move on to unicorns, then real horses, then the Jonas Brothers.  Then they grow up all together and forget they were once sparkly princesses who lived in a magical fairyland.  But they’ll never forget the Princess Jasmine costume you bought them that, while cheap and garish and plastic to you, was the most beautiful thing they’d ever seen.

Everybody get together

People, as a whole, like to be told that what they’re doing is okay.  They especially seek approval when something in their lives is considered controversial.  I don’t know how you feel about her, but this is why Dr. Laura is so hated.  She routinely, and admittedly, casts moral judgment on her readers/callers and does not hesitate to tell them that a decision they’ve made or that the lifestyle they have is wrong.  Not that she thinks it’s wrong — that it is, fundamentally and absolutely, wrong.  This makes for some cringe-filled listening/reading, let me tell you. 

We just don’t like to be told we’re wrong.  We want coddling, justification and rationalization, and we’ll take it with a side of “I totally agree with you.”, please.

To wit: there’s this great exchange from a great movie called The Big Chill:   

Jeff Goldblum’s character:  Rationalizations are more important than sex.

Tom Berenger’s character:  Aww, come on.  Nothin’s more important than sex.

Jeff Goldblum’s character:  Really?  You ever tried to go a week without a good rationalization?

(By the way, if you haven’t seen The Big Chill, YOU’RE WRONG!)

Thusly, controversy breeds many people frantically Googling (are we capitalizing this still?) to find support for the way they’ve decided to do something.  It also breeds hot debate, mudslinging and all out war among the different factions.  Nowhere, and I mean NOWHERE, is this more rampant than in childrearing.  For those of you that have not had children but plan to someday, I give you this warning from the trenches:

Ye must grow a thick skin if ye thinks to fight the Mommy Wars, for there be none quite so reactive nor none quite so prickly as yon Mommy who must defend her parenting decisions.

In other words, if you can’t stand the heat, stay off the message boards and comment sections.

But, hope springs eternal, and there are two other fundamental truths that one must get in order to keep his or her sanity:

1.  Every, and I do mean every, child is different.  Yes, there are general guidelines for behavior and development, but every child will develop at her own pace.  Some will go straight from rolling over to walking and others will withhold their first word until Mommy’s head explodes from anticipation. 

2.  No one, and I do mean no one, knows a child better than his parents.  Yes, not even his pediatrician.  Therefore, any decisions made on behalf of the child by his parents (barring obvious detrimental decisions involving large amounts of Niacin, noxious green beverages and yes, I’m looking at you Katie Holmes, you complete weirdo) are exactly the right decisions for that child.

If you can arm yourself with those two principles to live by, you should be okay.  Until someone asks you if you are co-sleeping or doing a delayed vaccination schedule.  Then you’re on your own, because I? Have my own problems with the Cry It Out folks.

Some of you have no idea what the sam hell I’m talking about and just came here for pictures of Eve.  Bear with me.  And because lists are much beloved at The Evie Standard, here’s another:

THINGS TO BRING UP IF YOU WANT TO “START SOMETHIN'” WITH A PARENT

Co-sleeping

Damn hippies again!  

What is it?  Co-sleeping is, well, it’s when you, your spouse and your child all sleep together in the same bed.  Thaaaat’s right.  Aaaaall together.  Freaky?

Eh, not so much.  Believe it or not, A LOT of people do this.  They just don’t tell you about it, ’cause you think it’s weird and they got flamed on a message board that one time.  Co-sleeping usually begins the first week or so, during the Days of No Sleep Whatsoever.  Usually the mom is breastfeeding, and finds it easier to nurse her wee one if said wee one sleeps in the same bed.  Baby wakes up, fusses a bit for food, Mama pops the boob in, everybody goes back to sleep, everybody happy.  I’ve even heard co-sleeping moms say they never remember how many times they’ve nursed during the night because they never fully woke up.

Also, I read on a blog the other day about a mom who was finishing her residency at a hospital right after her son was born.  She was apart from him for up to 30 hours at a time.  I can’t imagine how painful this must have been for her.  She found co-sleeping an excellent way to spend a precious additional eight hours with her newborn baby.  When she hesitantly revealed her co-sleeping secret to coworkers in pediatrics, she was surprised at the number of them who were doing the same thing.

