Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Pornified, Part II

Although my faithful blog-flocker, Jim, was the only one to leave a comment on my pornified entry many of my friends have shared amusing, or possibly troubling, stories about their very young boys. It appears that Mr. Smartypants isn’t the only boy just out of diapers who’s pined after images of attractive/scantily-clad women.

A friend told me that one issue of her husband’s industry trade magazine had an ad that captivated her young son so much that he snuck it up to his room and hid it under his bed. Days later she was unpleasantly surprised to see him showing off the ad to a friend during the morning carpool.

A bit closer to home I was cleaning under my boys’ beds over the weekend and came across The Art Book “an A to Z guide of 500 great painters and sculptors from medieval to modern times." I purchased the small paperback version of this book many years ago thinking it would be interesting (okay, educational) to review with the boys. From the first time he glimpsed it one particular boy was fascinated by Sigmar Polke’s Three Girls. This painting features three half-naked women wearing sharp-heeled boots stepping on a man. The Art Book describes the painting as “conventional fine art figures…transposed into soft porn.”


Why are they naked? Why are they stepping on him? My preschooler wanted to know.
Every time we took out The Art Book he’d become transfixed on his favorite image.

As I was cleaning under the boy’s bed today, along with many years worth of accumulated goodie-bag booty- super balls, key chains, a variety of small plastic crap and other “special” stuff, I found The Art Book with a bookmark in his favorite spot.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Word of the Week

Thanks to Boondocks comic Jan 22 for alerting me to the new term “brokeback” to describe something of questionable masculinity. Click here to see something that is brokeback.

No, I haven’t seen the movie.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Day with Three Young Boys

Last weekend, the boys, their friend and I went on a trek through the snow-frosted woods. It was delightful, refreshing and exhausting all at once.

I should explain that by woods, I mean a .25 X 1 mile stretch of forest preserve set in the heart of Chicago's first wave of north suburban sprawl. About 80 years ago my grandma and her sister used to take a trolley from the city to this then-rural area for hiking and picnics. Despite the fact that these woods are now in the midst of suburbia, one can wander alongside the Chicago River feeling far from the strip malls that are actually just a healthy walk away. One can imagine roaming these woods even before my grandma's time. I told the boys that Native Americans used to camp along this river.

"Perhaps," the friend said, "we should imagine ourselves to be Native Americans making our way to the next village." But somehow his idea quickly turned to building a shelter out of every available branch they could manage to uncover from the snow and drag to the designated spot. I took great joy in watching these boys, boys who so willingly plug in to their electronic games and tune out the world, excitedly collaborate on their construction project.

Splinter asked if they wanted wallpaper in the shelter, but the older boys ignored him. "How would you do that?" I asked. He showed how to scrape the outer layers of bark from the branches to create a more interesting look for the walls.

But it wasn't just the building project that captured them. They explored little hills, puddles of gooey muck, footprints and animal tracks, branches and rocks of every size. They packed handfuls of snow into great clumps and threw them into the river to hear loud ker-plunks. They tossed small handfuls of snow that instead ker-plinked when they hit the water.

I'm sure my boys would tell you that the "outdoor voice" is a myth because they noticed long ago that even when they're outside they're often asked to turn down the volume. This outdoor adventure was no exception. At one point, I convinced them to quiet down enough to listen to the sounds of snow and ice bits falling from the trees, but just as important, I was hoping to give the other handful of hikers some sense of tranquility.

Once home, I realized that the walk was almost as draining as it was rejuvenating. My job as sole chaperone included keeping the boys from straying too far from the trail or getting too close to the riverbank and preventing them from climbing on slippery logs as well as quelling their inexplicable urges to crawl through mucky puddles.

I was also on constant lookout for off-leash dogs. People don't take small dogs for walks in the woods. Most people leashed their dogs as they saw us approach, but as an enthusiastic Golden Retriever headed our way I remembered that a friend's son nearly lost his life due to an attack by this breed...or was it an Irish Setter? No, definitely Retriever. Thankfully the dog retreated on his own.

And what about that man standing alone over in the trees? Nature lover or pervert? If we took the path less travelled would some sicko jump us?

My karate sensei would be proud of my keen awareness of my surroundings, but I was exhausted. We ended the adventure back in the clearing by the parking lot where the boys set about making the world's largest snowball- "2/3rds the size of a house!" they promised. But I ruined their plans by insisting we leave.

DH was a star. Not only did he have hot cocoa waiting for us when we got home, but, even better, he let me nap while he took charge of the weary boys.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Best Thing I've Hear All Day

Last night we were doing some computer maintenance and I couldn’t access my blog. “But I want to post something new for the readers who are flocking to it!” I teased DH.

“Oh, you’ve got blog-flockers?” he teased back.

Blog-flockers, what a great word. Best thing I heard all day. I told him next time I was angry with him I’d call him a blog-flocker.

Go ahead; wrap your mouth around it. Blog-flocker. Blog-flocker. Imagine yourself driving the highway with a child or two along for the ride. Some jerk cuts you off. BLOG-FLOCKER! You scream.

I think this could catch on.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Pornified

We were getting ready to leave a recent holiday dinner when M, a 63 year-old family friend, asked, “So Kim, what would you do if you walked in on your husband while he was viewing hardcore porn on the internet?”

Before I could respond Mr. Smartypants sailed into the room. Thankfully he’d missed part of the question because that would have been even more awkward. Still, he didn’t hold back. “No, you’ve got it all wrong,” he told M. “My MOM is the one who is always on the internet.”

While everyone laughed at his response I quickly escaped without answering. The topic of porn has hardly even come up in my book group. I certainly wasn’t about to go there with the family crowd—one that consisted almost exclusively of 60 year-olds. (Maybe there's a reason they're called sexagenarians?)

I’m not gonna go there in this blog either. But I will say I was titillated when I saw Pornified (Pamela Paul, 2005) seductively displayed in the new book section of the library a few weeks later. I couldn’t resist bringing it home with me.

  • The inside cover reads: Pornography, once the taboo vice that no one dared mention has become part of our daily lives…. The all-pornography, all the time mentality is everywhere.

Well, clearly Ms. Paul hasn’t visited my little corner of cyberspace, but her eye-opening book makes the point that today’s easy-access internet porn is a far cry from grandpa’s nudie deck of cards or even your dorm-mate’s worn copies of Hustler. Informed by interviews and other research her findings are alarming and perhaps alarmist. Is every boy or man who happens to click on a risqué pop-up ad destined to slide down the slippery slope to an addiction to hardcore internet porn? Paul makes it sounds like the odds are pretty good.

As the mother of boys (MOB) this concerns me. As almost any member of the MOB can attest, there’s more truth to the idea that “boys will be boys” than we would have ever believed. Indeed, Mr. Smartypants had his first pinup poster around age three when he became infatuated with a Baby Gap ad featuring a pregnant Marlee Matlin.

The book’s section on children and porn is full of shocking statistics, but it is unfortunately short on advice. Like some mothers and therapists quoted in the book I am concerned about how exposure to hardcore and/or large quantities of porn will affect generations of young men. What will it do to their views of women? How will it distort their sexuality and impact their future relationships? How detrimental might early exposure or reliance on porn (again we’re talking internet, not Uncle Joe’s Playboy) be to adolescents who have not developed emotionally and physically?

Clearly it’s much more challenging and intimidating to approach a potential date, let alone maintain a satisfying, intimate relationship than to look to the internet for some quick satisfaction. So where are my boys and their peers headed? Perhaps my almost-forgotten, half-written essay about college, Masturbating Monkeys and Lesbian Lizards, has a title that is more predictive than provocative. The title, by the way, refers to my academic life-- courses in evolutionary biology and the like--it’s not a comment my social life back then.

My favorite line from the book was from 30-something mom whose husband has a collection of Playboys. She admits that she doesn’t know if he still looks at them and says, “Quite honestly, with two kids under the age of two in the house, I don’t know where he would find the time. And if he does have the time, he should be doing the dishes.”

While this line had me LOL; DH was less amused when I read it to him. And then he suggested perhaps I should be doing the dishes instead of blogging. He does have a point there. As Mr. Smartypants observed, I do spend a lot of time with e-mail and on the net. Many would be shocked if they saw a list of sites I’d be browsing if only because they are so mundane. “She stayed up until all hours reading THAT?” you’d think.

Plus, although I’m embarrassed to admit it, I do check up on celebrity gossip although I tend to feel ashamed and dirty after reading about the latest TomKat escapade. We can all get stuck in the worldwide web no matter our vice.

As for the book, I think it’s worth a look, especially for the MOB. That said, it will likely be the last porn-critical book I read for a while. A couple of years ago I went on a bender of books about the cattle industry, meat processing and foodborne illness and I still won’t let my kids eat hamburgers. Who knows what I’d do after continued reading on this topic?

