Saturday, January 30, 2010

Is all press really good press?

I've contacted the Washington Post several times with press releases trying to get our moms group on their radar. Before we started the local chapter, we (my co-leader and I) were interviewed for a story in the Post on non toxic toys. It was great fun, and the article turned out well although it did make us look like we had spent a fortune on things for our kids that, at the time, people thought were crazy. Well, fast forward a few years, and the Post has finally taken heed and one of their columnists attended another local chapters event. From what I gather, she worked the room, talked to many of the event attendees, and voila - we were on the front page of the Metro section! Which would be great if it weren't such an unbelievably scattered and unflattering article.

The author highlighted some of the chapter members who are very into specific food preferences and diets, and while we do have many members with varied eating habits, not everyone has food at the top of their priority list. We also came off as being a group of rich, white, SAHM's, who all bake brownies with black beans in them and could care less about poor hungry people as long as we get our organic raw goat cheese. Honestly, I think black beans belong nowhere near brownies, and if I've said it once, I've said it a million times - IT IS CHEAPER TO EAT HEALTHY! The cost savings of buying food instead of "processed food products" is huge. In addition, the saving on health care costs, prescription drugs, and days off work is huge as well. As far as being rich, many of us do the things we do in part because they are cheaper - cloth diapers are cheaper, growing your own veggies is cheaper, using regular plates vs. paper plates is cheaper, using cloth napkins is cheaper, purchasing meat in bulk from a farm and sharing it with friends is cheaper!!!!!

This article just perpetuates the myths that:
1) it is impossible to be healthy if you are poor,
2) that people interested in health are kooks,
3) that people interested in their own health are not at all invested in other people's health, and
4) if you don't do all of the "holistic" things (whatever those are) then you are not "holistic enough" to be in the Holistic Moms Network.

The author feels like it is impossible to make changes in her food choices, and is intimidated by this group of women who have done and continue to make small changes towards a healthier life. After a odd discussion about obesity and Mexico, the author gets to the main point, buried in the last few lines - " 'It's about taking small steps,' Elliot told me. 'Make one change at a time.' " None of us have gotten where we are today in a moment. It's been a lifelong journey for me - I got interested in health in high school, and have changed and tweaked my workouts, diet, environment, and life since then. I would not have made half the positive changes without the support of my peer group - people who made me feel like I and my family are important enough to try something different and new. People who don't smirk or blow off the idea of eliminating grains to see if it makes a difference in your energy level. People who have tried pastured beef vs. grain fed beef and can also taste the difference. People who will share seeds with me so i am not shelling out lots of cash each year to start my garden. People who have supported me in learning how to can at home to preserve my harvest and, yes, to save money.

The whole point of the Holistic Moms Network is to be supported in making positive changes without judgement. To be judged by this reporter as a group of self centered, food snobs is hurtful personally and for the group. I do hope we continue to have a diverse membership with people who are just beginning their journey as well as folks who are well on their way. Sadly, I think this article would have turned me off to the group a few years ago, and I would have missed out on knowing and learning from these wonderful women and families. Now to repair the effects of the press...

Dog PTSD

Dogs love snow. My dog loved snow. She ran and jumped and stuck her nose under the snow to make little trails. She played out there with us, threw her face up to catch snow we flung around, and chased Peanut in the yard. She loved snow! That is, she loved snow until she became snow traumatized. I think she has PTSD. When we had that crazy 2 foot snow here several weeks ago, she lost all of her dogness in snow. She ran out and promptly sank into the snow past her chest, turned around and waited at the back door. She must have held her bodily functions in for days. She'd walk out, see it was still white and turn right around. Honey even shoveled a little path for her, and led her out there on her leash to prove it was OK. She finally used the bathroom, but only in the confines of the little path.

So that snow has finally melted, and all has been back to normal (well normal for a loony rescue dog with some autistic tendencies). This morning, a light snow was falling and our family (OK, not Honey) was getting excited to make snow angels and run outside. Peanut has been talking about wearing her "new pink snow pants today! and my scarf! and my hat! and my new pink jacket!" and I have some new snow boots I'd like to take for a spin. Around lunch, we let the dog out in the new snow. It's about 2" or so deep, and really fluffy - perfect dog snow. She walked outside, stepped off the porch, turned around and came back to the door. She sat there shaking like a leaf until we let her back inside. Come to think of it, she was watching the snow fall out the window this morning before we had even a dusting and had a really worried expression. It looks like we will need to have an intervention this afternoon if we want her to pee outside.

Oy this dog. She is really sweet and gentle and is so patient with the poking and prodding she gets from the kids, but man she is a piece of work!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Farm Fresh

Along with the changes in our eating habits, comes a change in our shopping habits. We do cook every meal every day 90% of the time, and extremely rarely use boxes or pre-packaged foods. Buying essentially meats, vegetables, fruits, freshness is a tremendous factor. We value organic and grass fed foods, local farming and producing, and seasonal eating. During the summer, we eat from our garden (and the planning has begun for this coming season!) and farmers markets. For much of the year our meat and eggs come from a farm. During the winter, our farm takes a break, so if we haven't stockpiled, we need to find meat and eggs that we can happily eat! We've gotten a bit spoiled in terms of quality.

Instead of shopping once a week at a big grocery, I now shop several times during the week at a farmers market and my local Trader Joe's. Sometimes I go out to Whole Foods, but that's only for stuff I can't find anywhere else that I am willing to shell out some cash for - that place is expensive! I had been frequenting the outdoor market on Saturdays, but with the winter weather, there were many Saturdays I skipped it. Now we have two weekly winter markets, one of which is indoors which makes me super happy.

It does seem a little crazy to make so many trips to the markets during the week, but I really enjoy the fresh, local food I can buy as well as the community. It's similar to shopping in Europe - you have to go to the bakery for bread, the butcher for meat... I like that. So what's the big deal about shopping at the farmers market? How is it different than a nice grocery store? What do people sell in the winter? I know you are just dying to know.

Our markets sell pork, beef, chicken , lamb, winter squash, onions, potatoes, carrots, lettuce, salsa, wine, bread, apples, canned items (pickles, relish, jams), baked goods, spices, coffee, eggs, milk (cow and goat), ice cream, yogurt, sauerkraut, butter... everything you need to cook a meal. I love shopping the market because I know my farmers! I can ask questions about how the animals are raised, what they are fed, what crops are sprayed with, how they bake their gluten free bread, where they process the sausage, etc. I love that I can decrease pollution and gas usage by buying locally. I love that some of the veggies were picked that morning, or the eggs were laid yesterday. I love that my food has no packaging (or very little), and I decrease what I send to the landfill that way.

Isn't it expensive? Food is our fuel. I am perfectly willing to spend money for good nutritious, fresh food that will help me feel great, run efficiently, and stay healthy. That being said, at Saturdays market I spent less than $40 and got a whole chicken, a dozen eggs, a pound and a half of bacon, a pound of potatoes, a pound of carrots, avocado salad (mmmm, that was good!), a few cookies, and some yogurt. Not bad. We had the avocado salad and potatoes last night with some steaks, made mini quiches with some of the bacon and eggs (we use these for easy breakfasts and snacks), and had the chicken tonight with leftovers for lunches tomorrow.

So head on out to the market! Talk to your farmer and eat well!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Green Bathroom is DONE!

Our bathroom is done! Finally! And we are actually using it!

Here are the things I love about it:
- it all works
- it is all clean
- none of the materials had any smell going in - no airing out the room for days
- all the tile is recycled (aside from the river rock floor in the shower)
- I LOVE the glass tile border in the shower - it is iridescent and so pretty
- the lights can stay off and the solatube lights up the shower in the morning
- the river rock floor in the shower feels so nice on my tootsies
- it looks like a sleek hotel bathroom
- the toilet flushes nicely, looks great, and it's a dual flush so we save water
- there is a ridiculous amount of storage
- the medicine cabinet has a mirror on the outside, the inside of the door and the back interior of the cabinet
- it's ours and it's in our bedroom

I know there is more (I love it all!), but suffice it to say that we are pleased.
I was interviewed about the project and process by a reporter for earth911.com. You can read the whole article here. There are some good pictures there, but they are from before the shower door was installed. I'll have to take a few of the truly finished product. Here is a quick look at the before and after - what a huge difference! And the last major interior remodeling project is complete! (Knock wood)






Why and Mine

We have officially entered the land of Why and Mine. This evening, while putting Peanut to bed she began to itemize the contents of her room and claim each item as "mine". It is really interesting to see possession unfold from just wanting something someone else has to understanding that things in a certain space are yours by default. She is getting a little better at using words to say when she wants something that another child has, but still prefers to grab and go.

The "why" surprised me - I thought I wasn't in for that for a while. She had a long string of them going before I realized what was happening. I dug deeper and deeper for explanations to why the heating vent in her room needed to stay clear - who would think that would be so entertaining as to take up 10 minutes of why?

After all the hullabaloo about sleeping (or not) we finally decided to set up a sleep chart with rewards. So far, we have had 5 nights of Peanut sleeping all the way through the night. She loves her chart, the stickers she gets and her "mail". I'm not above bribery for a little shut eye. Now that we've got a few good nights under our belt, I am feeling ready to tackle the little one. Pumpkin has been waking once or twice a night to eat which is fine really, but we have had some trouble getting him down at night. I've been a little more consistent with naps and hope to work on overnights as well. Last night he slept from 10:30 or so until 4:30am so we are back to longer stretches. What a difference this all makes in my mental outlook!

Our little dude continues to amaze. He is clapping and I think he is understanding the signs for more and milk. Sometimes I think the clapping is actually a "more". He is now cruising a few feet at a time and today he stood at a basket in his room and stepped from there to the chair letting go with one hand. OY. He's just a big flirt with a smile for everyone - he makes me laugh and laugh!




Thursday, January 14, 2010

Another busy week in the life

A dull moment - nope we don't really have them. There is always plenty to do and check and try and catch up on and start and finish and redo....

This week, we started preschool with Peanut. A few families from our moms group, the Holistic Moms Network, have created, planned, and finally implemented a small coop preschool. The first few months we'll meet once a week for school with parents rotating as hosts, teachers, and assistants. We wanted an opportunity for our kids to have some structured learning and feed their interests and curiosity. We also think outdoor activity and exploration is really important regardless of the weather! The first month is at our house with me as the teacher, so I am having fun with lesson plans (any teacher I have supervised will know my stance on infant and preschool lesson plans... good to have them, but they never actually go as planned) and the winter theme. We had a great time making pine cone bird feeders, exploring animal tracks outside in the snow, and talking about hot and cold, melting, winter animals, and a myriad of other related ideas. I like to have a starting point and let the kids show their interests so we can get on a tangent.
At snack yesterday, I guess Peanut was thinking about school. She said "look mommy, there's some birds out there eating food! I think they are eating seeds...from a pine cone. We have to check tomorrow." I love to see and hear her putting it all together.
The sleep saga continues with Peanut...we even took her to the doctor (not a really common occurrence in our house) to rule out anything physical. It seems to have made an impression though because Peanut will tell me the doctor said that sleeping is VERY important. We've had some major downs (a four + hour tantrum from 3am on one day) and some major ups (8pm to 4am straight sleep last night!) and have worked and reworked our plan of attack. Now that we are sure it is all behavior, we are feeling better about drawing a line in the sand, and it seems to be working. We have also taken the mailbox idea from Julie. Peanut likes the idea of the mailbox, and liked getting mail this morning even though it was a white post it note that said "No stickers today... try again tomorrow!". She says that when she sleeps through the night her mail will be purple with stickers. OK - I'm in.

