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A Knock Knock Joke
Hollis: Knock Knock!

Me: Who's there?

Hollis: HOWWIS! (Laugh hysterically)

Repeat 500 times. I swear it gets funnier.

So, I'm back from vacation now. More to come soon!


Santa Baby
I've been slacking on my blog this week. I apologize. The perfect storm has converged at work to make the 3 weeks before Christmas incredibly busy. After this week I'll be on vacation and back to the blogginess! In the meantime, I give you an incredibly cute, albeit half naked, Santa baby:


Parenting Manifesto
Brian over at Rebel Dad has started a new Parenting Manifesto project. You can find Brian's top 10 manifesto points here. I've added to them:

11. Don't feel guilty about your parenting choices. If you want to work, do it and be proud. If you want to stay home, do it and be proud. What's best for you is best for your family.

12. Learn to say "I'm sorry." We all make mistakes and teaching your children by example to take responsibility for their actions will be invaluable.

I'm sure I could think of more but I'm just doing a quick post today.

What's your "parenting manifesto?"

Edited to add:
For those of you who can't seem to post comments here, it's not just you! Apparently Blogger knows about the problem and is trying to fix it. Hopefully, I won't shrivel up and die from comment withdrawal in the meantime.

From Blogger's Known Problems page:
Logging in with an old Blogger account to post a comment on the new Blogger is giving a “please try again later” error. Until we fix this, it may work to log in first at http://www.blogger.com/login.g, and then go to the comments page on the new version of Blogger in beta. — latest update on Thursday, December 14, 2006
Damn them!

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How to Cheat - My Pre-School Update

Last week I promised to let all of you know if I figured out the secret to getting Hollis into the pre-school of my choice. (I'll call it "THE School.") Well, it happened. We cracked the code. I'd like to say that my stalking paid off, but really all we had to do was cheat! Who knew?

So here's the story for those of you who didn't read my Stop the Madness post last week. THE School is in danger of filling up before they start letting the unwashed masses inside. First, the siblings register. Then members of the church, with which THE School is affiliated, register. Then and only then do the rest of us heathens have a shot. And for this year, it looked like very few heathens were going to have a shot at all. Well, our sitter, M, sent both of her boys to THE School. And two of the older pre-schoolers she watches, Grace and Peyton, are also at THE School. So M (have I mentioned that she is a godess?) had a chat with a few teachers and the head of THE School and they've agreed to let Hollis in as a "sibling" to Grace and Peyton. Apparently all the teachers know Hollis pretty well anyway. You see he has this whole life without me once I leave for work in the morning! M has taken Hollis to THE School many times for drop off and pick-ups and various school programs over the last year and a half. And I'm sure my little man charmed the pants off of everyone he met. That's just how he is. He's also frighteningly well behaved when T and I aren't around. Of course this also underscores my fear that his sitter is a far better parent than I am, so we'll just forget about that for now, m'kay?

THE School is by no means a shi shi school (thanks for the term, shi shi, Gunfighter!) but it is a good school, and it's convenient, and Hollis is comfortable there, and I'm sure it will be great for him. This is all rather anti-climactic after the time I spent worrying, but I'm happy that Hollis will be set for next year. And I'll be buying M a case of something yummy and alcoholic for Christmas!


A Beautiful Post
The fabulous Ms. Chick at Chicky, Chicky Baby has written a post so moving, I have to share it. I recently wrote a post about my son's baby book and Mrs. Chicky's post really put everything into perspective for me. It also made me realize how lucky I am to still have my mother. Please go read it.

Just Me


Stop the Madness!
For the love of all that's holy, someone please slap me! I have become that mother I swore I'd never be - ultracompetitive and cutthroat - but I swear it's not my fault. You see, we're trying to get Hollis into preschool. Yes, I'm talking about Fall 2007 already!

Those of you who have been there in the past are now nodding in sympathy and sighing. Those of you who have toddlers right now are now sitting alert about 3 inches from your screen frantically scanning ahead to see if I've figured out some trick to getting a child into the preschool of your choice. Your heart is racing, your mind is rapidly spinning. So to end the suspense, NO I have not figured it all out. If I do, I'll let you know....

I never in a million years thought I would be fretting about this. Before we moved to Chesapeake, we lived in the City of Falls Church in Northern Virginia. The D.C. area is rife with excellent public schools, but even among Northern Virginia schools the City of Falls Church stands out. I was comforted by the fact that Hollis would go to an excellent public elementary school regardless of the pre-school he attended. I would hear about the insane interviews and people taking their 2 year olds to French lessons to get into some elite pre-school and think, "Get a grip, people!" I haven't yet tried to force Hollis to learn Arabic or anything, I mean the boy can barely speak English as it is, but I am starting to obsess about his future education. Because we left the promised educational land of Falls Church for the real world of Chesapeake, Virginia it looks like private schools are in our future. Unfortunately, our public school district is not a great one.

I briefly looked into a few pre-schools this Summer simply because Hollis has a mid-September birthday and I wanted to see the age cut-off for this area. I ruled out a few schools like this one. I have nothing against church affiliated pre-schools, in fact we're looking at several now. But I don't want to send my children to an overly religious school. I prefer to do the brainwashing myself, thanks. And after I read this school's policy on speaking in tongues (it's on page 5), I decided that I'm not as open minded as I thought I was. (Hmmm, maybe that's the Fundementalist version of being inclusive - "Hey, everyone's welcome here, even if you speak in tongues and dance with snakes! We're open minded!") At the time I didn't realize that I should have been filling out applications and interviewing teachers if I wanted Hollis to go to one of the "best" schools. Apparently, several of the schools in my area have filled up already so now I'm reduced to telephonically stalking a teacher my babysitter knows in the hopes that she can get Hollis in to her school. What is wrong with me?!?

I must admit that it is a relief to know I'm not the only one. I've been reading a book called The Madness of Modern Families by Annie Ashworth and Meg Sanders (also known collectively as Mad Muthas in the blogging world.) In their book they point out the absurdity of the competitive pre-school jockeying in the U.K. I can't pretend to understand the state school system in the U.K., but at least I have the comfort of knowing that English parents are just as crazy as I am. And then Kristen over at Motherhood Uncensored did a podcast touching on this topic. (Check it out if you have a chance. My blog friend Pundit Mom was one of the guests. They had a great discussion regarding public, private, and home schools.) So I am not alone and that makes me feel a little better. But not much.


Mom Mistake #247
On Saturday morning I made the mistake of taking the Hs out on my own. I had good intentions. My friend L and I wanted to get together and chat outside of work and we thought it would be great to get our kids together. I have a 2 year old and an 11 month old, she has an 20 month old. Perfect! I, however, had the stupidly brilliant plan to take the kids to the mall, do some shopping, stuff them with junk food, and then let them run amok in the indoor playground. On December 2nd. With Santa in the mall. On a Saturday. Did I mention it was a Saturday?

If I ever come up with a plan like that again please slap me senseless. Really. L and her little boy C were great company but I spent so much time chasing Hollis around that I think L and I only exchanged about 20 words during the 3 1/2 hours we were at the mall. Don't feel too sorry for me. It's my own fault. You see, I refuse to use my double stroller. It's this huge Eddie Bauer monstrosity that a well meaning friend handed down to us when we found out we were expecting Little H. It must weigh 50 pounds and I don't think it even fits in my trunk. And I have an SUV. Anyway, I decided to shun the Hummer of strollers and drive my single Audi sports car around the mall. I have a Peg Perego stroller I absolutely love and it even has a toddler bar on the back. Which is great if your toddler will actually stay on the damn thing. To give credit where it's due, Hollis was actually very well behaved. So was Holden. (Of course, he was strapped into a stroller and couldn't wreak much havoc aside from randomly tossing Goldfish crackers at passers by.) But I forgot that Hollis is a toddler and he can't take 3 hours straight of nicely holding Mommy's hand. (I won't even go into the tears caused by the huge 14 year old who slammed into him twice on the playground. OK, maybe he was more like 6, but he was a big kid! Way too big for the clearly labeled toddler playground.) Every 30 seconds it was: get off the toddler bar; get on the toddler bar; push the stroller; hold Mommy's hand; run across the store; UP, MOMMY, UP! Well, we survived the ordeal and both kids passed out in the car on the way home.

I was completely exhausted after my outing and it really made me think. My husband and I have an ongoing discussion regarding whether or not we're going to try to have a third child. In the past, I've always been a quite vocal proponent while my husband is of the opinion that we should never let the children outnumber us. (Apparently the odds of a bloody coup go up exponentially after 2 kids.) But I couldn't even handle 2 small children for half a day by myself. How on earth could I possibly handle 3? I also wonder if I've just been completely spoiled all this time. My husband is truly an equal parent. If we start adding up frequent parenting miles, he's right up there with me. (Although I think I should get double miles for all of the middle of the night breastfeeding.) We usually both go out with the kids on the weekend, to the doctor, to the store, etc.... On very rare occasions, we will divide and conquer and each of us will take one child on our respective errands. If T's out of town, I'm usually a hermit. I've taken both kids to the store and on shorter outings before, but never on a half day outing.

My hellish Saturday really gave me a new appreciation for H&H's babysitter. She takes both of my kids (and both of hers!) out to errands, soccer games, and school events all the time and she never seems to break a sweat. Maybe I'm just not very good at this. Well, whatever the faults in my parenting skills, I have a new stroller in the back of my car now. It's not as large as the Hummer and not as sleek as my Audi, it's more of a mid-sized sedan - a mom car. At least now I can strap both of their butts in.

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