Monday, September 29, 2008

Sarah Palin is a ripe candidate....

Sarah Palin is a ripe candidate for uterine prolapse, that is.

I know, this seem like a hit below the belt. Way below the belt, especially if she wears mom jeans.

But now that Sarah Palin has a very pubic public platform to discuss special needs children and teen pregnancy, maybe her time in the spotlight can also be used to highlight something that affects about half of all women- urinary incontinence.

I don't want to focus on her specific ladyparts, but my gosh, she's given birth to four or five children, and there's no denying that those very natural processes mess with those delicate parts. Seriously, you can't fit something the size a watermelon inside your body even once for a just a few months without things rearranging your internal geography.

I heard two Urogynecologists speak on uterine prolapse last spring at Camp Baby. These are not women from, say, France, but rather the female equivalent of proctologists. Yeah, I know, who even new this type of specialty even existed?

And that's why they gave us The Talk at Camp Baby. Well, that and the fact that Johnson and Johnson's medical division makes internal gadgets like bladder slings (again, who knew?)

So here are a few facts from Camp Kegel, according to my notes from a talk by Dr. Christine LaSala and Dr. Radhika Ailawadi.

Obesity and smoking are two prime factors that contribute to urinary incontinence. Despite common misconception, pregnancy isn't a big factor, unless the pregnancy takes place in a woman's 40s.
According to my notes, which I can only hope are wrong because I was desperately kegeling throughout the workshop, so maybe I got confused, 1 in 4 pre-menopausal women has a clinically significant leakage problem and (yikes!) 1 in 2 women over the age of 60 does as well. The scary fact is that you can kegel all you want, but if you've over 60, there's a good chance you've going to pee in your pants.

I'm not sure who studied this or how, but they good doctors also told us that 1 out of 3 women do their kegels incorrectly.

The good news amongst all these eye-opening facts is that these problems can be fixed. Many women live with unpleasant or embarrassing symptoms for years, because they are not aware that treatments ARE available. If incontinence is affecting you, or like one horror story we heard at Camp Baby, you're showering one day and realize your UTERUS IS FALLING OUT, remember you are not alone and help is available.

Full disclosure, it's quite possible that Palin has a uterus made of steel- and superwoman she is, is not affected like most of us. I mean, if I was back at work three days after giving birth I would have need to hit the bathroom about every fifteen minutes to change my pad. But if she and what's his name win the election and you Don't see her jumping up and down, think back to this post.

And in the name of equal time, I suspect that two of the three men in the presidential election spotlight right now on a Viagra or a similar ED drug. But that's out of my realm of experience.

Adapted from an original post to Chicago Moms Blog.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Camp Baby Round-up

The latest from my friends:

Leeanthro has a giveaway that might just get your toddler potty trained!

Mom's Favorite Stuff reviews a lapdesk that will make working from home easier.

This Full House Six Easy Steps to Surviving Back-to-School-Night.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Friday Fun: Sarah, sticky notes and subprime silliness

I don't know if you call this video funny or scary. Let me know what you think.

Subprime silliness. The financial crisis explained in only 45 slides. Via @alysonenglish on Twitter.

Check out this new video from the guys who brought us the Diet Coke and Mentos explosion. Via Gwen Bell (AKA @GwenBell on Twitter. I'm @moldymom on Twitter, BTW. )

EepyBird's Sticky Note experiment from Eepybird on Vimeo.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pat the Husband: A book review

Pat the Husband: A Parody is a hilarious 16-page riff on the lovable children's book, Pat the Bunny. Only it's funnier. And for adults. Or young children who won't get the adult subtext.

Readers help Husband find the remote, discover where the ketchup bottle is hidden, and meet other daunting challenges. It's a hoot! It's a fun girlfriend gift and will make you the hit of any moms group.

The book official debuts October 7, but thanks to Cider Mill Press I'm giving away a copy at Momformation this Wednesday.

And on Thursday, I'm giving away another copy on Twitter. Follow me @moldymom, so you don't miss out on the fun.

Oh, I should point out one glaring omission in the book- there's no little activity to help Husband change the toilet paper!

What little task does your husband fall short on?

(Disclaimer: mine is totally helpful other than the toilet paper thing.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Fun

"Workin' all day for mean little guy with a rub-on tan and soup-stained tie."
Fountains of Wayne*

C'mon you deserve a break today. Click away and see what your name would be if Sarah Palin was your mama. Thanks to TypeAMom for the link.

Now watch McCain get Barackrolled.

And since I'm starting to get political here, check out this post from an IRL friend (yes, I do have some left, no pun intended) on how you can get involved in the presidential election. Admittedly, not much to make you laugh, but great ideas.

* I think I mixed up the lyrics from two separate verses of the song. Yes?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Judy Moody Goes to College: A book review

Years ago my friend and her daughter turned us on to Judy Moody books. My boys have read several, along with the books featuring Judy's little brother, Stink. So it's only fitting that when I was offered a review copy of Megan McDonald's latest addition to the series, Judy Moody Goes to College, I called up that same friend and asked her daughter to review it. She was delighted to be asked and even happier when I told her she could keep the book.*

Review by Anna B.

The way this book starts out puts Judy in a real mood. (You know which mood I’m talking about.) There is a new substitute, Mrs. Grossman, and Judy is not her favorite pupil. Judy goes to the new “Attitude Tent” a couple more times than she would like to, and when Mrs. Grossman hands out “rare” candy guess who doesn't get any? Miss Judy Moody, that’s who. And while Judy was checking out her awesome new watch- Mrs. Grossman (and the rest of the class) weren't.

That day Judy had to take home a note about being “hazy-not-crazy” about math, so her parents decided to bring Judy to a tutor, Chloe Canfield, or C-squared. The other reason her nickname is C-squared is because she goes to Colonial College, which is where Judy’s new adventure begins.

I liked this book a lot, especially the parts where Judy is in the college. It is good to know that learning math can be fun. Another good thing is the glossary in the back. It’s nice to be able to understand what they are saying during the book. What I did not like was how college was all Judy Moody could talk about. If I had gone to college, I would talk about it a lot, sure, but not all the time. Also, anyone know who Amy Namey is? I’m not sure, and it confused me a little.

Everyone should really read this book. The humor is great, the plot is fantastic and it even sneaks in some math. (Parents, don’t tell your kids that!) It is just another sick-awesome, mad-nasty, rare Judy Moody book!

* My boys saw this book on my desk and asked to read it. I reminded them that they rarely follow through on their promises to write reviews for me and cautioned them not to get their sticky paws on Anna's clean, new book. I am that mean. I hope at some point we can share in some of this bloggy goodness, but I'm not going to drive myself nuts or nag them to death for a blog post.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Schooling a highly gifted young child (circa 2004)

While out shopping I run into a vaguely familiar mother from my 6-year-old's class and introduce myself. "Oh, I've heard all about your son," she gushes. "He's the smartest boy in class!" I awkwardly smile and roll my eyes, unsure of what to say next.

My son, Mr. Smartypants, would have had a response though. He has a lot to say. Especially to adults. Adults are kind enough to use their good listening skills even if they don't understand what he's talking about. When Mr. Smartypants starts going on about his favorite computer games and books his peers tend to walk away.

He's the kid who, instead of getting a snake painted on his arm at the camp carnival, proudly displays two little dots: "An electron going around an atom!" he excitedly explains. He complains when his beloved Bubbe won't buy him a copy of Heart Disease for Dummies on a trip to the bookstore.

As his mother I feel proud and amazed, but also concerned and confused. Where does he get these ideas? My husband and I are intelligent, we have a house full of books and often visit museums and zoos, but these things can only get a kid so far. Mr. Smartypants is just wired a bit differently than most of us.

When his first-grade teacher, Miss E., asks her students what they want to learn, most express a desire to read or write or do math. Mr. Smartypants wants to build a Web site.

