Wednesday, April 22, 2009

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The Fresh Air Fund...Good Stuff

I was recently emailed by a kind woman who turned me onto a program which looks wonderful. It's called The Fresh Air Fund. From their press release:

In 2008, The Fresh Air Fund's Volunteer Host Family Program, called Friendly Town, gave close to 5,000 New York City boys and girls, ages six to 18, free summer experiences in the country and the suburbs. Volunteer host families shared their friendship and homes for two weeks or more in 13 Northeastern states from Virginia to Maine and Canada.
They are in need of host families for this year. Please go visit their site and if you feel so inclined, and live in the designated region, please consider opening your heart and home to a child for a few weeks this summer.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

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I've always said I should get a government grant to study the obvious: breastfeeding's good for kids, sugar and fake sugar aren't. If your child has repeat ear infections, perhaps you might want to look at food allergies instead of antibiotics.

And now here's another Captain Obvious one. It appears that now it's true that having kids puts a strain on a relationship. Now we know that. Finally.


Here's the article in case it goes away: Wed Apr 8, 3:20 pm ET

Parents all know that children make it harder to do some of the most enjoyable adult things. Bluntly put, kids can get between you.

Now scientists have attached some numbers to the situation.

An eight-year study of 218 couples found 90 percent experienced a decrease in marital satisfaction once the first child was born.

"Couples who do not have children also show diminished marital quality over time," says Scott Stanley, research professor of psychology at University of Denver. "However, having a baby accelerates the deterioration, especially seen during periods of adjustment right after the birth of a child."

An unrelated study in 2006 of 13,000 people found parents are more depressed than non-parents. Scientists speculate that the problem is partly a modern one, because parents don't get as much help at home as they did in previous generations.

There are key variables to note in the new study.

Couples who lived together before marriage experienced more problems after the birth of a child than those who lived separately before marriage, as did those whose parents fought or divorced.

However, some couples said their relationships were stronger post-birth. They tended to have been married longer or had higher incomes.

Children don't ruin everything, Stanley points out.

"There are different types of happiness in life and that while some luster may be off marital happiness for at least a time during this period of life, there is a whole dimension of family happiness and contentment based on the family that couples are building," he said. "This type of happiness can be powerful and positive but it has not been the focus of research."

The new research, funded by a grant to the University of Denver from the National Institutes of Health, is detailed in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Thursday, March 12, 2009

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Do You Care About Your Kid's Food? You Should!

Your future food depends on it. Not kidding. You think the price of food is high now? Do you like that your foods can be genetically modified and no one has to even TELL you about it, no labelling required? Do you care if you have food options? If these bills go through, we're totally screwed.

Last year I read this article in Vanity Fair about Monsanto's despicable practices of sueing small seed coops and family farmers for selling and planting GMO soybeans in violation of their patent. Even though they are innocent, Monsanto is going after them big time to, basically, put them out of business. It goes like this: if you plant their seeds even ONCE, you have to forever because of the possibility of cross contamination infringing upon their patent. I'm not sure if people know about this, but it's been brewing for a long time. Here is a short filmclip that sums up their intent to get control of the world's food supply by controlling the seeds. Their ethics are pretty clearly shown in their history. They used to make PCB's and Agent Orange and manipulated research of their toxicity. 'Nuff said.

It now appears that Representative Rosa L. DeLauro (D - CT) has sponsored Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 HR875. The corresponding senate bill is S425. There are 39 big agribusiness co-sponsors of these bills. Monsanto, Cargill, Tyson are all in there. Rep. DeLauro's husband has Monsanto as a client. She received $180k in donations from agribusiness PAC's. She is also pals with Rahm Emanuel (white house chief of staff).

This bill will make organic farming obsolete by ordering the small farmers what to feed their animals, how to medically treat their animals, what toxic sprays to use on their farms. It would criminalize all aspects of organic vegetable farms by making them "sources of seed contamination." (of Monsanto's GMO seeds...tricksy, yes?). Farming would be industrialized and forced, by fines of up to $500,000, to comply with the law.

It appears we have about two weeks to make sure this doesn't happen. I truly believe in the power of the internet. Please spread the word and ACT!!!

From The Library of Congress, Thomas Collection

111th Congress, House of Representatives H.R.875
Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009

111th Congress, U.S. Senate S425
The Food Safety and Tracking Improvement Act

Your Elected Representatives

House of Representatives

United States Senate

Call these folks and give them hell, tell them to have HR875 and S425 withdrawn from both floors of Congress Immediately.


Friday, March 6, 2009

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Holding Kids Back A Grade

My oldest grandson is five. He's bright. He's ready to read and does math exercises by himself all the time. He wants this, it's not being forced upon him.

He goes to a Waldorf school.

I understand the importance of developing slowly and surely. I understand laying the groundwork. But/and I have a difficult time when "rules" are applied across the board without giving consideration for the unique child at hand. This appears to be what's happening to him, at least to me.

The teacher has suggested he repeat kindergarten. She's a gentle soul. I know she wants only the best for these kids.

Her reasons: He is a male child and males develop six months behind girls. They want the kids to hit age 7 while in first grade and since his birthday is in August, he won't be 7. With these two considerations combined, she feels it's best that he stay another year.

My daughter listened and thought those good reasons. She asked my grandson and he thought it a good idea.

I thought it not a good idea.

I pointed out that give who he is and his learning readiness, he would be bored as time went on. I suggested that while I want to honor childrens' decisions about the trajectory of their lives, he could not grasp what the reality of him staying put while his classmates moved on would be. I reminded her that she and her sisters had all gotten disgusted with high school and that none of the three of them had finished it in the traditional way. Did she want to subject him to another year of school on the other end?

I am fully in support of not pushing kids who aren't ready to be pushed. But it's a balance.

Years ago, his mother's pre-school teachers all suggested I put her directly into first grade. I didn't care, didn't have an ego need for this for her. I could see she was more than ready and was listening to them, but as she was my first I was on new ground. I had a meeting with the principal, told him what I had been told. He decided I was operating from a pushing position and refused to do it. I watched his mother, my daughter, be the Teacher's aide her whole school career. I listened to her teachers in every grade school year tell me she should not be there, that she was so beyond where the other kids were.

I'm happy the school system got an aide and got paid to have her there. My daughter survived and has no long lasting pervasive psychological damage as a result of it :). Essentially it's not that big of a deal as, truthfully?...I think school important, but more for socialization. Most of the successful people I know didn't do all that well acdemically in school. Many of those who did aren't the most successful, happiest people (by far). I look at school as more social training than anything else, which is why grades were never an issue in our household. If and when a child wants to learn something, they will learn it.

After much discussion and pondering, my daughter has decided to not keep him back. I think that in the long run he will be happier. And we like it when he's happy.

image taken from here

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

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Trusting Teens Part 2

You can read the background as to what touched this off here.

Why is it suddenly like there are more pedophiles today than before? If pedophiles weren't around in the 50's, 60's and 70's, then why were so many of my friends molested when they were younger? I know dozens of women (and a few men) who had their trust violated by family, parent's friends, priests, teachers.

I would like to suggest that it was even more dangerous before because it wasn't acknowledged so the kids had no protection..and how scary is that? If a child reported it, they were silenced, not believed, doctors, priests, teachers, family members, even their mothers. You think that would happen now? Any licensed person who even suspects abuse reports it quick, fast and in a hurry. That wasn't the case when I was young.

Most molesting happens with people already known and trusted. Controlling your child's texting or online activity won't help that. Education, being present to your child and building self esteem will.

Yes, we now have the internet. But if your child is online doing stuff that's self destructive, it says to me there's something else going on there besides just being coerced into something. It says to me that they've either been so sheltered that they haven't a clue, haven't been educated as to their possible vulnerabilities, or have been so controlled they'll find any way to be independent...even if it's self destructive.

When a kid (or anyone, actually) gets into these situations, it says to me that they have lost the ability to discern when something feels "off." They aren't listening to their inner signals. But isn't that what we are trying to foster as parents..that inner voice that our children learn to trust and guide them through life?

Teens are going to make mistakes. We adults make plenty of 'em. Sometimes their mistakes will be big ones and we will wish we had controlled them more in the mistaken belief that somehow we could have prevented this or that.

But we can't. Life isn't like that and we don't live in cages. If my dad had known one quarter of what I'd done, he would have had many more heart attacks than he did. My (now in their 20's) kids have told me stuff they did that I'm so happy I never knew about. Like...traveling alone in Germany at age 17 and getting on the wrong train...which stopped in the middle of nowhere and she had to walk back to the station on the tracks. age 19 in China taking a 23 hour train trip alone to sightsee the wonders of that country...going out on the town with some rowdies and ending up in some hotel room at another point on that trip.'s a scary world out there. If I had known what they were doing beforehand I would have flipped out. These are some of their best, most exciting memories. They've built confidence inside my girls. I would never want to take that away from them.

Do we really want to? Do we want our children to live full, interesting, exciting lives or do we want them to be "safe?" Is life about always being small or is it to be lived BIG? They can walk out the door with all in place, cell phone monitored, good grades, we know exactly where they are while riding their bike to school...and a car hits them and they die. It happens.

We cannot control Life.

And in the meantime, it's about our kids, in their ability to be responsible to the best of their ability. And then we have to turn it over to....whatever: their angels, God, the process, fate, whatever....

From two of the wisest Teachers I've encountered (not the exact conversation, but the essence):

He: I promised Nemo that I would never let anything happen to him!!!

She: Well...that's kind of a funny thing to promise.

He: Why?

She: Well...if nothing ever happens to him, then nothing ever happens.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

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A Rant On Trusting Teens, Pt. 1

Thank heavens we live in a place where, unless they cause great harm to their kids, people get to parent any way they want to.

I sure wouldn't want anyone dictating to me how to raise my kids. At the same time, sometimes when I run into people who parent differently than I, I am appalled (as I'm sure they are with me).

I received this in my email box awhile back:


If your kids have cell phones then you no doubt have heard the term "text messaging". Maybe you're child is one that racks up hundreds, if not thousands of text messages per month.

And chances are, you have NO IDEA what they are texting, and what others are texting back to them.....right?

Well, there are some very serious reasons for you as a parent, to discover what your teens are texting, who they are texting, and how you can protect them from danger, and themselves.

Here's a great guide designed specifically for parents, that will give you all the information you need (including a comprehensive list of all the texting codes) to learn about what your child is doing online and on their cell phones, and how you can monitor and protect them.

It is in your child's best interest for you to KNOW about the world of text messaging and online social networking. It's not always a safe and innocent world for our kids today, out there, and it's up to us, as parents, to ensure we are on top of, and educated about the activities of our children. Especially ones that consumes so much of their time and attention!

Visit today and learn more, I promise, you'll be glad you did.

I have a number of issues with this email which links to an infomercial site to buy this guy's book on how to protect your child from pedophiles.

First off- I'm blown away by the assumption that it's our right to invade the privacy of someone who is almost an adult. Could it be that it's parenting styles like this that are the result of people staying "younger" for so long? Is this why kids remain living at home for so much longer, put off getting jobs, driving, creating families? Are we making our kids too dependent by our micromanaging their lives?

How do children become trustworthy, responsible people if they are constantly given the message that they aren't? Especially when they haven't done anything wrong?

Every person on this planet is entitled to their privacy. Every one. Even a baby if they so desire. I have no right to intrude on my child's private conversations unless they are in big time self destruct mode. Instead of making them "wrong" and not worthy of being trusted, I preferred making sure my kids understood I considered them responsible, intelligent human beings. They were. This is not to say we didn't have rocky or scary times. Heck...being alive and a parent at any time is scary. But we need to manage our fears and not require our kids to shoulder the burden of them.

Would you rather have someone who can take care of themselves, someone who has a head on their shoulder to find their way through challenges through an inner sense of self esteem? Or would you rather contribute to someone who needs you there to tell them at every turn what's right and what's wrong?

Yes. I understand it's a bigbadscary world out there. We want to protect our kids. But do you really think the road we're taking of monitoring their very move will do that? Paaaleeze...if your child wants to do something, they'll do it. The more boundaries you put around them, the tricksier they'll become to find their way around you. And thank heavens they want their independence. Do we really want a generation of sheep?

more to come...

image from here

Monday, August 11, 2008

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Update And Birth

Ha...well, so much for posting more regularly....

I guess I've had a difficult time with this blog over the last year because I'm not a full time parent any more. I was having a difficult time thinking of things to write because I'm not in the middle of it.

Lots has happened over the past year. My daughter gave birth to another son. Although we had not intended for me to be the midwife, he was going to be born at my house again because they lived so far out of town.

Good thing my daughter had moved in a few weeks before the due date. Her labor was very fast. Like..she woke me up at 5:30 am because he water had broken and she felt a few contractions. She went back to bed to rest. I got up to get things ready....started putting water in the portable birthing tup that had been set up in my dining room for weeks....getting all the supplies out and ready....went to the store for last minute breakfast items.

At 7, she decided she should eat something as it might be awhile. She was having irregular contractions, lasting no more than a minute, with 5-8 minutes in between, talking through some of them, recovering right after.

At about 7:20 she to hubby at old house, call to midwife to arrive. But she was still talking and having mild contractions so not to worry....'

Until about 7:23 when she did a slight "eeh" in pain, holding herself against the wall and breathing deeply.

Hm, says I... hubby and midwife to tell them to amp it up...even though she really wasn't doing much...I just had one of those old fashioned midwify intuitive feelings.

Good thing....

Hubby made it, she started making pushing noises. Midwife arrived when baby's head was out.

Upshot is- Jaymin was born and placenta was out by 8am.

I hate her. Just. Not. Fair. And I've told her this numerous times, cuz I'm just that much of a brat. She sticks her tongue out at me every time.

Both were healthy and happy, although they had an adventure when Jaymin was two weeks old, which I'll rant about soon. And although I wished and hoped to be able to just watch and be a Nona, I also feel really blessed I got to catch both of my grandsons.
He's six months old now, turning from front to back and back again...fat and happy with little squishy biscuit feet. Quite cute, if I say so myself.

Jaymin would be the one inside the belly. The photo was taken by an old family friend, Govinda. Go check out her stuff here cuz she's good.