Sunday, January 30, 2011

On Broccoli and Morality

I made broccoli for dinner Friday tonight. This is sort of funny, because I'm pretty sure that the only person in the family who actually likes broccoli is my husband. It is one of the vegetables that taste extremely bitter to me, so I smothered my serving with copious amounts of cheese sauce, and I still wouldn't say that I liked it. Petunia is currently in a "throw any new food off the tray" phase, so she took the broccoli we presented to her, dipped it in her cheese sauce, and then and tossed it on the floor. Pumpkin- well, Pumpkin has yet to meet a vegetable that she'll eat, or even try in its native form. Believe me, we've tried presenting broccoli as "little trees" or "dinosaur trees", and she has free reign to join me in smothering her serving with cheese sauce. She is allowed to spit out anything she tries and doesn't like. And she knows that she can have juice with dinner if (and only if) she tries something new- even if she then spits it out. But she wouldn't touch the broccoli.

And I not only wasn't surprised- I wasn't worried.

I'm completely done worrying about Pumpkin's refusal to try vegetables, or most new things, really. She isn't starving, and in fact seems to be thriving. We are slowly (very slowly) adding to her list of approved foods, although the only vegetable-like substance currently on that list is sweet potato fries. (We use the frozen kind, but bake them rather than frying them, and we eat them frequently because I like them, too.) I can't think of a technique that I'd be comfortable using that would make her try vegetables, so all I can do is wait for her to decide that she wants to eat them- and recognize that the time when she wants to try something green may be a long time coming. After all, I didn't really start eating vegetables other than corn until I was in college, and I have been slowly (very slowly) adding to the list of veggies I'll eat ever since. Broccoli, for instance, is relatively new. So I take a long view on eating habits, and worry more about setting a good example than enforcing any nutrition rules.

Do you know why it took me so long to figure out how I can eat broccoli? Because I thought that it was somehow bad to smother it in cheese sauce, or drown it in a nice stir fry sauce, and that people should just suck it up and eat broccoli the healthy way. Admit it- you probably do, too, deep down.  Somehow, in our culture, we've gotten awfully moralistic about food. It has morphed from something we eat to sustain ourselves to a test of moral character.

I see two main ways we put moral judgment on food: our obsession with "healthy" food and our closely related obsession with avoiding processed foods. I absolutely agree that my broccoli smothered with cheese sauce has more calories and fat than plain steamed broccoli. But so what? In the context of the rest of the meal (baked chicken breast and baked sweet potato fries), a little cheese sauce seems excusable.

The fact is, my blood pressure has never measured high, not even during my pregnancies. My cholesterol is excellent. My recent drop of five pounds puts my body mass index literally on the boundary between "healthy" and "overweight", but I carry my weight on the hips not the stomach, so even that is fairly low risk- which doesn't mean that I don't intend to try to get my BMI down. I do, but given the fact that I have turned into a complete couch potato who gets no regular exercise beyond frequently lifting and carrying a 23 lb baby and occasionally getting chased around the backyard by a preschooler, I think I'll try to add more exercise before I stress out about the cheese sauce.

So, by most objective measures, that cheese sauce is no big deal for me. Maybe for someone else, it is- but that doesn't make the cheese-sauce itself bad. And yet...  I get subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) clues that some people are judging me about my veggie-eating issues. It is as if the fact that they like broccoli makes them somehow superior to me.  And once the subject turns to getting kids to eat veggies- well, I've just learned not to read the comments on most articles and posts on that subject. According to the majority of the comments, I'm a selfish, lazy mother who just can't be bothered to put in the minimal effort it would take to get my child to eat her vegetables.

As annoying as I find the healthy food moralism, I think the anti-processed food moralism bothers me more. Processed food has become to blue states what pornography is to red states- something that is consumed in great quantities but is universally agreed to be a great sin. If the only problem was a little hypocrisy, I wouldn't care. I've written before about how I think we've misplaced our focus with processed food- it isn't the processing that we need to worry about, it is the fat, salt, and sugar that usually go along with the processing. There are some processed foods out there that aren't loaded with these things, and maybe there would be more if we put pressure on the food companies to produce that sort of thing, instead of pressuring them to switch to cane sugar from high fructose corn syrup and/or sanctimoniously lecturing everyone about the fact that they shouldn't eat any processed food whatsoever.

I think we're missing a chance to convince food companies to make more healthy convenient foods, but that isn't the worst of it. In my view, the real shame in all of this is the way that it heaps extra unmeetable expectations on working mothers. No longer is it enough to spend time with your kids, playing with them and reading to them. Now you aren't a good mother unless you also make all of their food from scratch. This just isn't possible for the majority of dual career families- I think my husband and I do a pretty good job of getting reasonably healthy home cooked meals on the table most nights,  but we make use of plenty of convenience foods to do so. And why not? I stopped feeling guilty about using jarred spaghetti sauce when I read the label and noticed that its ingredients were exactly what I'd use if I were making it from scratch- except the jarred kind didn't have any sugar, and my recipe does.

But if you hang out in left-leaning places, you'd never know that there are healthy processed foods out there, and that you can find convenience foods with ingredients lists that don't read like the inventory of a chemistry lab. So most of my working mom friends have added guilt about their family's dinners to the guilt about using day care (also unfounded, if you ask me) and guilt about either our messy homes or the injustice we're doing to the housecleaners we've hired to help us clean them. (If you've never come across the idea that you're exploiting your household help, this post from Zuska, and the earlier ones in that series will get your oriented. Read the comments for the full effect.) We're getting hit from both sides- people on the right think that the very act of going to work is causing our kids grievous harm, while people on the left are fine with us working, but object to anything we might do to make it easier to run the household when both parents work.

I know the solution to all of this nonsense- just ignore it. But I don't think that goes far enough. When these sorts of assumptions go unchallenged, they enter our cultural psyche, and end up becoming so accepted that they serve to reinforce the outdated gender assumptions that probably created them in the first place. Just look at what has happened to the idea that the reason more women aren't in demanding careers (like science) is that these careers are incompatible with motherhood.

So- working parents of the world- embrace your convenience foods! Your kids don't care if the spaghetti sauce comes from a jar or hours of labor. If they're like my kids, they won't eat it, anyway.

Zenbit: Footprints




















One of the advantages of being laid off... walks on empty beaches.

