Yes, Dear

May 31st, 2011

Violet has been calling me/us “Dear.” Not as a pet-name, but as a name. Like this: “Dear? Dear? Where are you?” Since we never call each other “Dear,” we were stumped as to where it was coming from. Then, the other day, I sat down to watch The Jetsons with her.

I don’t typically sit down to watch TV with Vibble—if I have the time to sit down with her, we can turn off the TV and do something together, is how it is for me. I try to reserve her allotted TV-time-per-day for when I need to multi-task. So I’m usually in and out of the room, in orbit with laundry baskets and stacks of junk mail. She watches Apple TV, so there are no ads, and I was under the impression I didn’t need to monitor what she was watching if it was something familiarly innocuous. Like The Jetsons.

Violet loves The Jetsons. She always has a current favorite show, and right now this one is it. (Past favorites that have been the constant request include Beep-Beep [Road Runner], Hey-Hey [Fat Albert], and Madeline.) Recently, she went through a Smurfs phase, and this was my first encounter with something that contradicted that “no need to monitor, fairly innocuous” assumption. Flashback to the 80s. The Smurfs are BIZARRE. Fine. Smurfette is the only female and originates as a black-hearted temptress. Not so fine.

The origin of Smurfette is that there are no female Smurfs until Gargamel invents an evil Smurfette to short-circuit the horny blue creatures, who oblige by turning into utter morons in her presence. Of course, it all works out, and Papa Smurf eventually turns the bad (black-haired) Smurfette into a “real” (blond-haired) Smurfette, and everyone except Gargamel lives smurfily ever after. A nod to original sin, perhaps. OK message for my daughter in her formative years? Um … “So, you see, Violet, girls can’t help how sexy they are, but it’s still EVIL.”

Do I sound like a feminist who paid too much attention in grad school, or what? Yes, I let my daughter eat things she drops on the floor in extremely unsanitary public places, but no, I will not let her walk away from The Smurfs thinking she comes equipped with wickedness standard just because she is a girl.

Perhaps you feel I am overreacting. Will Violet really internalize messages I’m only picking up with my own keen analysis skills? And that’s what I love about America in 2011, everyone: Parenting is really a fun tray full of principles we each get to pick from the buffet. I’ll take two servings of critical thinking and only a very light helping of concern for germs (I will, however, continue to appreciate the fact we live in a place where hand sanitizers, baby wipes and antibiotics are plentifully available).

Back to The Jetsons … It turns out George and Jane call each other “Dear” a lot. One mystery solved. It also turns out Jane and all of her friends are portrayed as lazy, vain ditzes who drive terribly, have no concept of finances and are overwhelmed by the burdens of domesticity. Jane’s mother, and any other woman older than 40, is the standard fat, nosy and materialistic. Judy, the skinny teenage daughter, is always claiming to be on a diet.

To be fair, George is portrayed as lazy as well. He is also a grandly poor performer at his job and is a bumbling idiot when it comes to relations with his family. Because isn’t that just how men are?

This brings us to Elroy, the most well-adjusted cast member, and the only one about whom I have no complaints (Astro clearly has issues, so it’s truly just Elroy I can point out as an example of balance). And that’s simply not enough. I don’t have a good plan for how I’m going to do it, but I’m going to wean her off of The Jetsons. I like Yo Gabba Gabba a lot, and there’s a YGG Live show coming to town, so maybe I can get her back into that again (it’s one of the few shows that has persisted as a backup request option for her, even after her initial crush on it smoldered). She does love that “Chrit-mus” episode, where everyone makes presents for their friends, and Muno pretends to be a holiday tree. See how nice those messages are? That’s several loads of laundry I can fold knowing my daughter isn’t handing over a lobe of her brain to patriarchal values.

Things I Shouldn’t Have to Say/Explain

May 25th, 2011


No matter how much you try to teach the snake to say, “Mama,” he’s never going to do it, I’m sorry.


Dumping an entire potted patio plant into your kiddie pool brings Mommy dangerously close to a nervous breakdown, so please—please—don’t do that again.

Sense of Humor Milestone

May 24th, 2011

You know that old joke where some character on a TV show accidentally gets something stuck over their head—like, in this case, a cooking pot—and then goes, “Hey! Who turned out the lights?!”

That just happened, and Violet guffawed for three minutes straight. It was THE funniest thing she had ever seen! “Mama! Look! [HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!]”

I’m still looking for the line in the Baby Book for “Laughs at Who-Turned-Out-The-Lights joke.” It feels like a significant milestone. It’s got to be here somewhere …

When Imitation Is Better Than The Real Thing, or “Where I Get My Food”

May 19th, 2011

I just got back from the faux-op, aka Trader Joe’s. I’m onto you, faux-op: I know you train your employees to be all the things that are great about hippies, without being any of the things about hippies that are hard to take. (I think the word “skippy” actually describes them better than does the word “hippie”.) I know someone in Corporate at Trader Joe’s has been refining the initiative to invoke just enough of that co-op atmosphere to make me feel like I’m buying the best for my household, even though I’m barely looking at the packaging, because I’m trying to get out of your crazy crowded-ass aisles and away from your skippies who are ringing up and bagging my items and acting like they have been my neighbors for 20 years, asking me about my weekend plans and telling me which items from the frozen foods section they like best.

