On Leggings and Michael Pence

My 11-year-old daughter, on the cusp of puberty, is rapidly transforming into Lady Longlegs. She is uncomfortable in denim and wears dresses maybe twice a year, mainly because she can’t stand tights.

What does that leave her? Cotton pants, jeggings and leggings. (A post for another time: girls’ clothes aren’t nearly as sturdy and well made as boys’ clothes.) 

Her school has a dress code and since my daughter is a conscientious person it’s always at the back of her mind. Like most dress codes, it’s mainly written for girls and/or women. I imagine it’s similar to the dress code United Airlines has for people flying on buddy passes. 

My point here is not to argue about the dress codes in and of themselves, but how they perpetuate the assumption that girls and women need to be modest and cover themselves up. Otherwise, they become wanton temptations for boys and men. This argument not only does a disservice to girls and boys, reducing them to objects and urges, but also reinforces rape culture, a term I hate but is the most accurate in a society’s way of blithely assuming that women and girls are “asking for it” when they are sexually assaulted.

When other parents tell me they’re teaching their daughters to be modest, I immediately ask them what they’re instructing their sons. That girls have brains and feelings? That they should be respected and be considered persons in their own right, regardless of how many piercings they have or how their clothes fit? That they’re not objects of temptations, but the sum of more than their body parts, and future colleagues and bosses? 

When my son tells me he has a crush on a girl, he usually tells me it’s because the girl is cute, but I try to make him understand, even though he’s only 8, that girls can be attractive because they’re smart and funny, too. After all, those qualities have nothing to do with what clothes the girls are wearing.

There’s still a lot of work to do, because women (including me) have been harassed while fully clothed and wearing a winter coat. But I think it’s an important first step, to teach and reinforce these ideas in boys starting when they’re young and as they become teens.

To illustrate my point, we have Vice President Mike Pence, who considers women other than his wife to be such a distraction he won’t eat alone with them or attend functions alone with them where alcohol is served. Again, I don’t want to criticize his marriage. You do you, Mike and Karen! But I am concerned about how this affects Pence’s view of women in government and in places of power? Will Pence dine with Angela Merkel or Theresa May to discuss sensitive political matters without his wife? Nancy Pelosi? Elizabeth Warren? Does this policy mean he won’t hire women as high-level staffers in his own office, because there’s a chance he might have to dine with them alone? I mean, according to Pence, women are such distractions and objects of temptation there’s no way men can have platonic relationships with them. They’re not more than the sum of their parts. They’re solely objects.

On Leggings and Michael Pence

The Biggest Scam: Arcades

My sister and I took the kids to a mammoth sports complex for some rock climbing. (I don’t use the term “mammoth” lightly. Just yesterday, the complex hosted a softball tournament, a home show, baseball tryouts, soccer games and more. Parking was so much fun.)

My daughter had been invited to a birthday party at the complex last year (of course they do parties) and we’d gone rock climbing there before. But all our kids were interested in was the Hall of Overstimulation, or the arcade. 

I don’t have a problem with skee ball, air hockey, the cathartic whack-a-mole, or other games that combine dexterity and endurance. But simply pressing a button and hoping a ball lands in the right spot for eleventy thousand tickets, I’d argue, is a waste of time. 

We had some time to kill and I relented against my better judgement and allowed the kids to have $10 each, and it lasted approximately 15 minutes. Then the kids progressed to the exalted Room o’ Prizes, to carefully select cheap crap, Subject of a Million Fights, that’s either immediately broken or has such strong staying power it never leaves my house despite Herculean attempts on my part to throw it out.

Arcades are popping up in more places, at least in my town. Usually solely the bastion of shore towns, arcades now appear in our local movie theater and mall. Miniature arcade games show up in orthodontist and dentist’s offices. Miniature slinkies have had NO effect on my kids brushing their teeth. I feel I have to gear up for a fight (beyond arguing that a 15-minute errand does not mandate an iPod) everywhere we go. It’s so exhausting.

The Biggest Scam: Arcades

Here’s How to Make Classic Minestrone Soup (That My Kids Now Won’t Eat) in the Crockpot

I found the recipe on Facebook, of all places. I used Northern beans instead of navy beans, and substituted baby kale for the escarole. I paired it with crusty Italian bread dipped in rosemary-infused olive oil. (Which is a fancy way of saying I put rosemary in the bottom of a shallow dish, poured olive oil on top of it, and let it sit before eating.)

It’s easy. It’s healthy. My kids can’t even. They had a bacon sandwich and a PBJ sandwich for dinner tonight, respectively. 

Here’s How to Make Classic Minestrone Soup (That My Kids Now Won’t Eat) in the Crockpot

Buy Stock in Clorox: We’ve Been Hit With the Stomach Bug

The Offal family, usually stalwarts of health, have been uncharacteristically sick this winter. Random, dry cough that doesn’t respond to any medicine? Check. Head colds? Check. Flu? Check.

But this week? This week, when we’ve been graced with a snow day, two mornings of two-hour delays and another day off school from a previously planned teacher in-service? That’s when my kids pull in the mother of all illnesses: the stomach bug.

My children react to being sick quite differently.

My son woke me up in the middle of the night on Sunday. “I barfed.”

Me: “Where?” 

Son: “In my bed. You may want to look into that. I’m just going to sleep in the bathroom for the rest of the night.”

After the first of five loads of laundry (my son sleeps in his underwear but nestles snugly in a cocoon of roughly 12,000 blankets, pillows and his “stuffed animal council”) I found him on the bathroom floor, wrapped in a couple towels, fast asleep. He woke up once more to puke and then claimed the couch in the morning.

After his sister went to school and he gleefully claimed the remote, we had a couple episodes of another variety; he referred to them as “farts with something extra.” He kept down Gatorade at this point, asked when his sister would be home, and requested soup for dinner. He was back to his old form in time for the snow day.

Last night, my daughter complained of a stomach ache right before bed. She’s an anxious child so this isn’t out of the ordinary. However, she made it to the bathroom successfully. After she came and told me about it, she returned to the bathroom, left the door open and the lights on, and proceeded to give me a play-by-play of how things were going. This morning, she moved into the bathroom with a blanket, pillow pet, favorite stuffed animal, a selection of books and some electronics. I practically needed an ambassador to convince her to return to her room for a rest. 

We’ve had lengthy discussions about how miserable she is, how she hates getting sick, how she’s so bored. She takes a trash can with her when she’s not in the bathroom. Unfortunately, she gets herself so upset about being sick that she ends up getting more sick.

At this point, she’s kept down electrolyte freeze pops but she’s still staying home tomorrow.

As for me, I smell poop and vomit everywhere, even though everything’s been bleached into oblivion and there’s no reason the stench would still be around. It hasn’t been this bad since the kids were babies. My husband and I have so far withstood the onslaught, and neighborhood Facebook friends tell us that something is going around, as their kids succumb to the same bug.

Buy Stock in Clorox: We’ve Been Hit With the Stomach Bug

Official Obligatory Online Offal Snow Day Pictures

Our region got hit with a snowstorm today, but not nearly as badly as meteorologists predicted. We got about 8-10 inches of snow; late last night the weather people were calling for up to 26 inches.

My son was home sick yesterday with a stomach bug and I spent most of today determined not to get said stomach bug.

It’s cold and windy. My son lasted seven minutes outside before coming back in and demanding hot cocoa, “on the double!” He went back out a few times and lay face-down in the drifts to eat the snow. He even brought some in for a snack.

My daughter went sledding for 10 minutes and then wanted to play Monopoly. I have to be in the mood for Monopoly. 

TANGENT: I have one distinct memory of playing the game at a friend’s house growing up. I systematically knocked off all the other players and my friend’s brother joined the game as banker right when I knocked his sister out of the game. She sat in the corner right outside the kitchen with an empty milk jug and asked passersby (she belonged to a huge family; there were loads of people in her house at any given time) for donations to pay back her loan to me. (The older brother was learning about compound interest in school and basically turned our game into a homework assignment for himself.) It was crazy and over-dramatic and fun. /END TANGENT
My daughter insisted on Simpsons Monopoly, which is interesting because my kids have never seen a Simpsons episode. My son lasted about 20 minutes and then insisted on eating his snow snack, which got everything wet. My daughter complained so I stepped in.

My daughter had bought most of the properties. My son’s main goal in the game is to buy the railroads (in the Simpsons version, they’re monorail stations) and just hang in there. My daughter and I made some trades and she owned two whole sides of the board (excluding monorail stations) and then some. 

But! In an important lesson about having capital versus equity, I was able to put monorail stations on my most expensive properties and bankrupt her about 10 minutes later.

She took the loss well and did not take to the floor asking for donations, as my friend had done. But it was just as good a game. 

Official Obligatory Online Offal Snow Day Pictures

I’m Confiscating All the Markers in the Kitchen

I phone it in when it comes to breakfast. Options include frozen waffles and pancakes that my kids can prepare, sausage or bacon that my kids can heat up in the microwave, cereal or fruit. They go through phases so there are enough choices to satisfy their discerning palates.

Late last week my daughter complained about the cereal selection, which is Rice Krispies or Cheerios. I asked her for suggestions and her first response was Fruit Loops. After I got done laughing, I countered with Kix or Chex. She came back with Lucky Charms. I postponed any actions on our debate until this week. A friend suggested trying one of flavored Special K cereals. It seemed like a good compromise, and I took both kids to the grocery store this weekend to check out the cereal aisle. (We also got ingredients for a slow cooker recipe that my son immediately insisted I share–before he had two bites of it and said he was full–so I’ll do that tomorrow.)

We were in the produce section, heading to the cereal aisle. I was anticipating and dreading a long, drawn-out argument over a new cereal, and the kids, sensing my unease, ratcheted up their best behavior points to cash in on some sugary nonsense. There was no fighting about who got to choose a cart, who got to put the food in the cart, who got to push the cart, who got to cross items off the list, etc. etc. We passed the organic section and there was a cereal called Fruitful Ohs on the end display. I said guys, I am OK with this because it is organic. Can we compromise here? The kids, perhaps gobsmacked that I was beginning negotiations with a version of Fruit Loops, a previous nonstarter, gratefully accepted the terms.

The above is my daughter’s handiwork after breakfast this morning. (Edited to add: my son claimed at least two “butts” and was upset he didn’t think of defacing the box first.) Apparently she thinks being organic means taking a special pride in a certain part of our digestive system. Both kids like the cereal and after my husband raised an eyebrow at me, I informed him that he could take the kids to the grocery store and pick out a cereal with them. He then told me I did a great job.

I’m Confiscating All the Markers in the Kitchen

I Missed the Biggest Story of Spring Training

In what was surely inevitable, Major League Baseball is teaming up with Game of Thrones for a big promotional hootenanny.

I came across this story this afternoon on the Twitters, where I first learned Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard will have a walk-on role on this season of Game of Thrones. (He was available to film in November because the Mets lost their sole play-off game hahahahahaha #soblessed.)

As a surprise to no one, I have some ideas on how to incorporate the Game of Thrones world into baseball games.

1. Introducing the players and their positions. Use the GoT music and title sequence to announce fielders, with each player having his own sigil and his position having a construction similar to places in GoT.

2. Quotes for different situations:

  • Bottom of the ninth inning: “What is dead shall never die.”
  • Substitutions, especially during the game: “His watch has ended.”
  • Refer to a particularly brutal inning as the Red Wedding.
  • Referring to the umps: “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”

3. Recite lineups like Arya Stark’s list of revenge. 

4. DRAGONS! (I haven’t thought this one through yet.)

5. DIREWOLVES! (Ditto.)

I Missed the Biggest Story of Spring Training

Spring Training Update: Let’s Check in on the Phillies

When we last left our intrepid heroes, a quick start to the 2016 season had slowly but surely sunk into a listless and dispirited limp come October.

Interestingly enough, pre-season baseball in Philadelphia right now is competing with the NHL trading deadline (even though, as I understand it, the Flyers are out of playoff contention), a devastating injury to a 76ers player and the NFL … offseason, I guess? There are lots of “trade discussions” and “cuts” headlines floating around.

But in Clearwooder, spring training is a breath of fresh air. John Kruk, he of the 1993 National League Champions (Team Mullet) fame, joins the booth! Roy Halladay, a player on the enormously popular Golden Age of Phillies baseball teams, might be an instructor! Matt Stairs (also on those teams) is teaching Odubel Herrera how to hit, but whether this ability can manifest when the games actually count is up for debate! Brock Stassi is coming out of nowhere to hit massive dingers in an appeal for a bench job!

But friends and neighbors, Aaron Nola, whose promising 2016 season was cut short when nearly every part of his pitching elbow became messed up, stepped on the mound today. His elbow did not disintegrate while in use. His control wasn’t there but the speed was. Everyone is cautiously optimistic.

Nothing else is really happening, except this seems to be the last season for the bar to be so low, and the hope is the prospects will start to deliver next year.

Spring Training Update: Let’s Check in on the Phillies