Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What you talkin' about Willis?

I was always under the impression that moms knew and understood everything their children said. I have seen it happen... An adorable tot sits babbling some nonsense and the mom calmly and sweetly replies in detailed response to the child's statement. What a crock! Have I somehow failed as a mom? Because there are times I haven't got a clue what this kid is on about. I don't think it's a problem though... In fact, I think it's making her up her game a bit.

I've managed to translate some key words, and her general mood I can read, but she will go on a four minute rant about something and the best I can do is smile, nod and say "oh really?". That's the kind of generically polite response I give strangers and old people... Surely my daughter deserves more.

Of course the alternative is when I do understand a word. When she manages to say a word perfectly clear, but feels she must repeat it 600 times for maximum effect. She managed to spot a clementine on our counter the other day. She knows them as "a orange" and frankly, I believe that's close enough. Of course, they don't peel themselves. I swear, this thing was the size of a golfball yet took me WAY too long to peel. What is way too long you ask? About 38 "a orange"'s. And the "yes"'s and "it's coming"'s don't hold these kids off one bit.

We're currently in the thick of a tricky time where the words she is convinced she is articulating perfectly aren't always words I know and understand. I do appreciate her frustration, though I am also likely to jump up and cheer for myself when I do crack the code. I know, I need to learn to play it cooler than that. But all in all she does a damn good job getting her point across.

She was saying something over and over and over the other night. I was stumped, and despite my asking "what?" about a gazillion times, I wasn't getting it. She rolled her eyes, walked over to me, grabbed my hands and started doing the dance we do to "London Bridge." (the children's classic, not the Fergie classic). Oh, OK! She was saying "London bridge." Of course it sounded a bit more like "yound feesh" if you ask me... which she did, hence the problem. But the fact is that she got her point across, despite my denseness. So, is my stupidity making my daughter smarter? Is my inability to communicate making her a better communicator? This could be the best thing to happen to a (whatever the opposite of a tiger mom is), like me.

In terms of laziness, it takes very little work for me to not understand her. Yet she seems quite committed to making me understand her. Brilliant! When the time comes, I can have her explain her Spanish and new math homework to me as "prep" for her midterms. I can also have her explain things I genuinely don't understand, like meteorologists and their terrible track records (no other job lets you be wrong that much and keep your job). But for now, I will try to understand as much as possible.

Last week I was playing a peekaboo hybrid game which was making her laugh. She laughed into a giggle, then into a sigh and then said "funny" at the end. This is, without a question, the greatest mommy moment I have had to date. The kid called me funny. Of all the things I have struggled to understand, she chose that moment to be perfectly clear. She nailed it. Seriously. I'm not sure what else to say, but that it was at once ego boosting and humbling. She thinks I'm funny. I think I'm lucky. And I'm pretty sure there's proof that you don't need full comprehension to understand each other.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It's not paranoia... or is it??

There has always been this phenomenon that the things we remember from our childhood seem to shrink as we grow. It is both literal, as people and places are much bigger to a small child than to an adult, and figurative as these things remain the same size, but our confidence and experiences eventually change the way we view them.

Have all of the things from our childhood remained the same? The answer is no. These days I have an "incredible growing woman" complex where I feel like a giant with some of these commonly used items. They look so tiny in my hands!

Package sizes are shrinking, individual unit sizes are shrinking, but to credit the grocery industry, they have done it in the most mind-f#$%ing way possible. They have been shaving off grams and ounces very slowly over the past couple of decades and I'm onto them!

The cereal boxes back then didn't just seem larger because they had to fit a crappy plastic toy inside, the boxes actually were bigger! Cans of tuna didn't used to be single serve, and yet I don't always have a full second serving left over anymore. Is 5 ounces even a thing? Shouldn't it at least be 6 ounces if it wants me to take it seriously?

Have you seen a candy bar lately? They are .66 of their original sizes, cost twice as much as they used to, and they have the audacity to then package two into a package, call it King Size and charge double the inflated regular size price. I understand the smaller one is a healthier serving size, but don't pretend like they were doing it for our health benefit.

Unfortunately for Philadelphia brand, there are way too many recipes that call for one bar/block of cream cheese, not necessarily 8 ounces, so if they started to shrink the bars, our cheesecakes and frostings would be totally screwed up and they'd have to admit to f$&@ing with us openly. Probably not going to happen.

I understand that these tricks offset rising costs and allow the companies to not raise prices, so we pay the same amount for less... My point, which hopefully I am getting close to, is that it just feels weird to get messed with this openly, so unapologetically. It cheapens us, without actually making anything cheaper of course.

Obviously there are costs involved in creating new packaging... Just not as much as keeping the same amout of product inside, clearly.

This bulls!tting of the consuming public runs deep. At times it is pretty 'in yo face!'
They actually redesigned the packaging of this gum to include one less piece... What a commitment to such a blatant rip-off. It's offensive!

Other companies go the more passive aggressive route and keep the packaging the same but just put less in.
Same size bag, just half full... or half empty depending on your fondness for candy corn.

And somehow they convinced us years ago that potato chips "settled" in the bag... They just put less in! We really bought into that whole "settled" thing, didn't we?