He confounds Miss E. because he correctly spells "premiere" and "hieroglyphs" yet he doesn't sit still. She tells me he fidgets; he's spacey; he's a busybody. "Maybe he's bored," I suggest to her horror.

"Are you learning new things in school?" I ask him.

"Not really," he replies.

"How about second grade math? Is that challenging?"

"Yes, because it's difficult to make it back to first grade in time for the bus."

In a typical first-grade classroom there is little time for Big Ideas, so Mr. Smartypants saves them for later. He does his best thinking in the snug comfort of his booster seat. In the car, we have Deep Conversations-"Why are we in this life? What's it about, anyway?" At 6 he is on the verge of his first existential crisis.

We are driving the interstate, but Mr. Smartypants is lost in his head. I ask him something for the third time, my voice rising in frustration. "Oh, I get it!" he exclaims. Clearly he's not about to tell me wants he wants for dinner, but I bite. "What is it dear?"

He explains that he just realized that since molecules are round like planets, perhaps the molecules in our bodies appear to be planets to some very tiny creatures. And the planets in the sky are just molecules in some other REALLY BIG giant's body. I consider pulling the car over in case his head explodes.

Through a twist of fate the school agrees to provide testing for my son. While awaiting the results, I begin to wonder if he really is so smart after all. I fear I will show up for the report meeting to find that he's solidly average and that the principal will chide me for wasting everyone's time.

Instead the school psychologist starts out explaining, "We don't advise skipping him a grade…." But I don't hear anything else because I'm stunned by the score sheet before me. He's academically gifted. And while he's not one-in-a-million, he is one in about 230.

What does this mean? In my search for information I stumble upon Genius Denied, a book that details the sorry state of gifted education in this country. For months afterward my stomach is in knots over how my child fits (or doesn't) into our public school in the days of No Child Left Behind.

Early in the school year my son describes his various "theories" in his weekly writing assignments. By late winter his little essays look like this: "I like to play with cars. Cars are a lot of fun."

"What happened to the Big Ideas?" I ask.

"But, Mom," Mr. Smartypants insists, "this is what all the other kids do."

As the year drags on his behavior deteriorates along with his intellect. Miss E. reports that he continues to be a spacey, fidgety, busybody and he's not connecting socially with classmates.
At home he complains about going to school and has increasingly intense tantrums. One night he is on the verge of an anxiety attack. "E-mail my teacher," he pleads. "Ask her to watch out for me tomorrow. I'm worried something bad will happen at school." He is almost freaking out and so am I.

We decide to have Mr. Smartypants privately re-tested. It seems the school can't or won't see qualities in my son that I am sure exist. But just in case I'm wrong we also consult a developmental optometrist and an occupational therapist.

The DO reports his visual processing is perfect, and by the way, he's very bright. The OT suggests exercises to improve his handwriting. The psychologist, who is well-versed in the social and academic quirks of gifted children, spends an afternoon testing Mr. Smartypants. He enjoys spending the day doing "fun puzzles" with the undivided attention of a caring adult.

The psychologist calls Mr. Smartypants exceptional, well-focused and motivated to succeed. She reports that his new scores place his academic capabilities on par with those of a 10-year-old. On one level I feel relieved, vindicated even-I'm not just an overbearing mom with an overblown sense of my child's capabilities!

On another level, I thank goodness I didn't breastfeed because those extra IQ points he might have gained would have put me over the edge. He already has so many ideas that seem way too big for his little head and questions that are too hard to answer. Even my husband, a veritable walking encyclopedia, gets exasperated at times. "I can handle questions about sex, but this stuff about quantum physics is really awkward to address," he says as he again attempts to hide our copy of Einstein for Beginners.

As the year winds down, the school announces budget-related staffing cuts. We cannot bear the thought of him returning next fall. We have two options-move or send him to private school-neither of which seems affordable. After much deliberation we choose a private school for gifted kids. We are willing to trade financial strain for the sinking feeling that we're not doing right by our child.

