Sunday, July 30, 2006

Egg on my face

We were almost done with dinner when DH announced that a package had come. I love to hear that I've got mail! As a child I used to send away for those free publications from that consumer information center in Pueblo, CO in a desperate attempt to fill the mailbox. Yes, I even ordered a pamphlet on dietary fiber, "Grandma called it roughage." Hmmm. Maybe I was a bit of a quirky child myself.

I excitedly opened the large puffy envelope and seeing as how I lead a pretty mundane life, tried to puff myself up a bit. I told the boys that the envelope held a book that was not even available for purchase in stores (or for linking at Book Sense) yet, and that the publisher was sending me a free copy of this book, just so I could review it. After making it clear just how special and cool I was, I pulled out, oops, a different book.

"Someone made a mistake. I'll have to contact them to get the right book." I slipped the book back in.

"What is it?" Let us see. Let us see!"

"Oh, it won't really interest you."

"Show it to us!"

The book I received, with a bold title in red and black print in all caps, was The Girls who went Away: The Hidden History of Women who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade.

Okay, where did I not want to go with my boys:
A) Who went away?
B) Why they went away?
C) Where did they go?
D) Why a mom would put her children up for adoption?
E) What teams are Roe and Wade, when are they versing each other, and can we go to the game?
F) All of the above.

Last time we had a serious adoption talk Smartypants was about 2.5 years old and we'd read a picture book on the topic. Weeks later, he looked at me with big, sad eyes and asked me why his "real mom" (not a term the book even used) gave him away. It took a lot of reassurance and explaining that I am both the mommy that made him and the mommy who now cares for him.

The Roe v. Wade thing we only touched lightly on two summers ago (ages 4 and 6) when there was group of protesters lining the streets with their 4 foot placards of Jesus alternating with 4 foot placards of uh, what are those suppsed to be? And this promotes family I supposed it could lead to an A-ha! moment.... Hey kids, remind me to talk to you about abortion! Or, let's skip the pool and spend our morning hanging out with these fun new friends!

The Girls book is actually a pretty engrossing read. I will pass it on to any local reader who's like to review it on the blog.

I once worked with a woman in her mid-40s who called everyone into her office (we were a small crew in a social work setting with loose boundaries) and announced that she was a birth mother and that her son was trying to reach her. Until that moment, no one knew her deep secret- not even her ex-husband or younger siblings knew that she'd become a mother in her teens.

The weeks that followed this conversation were filled with Oprah-esque reunion stories: birth mom, birth dad and child unite! But then a more Springer-like plotline began to develop. Mom and Dad rekindle the passionate flames extinguished by the adults around them so long ago, except, he's married now, so that's a little tricky. Birth mom makes disparaging remarks about adoptive mom and moves to Australia with son (or something like that). From the perspective of a youngish outsider, it all began to look a little weird. Now I can appreciate the complexity of emotion, the intense feelings that had been bottled up for decades; I am sure it takes a couple of years for the dust to settle, and for everyone to adjust to their new roles and identities.

I'd love to review the book, but my plate is a bit full. Agree to review it here and it can be yours! Contact me if through the profile page if you're interested.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

DH tells me to forget about my old eggs

Actually according to the posts on Craiglist, my eggs are a bit old for others too. Couples are willing to pay several thousands of dollars to egg donors- and I'm always looking for creative ways to finance private school tuition- but I'm too old and unhealthy to meet the criteria. *sigh*

The eggs that DH are telling me to forget are not safely tucked inside of me, but are sitting in a box in the basement. I've got a bucketful left over from my former life leading corporate team building programs. When the boys were a mere one and three years old, we made the drive from Chicago to Florida and I'd filled the eggs with all sort of goodies: a sticker here, some goldfish there, and every time we hit a rest stop (which was quite often with a three year-old) they'd get one. They were also dispensed along the way as rewards for good behavior.

The eggs were a huge hit. We actually had a pleasant ride down, thanks in part to my careful planning, the eggs and many other goodies dispensed along the way. (I hadn't saved any treats for the return trip and after a week of being off typical nap and meal schedules, this portion of the trip was pure hell.)

We are preparing for our next major drive, a ten-hour trip down south, sans DVD player, Gameboy and other electronic devices, so I am once again prepping my eggs. DH thinks the boys have outgrown them, but they've actually told me how much they are looking forward to their little surprises. It's nice to know somebody wants my eggs.