My little big man is scaring me a bit - he has decided to take a step towards cruising. He turned 7 months old yesterday. Yeah. A little early I think, but he's all about it. Really, it just goes to show that kids learn to do all the things they need to without the walkers, jumpers, exersaucers, and whatnot. He's never been in any of those and he is speedy fast - so was Peanut.
video

With my mother's helper, some exercise, a little more sleep, and the ability to wear most of my pre-baby clothes, I am feeling like more of a person this week. Now don't get me wrong - I still have very few unstained items of clothing and makeup eludes me most days so you can see the circles and know how many hours I've slept, but I am on my own list and that feels pretty good.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ranger Jim

My dad was the guy you called when a tree fell on your house, or a squirrel was in your attic, or you wanted to know how to work your new chainsaw, or you had some extra wood that needed a home (and some chopping). He could do anything, and I know most kids think their dads can do anything, mine really could. He built us a tree house with my grandad, built our deck with our regular handyman Mr. Jones, fixed everything, washed and waxed the cars, did the asphalt on the driveway, cut down trees, and always had some project going.

He worked hard, but played hard too. Until I got my learners permit, he drove a white Porsche 911 Carerra, and drove it fast. We had a speedboat that we took up to the lake during the summers; he water skied, we fished, camped, swam, jumped off rocks. After the boat, we had a pool. Then he got into windsurfing, and he'd go any chance he got. He made a rack and pulley system for the board in the garage. He had been a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, and always loved to fly. I think he would have flown a cardboard box if he could. Small planes, gliders, hot air balloons, I think even hang gliders at one point. He was a serious runner for a while, played racquetball when it was the thing to do, skied, biked, you name it he at least tried it.

The house I grew up in had a workshop with a tall bench for dad and a child sized bench for my brother and I. We carefully hung our tools and materials on the pegboard shelves and hooks, so we could always find the blue paint for a model car, or the exacto knife for making doll house wallpaper fit perfectly. I credit my dad with my fearless approach to home remodeling and repair. Everything has a solution, and if you mess up, then you just learned something new. He never seemed to be worried about messing up a household project or repair. He'd hire folks to do some things, but he'd always help them in order to learn (and to save a dollar probably).

My dad came up to Boston to visit me in college pretty frequently. He'd take me and my roommates out for dinner, and treat us all like proper adults. He was friendly with waiters and shopkeepers. He had contacts everywhere - he seemed to always know "just the guy" for whatever it was you needed. Everyone loved him - he made you feel like you were important. He asked lots of questions and listened to your answers. He had a hug that enveloped you.

My dad took his own life seven years ago. I have decided to just not understand it. There is no logical sense to an act like that, and to comprehend it would mean that my mind could be that black, which scares me. I can't say whether his choice was helpful to him or not - I know he thought it would be. I do know that he has left a gaping hole. He has never met my husband or my children. He has never seen the unbelievable leaps of faith in renovating the last two houses I've lived in. He has not seen how many people his life touched, who still think of him with love and fondness, and miss his giant hugs.

I love you dad.
Ranger Jim 1/12/03

Saturday, January 9, 2010

An evening off

BOTH kids are sleeping. I am pinching myself because it is 8:20pm and we haven't had a two hour battle over sleeping this evening. Honey is actually working out and I am having a celebratory glass of wine while I type away.

After several long days with naptime and nighttime battles with Peanut, and me calling for backup or for someone to talk me off a ledge on a regular basis, I decided she was overtired and that we needed to move nap and bedtime up a little. The first day we shifted nap from 1pm to noon, it worked like a charm. After a few minutes of silence, she complained and requested a tissue. When I didn't reply, she got one and blew her own nose and went to sleep. Hallelujah!

We decided to move bedtime up as well, hoping that was the key. That night was a whole other story though. Another two hour long horrible screaming and crying nightmarish scene unfolded, and Honey and I were left questioning our sanity, parenting ability, self control, and our daughters health. After she finally fell asleep (in different jammies and socks, a new blanket, no stuffed animals or babies in the bed, and no canopy, with a promise of no TV tomorrow - a little bit of conditional parenting happens when you are tired and insanely sleep deprived), we determined that:
1) two year olds are difficult and sometimes they have sleep issues,
2) most two year olds do NOT take two hours to fall asleep on a fairly regular basis like Peanut does. This is from the time she gets into bed vs. the time we begin bedtime - tack on another 30-40 minutes for that.
3) she has no idea what she wants and therefore, we will never be able to satisfy that need,
4) we need to stay calm and controlled when we are dealing with this, otherwise it escalates fast, and
5) having her cry is better than us losing our temper. If we need to walk away and take deep breaths or count to 10 while she screams, so be it.

So today, Honey was in charge of napping, and while Peanut went down for a nap, she did not sleep. We decided that she should remain in her room for rest time regardless. We also determined that it was time for the big guns. We spiked her strawberry kefir with melatonin this evening at dinner. We are oh so hopeful that she wakes up happy and well rested. It remains to be seen if this will help with the routine wake up at 1am we have had this week as well. I really can't imagine what a night without her waking might feel like, even though ti used to be the norm.

Honestly, right now I am just happy to have a small amount of time for a break from the kids. I'd say during the week that there is about a 20 minute period where they both sleep at the same time during the day. So when the evening rolls around, I am really looking forward to punching out on the time clock for a little bit. Having that taken away for so long is extraordinarily draining. This week I did have a mothers helper for two afternoons, so I got some exercise and a whole bunch of chores done (I had no idea how productive I could be in two hours!). I can only imagine what these sleeping issues would have been like without that help. This feels a little luxurious, sitting here with my wine...

I'm a little hesitant to allow myself to fully celebrate anything yet. I could start dreaming of calm (or wild!) evenings after the kids are in bed, all the loose ends that would be tied up (read: crap on my desk), and the new glow that folks would see and wonder why I'm so happy and well rested. But I won't, not yet anyway. I am still waiting for that darn other shoe.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Thank goodness they are cute!

While we deal with our stress and tantrums (mine mostly) the kids continue to amaze and amuse us (thank goodness, right?).

Peanut is hysterically funny when she imitates the things she sees or experiences. She particularly likes to lead a dance class from atop a chair. She was missing in the house for a few minutes this weekend; Honey called her, and she answered "I'm putting on some cream!". When we found her, she had rubbed globs of hand cream all over her face. She is also, of course, wearing a tutu under her jacket. These are the times when I am so pleased to use all organic skin care - you don't plan on eating these things, but sometimes you (or someone else) do!


Pumpkin is continuing to give us a run for our money. We have worked out his sleeping and eating to where he eats about every 4 hours now, so that is an improvement. I'd love to get back to at least a 6 hour stretch at night...

He is now pulling to standing on everything he can find. He's pretty stable here and can use one hand to reach and play while he balances with the other. This morning, he wanted to help me cook like Peanut does, so he pulled up to the stool in the kitchen. He always looks so pleased with himself.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Delivery!

Grocery delivery seems like something I'd never need or want. I like to pick out my own produce, and I prefer to get things from the farmers market or my garden or a CSA. Sometimes though, you are in a pinch and the to do list is far too long for the time you have. This past week, we returned from a weekend at Honey's mom's house Monday night with no food in the fridge and little menu planning accomplished. This would have been an ideal week to have groceries delivered the morning after we got back. I decided to try it so if we did need to use the service again, I would know what we were in for. I was worried about the produce especially - we shop each week and eat what we buy, so ripe but not overripe produce is what we need.

So I put in an order online on Thursday and we scheduled delivery for Saturday between 7 and 9 am. At 6:58, there is a knock on the door - well they are on time! A nice guy brings my stuff in and offers to bring it to the kitchen for me. All the billing and invoice is online so there is little paper - he just needs my signature. The total bill was comparable to what I usually spend, and the delivery fee is about $7. As I unload the stash, everything looks good. The bananas are VERY green as are the avocados, but the other produce is ready to eat. There was a decent organic selection as well, which surprised me, but definitely made shopping easier.