Location: Pacific Beach, San Diego, California, USA
Date: December 1, 2010

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Less and More

Today is the first day that Petunia is away from me and I am not pumping for her.  I had intended to do this earlier, but she kept getting sick- we have had an incredible run of upper respiratory infections here at Chez Cloud, starting in early December. So I kept pumping once a day, always planning to stop when Petunia was over her latest illness.

To be honest, I have not been in as big of a hurry to drop this last pumping as I thought I would be. As it was with Pumpkin, the decision to stop pumping is bittersweet. In fact, I would probably have kept going, but I have a job interview on Thursday, and it runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Since I know one of the people who set this up, I'm sure they already know I have kids. Besides, I've never really gone in for the "don't let them know you have kids" advice for job interviews- I can see that it might apply in some situations, but I've never found the environment in biotech to be that unwelcoming. If any one company is bothered by my status as a mother, then frankly, I'd rather work elsewhere. Of course, I've never been in the situation where I absolutely have to get a particular job.

So, if I weren't ready to stop pumping, I'd ask for the time to do so. But, deep down, I know it is time to stop. It is just that I needed something to set the date. With Pumpkin, my stop date was set by the fact that she was going to move up to a room at day care that didn't use sippy cups. With Petunia, it is the fact that I have a job interview.

My baby is growing up. She's walking more now. She's talking and signing more, too. She sees birds and points at them and says "buh" while waving her hand by her face, in a very cute approximation of the sign for bird. She was slow to take to cow's milk when we first introduced it, but she's drinking it without complaint now. In fact she asks for it- "muh", accompanied by a cute approximation of the sign for milk. It is time to let her be more toddler, and less baby.

--------------------------------------------

In other news, I went to the doctor today and discovered that I've lost about 5 pounds since I was laid off, which explains why all of my jeans seem too big.  Given that this time period included Christmas, with all of its yummy cookies, I'm more than a little surprised. Now, I intended to get more exercise now I that I have a bit more time on my hands. But in actuality, I've gone for a run three times. I'm up to a whopping 14 minutes running (surrounded by about 30 minutes of walking). I doubt this minimal exercise is the reason I've lost weight. And as I mentioned above, I've decreased my milk output, so I don't think I can credit the calorie burning effect of breastfeeding. I'm left with the conclusion that I was eating more of those little miniature candy bars that were scattered around the offices at my job than I thought I was.

I hope wherever I land next just has a vending machine.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Zenbit: Calm Harbor





















I love the look of boats in a marina. Which is funny, because I have zero desire to own one.

Location: San Diego, California, USA
Date: January 15, 2005

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Links: Tiger Moms and Pseudoscience Rants

I suppose by now that just about everyone has heard about the Tiger Mother furor. (If you haven't, here is the book excerpt in the Wall Street Journal that started it all and a subsequent interview with Amy Chua, the author, which softens the excerpt a bit.) The reactions are all over the place-I even found a piece on it when I opened this week's Economist! That piece points out that this book (or really, the excerpt that everyone has read) is arriving on the scene at a time when we Americans are more than a little nervous about the rise of China- I can't tell you the number of people who tell us, upon hearing that Pumpkin is taking Chinese lessons, that we're smart to do that, since "we'll all be working for them someday".

What? Really? I actually don't think any one nationality is going to be "on top" in the future- I think we're moving toward a world in which there is a more level playing field. Some bosses will be Chinese, some will be Indian, and some will still be American, English, etc. We're giving Pumpkin (very low key) Chinese lessons because we wanted to give her a chance to learn a tonal language while she still can, and because she seems to really enjoy learning words in any language. We chose Chinese because I had a friend who had already arranged everything. We're happy with that choice because the size of the population speaking (and learning) Chinese means that there are a reasonable amount of materials available to help.

David Brooks has the best response I've seen to the "China is going to eat our lunch!" hysteria around the Amy Chua book. (I found his article via the interesting posts about the subject on HapaMama's blog.) Maybe it is the fact that I clearly remember a similar hysteria about Japan when I was in junior high and high school, but I can't get too worked up about this. I like Mr. Brooks' point about the importance of learning how to interact in groups, though. Maybe I should print it out to read to myself the next time I am freaking out about Pumpkin's interactions with her preschool classmates at day care.

I've read a lot of thoughtful responses to the parenting style aspect of Ms. Chua's writing. Perhaps my favorite of those is from Bad Mom, Good Mom. I really like her mother's interpretation of the  Chinese adage that "when you raise a dragon, expect to get singed". I also liked this response, with an emphasis on some of the benefits of a more permissive parenting approach. The same author, who writes a blog about what science tells us about parenting, has a good round-up of what parenting styles and methods research says tend to work best.

According to a lot of the commentary, a lot of us "Western Moms" feel threatened by what Ms. Chua has written. I honestly don't think I am. I can't imagine parenting in the way Ms. Chua describes- it definitely wouldn't work for us, because I couldn't do it with any conviction. Maybe we have different goals. She is right that I don't place as much emphasis on the traditional indicators of success as she does. After all, I once shocked my more traditional classmates in college by turning down offers of graduate positions at Stanford and Caltech to go to a graduate school that was just starting out and was a bit of an unknown. (Full disclosure: it had excellent faculty and no one laughs at the source of my PhD now.) Beyond that, though, I wouldn't say that raising "successful" kids is my goal. My goal is raising kids who grow into happy adults, contributing to society in whatever way best suits them. Sure, I hope for a certain amount of success for them, but only because that will usually bring enough money to be comfortable and enough status to feel happy.

What makes me most sad about this discussion, though, is the charge I've seen raised on both sides, that the other type of parents just don't love their children as much. Wow. I doubt that is true. It is a very inflammatory comment, because implying that people in another culture or ethnicity don't love their children as much as "we" do makes it easier to demonize that other group of people. I think the truth is that almost all parents love their children with a force that is as strong as it is universal and difficult to describe. The world would be a much better place if we could all take a step back from the various conflicts that we're involved in and remind ourselves that the people on the other side love their kids just as much as we love ours.

Anyway.

That was a lot longer than I intended it to be when I sat down to post a few links!

Let's end with something fun. Well, unless you believe in homeopathy, in which case you probably won't like this. But I thought it was pretty funny and watched it all the way to the end, which I rarely do with videos I find on the internet, especially ones that run for 10 minutes:



(Huh. That is coming out very tiny. I think I need to mess with my template some more. Meanwhile, here is a link to watch it on YouTube. I found this via a post from Dr. Isis.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dinner during Dora: Mimi's Sneaky Good Corn Muffins

I've written before about Pumpkin's lack of interest in eating anything resembling a vegetable- we keep trying, but I think that realistically, she is unlikely to voluntarily eat most vegetables for quite awhile.  Petunia, meanwhile, still likes her veggie purees, but has taken to tossing any solid vegetable presented to her off of her tray. Again, we'll keep trying. But in the meantime, I want to get some vegetables into them. This is why I love Carrot Cake Pancakes so much (OK, that and the fact that they are really yummy). Petunia will eat two of those in a sitting. Pumpkin, though, isn't a fan of them, and will only nibble on one- and only if it is covered with powdered sugar and strawberry jam.

So I've been trying other vegetable baking ideas. Knowing this, my Mom gave me the recipe for the carrot-containing cornbread that she used to use to sneak some vegetables into my diet. I've made them a couple of times now, and we've had some success. I usually serve them with soup. I most recently served them with this delicious cream of zucchini soup, but a can of soup would work well, too. In fact, Pumpkin had canned ABCs soup with her muffin: neither she nor Petunia was interested in trying our zucchini soup. That's OK- I believe in gradual improvements and modeling good eating habits.

This recipe is a bit of a stretch for Dinner during Dora- you can't go from start to the table in 22 minutes or less. However, you can easily get these in the oven, some cans of soup on the stove, and the table set during a Dora episode. 

Mimi's Sneaky Good Corn Muffins

Ingredients:

1 cup corn meal
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 tsp baking pwder
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1cup milk
1/4 cup melted shortening
1 cup shredded carrots
1 tsp brown sugar

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and prep your muffin tins- the recipe makes 12-15 muffins, so line that many tins with cupcake papers.
2. Shred the carrots. Since Pumpkin turns up her nose if she sees carrots in something, my Mom suggested using my microplane. This works great.


3. Sift together the dry ingredients.
4. Combine milk, egg, and shortening.
5. Add the milk mix to the dry ingredients and blend. The recipe says "until just mixed", but I suspect I blend a little bit more than that, and they turn out fine.
6. Fold in the carrots and the brown sugar.

Here is what the batter looks like:

7. Spoon into muffin tins, leaving about a pinky-width at the top.

I forgot to take a picture of this until I had them in the oven:

8. Bake 20-25 minutes

Here's what the final product looks like:

Source: As mentioned above, this one came from my Mom. I don't know where she got it. The original recipe is for regular cornbread. You bake for 45 minutes if you make this as cornbread (probably in a 8x8 inch pan- that is what I remember from my childhood).

Who eats it: Everyone! Yes, even Pumpkin. Petunia likes them, too.

I did a little searching online and found the dietary recommendations and suggested serving sizes for preschoolers. A serving of vegetables is 1/4 cup. I'm not sure if that applies to the shredded carrot or not- shredded carrot is a lot denser that sliced carrot. Anyway, as you can see in the recipe, this has 1 cup of carrots, which gets divided between 12-15 muffins. So I figure that each muffin is roughly 1/3 of a serving of vegetables. This isn't great- but it is a lot better than the zero servings of vegetables I can usually get into Pumpkin, so I'll take it as a start!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

In Which Petunia Has a Good Laugh at Me

Since I had the temerity to post about how Petunia's sleep has been getting better, she decided to throw me a curveball last night. OK, rationally I know that she has no idea what I posted on my blog. But boy, was last night weird.

I went to bed at about 10:30 and was just falling asleep when I heard someone crying. I'm always pretty disoriented if I get woken up just as I'm falling asleep, so for some reason, I thought it was Pumpkin and went barreling into her room asking "what's wrong?" Amazingly, she didn't wake up. But the crying didn't stop, either. So I went down the hall and found Hubby sitting in the rocking chair in Petunia's room, trying to calm her down. She was having none of that- she only calmed down when I took her. It was only 11 p.m., but I knew that she was too worked up to settle down and go back to sleep without nursing, so I took her into our room and nursed her. I figured that she'd go to sleep, wake up again in three hours, and we'd have a so-so, but normal, night.

I was wrong. She rolled away from me, which usually means that she's falling into deep sleep. But instead of going to sleep, she lifted up her feet and kicked them onto the bed. Over and over and over. She tossed and turned. Every once and a while, she found her thumb or rolled toward me and settled down for a bit, but it didn't last, and soon she'd be back to kicking her legs. She wasn't crying, but I certainly wasn't going to sleep with her doing her workout next to me. So I'd try to snuggle her. She'd calm down for a few minutes, then roll away, and the whole thing would start over.

Honestly, it was sort of cute and would have been funny, except I really, really wanted to go back to sleep. I suspect this is related to the fact that she's recently started walking more. I've read about how babies will process new skills in their sleep, and how developmental leaps (cognitive or physical) can disrupt sleep. We saw it a bit with Pumpkin, but her baseline sleep was so bad that we never really knew if she was going through a developmental leap, teething, getting sick, or just not sleeping.

Anyway, after an hour of trying to get little miss restless to settle down and go to sleep, I got up and took her into her room, and rocked with her for about twenty minutes, after which she finally went to sleep. And slept through until about 6:30, giving me a solid five hours of sleep.

I wonder what will happen tonight?

-----------------------------------------
UPDATE: Petunia got sent home from day care with a slight fever at about 4 p.m. So she officially has the cold that I caught from Pumpkin. It was really short and mild for Pumpkin- here's hoping for the same for me and Petunia. Was the start of the cold the cause of last night's shenanigans? I doubt it, but who knows. I still don't know what to expect tonight. But it seems like Pumpkin is done calling for me, so I think I'll go to bed and just see what the night brings!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Can You Be Zen about Not Being Zen?

I think babies can tell when you are about to crack and do something that they won't like. Anyway, that is the only way I can explain the fact that every time I start to get tired enough to consider doing some sleep training with Petunia, she shapes up on her own. She had been waking up for the first time in the night as early as 9:30, which most nights is just ten minutes or so after I'm sure that Pumpkin is finally asleep, and not going to call me back in to flip her pillow over or something. The lack of time in the evening was driving me nuts. I told Hubby that I was going to start a new regime, in which I would go in to her, but not nurse her or bring her into bed with me before 11. And that night, she slept until 11:30.