My current favorite "are they seriously trying to get away with this??" things are the chocolate diamonds sold by LeVian. They most recently came out with their honey gold line of luxury jewelry, or as the rest of us may notice: yellow and brown diamonds. I will admit, I am no diamond expert. I only found out via Leonardo DiCaprio and his unique South African accent that a blood diamond wasn't a reference to their red hue. But I'm pretty sure yellow and brown diamonds were at one time valueless and not really sold anywhere. It's like Welch's has gone into the high-end non-alcoholic wine business... But isn't it still just crap they're selling?

And finally, what happened to the good old days when a roll of toilet paper was just a roll of toilet paper? First they introduce the "double" sized roll, which seemed bigger. Then they topped that with the "triple" massive, wouldn't fit in some toilet paper holders, roll. Somewhere along the way, the standard for the double size went missing and they call pretty much anything a double roll these days. Seriously, I just looked at my "double" roll. That is what a roll of toilet paper used to look like. Of course I no longer have any of the old school regular rolls to compare it to, but I know they lasted more than a day! I cannot be the only person that has noticed. And yet, the madness continues.

A part of me just wants to admire the ingenuity involved in thinking to re-package, re-brand, re-market these things to try to increase sales, but mainly I just feel bad for the rest of us for getting completely jerked around by these capitalistic criminals! That and I really don't like people taking food away from me or giving me less quality for more money.

Monday, November 5, 2012


First let me say that my heartfelt sympathy goes out to all of those who have lost so much because of Sandy. Second let me thank all of the first, second and ongoing responders for their continuous help and assistance to the many people in need. These moments of crisis help give us all perspective on what is important, and now, while it is fresh in our minds, is a great time to contribute to the cause of recovering and rebuilding. Donate to the Red Cross, your local fire house or police station or find a way to volunteer your time, if you have it, or cleaning supplies, water and canned goods to those in need.

But now is as good a time as any to recognize the huge roller coaster of emotions we've all been on this past week. The constant see-sawing of moods and mindsets is a nice reminder of not only what kind, beautiful human beings we can be, but also what huge selfish jerk-holes we are too. These varying personalities are in most of us, but we casually glide from one to the other seamlessly during an otherwise calm period of time. During crisis mode we switch back and forth from incredible hulk-like bursts of righteous indignation to flower child prayers for spreading peace and love like the precious power switching off, then on, then off, then finally on for good.

I felt like a bit of a hypocrite through my many changes in mood and outlook. I spent a week careening from feelings of guilt for the people that had it so much worse to feelings of exasperation that only a few blocks from my apartment everything was business as usual as if nothing was wrong. My feelings of euphoria that everyone I know was safe quickly switched to feelings of depression that my apartment became too cold to inhabit. And during about half of these mood swings I found myself thinking that I was a grade A jerk.

For example:
In my jerk head: I'm bummed that I have to cut my first weekend away with my husband short, pay to change our flights and fly home early.
While in reality: We still got to have dinner before we flew out, thereby missing nothing but a night sleeping in a hotel room, as we were leaving the next morning anyway. And we did make it home safe to our little one before flights were cancelled.

In my jerk head: I'm all prepared and stocked up on essentials. It's Sunday night... where's the damn storm?!? They said it would be here by now!!
While in reality: The scientists have managed to not only predict that a bad storm is coming, but have taken to the airwaves to warn people to prepare so we are not caught off guard. Pretty incredible.

In my jerk head: The people in the evacuation zones on the beaches and in the direct line of the storm who are going to try to "ride it out" are jerks and they really should evacuate and not put other people's lives at risk by staying.
While in reality: Our apartment was in evacuation zone A and we were meant to evacuate before the storm even hit. We didn't because we figured we could "ride it out."

Back to my jerk head: I can't believe we lost power. It's New York Freakin' City. Surely they will get it up and running immediately, they can't just leave us all here in the dark for a week.
While in reality: We were meant to evacuate... remember?? Only the place we were going to go had lost power too... now what??

Back to the jerky thoughts in my jerky head: I really despise the sensationalist news and their panic producing coverage. How are people supposed to remain calm and get ready if they are practically having seizures while telling us how bad it's going to be.
And then back to reality: Now I have no power and no tv or internet and I want to know how crazy and bad it is out there!

Still in reality: The power finally comes back on and we are restored...
Back to my jerk head: Where's the cable? The internet? The heat? Hot water? I figured the power took so long that everything else would be good to go by now. (*eye roll aimed at you, Time Warner!!*)

I've seen the Day After Tomorrow... I knew that high tide wouldn't get us on our higher floor and after the storm surge subsided, we only needed to make it up to the public library to go hang out with Jake Gyllenhaal... I had a contingency plan!

But all plans and calm were out the window. No power, phones, internet or cable was pretty jarring. I'm pretty sure this was a bit of a wake-up call to many folks how attached to technology we are and how difficult things are without it. But again, all perspective is lost until you sort your own sh!t out.

I think everyone had a least one moment to take stock of what is truly important, and if you're like me you also had moments to fret about the utterly useless and absurd. I think that's what we all do... teeter between the saint and the villain and just hopefully spend more time on the good side. It is during these moments of crisis that we show who we really are and what we're made of. Thankfully, I only acted on my good thoughts, not the jerky ones.

If you haven't acted on your good thoughts yet: