Saturday, April 29, 2006


Friday, April 28, 2006

Current mood: exhausted

Mulch in your sandals. Shouts and squeals, laughter and pounding feet. Music from the festival over in the next field. Kids calling to each other as they chase and climb, their hair standing on end from the static as they zip down the plastic slides. The swings creak in rhythm. I try to follow much-needed adult conversation while still keeping an eye on my wanderer. Fearless littleman, he follows no piper. Luckily the older girls are playing babysitter, and doing a fine job. I can briefly turn divided attention toward my smaller charge, who would love to eat some of this fascinating mulch. But ouch! He is cutting teeth. I'm glad wisdom teeth don't hurt as much as baby teeth seem to! A breeze ruffles my skirt, the sun patterns shift under the trees. Here come small tennis shoes, it still awes me some to see him run. This creature of our making, this independent little man. Just a brief stop and then shedding cheerios, they whirl away again.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

quick thoughts on working together

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

quick thoughts on working together
Current mood: cranky

If you want someone to make their own decisions, do not second-guess them all the time.
If you want them to consult you, then listen when they do so.
If you want them to respect what you have to say on the matter, respect what they have to say as well.
If you want to work together with someone, then recognize that their needs and opinions are important to the working relationship.
And finally, if you are pissed off at a situation or an outside person, do not project that anger onto someone else.

This applies to all sorts of relationships in different degrees.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

a driveway moment

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

a driveway moment
Current mood: busy

Sun warms my back. A gusty breeze stirs the trees, sending spent dogwood petals skipping across the driveway. "Look, mama! Flowers! Like snow." The sidewalk chalk was fun, but he has moved on to imaginary baseball games and swordfights with a handy stick. I wave to a neighbor, a dog barks, a Harley roars past. ("Motorcycle!!") We only have a few minutes while baby brother naps, but what a lovely few minutes. Now it's a hiking stick, as he bravely tramps up the grey concrete mountain. "Oooh, there a airplane!" Yes, sweetie! Take it all in. I am refreshed with this world through your eyes!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Trying to be a good parent: a few ideas (part 2)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Trying to be a good parent: a few ideas (part 2)
Current mood: listless

So here's another thing I try to do to help me be a good parent (and wife, and friend, and family member etc): at least once a day, (and throughout the day if needed) I try to mentally step back from the present and take a look at the broader blessings in my life. So maybe this or that is driving me nuts, and this or that needs fixing, and I haven't slept much for months and Littleman has been illustrating the truly remarkable tenacity and persistence of toddlers. But here I am, doing what I really always wanted to do, with the most amazing kids in the world (OK, to me anyway) and a wonderful daddy for them, and we have a nice little house and an expanding business, and family nearby that love us and want to be a part of our lives. I mean, Wow. Your awesome blessings might be different, but I bet you have some beautiful reminders in your life too, if you stop to look for them. Taking a look at the big picture helps me ground and refocus, giving me a more grateful and tranquil base to stand on as I face the here and now.

I was also thinking about discipline. I am not against spanking, but I rarely do it myself. I don't know if this is because of Littleman's personality (of course this issue hasn't come up with Sweetcheeks yet), or mine, or my parenting style, or what. But so far, spanking has been extremely rare. These are the steps we usually take:

I start by telling Littleman I don't want him to do X, and I ask him to stop. I usually tell him why, and often point him in a different, more acceptable direction. A lot of people think this is stupid with a child his age, but I don't. The important thing is to NOT repeat yourself just because you don't want to deal with it, and don't give too many warnings. I try to be prepared at all times to drop whatever I am doing and go handle the situation. It's hard- I am not always successful. It means being a lot more mentally involved with what he is doing, thinking and feeling than I am able to be, sometimes.

But anyhow if this first redirection isn't successful (as in, if he simply ignores you or worse, grins and keeps right on doing whatever), I tell him more firmly that he has to stop, and if he does not stop I will do ___. The Consequence can be a toughie- it needs to be something I will not hesitate to follow through with, it needs to be effective and it's best to not overdo the consequence if the situation doesn't call for it. So I basically have to think of a custom consequence for every situation, no matter where we are- in very little time and when I am already annoyed. Some people find that having the same consequence all the time is good- a particular time-out spot, for instance. But I think that in that case, the child can begin to disregard the consequence, and not really care that they're being "punished". (Though some form of "time-out" is usually part of my plan- it's very helpful at this age). By tailoring the consequence to the situation, I can make the whole "transaction" more immediate and relevent. I hope.

It's best if this 2nd "no" with the consequence warning is done while I am on his level, holding him still and looking sternly into his eyes. This forces him to pay attention to me, forces him to stop whatever he was doing and makes him uncomfortable. If he tries to pitch a fit I hold onto him until he's through. Even hug him. It takes patience. If there's not enough time to wait a fit out, I tell him (pointedly and repeatedly, so he hears me without me having to raise my voice) to calm down and listen to me, and if he doesn't it will be straight to the consequence. If it's a big fit then it's usually straight to the consequence.

Unfortunately however I usually do the second warning from wherever I am, HOPING it will do the trick and I won't have to stop what I'm doing to take care of things. If that's the case, and I still have to stop, I do the stern talking to as a 3rd warning. Too many warnings, but oh well- it's usually how things end up. Finally, if none of that worked then it's straight to the consequence, no ifs ands or buts, no "born-again"s. No argument. I usually reply, "I told you not to __, and you did it anyway. So you have to __. Sorry." I think it's important to treat it like a law of nature- you do this, this happens- like, you throw a rock in the air, and gravity makes it fall down. If it hits you in the head, well you shouldn't have thrown the rock in the air!

Consequences I use usually involve immobilizing him for a little while, and/or removing him from tempting or busy situations. I still use the playpen and the crib for time outs, and I don't even worry if there's fun toys in there- to me, the consequence isn't so much about punishing as it is about forcing him to do what he should have done himself- that is, stop doing the "bad" thing and go do something acceptable. Sometimes the consequence is more about giving him a good place to cool down for a bit- toddlers can just get over the top sometimes. If we are out and about, sometimes I need to strap him into a stroller or carseat for a little while. Oh, and I always try to give him some idea how long he has to stay there- just a couple minutes, until you calm down and are ready to play nicely, until Grandma gets back from the restroom, or too bad- we're going home. Whatever. Then I have to keep my word. I may ignore him a little in there, but it's not solitary confinement. It's like a law of nature- I may even be a little sympathetic that he got himself into this mess. But I HAVE to follow through, or else he figures out these things are negotiable. Then, once the consequence has been completed, I give him a hug and try to point him in a good direction. And hope we don't have to do it all over again!

Knock on wood, but so far this has been working fairly well. Maybe someone else out there will find it helpful, too?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Knock, knock

Monday, April 10, 2006

Knock, knock
Current mood: tired

Had some very pleasant Jehova's Witnesses witness at me today. Two women- I briefly thought I'd answer their leading questions honestly, but didn't have the time and energy for it. I didn't lie, I just chose what truths I told- you know the technique I am sure. I imagine she left with an impression of my beliefs that's very different from the reality- or rather, that she would consider to be very different. Really I think the core of our beliefs is probably the same. Same spirit, same energy. The shame is that it's highly unlikely she would ever come to recognize that. Perhaps I am being unfair- but considering she's going door-to-door reading scripture to people, my guess is she takes things rather literally. Oh, well.

No time for more! But that was an interesting side-note in my day.

Sunday, April 9, 2006

well thank goodness for L.A. Story

Saturday, April 08, 2006

well thank goodness for L.A. Story
Current mood: nostalgic

OK, I have to say that although I ADORE my boys and I am really loving my mommy-job, I am getting just a bit burnt out. Whew. It's partly because Littleman is 2, and partly because everyone keeps getting sick, and partly because I'm still not getting much sleep, and partly because there's 2 of them and only one of me. But mainly because I've been giving it my all for over 2 years (over 3, counting pregnancy) and I'm just wearing a bit thin. I keep dreaming of vacations, and time spent sans-children, and time to meditate or to work on that quilt, or organize photos or shower or write or do yoga or read or cuddle my hubby or. . . to SLEEP! Etc. ;) Time spent NOT wiping runny noses or changing diapers or picking up toys or doing dishes or cleaning up cat vomit or waiting for a toddler to pee in the potty or doing laundry or. . . geez, where does my day go???

The funny thing is I started this blog feeling a bit disgruntled and longing for some adult time. . . but Billy came home early and put L.A. Story on the DVD player, and I love that movie- I'm so distracted now and I keep laughing out loud. So I think I'm going to go watch it and cuddle my hubby. :) A little mini-vacation. Damn the laundry.

edited to add- And what's with that "nostalgic" smiley above?? Does it look nostalgic to you?

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Chicken Pox

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Chicken Pox
Current mood: annoyed

I don't want my kids to get the varicella vaccine. Varicella (to simplify a bit) is Chicken Pox. The varicella vaccine is now required in the state of GA for any child who goes to school, and is part of the recommended schedule of vaccines for all children. This is a new vaccine, with widespread distribution in the US beginning in 1995. It is essentially still an experimental vaccine, because there have not been any large long-term studies of it's effectiveness. It is considered to be safe and effective (meaning, the danger of the vaccine is less than the danger of the disease and this vaccine is about 86% - 95% effective in preventing the disease) for children.

OK- so far so good. I am not against vaccination, on the contrary I think widespread vaccination has improved the quality of life for far more people than it has harmed. I do think that the adverse effects of vaccines are under-studied and far too easily dismissed by most medical professionals, and that it is wise for parents to be more aware of the real benefits and risks of the recommended vaccinations. But on the whole I have been happy to have my children receive the recommended shots, at least on an altered schedule. I know (Ok, "believe" is more accurate) that the vaccinations are heavily researched, and I am comfortable with my analysis of the risk/benefit.

Not so with varicella. Chicken Pox is generally just a mild annoyance in children under 10 or so. Most of us have caught it, and once you catch the disease you are effectively immune for life. It has been argued to me that Chicken Pox can be life-threatening for some children, and I am sure that this is true. However, I think that the risk of serious complications from natural Chicken Pox infection in children is less concerning than the potential complications from widespread use of the vaccine. (I know, I know, try telling that to someone who has lost a child to chicken pox. But far, far more children die in car accidents, yet proper carseat use is a harder sell to parents than the varicella vaccine has been. Go figure. Anyhow what I'm saying is that there are always risks, and our job as parents and public policy makers is to try to make benefits outweigh risks when making health and safety decisions for our children).

Chicken pox is far more severe in adults than it is in children. Adults who have not developed immunity to varicella can certainly develop life-threatening complications should they contract the disease. Herein lies the crazy thing about widespread varicella vaccination right now: We do not know if the vaccine remains effective into adulthood! What if all these children receiving varicella vaccine now never catch the disease in childhood (which is exactly what is supposed to happen), the vaccine begins to wear off as they get older (which is very likely, as many vaccines require booster shots to remain effective, and there is a documented reduction in the efficacy of varicella vaccine over time), and then perhaps some of them contract chicken pox. It could be very, very serious. It amazes me that this vaccine is being "required" before we have studied it's effects into adulthood.

I don't care to have my children be part of an experimental vaccine study, thankyouverymuch. Call me selfish, but I'll let someone else volunteer their children for medical experiments. The only problem is if I do not vaccinate, yet all the other children around have been vaccinated, how will my boys catch chicken pox naturally? What if they don't, and then come into contact with the disease when they are older and lack even the partial resistance provided by the vaccine? It's a Catch 22. I'm still not sure what I'm goiung to do about this. In the meantime, to have Littleman's vaccination records be up-to-date for school, I have stated that vaccination requirements are "against my religion". Not precisely accurate, but arguably true. At least that's an easy enough way to get around the "requirement" for school-age vaccinations for now.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Current mood: enthralled

Not much time, but I just want to say:

Haagen-Dazs Mayan Chocolate ice cream.

Makes lots of things much better. :)