I also told Hubby that I was going to start trying to delay the second nursing in the night, to see if we could get back to her old routine of waking once, nursing, and then sleeping solidly until morning. So that night, she nursed twice in quick succession, and then slept until morning. (That, unfortunately, only lasted one night, but she is stretching the time between the first and second nursing out, and I suspect that if I'm just patient, we'll be back down to one nursing soon.)

I'm struck by how I'm responding so differently to Petunia's sleep patterns than I did to Pumpkin's. I was always trying to improve Pumpkin's sleep. I always had an idea to try out, or a new plan to implement. I believed the sleep advice that told me that if I let her co-sleep we'd "never" get her out of our bed, and I was sure that I must be doing something wrong, because her sleep was so bad. People kept telling us to let her cry, but I didn't think it would work with her- the one time I let her cry at bedtime (because she woke up while I was in the bathroom, and Hubby was out that night), she worked herself up to the point that she threw up, leaving me with a wide awake baby who was now freaked out about throwing up, and a bunch of laundry. So we didn't try to let her "cry it out", but I harbored guilt about that decision. We did successfully partially nightwean her, getting her down from five wakings to one or two. She always resisted dropping that last night feeding, and we didn't get rid of it until she was about 21 months old or so, when we started partial night co-sleeping with her. It was an unorthodox but very successful method of nightweaning.

Things are very different this time around. Every once and a while, I think I should come up with a plan to help Petunia learn to sleep through the night. I might even start implementing it... but then her sleep gets a little bit better, and I get less tired, and I just drop it. I started bringing her into bed with us after her first wake up during the sleep disruption that accompanies the advent of separation anxiety at about 9 months, and she's been sleeping part of the night in our bed ever since. I actually think a cry it out sleep training method would work on her, but I don't want to use one, so we haven't. I feel no guilt at all about that, and I'm pretty happy with the co-sleeping arrangement, as long as she waits until midnight or so to wake up and join us.

Part of the reason for this difference in approach is the difference in the baby's starting point- Petunia's sleep has always been much better than Pumpkin's, since her first week home from the hospital. The situation we're at now with Petunia (waking once or twice in the night to nurse) took us a lot of hard work to reach with Pumpkin- although I wonder if we might have gotten there without the hard work if we'd just started partial night co-sleeping at ~9 months with her, too. I'll never know, and it doesn't matter.

Another factor is that a truly helpful book on sleep came out right around the time Petunia was born- Bedtiming, by Isabel Granic and Marc Lewis. The authors are developmental psychologists, and they explain the course of a baby's cognitive development, and highlight points in that development that might be particularly good (or bad) for working on sleep. Understanding why your sleep has suddenly gone to hell makes it much easier to deal with- or at least it does for me. I also use the book to guide me in picking times to try interventions. In fact, I used the advice in this book to help me decide when to finally extricate myself from Pumpkin's going to sleep routine.

But I think the biggest reason that I'm so much more laid back about sleep these days is the difference in my starting point. We followed our guts and did a bunch of things that the sleep experts label as "wrong" with Pumpkin, and things turned out OK. She moved out of our bed well before graduating from high school. She goes to sleep on her own, after an involved but manageable routine. She sleeps through the night (most nights) in her own bed now. I know that Petunia will get there, too, so I don't worry about doing the things that the sleep experts say will "ruin" her. We rock her to sleep- and most nights, I like that. I think Hubby does, too. It is nice to hold a snuggly baby! We co-sleep, and again, most nights I like it. When it works well, and I get woken up after a decent amount of sleep by a smiling baby who is patting my face and babbling, I think I'm the luckiest woman in the world. I know that she'll start sleeping through the night eventually, and she will move out of our bed eventually, and then eventually I'll miss having my snuggly baby.

I was congratulating myself on reaching this level of parenting Zen this weekend. This, of course, was a sign to the universe to remind me that I'm not as Zen as I think I am, and that I don't have this parenting stuff all figured out. I was talking to my friend after our girls finished their Chinese lesson, and she asked me if we were planning to start Pumpkin in any sports or other activities. I shrugged and said I didn't know. I hate to fill up our weekend schedule, and she's still so young. My friend agreed, but offered a cautionary tale about her older child (who is about eight). He is trying out ice hockey and is really discouraged by the fact that all of the other boys on his team have been playing since they were three and are therefore much, much better than he is. She has decided that it is best to expose her younger kids to a bunch of different sports and activities when they are preschoolers, to see what they get interested in. That way, they won't be intimidated out of doing something they really like just because the other kids have a five year head start on them.

Um, wow. I remember feeling the intimidation her son is experiencing... when I was in college. A lot of the other students at the college I went to had gone to expensive prep schools. I had gone to a so-so public school. They were way ahead of me in the introductory courses. I almost quit, but didn't, and in the end I pulled off an A- grade point average in a really tough major. I have always credited my success to the fact that I had to put my head down and really learn how to study in the first year of college. By the time we hit the more advanced courses that no one's high school had prepared them for, I knew how to study and a lot of my peers did not. Which is all well and good, but I'm not sure that applies to an eight year old who is realizing that all of her peers have been taking dance or playing softball since they were three.

Of course, my first instinct was to panic, and think about putting Pumpkin in some more activities. But then I remembered my original reason for not doing that- that it would cut into our family time on the weekends. So clearly, Hubby and I need to talk about this and figure out what our actual parenting approach should be. Whatever we do, I'm pretty sure some expert will think it is "wrong". So I guess I need to find my parenting Zen on this, too.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Zenbit: Caution





Location: Seattle, Washington, USA
Date: July 26, 2008

A Clarification

I got an email from an old friend responding to my last post that made me think some more about what I'd written. I think my friend understood what I'd written, but I realized that maybe someone else, who doesn't know me as well, might not. So, I want to clarify.

When I say that reading People of the Book helped me better understand some of the actions of Israel, that is not the same as saying I agree with those actions. To be honest, I don't feel that I know enough about the situation in Israel and Palestine to have a solid opinion about what anyone should or shouldn't do (except stop targeting civilians- I'm pretty clear about that). But I think that the only way you get to a negotiated peace is if you try to really understand the reasons behind each side's positions. And I felt that by making me really understand the horror of how the Jewish people had been treated even before the Holocaust, People of the Book gave me a little more insight into the reasons behind some of the Israeli positions.