Now, the word on the street is that co-sleeping WILL KILL YOUR BABY STOP IT DOING IT RIGHT NOW OR I’M CALLING THE COPS!  Yup.  People get THAT worked up.  Apparently, somewhere, sometime, in Hypotheticaland, two parents got real liquored up, piled all the blankets and pillows they owned onto the twin bed they shared and proceeded to roll around all over it while waving lit cigarettes in their baby’s face.

Meanwhile, back here in the real world, co-sleeping is totally safe as long as some pretty common sense measures are taken.  Namely, you must sleep in at least a queen-sized bed, no pillows or blankets for baby, and no smoking in bed or going to bed drunk.  They even sell sleep positioners, which are like twee little beds that babies are sort of — inserted into — while sleeping in your bed.  They also have co-sleeping bassinets, which basically attach onto your bed and allow you all the benefits of co-sleeping and none of the YOU’LL SMOTHER YOUR BABY! hysteria.

As you probably already know (if you’ve been paying attention!), Evie does not sleep with us.  Sometimes I wish we co-slept — it seems like a really sweet thing to do.  But, as of right now, we have a full-sized bed, which is barely big enough for the two of us.  Seriously, I feel like we’re two giants sleeping in Goldlilocks’s bed.  But on Saturday and Sunday mornings I go get Evie out of her crib and we all snooze for an hour or so together.  Gill and I both sort of spoon around Evie, and she reaches out her little hands to touch both of us on either side of her.  How sweet is that?

Formula vs. breast milk

Have I talked about breastfeeding on this site?  I think I have.  Well, here we go again!  Whee!

I feel very strongly about this subject but not in the way you might think.  Now and again on message boards I frequent there’ll be a post entitled, “Ready to give up” or “I can’t do this anymore”.  These can go one of two ways.  Either it’s from a woman who tried breastfeeding once or twice in the hospital, discovered it was hard and “Ouchie!” and wants some “there, there”.  Or, it could be from a woman who has been trying to breastfeed for months and months with little success.  She’s nursed through thrush, mastitis and cracked and bleeding nipples.  Her baby is not gaining weight like he should and her pediatrician is freaking out, which is freaking her out.  She cries every day, but gets no support from friends or family who say she is deliberately starving her baby.  This is a SAD post, y’all.  

I always respond to these posts.  I tell the poor woman to fasten the flap on her nursing bra, hop in her car, drive to the closest Target and buy a can of dang formula.  I tell her that she’s missing precious time with her baby, trying to do something that is just not working.  It doesn’t matter why or if she should try this or that.  Buy the formula, fix a bottle and enjoy your baby, I say!  That’s the point of this whole thing, and if failing to successfully breastfeed after giving it a sincere try is keeping you from doing that — STOP!

Now, as for the woman who wants pats on the head for nothing, I don’t respond to her post.  Not that I fault her for not wanting to breastfeed AT ALL.  If you don’t want to do it, don’t do it!  But be honest with yourself and others about that decision.  You tried it, it hurt really bad (it does) and you didn’t like it.  Fine!  You didn’t try it because you think your boobs are fabulous and you don’t want to ruin them?  Great!  Just tell the truth about it.  Because acting like you’ve been through what the woman whose nipples look like ground beef has been through is insulting and wrong.  And really annoying.

Both of these women should beware the Breastfeeding Nazi’s, though, otherwise known as La Leche League.  These women are serious about breastfeeding, and I mean that in the most close-minded, arrogant way.  I’ve been to a meeting, and we were visited by two LLL consultants in the hospital, one of whom was just too precious.  Hi, Mary Jo!  Although LLL does do a lot of good, there are subtle and not so subtle undertones of “You’re a bad mother if you don’t breastfeed.” in some of their literature and advice, which just doesn’t sit well with me.

Now come for me, Breastfeeding Nazi’s!  