The new school promises an environment of discussion, interaction and exploration. We hope this will help Mr. Smartypants thrive academically and socially as well as allow him to embrace, rather than deny, his talents. Mr. Smartypants is sad about leaving his old school, but he smiles when we explain that he will learn new things each day at the new place. And his eyes light up when we tell him he will no longer be the smartest kid in his class.

Post Script
This originally appeared in Chicago Parent magazine in 2006. Regualr readers know that Mr. Smartypants started second grade at Science and Arts Academy, a private school for gifted kids. After three years at SAA he and his highly gifted little brother, Pikachu, are back in public school, but it's a new school for the boys, not the one in the above essay where we all experienced the burden of being gifted.

Read more of my thoughts on raising gifted children here. Subscribe to my blog here.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Starbucks breakfast menu: A review

Why was I eating Chicken Pesto at Starbucks at 8:00 on a Saturday morning? Because we walked over to our local joint to check out the breakfast menu, of course.

No, the Chicken Pesto Salad is not part of the new breakfast menu, but after we sampled the new breakfast items (courtesy of a PR pro) Smartypants insisted on eating something a bit heartier. Not that the breakfast menu isn't hearty. I mean, isn't oatmeal considered one of the "stick to your ribs" type foods?

DH and I liked the oatmeal, seasoned with a pre-measured packet of maple syrup. A friend complained that it's not like the homemade stuff, but my "homemade" stuff is the sugar-laden instant-from-a-box type stuff. I actually really liked the Starbucks version. But, the kiddos missed all the sugary sweetness, so they gave it a thumbs down.

Smartypants loved the multigrain roll with strawberry preserves and "sort of" liked the chewy fruit and nut bar, though he's not a big fan of nuts. The bar reminded me of a nutty version of this compacted into a sweet convenient bar. Good stuff.

DH's take on our morning was a bit more sophisticated. Of course, he wrote up his portion while we were chillin' at Starbucks and I'm trying to post while getting two kids off to school. Read on....

Sitting outside a Starbucks on a cool, perfect-morning-for-a-stroll weather day, nibbling on fiberlicious breakfast goodies while my kids fight over where the strawberry preserves should be squeezed from the tube. Ah, it feels like we're in Seattle.

Both the apple muffin and the oatmeal had just enough sugar to hold my interest without tasting like a kids' meal. The multi-grain roll was my favorite, though. So many different crunchy textures going on at the same time. The bar seemed the most factory-made of the lot, and while it's better than the standard granola bar you might see drop down a vending machine, it doesn't seem like part of an exotic, new breakfast.

Smartypants insisted on getting a pesto pasta with white chicken, which he felt didn't sport enough chicken for his breakfast purposes. Then the kids rode their bikes down the 30-foot sidewalk from the restaurant's front door to the busy street and back again over and over, bickering over which of them deserved the right-of-way.

Jazzy music played over the outdoor loudspeakers as bees hovered around our breakfast, wondering if the sugary smells were early fall flowers bearing pollen. Meanwhile, prairie plants and grasses gently swayed in the morning breeze next to the eating area as the sun crawled higher into the sky.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Friday Fun

Just because you're working for The Man, doesn't mean you have to give him your all, does it?

So while your boss is out of eyesight, click away to some of these fabulous time sinks and the bloggers who led me astray:

The Jingle Generator via Susan Getgood. C'mon, you kow you need a theme song for your blog. Here's mine.

Songtapper, an oldie, but goody. I found this years ago, it's amazing.

Got a time sink? Leave me a note along with the url in the comments. If it meets the mark, I'll list it and pimp your blog in a future edition of Friday Fun.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

We clicked Blik

Just before I ordered a set of Blik reusable vinyl wall decals, I wrote about them at Momformation. This was no swaggy deal. I paid for two sets after Smartypants read about Blik's new SuperMario set in that paragon of style: Nintendo Power magazine.

