Monday, December 8, 2008

PLEASE contact your representative...

Some well-meaning legislation could very soon mean that we will no longer have access to safe, small-business toys (and possibly clothes and more) in the USA.

Please click here to see information and find out how to contact your representative. I am sending letters right now!

I was really hoping this was going to blow over, but it seems it really could threaten our ability to buy toys such as Selecta (they've said they won't sell in the USA anymore! Waaah!) and small local toymakers' wares. This is ridiculous. They are going to shut down the ability to sell and exist of those toymakers who have already long been vigilant about toy safety, via a law that's meant to deal with Hasboro and the others who keep making toxic toys in China.

We are so close to finally having good basic laws in our country about toy safety, and this comes along... it is so frustrating! I might have to get Auntie M to stock up on European toys by the end of her year abroad, if this really puts and end to this kind of toy being available here. Unbeleivable! We can sell toy jewelry with lead in it that can KILL a kid, but now we're making a law that can screw with companies as careful about children's safety as Selecta?

Okay, I'm off to letter-write!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

This is why I still kind of want a Dreamer Design Park Avenue...


...if I ever need to push another lil baby. Mostly I say, just wear them! But it's sad, sad, sad to see so many tiny babies just staring off into space at the mall or wherever.

I'm going to go cuddle my baby and help her off to dreamland!

Here we go again

It's still dangerous in toyland!

One in three toys is toxic, says a not very scientific but still scary enough for me as a mommy, study by the Ecology Center. Don't forget about the awesome, growing site They just updated for this year.

The new laws (yay, California, for leading the way in healthy toys, if totally destroying equal rights) that will force toy makers to make safer toys don't take effect until next year, and there could be toxic stock on the shelves for a while yet. Don't get me started on the lack of fair trade for most of this stuff, too. And the play jewelry is downright deadly, it seems!

Once again, it's best to follow the points of Healthy Toys, which I've seen listed in tons of magazines the past few months, and stick with natural materials like organic cotton, wool, natural rubber, and renewable wood. This tends to lead to more open-ended, imaginative, active toys, anyway. We're still trying to not overload on toys but rather amp up on play, but I do want to encourage Sophie's development in certain ways. So we're working on our list, checking in twice (and a third time for toxins!).

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Best. FOD. Ever.

This is the best thing I've seen from Funny or Die. All star cast!

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Friday, November 21, 2008

We're going, going...

...gone, to the place where toad tunnels help keep the toads safe. Where you can get a BUI. Where the police station is made out of hay. Where the famer's market is all you need to live.

Yeah, baby!

We'll be with the family for the whole week. We get to see Aunti M and Bad Dan, we get to do Thanksgiving up right, we get to take our daughter to all our old haunts together, and we get to hit the ten year reunion before heading home again.

I might not be online at all this week. Until I return, here is an awesome post on a nice-looking blog I just found. I am so glad I have only ever been encouraged and supported with nursing thus far.

And some pictures of our sweet sunshine and happy family... (I've really been using flickr like a photo blog so you have to check in there regularly! I don't think I've posted any of these here yet; they are old...)

Reading Green Eggs and Ham


Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad!

Dashing off to play!


Happy Halloween from Sophie-cat!

Check it, I got a cracker *munch munch*

Say hi and munching

Wearing Grandpa's hat


Matching mouths

Very pleased with her improving climbing abilities

Happy to cuddle with Daddy


Laughing together

She climbed up on the couch that day for the first time!

Smiling Sophie

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Just when I was softening...

Just when I was starting to think we would have to accept Melissa and Doug toys as part of our play kitchen repertoire, I have found a ton about recalls, one as recent as this September in Canada (which doesn't like barium in baby toys! imagine that!). And now there's a whole thread with a lot of bad reviews, on Mothering...

SIGH. I didn't like the look of their "standard measurement" blocks anyway. They looked weird, like they had two different sets of sizes (isn't the WHOLE point to have everything match together?). And I've found some other options for playfood and other accessories. They had the Green Toys tea set and kitchen cookware/table setting/etc set at the toy store at the Carlsbad Outlets, even.... I need to decide what I'm going to pick as her Christmas present! (or presents... maybe just a few things, lol).

Monday, November 17, 2008

We have Nappage...

After waking up at 4:45am on Saturday, Sophie finally wore herself out enough to fall asleep in the car on the way to Costco later that day. We promptly turned the car around and enjoyed her first nap in a week. She slept in a bit more Sunday and napped again, in a closer approximation of a normal sleep routine, and today she is down for her third nap in as many days!

Two weeks ago she napped every day, and I thought that might have been the end of her regularly not napping-- she would do every other day on average. But then last week happened. Is she seriously going to nap only every other week???

I hope she naps while we're up in Davis next week, because we'll want to be able to go out for dinner and stuff, and I don't want her down at 5pm every night.

I am getting so excited about our trip, and so is she. She talks about how we'll drive drive drive and see Nonna and Poppa and Trevor and Melissa and Dan and Bimi and AJ... and kids (at the day care) and Christa and Allie.... and she's interested ("OoooOOOOO!") when I talk about her meeting my friends, some of whom she's never met.

We haven't had a REAL visit with my parent since August, and it's been longer for many folks. I'm so stoked! :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Who needs sleep?

Well, you're never gonna get it.

If you do not have a baby/toddler impeding your ability to get some sleep, please please please sleep when you can. Dashing Daddy and I are both sick with nasty colds (he's been coughing for a week and I am diving into the depths of snot and coughs and headaches and the "cold buzz" I get and I didn't even take any meds... I swear I thought I sleep-took-tylenol because I was so buzzy last night!). Sophie napped every day last week, easily... and now she's not napping AT ALL (Daddy got her down for a brief nap yesterday after a looooong walk, but that's been in for a week) and waking at 5am. Nothing like waking in the dark with a tiny face aglow from the DVR clock and a cheerful, "Hi!"

I'm trying to read all the reasons online why toddlers refuse sleep. Either she's about to get 15 teeth all at once, about to make some huge breakthrough like being able to order sushi for herself, or she's a genius, lol. I'm trying to focus on the possible upsides here. Like having HER get the sashimi from now on, darnit.

Luckily Grandma gave us a nice break this afternoon. And she's totally into starfall right now-- she comes over and starts going, "starfall?starfall.starfall?starfall?starfall?" and I say, "You want to play Starfall?" "OOOOHHHHH." I head over to the computer. "Please," she adds. And she emphatically picks the letters she wants to do (I don't let her use the mouse yet-- I'm too afraid she'll reformat the hardrive in a few messy clicks, so she points and I follow orders). Yeah, it's a bit much of screen time (I was just checking out what it was b/c I kept hearing about it, and she saw and wanted to see the "ABCDs"), but if she gets to watch PBS kids when she's sick, I get to use the internets to help me out when I'm sick. It's nice to sit all cozy with her and laugh at the funny animation.

Ah well, another night, another headache. I'm hitting the ibeprofin. I really hope to do a nice update on what we're all doing soon... maybe tonight once the meds kick in.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes, we did! ...and yes, we still can...

Wait, actually I DO want to mug for the camera!

Celebrating Election Day with Daddy


And defeat. It's really bittersweet in California today. I'm glad about how most of the state initiatives went countrywide, except for Prop 8 and the others like it across the country. I guess Obama's victory shows that progress makes its way; sometimes it seems slow and sometimes stunningly fast. I hope it doesn't take another 60 years to get rights back for everyone in California and the nation. I can't believe it only took 51% of people (after an expensive campaign with deceptive ads) to take rights away from a minority. I would have thought our constitution would have been better protected than that. This is the stuff (along with the hateful McCain/Palin supporters we got to see this year) that makes me think the Handmaid's Tale could still happen! Blah!

But we'll keep fighting that, and we'll get there. The country is headed in a much better direction now! And we're trying to focus on this huge huge historical moment and celebrate!

Pointing out Daddy's sticker

Trying to take our own picture, trying not to make funny faces

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Hee hee

Don't Speak for Me, Sarah Palin

Apologies to Mr. Weber. Okay, not really because that was funny!

Thursday, October 30, 2008



Just VOTE!

Hey, I know all you near and dear to me are going to vote, but this is my psychic cry to the population of California and the country. Last weekend we sat down with our sample ballots, mailers, and the internet and figured out each item on the ballot. Here's how I'm voting. Feel free to tell me if you think I've gone astray on any... some of these were vague calls, even after the research we managed to put into it. Some of course we are gung ho about. I don't care how you vote, just vote! (Okay, I DO care and we are disgusted by some of the stuff going on in this election, but I'd rather people actually think about it all for themselves, do some real research, and actually vote rather than just sit it out. That's the worst.)

Congress: Pick Nick!
State Assembly: Maxfield... just voting the party ticket on this one, I must admit.
Schools: Um, anyone want to nudge me on the Miracosta stuff? I have no idea about the issues or anything. I would tend to vote for whomever the teachers support but I don't know what their union name is to google.
SDUH School District: Hergeshiemer and Dalessandro, supported by my union.
Encinitas USD: Skiljan and Page's write ups had more of the educational keywords I know and love versus the very popular (judging from all her signs and endorsements) Mo... but I'm going to vote with my teacherly gut here.
Encinitas City Council: Houlihan, Collier, and Nanninga. I like the moderate-ness of Houlihan, how Collier is going to work with her, how their fliers were printed on 100% recycled paper!!! and I like Nanninga's environmentalism. Isn't it lovely I get to vote for three people? Perfect.

Prop 1A: Yes. Tough call as I worry it diverts money from intra-city public transportation (that serves people who NEED it), but I just can't say no to a chance to vote for public transportation like this. I think we need WAY more public trans EVERYwhere. So I hope this gets the ball rolling.

Prop 2: Yes. I love that CA can help make this the new standard in factory farming. Not QUITE as bad as it is now, all right! Yeah, there's debate about farms leaving CA, but it's freaking CA. People will farm here. And when it comes down to it, it's the least we can do.

Prop 3: I am totally not sure if these hospitals are for-profit places that we shouldn't be supporting with public money or not. For now I've got Yes b/c it's kids' hospitals for crying out loud... but I am hoping to get more info on this one.

Prop 4: No. I am totally against abortion but I think we should be working to find ways to reduce abortions (social support ways, not placing power over woman's bodies in the not-always-competent government's hands), not make girls face possibly abusive parents and coat hangers. No more deaths from "anemia," you know?

Prop 5: I've got yes on this right now. I think people deserve the chance to improve themselves, with help for addiction, rather than being thrown in jail. I believe in people and forgiveness. But I am willing to hear more about this prop still.

Prop 6: No. Doesn't seem to be good law-making or likely to reduce crime.

Prop 7: No. I LOVE the idea of changing over dramatically to green power, but this is just pouring money into a couple big companies. I want a better law to vote for next time. Until then, I'm cloth diapering and recycling!

Prop 8: No. Think they gays will teach your first grader to be gay? Um, no. Rather, I think a LOT of kids have been exposed to this whole topic THROUGH THE NASTY CAMPAIGN ADS being shown during the World Series. Ugh! As Dashing Daddy said, this is no different from people fifty years ago trying to restrict interracial marriages. Or interfaith. I see it as a total separation of church and state. Let Caesar have back what belongs to Caesar and all that. It's just unfortunate semantics. Marriage under civil law is ALREADY totally different from the sacrament that my church helped my husband and I bestow upon each other. And our marriage doesn't need protecting, thank you.

Prop 9: No... I think? The people who should know seem to think this is a redundant law. It sounded good to me, but I am trying to make an educated decision here... and this is an example of where that can be very muddling!

Prop 10: No. Even more just giving money to a few companies under the guise of going green. We need to do far more, and I do better green work with my own money for now, thank you!

Prop 11: No...well, maybe yes. But probably no.

And that's after an hour of research. Props can be great and silly here in CA. I'm trying to do my part.

Just remember...


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

THIS... what I've been thinking about the news the past day or so. THANK YOU, Campbell Brown!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


The rich get richer, the poor get poorer...

“Greater income inequality stifles upward mobility between generations, making it harder for talented and hard-working people to get the rewards they deserve,” he said in a statement.

“It polarizes societies, it divides regions within countries, and it carves up the world between rich and poor.”

In the United States, the richest 10 percent earn an average of US$93,000 – the highest level in the OECD. The poorest 10 percent earn an average of US$5,800 – about 20 percent lower than the OECD average.

Social mobility is lowest in countries with high inequality such as the United States, United Kingdom, and Italy, the report said.

Seriously, CHILDREN are sliding deeper and deeper into poverty. Please, can we stop blaming the poor for being poor, for being lazy or stupid or whatever? It's CHILDREN.

And the social systems are all set up (some purposefully, like education) to replicate the current social order. It's a massively stacked deck. I like how Obama recognized this in some speech, about how people expect you to pull yourself up by the bootstaps, even if you don't have boots! So much of our mainstream society is a sham, blah. It's stuff like this that keeps making our family question, question, question, and opt out of so much of it all.

We need to do more. It's hard when things are so scary right now, but long-term, we need to simplify our life so we have more to spare and share.

Monday, October 20, 2008


I thought this was a good article, summarizing a LOT of information that's in good books like The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.... but still, my reaction is mostly DUH. Of course big corporations are doing all this. But still good to remind ourselves.

Food Industry article

Sunday, October 19, 2008


And we could use some funny.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Just Gorgeous

Angelina Jolie, nursing mama

This has got to be one of the most beautiful pictures of a mama ever! I hope it doesn't come across as sexualized (a husband's "private" photos of his gorgeous Hollywood star wife!) but rather helps to normalize breastfeeding, and breastfeeding around others, and without regard to pictures being snapped or folks hanging out in a room together while feeding babies. Yeah, that was circular, sue me. MY baby has been sleeping on the boob as she cuts two new molars, poor thing, and I'm a bit wipes out.

This makes me even more ridiculously proud that my students once insisted in a movie of my life, I would be played by the Angelina. Yeah, right. But the woman has, I think, shown that someone who's willing to think for herself... well... actually... THINKS. Which leads to all kinds of nice things!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Panda Cam!

Panda cam!

In case you were needing some panda. We love it in our house! And we visit the pandas regularly, too.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Past Associations? And Last Chance!

WHO wants to play the negative past associations game?

Hmm! I think McCain should rethink things, considering the market today!

Also, while we're at it: don't forget (especially if you happen to NOT live in California, lol) to register TODAY if you have not, and get others to do so as well! Here, The Roots told you to, so you'd better!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Prayers, Please

I had to post my previous post that had been sitting on the screen, but now I have to ask for prayers for my sweet Grandpa, who had a stroke. Please keep him in your thoughts.

Banned Book-a-rama

After dipping in and out during the little one's naps, for a week or two, I am so totally into The Catcher in the Rye. But there are too many phonies out there, who are so corny and all, I don't even FEEL like telling you all about it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New American Dream

I just found this site, and I'm enjoying checking it out so far...

New American Dream

I found it through this link about putting an end to bottled water use. We've managed, without any real work or hassle, to go bottle-free very quickly. Very rarely do they pop back into our lives anymore. A Thermos, Sigg, or Kleen Kanteen is all it takes.

Now, to tackle the immense amounts of plastic that come into our house still with every shopping trip! I recycle what I can, but our city only takes plastic 1 and 2. I am agog at all of the packaging we deal with just for a few cups of shredded cheese, for instance-- ack! I fear a bigger effort to buy in bulk and store things in safe containers (in my dream kitchen!) is in order. Slowly, step by step. I remember being totally overwhelmed about making changes two years ago, but we've done a ton already, and it's been easy (with the only real failure our attempt to find a pthaltate-free dishwasher detergent... our dishwasher is dreadful I think). So on we go!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Delayed 17mo roundup

So, now that Sophie is sweetly sleeping (her naps are still not sure things! yesterday she was up all day and then conked for the night at 5:30), I can finally jot down a few of things that she's really into right now. This may repeat previous posts, because I'm just going to run through everything that pops into my head!

She loves make-believe. We play "lava!/save me, save me!/Super Sophie" where the sunlight on the carpet is lava, and we run up to it, and then declare, "hot! lava!" and run away. Or a blanket or towel is lava and it is on Mama or some stuffed animals, and we cry, "Save me, save me!" and Sophie comes and pulls it off us. She also now says Save me, save me, whenever she gets stuck somewhere, like she's trying to get across the room where she just has strewn all her toys. She says it sort of to herself, very cute.

She still loves to point and count at things, and has counted to ten, but doesn't do that very often! We busted out They Might Be Giants' Here Come the 123s again and it was very exciting to have all those number songs!

Oh! Songs! Sophie asks for music all day long! Mostly mommy singing. She loves Over in the Meadow and The No Song (thank you, Tom Hunter!) and Just a Girl by No Doubt and the color song from Signing Time, and a dozen other songs from storytimes we've been going to at the Gardens and library... she thinks there can be songs about anything, so she'll ask for one about whatever thing she sees or thinks of, so that's why Just a Girl came up, as she wanted a "girl song" and then there's this terrible penguin song I made up on the fly when she saw the giant stuffed penguin in Jimbo's by the cereal, and then the Star Spangled Banner when she wanted a flag song....

Here's the thing: you can sing a song (or play it on the "pu"--computer) and the second time through she'll be singing along with all of the rhymes or line ending words, and the third time she'll be singing half of the words in the lyrics. We listened to the No Song just last week and after a few times making mama sing it in the car, she was singing the entire song, basically. Some words she leaves out because she's drawing out others, but she's basically singing along with the whole thing. And she can do that with Billy Joel's Goodnight My Angel, too (that was the first book we bought for our kids-- a few years before getting pregnant!). So that's why I can't rewrite the dreadful penguin song-- she's singing it and doing little hand motions with it before I even get to the next word!