However, if your interest is piqued and you’re ready to take it to the next level, a friend recommends Ariel Levy's Female Chauvinist Pigs as well as the somewhat more humorous Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants by Jill Soloway.

Bringing Personal Garbage to Work

I'm all for healthy boundaries, but sometimes they unintentionally blur. Yesterday, I caught myself just short of making a major faux pas.

After a surprisingly calm and orderly morning at home (all due to the temporary absence of clutter perhaps?) the boys got picked up for school and I quickly got dressed for work, gathered up my stuff for work and headed to the car.

After an uneventful drive to the office I parked and once again gathered my things only to realize I brought the morning’s stinky, wet, Pull-Up-filled garbage along with me for the ride.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

A New Diagnosis

A new diagnosis is difficult to accept; yet sometimes it makes so much sense. It puts things in perspective or adds a new level of meaning to past events. Perhaps it lights the way to a cure.

Just yesterday I received a new diagnosis: I am a surface area abuser (SAAB).

I was talking with a mom who said she had piles of papers and clutter (mostly more papers) on her desk. When she referred to herself as a SAAB it was as if the scales fell from my eyes. Yes! This is my problem too. A surface area abuser covers (abuses) just about every available space (surface area) with clutter.

I’m not clear if she had professional help like an organizer or maybe even a therapist, but she really had the vocabulary down. I turned to her with hope as she described her treatment. It went something like this:

“First, I had to admit that all the clutter was a problem. Once my awareness was raised, I had to put some limits on my behavior. Instead of leaving my clutter everywhere, I chose a couple of spots- a counter in the kitchen, my nightstand, my desk and the mail table- where I allowed myself to leave papers. Next I eliminated my nightstand and bought a smaller mail table. Then I made the counter less convenient. Instead of the entire counter, I limited my mess to half of the counter, then ¼ of it and then just a small area. There’s just no room left for my clutter—except on my desk, which, I have to say is a bit overloaded at times. But mostly this is working.”

I’ve been trying to convince DH to accept my clutter (helloooo- every heard of entropy? The tendency of all things in the universe toward a state of disorder. I mean, who am I to stop that?!) I must admit that the SAAB diagnosis seems to fall squarely in the camp of “courage to change.”

Am I up to this? Am I ready to embrace this change?

I have all these papers and coupons and articles and half-written essays and, my gosh each child must bring home an entire tree’s worth of papers each year between school notices, homework and flyers about who only know what. I can’t just toss it all in recycling.

I’m going to take a deep breath, head over to the Fly Lady for some inspiration and take that first click toward ending the cycle of abuse.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Predictions for 2006

Even though I don’t have a crystal ball, I am pretty sure I will not receive any of the following awards in 2006.

Perfect Attendance

Ms. Punctuality

Best-Dressed

Cleanest House

Neatest Handwriting

Most Beautiful Garden


Just so I don’t come across as a complete loser...I have received the following awards or recognition:
Blue belt in karate
A year’s supply of Lean Cuisines
Diplome D’honor (first year college French, but only because it was a repeat of my high school French class)
First place beginner horse show when I was 9 years old
College scholarships

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

More Chicagoland Happenings

Spelling Bee at the Skokie Swift Starbucks
Saturday, May 6
contact bee@moldofsky.com for details

Gifted Lectures, etc.

March 21, 2006 Des Plaines Library, Dabrowski Part II By Dr. Mary Christensen

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Word of the Day: Truthiness

I thought DH was making this up, but it's a fact. Truthiness is not only the word of the hormone-colored day (BTW, the hormonometer indicates orange-it's going to be a good week), but apparently, it's the word of the year! I'm jumpin' on the couch about this one.

Truthiness means "truthy, but not facty" acccording to the AP article linked above. Think of it as the quality of stating concepts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than the facts.

I think we should all try to use it at least once this week.

Here goes: at tonight's school board meeting certain members of the board had an air of truthiness when they stated that the revenue gained by the the proposed tax increase would keep the district going for another 7-8 years.

Leave me your examples in the comments section!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Theme of the Year: Acceptance

In addition to our regular witty fare and exciting links my guest bloggers and I will examine the topic of acceptance throughout the year.

You’ve heard the Serenity Prayer. You probably mocked it when you saw it hanging on the wall of your high school guidance counselor’s office. Or maybe you sighed when you came across it posted on the refrigerator of your friend, the recovering chocoholic.

