Friday, November 30, 2007

Shhh! Mommy's Reading!

Thought I might pass some mom-centric reading recommendations along. I know few of us have time to read, much left brain cells left to understand what we're reading, but anyhoo.

I have written before about Rachel Cusk, one of my favorite writers. She wrote a collection of essays on motherhood, "A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mother." For many it will be too dark, but this is precisely why Crabmommy loved it. Cusk dispenses with the usual obligatory AND HIGHLY OBVIOUS facts about moms loving their babies and cherishing the happy moments and instead, she focuses on the difficult stuff: the identity adjustment you have to make when your body goes from one to two (cf. the essay "Motherbaby"); the bewildering nature of babies and how their mothers are supposedly meant to understand them but often don't have a clue...etc. Cusk also references literary characters in an interesting way in her collection (e.g., the childless Lily Bart from Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth).

What I like about this sort of writing is its invitation to the imperfect mother within all of us. The author is not interested in happy-mom automatons (momatons?) and their drivelous observations; by writing about the more disconcerting aspects of motherhood, she reflects the real things about motherhood that are worth sharing. As I have always stated in my not-remotely-humble opinion, parental joy does not good reading make. Unless you're being funny or witty, don't bother writing about your happiness. Despair and doubt, on the other hand...

If dark and difficult isn't yanking your chain right now, I'm always happy to point out some clever light fare. Author Ayelet Waldman has a series called the Mommy Track Mysteries with titles like Death Gets a Time-Out and The Big Nap. Crabmommy loves me a writer who doesn't take herself too seriously and while Waldman writes real literary fiction (AND has four children) she says of this series, "you're supposed to read them while breastfeeding." In other words, a perfect shower present.

Any mom-centric reads you want to rec? Or any other funny/sad/diverting/witty reads in general?

(New posts today and Wed at the bloglet. I need drug advice. Go see, please.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Crabmommy Xmas Newsletter

Now that Thanksgiving's behind us, it's time to get those holiday snaps printed up at Shutterfly (make sure you're all wearing matching J-Crew cableknit sweaters) and those holiday newsletters proofread for the mass-mailing. I just finished the first draft of my annual Crabfamily report and it goes something like this:

Whew! Can you believe how time flies? For the Crabfamily, it's truly astonishing to say "there goes another year of joy, achievement, growth (personal and financial)." But sure enough December is almost upon us, Santa is prepping his sleigh, and there's a touch of holiday magic in the air.

As you all know, having a toddler has been something of a challenge for Crabmommy, but by working positively and with self-control through the tough times, I'm proud to say that I now have a rather uniquely marvelous preschooler. Truly it is amazing what they teach us when we let them! Especially when they are as special and unusually kind as Crabtot, who voluntarily gave up her Radio Flyer toddler trike and a gently used sticker book so that the children of Iraq could have a special Christmas too.

If you want to read more, I'm afraid you'll have to hit the bloglet for the rest. But you can also stop right here, safe in the knowledge that my Christmas newsletter will contain the sort of heartfelt cheer that makes millions of people regurgitate annually across our fair nation.

I'm hardly the first to parody the Christmas newsletter. David Sedaris does it much better and many years sooner than I in his famous "Holiday Newsletter" (which, together with other essays such as the great "Santaland Diaries" makes "Holidays on Ice" the perfect stocking stuffer). There's also quite a fun website here, (thanks, A), containing the following choice excerpts of true and real egregious holiday newsletter transgressions:

Our daughter no longer colors, she designs . . .
[The daughter was three and a half, and not quite potty trained.]

Our daughter has mastered French. She isn't interested in Spanish and the school doesn't offer Russian, so she's taking Mandarin Chinese . . .
[Daughter who had mastered French was in the 9th grade.]

Got to love that one abut the little linguist. Crabmommy loves me a budding linguist. "She isn't interested in Spanish." Priceless!

The site also contains actual handy tips if you want to write something as silly as a holiday newsletter but haven't a clue as to how. And the author also offers a dizzyingly precise accounting of all of his past holidays newsletters and what makes them, in fact, top-notch. Not for the faint of heart, then. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Three's Company

Polygamists of Colorado City, Utah, you're not alone. Seems quite a few people are poly-marrying out there (only, doing it with people who are of marrying age—Warren Jeffs, take note!).

Leave it to Babble to find Miriam Axel-Lute, a "polyamorist" with a wife, a husband, a baby, and an essay called "And Baby Makes Four." She is keen to stress that her family is just the same as anyone else's. And she doesn't get why people always want to know about the sleeping arrangements.