She loves to make me "be" her stuffed animals or dolls or even the neck pillow, and then point out and label everything around us, and I have to say "Ohhhh, a chair! ohhhh, a triangle! Ohhhh, the floor!". She still likes to read books over and over again. She loves "summer is summer" --oh yes, she also asks for entire books to be recited (because of course I have them memorized after reading them so much) so we'll also do poetry time in the car, with "Summer summer" as she calls it, and "Secret Seahorse" and etc.-- and Goodnight my angel and Mangia! Mangia! and Angels Watching Over Me and Are You My Mother (good, because SOMEone should like it and Dashing Daddy and I don't! but we get to read it a lot!).

She got a new (to us) play kitchen at the swap meet yesterday, and has been VERY into playing with that nonstop! I'll get pics up soon, but I have to eat lunch now before she needs me... more later!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Suck On This

Hee, hee.

I'm just bookmarking this article because I really like it and I never remember where to find it. It's a great thing to reread right now with the horrible, horrible stuff going on China (and spreading at they find where these multinational companies shipped their products to).

Suck on This (Ecologist article on breastmilk)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Are our beaches safe? Nobody will know...

Arnold line-item vetoed the funding for testing our beaches' water. We had a good summer, but when it's rainy, the water can get full of toxic run-off from lovely things on shore. Is it safe to go surfing? Swimming? Splashing your feet in the surf? Walking along the wet sand? Nobody will know if we don't get funding back. I guess this is one of those things they see as expendable, and I would agree, but the fact that we live all together and no one regulates the pollution means that it becomes more than an individual's thing to know if they want to go in the water. And we pay a lot to live close to the ocean; I don't think it's going to fly to tell people that the beach is just a total luxury. That water's going to go back through the water cycle, too. And through Carlsbad's desalination plant someday... it just seems like the least we can do.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

17 months!

Sophie is seventeen months old tonight.

And STILL AWAKE at 9:30pm. We have totally nailed her opportune nap window, right after 12pm/12:30 til 2:30 (we have to wake her up), and we STILL get this? I think we missed her bedtime window! Bah!

I'm going back upstairs to help out more....

I wanted to write a post about all the amazing things she's into at 17mo, but it'll have to wait!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Happy Banned Books Week!

Read a Banned Book!

ALA's Banned Books Week info and more information from the Banned Books Week web site

And here's a happy little article about how Sarah Palin loves to tell you what you can't read. And abuse her (then, thankfully, limited) power to assert her personal agenda. YIKES!

It's chilling that so many people in this country could support someone who acts more like the antagonists of The Handmaid's Tale or Fahrenheit 451... seriously, I am going to start having my Hitler nightmares again if this keeps up. Sarah Palin wants to limit our freedoms, not even for the somewhat accepted reason of ensuring safety, but just to limit what other people can choose to read. Once you start allowing the mayor or whomever in power to choose what is unacceptable (to them) for a public library, or local bookstore (!!!), where does it stop? Is this book unacceptable because it talks about a gay character? How about this one with the backtalk towards God? And this one makes some unpatriotic claims about the US federal government's invovlement in South America, better sweep it off the shelves, too.

(Yeah, Mrs. Dalloway and E M Forster and others, get out of our libraries!)

The point of libraries it not to uphold the America held in the minds of those in power. It is to enable the poor child to read, the working class student to rise up... and to be truly democratic, libraries need to remain uncensored. Especially by those holding the most power! Please, read your Orwell.

The only book I'd really like to see banned is that certain one about becoming baby smart, except it doesn't say smart... I don't want to get search hits from that, tho! I think it's horribly misleading and can damage babies and families. And yet, I doubt it's been banned like, say, Of Mice and Men, Harry Potter, The Bridge to Teribithia, James and the Giant Peach, Where's Waldo, and Captain Underpants. Yeah. (I have, however, picked it up as my "buy one get one free" book at the library book sale and told the clerks exactly why I was buying it-- so I could recycle it, and possibly, just mayyybe, save one parent from picking it up and using it. Yay, capitalism!)

I already happen to be reading The Catcher in the Rye (finally... I have never read it! Just the first page in the summer before high school. So far I'm kind meh about it, although I can see how it'd be stunning back in the 50s.). But that'll be done in a few more hours of reading. I'm going to the library in the next couple of days, and I'll be sure to pick up a banned book to two (along with several more... I need reading material badly!), so I'll be ready for the 27th. I'm thinking Captain Underpants!

Okay, not really. That's just silly. I read that in college. Seriously, for my kid's lit course. Maybe some Joyce instead. I love the judge's famous line about reading Ulysses!


