Sunday, July 31, 2005

Mid-summer progress report

What the heck happened to July? I can't believe how fast this month has gone. Halfway through the summer here, and have I done all those great enrichment activities I was going to do with my kids? Well, kinda. I arranged to stay home to have "Camp Mom" with my son, and was worried that my natural laziness and desire to spend too much time in front of the computer might result in him really attending "Camp TV Cartoons." But we've kept up a little routine. We've gone to the middle school almost every weekday morning so he can, with the principal's permission, play on the computer and get used to being in the building he'll be attending in the fall. He's made an entry in his weblog almost every day, which is certainly more than I can say. We read together almost every day. He's had almost one playdate a week with friends who will be at middle school with him. And, mostly thanks to the fact that his tutor works with him for two hours every morning, he's finished his summer reading project for school, done lots of worksheets and science experiments, and made some progress on gross motor skills. Not too bad.

But of course, I always feel I should be doing more. I still spend too much time on the computer, doing not enough work. I don't always feel like playing. I should be strategizing ways to deal with his latest crop of behavioral oddities and trying them out during our nice uninterrupted time together, but I'm not. I'm inspiration-challenged, and too often short-tempered about it. I want to be one of those moms who's 100 percent available to her kids, always ready with a great play idea or able to endlessly follow her child's inspirations. Do those moms even exist? Maybe just in the guilty heart of every mom who falls short.

How's your summer going? Are your best-laid plans still laying there? Take this poll and spill the beans.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Dog days

We're settling in pretty well with our new pooch, if you can ignore the thick coating of dog hair that now covers our entire house and the three bags of dry food in the closet she refuses to eat and the stomach problems she seems to be having now that we have caved in to her command for only canned food and the general sense that I can walk her successfully only because she never pulls as hard as she really could on the leash, if she were the kind of dog who would do that. She's still uncomfortable with the amount of affection my son wants to give her, but she's mostly polite in turning him down. Do you have a family pet? Go to this poll and list your menagerie. You might also be interested in April Cain's latest essay, "Seeing the Beauty Beneath the Skin," on how her family got their dog; and in this listing of service animals. Who knew there were guide horses?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Youthful indiscretions for sale

I can't say I'm entirely uninterested in celebrity gossip -- I do read every issue of Entertainment Weekly cover to cover, and I've been known to have some fun on my Web sites with some celeb story or other. But this is just pathetic: Some guy Jennifer Aniston dated when she was 15 is putting the love letters she wrote to him on eBay. Fifteen! My goodness, would any of us want something we wrote to a guy when we were that age to ever resurface, much less go up for auction? I wouldn't even do that to a celebrity who was 15 years old now. How sad does this guy's life have to be that he's grabbing for a few bucks and a few minutes of fame for having once gone out with a Friend? Perhaps the fact that she fell out of contact with him once she got famous fuels his desire to humiliate her, even in such a low-rent way. And maybe the fact that one of the items is a "birthday card scrawled on a piece of toilet paper" indicates just how much value young Jen placed on that particular suitor. The whole thing makes me want to run up to the attic, find the diary I kept in Junior High to record my daily rankings of which boys I thought were cute, and burn it. I'll probably never be a big star and nobody will ever care, but why take chances?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Too much

I guess this means we eat too much fast food: My son and I went to our local McDonald's Tuesday after a couple of months of patronizing the new Dunkin' Donuts down the street, and the Golden Arches staff treated us like long-lost relatives. "We haven't seen you in a while! How are you?" asked the manager. The man taking the order asked where my daughter was, knew our order before we said it, and hurried to get me coffee. Those donut purveyors have a lot to live up to now.

And I guess this means I watch too much TV: As the recent Supreme Court drama has played out, with one seat opening and another if the Chief Justice retires, all I could think of was the "West Wing" episode in which the exact same scenario occurred, and the president wound up putting one extreme liberal and one extreme conservative on the court as a compromise with Congress. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Couldn't somebody maybe float that scenario in the real-life White House?

Friday, July 15, 2005

Harry who?

Just got back from a quick trip to Barnes & Noble, where I bought a graduation gift and had myself a peaceful cup of coffee all by my kid-free self, and I can report that Harry Potter mania is in full swing on this eve of HP6. Someone was distributing green wristbands and Harry glasses, presumably to mark folks' place in line, and the store was all set to stay open well past its usual 11 p.m. closing for the midnight sales start. You know, I'm as big a supporter of children's literature and literacy as the next overinvolved parent, but this Potter phenomenon I just do not get. I'm sure the books are wonderful, if you like that sort of thing, but all this folderol every single time a new volume comes out? People, it's just a book. Your bookstore is going to have hundreds and hundreds in stock. Why are you lining up at midnight? Why is Harry the top story everywhere, in every newspaper, on every Web site, in every blog ... oops.

