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Entries in motherhood (3)


Simple, Really? Let's Take Some Simple Steps to Drive Safer

I have a favor to ask of you. It’s an easy one. Really.

Please don’t text and drive.

Most of you are probably saying some version of “No, duh, Tara” in your head.

Yep. Don't do this. Photo by iStockphoto.But I feel like I notice more drivers texting at the wheel all the time – and it’s not just stereotypical 17-year-old girls.

I’d say I notice someone texting nearly every day I’m in the car. Usually it’s a driver with her or his head hunched furtively down while at a stop light or a long wait to turn out of a parking lot.

But probably once a week I see someone texting in a truly egregious manner.

Earlier this spring, it was a 40-something woman I could tell was texting behind me at a stoplight on busy Route 38 in West Chicago.  Soon enough, she was speeding past me in the other lane, texting all the way!

A couple weeks after that, a woman who resembled my elderly high school English teacher stopped about 10 car lengths before the light on Third Street in downtown Geneva to either text or dial on her cell phone. I was waiting to back out of a parking spot, and eventually did just that – since she didn’t seem to be interested in moving her car – and of course only then did she notice the huge space and laid on the horn at me. Because obviously I was the one not paying attention.

But the worst case I’ve seen, so far at least, was on Interstate 88. When a 20-something woman passed me in the other lane, I could see as plain as day that she had arms extended through her wheel so she could steer with her elbows while holding her cell phone above the wheel so she could text. Sigh. I don’t know why I didn’t think to call 911.

When it comes to driving, I’ve always been on the safe, cautious side. But of course that tendency only got stronger once I was carrying my precious cargo in a carseat in the back.

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Simple, Really? If I Can't Stop Time, I'll At Least Try to Remember These Times

My daughter washed her own hair the other night. She’s only 2 ½.

Photo by Providence Public Library on Flickr.Of course I was right there in the bathroom with her. But she took a cup and poured water on her hair to wet it. I lathered the soap into her hair, although I’m sure I’ll soon be deemed superfluous for that step. Then she put her head under the faucet and expertly rinsed it without getting any water in her eyes.

How on earth did we get here already? Just the other week I was saw her plastic infant bathtub in our basement, and I thought about all the stages we’ve been through: Bathing her in a sling above the tiny tub, then in the tub itself, then sitting up in the sink and finally to our deep bathtub, but only with towels on the bottom to  and my hands on her at all times. It feels like I’ll wake up tomorrow, and she’ll be 13 years old and the only part I’ll play in her bathing will be to remind her to hang up the towels after she’s done.

When you start a family, every one who has been a parent for a while urges you to appreciate every moment, because time flies by quicker than you can imagine. If clichés are only clichés because they are true, then that has to be the truest advice every spoken because … how did it get to be 2011 again?

I do appreciate every moment – even the moments that are headache-inducing now, I realize will have a certain charm 10 or 20 years down the road, like her insistence on turning nearly every wardrobe change into a game of “Catch Me if You Can.”

But what bothers me most is that I can’t remember everything, that there are already wonderful little moments I've forgotten. Johanna was less than a year old when I was trying to tell a friend who doesn’t have children about how I wished I could tape every single moment of her life so that I would never forget a single aspect of it. But even before I could finish the sentence I realized how ridiculous it is – if I was worrying about taping every moment and re-watching that tape, when exactly would we create new wonderful little moments?

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Simple, Really? Making Time for my Man Oscar

You know how there are some things that are important to you before you become a parent that aren’t so important afterward? Yet there are  also some interests you have that no change in your status in life could ever shake.

A poster for a previous Academy Awards ceremony, from the author's personal collection.Well, my love affair with Oscar dates back to college. And yes, you’re right, my husband’s name is Dan.

I’m talking about the Academy Awards, the equivalent of the Super Bowl for millions of us movie fans. The 83rd Academy Awards will be broadcast Sunday on ABC starting at 7 p.m. Central.

Back in college, a group of us who worked at the student newspaper would gather around the television in the conference room to watch the ceremony together. We’d cheer and jeer throughout the night –- critiquing the fashions attendees wore; groaning at the silly, wooden dialogue presenters are forced to say; clapping for particularly touching acceptance speeches; and reveling whenever there was an upset. (I still remember when Anna Paquin won “Best Supporting Actress” for “The Piano. She was only 11 years old! Yes, I'm obviously a true Oscar geek.)

After graduation, my roommate Maria and I threw some great Oscar parties, a tradition I tried to keep up as much as I can as I moved around the country. Some years I even turned a plastic tablecloth into a “red carpet” for the guests. My husband would break out his projector so we could “screen” the ceremony on a large wall.

But the centerpiece was always the food, which was required to have some kind of connection to a movie or a nominee. When Reese Witherspoon was nominated for “Walk the Line,” for instance, I baked “Reese’s Peanut Butter Cookies.” But perhaps the best was the cheese ball my friend Sandy brought the year “Brokeback Mountain” was nominated for Best Picture. She shaped the cheese ball to resemble a mountain, and then on top placed two little Fisher-Price cowboy figurines. Classic!

Since I’ve had my daughter, I’ve had to put my role as hostess of huge Oscar parties on hiatus. It’s hard to have people over to your house for a party that goes til midnight when your daughter is upstairs sleeping. It might be even harder to get my city friends to haul all the way out to the far western ‘burbs for a bash where the major prizes don’t get handed out til after 10 p.m.

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