Serious about Play

Someone linked me up to this NPR article on creative, loose, make-believe play being the key to kids' developing executive function (self-regulation, which leads to success in school, life, social interactions, and world peace, apparently). I also liked this one I clicked through to, overall; some of the things the Tools of the Mind school is doing seem like even FURTHER controlling of kids, but I suppose its for kids who are already coming from problematic experiences, and there were some neat bits of info further down in the mish mash of content.

Sophie's toys have gotten a bit out of control, I must say. We were SO set on keeping them to a reasonable amount, but as she grew we added more toddler toys, versus more babyish toys, but she likes to get out the baby toys and use them in new ways a lot, and then I got a ton of stuffed animals from the closet back at my parents' house, a bunch of my old toys.... and suddenly we had toy overload. But we managed to organize it into categories, and hide some away, and now Sophie knows where to find the dolls, the stuffed animals, , the balls, the kitchen toys (mostly just kitchen stuff she's appropriated), the musical instruments (still percussion-heavy; we would love to find a trumpet of some kind she could play, or a safe string...), in the same way she knows where to get a clean napkin or bib, and where to put the newly folded laundry, and where to put the dirty ones. So I think that's good, that she has a good amount of space in this modern household where she can be in charge and help a bit. I also love how she mixes up her toys, and how certain stuffed animals have different personalities (altho most love to be fed by her tiny baby spoons, and be comforted, after she drops them, with hugs and kisses and rockarockarocka).

I have been meaning to read up on play for a while, which seems silly but this article, which I've seen before, reminded me that play has, like so much of our lives, been taken over and changed by corporations, and we sometimes need reminders about our traditional ways. I liked how the article made the distinction about how play is about play, and companies made it about things, and how that changed things. I know, from my limited reading, that trademarked toys (like from TV shows and movies) and many of the electronic "educational" toys tend to limit play; they can be used in one way, whereas "good" play lets kids be in control and make different decisions and their imaginations. Kids tend to just act out the TV show or do the one thing the toy is made for (and then often lose interest in it). Then there's the ways the majority of toys made today are bad for us... noisy toys that are programmed in volume to catch parents' attention in busy toy aisles, but are damaging for a baby's ears... toys made with chemicals that can cause cancer and infertility, even some that now are made to look "natural" (but are full of formaldehyde in the particle board or who knows what in the paint from China or petroleum in the "cloth")... the point is, I'm more okay with Sophie having a lot of toys that are being reused and therefore aren't demanding more resources from the planet, in manufacture and transport as well as materials, and a few carefully selected toys that will enhance her imagination-fueled play. I guess swathes of fabric (be it fancy playsilks or not), some big pillows and chairs, some paper tubes.... all these can be the makings of amazing make-believe.

I need recs for books on all this. I don't know if we're really a Waldorfy family, although I like a lot of what I've picked up casually from hanging out with families who are. Maybe we can learn some things and take what we like from those resources.... but as a teacher I really like this kind of research-based reminder of what play is all about.

Sophie's Latest Musical Obsession

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I know it's not new, but I just saw this study that actually addresses the complicated issue of mortality of USA infants due to failure to breastfeed/formula. In light of the ongoing crisis of poisoned (yes, poisoned-- they used melamine, a plastic by-product, purposefully to boost protein content, with complete disregard for how this would sicken and kill babies) artificial baby milk from China, I think it's good to remember that the issue of formula causing infants' deaths is not just a "third world" issue. Yes, the marketing of formula to mothers in countries where it practically guarantees a large amount of deaths and sickness is abhorrent, but let's not get all first-world righteous and say it doesn't matter here in the good old USA. Formula can kill. It can kill babies here in the USA. There are complicating factors, but it comes down to this: if they had been breastfed, some babies who died would have lived. And let's not forget about the enormous increase in risk of cancer, asthma, lowered IQ, obesity, digestive issues, etc etc etc that come with formula every day, here, too.

I think formula has a vital role in the world. Some mothers truly can't support their babies with breast alone (something like 1-3%, not the huge numbers who seem to have issues, probably thanks to formula companies' bad advice, doctors and hospitals pushing formula to get money from those companies, totally ignorant peds and society as a whole, not to mention utterly unsupportive social programs--where's our maternity leave? Every other nation--and not just "first-world" nations-- except like five--"third world" nations-- have it!). Some babies have rare digestive/allergy issues. And thank goodness for formula then. But there is a huge distortion of the facts out there, a gross misrepresentation of the risks of deviating from the (biological) norm. And I think it's time to stop focusing on making money off of babies' increased illnesses and start helping all moms be truly informed, and get us the social support that practically every other country has in place (hello, Canada-- a year's maternity leave?!)

720. Did anyone tell their parents ahead of time of the risks? Does anyone care that our society makes it seriously too hard for most moms to do the simply thing of feeding their babies what they are designed by God and nature to eat?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fall into the Grapes

We went on a lovely family outing yesterday, walking around the Outlets so that Sophie could see the fountains and birds and Mommy could check out the Le Creuset cookware (thank you, Nonna, for the birthday money for it! I am trying hard to actually spend it, lol!)

Of course we had to pop into the baby stores, and we checked out shoes at Stride Rite. There were some low boots there that might be okay for Sophie. I need to get her some real rubber shoes before it starts getting drizzly in a couple months, and we've only ever done Roobeez, so it was time for some research. I found many of the shoes way too thick and hard, so I'm going to check out other options like Robeez Tredz and the like. I found an AWESOME resale shop just around the corner and already got Sophie some new pants and a couple other things for super cheap, and I noticed they had a ton of shoes.... hmm!

We popped into Baby Gap and found a "bookworm" longsleaved tee shirt, and long tees are one of the items we're trying to accumulate, so at outlet prices, we went for it.

Later, it was proven to be a good purchase, when Sophie (running around trying to avoid leaving the fountain wonderland for lunch) walked over to the side store window for the Gap and started saying (and signing) "grapes." Too funny! It took us a second to realize what she was doing, then we just looked at each other. I might have teared up a bit. I remembered later she was paying attention to the words just as much as the pictures in her Fruit book, but we hadn't read it for days and she's been way more into huckleberry than anything else!

Of course this was after Friday when I was walking her up the stairs and she started counting them... "two, three, four, five, six, nine, six, nine...." Again, too funny! She still does the cute thign where she says "twos a twos a twos a" pretending to count, but now she can actually count if you help her focus on each thing, like stepping up each step I guess, or holding up fingers one at a time. She loves it. "Mores? More more more?" She could count to two months ago, and just a few weeks ago started getting to three on her own, and then four on our last trip (counting fans at Carl's Jr.), and then suddenly up to six on her own! But she can get to ten sometimes with the finger thing.

She is SO into feeding her stuffed animals and dolls still. We have half of her spoons out to play with, and cups and plates... We stir stir stir, and then go "numnumnumnumnum" all day long, holding spoons to the raccoons' mouths. She likes to put dolls on the "high chair" (the big stuffed doll house chair so called because the babies can sit in that one) and say "BIIIIIIG!" because they are too big for the chair! And other things like that-- Mama and Dada are too big for the bike, and the box from Costco (she loves our own membership cards, too!)... and the spoons are BIG for the lil dolls.

She has also started wanting to show things to her dolls. She'll have me hold her goblin or panda or baby and start saying, "See! See? Oooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" and then saying what we are looking at, like a book or a toy or the remote control this morning! (She also let me know "foot ball" and "guitars" because we watched the game last night and played Rock Band a few days ago, all on the TV). She loves to "teach" her dolls about whatever she's showing them, including reading them words.

She has been trying SO hard to NOT nap the last weeks. Last week she wouldn't nap, and I had to return some library books and of course at 2:30 she fell asleep in the car. So now I am really going to stick with my rule of either getting in the car by one to go someplace (and having her fall asleep and coming right home!) or being trapped at home until she conks at night-- luckily, she at least has started going down at about 6 or 6:30 instead of staying up nearly as late as normal, which she used to do when she skipped naps! No nap yesterday, but Dashing Daddy and I finally got to watch There Will Be Blood since she conked so early (and fast! teeth, PJs, and 3 minutes of nursing!). Today she only went down because I tried putting her on my back in the mei tai and vaccuuming, and after ten extra minutes of swaying with it over the clean floor, she conked. She used to be too scared to do that anymore, so I'm happy! Except my carpet and rugs are so dreadful and dirty no matter how much I vaccuum, and my vaccuum is getting pretty old and useless. But at least she's napping! I know her lil brain needs it....

That's us right now. Please remember to go through Dashing Daddy's web site (C's N, linkie at the top on the right, yeah, up over there!) if you are going to create an account to buy stuff on ebay or amazon. He gets a cut if you enter those sites through his linkies to them! Tha

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

We Are Family


Wow, we've been busy, getting ready for and going on our trip up to the Bay Area. We had a great time with just a few family members and three Dave Matthews Band concerts (Sophie and I attended on LeRoi's birthday... I didn't QUITE cry. Honest.), although the heat wave was unfortunate (no AC in big sis's house).