Also, while I was preparing for my workshop at the Heartland Spa earlier this year, I came across a great article in an old issue of Family Fun magazine on tips for road trips. I was surprised when I saw it was written by best-selling author Jodi Picoult. I don't think of famous or well-known writers, actors, etc. dealing with the mundane aspects of life like the rest of us. Do you?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Technical Difficulties

Excuse us while we attempt to right some technical wrongs. I'm blogging from a satellite location while my stubborn laptop refuses to allow me to access the Internet. After pounding it strategically in a few places to no avail, DH stepped into troubleshooting mode and took over the keyboard. I rubbed his back and chatted him up as he clicked here and there opening windows I didn't even know I had. Eventually I decided the most helpful thing I could do was head to the kitchen for a bowl of ice cream and shout across the house every now and again to check in. DH was a star, but, alas, no Internet.

On a more cheerful note, we've started a new family-style blog, Scrambled CAKE. You can link to it from my profile on the right sidebar. The CAKE is dedicated to Eating Around Chicago with Kids. (EACK scrambled into CAKE, get it?) We'll fill you in on where to go and what to eat when you're cruising the metro area with ravenous young 'uns. Submissions are welcome. Just tell us (in 300 words) about a favorite restaurant or dining experience. Be sure to include the name and address of the joint and a typical meal cost (kid/adult). Oh yeah, and tell us a bit about you and your family while you're at it. And if you have any ideas for an adorable Scrambled CAKE logo, we'd love to see them.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Another Rainy Day

I awoke to the sound of thunder from a dream in which I had pummeled a man (in defense of my kids, of course). It's a gray and rainy day. By 7:30 I was reprimanding one of my dear children for putting chess pieces in his underpants. Thanks goodness for camp.

An e-mail from Guy Kawasaki (Guy Kawasaki?!) brightened my day. He included Hormone-colored Days on his Ultimate List of Mommy Blogs. Also, he asked me to post a link to this very interesting issue of the Stanford Alumni magazine.

Coffee, anyone?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Smart, but Socially Awkward

DH handled camp pick-up today. While waiting around for the boys he got into a conversation with a mother about her "very bright," but socially awkward, 7 or 8 year-old son. "He's and advanced reader and does fourth-grade math; he just lacks social skills."

I wasn't there to assess her tone. To some it might have sounded like boasting. We should all have such "problem" children, right?

But I get it. A few times this summer Smartypants has morphed from a silly eight year-old to a mentally deficient four year-old in some very public places. I bite my tongue to keep from telling everyone we encounter about his academic accomplishments, his obsessive reading habits. No, really, he's incredibly smart.
Smartypants was wrestling with a friend recently. They were both being extremely goofy and another boy looked at them and pronounced with some disgust, "You guys are weird." As my heart shattered, I tried to think of an appropriate intervention, but the wrestling partner spoke first, "Yeah, we are!" He gave a hearty laugh and within seconds the three of them were in hysterics. The tension had diffused.

Let people think my son has mental deficiencies or is immature. Let them think I'm a boastful mom with an exaggerated view of her son. Let them think what they want. It's tough to parent a time traveling child.

Speaking of which, check out the current post at the Gifted Exchange Blog to read more about parenting gifted children.

Also, an interesting (if a bit long) perspective on Nerds and Popularity.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Quick and Easy Way to Improve Test Scores

While da Mayor and Chicago Public School officials announced some recent feel-good news about "dramatic" improvements on student test scores, it turns out that the "improvements" are likely due to some fuzzy math (or here).

The "dramatic jump in the number of [CPS] pupils who passed their state standardized tests last spring" was because the Illinois State Board of Education "sharply reduced the requirement for a passing score in 8th grade math."

As the Tribune bluntly noted "We didn't dramatically improve performance. We dramatically lowered the bar." They mentioned other factors that helped with test scores such as allowing students more time to complete the tests and what sounds to my like more opportunities for schools to teach to the test.

*sigh* No wonder my kids go to private school.

Read it and weep.

File under gifted

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

So Much for Commercial-free Blogging

One of my favorite blog-flockers emailed me this commercial/internet ad. Oh my! You must check it out. Again, it's best to shoo the kiddos away before you watch it. My friend advises you to try the optional items under the menu on the bottom left corner of the screen.