I'll give you an example from a different conflict- Northern Ireland. When I was in graduate school, I dated an Irish man (he was from the Republic, not the North). That, combined with a random decision to take a class on Modern Irish History in college, led me to read a lot of Irish history. From all that reading, I felt I could understand why the Irish Republican Army existed and even why the Protestant paramilitary organizations existed. But that didn't mean that I thought what they were doing was right- far from it. I remember meeting an idealistic, left-leaning Swedish man during that time, and upon hearing that I was dating an Irish man, he launched into a speech about how justified the IRA was. I told him I disagreed. They were terrorists, and terrorism is never justified. (At the same time, I thought that the only way to negotiate a lasting peace was to include the IRA in the negotiations- but that's a whole new can of worms that I'm not going to open right now.)

OK, back to our regular schedule of posts about babies who won't sleep and pictures of things that make me smile.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Reading Preferences

My husband was helping me troubleshoot a technical issue on my blog last night (if the lack of left padding on the title of my blog was bothering you as much as it was bothering me, you can thank Hubby for helping me find the right section of the CSS to modify). He noticed that Bunny And Me, by Adele Greenspun and Joanie Schwarz, is up as what Petunia's currently reading. He told me that was wrong- she liked that months ago. In fact, she did like it months ago, but it is back in favor again. Leaving aside the fact that Hubby hadn't noticed that yet (we take turns reading her stories and getting her down for the night, so he has had ample opportunity), this interests me because Pumpkin did the exact same thing. She loved that book as a young baby, and then picked it up again as an early toddler. In fact, Petunia and Pumpkin both seem to respond to the same part of the book. There is a page where the bunny hops away from the baby, and the baby cries, "Come back, Bunny!"

Just like her sister did, Petunia perks up here, and starts helping me turn the pages. We go through a couple of pages where the baby searches for the bunny:


And then the bunny is found:


My theory, which of course I can't prove, is that my girls are responding to the emotion on the baby's face in the book.  I am fascinated by the fact that both girls respond in the same way, since in other respects, they have quite different reading behaviors. Pumpkin has always loved to be read to, and would always sit still and listen- even sitting through some fairly long books at an early age. Petunia is a little more restless. She is more of a fan of the books that have things to touch (like That's Not My Puppy from the Usborne touch and feel series) or flaps to move (like Grandma and Me, by Karen Katz). And whereas Pumpkin mostly accepted whatever book we read to her, Petunia has not only favorites, but books that she will push away.

This has made me think about my own reading preferences. I'm a bit like Pumpkin, in that I will generally read just about anything you put in front of me. I do have preferences, though. I enjoy a good story, but if I don't come away feeling like I have learned something, I am disappointed. Perhaps for this reason, I tend to gravitate towards non-fiction books. I'm reading Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, by Jack Weatherford, right now, and am really enjoying it. I didn't know much about the Mongols or the empire before I started the book, so I'm learning lots of new facts. But facts are not the sort of "learning something" that I really want from a book. For me to really like a book, I need to feel that it has taught me something about my world. This book, for instance, is making me rethink some of my assumptions about violence in our modern society. As violent as our entertainment, and indeed our society, has gotten, it is nothing compared to the casual cruelty and lack of respect for human life exhibited in the time period covered by the book (primarily the 13th and 14th centuries). 

The accepted turmoil and uncertainty that the author advances as a motivating reason for Genghis Khan's unification of the Mongol tribes dwarfs the sort of uncertainty we face today- from the common, like losing a job, to the extremely unlikely, like being a victim of a terrorist attack. People living in Mongolia at that time could expect frequent raids to capture livestock and kidnapping was an accepted way to secure a bride. But even this seems like nothing compared to the behavior of some of the "civilized" societies that the Mongols conquered. One passage from the book is particularly horrifying in this regard. It is discussing the campaign of Frederick Barbarossa of Germany against the Lombard city of Cremona, in 1160.
"[Barbarossa's] men beheaded their prisoners and played with the heads outside the city walls, kicking them like balls. The defenders of Cremona then brought out their German prisoners on the city walls and pulled their limbs off in front of their comrades. The Germands gathered more prisoners and executed them in a mass hanging. The city officials responded by hanging the remainder of their prisoners on top of the city walls.... The Germans then gathered captive children and strapped them into their catapults, which were normally used to batter down walls and break through gates. With the power of these great siege machines, they hurled the living children at the city walls."
So, um, yeah. They didn't include that in the history of the middle ages that I learned in school. I guess what I take from this is two-fold. One, that we humans have always had the capacity to inflict great pain on our fellow humans, so it is unlikely that our current culture is making us uniquely inhumane. And two, it seems that we have actually gotten more humane over the centuries, so we should not despair of our ability to improve. If Western culture can get from the point where it was acceptable to fling children at castle walls to the point where the abuse of any child is a crime, then surely we can get to the point where said abuse is so rare as to be unthinkable.

Anyway... back to books. I don't want to imply that I only like to read non-fiction. A good fiction book can teach me things, too. For instance, I recently read People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks, and wow- this was an excellent book. If you haven't read it, you should. It was inspired by the true story of the Sarajevo Haggadah, but is entirely a work of fiction. It weaves together the story of a modern day book preservationist/historian asked to examine the Haggadah with the story of how the Haggadah was created and preserved through the centuries. As you might imagine, the latter story is full of heart-breaking events as time and again, religious intolerance brings ruin down on the people in the story. Brooks' genius is to tell this story backwards in time, so you are peeling away the mysteries about the Haggadah like layers of an onion. I think this makes it possible for the reader to absorb each new horror as a tragedy that befell individuals as well as a people, without making the book so dark that you would put it down in despair. In fact, I found it to be ultimately a hopeful and uplifting book. But what it taught me, in a way that none of the facts I knew about the calamities that have been visited upon the Jewish people over the centuries had, is why the state of Israel must exist. 

Don't get me wrong, I still look at the mess in that part of the world right now and wish for all sides to agree to a two-state solution, but maybe now I understand a little better the history that has formed the people on the Israeli side, and have a better feel for why they need a Jewish state. If you are finding yourself shaking your head at the newspaper and wondering why the Israelis are being so difficult about settlements and the like, I suggest you read this book. It might help you understand. Now, if only I could find a book that would give me the same understanding of the Palestinians. And somehow magically get the people on each side to read both books... then we might make progress! Hey, a hopeless optimist can dream, can't she?

I just realized that my two examples of books that I've liked are both about violence, and the dark side of human existence. But that is not because I don't like to read lighter books. In fact, books that have taught me about love, family, and the more everyday sort of human interactions are among my favorite books of all time. I am an unapologetic fan of Jane Austen, and have read all of her books at least twice. I have lost count of the number of times I've read Pride and Prejudice (and watched the BBC/A&E edition of it), although as I get older, I find that Persuasion is becoming more of a favorite. That probably has something to do with the theme of having a second chance at something important that you missed as a youth, but I couldn't say for certain. Regardless, Pride And Prejudice was the first book I downloaded onto the Kindle my husband got me for Christmas- I could get it for free, and since I have parts of it memorized, I thought it would be a good way to test out the Kindle reading experience.

I've really liked reading on the Kindle, by the way. It is one of the technology gadgets I've gotten that has not disappointed me. I thought that it would be good for reading while holding a sleeping baby, and I was right. It also works really well for reading while nursing a baby. In fact, if you need a gift for a pregnant woman or new mother, and she likes to read, the Kindle would be an excellent choice.*  I was able to browse for a book, purchase it, and start reading while pinned under a sleeping Petunia one day. I wish I'd had THAT capability when she was younger and fond of taking three hour naps while being held. I'd have watched a lot less NCIS.

*I think the Nook would work, too, but not, unfortunately, the iPad. I tried a friend's iPad out, and I think it is too heavy for one-handed reading, which is essential for the use as a companion to a new mother.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Little Light-Hearted Mom-blogging

So... let's talk about something a little less heavy today, huh? Like what adorable kids I have.

Actually, I wasn't planning to post today at all, but while I was brushing Petunia's teeth this morning, I realized that I had to capture how funny that is here, so that I can remind her of it when she is 20. Most babies and toddlers fight getting their teeth brushed, right? Pumpkin definitely did when she was Petunia's age. But not Petunia. If I say "time to brush your teeth!", she opens her mouth wide, ready to have her teeth brushed. And she keeps it open while I brush her top teeth. Then she closes her mouth and tries to take the toothbrush away from me, but if I say "no, say "ahhh" so that I can brush your bottom teeth", she opens up again and lets me finish. Then I give her the toothbrush and let her brush her own teeth a bit. After a few seconds, I say "can I have the toothbrush?" and hold out my hand, and she hands me the toothbrush. It is a little freaky, really, and unbelievably cute.

Petunia seems to be in no real hurry to walk. She can walk- we've seen her take as many as seven steps unassisted, but for the most part, she prefers to use her walker, or walk while holding onto our fingers. If those options aren't available, she crawls. Her day care teacher told Hubby a really cute story about this. She is in a room of "older babies"- most can walk, but none is more than about 18 months old. They go outside into a little fenced play yard in the afternoon. One of the teachers leads the walking babies out, and then the other starts ferrying out the non-walkers. Well, Petunia loves to go outside. Really loves it- she sobs like her little world is ending whenever we bring her inside after some outside time on the weekends. So you can imagine how upset she gets when she sees the other babies heading outside without her. One day, she was sitting on the floor, crying and holding up her arms imploring the teacher to take her outside, too, when another of the little babies toddled back to her, held out her arms, and helped Petunia walk outside. That must have been almost too cute to bear. We just hope that Petunia decides to walk on her own soon. The crawling around outside is ruining her pants!

Just about the only thing Petunia isn't doing so great at is sleeping. She had been doing so well- she was only waking up once in the night, nursing, and going back down easily (as long as I brought her in to bed with us). But then she got a series of colds in December, and her sleep is now all messed up. She's waking up as early as 9:30 and fighting our attempts to get her back down. Since Pumpkin's bedtime routine doesn't end until about 9:00, and she often calls me back in a few times to turn her pillow over, or tell me that she's had a bad dream (which she hasn't, since she hasn't been to sleep yet), or do any of the myriad sleep-avoiding things preschoolers do, I'm not getting much time with Hubby in the evenings. And with Petunia waking up so much in the night, I'm exhausted despite the fact that she is pretty much forcing me to go to bed early. So, now that she is mostly over the congestion from the last cold,  I need to start working on getting her back to more bearable sleep habits. Before she hits the 18 month sleep regression and it all goes to hell again.

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Speaking of Pumpkin.... She's learning so many Chinese words now that I'm struggling to keep up with her. The teacher started working on character recognition, using some matching flash cards. Pumpkin loves this game, and is surprisingly good at it. She really wants me to buy our own set of the cards so that we can play it at home. I'll probably break down and buy them- I could make some, but my inability to actually draw Chinese characters would slow me down and turn a simple little project into a major undertaking. On the other hand, I have a fair amount of free time these days.... so we'll see.

Pumpkin is oh so close to figuring out reading, too. Last night in the bath, I got out her foam letters for the first time, and I made her words to read. With a little prompting, she got the idea, and recognized lots of three letter words: box, fox, mat, hat, etc. Then I pushed my luck and tried "day", and that put a stop to the gain. She could tell me the relevant rule ("when two vowels go out walking, the first one does the talking"- thank you LeapFrog Talking Words Factory) but she refused to "read" the word, so we packed up the letters and finished the bath. She doesn't like not knowing something. I suspect we'll spend a lot of effort working on that over the years.


The thing she likes the most right now, though, is playing games. We've had the standard Memory Game since around her third birthday, and she has always enjoyed that. Recently, though, she got two games she loves to play- Candyland and Zingo, and we play at least one of those pretty much every day. She's surprisingly OK with losing, as long as we'll keep playing. The games are surprisingly fun when the person you are playing is so completely into them, so we don't really mind humoring her.

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And what about me? I'm doing OK, other than that whole crappy sleep thing. The job search is going slow, but that doesn't really surprise me. I had a phone interview and an informal lunch interview (for two different jobs) in December, and both went well. Both jobs seem like strong contenders to come through- but of course, nothing is certain until I have a job offer, and no one is feeling any pressure to hurry things along these days. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I've been working on slides for my "job talk" recently. Those are mostly done, so I'm ready for a formal interview whenever one comes my way.


I'm doing all the usual networking and job site searching, but so far, I haven't turned up any other full time positions to work on. A couple of people have told me that they think I could pick up some consulting work, so I think my next steps will be to get my personal website (the one that uses my actual name) spruced up, and to set up Google Apps for that domain so that I can have a more professional email address than my current one.


I'm continuing to play around with ideas related to this blog. I've published the blog for the Kindle, although I'll be genuinely surprised if anyone really wants to read it that way. I'll be putting Google ads on here, too, just to see how that goes. I don't really expect to make much money from the ads, but I'd like to experiment with them so that if I do get that travel website I keep talking about set up, I'll have already made my rookie mistakes here. I hope you guys don't mind being my guinea pigs- but it is really useful to have a space where I can try things out and learn about them. I'm also still playing around with my Zazzle store, and slowly adding things there. I really don't expect much from that, but it is fun, so that's OK. I'm enjoying thinking about what sort of product best suits each photo. For instance, I have a photo of a tea plantation in Malaysia. So I made a tea mug:

 

Which amuses me more than it should.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Guns, Rhetoric, and Mental Health

I've got a lot of posts rattling around in my brain right now, but I find that after the shooting in Tucson on Saturday, I can't focus my thoughts on actually writing any of them. I don't know why this particular tragedy has rattled me so much. Perhaps it is because just that morning, I had read an article in the Economist about the assassination of Salman Taseer in Pakistan, and commented to my husband about how horrible it is that people were celebrating his death and hailing his shooter as a hero. I guess I should be thankful that at least no one here is celebrating the events in Tucson.

I do wonder if we'll ever get to a place where we can rationally discuss the role our firearms laws have in these sorts of tragedies. There must be a compromise that would limit the availability of semi-automatic handguns without infringing on the legitimate rights of hunters and sports shooters. I have already seen the usual "guns don't kill people, people kill people" arguments, and while technically correct, those statements always seem so wrong to me after an event like this- surely we can all agree that if Jared Lee Loughner was armed with knives- or even an old-fashioned handgun that only shoots six bullets before requiring reloading- there wouldn't have been quite so many dead and wounded people. So why can't we start from that place, and work out a reasonable set of laws? My husband comes from a country with a strong hunting tradition but very different gun laws, and he has given up trying to understand our national hangup about guns. And I have given up trying to explain it to him, or to anyone, really- I always say that you can tell when an American is an experienced world traveler when he or she deflects any attempt to discuss gun control while on the road. Once you've tried to explain America's stance on gun control to non-Americans once or twice, you realize that it really is inexplicable. Like so many things in America, gun control has become a polarized issue that we can't even discuss anymore. We just shout sound bites at each other.

And of course, a lot of people are arguing that our polarization, or more specifically the associated heated political rhetoric bears some of the blame for this weekend's tragedy. I don't know if that is true or not, but it certainly isn't doing anything to make our country a better place, so I'll be happy if it does indeed get toned down, even if that doesn't last. If I accept that Sarah Palin is truly horrified by this attack, will the people on the other side of the political spectrum acknowledge that Barack Obama is not out to destroy America and turn us into a socialist society? Probably not. I predict that in less than a year, we'll be back to shouting sound bites at each other. Our country suffers for that. We have serious problems that we need to solve, and instead of talking to each other, and listening to everyone's ideas, we just apply knee-jerk labels based on the political party of the person talking, and retreat into our camps.

As it becomes clear that Jared Loughner has mental health problems, I wonder why we aren't spending more time talking about how our country's health care system clearly failed him and his family- I imagine that the people around him saw him deteriorate into his current state, and I suspect they tried to help him. But one of the cruelest things about mental illness is how it robs its sufferers of the ability to truly cooperate in their treatment. I wish we could have a discussion about how to respect the rights of the individual while also recognizing a pathology that prevents that individual from seeking treatment that almost any rational person would want. I wish we could discuss the fact that mental health programs are chronically underfunded, and that the support services available for families facing these problems are a patchwork, at best. But we aren't even shouting sound bites at each other about that. It is like we are giving mental illness the silent treatment: maybe if we ignore it, it will go away. And of course, it doesn't- this tragedy has garnered international attention because of the number of people shot and the profession of the intended primary target, but other tragedies strike on a smaller scale every day, and to the people affected, it doesn't really matter if there is one victim or twenty. Our response has always been "three strikes" laws and ever increasing penalties for criminals, but of course, in cases like this, one strike is already a tragedy, and no penalty, no matter how harsh, will deter a deranged mind. Surely we can come up with something better?

I'm usually an optimist, and I guess I still hold out some hope for us. After all, I haven't moved away! (And we could- we could move to New Zealand or Europe with no difficulty at all, thanks to my husband's passports.)  We stay because there are so many things about our lives here that we genuinely love. But I also don't see any place that is tackling the big issues all that well. Perhaps we have just been cursed to live in interesting times. However, I'm reading history of Genghis Khan and the Mongol empire right now (my first Kindle book! More on that later.) and I have to say, those times sound far more "interesting" than ours. At least no one is loading live children into siege engines and flinging them at castle walls (and that tactic was one employed by the "civilized" people, not the Mongol "barbarians").

I don't really know where that leaves me. I'm lucky that my children are too young to have noticed the news, so at least I don't have to try to explain all of this to a child. But I look at my kids, and the seemingly endless potential of their lives, and my heart aches for the parents of Christina Green, the wonderful little girl who was killed on Saturday, and indeed, for the parents of Jared Loughner, who must now live with the knowledge that somewhere along the way, something went terribly, terribly wrong for their little boy. I don't want to just shake this latest tragedy off and go back to normal, although that is of course what I'll do. It seems that I owe it to my kids- that we all owe it to all of the kids out there- to try to fix some of the mess that we find in our world. We will all have different ways we'd choose to try to make the world a better place, and I doubt any of us really feel like we have the time to do much of anything. Maybe the most important thing is to just choose something, no matter how small, and start working. At the very least, we can stop shouting sound bites and start listening to each other. The question is, can we even do that?

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Zenbit: Reflection




Location: Hat Pakmeng, Thailand
Date: February 17, 2006

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Weeding in My Garden

We've had a lot of rain here lately. A lot. Enough to flood the streets on the way to our day care, giving my kids an extra day off from day care on the Wednesday before Christmas. Now, day care is in a valley, and San Diego is notoriously bad at providing adequate drainage for its valleys... but that was still a lot of rain.