I guess one of the reasons I'm so puzzled by Pottermania is that my own personal children could not be less interested. For them, and kids like them, I put a "Not Wild About Harry?" list of Potter alternatives on my site. Regardless of how your kids feel about the boy wizard, you can still vote in my survey, "What are your plans for the new Harry Potter?" ("Ignore it" is an option). And, although you probably have to be an Entertainment Weekly subscriber to use it, you can try this really amusing "Harry Potter Story Generator." Reading about Voldemort disguised as Tom Cruise may not have quite the magic of that doorstop-sized novel, but it'll do me.

Monday, July 11, 2005

See, psychiatrists really are dangerous!

My husband and I actually went out to dinner and a movie last night for a few-days-after-the-anniversary celebration (15 years on July 7). We saw "Batman Begins," and the parts that I actually watched without hiding my eyes in my hands or his shoulder were pretty good. Amazingly effective "oof!"s on the soundtrack during fight scenes, let me tell you. But one thing did strike me: With all the gallons of ink that have been spilled in the coverage of the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes romance, and the gallons more poured out over his attacks on psychiatry, has anyone noted that, in the future Mrs. Cruise's big summer movie, one of the major villains is in fact a psychiatrist? And that Holmes' character is the one who sends him running at the end? Maybe that's why Tom fell for her. Those psychiatrists, you know, they drug your children with Ritalin, they dope up your new mothers with antidepressants, and every now and then, if you don't keep a close eye on them, they dump hallucinogenic chemicals in your water supply and vaporize it in an attempt to induce mass psychosis. Good to have a girl by your side who knows how to use a stun gun.

Friday, July 08, 2005

A blogger debuts

If you're looking for some light and imaginative reading, or something that's a little more consistent than this blog's been lately, I'd like to announce that my son now has his very own weblog, called Andy and Princess Stories. As the title suggests, it is about his adventures (or made-up adventures) with our new dog, the very beautiful and patient Princess. I'm trying this as a way to get him to write every day and get a little more interested in computers, although right now I am serving as typist and interrogator. The ideas are his, though: I'd never have thought of making Princess's nose a strawberry.

Come take a look at, and if you could make a nice comment or two, I'm sure he'd be happy to read it. Maybe one day you can say that you read the earliest works of a great author.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Thinking of London, remembering New York

It's hard to know what to say about today's tragic events in London other than, my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in the U.K. who has been affected by these horrific acts of terrorism. It put me in mind of the essay I wrote back on September 12, 2001, when the images on the TV screen weren't across the Atlantic but across the Hudson. It's still sitting on the Mothers with Attitude site, and anyone in a reflective mood can read it here. It's good, sometimes, to get a little perspective, but it would be nice if it didn't require such heartbreak and bloodshed.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Answer me this

I'm going crazy with the questions over at my site, throwing out a poll a day all through July. Stop by to opine on what July 4 means to you, whether kids need more vaccines, if schools should be air-conditioned, and how you feel about Tom Cruise's anti-med crusade.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Seeking stories

Anyone out there have an interesting mother-son story? I'm passing this on for a PBS producer; if you're interested, her e-mail is below.
Looking for mothers and sons for PBS documentary:

A new documentary to air on PBS stations on the powerful bonds between mothers and sons is underway. The program will examine this important connection and how it shapes how a man relates to his family and friends, and contributes to the community and the workplace. We are looking for dynamic mother/son relationships from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Here are some possible mother/son scenarios:

1) Mother and son whose bond is close, despite any past or ongoing challenges in their relationship. This could be the struggle to communicate during adolescence.

2) Adult male who had a close relationship with his mother that shaped his strong commitment to supporting women personally and professionally. He is married and may also have children of his own.

3) A professionally accomplished man who considers his mother his role model. He credits their close relationship with helping him become successful. Perhaps she once had a thriving career and he followed in her example.

4) Mother who went through some hardship in order that her son might thrive.

5) Brothers who were raised by a dynamic mother. They have different perspectives on their relationship to her, but their mother/son bonds are strong.

We’d also like to hear from anyone else who has a powerful mother/son story. If you are interested in talking with us, please respond with a detailed description of your relationship and provide contact information and email address. Mother and son must both be willing to appear on camera and share their stories honestly, from the heart.

Please email Renee at: