Slumdog Millionaire is the movie that keeps on giving--how many spin-offs, parodies, satires have there been? Tons, I know--but check out one more, this one is just hilarious: Imagine if Slumdog met The Price is Right...
Click here to watch it.
Tired of the usual paper doll fare? Oh aren't we all...!
From one of my favorite blogs, Masala Chai, check out these Indian-inspired paper toys--all free to download and create yourself!
Have you heard about The Uniform Project? What do you think?
The brainchild of Sheena Mathieken, the Uniform Project has been getting all sorts of buzz lately, from the pages of the Times to the comments on Sepia Mutiny. The concept is simple: For one year, Mathieken will wear one of seven identical black dresses everyday (fancied up with various accessories) in order to raise awareness for Akansha Foundation, an educational non-profit. The controversy lies in what else the project entails. Mathieken says she is making an example of "sustainable fashion" by limiting her fashion choices. Naysayers say that, by loading on accessories and producing seven dresses, she is no posterchild for sustainability.
I think it's a cool fashion performance piece. Not sure about the spotlight on eco-fashion, though. Thoughts?
It has become a universal refrain amongst the most open-minded, wonderful moms I know that "I don't judge another mom based on anything." I say it myself, I understand why we say it: We realize parenthood is really difficult and that what may work for me may not work for you. It is aspirational, in a way, so that when we see the mom feeding her little girl excessive amounts of Pixi Stix on the plane, we try to understand that that may be the one way that her darling daughter will sit still, it might have been a promised treat, maybe they are organic Pixi Stix....!
I understand it but sometimes I wonder what we are doing to our own moral compasses to take so much pride in not judging anything. When do we cross the line between being open-minded to becoming unopinionated in a borderine-lobotomized way?
This sort of obtuse question came to mind last night as I was (for the first time in many weeks) reading the New York Times magazine cover to cover (oh how I have missed you!). Did you catch the article called "Love in 2-D" about the growing legion of Japanese men seeking love and companionship with...body-pillow girlfriends? Yes. That's right. There is a growing number of adult males in Japan who are in "relationships" with body pillows printed with these sort of pre-pubescent wide-eyed anime characters on them. They take the body pillows on dates, some have sex with them, they say things like "a 2-D relationship is much more passionate than a 3-D one" and, of their "companions," "she is my life's work."
Reading this article, my mind was racing. Terms like child pornograpy and sociopath jumped around in my head. But another, probably highly-conditioned portion of my mind kept reeling in my gut reaction and telling me to not judge, to be empathetic, to put myself into these mens' shoes. Obviously they are lonely. Obviously they have been hurt. Most probably would love a real relationship and are using these pillows as a substitute till they get there.
Who knows. I am just curious about this phenomenon of being tolerant of everything. I think part of being a mature, thoughtful, sensient person in the world involves seeing nuance in situations. I hope to raise empathetic childrend. But, end of the day, I am also pretty sure that the idea of a grown man romancing a pillow of a 10 year old girl in a bikini is objectively disturbing. And yet--I recoil at the idea of coming to such a conclusion. Such a judgment. Because I don't judge...!
Maybe it's the fact that I wouldn't want even these Japanese pillow-lovers to judge certain aspects of my life. Maybe it's the internalized belief that we never truly understand what somebody else is going through, or what is really going through somebody else's mind. Maybe it's the greatest acknowledgment of the human condition to not judge--because, really, we all do what we need to do to get through the day. I don't know. But I do wonder about the amount of pride I have taken in being ostensibly "non-judgmental." Why is it so important to me?
...Incidentally, has the NYTimes Magazine always been so child-centric? In case you missed it, check out this beautiful article about an inspirational lesbian couple fighting to keep the child they have fostered since she was a 2 week old with crack in her bloodstream, incapable of even a moment of sleep. And also this piece about the messages we give our children, as told from the point of view of a columnist who grew up living in fear.
According to this article from London, certain people in India are becoming proponents of a rather novel way to stop an impending population crisis:
Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has called the country to redouble its efforts to bring electricity to the rural population so these people can plug in TV sets and watch late-night soap operas rather than have sex.
"If there is electricity in every village then people will watch TV until late night and then fall asleep. They won't get a chance to produce children," Azad said. "When there is no electricity there is nothing else to do but produce babies." He added: "Don't think that I am saying this in a lighter vein. I am serious. TV will have a great impact. It's a great medium to tackle the problem ... 80 percent of population growth can be reduced through TV."