And I love you! I LOVE YOU, TRADER JOE’S! I’m onto your gimmicks, and I still love you. I don’t find you an imitator at all; in fact, I think you represent an intelligent alternative. I like Whole Foods, and I go there sometimes, but the grocery industry is a money making industry, after all, and oh, Lord, have they made some of my money theirs at Whole Foods. It’s true, the 365 brand is affordable. It’s true that nothing else in that store is (for me, anyway).

I enjoy the Farmers Market now and then, but it’s gotten fairly corporate itself in places, and I don’t have the time or interest to get to know the people in the stalls to keep it all straight. Also, the prices are pretty high, and the crowds sometimes make me want to scrap it all and go back to the days (last Saturday) when I ate exclusively what was available in Aisle 11 of CVS. (If you lived across the street from a CVS, you might do this, too.)

As for the co-op, it’s great, and I do shop there, maybe once a month. I don’t want to badmouth it one bit. But here are five things I personally prefer about Trader Joe’s, versus the actual co-op:


The employees at Trader Joe’s are ambitiously efficient. They’re kind of dorks for efficiency, and they are nerds for groceries. The members working their shifts at the co-op are cooler than that, it’s true, but when I need hormone-free milk and free-range eggs, I need them stocked and scanned and in my car in the least amount of time possible. I don’t care how cool, versus how skippy, the people are who make that happen for me.


I feel constant co-op guilt when I’m there, because I did have a membership for a few years, and now I don’t, and maybe I should? I should support the co-op, here I am shopping at it, shouldn’t I let everyone who sees my keychain know I want it to be an option for all of us, always, like NPR and the Natural History Museum? Even if the savings don’t add up for me, shouldn’t I take up the cause? I hate feeling guilty the whole time I shop.


While Trader Joe’s may not have every brand I like best, they in most cases have an alternative that works. Where I prefer Prego, Trader Joe’s offers me its own brand of pasta sauce that tastes similar. Where I prefer Sarah Lee, Trader Joe’s offers its own soft whole wheat bread. But where I prefer Honey Nut Cheerios, the co-op offers me kasha. Or quinoa. Or a bin of brown nuggets I don’t want to dig into with the community scooper.


Sweets. Trader Joe’s has the world’s most awesome frozen cakes, pies, and such, and its selection of baking mixes and chocolates and candies is terrific. Not all of them are outstanding, but most of them are. At the co-op, the new baked good, box of cookies, or candy bar I decide to try always ends up tasting the way it smelled in GNC in the mall when I was a kid.


Finally, there’s the customer base. This may sound judgmental, but I’m going to own it: I like it best, when grocery shopping, to be among people I feel are similar to me. By that, I don’t necessarily mean my own “demographic” 100 percent. I don’t mean people of the same economic circumstances or family situations or ethnicity (although let’s all be honest, no one wants to shop with Canadians, they’re like natives for God’s sake). What I mean is, I like not having to navigate around extreme nutters. And there are always half a dozen of these, minimum, in the co-op, like the guy in the yellow tie who told me the Russians are still dropping nukes on us. Or the woman who had an employee cornered by the hand creams for my entire visit, asking about ingredients and basically trying to squeeze an education in dermatology from this poor guy. Or the lady in line at the register in front of me who felt the need to include special instructions for each and every item, like “That’s a very ripe avocado, so please handle it carefully.” Don’t these people have text messages to send? Because I do, and I’d like to get done with my grocery shopping and send them.

This does make me sound like someone who isn’t very “in touch” with where my food comes from, and that would be a fair accusation, and one I would like to work on, in ways that suit me. I love the farm tours we have gone on and would love to do that often. I also want to get cooking more, even though I hate it … in all reality, what I would love most is if Stevel got cooking more. Until Violet is eight, then it’s Chore Time, and chores include duck l’orange (it’s from Trader Joe’s, Violet, so you can juts unzip the packaging, chuck that duck in the slow cooker, and head off to soccer practice, NO BIG DEAL. Earn that allowance, Missy!).

Sugar High

May 18th, 2011

If someone had told me how much fun it is to bake things from mixes-in-a-box with a three-year-old, I would surely have majored in Cooking-with-Three-Year-Olds in college.

Violet did all of the adding of ingredients, kept an eye on the baking cupcakes, and helped to frost them. And of course, she has been helping to eat them! In fact, it turns out she and I should never, ever, EVER be left alone with a bunch of cupcakes unsupervised. I think I might throw up, and we haven’t taught Violet yet how to hold back Mommy’s hair while she barfs up Funfetti cupcakes, so that’s just going to be a disaster.

Seriously, can someone please come be in charge of us?

Photos here

The Flood is Coming

May 15th, 2011

It appears to be Violet’s ambition to cover the entire surface of the Earth in root beer. I thought you might want to prepare. It’s going to be a sticky planet.

Things I Shouldn’t Have to Say/Explain

May 13th, 2011

Why is there a beach bucket full of cooked spaghetti behind my desk chair?