Daycare

Oh, if you could see the flame wars.  I bet you didn’t know studies have shown that daycare kids grow up to be serial killers, did you?  Cite the study?  Oh, well, I can’t, but I did read it somewhere, and, and, YOU’RE A BAD MOTHER FOR PUTTING YOUR CHILD IN DAYCARE!

Sheesh.  I am smack dab in the middle of this one, y’all, ’cause I am one of those bad mothers who puts her child in daycare.  Watch for Evie’s face on the news in twenty years.  She’ll be the one who robbed that Citgo down the street, waving a sawed-off shotgun and screaming, “If my mom had stayed home with me, I wouldn’t have to kill you ALL!” 

Can I tell you how much I cried the week before I went back to work?  I did laundry and cried.  I took a shower and cried.  I looked at Evie’s adorable and unsuspecting face and flat-out bawled.  But something interesting happened the day I went back.  I dropped Evie off at daycare, got back in my car, started the drive to work and…didn’t cry.  In fact, I actually enjoyed myself at work.  After fumbling and bumbling around with a newborn for six weeks, I was finally doing something I was good at.  It was like a soothing massage for my self-esteem.  And I got to take a shower and put on makeup! 

After working half a day, I left the office, picked up my daughter and went home.  It was the perfect day.  I was thrilled, but very quietly because of the dreaded daycare guilt. 

I always thought I would want to be a stay-at-home mom.  It seemed so heavenly, so June Cleaver-y.  But you know what?  I was wrong.  I like working.  I like being out in the world, conversing with adults and feeling productive.  It’s so easy when you’re home all day to spend it in sweat pants and unshowered.  And daytime TV is so…ugh.  It’s not very hard to see why so many stay-at-home moms feel isolated and depressed.  You’d be surprised at the number who HATE staying at home but do it because it’s best for their kids.  But is it?  Is a sad, greasy-haired mom really being the best mom for her children?

Some women love being housewives.  They get up, shower, get dressed and go to Gymboree, the grocery store and post office.  They make play dates and organize mommy groups.  Some women love to work.  They thrive on the interaction with their coworkers and need the stimulation of the office to make them feel happy.  I’ve realized that I’m a hybrid of these two women.  Those half days I worked before I started back full time were perfect, perfect, perfect.  I got the satisfaction of working and the fulfillment of spending time with my daughter.  And Evie got a satisfied, fulfilled mommy.  Not a bad deal, I think, and my plan is to work part time one day.

But I can hear Dr. Laura now:  “Why did you have a child if you’re just going to drop her off at daycare?”  I’ve sat here for a long time trying to come up with a witty answer.  I don’t have one.  And I still miss Evie terribly, especially on Mondays.  I often wonder if I’m doing the right thing.  I hope so.

Quick, somebody tell a joke!

Cry It Out (CIO)

If you haven’t read Sheri Lynch’s excellent memoir, Hello, My Name Is Mommy, you owe yourself.  Especially if hello, your name is Mommy.  In it she pities her mother’s generation, who were told to let their babies “cry it out” to “train” them to sleep through the night.  This involves laying your baby down in his crib drowsy but still awake and walking away.  The baby will fuss, then cry, then scream.  But you must not go to him and comfort him in any way.  Eventually, the baby will exhaust himself from screaming and pass out, and you will finish off that bottle of wine or handful of Valium because, holy cow, can you imagine?  

This has got to be the purest form of torture ever inflicted on a parent or baby.  And some pediatricians are now saying it can be harmful to babies.  They’re theorizing that babies are not “trained” to sleep this way.  They think that babies become resigned to the fact that no one is coming and they shut down, thus giving the impression that they’ve been “sleep trained”.  They’re even saying that babies whose parents have done “Cry It Out” sleep training can become withdrawn and depressed.  Or overly clingy.  Yikes.

I think it’s important to understand how babies sleep.  Babies’ sleep cycles are very quick.  They go through the lighter sleep cycles, down to the deeper sleep cycles and back up much quicker than you or me.  When they cycle back up from deep sleep into the lighter sleep cycles, they often wake up.  You and I cycle back up several times a night, too, but we’ve been at this sleeping thing longer than a baby.  Our bodies know how to keep us asleep until we cycle back down into deeper sleep.  Nature has provided babies with these quicker, lighter sleep cycles for a reason — survival.  Babies’ brains are constantly, constantly taking in information when they’re awake, and they need lots of REM sleep cycles to process that information.  Babies spend about 80% of their nights in REM sleep.  Also, they need to be able to wake up easily when they’re hungry, thirsty, too cold or too hot.  Basically, quicker sleep cycles keep them alive.

