Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Glimpse Inside the Workings of Ed's Brain: Vaccination 2010

In 2001, I contracted the flu. I lost about 10 percent of my body weight, and since it was a few months before I got married, more than one person remarked how they couldn't believe even I would lose weight for a wedding. To which I would respond "yes, being unable to eat for several days in a row and puking nonstop whenever I dared attempt to eat is a very sure way to lose a lot of weight...quickly". The experience was unpleasant enough that I faithfully got a flu shot every year thereafter, figuring any possible shot at avoiding being that sick again was a good thing. I also drug the kids in to get their shots, despite their protests. I even breastfed Helen substantially longer than I initially planned because I didn't want to wean her during flu season.

So I was a little surprised when Ed announced to me that he didn't think we should give the kids flu shots this year. He argued that they had questionable value and it just didn't seem worth the trouble. So, imagine my surprise when he called me after Helen's 3 year well-child visit and told me "Helen got a flu shot". Uh, excuse me? Why?

"Well, as it turns out, there were no scheduled vaccinations at this appointment, and I figured since Helen had already been psyched up to get one, I might as well get her the flu vaccine. It's not like it's harmful or anything, just of questionable value."

Someone please tell Ed that this logic makes no sense, because it does not.

The official stats? Helen now weighs 26 pounds, which puts her at the 12th percentile. She's 36 inches tall, which puts her at the 25th percentile - and is also very important in the world of amusement parks, because often a child must be 36 inches before they can ride by themselves. Woohoo!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Commemorating Special Things

A few months ago, my mom gave Helen a box of pink band-aids with Hello Kitty on them. Let me give you a moment to contemplate how completely awesome that gift was. At first, Helen sort of applied the loose rule around here of - if it's not red, it doesn't get a bandage. But then, it dawned on her that these were her very own band-aids. And as the owner, she could make the rules about when they could be used. So while Connor was busy hoarding his band-aids for some time in the future, she developed her own rules of use. As far as I can tell the rule is this.

If there is a surface that might contain an injury and it would look better decorated than plain, a band-aid should be applied. Acceptable surfaces are herself, Connor, or her babies.

Helen ran through those band-aids faster than a mom with a newborn takes a shower.

When the box was empty, Helen just could not bring herself to toss the box into the recycling bin. Her shelf is overflowing at this point, so she took it to the craft room and turned it into her first piece of mixed media artwork by gluing the band-aid box onto a piece of paper.

Sadly, I do not have a photo of this artwork, and a quick glance through the craft room did not yield the piece of art in mind.

Fast forward a few more weeks when Helen and Connor had those little ice cream cups for snack one night. I rinsed them out and tossed them into the recycling only to have Helen retrieve them. When questioned what she could possibly be doing with these items, she defensively stated that she needed them for her artwork.

And thus, her second piece of mixed media artwork came to life.
I snapped a photo of this object right before Helen and Connor turned it into a birthday card. You see, all two-dimensional art in this house is placed on a shelf in the craft room and then when the need for wrapping paper or a card arises, Helen or Connor retrieves something for the job. Even though this is not two dimensional, Helen loved it so much that she just knew her friend would love it, too. I'm not so sure that was the case, but her friend was certainly gracious about it.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Cheerios Asked About Nourishing Mind and Body – Here’s an Idea from My Family, What About Yours?

Since I moved to the East Coast and had children, apple-picking has become a quintessential marker that fall has indeed arrived. I’m partial to the farms that have loads of apples, but not a lot of other activities. My children are still quite young (ages 3 and 5), so the act of discovering a tree, finding an apple on it, and then retrieving it for consumption later – or even right on the spot – can still make for a nice morning. Of course, if the orchard has a cider press, I’m also happy to indulge in a little fresh-pressed cider, something my son claims is “better than candy”!

I still recall four years ago when my sister-in-law started this tradition. At the time, my older child was just over one year old, and he had 2, maybe 3 teeth. Up until that point, I did not even know it was possible to eat an apple with that few teeth. But sheer determination goes a long way.

The combination of cooler nights and a birthday party about 45 minutes from our house set the stage for this year’s trip to the orchard. Somewhat willy-nilly, we happened upon Crooked Run Orchard. After the party and our somewhat circuitous route to the farm, we were a bit tired, so we decided to check out the nearest fields. You know, the fields that everyone else who just wants to make a quick trip checks out.

Given that it was afternoon, these trees had clearly seen their fair share of visitors. But hope springs eternal because way up there, on that branch just out of reach? We could see some beauties.

To recap our ritual:

Step 1. Toss some Cheerios and other snacks in the car and head to the nearest orchard.

Step 2. Walk to field and surmise that there sure are some tasty apples available.

Step 3. Discover your 5 year old is now tall enough to reach some of the lowest apples on the trees. My son was thrilled, although truth be told, the apple wasn’t that impressive. But with apples this size, if an apple a day does indeed keep the doctor away, we should be covered since we’re eating three or four of these snacks!

Step 4. Have the parents reach as high as they can, but still come up only retrieving mid-sized apples.

Step 5. Necessity is often known as the mother of invention. If you can’t reach the apples on your own, use your dad as a ladder and go for it!

And now that you have loads of apples, go turn them into all manner of tasty treats! So far, I’ve made an apple crisp, an apple pie, and I’m still searching for the perfect cider donut recipe. Have one you care to share? Or maybe you have some additional ideas on how to get those way-up-in-the-trees apples? Or something else we ought to be incorporating into our fall routine?

Disclosure: As part of the Cheerios Blogger Circle, I was asked to write about a way my family nourishes mind and body. I was happy to join this circle because my daughter still request Cheerios for her playgroup snack. But please don’t tell my kids my secret. I love to mix in a few chocolate chips when I eat them!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pink Chair and the Introduction of "Backsies"

Sometimes, I regret a move I make as soon as I make it, but once the cat is out of the bag, there's nothing I can do to put it back in. And so it is with some recent decisions I made.

#1. Some months ago, I purchased a cute little blue couch for the kids to share. I set it up in Helen's illegal daycare, where she is required to spend hours upon hours each day tending to at least a dozen babies. Feeding them, burping them, taking them on walks in the stroller, changing their diapers, requesting my assistance in changing their clothes, and, you know, ignoring them. Just like what I imagine happens in all illegal daycares. I thought the introduction of a couch was an awesome addition so that rather than running herself ragged all day, Helen could just grab a cigarette, light up, and do a crossword puzzle while all the babies sat there ignored by her. It was a perfect plan, except Connor loved the blue couch. He loved it so much, in fact, that I put it on wheels so he could fly it around the house all day as he traveled from city to city in his new airplane.

I'll give you a moment to imagine the bickering induced by this couch.

OK, now go get an aspirin to calm that headache.

#2. I purchased a SECOND child sized chair - this time, a pink chair. The idea was that now that we had TWO child-sized pieces of upholstered furniture, each child could have one. The couch was superior for it's size, the chair was superior for it's alluring color.

It totally worked for exactly one morning when Connor ran out to the couch, sat on it and claimed it as his own and Helen ran to the pink chair, exclaimed how beautiful and perfect it was. Which made Connor decide he wanted it. Seriously.

And so...for the next several weeks, whenever Helen would come downstairs in the morning, she would instantly plant her little bottom in the pink chair, and Connor would complain about how unfair life was. How Helen always got to have the pink chair. On the off-chance that he go to the pink chair first, he would lounge around in it possessively, and occasionally I would notice that he needed to do something important - like go to the bathroom - and he would avoid doing so, lest Helen plop her rear end in the chair. Which leads me to #3.

#3. I taught the children about "backsies". In case you didn't grow up in my house and are not familiar with this, it's the practice of leaving a location, calling "backsies", thus reserving the location for future use. It could apply to a piece of furniture, a record, a television show - you name it.

And then, the worst thing of all, Ed piped up with "no backsies".

AUGH! Are you kidding me?

It was bad when the kids were scrambling for one chair and then arguing about it. It was worse when there were two chairs to argue about. And then it got even worse when "backsies" was introduced. But now?!? They can argue about the chair AND whether or not "backsies" can be implemented.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Helenspeak - Coffee Edition

This morning, Helen woke up next to me, rolled over and said "Mom, if you don't get me a tiny bit of coffee this morning, I will die".

My reply: "I agree with your sentiment, Helen. I'll miss you."


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

62 Months Old!

Dear Connor,

You steadily cruise into your 5th year on this Earth and I must say, you are rocking it. Totally, dude. People regularly ask me how you and Helen are and I always respond "fantastic - I am in the glory days of parenting". And I know that life can change in an instant, but these days? Life is good. Really good. Not perfect, mind you, but good.

Last Friday, several moms and I were sitting around in Helen's parent-child class discussing various issues related to your school's Fall Festival. This year, I was in charge of building a marble run (total success), coordinating volunteers (successful only because some friends of mine with no connection to the school came and volunteered for several hours), writing descriptions and pricing over 200 silent auction items (along with various other administrative tasks), making jump ropes before the festival, and baking 4 dozen cookies. It was a lot. Another mom asked me how I could do it all and I looked at her and said "because I have an incredible 5 year old in my house". I remember the days of struggling as a parent with a two year old and pregnant with another child (the position she's in). Life was a lot harder then, because your needs were rather intense. But now? I come home from work, and almost every day, I can start dinner while you and Helen play either outside in our backyard, in the neighbor's backyard, or find some project you can do in the kitchen beside me. It's really wonderful to see. I hope the two of you stay friends like this forever.

So why are things going so well? For starters, you rock the sleep world, almost always - and you make mornings easy. There were a few days this month where you would bound down the stairs early and happily announce "I had a nightmare" which can be a free pass into my bed. Not so, when it's clear you aren't in distress. You asked how I knew you hadn't had a nightmare and did attempt to perfect your acting a bit. Nice try, friend. Mostly though, you sleep until well after your wake-up light comes on, you get dressed, you eat breakfast, and your off! Seriously. You don't even say good-bye to your dad or me most days after morning verse at your school. You just run off to play with your friends.

And, although you could use a little more one-on-one time, you're making it work. And I appreciate that.

Grandma Carlene and Grandpa Rodney came for a visit and, as always, came bearing presents. This, you like. However, you continue to be unimpressed with clothes as a gift, and you don't mind telling your grandparents this.

Your grandpa Dick also came to visit - also bearing gifts. You are now the proud owner of roller skates! While he was here, we visited a dairy farm and you announced you would like to be a farmer and live there. That's too bad, really, because that means we won't be living together. Here's a little note to you. Farming is really hard work.

We also went to an orchard and picked a couple of bags of apples. After we had paid for the apples, you saw some fresh cider. You asked your dad to buy it and, already tired of waiting in lines and ready for the day to end, we both told you we'd just get some at the store this week. You pointed out that fresh from the farm is better, something we learned while visiting our CSA farm with Grandpa Dick when we got to have fresh pressed cider which you declared to be "better than candy". You had a point about this. We got back in line and purchased from the farm.

The number. Oh, the numbers. You love counting, and thinking about sets of numbers (yes, Daddy is four sets of 10!), and have recently become fascinated with mutiplying things by 10 and 100. Oh dear me, please become fascinated in something else...soon. Although, I will admit, I'm a fan of the numbers, too!

You have become my official kitchen floor cleaner, which is awesome. You love to spray the floor and wipe away the smudge. In fact, you like it so much that you once asked me to come get you whenever I saw a spot, even if you were sleeping. Consider yourself hired! I'm recording it here in case you ever become a less dedicated worker.

You made me laugh a few nights ago when, in the middle of the night, I overheard you muttering "oh dear", something you had also said when you spilled milk at dinner. You get this from me. You even asked me why I say "oh dear" and I told you "I don't like to yell, so I've decided to say 'oh dear' to give myself a little time to process my feelings before I say anything".
You are truly a positive force in my life and the lives of others, Connor. We've talked before about how you can choose to be happy or you can choose to be angry and I'm grateful that these days, at least, you're choosing to be happy. The world has so much to offer. Grab it!


Monday, October 18, 2010

And the Results are In! Video Games and Children

I am a Waldorf parent through and through. And part of this means that my children do not watch television. They also do not play video games, rarely listen to recorded music, and in general - live a battery free life. There are a few exceptions.

1. If necessary, I would be willing to let them watch videos on a plane. I know Connor did this once. Typically, if we need to resort to media entertainment, we show them photos that have been stored on the computer or videos of them.

2. When we are not at our house. Both of the kids have seen parts of the Super Bowl while at a friend's house, both saw some of the Olympics on our ski vacation last year, both have seen a very limited amount of kids' TV when they visit Ed's parents and their cousins have it on, and Connor has watched a Thomas movie while getting his hair cut and while getting an MRI for a study he's in at the NIH.

3. I believe that my sister's children introduced them briefly to the Wii bowling game, though I know they didn't play much, and they might not have played at all.

4. Helen was also in a study (sponsored by Georgetown) where she watched about 5 minutes of television, two or three times, which is what I want to write about.

The goal of the study was to see if children could perform a task better if a human showed them how to do it, if a video of an unrecognized character showed them how to do it, or if a recognizable character showed them how to do it. I received the results a couple of weeks ago.

At 18 months, Helen was in the group that had the human show her how to do the task. She aced it. At 21 months, Elmo was her task leader, and to say the least, she did not respond by doing the hoped for task. However, she did perform similarly to kids who were shown a video with the unrecognizable character, and since Helen would not actually recognize Elmo, Helen's results seem to agree with the results of the study in general.

I think the results are pretty fascinating. And I want to put them into context with a recent experience I had viewing a new video game from Sesame Street.

Here is an excerpt of the summary I received from Georgetown.

"As you may know, nearly 80% of toddlers under age 2 view television or video programs, with toddlers exposed to an average of 2 hours of screen time per day." Wow. No, I did not know that. In fact, I'm surprised, given that the rather conservative American Academy of Pediatrics advises against television for the under 2 crowd. But, whatever. It's not as if I haven't disagreed with the AAP before. I guess others do, too.

"We asked whether toddlers could learn conceptual information from a video, and if so, what conditions improved their learning."... "One of our most exciting findings was that 1) toddlers in both the Live and Elmo demonstration groups [performed the activity] better than toddlers who did not see a demonstration, and 2) toddlers who saw a video of Elmo nesting the cups learned a cognitively challenging task from video equally well as a child who saw a live adult [perform the task]." The study notes that this is contrary to what most people believe. It also goes on to note that toddlers in the unfamiliar character demonstration performed worse than both of the other groups (thus excusing Helen's inability - which was actually just unwillingness - to stack the cups in response to the video).

This report landed in my inbox shortly after I'd seen a demonstration of a new Sesame Street video games.

I went to this event out of curiosity, because I really am not exposed to children's programs and honestly had no idea there were video games for kids.

Let me lead by saying I was really impressed with the game developers. They didn't just try and make an adult game with kid characters. Instead, they spent time with a Child Psychologist (educated at Kansas University, no less) and they devoted a lot of thought to children's motor skills. Guess what? Young children move remotes differently than adults! The developers considered whether there should be a multi-player option (there is not) and they created parental controls, to allow the parent and child to work through the game together. They developed the game based on known education principles (scaffolding, reinforcement techniques), and they're clearly focusing on the over 2 crowd, so not in conflict with the AAP recommendation. They're also responding to what I consider to be a very strong vibe in this country to encourage reading and math skills earlier and earlier. And they're doing it on a platform that kids are interested in, because they see it all the time.

Now, if the Georgetown results can be generalized to slightly older children - and I don't think there's a big leap of faith there - then I suspect these new Sesame Street games are going to go a long way in encouraging early letter recognition, simple spelling and math skills. And frankly, if I concede the fact that most kids are exposed anyway, I'm a lot happier about age appropriate exposure than some of the other video game stuff I hear.

Am I disadvantaging my children in some way by not giving them this tool? I doubt it. Time will tell, I suppose.

I realize that my choices are in the minority. If video games are part of your child's world by all means, go grab these games (there's a coupon code in the disclosure at the bottom). But I wholeheartedly would welcome a conversation about what our school systems are trying to accomplish.

I think we owe it to our kids.

Disclosure: I was invited to go the Newseum to have lunch and hear game developers discuss two Sesame Street video games. I was able to test the games, and also saw them demonstrated. I received two passes to return to the Newseum at a later date, an Abby Cadabby mug and video, and a small stuffed Big Bird. I was not required to write about the event. After attending the event, I was given a discount code to share with others. You will receive 10 percent off the purchase of any Sesame Street video game if you use this link, combined with the discount code "MOMMY". Enjoy! I came as a skeptic, but I was impressed. I know that Helen and Connor would get a big kick out these games.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Potomac Crescent Waldorf School Fall Festival

Jessica, at the super-cool blog a Parent in Silver Spring, generously allowed me to write about the Potomac Crescent Waldorf School Fall Festival which will be happening on Saturday from 10 - 2. Hope to see you there!

The festival takes place at the school, which is located at 923 S 23rd Street; Arlington, VA 22202.

Check out the post wherein I discuss not only the Fall Festival, but also Waldorf education.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Happy 3rd Birthday, Helen!

Dear Helen,

Two days ago, you turned 3 years old. THREE! THREE! THREE!

You've been telling everyone about this upcoming date for quite some time now. Whenever someone would ask your name you would respond: "I'm Helen. I'm 2. Soon I'll be 3. When I turn 3, I'm going to give up my bottle and drink milk from my pink cat cup." which, to say the least, is a lot more information than they were looking for. You held steadfast to this claim that you would go through with the deal of giving your bottle up at 3 until October 11 after dinner. It was at this point that you stated unequivocally that you would continue to drink your milk from a bottle and that you would not use your pink cat cup for milk.

I feel for you, Helen. And I'm only giving this trial period of using a cup for milk for a week. You see, the day after your birthday party (held a week ago), you came down from bed and you looked very sad. You asked me "am I 3?" and I knew right away what you were really asking was whether or not you could have your morning bottle - a bottle that has started your day every day since you stopped nursing, and lots of days before then when you were only nursing at night. You were visibly relieved when I told you that in fact you were not yet 3. That 3 was about a week away.

The way I see it, there's no reason for you to have the bottle. You like milk just fine, and you can drink any other fluid from a cup. But for some reason, like your brother, you just do not like milk from a cup. He was OK with dumping the bottle when he realized he got to use a train cup, and we were hoping the pink cat cup would be similarly appealing to you, but so far, it hasn't tempted you in the least.

But your life hasn't just been about a bottle. Mostly, it's been about RUNNING. FAST! Everywhere you go! It's as if one day, a few weeks ago, you realized you could run and you just haven't slowed down since. You chase after Connor as he rides his bike, you run down the street to greet me, and you can run all over the backyard for a good long time. I'm still waiting for the big nose dive when you trip over your shoes, but so far, you have avoided that fate, and the few times you have fallen, you've managed to catch yourself with your hands.

We celebrated your birthday with a pizza making party. What I learned from that is there might be nothing as cute as a bunch of little girls sitting at a table waiting for a cupcake. By the way, I attempted to make you pink cat cupcakes, per your request, but I think I didn't get the sugar hot enough and the icing just didn't hold like it should have. Fortunately, three year olds (and their older siblings) are very forgiving when it comes to imperfect icing.

You had a ball at your party, and changed your clothes no fewer than four times.

You started out wearing the clothes you had selected for the day.

Then Tiny, our au pair, gave you the most perfect pink cat dress, which needed to be worn immediately.

And then you decided you needed to wear your fancy party dress.

You rounded out the day with a costume that Miss Ellen gave you.

Your grandparents came for the party, which was a real treat. Not only do they come bearing presents, but they are willing to play Zingo with you hundreds of times in a row. They might have finally quenched your thirst for this exciting game because I don't believe you've insisted I play it once since their departure. I owe them a lot of thanks for this.

This month, a friend had a pony party, and that was simply fantastic. What's even more fantastic is that the other children seemed more interested in the small petting zoo that came with the pony, which meant you could have about 20 consecutive rides. You loved it.

You are turning back into a mama's girl, practically weeping if someone gets between us at times. Your dad always tells you that "no one likes a mama's girl" and I always say "I do!".

You impress and delight people wherever you go. I receive emails regularly after people see you about what an incredible child you are. I agree. You are incredible. You tell me (and others) daily "you're my best friend" and you love to give out kisses. You're still the best hugger in the world, and even though you're stubborn and I will quite possibly lose my marbles over trying to figure out how to get you to drink milk from a cup, I love you. With all my heart, I love you.


Monday, October 11, 2010

From Left to Write Book Club: The Kids Are All Right

After Connor was born, Ed and I spent a fair amount of time discussing whether we would ever go through that again, and by that, I mean - sleepless nights, a child who would not allow me to leave the room without making his displeasure known, and did I mention the sleep? Wow, was Connor an intense baby.

When we bandied about the idea of another child, I kept returning to this. My sister will, at some point, be the only person who holds my past. She was there from the beginning, and I fully expect her to be around with me for a good number of years - quite possibly to the end.

She's great, but she's not perfect. Unlike many older siblings, my sister did not break my parents in, which is a bummer because as a younger sister, I shouldn't have had to tread on territory like breaking curfew and bending other random rules. This territory should have been covered with her teen years.

On the flip side, she helped me navigate through high school, she tried to keep me out of trouble (and this is where she will insert the story about how she rode her bike all the way to our elementary school and back one day when I left my lunchbox there, and my mom had frankly, had it with me leaving my stuff everywhere - she tells it in a selfless way, as if she were just being nice, but I believe having that lunchbox at home when my mom got home meant I got to spend the night with a friend, so in retrospect, I think she might've just done it to get rid of me for the night). And, my sister, who NEVER raised her voice, and never got in trouble, and was never mean to anyone once told this punk on the school bus to "SHUT UP" when he was making fun of me. And he did. I had been in a bike wreck and scraped my upper lip pretty badly. At one point during the healing process, it was all yellowy, and this jerk on the bus started taunting me about boogers on my face and my sister silenced him. I would've just ignored him and cried about it at home, but she stood up for me. And in doing so, taught me an important lesson.

Sure, we went through a few tough years, where I was trying to find my independent place in the world and she was in my way. And even now, life isn't always perfect. She happens to be very opinionated and those opinions can be based on her random thinking, rather than actual facts, and that can be annoying. Seriously. She'll still tell me I should not have given birth to my children at home. And those two birth experiences? They rank as the only reason I would ever even consider having a third child.

But no matter what, she holds my past. And it's a shared past, and having someone like that in life has been very important to me. It's a way to sort through history, with someone who views it through roughly the same lens, or at least with similar formative experiences.

The discourse over whether Connor would or would not have a sibling often ended with me saying "but if he doesn't have a sibling, who will he have when we die?" and Ed was all logical and stuff, and would say things like "not all siblings are friends, so having a second child does not guarantee bliss ever more".

I was reminded of just how important my sis is to me when I read the latest From Left to Write Book Club selection, The Kids are All Right. In this book, four siblings record memories from their childhood: before their father died, while their mother battled cancer, and after their mother died.

This book not only reminded me about my own sister, but it also made me panic several times, as I thought about what would happen to Connor and Helen if Ed and I were to die. And even though the thought of leaving Helen and Connor alone in the world at some point makes my heart hurt, I do feel good that, in all likelihood, they'll have each other.

No one could possibly understand them better than their sibling.

I received a free copy of this book as part of the From Left to Write Book Club. We write posts inspired by the books, not reviews. I laughed, I cried, I thought a lot about my sister and my own mortality. It's a great read. Now that I've read it, I'll be passing it along to a friend.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Avon's Army of Women - Won't You Join Me?

Let me break it down for you. Just like probably all of you, I cannot remember a year when someone I knew didn't get diagnosed with breast cancer. The first was Becky Gallentine. She got the disease back in 1995 - the dark ages as far as breast cancer is concerned, when treatments weren't nearly what they are today. She fought hard, laughed hard, and spent much of her time from diagnosis to death educating anyone she could talk to about the disease. I remember very clearly the victory email she sent to the debate community pronouncing remission after five months when she thought she'd kicked the disease to the curb. She'd been through hell with the chemo, but she was going to live! I also remember a year later when remission ended, and she had to start her fight all over. I remember the desperate search for the right combination of drugs. She died two more years after that, in May of 1999.

The last person newly diagnosed with breast cancer was my former nanny Rani. Her death is how we started the year in this household. The treatments available today are a lot better than the ones Becky had, but it's hard to access them in a timely manner if you don't have health insurance, and that was the case with Rani.

And when really crappy stuff happens, well intentioned people always ask, how can I help you. Here's how. Fellow blogger, WhyMommy at Toddler Planet, asked me to join Avon's Army of Women. And now I'm asking you to do the same. I receive an occasional email from them, asking me to take part in a study related to breast cancer. The idea - and I happen to think it's a good one - is that if they already have a large number of women willing to volunteer for breast cancer research, when the projects come along, volunteers can be quickly assembled. So far, I haven't qualified for anything, but if my turn comes, I'll be there. Because I'm tired of getting the news of another friend or acquaintance getting this disease and having to fight like hell to reclaim her life. Or die.

I'm wishing for a world where I never even have to mention this disease to my daughter. If you are a woman, please join me in making that happen.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Thanks, Aunt Linda!

Dear Aunt Linda, Emily, and Anna -

Thank you so much for the very fancy dress-up clothes. I adore my wedding shoes, and feel I can now look my very best wherever I go. Finally, someone who understands me!


Friday, October 8, 2010

Summing up the differences between girls and boys...

When it comes to getting lucky, I struck it rich with Connor. He's a lot less destructive than most boys I observe. But still, I'm beginning to believe there's more to nature than I might have been willing to admit in the past.

So that you may bear witness with me, I give you this.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tea Parties

As the father of two girls, and grandfather to three more, my dad has been enjoying tea parties for as long as he can remember. I think Helen must have slipped a little something extra in his cup this time, for him to be having so much fun.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Time is Relative...Volunteering in the Morning

For many years, before I gave birth to Connor, I volunteered at Miriam's Kitchen. In fact, I pre-dated the awesome chef that took over the place about 10 years ago. But then I was a nursing mom, who couldn't reliably get to the kitchen on time, and so I continued making monthly donations via the Breakfast Club (now the MK Club) but didn't find myself in the kitchen, save for a few hours here and there to work on computer stuff.

Last Monday, I went back to Miriam's to volunteer. After a five year hiatus, I noticed a few things.

1. I recognize a shocking number of people. Chronic homelessness is a problem in DC, and while it was good to see some friendly faces from the past, I was also deeply saddened that these men and women continue to struggle.

2. Time is relative. Before I had kids, I used to think it took heroic efforts to get to the kitchen on time. As I was preparing to leave my house on Monday, I asked myself "was I supposed to be there at 5:30? Because arriving at 6:00 just doesn't seem early enough". I arrived at the right time, it just doesn't seem ridiculously early any more.