All the rain has brought out the weeds in our front lawn, which we had landscaped with native plants earlier this year. Thanks to this development, I can definitively state that the bark ground covering is better at resisting weeds than decomposed granite, but I still love the two-tone look of our yard using the two different types of ground cover.

So I've spent a lot of time recently weeding. Weeding may be the only yard work I don't mind doing.  There is something satisfying about disentangling the roots from the dirt, and something gratifying about seeing an area cleared of weeds. Also, since it is a native landscape, there is none of the grass that makes me itchy in our front yard.

I did a fair amount of weeding on New Year's Eve, so perhaps it is no surprise that my thoughts turned to resolutions while I worked. I've always made resolutions in some form. I like the idea of a fresh start, I guess. While I was pulling weeds and thinking about what I might resolve this year, it occurred to me that the two things are pretty similar. Think about it- some weeds are easier to uproot than others, and we all know that some bad habits are easier to kick, too. I mean really, why is it so hard to consistently floss your teeth every night? (What? Is that just me?)

I think the weeding metaphor might even give us a hint as to why some habits are easier to change than others. Obviously, small, young weeds are easier to uproot than big ones that have had times to really establish their roots, just like new habits are easier to change than old ones. But also, weeds with wide root systems are harder to get out, even harder than those with deep roots. Similarly, I think that bad habits that touch more parts of your life are harder to eliminate, too. This may be why any resolution I might make to give up chocolate would be doomed to fail. Luckily, I think of chocolate as a "real plant" and not a weed- and that points out another similarity. The choice of what is a weed and what is a "real plant" is largely a matter of opinion. So, I'm busily pulling out grass that has invaded from our neighbor's lawn. Our neighbor, on the other hand, is busily fertilizing her grass so that it will grow.

While you're weeding, you know that some of the weeds you're pulling up are going to come back, unless you spray them with herbicide. But that would kill some of the real plants, too, so you resign yourself to the knowledge that you'll be back in the garden next month, pulling up weeds again. Not all of the weeds come back, though, and even the ones that come back are slowed down by your efforts. I often have a resolution about getting in shape. I have yet to turn myself into a lean, mean, triathelete. But because I keep trying to uproot the slothful weed, I have also yet to turn myself into a complete marshmallow of a couch potato, either.

The easiest way to keep the weeds under control may be to plant more "real plants", to out-compete the weeds. But of course, that requires deciding what plants you want, and there are limits to the number of plants any garden can support. Maybe this year, I'll plant a more serious yoga practice. I think it will help fight the weeds of impatience and short-temperedness, which are constant problems for me. And I should definitely carve out some more time for my husband, to keep the weed of complacency at bay.

I don't have an actual resolutions list yet. Maybe I won't ever have a true list, but will settle for some intentions about which sorts of weeds I want to tackle first. Really, there are more things I could work on than I could hope to tackle this year. But that is the great thing about this endeavor. It doesn't really matter where you start weeding, as long as you start- and keep going. 

Monday, January 03, 2011

Kids Are Exhausting. But Also Cute. News at 11.

Today was Pumpkin's first day back at day care after the holiday break (day care is closed the week between Christmas and New Year's Day). It would have been Petunia's first day back, too, but she got a fever yesterday, so she stayed home with me.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit how happy I was to see Pumpkin head off for day care, and how annoyed I was that Petunia couldn't go, too. Some of this was because I really do need to get a job talk together- I had an informal lunch interview with the hiring manager for a job last week, and I suspect I'll be asked to have a real interview, complete with seminar, soon. Some of this was because the combination of Petunia's previous sick days and the closure of day care the Wednesday before Christmas due to rain (the roads into day care flooded) have left me feeling like my big plans for my time off are slipping away into a jumble of sick days, errands, and housework.

But mostly, I was just exhausted from a week at home with my kids. And my parents were even in town to help! I know that many, many parents are home with their kids every day. I suppose (hope?) that if push came to shove, I could make the necessary changes in my outlook and expectations to handle that well, too. But right now, my kids wear me out. One Tired Ema has a really good comment about the intensity of the under 4 set on my recent post about how intense I find parenting babies and toddlers. I think she really nails it- some kids just need your presence. I have two kids like that, and after a week of that 24x7, I want a break. Particularly since Petunia is still sleeping part of the night in my presence, too. OK, not just in my presence- snuggled right up against me. I was looking forward to a few hours when no one needed anything from me. I did not get that today. Maybe tomorrow.

In an attempt to make myself feel better about the sudden change in my plans for today, and my less than gracious response to that change, I spent some of the three hours Petunia required me to hold her for her nap thinking about the cute and wonderful things my kids have been up to lately. (Petunia, who usually takes a nap in her crib without trouble, insists on being held for naps when she is sick. Which is sweet. Until you need to pee or its lunchtime or something like that.) Anyway, in no particular order:
  • Pumpkin, who mostly says words properly these days (ah, how I miss the days of "bobbin" for "bottom"), still says "stank you" instead of "thank you" about 50% of the time. I think this is adorable.
  • Petunia will applaud any achievement, no matter how dubious. I find this impossible to resist. So we applaud stacking blocks and putting blocks into buckets. We also applaud climbing onto chairs, even though I'm really thinking "oh my God, child, you are going to give me a heart attack or break your head open or both."
  • Pumpkin likes to read stories. She will get one of Petunia's picture books- you know, the kind with a picture and maybe three words on each page- and tell long, involved stories about tigers saying "hi" to zebras and asking how their days are going. 
  • Petunia has graduated from her little walker to her sister's doll stroller. She's pretty good with it, but every time I see her I think of those little old ladies whose heads are barely visible above the steering wheels of their cars.

  • Petunia's preferred walker is actually a person- she likes to grab your index fingers and steer you around. (She is very effective at steering.) This is hard on adults' backs, but Pumpkin has been eager to help out. Recently, Petunia finally consented to that, and my heart just about melted when I saw them walking down the hall together, both grinning from ear to ear.
  • Pumpkin came out after my mom gave her a bath one day last week, and asked if she could sleep with just underwear, no pull ups. She's been waking up with a dry pull up for awhile, so I took a deep breath and said "yes." And who would have thought it would be that easy? She's yet to have an accident in her bed. Actually, she hasn't been having accidents anywhere recently. After all the angst about potty training her, that is pretty amazing.
There, I feel better. 
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