To quote my own post: "My boys are drooling at the bit for these new Super Mario stick-ons. Ten-year-old Smartypants already eats and drinks Super Mario, he might as well sleep it, too. That’s his theory, anyway."
Smartypants created the design and DH did most of the application. Easy peasy. And the results are cute. We put them up in my parent's basement. The rumpus room, which already looks like a Chuck E. Cheese franchise, is even more fun and festive thanks to the Blik cling-ons. Look! Look! Now! Hurry! Look! (Sound familiar?)
(For classy kid's decor, check this out.)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

My Freudian slip is showing

At DH tonight, I asked DH if he would still consider voting for McCain if Sarah Palin is one heartbeat away from the pregnancy.

"What did you just say?!"

"One heartbeat from the presidency. I meant presidency."

Speaking of which, see what some of my blog friends have to say about Palin:

Veronica at Viva La Feminista (except over at Work It, Mom).

Alma A.K.A Marketing Mommy at Chicago Moms Blog.

Jill over at the Silicon Valley Moms Blog.

Jordan at The Wonderwheel.

And, just because there are some rumors floating around, see this. According to the Anchorage Daily News (4/22/08), she really flew from Texas to Alaska when she was (dare I say supposedly?) 8 months pregnant and leaking amniotic fluid. Can't think of a woman I know who would attempt such a thing. You?

Why we never use the "r-word" in our house (anymore)

For the record, I've never called either of my boys a "retard."

Parents are advised not to throw labels at their children, but rather point out their (mis)behavior. Thus, you can call a child on his lying, cheating behavior, but don't call call him an outright "liar" because the term "liar" will sink deep into his psyche and not only damage his self-esteem and earning potential, but all future relationships.

I've never called my boys the "r-word," but there is a high IQ child* in my household who sometimes acts way below his age and IQ. I'm not going to detail the behaviors here, but they can be odd (though we see it less as he ages). Is it some sort of a tic-cy thing? Are these uncontrollable ADHD behaviors? Is it a bit of Asperger syndrome? My personal theory is that there is a fine, yet fuzzy, line between a quirky high IQ child and a highly-functional bright kid with Asperger.

But grab those rotten tomatoes from your garden and get ready to toss them my way because I have, a handful of times, told this certain son he was acting "like he was retarded." I further explained that it meant he was acting like he had a diminished mental capacity. Behavior that's all the more frustrating because his theoretical mental capacity puts him in a class of, say, 1 in 800** kids, on the high-functiong end of the spectrum.

I grew up with a profoundly retarded next door neighbor. Her name was PK, and I remember my odd fascination with the giant tricycle she (at about 10 years old) rode up and down the block. There is an oft-repeated story about some of us neighborhood kids running around my front yard "playing" PK, that is imitating her odd behaviors and sounds (she was nonverbal). I don't remember this, so I'm thinking we were quite young and not so much making fun of her, but trying to understand her. Maybe.

As you might imagine my parents were horrified when they found us and not only broke up our little game, but told us in no uncertain terms Never. Play. This. Again. Maybe there was a softer sensitivity training included with the harsh reprimand or maybe we were just shamed into submission. I can't recall.

So anyway, I have, on rare occasions told my boy he was acting retarded, though I won't again after learning how strongly some people react to the "r-word."

Anyway, it's irrelevant. Apparently, there's a term that serves as a stronger wake-up call. My boys are now in 3rd and 5th grade. Yesterday, one of them came whining to me, his sense of pride deeply wounded, "Mo-oooom, he called me a nongifted first grader!"

* I mention the IQ thing, because I often write about high-IQ gifted children.

** I made this number up. I once mentioned an actual number in my blog and then someone emailed me, "Oh, his IQ must be ###." Kinda creepy.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Camp Baby round-up

Amelie Here are three of Leeanthro's likes and dislikes. Add yours to the list.

Mom's Favorite Stuff has posted a huge giveaway to celebrate the launch of their sister site, The Mindful Moms Lots of good stuff. Check it out.

Savvy Housewife Dole Snack, Madagascar DVD Giveaway Savvy Housewife is hosting a giveaway for free Dole fruit products, which make great healthy after school snacks, and a Madagascar 1 DVD. I entered. Now it's your turn.