This just cracks me up. Most couples I know are resorting to scheduling, um, their "get-togethers" these days, in between children, jobs and whatnot. Maybe everyone--at least everyone here in the States--just needs to turn off the t.v. more...!
I am in sleep-training hell. Over the course of the last 3 1/2 years we have tried every trick in the book. "Happiest Baby on the Block" shhhhsh-ing; white noise; patting, cooing, swaddling till, ohhhhh, 10 months...! All of it. My husband and I are not the most consistent or persistent of people in terms of schedules for our kids so we often tried things for a certain amount of time and then sort of let things lay. But now, with three monsters underfoot, life is almost unmanageable without a rigorous schedule for naps and nighttime so here we are, fish out of water again. How can it be that, after almost 4 years and 3 attemps to "do it right," we find ourselves in this position of having to learn and re-learn the most basic components of raising children?!
Don't get me wrong, it's not like I think we should be experts. But it's almost hilarious to me, in my current tenure of a mom, to ge Googling things like "how much should a 5 month old sleep." How quickly we forget! Just another reminder that every single baby, and every single situation is differnt, unique, and, let's face it, challenging.
At this point, I can see the light at the end of my child-bearing tunnel. I am 99.999999 % positive I will not be having any other kids (I am not so foolish as to say I am 100% sure of anything, ever). My eldest is a person now, no longer a baby. My husband and I have firmly established and buttressed our lives and identities post-baby. But I haven't gotten consistent, uninterrupted sleep in over a year and a half. On days when I get something resembling decent sleep I can tangibly feel my brain working better. As such, I am going to resort to all caps in relation to the next couple days (weeks?) of sleep-training hell and say BRING IT ON, I am so ridiculously ready to have full mental functioning back, to be able to round this bend in the tunnel, take care of my kids, and re-enter the world of the not pregnant and not looking to be, to get real sleep and know I can expect real sleep from here on out, my family being complete.
SOOOOOO, if any of you guys have any advice for a mom of 3 in the midst of some hard-core sleep training PLEASE let me know. I and my sanity will thank you...!
My sister-in-law and brother-in-law moved from the Bay to Baltimore this past weekend. For five years, my husband and I have had the luxury of having both of our sisters live short car rides away. It's meant that "keeping in touch" was not a real process and we didn't have to work too hard at it. It's meant that we have all become family in that way that can only occur when there aren't confines of time, occasion, hotel rooms, the pressure to "bond."
My brother in law is a doctor and his (super prestigious) fellowship is taking him to The Wire-town. In my heart of heart of hearts (because I have to dig deep to get beyond the urge to kidnap them), I know this is going to be an amazing experience for these guys. How often do 30-something year olds with an infant get the chance to go on a one year adventure in a new city, to reinvent themselves without the pressure to sink roots? Not that often. And I am so excited for them!
But then there is the fact that our go-to people are leaving and that we have surmounted many hurdles to get to the strong, unbreakable relationship we currently hold. The fact that my memories of my married life are intertwined with my memories of them. The fact that my eldest is semi-cognizant of what is going on. Try explaining "fellowship" to a 3 year old who is struggling to understand that his Bhua isn't going to be ten minutes away anymore, in the cool condo with the awesome fish pond.
"Why can't Bhua and Swaph (yes--he calls my sister-in-law Bhua, but has foregone the analog for her husband...!) stay here mommy?," he said the other day.
"Because Swap has a job in Baltimore, baby," I said.
"We don't need doctors in Berkeley mommy?"
"Well, we do, D, but Swap got a really super amazing fun like running around in the park all day job in Baltimore so they have to go for a while," I said.
D was quiet.
"Hmmm," he said.
D's pregnant pauses, punctuated by "Hmmms" often yielded awesome results. I couldn't wait.
"What D?" I said.
"Bhua can stay here then," he concluded.
This was D's first real goodbye and, at the risk of ascribing sentiments to a toddler that he doesn't really feel--I think this experience has been one of the first times I have seen D sad.
Yesterday, apropos of nothing, D said: "But mommy? If Bhua and Swaph leave that means that they can't eat pizza with us, right?"
What a kid's perspective. It leveled me.
We have eaten pizza in the courtyard of these guys' house countless times, endless evenings around a wood-burning pizza oven during which my sister-in-law concocts delicious, thin crust pizzas, kids run rampant, nights linger. D has been to more of those nights than any other events thus far in his 3 and 1/2 year old life.
