Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone. ~G.B. Stern

November 24, 2010

Originally uploaded by anastasiav
"The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving."
H. U. Westermayer

"The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union."
-- Text of the 1863 Proclamation of Thanksgiving, A. Lincoln

Have a wonderful holiday!

"You send a boy to school in order to make friends - the right sort. " - V Woolfe

November 23, 2010

Originally uploaded by anastasiav
So, preschool.

Last Monday I took E in for his first "orientation" day at his new preschool. Preschool is more like a school than not. They have a weekly theme, daily chores, lots of outside play but also lots of practice of things like taking turns, sitting still, etc.

We got there at 8:45. He played on the playground with the other kids until it was time to go inside at 9. They had 15 minutes of circle time (during which I realized we'd never taught him to sit with his legs crossed, what used to be called "indian style"), then snack. As they finished snack, the kids could get up and go read a book or play a quiet game.

Five or six kids had already finished when E finished. He got up, selected a book about Dinosaurs from the reading nook, and sat down on the rug. He opened the book and started, rather dramatically, to "read" the story (really just telling a story based on the pictures he saw). One by one the other kids drifted over to him and his very compelling story. By the time snack was finished, he had the whole class gathered around him as he "read" to them.

He'd been there less than an hour at that point.

Sitting still is going to be a challenge for him, but they're clearly willing to work on that. I think we've made the right decision. I think, actually, he's going to do great.

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.” - Einstein

November 22, 2010

Originally uploaded by anastasiav
Some weeks stretch on for ever. Other weeks, its hard to find time to eat, or go to the bathroom. Last week was one of the latter.

My job is one of those jobs where its feast or famine. We have certain times when we are overloaded with work, and other times when we're casting about for something to do. Last week three giant projects all came due at exactly the same time -- on the same day, even -- leaving me with little time for anything other than work: household chores, social life, my family, meals, shopping -- all these were cast to second place.

Add to that that E had his two "orientation days" at his new preschool, and the timing belt broke on Josh's car, leaving us with a single car and jobs in two different cities, and its been an exciting adventure.

I'm so fortunate that Josh is both willing and able to simply pick up all the threads when I drop them. E is equally comfortable with Daddy getting supper (which is what happens most nights; Josh is the cook in our house); giving him a bath; doing bedtime (although if I'm there he wants me to do the stories - end of story).

So, anyhow, tomorrow I'll tell you the exciting tale of E's very first day at his new preschool.

Anyhow, here's something to read:

A Former I-Banker Explains Why The "Mommy Track" Was The Right Track For Her

(This article really irks me, because its so judgmental. I'd be interested to read your take on it.)

Its the Childcare, Stupid

Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say and not giving a damn. - G Vidal

November 12, 2010

baby and mom
Originally uploaded by kasiQ
Not much going on here. Get up, go to work, get home, get hugs, eat supper, go to sleep. Rinse and repeat.

I did get to watch E's swim lesson for the first time last night, which was fine. He made it across the pool himself, with help from a floatie.

Josh has to be away all day Saturday so its just E and me -- and my mother, which should make E very happy.

Monday we have the "orientation visit" at his new preschool, so I'm looking forward to telling you about that. (I'm also looking forward to hopefully telling you that there wasn't any huge disaster, but we'll see.) Hannah has been sending daily "we'll miss you" cards home with him from Daycare, but somehow I think they'll both be better off.

Parents are Junkies from Slate. Its totally true.
"Children regularly give parents the kind of highs that only narcotics can rival. The unpredictability of those moments of bliss is an important factor in their addictiveness."

Have a good weekend!

"Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves." - C Jung

November 10, 2010

Daddytypes today had a link to this very interesting and informative blog post about some children known as the Fultz Quadruplets.

The four Fultz girls -- identical quadruplets -- were born in 1946 to parents Pete and Annie Mae, who already had six children. Pete was a tenant farmer. Annie Mae was deaf and mute. The family lived in North Carolina, and, much like the Dionne Quintuplets born twelve years earlier, they were taken from their birth parents and raised by doctors and nurses. In the case of the Fultz girls, their care was subsidized by a company called PET milk - an early formula company.

There is a ton to be shocked by in this story, starting from the doctor who delivered them deciding to name them after members of his own family. But what made me absolutely irate in reading this was not actually the story -- it was the blog author's very casual note, at the end that all four girls had breast cancer (three died from it), and that this was the "consequence" of being formula-fed (rather than breast fed) as infants.

Give me a break.

Lets set aside for a moment (as my friend jenne.heise pointed out) the logistical difficulties involved in a poor woman with six children being able to nurse four hungry infants. Lets set aside, too, any thought that I personally might not feel like "breast is best". I nursed my son as much as I was able, but I also fed him formula. Because he had to eat something and he would have starved to death if his only choice had been the few ounces a day I was able to pump.

I know women who put forth this kind of uninformed, unsourced, judgemental, incorrect hogwash mean well. They want every mother to breast feed and that's a fine and noble -- and totally unachievable -- goal. Breastfeeding does a lot of good things, and protects babies and small children from a lot of things (including some childhood cancers), but it does not protect them from getting Breast Cancer. Rather it is women who lactate for at least 24 months who see the big decreases in breast cancer rates.

But it just doesn't help. I didn't feed my son formula because I wanted to. I did it because I had to -- I had to go back to work and he had to eat something. I'm sure my friend W.'s first choice isn't to formula feed as a stay-at-home mom, but breastfeeding simply wasn't working for her, and so having the option of formula available is keeping her baby happy, well-fed, and healthy.

In trying to find any -- any! -- source studies for her assertion, I discovered this interesting tidbit: in the 1960's, mothers with a family history of breast cancer were advised not to breast feed their daughters, since it was felt at that time that breast feeding might somehow increase the baby's chance of developing the disease in adulthood.

There is so much we can do to increase the rate of exclusive breast feeding in this country -- starting with education, especially for health care professionals and low-income families, right up to the pipe dream of Canadian-style year-long paid leave for new mothers. Scare tactics like this are not part of education. They don't convince anyone. All they serve to do is to increase the guilt and worry all mothers have over whether they are doing every single thing right for their baby.

"You've got the brain of a four-year-old boy, and I bet he was glad to get rid of it. " - G Marx

November 9, 2010

Originally uploaded by anastasiav
Lest you think its all gloom and doom and angst at my house, I will share with you some of E's verbal gems from yesterday. He's a huge goof, in case you hadn't guessed.....

E, talking about how another child at daycare had a miserable day:
"Hannah used her naughties to make everyone miserable"
(Somehow I think this sounds like she was torturing them with her underwear. But that's not what he meant.)

on his forthcoming new daycare:
"I'm going to be the smartest one at school cause the teacher will show me how to be smart."

In response to an ad he heard on the radio (for a sports bar):
"Daddy did you hear that, football season is back!"

Last night we went out to eat and then out to look at new sofas (super fun for a little guy, actually) and he was just a fount of amusing quotes all night long.

"Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play." - Mike Singletary

November 8, 2010

Once upon a time at our house, a game of Candyland was the high point of any day. Candyland was all about cooperation, with a splash of figure skating. Candyland represented a colorful oasis of fun on a Sunday morning while Daddy was sleeping, where E and I could play the game without much regard to The Rules and just run around Candyland, jumping over sticky licorice and racing each other to the candy treats.

No longer.

I know he's been playing Candyland at daycare, and sometime over the past few weeks E has developed a (very age appropriate) focus on "The Rules". On Friday night, after dinner, we played Candyland by The Rules, and E lost the game. Twice.

And then -- then! -- Oh, the weeping. Not winning is clearing the Worst. Experience. Ever. Falling off the chair, wailing and weeping, with big fat wet tears running down his cheeks. I'd seen a glimpse of this behavior once before, when he was running footraces with a much older boy at a local mini-park, but at the time I just chalked it up to E being tired and crabby and hot (which he was) and didn't think much more of it.

Now I'm thinking something of it, and trying to sort out what to do. Increasing, E loves to play competitive games. He loves Go Fish, and Candyland, and this fall he's become enamored with football (although I think that's more about falling down than it being an actual game you can win). And he asks - begs - us to play with him. But now its a little nerve wracking to play with (against?) him, because I know the outburst is coming at the end.

I was also an only child, and I remember ever Christmas having a Board Game on my list. I amassed quite a collection of them over the years, but the grownups in my house were always too busy to sit down and play with me. So I particularly, explicitly want to play these games with him, and teach him about "the opportunity to play" and sportsmanship and being a gracious winner and a "good" loser and all the rest of it. But I dread the end.

As his mom, my instinct is to soothe the tears away. But as a grownup, I know that I have to find a way to teach him that this kind of reaction to simply losing a game is unacceptable, so often I'm forced to tell him I'm not going to play any more even as he's tearfully begging me to play with him again, so he can win. On Sunday, he was playing against his Aunts - Josh's sisters - and when the "I wanted to win!!" wailing started, they tried the typical tactics -- "playing is the important part" "we each won one game, so we shared the winning" -- which utterly failed. In frustration or desperation (or, you know, from the experience in being a younger sibling in a family of six), one of his Aunts finally told him "nobody likes a crybaby".

Unsurprisingly, that didn't work either. He ended up snuggled down in Mimi and Poppa's bed for a while - not a nap, but just some "quiet time". And in a bit he was fine, up and running around and wanting to play again.

There's lots of advice out there about this, mostly centered on "redirect him to cooperative play". But it seems like that's just postponing the problem, not addressing it.

I really miss the days when a game of Candyland ended with all the playing pieces holding hands and doing a little dance.

Those that despise people will never get the best out of others and themselves. - de Tocqueville

November 4, 2010

Originally uploaded by anastasiav
Its been a crazy week here. At work, we have our Annual Meeting on Friday, which means that I've been going in early and working until late, late, late - end result being that mostly the only way I've seen E is as you seen him here: conked out, snuggled up with two bears. However, this morning I was able to get him dressed and play a round of "Go Fish" with him before he and his dad left for the morning, so that's a win.

And lets not even mention the election, okay? Okay.

We've finally found a new childcare situation for him; a real pre-school (with classrooms and everything). 16 other kids (including Boys!) in the class. I'll tell you more about that in a bit.

I'm sure you've seen this by now, but if you haven't its worth a read (if only for the awesome photo: My Son is Gay
"If my daughter had dressed as Batman, no one would have thought twice about it. No one."

E wanted, originally, to go as a pink cat for Halloween, but I convinced him that black cats were scarier. Partly its because I was having images of The Pink Bunny Suit from A Christmas Story in my head. But partly its because I knew what his (honestly, really progressive) dad would say. Which he did actually say, when we presented the black cat idea to him (afterwards, out of earshot). "Its kinda girly".


A few days ago a friend posted this link on her blog:
You Might Be a Counterculture Mama if....

Honestly, after reading it, my conclusion was that you might not be a counterculture Mama if you have to work to support your family, since a lot of those indicators are simply out of reach if you work in an office 8 hours a day.

Finally, I said I wasn't going to talk about the elections, but here's something of interest: The Midterms and the "New Momism": The Takeaway for Working Moms.

I've written here before about my mixed feelings about Sarah Palin, and this article touches on that. Politically, I'm about as far away from her as you can get. But I have to admire, a little bit, any woman who can seamlessly combine parenting (including a special needs newborn) with Governing a State. Be sure to check out the New York Times article on the same subject that's mentioned in the text.

"I wouldn't want to be accused of taking part in a rumble. " - Sally Brown

November 1, 2010

Here he is, the warmest kid on Halloween:

Stray Cat Strut

After all the work I put into "a black cat with pink ears" we had a momentary scare when E told us he would prefer to wear his pirate costume from last year, but we were able to arrive at a compromise.

E and Friends

He has a small posse of friends (he's the youngest) that we've been lucky enough to go Trick or Treating with every year. There are a couple of neighborhoods around here that go all out with decorations and whatnot, and I'm so happy that he has the sort of "Norman Rockwell memory" of being able to run from house to house to house with a gang of other ghosts and goblins and coming home with a bucket of candy.

Trick or Treat

And, because I am a trusting parent with the courage of my convictions, I even let him eat an apple given at one of the houses. (I washed and inspected it first.) Actually, it was the first thing he wanted out of his bag.

Scary Faces

Our house is always a Jack o'Lantern extravaganza. This year we had a total of eight. For a number of them, Josh was able to translate E's "pumpkin face" drawings into terrific Jack o'Lanterns. You can see two of them on the ends here, flanked by the happier face I requested.

A good night. I hope he's able to hold these memories fast when he's older.