and on a happier note – Ridiculous Baby Products, Volume I.

by Janelle Hanchett

When I write a post like the one yesterday, it’s clear I need to cheer up and get the hell outta the dark side. And as far as I can tell, there’s nothing more cheerful than examining the latest absurd baby products and writing smart-ass comments about them. So here are a few I keep seeing in baby stores that make absolutely no sense to me in terms of usefulness. Please feel free to add to the list. I’m sure this one will be an ongoing post as the ‘latest and greatest’ enter Babies R’ Us…

  • Squeaker Shoes – These are shoes that squeak with every step the kid takes, allegedly teaching him or her to “walk properly.” Right. That’s what I need. More noise. More squeaking in general. And since when do humans need noise-making leather objects bound to their feet to learn to walk?


  • Baby spill mat – So this is a big vinyl mat that one lays on the floor to catch spills from the baby in the highchair. This I don’t understand. What exactly is the difference between cleaning a giant vinyl mat and cleaning the floor? And in my experience, the mess would mostly land about ½ inch beyond the edge of the mat, requiring clean-up of both the mat AND the floor, thereby doubling my work and rendering said mat useless. Not cool.
  • Breast milk catcher – Alright. I think this one might actually be a joke. So these are these pad pocket things you put in your bra, either when nursing (on the non-nursing side) or throughout the day, to catch the milk that leaks. So many problems here. First, there is no way more than an ounce leaks out of both breasts during the day, which means it would take 4 days to create a single bottle for my baby. Second, since breastmilk can only stay at room temperature for an hour max, I would have to clean my little breastmilk catching wonders like ten times a freaking day, pouring twelve drops of milk into the bag at a time, for multiple subsequent days. I mean really, are they serious? I’m a bit crestfallen when I see only 2 ounces in the bottle after 15 minutes of pumping, I’d be suicidal if I had to pay attention to the drops that leak out all day. Freaking weird.


  • Baby/toddler tooth brushes – Dude. Don’t worry about it. They’re gonna fall out anyway.
  • ‘On the Go Pacifier Wipes’ – None of my kids have ever used a pacifier (even though I tried), but I’m pretty sure I’d clean it the same way I clean every other kid item that falls to the ground: dust it off, perhaps lick it, wipe it on my pants, return it to baby.
  • Plastic inside ‘play yards’ – Maybe my kids are just weird, but I can promise you that the second I tried placing them in a gated area removed from the rest of the family would be the precise moment they decided they needed to attach themselves like barnacles to my lower extremities. I’m serious. If any of my kids find out that I’m trying to distract them to get something done, they immediately and suddenly need me, even if they’d been ignoring me the previous hour. The trick is to sneak off while they’re already bus y and this becomes impossible if you stick them in a large cage with toys and walk away. Big indicator to the kid, who’s thinking “huh, mom’s trying to contain me, probably to accomplish a task. Therefore, I shall throw myself on the ground and wail uncontrollably until she comes back, retrieves me from this thing, and pays me the attention I’m rightfully owed.”


  • ‘Baby care Timer’ – Please somebody SHOOT ME. This is even more lame than logging your baby’s poops into an Excel spreadsheet. Entering every diaper change, poo, pee, nap, and feeding into a hand held machine? Come on people let’s work together here. Who gives a flying fuck? Okay fine. If a baby was not thriving, perhaps a contraption like this might be necessary, but otherwise, if you’re using this thing just for the heck of it, because you think it’s a solid idea, I don’t mean to be harsh, but there is something wrong with you.



  • No. Explanation. Needed.

the mediocrity maintenance plan

by Janelle Hanchett

At the risk of sounding a little conceited, I have to admit that everyday, I think I get a little closer to reaching the absolute pinnacle of perfect, unparalleled mediocrity. I have a true talent for this. We’re not talking about half-assed mediocrity. We’re talking the real freaking deal. Pure, unhindered, unadulterated average. The gray area is my domain, people. I rule the middle of the road. If my life were junior high classes, I’d be pulling C’s every period.

I know. It’s impressive.

Perfecting this art may seem complicated, especially since most people excel at something simply by default. But really, it isn’t that hard. And, since I tend to place others above myself (not unlike Mother Theresa and Ghandi), I’m willing to share with you the following guidelines in case you’d like to perfect the general mediocrity in your life. By following these simple steps, you’ll find that you absolutely cannot excel in any area of your existence. You will do exactly what you have to do each day simply to survive – nothing more, nothing less – and one day you will wake up, realizing joyfully that you have achieved real, true mediocrity.

  1. Have children. Preferably more than two.
  2. Make sure one of those children is under the age of one and wakes up at least three times a night, ensuring inadequate sleep patterns and unceasing general exhaustion.
  3. Do not stay home with those children, but go to work.
  4. But don’t work full time. Work part time. Working full time may result in actual focus on work, which could produce above-average performance. What we’re going for here is a sort of “one foot in – one foot out” scenario – so you’re not a working mom and you’re not a stay-at-home one either.
  5. On your days home, frantically attempt to make up for the time you were at work and do nothing else. This will ensure that you do not have time for any stellar stay-at-home mom tasks such as engaging with older children, sewing, cooking, communicating without yelling, gardening and/or doing crafts.
  6. Add many, many other activities to these two realms, as a safeguard against potential achievement in either the work or home arena (examples include, but are not limited to, sports and other activities for the children, having friends, staying married, reading, eating, writing a blog, pursing a graduate education, getting your hair done, losing weight, breastfeeding, keeping a pet alive, visiting family, bathing, etc.).

While it may seem too simple, I guarantee that with these steps will lead you to mediocre functioning no matter what. There is no way around it. You will be spread so thin that there will be no room for anything else. You will have friends you really care about but only call occasionally. You will miss appointments with them and not return calls. You will be too tired at work to do anything beyond the minimum, even though you want to, and when you are home, you will be so behind on housework and household tasks (from the days that you were at work) that excellence in mothering or wifedom will be out of the question. With very little effort on your part, you will become a staggering idiot at work – a frantic nut-job at home – treading water in the deep end, every day, pumping your little legs frantically just to keep your mouth a 1/2  inch above the water. You will move furiously and with wild abandon to keep from drowning. Under these conditions, mediocrity invariably reigns.

If you find yourself excelling in an area, no worries. Just add more activities to your list. Or, and this one never fails to produce immediate results: have another baby.

Then repeat steps 1-6. Forever. And call me. We’ll remind each other of the merits of mediocrity, in between spells of weeping and general malaise.


what I learned this week

by Janelle Hanchett

Perhaps from now on, on Sundays, I’ll post the biggest lessons I learned that week, as a sort of record of my general regression. I meant progression.

Anyway, here’s what I learned this week:

  1. I hate selling Girl Scout cookies. It’s too much work and I feel like an indentured servant to the Girl Scouts corporation, which swindles us all into thinking we’re earning money for the girls, when really we’re just working for them. Besides, if they really give a shit about kids, why are the cookies chock full of trans-fats? Next year, I will make every attempt to weasel out of selling those beastly boxes of deliciousness.
  2. On average, five-year olds ask seventy-five thousand questions an hour, most of them hypothetical and, if answered honestly, rather complicated. Examples: “Could a thousand ants pull an elephant?” “If I were to die, where would my heart go?” “What if there were three suns and three earths and we lived on all of them at the same time?” “If I were Secretariat and you were a racecar, who would go faster?”
  3. I can answer 5-year old questions for exactly 2 hours before needing a break. If I don’t get a break, I become irritable and feisty and they’re no longer cute and my tone demonstrates my increasing lack of interest and need for silence. For non-kid talking. For non hypothetical interaction. I am a bad mother for needing that. But it’s true.
  4. When there’s a little girl rockin’ out in the back of your car, Justin Bieber ain’t that bad.
  5. My son is capable of “break-dancing” in front of the entire school during a school-wide talent show.
  6. My daughter is capable of performing a dance she and her friend invented during recess, also during a talent show in front of the whole school.
  7. Both my kids are decidedly cooler than I am and evidently unhindered by fear of looking like a jackass. Not that they looked like jackasses. They were freaking adorable. In my experience, however, fear of looking like a jackass made dancing in front of crowds while sober a complete impossibility, so obviously they’ve overcome my impediments.
  8. It’s possible to get so tired your eyes randomly blur out of focus and life starts looking like a Monet painting held 2 inches from your face.
  9. If you’ve been so sleep deprived that your eyes are blurring randomly, and you finally get a good night’s sleep, you will feel like Julie Andrews singing “the hills are alive” – you will spread your joy, frolicking with the butterflies in the eternal sunshine of your beautiful life.
  10. That feeling will end abruptly, the next day, when you return to 4-hours of sleep a night, in 45-minute increments, and realize it’s Sunday and 11:53pm and you have to work on Monday.

Goodnight, friends.  Hello, Monet painting.

here's Rocket. Didn't include an Ava picture because her friend is in it (privacy issue).

5 Comments | Posted in weeks of mayhem | February 27, 2011

does walmart sell bieber?

by Janelle Hanchett

So…remember this post? The one where I got all self-righteous about my kid’s impressive musical taste and how great a mother I am for introducing her to good music and blocking her from mainstream crap, etc., etc.? Well, as per usual, in the perfect symmetry of my life, wherein every time I think I have an area of parenting dialed, something happens almost immediately that sends me right back to the parenting time-out chair, I now stand corrected and am currently removing a size 11 foot from my mouth (which used to be a size 10, by the way, until I had Georgia – why the hell do feet grow during pregnancy? Does everything have to grow during pregnancy?). Sorry. I’m focusing.

Here’s what happened.

We’re about to leave for school on Wednesday: chaos, baby screaming in her car seat while Rocket “helps me” by buckling her in (bad plan, FYI) – I’ve got seventy five bags of critical items, I’m pissed off and irritable and questioning the purpose of life as I do every morning while trying to get to school and work, and Ava looks at me very seriously with a little fear in her eyes (smart kid) and says, “Mama, what would you think if I liked Justin Bieber? Is liking Justin Bieber bad music taste?”

And my whole world stops.

It stops because I hear the faintest quiver in my daughter’s voice and see her vast blue eyes seeking my approval so earnestly and hoping I’m proud of her and I see a little insecurity in her posture, some hesitance, caution, and I know it took guts for her to say that to me, that she was worried I would judge her or make fun and she just wants to please me so badly as usual and shit that breaks my heart. I ask “well, do you like Justin Bieber? And she says quietly “well, I kinda do.”

And once again in the face of my child I see myself clearly for just a moment, see the way my ego has backfired once again  – in trying to “teach” her good music taste, in being overly vocal about what’s good and what sucks, I scared her into doubting her own tastes. The message I sent was “like what I like” not “like what you like and screw what other people think” (which is what I meant to be saying).

Hello, my name is Janelle. And I am a fucktard.

Here I am judging the hell out of people who limit their kids’ exposure to music by only playing mainstream crap because it’s “appropriate” (okay I stand by my previous assertion that that is lame), while I am doing the same thing just in another direction: only exposing my kids to certain types of music because I think it’s “good.” I have inadvertently shoved my ideas on her so forcefully that she feels afraid to pursue her own tastes because maybe mama won’t think it’s “cool.” Whah, I hate mothering.

What I should be doing is introducing her to all types of music, without judgment, keeping my own ego intact, allowing her to explore freely and find her own way rather than mirror mine.

But it’s just so hard.

What I want for my children is freedom. I want them to be free to be themselves. But I just can’t seem to help forcing myself on them, even though my intentions are good, even though I think I’m “helping” them or “showing them the way.” I need some humility. I need to back the hell off. I don’t mean to be overly dramatic, but I believe the most enduring and powerful gift I can give my children is the confidence and ability to be exactly who they are no matter what, especially in the face of those who may judge them. Basically, in the face of assholes like me.

So tonight, when Ava gets home from school, she’ll have a new Justin Bieber CD on her pillow, with a note from her mom that says “I can’t wait to listen to this with you!”

And I’ll swallow another gallon of my overflowing well of pride, and try to do better next time.

14 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | February 25, 2011

counting? who needs it.

by Janelle Hanchett

A couple days ago we were driving to school and Rocket declares “my teachers are cuckoo!” Before responding, I pause for a moment and wonder where he learned such a kid-appropriate word. Certainly wasn’t from his parents. Then I ask him why. He cocks his head to one side and throws his hands out, palms up, contorting his face into a “you’re not going to believe this” look and responds, “They wanted me to count to 30. Isn’t that cuckoo?” Dude, he said it again.


I try not to laugh (or smile) because the kid is sensitive and really gets his feelings hurt when he’s being serious and the idiots around him are obviously missing the point. The ‘good mother’ voice in my head whispers that I should back up his teachers, explain the importance of learning, and counting, whether it’s to thirty or elsewhere…but he’s sitting there with those freckles and blue eyes, dirty Vans and grass-stained khakis, and those unruly blond curls stuck against his forehead and I have NO POWER, so I respond immediately and with vigor “WHAT? They wanted you to do WHAT? Insane! Totally inappropriate! Why would they want you to count to thirty? It’s just weird really.” And he’s getting excited, nodding his head, “I know, I know” as if finally somebody understands the crap he has to go through every day. Ava knows immediately what to do (she’s smiling in the back seat cause he can’t see her), and she joins the discussion, emphatically agreeing that counting to 30 is a silly and unreasonable task. He’s visibly relieved that we understand the gravity of the situation.


 And in that moment I adore my little family. We are satisfied and happy.


Because we were being a family, doing what families should do, together, supporting each other. Because Rocket needed us and we delivered. I knew the reason he belittled the task was that he couldn’t do it. And I knew he probably should be able to do it at his age. But the truth is I really don’t care. And I hope I never care. I hope I never let some “life lesson” about learning or achievement or school or whatever outshine the simple message we sent him that day in the car, the one that promised your family will always, always have your back, little one.





8 Comments | Posted in unenlightened parenting techniques. | February 23, 2011