But it’s been years since high school. And you haven’t seen the chocoholic in ages because she’s No Longer Any Fun, so here’s a refresher:

God, grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

What is it we need to accept? Flawed families? Inane co-workers? Our own inadequacies? There’s got to be a way you can personalize this issue…make it your own for the year as well. (If I sound like Oprah or Dr. Phil it’s purely coincidental. I don’t watch TV.)

Acceptance is not easy; it can be quite difficult and unpleasant. So, to brighten our spirits we’ll also be looking at courage and wisdom, who couldn’t use a bit more of those?!

But my intent is not to spend a year deconstructing the Serenity Prayer; that sounds rather un-fun. And, after all, we should not take ourselves too seriously; it’s said that one loses many laughs by not laughing at oneself.

Lest it get too somber, I will close with a short anecdote about one of my children ;-)

Mr. Smartypants has been contemplating a sending off a letter to none other than President George W. He eagerly composed his thoughtful draft (again, it’s a draft and it was written by a young child; be kind).

I am 7 years old. I wish that instead of collecting more oil for gas you would collect oil to make solar-powered cars and other special cars. In the future we will probably run out of oil then we will have no oil left to power cars and we will not be able to get around too good anymore.

But he’s too scared to send it. He’s concerned that he’ll be seen as insulting the President of our Great Country by suggesting that W’s thinking is a bit off. And he’s worried his name is going to end up on Some List of Bad People. No joke. He said this last October, before the leak about W and co. bypassing the National Security Council's highly secret courts.

Do you have some wisdom to share that might encourage my reluctant activist to speak up? Any thing to give him a bit more courage? Or should he sit back and accept the Way Things Are? Do we have the power to change our government? End the war? And can we finally lose those 10 extra pounds in 2006?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Misdiagnosis of Gifted follow-up

Mary, a reader from Minneapolis, wrote me to say that her family had a very positive consultation experience with Dr. Deborah Ruf. You can learn more about Dr. Ruf's services and her new book, Losing Our Minds at http://www.educationaloptions.com/

If you've got resources you'd like to recommend please leave a comment to share with future visitors.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Glass is Half Empty

Forget the pithy motivational new year's slogans. We in the Chicago area haven’t seen the sun in days, and it’s not only damp outside, but it’s damp in here too thanks to a certain family member who promised to get out of bed to pee last night, but alas did not. And, our 3 year-old GE refrigerator which has already broken down twice is making odd noises.

So today dear friends, the glass is half empty. This makes it the perfect time to tell you about http://www.demotivators.com/. As their name implies, they are not only the anti-motivators, but they put the fun in dysfunctional, too! I am usually more of a grin and chuckle person, but they have some products that make me laugh-out-loud.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Out with the Old, In with the New

Welcome to 2006!

I rang in the New Year at 8:30 CST with DH and the boys and some friends and by 10:00 I tucked them all sleepy, snug and sound into bed. Then I got out my gi and headed to the dojo.

For the last few years my sensei has been holding a new year’s training from 11:30 – 12:30. It’s a fun, energizing and healthy way to face the new year. (Plus there’s sushi and cookies after.)

Last year at this time my arthritis was at its worst, but I still made it for midnight karate. It was important to me to train in the new year, but I think I might have popped some extra prednisone in order to do it. I know…that’s bad…very bad…

I’m still playing around with medication, though now under close supervision from my rheumatologist. When it comes to finding the right balance of meds one of my docs said, “it’s all voodoo.”

Unfortunately, for many of us chronics there is a lot of trial and error involved. As Paula Kamen describes in her excellent book, All in my Head (2005) the process of finding the right meds can take months or even years. For some it’s a never-ending process as the body adapts to certain meds and they lose their effectiveness over time.

Potential hair loss, liver damage and chronic diarrhea be damned, I started my new Rx today. My doc offered some reassurance, plus he reminded me that in an ideal world I would never need any medicines at all. But, I have a chronic disease that has far more potential for personal harm than do my meds.

When I opened the bottle I was pleased to find a month’s worth of attractively shaped pills—each emblazoned with a K (as in Kim-this is the medicine for you!). It’s been hours since I swallowed the pill and so far so good. It will take weeks, though, before I can tell if it’s working.

So I am in with the new. But as far as out with the old, what to do with my collection of pharmaceutical souvenirs from 2005? How about an outlet-Moldy’s Secondhand Meds visit our website at http://www.moldymeds.com/. No I’m kidding. I’m saving them all; they’ll make a nice display in the Kim Museum.

On a related note, if laughter is the best medicine, check out this ad (pointed out to me by the dear editrix at www.chronicbabe.com).

Happy New Year!