To think, DH just shelled out actual cash to (inexplicably) pick up a season's worth of Chappelle on DVD, but I got more laughs from this ad. Hmmm... The Dear Hubby's birthday is coming up, do you think they carry these at Target? Or maybe these? Any other suggestions?

Weekend Events

The work of my talented friend Laura will be featured at the Collective Vision show at Chicago's Morpho Gallery starting this weekend. Stop in at Friday night's opening and enjoy wine and a nosh or two along with the photographs.

But don't drink too much wine because you'll want to be up early for Saturday's upcoming Hormone-colored Days Happening, won't you?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Children: the best form of birth control

My friend Tammy sent me a link to this commercial with a promise that it was very funny. True! However, if your kids can read, send them out of the room while you watch or be prepared for some potentially awkward conversations.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A Series of Unfortunate Events

We had an Independence Day picnic with Guinness World Record holder Ivan Zoot and family. His wife Susan teased me that my family always brings odd, healthy items to our annual feast (I think I made quinoa salad last year or something), so this year I surprised her by bringing a variety of crap—including (drum roll) canned cheese! This quickly lost its novelty with the boys, but was not truly unfortunate. No, the bad stuff happened after dinner.

As I posed for a picture wearing the goofy “3D” glasses handed out by the Park District and my also goofy “Proud to be from Skokie” t-shirt, I removed my real and very necessary glasses and placed them DH’s lap. But then I had him stand up to take the picture and they fell to the ground and he wound up crushing them. I had an emergency back-up pair in the car; a pair from the late 1980s. Have you noticed the trend toward smaller frames since then?

Just as the last vestiges of sunlight disappeared and the fireworks were about to begin, Splinter announced he felt like throwing up. I think his dinner consisted of potato chips, Lik-a-stick candy, apple pie, cookies, and canned cheese, so it was understandable. We made our way through the crowd in the dark to a garbage can where we hunkered down for few minutes. After producing a large yawn, thankfully not of the Technicolor kind, he said the sick feeling went down his throat and was more in his tummy. "I have to poop."

We made our way across the now even darker and more crowded field to the portable toilets. I wondered just how this was going to work, but at least we had our glow sticks to light up the port-o-potty or "Drop Zone" as these units were branded. I give users of these little huts the same advice they give tightrope walkers- it's fine as long as you don't look down. Turns out I didn't need my advice because the line was impossibly long over at the Drop Zone.

As I pondered our fate, DH came over and offered to whisk Splinter home. His tummy was bothering him so much that he willingly gave up his chance to watch fireworks. Smartypants and I, along with our friends, oohed and ahhhed over the display. Actually, the adults did that and the boys kept a running commentary comparing the display to meteor showers and the like. Unfortunately, Splinter missed the big show, but at least got to witness our own little Coke and Mentos explosions (yes, it really does work!!).

Canned Cheese Incident

the canned cheese incident

Giant Frisbee

Splinter takes the giant frisbee for a whirl before he decides he needs to hurl.

Unfortumate Holiday Shirt

the unfortunate holiday shirt

He Stepped on My Glasses

crushed glasses

1987 Called and Wants Its Glasses Back

Big frames of the 80s.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Hormone-colored Days Happening at Millennium Park

Care to join us?

I am holding my second Hormone-colored Days Happening on Saturday, July 15 on the Great Lawn at Millennium Park. We'll gather for yoga at 8, Pilates at 9 and African dancing at 10 --or some combination thereof. I'm not sure if I'll get it together to actually get there at 8, but we Moldofskys avoid crowds and mid-day sun, so a super-early morning in the park has a certain appeal. (I plan to leave the kids behind or send them off to explore the park with Dad if they tag along.)

Older children who might find this appealing and won't spend the time whining or playing a wild game of tag in the middle of yoga are also welcome.

After the classes there may be a short reading by some Chicago-area mother-writers and maybe some hard-earned chocolate.

Send me an e-mail if you're interested in attending. I'll forward details about how to find our group.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Who Needs Cable?

Who needs cable TV when there's

My parents can't believe that it's possible to stay current on news, weather and trends without TV. Granted, I'm a few days behind the mainstream in finding this, but I manage to keep up with pop culture in my own geeky way.

If you're further behind the mainstream than me, definitely click on the above link to see the now-famous Mentos and Diet Coke experiment, as well as some links to explain the science behind it.

We're off the store to stock up on Diet Coke and Mentos. We must see this for ourselves!