To wit:

It used to be that the most common questions we got when we explained our relationship involved jealousy (not a problem, but an understandable question) or sleeping arrangements (why this is so often the first thing people think of is beyond me).
I know, Miriam. Wacky weirdos we are wanting to know about those sleeping arrangements when what we really should be asking is who takes out the garbage and how the health insurance plan works.

Now I'm not judging the three-way. Not judging, just laughing. Hard enough to find one person committed enough to you in life, but two? You've got to be seriously foxy-looking for that one, thinks I. But Miriam has a little purple hat on when I find her picture. And well, you all know how I feel about purple.

Still. A free world. You are free to wear purple and triple-commit and multiply fifty ways from Sunday. For now. But I hope the law will soon tighten up on this sort of thing. Because it's immoral. Indeed, I dream of the day when purple will be outlawed in America.

p.s. Apologies for blog-neglect. Terrible illnesses abounding in this home. Stay tuned for upcoming report on how Crabmommy accidentally killed the Precious "Bangy" (security blanket/lovey thing). And Monday sees new posts at Cookie, yadda yadda ya.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Checked out at the Checkup

While Crabmommy knows she has a shockingly remarkable child, I'm afraid Crabtot had a most unremarkable annual checkup.

Far from leaving with pamphlets called How To Reason with a Gifted Child or Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful: Integrating your Stunning Child in a Sea of Aesthetic Mediocrity, I left the doc's simply knowing Crabtot was normal.

Now Lord knows I cannot stand the spawn-promoting mommy, the "we are so blessed" mommy, the "my child is so advanced" mommy. I've done serious mass-dissing of the edu-mommy, the "she speaks Spanish and Sign Language too!" twitmommy. Indeed bragmomming (and bragdadding) appalls me. But while I look down on such smugmom impulses, something happens to me in the doctor's office and hot damn if I don't want C-tot to dazzle the doc as she does me! It's ugly, but that's motherhood for you. Or at least, Crabmotherhood.

Crabtot didn't enjoy the checkup. She's been apprehensive ever since she saw that Elmo Goes to the Doctor DVD when in one scene a weird little girl, who looks and sounds like Janis Joplin, hisses the words "check up check up" over and over again (Anyone know who I'm talking about?). So at the pediatrician, the usually loud Crabtot clammed up. Or to put it in a less pc-manner, she appeared dense. Or as we say in my native South Africa, dof. When the pediatrician held up three fingers Crabtot appeared terribly confused by the number "three." Then she was asked the color of her shirt and her eyes glazed over. By now the uglymommy within was clawing at my throat. I almost said it, people, and I 'aint proud of that, and I'm triple-cringing as I write this, but at least I shut my mouth BEFORE blurting out, "She even knows it in Spanish! say a-maree-yo, Crabtot, for the LOVE OF GOD, SPEAK!"

Though Tot perked up at the end and we managed to leave without referrals for remediation, I have to admit, I was a bit bummed she hadn't blown the doc away. And I was also hugely bummed at myself for my shallowness. Yet again. The truth of it is, we want the doctors to tell us that our children are special. But really their job is to tell us our kids are healthy. The rest we already know.

Of course it may not be mere shyness/fear that inhibits tots in doc offices. It may be that by playing dumb they're outsmarting us. We want them to perform, and because they see through us, they refuse. Crabgrandma reminded me of my cousin who, as a kid, refused to play the game at a pediatrician's office. After many long minutes of questions answered monosyllabically he finally lobbed a kicker before the interview ended.

Pediatrician: "So, James, do you have any pets at your house?"
James: "No."
"No cats or birds or...dogs?"
"Oh, I thought you had a dog!"
"You're sure you don't have a dog?"
And then, finally, James changed his mind on pets: "Actually, we have an aardvark. Named Edmund."

Tomorrow at the bloglet: Utah Baby Names. And you thought Pilot Inspektor was bad.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Crabtot Recommends

I've been boozing it up in Kentucky this weekend so have been remiss in not posting since making my pronouncements on the Art of Naming Corey Feldman's child. I trust you all missed me terribly, but that the Myanmar flip-flops did well to tide you over.

Now I just have way too many spiders to kill today so may I politely suggest hot-clicking it over to Cookie to read what Crabtot recommends for bedtime reading. And if that doesn't quite hit the spot, perhaps you'd like to watch a delightfully creepy video embedded in this post about infants learning to swim. Seriously, has to be seen to be believed.

In this promo flick, an infant floats on water, an action accomplished by shunting his leg round and round in a swimming pool in an extremely creepy and yet impressive manner, and then bobbing like a cork for five entire minutes. Until his very creepy evangelist/porn star father/instructor charges in to rescue him. Honestly the whole thing, from concept to execution, is scarier than Tom Cruise's bangs (thanks Adrianne for pointing that one out to me).