"Yup, that's right, D," I said, trying to think of something to make him feel better. What could I say? "But you can tell them how much you've loved getting pizza with them?"
Lame attempt, I know, but I was sad too. It was affecting my cheerleading.
"But I want them to get pizza with us forever for the rest of my life forever," he said (whinily, I have to admit....!)
Me too, I wanted to scream! But Mommy-Protector took over.
"They want to get pizza with you for the rest of your life forever too, D., but for a little while the have to go away."
D got really quiet but it was as if you could hear his freakily absorbant mind churning. It's the most amazing thing to witness this little kid learning about life and love and loss. Figuring things out. Conceptualizing the magical, wonderful world around him. His sense of time is both hilarious and profound because, for him, there is only "yesterday" and "tomorrow." He will say things like "Mommy, remember yesterday when we went to the zoo" when in actuality we went to the zoo 3 months ago. Zen in an odd sort of 3 year old way and just one of the many reasons I wish I could Innerspace myself and live in D's pre-frontal cortex for, like, a day.
But back to the pizza.
"I don't want them to go away mommy," D said. No longer whiny. Just poignantly plaintive.
"I know baby," I said. "How about we have pizza tonight, wouldn't that be fun," I said, all false cheer.
D was quiet.
"Does that sound like a good plan, D?" I said. D loves "plans."
"I don't think so Mommy," he said. I was shocked of course. What kid doesn't want pizza?
"I'm going to wait to have pizza with Bhua and Swaph," D continued. "When they come back home. Tomorrow."
A little question asking landed me with these two new things which will likely be my new go-to gifts for the foreseeable future!
How cool is this?
This company--snapily--will turn your photos into one of those old-school, thick, ridgy photos that seem to morph from one image into the next. Haven't been so enamored with a photo site since my friend L got me a flip book made from a video of me and my eldest son crawling on the floor.
And what about this for a great gift? Make your own pop up books. My inner craft-ess swoons and, not so secretly, I ordered these more for myself than my kids.
I realized this weekend that even my best friends judge me for having a nanny. Not in a "you're a horrible mom" way, to be sure. But in the way that "she has a nanny" is one of the first things that comes to mind when they think of me. It was a reminder of how complicated and multi-facted the nanny issue is. I used to go back and forth on "to nanny or not to nanny" all the time. I've gone through all the cliched mental hoops--will she be raising my kids; am I being selfish; etc. etc. And I've rounded the bend and truly now chant as mantra "Get a nanny and get over it."
So I thought I had exhausted every possible thing you could think about nannies.
But lo and behold, I was wrong. Tasha Blaine's new book, Just Like Family turns the mental gymnastics so many of us engage in in terms of nannies on its head. Instead of the usual back and forth on whether to get a nanny in the first place, it addresses a question that I had never yet asked: What does my nanny think of me?
It's a great read and much more fun than The Nannie Diaries and its ilk because Blaine's portraits of families and nannies are so real. She somehow manages to capture all the nuance of the complicated dynamics of nanny families in a way that made me re-examine assumptions I had thought were firmly tested.
Educational and absorbing...but, for what it's worth: I still will be emblazening "Get a Nanny and get Over it" with rhinestones on a tshirt very soon. You think it's crazy? Nah. This is crazy.
Confused about how to celebrate the Fourth with young kids? Check out these tips.
Sick of enforcing the 7:00 go-to-sleep ritual? Read about one mom's case against bedtimes.
Still haven't planned the "family summer vacation"? Cookie Magazine has you covered with a bunch of awesome-sounding, family-friendly road trip itineraries.
Have some extra time this weekend? Maybe you can make your kids a modern playhouse?!?
Have an awesome, safe 4th!
Have you stumbled upon Poppytalk Handmade yet? Everyone who knows me knows how obsessed I've been with Etsy as of late (don't even get me started on the Alchemy function...I get goosebumps...) and now, Poppytalk is being added to my roster of online markeplaces in which to get lost.
Less overwhelming than Etsy, Poppytalk Handmade is a "monthly online street market" that showcases goods from emerging design talent. Every month has a new theme--right now it's "all things summer"--and there is fabulous, homemade stuff you can purchase knowing you are supporting small artists and craftmakers.
Here are some of the many cool things I found recently: