"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Sunday, February 27, 2011

placebo effect

Trust me. I'm the first to admit that I'm figuring this thing out as I go. This Parenting Thing. And I am finding out what doesn't work as often as I'm finding the right answers. But onward we go, and every once in awhile I can look back and think, Huh. Looks like I nailed that one. And give myself a pat on the back.

And then I remember that my almost-4 year old still sleeps with a binky and I realize that I still have some work to do. We're picking our battles, people.

We haven't messed with the binky (which Does Not Leave The Bed, for what it's worth) because Evan's sleep has been such a nightmare since birth. I feel like if I were to take away the binky, which he depends on for bedtime self-soothing, I might as well throw out any hope for a decent night's sleep. So the binky, for now, stays. And I'm kind of  okay with that.

But I'm not okay with the fact that Evan regularly comes into our room 3-4 times a night. We've tried everything...incentive charts for staying in bed, allowing him to come into our room to sleep (on the floor, the king-sized bed has yet to be purchased), turning on the white noise machine, turning OFF the white noise machine (when he complained that it was too loud), different night lights, different bedtime buddies, different degrees of door-openness...you name it, we tried it. We've had a consistent bedtime routine since he was two weeks old. He doesn't watch TV after 3 pm. He's not hungry or thirsty or overtired. He just doesn't sleep.

And for the first time, he's asking for help. In the mornings, Evan will say, "I just wish I had a good night sleep." And beginning around lunchtime, "I just don't want it to be bedtime. I don't like bedtime anymore." I need to help him sleep. For him.

And so we were at a crossroads. We put up with continued sleepless nights, or we medicate. The medication would be a melatonin supplement. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in your brain which helps to regulate your sleep-wake cycle.

I can't do it. I can't continue with the sleepless nights, but I CAN'T medicate. I've read enough (online. Whatever, it counts.) to know that I'm not going to give my string-bean, not-yet-four-year old a hormone supplement that is not recommended for use in people under the age of 10. I hesitate to give my kids Tylenol. The few times I've had to give Evan Benedryl for allergic reactions have been so anxiety-inducing in myself that I've considered pouring myself a dose, as well. I sweat while my kids are receiving their vaccines (which are given no more than two at a time and on a delayed schedule). I didn't take anything stronger than Motrin during or after the labors and deliveries of my boys. I guess you could say I'm not a "medicine woman."

But I am a psychology major. And so I know all about The Placebo Effect.  A placebo, in a controlled experiment, is basically a sugar-pill. Say you're conducting a study on the effectiveness of a new medication on migraine headaches. You give half of the study participants the "real" pill, which contains the medication you are testing, and half the placebo, which contains none of the medication. Both groups think they're getting the real pill, but the researchers are looking to find a statistically significant difference in affliction between the two groups...that the Medication Group would report a decrease in headache symptoms.....which would indicate that the medication being tested Does work. What researchers often find, though, is that some participants in the Placebo Group will still report feeling relief of their migraine symptoms, though, unbeknownst to them, they have received no medication. This is what's known as a Placebo Effect--you THINK you're receiving a medication, so your body responds as though you really are...and your headache symptoms decrease.

Soooooooo.....while we were at one of Evan's pre-Disney check-ups for his wouldn't-go-away fever virus, I mentioned to the pediatrician (whom you know that I LOVE) that we were still dealing with some Sleep Issues. And then, I gave her the Big Eye. You know, the one you give to the other adult in the room, over the child's head, when you're going to talk in code.

"So, I was wondering about.....those placebo pills."
"Well, is that 'frowned-upon' as trickery, or do we allow it?"
[she smiled] "Any port, in the stormiest seas of parenting, is safe enough to stop at. Stop, regain your footing, and wait for the storm to pass."
[and then directed at both me and Evan...] "You know, I've had very good luck with Special Night Time Vitamins. They give boys and girls all the vitamins and minerals that their bodies need to help them to get a good night's sleep."

Evan looked at me. I looked at Evan and said, "Good news! I know JUST where to find Special Night Time Vitamins!"

He smiled. I smiled. And then we went to Target.

I bought a smaller bottle of the same gummy bear vitamins that he takes in the morning. The recommended dose is two little gummy bears but he's only ever taken one a day. Adding a vitamin at night is just rounding out the dose. As I read the label (double-checking for Fish Oil....food allergy parents read every label, every time), I said to Evan, "Yup. These are the Special Night Time Vitamins that Dr. C was telling us about. They give you all the vitamins and minerals you need to get your body ready for a great night's sleep."

We're on Night 7 of our Special Night Time Vitamins, and I have Good News to Report: Evan has only come into our room 3 times TOTAL. And two of those times have been after 5am, after which he has STILL gone back to sleep.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Placebo Effect is alive and well in our house. And we're sleeping. Now...to get the baby to sleep in.....

Lesson Learned:
Never say "Never," parents. You, too, may someday find yourselves tricking your kid into thinking they're taking sleeping pills. And, trust me, you'll be okay with that.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

opportunity to make a difference

Before I was "Mommy," (which feels like just yesterday and a lifetime ago at the same time...) I was a teacher. I taught kindergarten at a Title 1 school and learned more in each one of my four years there than I did in five years of education earning my Bachelor's in Psychology and Master's in Teaching at the very highly-ranked public University I attended. No offense to college, of course, but I didn't learn how to teach in college. College taught me about myself. Teaching taught me about teaching. And teaching twenty-five 5-year olds, half of whom spoke, literally, No English, just about all of whom were living in deep poverty, for seven hours a day, and without a full-time teacher's assistant, was like receiving a crash-course in teaching. Trial by fire. And I loved every minute of it. (Well...maybe not the minute that one of my students walked out of the bathroom with his pants and underwear around his ankles RIGHT as the County Superintendent, who was making his once-yearly visit to our school, was walking into my classroom...but most all the others.)

I loved my kids. Their successes lifted me up and their struggles, both in school and at home, felt like my own. I had the opportunity to co-chair our holiday Angel Tree program for several years and saw, first hand, just how hard these kids had it. As we delivered gifts donated by the teachers and staff to children who would otherwise have been present-less on Christmas, I walked into apartment complexes that, as a young female, made me feel insecure and unsafe...until I remembered that it was also my students' playground...and then I just felt sad. My students had parents in jail, parents taken from their homes by INS, parents who shouldn't have been allowed to parent.

But they also had Parents Who Loved Them. Parents who tried desperately to give their children the life they had never had themselves. Parents who worked two and three jobs to keep that apartment, put food on the table, and to buy clothing to fit their growing-like-weeds kids. Parents who didn't have their own transportation, but who arranged rides and childcare with friends and neighbors in order to attend meetings and conferences at school. Parents who didn't speak English, but who enforced nightly reading by their children so that their kids wouldn't face the same difficulties.

The kids at my former school don't have a lot. But they do have phenomenal teachers. Teachers who work harder than they are required to (and much, MUCH harder than they are compensated for) because they love their jobs and they LOVE their students.

Right now, the teachers and students at my school are building a School Learning Garden, but they need financial support to make their visions a reality. Below is a link to the DonorsChoose site where you can make donations via PayPal. If you would prefer to write a check, send me a message and I'll let you know the school's address.

Here is a description of the project from the website:

My Students: Most of our students live in apartment buildings and have never even planted a seed to watch it grow into a plant. Many of our students have limited English and need real world, hands on experiences to help them to make connections to science and to develop vocabulary.

More than half of our students receive free or reduced lunches. Many are from immigrant families. Most are from families where poverty spans generations. They are eager to learn and achieve, but get little experience outside the classroom beyond television and video games.

My Project:  This school year, we will involve students with the planning, measuring, designing, and planting of a science garden and outdoor classroom. Students will put math principles to real life use and see science in action. The books that I have requested will help us shape the garden and plan lessons where math, science, and language learning will be maximized through student interaction in the garden.

Students will begin to see the real world value of math and science when they can apply what they have learned in the classroom to solve challenges they face in the garden. This project will go beyond pencil and paper to enhance math and science instruction. It will enhance language acquisition by offering students a whole new world of vocabulary for experiences in the natural world and a chance to share those experiences through conversation and writing.

Fundrasing for the books has been successful. Now it's time to get the earth moving.

DonorsChoose site for PayPal Donations: School Garden

Lesson Learned:
Every little bit helps. You know you want to.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011



Lesson Learned:
It's been a long, cold, lonely winter. Little darling, it feels like years since it's been clear. But....
Here comes the sun! And with it, SPRING! Right? Please?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

we've got mail

I had found these adorable little mailboxes on the Target dollar rack a few weeks before Valentine's Day. They made the perfect little Valentine gift boxes for the boys...especially because we needed something compact and portable for our Valentine's Day at Disney World. I added some scrapbooking letter stickers to personalize them and stuffed them with little goodies (Pez for Evan--which, as you recall, came in very handy at Disney, and new crayons for Max, my little artiste).

 When we got home, we added them to our Writing Center and started writing and "mailing" little love notes to each other. Evan's first note to Max said (according to the number stickers he used and his interpretation of his scribbles), "096. I hope you have a great beach vacation, Max."

When Evan came home from school today, he reached into his school bag, grabbed something super secret, and ran upstairs. A minute later, he came down, holding Max's mailbox with the flag raised. "Max! You got mail!" he yelled. "Here, let me read it to you. 'Dear Max, I sure hope you had a wonderful Valentine's Day. Love, Mommy and Evan.'" Max immediately walked over to Evan, took the letter out of his hands and gave his big brother the biggest arms-around-the-waist hug and open-mouthed baby kiss you'll ever see.

And the cherry on top of that sweetness? Finally, Evan is using the Writing Center (at home AND at school) for something other than tracking animal prints. (?)

Lesson Learned:
Two dollars for a renewed interest in writing AND the encouragement of sweet brotherly love? Yes, please.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

the disney post

So I'm not going to review rides, shows, or attractions. I'm not going to rate the restaurants we ate at or give you insider secrets on how You Too can master the FastPass system. There are plenty of Disney Bloggers out there with waaaaaaaay more Disney experience that can give you that information. But why let them? Go for yourself. No one else's words or pictures will do justice to the experience that your family can enjoy at Walt Disney World. You've heard it said, but it's true: Disney World is Magical. Seriously. Start planning your trip. It's that good.

And that's coming from someone who got FOOD POISONING at the Magic Kingdom. Just saying.

So this is not a blog post for Disney Trip Planners. This is my Disney Post. My memorykeeper of all of the things that I never want to forget about our trip. Which is why all discussion of the food poisoning ends here. THAT was awful. And I'm not going to even MENTION the fact that somehow my Big Boy managed to throw a tantrum or two a day. AT DISNEY WORLD! Luckily, most were thrown in the privacy of our own room to start or end our day...except for one epic tantrum that he saved for the very end of our trip, right as we were leaving Animal Kingdom, and right in front of my brother's lovely girlfriend and her adorable and charming 2-year old daughter whom I'm sure has never witnessed such out-of-control behavior...sorry, Meredith. I guess that's what we get when we throw schedules to the wind, over-stimulate, sleep-deprive, and over-sugar our little guy. 

I'm not going to post all 386 pictures I took (not exaggerating). And I'm not even going to mention favorites. This is my Little Things Disney Post. Well, okay....some big things. Like this. I never want to forget this:

Standing at the foot of the castle and listening to Evan say, almost to himself, "It's just like at the beginning of Toy Story..."

I'm also never going to forget the food. I can literally say that we went to Disney World for the food. Food has been an obstacle for us for three years as we have learned to navigate the world of food allergies. As soon as I found out about how accommodating Disney is for special diets, I knew we had to go. And look how accommodating they were: 

And I probably don't have to remind myself that Max was in his glory with all of the all-you-can-eat-ness of Disney. But I can't resist. This is Max eating his weight in Lo Mein.

 I never want to forget how sweet my boys were when it came to Souvenir Shopping. On our first day there, we browsed through the World of Disney at Downtown Disney. The boys both wandered around, looking, but not latching on to anything in particular. And then Evan spotted the Cars display. He went right over and picked up a matchbox car-sized Cars tow truck (No. Not Mater. I know Mater. This is one of the Piston Cup tow trucks...I'm not even sure it was actually in the movie.). He held it up to me and said, "I just love this Dinoco Tow Truck, mom! It's just what I always wanted!" In a store full of extravagance, Evan had picked out an inexpensive, no-frills, no-gadgets, little thing. But love it he did. He carried that tow truck with him, literally, Everywhere during our entire vacation. While we watched a parade or a show, he would hold the tow truck up so "he" could see, too. He even slept with it. Best $5 ever spent at Disney.

And then Max. Max wandered into a gift shop and was having the time of his life looking, grabbing, picking up and dropping everything in sight. Until he saw them: 5-inch tall, hard, plastic Mickey and Minnie dolls that have movable limbs. He carefully selected the two he wanted from the bin, held them up to me and babbled some very serious baby talk and put them in his stroller. They were his. And, just like his big brother, Max carried them with him for the rest of the vacation. We will keep these forever.

Magic, and movies, come to life. Evan stood, mesmerized, and watched as the piano player began to play the familiar song from the Toy Story movies, "You've Got a Friend in Me." It was as if he was thinking, How do you know that song, too? He really couldn't move until the song was through.

 The rides. Yes, it did take the bribe of a Pez to get Evan on his first ride of the trip (not proud of it, but it worked). Although, it was the Winnie the Pooh ride, and I happen to be, I think, the only person in the world who finds Pooh creepy and weird rather than whimsical and wise--and the ride confirmed my opinion, by the way...what the hell was with those heffalumps? And I thought they were from Dumbo...? ANYWAY. So we promised him a Pez if he would just, please, ride the ride...and be HAPPY about it. And he did it. And LOVED it. And then there was no stopping him. Well, not really. He wanted nothing to do with the flying elephants, the teacups, or the racecars. But the rides he did ride, he rode with sheer joy and excitement. On the People Mover, there was a sticker with two pictures: one, an Orderly pair of riders, and the other, a pair of Disorderly riders with an ominous slash through it. Evan interpreted the sticker as a pair of buttons, and saw a golden opportunity to practice Disorderly.

Monkey see, Monkey do Max did, too.

And really, who doesn't have "Climb a Corythesaurus with My Brother" on their childhood bucket list?

There is something really amazing about retracing the steps you remember taking in your own childhood with your children. I distinctly remember riding on this ride numerous times on both of my family's trips to Disney World, and loved watching my boys see the same sights, listen to the same music, and make their own memories. Even if this, too, is one of the weirder, creepier rides of Disney World.

By the time we got to Animal Kingdom, Evan had started to come out of his shell a little bit. Evan had spent two whole days in the Magic Kingdom looking at the characters from a safe distance and through hand "binoculars" (while Max, meanwhile, tried to bulldoze down the line-formation ropes to greet his Disney faves....except at the character dinner we went to. Apparently, characters and dining don't mix for Max. One innocent pat on the head from Tigger and Max went into full-on hysterics). But something changed at the second park...perhaps it was the lack of costumes. Evan engaged no less than three, maybe more, Animal Guides in thoughtful, elaborate conversations about animals, dinosaurs, and other Things He Knows. He even brought several imaginary books, charts, and field guides with him to share with the Cast Members...much to their amusement. I loved watching my smart and imaginative little boy interact with these patient and kind strangers. He was brave. And did you know that baby storks "mew" like a kitten? Evan did.

The beauty of the place. I don't care whether it's natural or if hundreds of Disney imagineers carefully constructed, planted, pruned, and perfected each and every square inch of Walt Disney World. The place is breathtakingly beautiful.

And finally.


Look at the reflection in Evan's sunglasses. This, in my opinion, should be a Disney ad.

Lesson Learned:
I can't wait to go again....when Max is a little bit bigger and can appreciate Disney as much as Evan did....and when Evan is a little bit bigger and can appreciate Disney even more.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

paint with water

I saw this on The Artful Parent today and it was so fast and easy that we set it up right away.  We painted with water on the chalkboard easel!

The boys love painting with water on the driveway, but today we're staying in. It's sunny but cold (and I'm a total baby about the cold), but more importantly: We're staying in because I'm PACKING FOR OUR TRIP TO DISNEY WORLD.

So water, paintbrushes, and an easel it is.

 Lesson Learned:
Two cute boys, water, paintbrushes, and an easel....good, clean, cheap, and easy fun.
But a trip to Disney World with those two cute boys? Priceless. Oh, wait...no, nevermind.

Monday, February 7, 2011

science kits: magnets

In our Magnets Bin, we have magnets of all shapes, sizes, and colors. These were purchased over the four years that I was a teacher (I had to buy them myself because in our county, Kindergarten doesn't cover Magnets, and I think that's just crazy. Kindergartners (and preschoolers and toddlers!) LOVE magnets. Capitalize on the natural interest, School Board!) But I digress. You can buy magnets anywhere, of course, but school supply stores usually have a great variety of shapes and sizes.


I also included paper clips and a baking sheet to act as a base for Magnet Building. Nuts and bolts are a great addition to a Magnets Bin. Especially if you're a Tool Man.

Here's some, ahem, "playing" happening:
Hmmm....they don't stick to this.....

...but they stick to this!

This book is a great First Book about Magnets:


Lesson Learned:
I was telling my mom about these bins and she said, "That's the perfect thing to keep put away until you need to occupy them independently for a few minutes...like for an important phone call or something. It will look new again if they haven't seen it for awhile, and it will keep their interest." I love this idea. In my house, I time my phone calls perfectly to coincide with a time when both boys seem to be totally and contentedly engaged in an activity. And it never fails that as soon as the call goes through, they both need me, like, NOW. It also never fails that my mom, a Mother Of Eight, knows how to make my good ideas Even Better.

science kits: seashells

I was up in the attic over the weekend and uncovered some of my old Kindergarten science materials. The experiences I had as a Kindergarten teacher in my former life have come in handy many times in my new stint as Mom....so has the Stuff. I gathered up just a few of the bins, dusted them off, added a few things found around the house, and created a little Science Center in our office. (It also doubles as storage space for Evan's Construction Trucks.)

Science Kit #1: Seashells!

Most of these are shells I collected in middle and high school during my twice-yearly trips to south Florida to visit my Mom Mom. Some were picked up at a cheesy beach shop...you know, to add some sparkle to the collection. Shells are fascinating for kids to explore. They're fun to hold and handle (lots of different textures to explore). They're great to sort and compare. It's interesting to imagine where they came from and wonder "Who used to live in there?"

We added some magnifying glasses to the bin...for Closer Looks. 

 And some books. The top book is a picture encyclopedia of Florids seashells.

We had a great time finding "our shells" in the book.

Evan had a lot of fun investigating the Shark Tooth with Grandpop.

And Max knew just what to do...

Lesson Learned:
I wasn't teaching, promise! It was PLAYING!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Tiger Mother: Lessons Learned

Well, as predicted, there were, in fact, lessons to be learned in Amy Chua's memoir, Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mother. Here are mine:

Lessons Learned:
It's not effective, in any culture, to resort to bribery as a disciplinary tactic. It doesn't work. Short term, maybe, but you're setting yourself up for a lifetime of bribery or a lifetime of battles of wills. You'll probably do it at some point, anyway, but don't kid yourself for a second that it's going to work.

Teachers should be given more respect. When a child performs poorly on a test, too often the [American] parent questions the teaching style, the testing procedures, the school curriculum, or any of a number of other excuses. In cultures where members of the teaching profession are treated with greater respect, this never happens. Instead, children are expected (or forced...) to work harder next time. By questioning the teacher's credentials, parents are sending their children a very clear message that Your Failure Is Probably Someone Else's Fault. This message does no one any good. Let's pay our teachers a little more respect, people (and more money would be nice, too).

There is a place in education for rote memorization and skill-drilling. When we know something well enough that it becomes automatic, we clear a pathway in our brain for higher-level thinking skills. Think of a 15-year old First Time Driver. He is so focused on the mechanics of driving that he can do little more than manuever the car through an empty parking lot. With practice and direct instruction, the mechanics of driving become automatized so that the 16-year old Solo Driver can handle roads, intersections, highways, and parallel parking. And then, following years of practice and skill-building, the 40-year old Experienced Driver can handle rush hour traffic on 495 in white-out blizzard conditions while talking on his cell phone and programming his Garmin. Not that he should be, but he probably could be. I'm just saying. ANYway, it is useful and good to practice skills to the point of automatization. Once children have moved beyond conceptual concepts of mathematics in the early-elementary years, there should be time in a child's school day/week dedicated to skill-building; and yes, even timed tests are effective to this end. Once the arithmetic (or the word decoding) becomes automatic, higher level thinking skills will be primed for higher level math (or literature dissection).  You wouldn't hand a 16-year old the keys to a car if his only prior "driving" experience was Playing With Cars and Trucks, would you?

And for those of you who think that this crazy Tiger Mother has absolutely nothing to offer Western parents: You didn't actually read Amy Chua's book, did you? This book, for all of it's hype and for all of the debate and hate mail that it's publication (and articles in magazines everywhere) have provoked, IS JUST A MEMOIR. It's a story. It's not a parenting manual or a How To Raise The Best Kids In The World handbook. It's one mother's honest-to-a-fault account of her own experiences as a mother. What worked, and what didn't work. And if you read the book, you'll find that the arc of her story ends with a mortifyingly humbling experience that called her to question everything she thought she knew about the Chinese parenting method. Does she regret her decisions or actions? No. But does she learn some very valuable lessons from her very fiery and strong-willed and Not-Suited-For-A-Chinese-Mother second daughter, Lulu? Yes. Absolutely. And the bottom line is this: You can try to choose a parenting method that works for you....but chances are, you'll end up fighting you're whole parenthood. Instead, look at your child: each, individual child. Be the parent that he or she needs you to be.

And a Final Word:

Get ready for this one, because I'm about to say that... In a global sense, Amy Chua is on to something here.  Now, don't get me wrong: I do not agree with her methods or tactics. And I don't even agree with the battles she chooses to fight. But we all DO want our kids to succeed.

As Americans...as a country, we have grown accustomed to being The Biggest, The Wealthiest, The Strongest, The Most Successful...The Best. But times, as they are wont to do, they are achangin'. China as a World Power is becoming Bigger, Faster, Smarter, Better and the ground between us that they are making up is rapidly becoming short. And, the argument could be made, that it's happening because Chinese Mothers don't allow their children to be second best. These hyper-parented kids are turning into Actual, Real Life, Smart and Successful Adults. It could be argued that it's WORKING. If all we really want for our kids is for them to be happy, then we, as a country, should be okay with this--Our country's rank can slip, just so long as our children are content. But we're not. We're looking to hold onto our Number 1 Country Spot with reform in everything from Education (to get our kids smart enough to compete with those Smart Kids from Shanghai) to Immigration (to figure out how to hold onto those smarties who come to study in our Universities instead of letting them return to their home countries to compete against us in the fields of technology, medicine, and economics). This isn't a bad thing...every country should be striving to be the strongest and the wealthiest and the most successful...it's healthy competition. And that sentiment is what's trickling down into the suburbs across America.

In America, we are Up in Arms about this book. We say that Chua (as a representative of the Chinese culture, which, in itself, is debatable) is a cold and harsh Mother who demanded too much of her children and ruined their lives. We say that all WE want is for our kids to be happy. But is that *really* true? We are, after all, the same people who send 4-year olds to math tutors. The same people who subject our preschoolers to Entrance Exams to ensure that they, our THREE YEAR OLDS, are studying with people of similar intellectual aptitude. The same people who start sending our kids to SAT prep courses in middle school. The same people who "red shirt" our kindergartners in hopes that the extra year will them a competitive edge once they get to high school sports. (Yes, I know that this isn't really All Americans, just like Chua doesn't represent All Chinese.)  Is it our kids we're really trying to make happy....or ourselves? Do we not see our children's successes as a reflection of our own good parenting/judgement/guidance? Are we not just as guilty as she is at pushing our kids, pressuring our kids, demanding of our kids....just by using
slightly "softer" means to an end? ("Softer" in the sense that most Americans do NOT enforce 5-6 hours of music practice a day, nor do most drive two-hours (each way) every Saturday to let their child study under a world-class music tutor. We are though, as a generalization, still over-scheduling our kids to exhaustion.)

So who are we, really? And what do we want? And how are we going to get what we want? And at what point are we going to stop comparing ourselves and our children and our accomplishments and our test scores and our credentials and our salaries and our GDP?

And IS there such a thing as Just Being Happy? (Without comparing who is happier?)

I, of course, can't answer these questions. I do know, though, that I want balance for my kids. I want them to be happy AND successful AND, at the end of the day (or the end of their adolescence) still like me. In fact, I want them to find happiness through their successes. I want them to have that internal drive towards success so that I can support them without hounding them to study, practice, or work harder. And I want them to see the value in a range of "successes." Strive to be a lawyer, or a musician (concert pianist or reggae guitar player, it doesn't matter). Become a teacher or a police officer or a stay-at-home parent. Travel. Write. Create beautiful things. Work in a field that matters to you, become great in what you do because you find joy in it, and you could change the world by doing just about anything.

Anyway, thanks for the Brain Food, Amy Chua. You've given me plenty to think about.

But I'm still right about the playtime.
And the praise.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I felt pretty lousy today. Fevery, achy, just plain crappy. So when Sam got home from work, I immediately went upstairs to take a long, hot bath. I brought the magazines that have been waiting patiently to be read and got ready for some quiet, meditative, alone time that was sure to help me to feel better.

And then Evan came up. And he saw our big, huge, jetted tub filling up with loads of bubbles and he said, "Me too! I want to take a bath, too!" Who could blame him? So I ditched the magazines, threw on a bathing suit, and in we went.

For over half an hour, I sat with my Big Boy and Talked. We talked about school ("My favorite part is playing with my friends. I do that sometimes, now. But I don't like going outside. I just walk around and around."). We talked about Annie ("She really loves going to school with me. I don't tell my teachers that she's there, though, because she's just for me to know about. She's special.") We talked about Aunt Katie and Uncle Mike and Brennan and Olivia and Lauren (who also happen to be our best friends and right-around-the-corner neighbors) and their upcoming Move to a New City ("I just really think I'm going to miss them a lot when they move to the new house. And their toys. I'm really going to miss their tow truck and their fire truck......and Brennan's police station."). We talked about how, when he was a teeny tiny baby, growing in my tummy, I used to take baths in this tub and watch him move all around my belly---and now, in just a blink, look how big you are. We just talked.

And made Bubble Beards.

Lesson Learned:
It wasn't quiet, it wasn't meditative, but I sure did feel better.