The most absurd thing was that for a regular grocery order that would have fit in 3-4 of my reusable Chico bags, I was given 20 plastic bags! Many items were in their own bags, and a few were double bagged for whatever reason. I expected a few boxes rather than bags, just because it seems like that would be easier on the truck. I'll have to comment on that when I give my feedback to the store website - seems like a perfect place to decrease the store carbon footprint. So overall, it turned out to be a good option, but the plastic bag situation is a little crazy. Next time I can't get organized enough to get to the store, I'll know what I'm in for!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Very short fuse

The fact that I am not drinking heavily blows my mind. Both kids and Honey have been sick for the past few days, it's been freezing cold, and no one is sleeping. Peanut has been melting down every other minute or so it seems. She wakes up during the night several times for water, a tissue, or just a blanket check. I know she is jealous of her little brother, especially lately with all the holding we are doing. Pumpkin has somehow completely forgotten how to put himself to sleep, sleep in his crib, and sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time. Needless to say, I'm not thinking clearly, which limits my creativity in getting back on track with bedtime routines.

We decided to pull out the books and stuff we used to help us come up with a plan when Peanut was just starting to get into a sleep routine. We wanted (and needed) to encourage her to sleep for the same reasons we need Pumpkin to sleep - we will lose our minds if we don't have some sleep ourselves. I especially, am feeling the effects of sleep deprivation. Combine that with the lack of exercise, decreased sunlight, and general overwhelmedness of being a parent of two little ones and it's a recipe for disaster. My patience is so thin it may not even be there, and I am just scowling and angry all the time or so it seems.

As I started to skim the familiar tomes (I used these for my clients for many years as well) I realized that we were missing Pumpkins cues entirely. He wakes up, I feed him, change him, we play, and then he gets fussy. We had been assuming he was either just fussy, hungry or both. I think there was also an element of "plugging him up" because we were dealing with our older one's tantrums and stress and it was easy to stick a paci or a boob in Pumpkins mouth while we dealt with the tantrum. Turns out, he was tired. Yesterday, at the first signs of sleepiness/crabbiness, we brought him into his room, turned the lights down and the music on, and snuggled him up until he began to close his eyes. Then before he was out, we put him in his crib and told him how we knew he could fall asleep on his own, and we would come back if he needed us, but we were sure he could do it. The first time was a little rough, but it has gotten easier. Last night we got him to sleep in his crib part of the night and today we have had successful napping! The naps are still too short, but he falls asleep on his own and he is in his own bed.

Peanut is not such a success story. Last night was the worst yet - two hours from the beginning of bedtime to what we thought was her sleeping. She woke several times for various and sundry needs, and decided at 5am that she was awake. Then she wanted to eat, but she didn't, to pee but she didn't, to sleep, but she didn't, to play downstairs....you get the idea. Lots of screaming and crying, and generally being a sleepless two year old. She had no idea what she wanted. I'm sure she wanted some love and attention, but honestly I was so stressed from the lack of sleep and annoyed with her demands that just snuggling up was the last thing on my mind. At some point in our morning, she looked at me and earnestly told me "it is OK to be angry, it's OK to be mad, it's OK to be annoyed sometimes". How can she be so sweet and caring and so....TWO at the same time?!

I had been reading up on postpartum depression because of the frustration and intense mood swings and irritability I have been experiencing. I have discovered that there is something called postpartum anger - which I am sure I do have. Everything makes me mad, and it's mad mad, not ramp up mad. All of the things that should help alleviate it are the things I know I should do but haven't been able to work it in to the day - exercise, eating well, taking time for myself, meditating, talking to friends... I did make an appointment with a therapist which I hope will help some. I do have a mother's helper who will be here twice a week beginning tomorrow, so hopefully that will provide some help. It's funny that so many people have offered to take one or both of the kids so I can take a break, but I never think to ask for help, especially when I am in the throes of a very bad day. I know I need to take advantage of these offers.

So now both kids are napping, and I am realizing that I could use this time to my advantage. What an afterthought I have become. I am so used to waiting for the other shoe to drop...

How many words are in a word?

I almost said something... but I kept my thoughts to myself. In the parking lot of a bookstore yesterday (Honey got LOTS of gift cards to his favorite place!) a dad was talking to his kid - maybe 8 years old. "How many words are in Daddy?" The kid answered "one", and the dad impatiently asked why the kid couldn't get this - why he always got this one wrong. "There are no words in a word", he says. "How many words in run?" The kid cowers a bit and says "none?" Now dad is happy - his kid got that right. "How many letters in run?" "Three" with some confidence.


OK, so one, I HATE when people quiz their kids. It's a button of mine. But I really hate it when people are stupid and make their kids feel like idiots. There are lots of words in words! Either by pulling smaller words out (dad from daddy for example) or by rearranging the letters (day, ad, add...). Way to thwart your kids creative thinking dad! And come to think of it - who cares how many words are in a word? What the heck kind of question is that anyway?

I've been thinking a lot about how we shape our kids thoughts lately - how the expectations we have become self fulfilling prophesies, and how our attitudes create preferences and things to strive for in our kids. Of course, gender is a big one - the gifts we give girls vs. boys even before the child's game and toy preferences are recognized. Girls get ironing and kitchen stuff and boys get tool benches and baseball gloves. Peanut was given a baby doll at about a week old. No one has ever thought to give one to Pumpkin.

The way we talk about our surroundings is big too - Oh I'm so cold, this is scary, eww that mud is gross, oh it won't hurt you, it's just a little drizzle, be careful! Kids read our emotions and take them on as their own. When a child falls, if we react too intensely or quickly, their reaction is usually bigger than it might have been. Last summer at the park, Peanut fell and was about to get up and dust herself off. I was 9 months pregnant, so I moved slower than usual as I kept a close eye to see if she was OK. Another mom rushed to her aide, scooped her up and started asking if she was OK. She immediately screamed and cried, not because she was hurt, but because this woman made her feel as though there was something she should be crying about. So I got over there and calmed her down and then had to tell the mom that we don't work that way, and next time leave it to me.

I've discovered recently that kids are told they dislike vegetables. This is incredible to me - the think so many parents complain about - "my child won't eat vegetables!" and we are doing it to ourselves. I've seen commercials, books, children's shows, older kids and other adults say and do things that imply (or just state it outright) vegetables are nasty. In one of our books, it says "when I grow up, no vegetables for me! I'll eat my lunch from a lollipop tree" or some such nonsense. Are you serious? My child, who likes vegetables, is confused by this page in the book. There is a commercial for Chef Boyardee where the mom is panicked at the thought of telling her daughter that there is a full serving (whoo hoo! a whole serving!) of v-e-g-e-t-a-b-l-e-s in her ravioli. Come on, please.

The scariest mind games I think are the prince and princess ones. The prince will sweep the princess off her feet, and they live happily ever after. The prince is always some dashing, worldly guy and the princess is sitting around waiting for him, or better yet, fighting with other girls over him. The amount of sexism in children's books is astonishing. Little Red Riding Hood is saved by the ax man who just happens to be standing by, because she can only scream and not kick the wolf's ass herself. We have an older book where the prince can't find a suitable wife because "something was always wrong with the princesses". How about something being wrong with him? What are we teaching our girls about their role in society?

We do an awful lot of editing when we read here. Most of the ballet books (our latest stash from the library) talk about "doing things perfectly" and making sure you pull your tummy in. For whatever reason, all of the big sister books end in the whole family having ice cream. Lots of books really overemphasize commercial aspects of events like having a baby, the holidays, and going on a trip. Some books just have weird things thrown in that we leave out. Peanut knows her letters, but doesn't yet recognize words. We'll need to get rid of some of the books when she realizes how much I am skipping. Maybe we will just start making up our own books, with infinite possibilities for boys AND girls, and positive portrayals of fruits and vegetables!