Happy Birthday, Daisy!

29 Aug

On such a special holiday, some of our most loyal readers sent in personalized birthday wishes for our dearest Daisy. Won’t you join them – and me – in wishing her a happy, happy day??

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Violet’s Guide to Baby Names

26 Aug

I have an interesting perspective on names, as do my colleagues: we see hundreds of them every year; thousands in the span of a teaching career. I have found that it was especially difficult for my teacher friends and I to name our babies, as every suggestion our spouses offered was met with a, “taught one of those…and one of those…and seven of those.” On the flip side, we know what happens to children with overly-creative names: people can’t spell them, can’t remember them, and can’t pronounce them correctly. We’ve struggled with unique spellings, pronunciations which do not fit the spellings, and multiples of popular names on rosters. Heck, during my time as an inner-city teacher, I had some students who couldn’t even spell their own names correctly. One relatively bright high school student actually asked me how to spell her middle name, since her mother obviously invented it in the hospital after eating Alphabet Cereal for breakfast. From a teacher’s mouth to your ears, here are some suggestions to consider as you’re flipping through the fifteen baby-name books you ordered from Amazon in a hormonal shopping frenzy:

 

  1. Make sure your child’s name is spelled how it’s pronounced.

There is nothing so frustrating for the child – or the teacher, for that matter – when her name is butchered on the first day of school. As an educated educator, I abide by the rules of language. If your daughter’s name ends in –ia, then that’s how I’m going to pronounce it. If you want the last sound of her name to be –a, omit the i or I will say it. We spend a lot of time reading your child’s name on paper before we ever meet her, and we probably already have a pronunciation ingrained in our minds before the first day of school. You know what they say: habits die hard. Two weeks of calling your child the wrong name in our heads is going to translate to several weeks of calling your child the wrong name in our classroom.

 

2. Consider all possible mispronunciations before committing to that name.

I once had a student named Asara. When engaging in point one above, I would hear the name Ass-arrr-ah in my head. That’s what I called her on the first day of school as I took roll. It wasn’t until the embarrassed girl raised her hand to correct me that I learned her name was pronounced A-sarah. Guess what? The damage had been done. The other kids called her Ass for weeks and weeks. It created extra work for me to manage my classroom and eliminate the bullying, and I cannot imagine how humiliated and hurt this child was.

 

3. Picture how that name will look on his desk name plate.

All parents have high hopes and expectations for their child’s future; and why shouldn’t they? Every baby is an empty vessel which can be filled with knowledge, dreams, and aspirations. Don’t sabotage your child’s future by giving him a name that will potentially limit him. (If you haven’t read Freakonomics yet, do so. There’s a fantastic study where they sent out 2000 identical resumes. One thousand had an ethnic name on them, the other thousand had a mainstream American name like Michael. Guess which group received the most call-backs?) Picture your child’s name in different scenarios: uttered at the beginning of the evening news, or on a bench plate under her seat in a courtroom. Does the name fit the roll? “Hi, this is ABC Nightly News, and I’m Javarious’ta Smith” doesn’t have the same ring as “…and I’m Alexander Smith.” Will your daughter be taken seriously as police chief with the name Pippy? “Sargent Pippy Williams, reporting for duty.” It doesn’t hold the same gravity as “Sargent Samantha Smith.”

 

 4. Don’t be a slave to trends.

I’m fortunate that my name became popular at the end of the 90s and beginning of the millennium. As a result, I never had to be “Violet W.” at school; I was simply “Violet.” On the other hand, all of the Ashleys and Tiffanies and Jessicas had to go by a last initial; not just with the teachers, but with their friends as well. I would ask Daisy, “Did you see the horrific haircut Ashley got?” to which she would reply, “Which Ashley?” I know that many of these names are lovely, elegant, and sound beautiful on the lips, but is that worth condemning your child to a lifetime of initials? During my first year teaching, one of my classes had four Dylans in it. Four. I had Dylan T, Dylan M, and two Dylan D’s. Think about the confusion that would cause all of us.

Me: And what was the theme of the short story?

Students Raise Hands

Me: Yes, Dylan?

Four Students: Which one?

 

It also allowed for serious error when the kid would forget to put his last name on his essay, and I wound up playing guessing games as to which Dylan received the A and which Dylan received the D. When I inevitably messed that up and gave the wrong student the wrong grade, the parents were livid (and rightly so.) Please, prevent this kind of chaos by selecting a name you DON’T see on every parenting message board across the internet.  I’m sorry to inform you, but your child will have 6 Keegans in his class, 13 Makenzies, 9 Makaylas, and 18 Jaydens/Aidens/Cadens in his class. Good luck keeping that birthday party list in order!

 

Emma, Olivia, Aiden, Keegan, and Dylan are beautiful names, and if that is what you choose for your baby, I’m sure it will fit him/her well. We’re not trying to discourage you from naming your child something meaningful and special. All we want you to do is consider this baby’s name from a variety of angles. Remember that this baby will be an adult someday; an adult who will have to wear this name for the rest of his/her life. An adult who will have to print this name on a diploma (or four, hopefully), a business card, and a wedding invitation. Give your child a name that s/he will be proud to wear; one that will fit every phase of life, not just infancy. 

Daisy and Violet Take a Stand

5 Aug

…And we stand against Chik-fil-a and their supporters.

This is not a free-speech argument. Nobody denies Chik-fil-a owner Dan Cathy his right to his opinion (no matter how stupid and ignorant it may be.)

We stand against a company which puts money into Cathy’s pockets. We stand against Cathy donating said money to organizations which support hate initiatives. What are we talking about, here? The Marriage and Family Coalition, started by Cathy, which is supported by Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International. What does Exodus International do? They promote “ex-gay” therapy, to “pray the gay away.” (Makes me wonder if we can “pray the Black away” or “pray the Jewish away.” Why don’t we just “pray” every time we encounter a people group that doesn’t fit in with our morals or ideals?) They call it “Set Free;” does anyone else find the irony in that?

He donates money to the National Christian Foundation, which in turn supported Focus on the Family. What did they do that pissed off your favorite heterosexual life partners? They stood in support of the Defense of Marriage Act, which aims to define marriage as existing between one man and one woman, by law.

Cathy supports the Family Research Council. They’re such an outspoken voice against the gay community that the Southern Poverty Law Group actually added them to a list of “Hate Organizations,” right up there with the KKK.

Daisy and Violet know (because the word “believe” implies that there is subjectivity to the statement) that people are born gay. Hormones, brain chemistry, whatever; we’re not scientists. We’re bloggers. But something chemical makes some people sexually repulsed by the opposite gender and attracted to the same gender. We believe these people deserve the same civil rights as straight Americans.

Daisy and Violet also believe in the Constitution. We believe in the freedom of speech. We believe in Cathy’s right to make his statements. We believe in keeping the government out of American’s lives, just like the authors of the Constitution intended. We believe in Thomas Jefferson’s words: “separation of Church and State” (we hope you know that that does not appear anywhere in the Constitution, kiddos.) We want to keep Constitution out of our prayers and our beliefs out of the Constitution. Daisy and Violet believe that all Americans should enjoy the same basic rights, in spite of race, gender, creed, religion, or sexual preference.

A friend commented on Facebook recently, stating that she’s had two failed marriages, implying that as a heterosexual, she’s no better than anyone else at this ” til death do us part” stuff. What makes us think that the gay community won’t get it right?

 

(Violet would like to challenge her Christian readers in support of CFA to find one verse in the Bible where Jesus, not Paul or the random author(s) of Leviticus, speak against gay/lesbian relationships.)

Violet’s Splendiferous News!

30 Jul

Dearest Readers, I have been such a workaholic these past few months. Just as I thought I was getting a little break from my killer schedule when I graduated from my Masters program, I accepted a part-time job, and I went back to my crazy 14-16 hour days.

But I’m proud to announce that those days are (kind of) behind me:

I’m a work-at-home Mom now!

The part-time folks made me a full time offer I couldn’t refuse (kind of like the educational mafia, no?). The hours are pretty long – 8am – 8pm each week day – but the benefits, both tangible and intangible, are amazing. I get to work from the comfort of my home. I get to take coffee breaks and pee at my leisure! (Teachers, you can understand why that’s so important.) Best of all? I get to spend my coffee breaks, bathroom breaks, and meals with my daughter!

I’m so fortunate to have an amazingly supportive husband. Buddy, who is back in school, will watch Pterodactyl while I work, and then I get to be with her while he’s in class. I get to take my favorite classes at the gym. I get to grocery shop off-peak hours, when I don’t have to play bumper cars with the majority of my community. And best of all? When I decide I’m done for the day, I’m done for the day. I don’t have to wait until the appropriate time to clock out, then join the herd of sheep crawling across three interstates to get home. I just turn off my computer, leave my office/guest room, and join the rest of my family.

I’m not promising that this life change will bring more frequent blogging; I’m actually afraid that I’ll never want to touch a computer after I’m through with my work day. But I can promise that I’ll be able to make more of an effort to reach out to you, and continue to entertain and thrill you with my caustic, obnoxious sense of humor.

Excuse me while I pop some champagne.

-Violet

Martha Stewart Does NOT Live Here.

29 Jul

Everyone does it. Don’t pretend you’re better than me, because you do it, too.

We live moderately messy lives. We let dishes pile up, we allow toys to take over every horizontal surface, and we sometimes forget to dust the high corners where the cobwebs party.

But God forbid a guest comes to your house, and you speed clean every single surface to pretend that you live a Martha Stewart lifestyle.

If it’s an overnight guest, chances are the mess will just return. Toys will make their way back to the floor. Dishes will become dirty in droves as all these extra people eat in your home. The sparkling floors will resume their dingy states. But we’re so self-conscious about how we present ourselves to our friends and family (because who keeps house guests they don’t like? I certainly don’t!) that we’re willing to kill ourselves to impress them. Or maybe not impress them, but at least convince them that we’re tidy.

I started to ponder these things as I prepared my house for Blondie and The Little Drummer Boy’s arrival tomorrow. Why did I bust out the handheld steamer to eradicate those tiny stains from the sofa? What difference does it make if my mother and brother see Cheerios stuck to the wall? They know I have a toddler. They know I’m a busy, working mother. They understand that my husband spends every waking moment following Pterodactyl around and cleaning up the immediate messes. Why do I care so much?

The only thing I can deduce from my Swiffer frenzy is that company gives me an excuse to do a good, deep clean that I otherwise would put off. How often do I take the time to scrub and organize the fridge? Not until some food rots and makes a mess of its surface do I actually remove the drawers and clean them. Would I even bother renting a carpet shampooer if these people weren’t going to walk barefoot on it? Probably not; it’s just a magnet for more flying food, courtesy of my little terrorist.

I’m pleased to report that my house still looks like a construction zone, complete with one sock (yes, just one) here and there, its mate nowhere to be found. My family arrives in T-24 hours, and I’ve got nothing to show for it, save for a few recipes I’ve pinned to Pinterest in anticipation of tomorrow night’s dinner. I guess I’ll wipe the counters of the sticky soy milk and load the dishwasher. But I’ve decided to take a stand against cleaning for proper impressions. Buddy and I are messy folks. We clean for cleanliness sake (and to remind the tropical bugs that they’re unwelcome here), but we’re no longer going to put on a mask of Donna Reed perfection and act like we run a smooth ship.

Because the reality is, our ship is littered with talking stuffed animals and halves of grapes.

And that’s just how we like it.

First World Parenting Pains

25 Jul

It’s not enough to suggest your child break a switch from the tree if you want to get him/her to take you seriously. That may have worked for our grandparents’ generation, but our kids could take a beating and keep on Tweeting. No, no, no: for our kids, a certain je nais se quoi is required. Here are some First-World threats that parents in Mongolian farmlands will never, ever utter:

“I’m going to turn off Netflix, and you’re going to have to watch regular tv!” (this little gem was uttered in my very own home last night. As soon as the words came out of Terry’s mouth, I looked at him and said “Wow. That is most definitely a first world punishment”. It worked, though -Daisy)

“If you put the Playstation remote in your mouth one more time, we’re switching to the Wii.”

“Mommy will delete your favorite app from the iPhone if you don’t quit sending people text messages.”

“That’s it, no more fighting: we’re going to listen to the Pandora station MOMMY wants to listen to!”

“Spell words correctly on Facebook or I’m going to proofread everything you post.”

“No, you can’t pause your show to go to the bathroom.”

“Yes, I know commercials are not fun. No, you can’t just fast forward them”

“Sorry, you can’t see the picture they just took” [This one rings true when my (Daisy’s) grand parents are in town. They don’t use digital cameras.]

“Mommy needs her Mac for work. Sorry, you’ll just have to play on the PC for now.”

Have you ever caught yourself saying something outrageously “First World” to your kids? Please share!

D&V.

What’s Goin’ On in the Kitchen

24 Jul

We wanted to keep you abreast of our lives, in spite of the fact that we’re both useless bloggers these days.

Daisy is doing a little better. With the right combination of treatments and medicines, she’s quasi-functioning. Well, at least functioning enough to make this killer baked egg dish tonight which she subsequently emailed pictures of to Violet. (Did she bother to drop a portion in the mail? Of course not. Just text photos of yummy food. Keep it up.) You can expect Daisy to post the recipe (and hopefully a corresponding photo) of the delight soon. She’s very fortunate that she has the support of Terry, The Mayor, and The First Husband while she recovers from her boo-boos. The kids, as always, are angelic cupcakes of love. Apparently, Daisy has come up with a whole list of “First World Parenting Threats” to use when the kids are out of line. Let’s all hope her health recovers enough so that she can share these gems with the world.

Violet is slowing down a little bit. Job #1 is on a brief summer vacation, so she only has to worry about Job #2. After three consecutive weeks of house guests, culminating with Blondie and the Little Drummer Boy (baby brother), she’s going to set her house on fire so she never has to clean it again. Buddy is awesome, and has begun to join her in her little yoga addiction. She can now bend her leg behind her spine and use her toes to whisk sugar and eggs for frosting. Yoga = mad skills. Pterodactyl has one speed these days: running. Full blast. The cat and the furniture are suffering immensely, but it’s kind of funny. Her lexicon of language is growing exponentially, and fortunately for everyone, she’s limiting her use of foul language. Her favorite word these days is “shoes,” pronounced “shuuuz.” Pinterest has convinced Violet that her master bedroom is inadequate. There’s a redecoration in progress, converting the room from neutral Earth tones to yellow and gray. It’s going at a snail’s pace, but eventually her bedroom will be Pin-worthy.

What have you been up to, Dear Readers? Have we missed any major events in your lives? Please update us!

D&V

The Childless Aren’t Dumb, Just Ignorant.

23 Jul

I remember those child-free days: sleeping in, bathing regularly, taking any gym class I wanted in spite of the daycare’s operating hours. I remember looking at mothers like Daisy and thinking that they made parenthood look easy, so when I saw less agile mothers trying to corral their loud, obnoxious kids, I just thought it was an indication of their evolutionary uselessness. From time-to-time, child-free friends will say dumb shit that makes me want to wrap my fingers around their throats while they apologize profusely for their ignorance. I’d like to address a few of those ideas, if I may:

1. Just make him/her sit there quietly. 

Uh, ok. And while I do that, go staple water to a tree. Let’s see who finishes first. The reality, childless people, is that we’re talking about small people, not trained labradors or robots. There’s this fun age between infancy and childhood called purgatory toddler. Let me tell you about that phase: in this age bracket, children have developed enough physical and motor skills to be able to walk, grab, climb, and throw. Now that they’re mobile, they are no longer content to sit still; they want to use these newfound legs for walking and running. (I keep thinking of Lieutenant Dan: “You got new legs!”) They are as curious as ever, and each new experience must be explored and understood. Just like adults are not content to simply ride the London Eye over the city and call it a tour, children don’t want to observe the world while strapped to a booster seat. They want to interact. Couple their intrinsic curiosity with their lack of reasoning skills, and you have a two-year-old running up to a stranger’s table in a restaurant, trying to grab their wine glass out of their hands.

2. Picky eaters? Just make him/her eat it or nothing at all!

Oh, if only it were that easy. Remember what I said before? These are people with their own minds and bodies? That goes for tastebuds, too. And those little suckers are developing and adapting to new experiences as quickly as the neurons from which synapses fire. Last week, Pterodactyl LOVED grapes. This week, she puts them in her mouth and spits them out. Now, her favorite snack is a bagel with cream cheese. And just like you adults have foods you don’t care for (capers come to my mind – belch!), so do these kiddos. The biggest hurdle is this: these tiny bodies are growing and developing at astronomical rates. They need energy and nutrients to do so. If I tried the “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit” mantra, many of my kid’s meals would consist solely of Cheerios. In order to make sure she has enough energy and nutrients to grow, I might have to adapt what foods I feed her while her tastebuds are learning what to like and dislike.

3. Who cares what time it is? He/She can go with us.

Well, now. I’m not even going to discuss how unfair it is to other adults in the world to have to deal with some strange baby or toddler fussing while they try to enjoy a night out. We’ve already covered that topic. So much of a child’s growth and development rests (haha, I love puns) upon their sleeping habits. The brain develops during REM sleep. Those little, energetic, curious bodies? They need the rest in order to restock the energy that they’re itching to burn. Adults need a solid 8 hours for healthy thought processes, muscle rejuvenation, and other internal functions. You know this to be true, in spite what you think you can “get away with.” Children, then, require significantly more in order to function. Taking my 15 month old to a late dinner is not only inconsiderate to other diners, but detrimental to her overall development.

What this all boils down to; what many childless people tend to forget, is that children are PEOPLE. They are humans with thoughts and opinions and preferences. All parenting choices come down to the balance between allowing these little people to discover and grow and providing them with the structure in which to do so. Just like you can’t tell an independent, free-thinking adult what to eat, how to think, and where to go, you can’t tell a toddler, who hasn’t developed the necessary rationalizing skills to make strong judgments, precisely what to think or how to live. Just like Pterodactyl learned the word “shit” from hearing me say it way too frequently, she is learning appropriate dietary choices and behaviors from how I eat and how I act. Five or eight years from now, with the necessary thinking skills in place, I’ll have more control or more leverage. For now, I have to adapt my pre-baby parenting ideas to this bitch of a thing called “reality.”

And just for a point-of-reference, for those of you who truly don’t “get it” yet: think about your career. Whether you’re a nurse, a teacher, or a police officer, you constantly have laypersons telling you how to do your job better than you do. Do they know the intricacies of your role? Do they understand all the responsibilities you must carry behind the curtain? Does it frustrate you that people have unrealistic expectations of what you should do and how? Think about parenting as a job, and realize that so much happens behind the scenes that you cannot possibly understand what goes into a productive, healthy household.

-Violet

Aurora, Colorado

21 Jul

Daisy and Violet would like to extend our deepest condolences to the victims and community of Aurora, Colorado, as they try to cope with this senseless tragedy. In an effort to minimize redundancy, our only contribution to this national conversation will come from our Mommy Blog perspective:

What kind of fuckwad parent takes a 4 year old and a 3 month old to a midnight movie? What film is more important than your children’s peaceful rest and sense of routine? See the damn matinee, people!

MIA…

15 Jul

Dearest Readers,

We need to apologize to you for our extended absence. Things have been pretty rocky for this dynamic duo lately. Violet is working 2 jobs, from 7am to 9pm, and Daisy has been in and out of the hospital and in massive amounts of pain. We’re going to have to lay low for a while. When Daisy regains her health and Violet regains her time, we’ll be back with all sorts of irreverent observations and hilarity. Daisy has some fantastic ER observations that she’s just itching to share with you!

In the meantime, please keep both families in your prayers, and thank you for your patience while we sort out our personal lives.

Always,
The Siamese Twins

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