This is cold comfort to a parent who has not slept in three months, I know.  Sleep deprivation is frustrating and debilitating.  There is a breaking point, and you’re willing to try anything to get a night’s sleep.  And this book says their method will train your baby to sleep through the night in three days or less.  Yay!  Believe me, I understand that. 

I don’t talk much about CIO in mixed parent company because Evie now only wakes up once during the night.  I don’t dare offer that little tidbit to a baggy-eyed mom or dad who sleeps in a rocking chair with a baby on their chest.  But maybe there are other alternatives to letting your baby scream.  Co-sleeping, maybe?  Shooting speedballs?  I don’t know.  I just don’t think CIO is the answer and maybe is a quick fix with damaging consequences.  I do know that the older they get, the longer babies stay awake during the day and the longer they sleep at night, and they start training themselves to sleep through night at about six months or so.  Can you live on sparse, broken sleep for six months?  Mr. Big ol’ Cup of Coffee says you can.  Just don’t throw that cup at my head, please.  My baby will be teething soon, and I’ll be in that aisle in Borders right beside you.

But I am MUCH disagreed with by parents who have had brilliant success with CIO.  And I’m sure I’m going to get a few phone calls from Evie’s grandparents about how they did CIO with Gill and me, and YOU’RE FINE, YOUNG LADY!  Well, all I’ve got to say to them is — I TAKE IT BACK!

Vaccinations

Brace yourselves; this is the Holy Grail of kiddie kontroversy.  The trail through this minefield of a topic is littered with fallen parents who dared question either side of the fence.  Don’t worry, I’ll protect you.  Hold onto my arm as I guide you through the swirling miasma that is…The Vaccination Vortex!

Drama!

Although there has never been a direct link shown in any proper study, the rates of autism have increased proportionate to the rise of vaccine administration.  Is this due to the vaccines themselves, or are the signs of autism now better recognized and thus more diagnosed?  There was substantial evidence that a preservative used in some vaccines, Thimerosal, was harmful, and it was removed.  But some parents are still on a mission to delay the current vaccination schedule or to eliminate vaccinations all together.  This has put pediatrician’s offices, the Board of Health, the Center for Disease Control and the public school system into a tizzy.  You have never seen so many handpainted signs and shouting people in screenprinted t-shirts, I’m telling you.

(I often wonder if this whole vaccination debate is a convenient way for some parents to feel controversial or to just stir sh** up.  I mean, how awesome and fight the man do you feel when your pediatrician’s office kicks you out!  March in the streets!  Hey, hey, LBJ!  The whole world is watching!  Yeah.)

Autism scares the crap out of me.  Almost as much as SIDS.  But you know what scares me more?  Whooping cough.  Measles.  Tuberculosis, for Pete’s sake.  Am I overreacting?  There have been outbreaks of Pertussis (Whooping cough) in our area.  Pertussis can kill an infant.  Most of the Mexican immigrants coming here have not been vaccinated in their country, and reports say that they’re bringing these diseases with them.  We’re vaccinating.

We consider it our obligation, nay, our responsibility, to vaccinate, not only for Evie’s health, but also as members of a community.  We owe it to the other children with whom Evie will play and go to school.  Also, children died in record numbers during the Polio epidemic.  I wonder what the parents of any of those dead children would say now to those who refuse to vaccinate.   How quickly would they have offered up their little one’s arm for a medicine that could have saved their child’s life? 

My final analysis is harsh and really tough to even think about.  So, I’ll just lay it out there:  Rubella and Diphtheria are deadly; autism is not.

I’ll go hide now.

Wow, this is a long post, and it sort of dissolved into my defending our decisions and ignoring Principle to Live By #2.  Anyway, Lord love ya if you made it this far.