And Sunday morning, Sophie woke up and looked at Dada, then me, and sort of thought, and then said and signed, "family." Except like this: "faammly." It took us a sec to get it because we never use that sign. So cute! Time for a big family bed cuddle! She kept doing it that morning, and then again at the concert that night, and she would make us all group hug together. We danced together like that a bit to the great music.

And, we saw a raccoon! Sophie has two of my old stuffed animals and LOVES to say raccoon and feed them ("numnumnumnumnum...") so this was very exciting, right there in M's backyard as we dined al fresco (again, it was HOT). And she also loved the squirrels. You can BARELY see the raccoon in this lil pic, but the bigger size on my and Nonna's flickr streams show it better.

We saw a racoon!

Sophie was stupendous in the car. We only stopped ONCE on the way up, for lunch/gas/running around pointing to the smiling star at Carl's Jr. (yeah, and she ate some chicken strips... not a lot of choices in East Jesus Nowhere, huh? I packed great fresh fruit for the drive up, but by the drive down, it was all over.) So we just hung out a little longer than normal on our one stop. On the way back up, she got a bit fussy and mentioned poop, so we pulled right off the freeway, changed her (poopless) dipe, and got back on... and she soon napped (so did Mommy). And we again stopped for lunch etc., and managed to drive on home without further stops. She was happy as a clam in the car for the vast majority of time, as I made her stuffed animals play peekaboo around her carseat and read her books. We also had fun looking for "tunnels" (any overpass counts!) and balloons (thank you, car dealerships!), diamonds (for the carpool lane) and letters (I never thought we'd be playing the alphabet game on car rides so soon!).

Well, we're gradually getting back into our routine here at home. By this weekend we should be set!

Sophie is about to bust out of a bunch of her clothes all of a sudden. It's time to hit garage sales again. I think she's going into 2T shirts, and she definitely needs some new pants (I think she does well in 3T even by now for her big cloth bum) and PJs... altho we might get a few Babyology soakers for PJ bottoms since she's still the Pee Queen. We tried Seventh Generation diapers on the trip (our first time EVER with disposable dipes) and they worked very well, altho she seemed to be getting chaffed around her thighs after a couple days. We might try them at night to see if she sleeps better with them... I think she was just worn out from the drive and short nap, but maybe they magically made her more comfy? I'm willing to do that experiment. Nothing better than curling up with her in bed, but I wouldn't mind less sleepy whinning and unnecessary latching on. It's probably just teething ups and downs.

So I adore Naartjie clothes, and while I am nonplussed by their website, I think I'll hit the mall to see what might be on clearance in her size... we've gotten fabulous scores there before. Costco and Target are our other cheapie standbys, altho the selection is small. Spam me your favorite baby/toddler clothing sources!

Speaking of spamming, I am seriously pondering a play kitchen for the girl for Christmas. I saw Sylvie's Kitchen in the Nova Naturals catalogue that came, and I see online it's actually cheaper than the Julianna's kitchen.... and I love light wood! I then did some searching around just on Amazon, since so many retailors are listing there stuff on there now. I don't really dig the look of the Camden Rose kitchen, and a lot of the bigger brands seem to be particleboard with many plastic fixtures, which I'm not really into for something we'd hopefully have for years and years. So, spam me your favorite play kitchen. I think by 2009 Sophie might be too big for her high chair and ready for a booster, thus making room for a play kitchen near Mama's kitchen! I'll also have to look into what play foods to get. I've heard that knitting playfood is fun and easy, because they knit up so fast... I'm reluctant to get Melissa and Doug (for anything, really) because the paint has worn away on the shape sorter SO quickly. We'll have to see if we can afford any of this by December anyway! Then by her birthday, we'll totally need to re-up on our passes to the zoo and gardens and maybe a few new places.... whew! But we just totally had the realization that this year, Sophie is totally going to "get" the holidays on a whole new level, way more than we had thought by her second time around. Last year she was kind of into the lights and toys, but now she'll totally get it! So we are looking forward to all that.

Cozy with her godfather

I've started saying (as certain household things and clothes get all blucky...yes, in, worn out, stained, messy, slobby...), that I can't have nice things... but I have nice people. I am so grateful for my wonderful family! (Including those who are far away, yet let us stay at their home, and those to came to visit us, and those who Skype with us now, and those who visit their Sophie, and those who just read here about her!)

Monday, September 1, 2008

More bad news on Palin

Even Bush finally gave in to people's pressure to protect the polar bear!

I read over on Crunchy Chicken about the reaction by Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, to Palin.

Senator McCain’s choice for a running mate is beyond belief. By choosing Sarah Palin, McCain has clearly made a decision to continue the Bush legacy of destructive environmental policies.

Sarah Palin, whose husband works for BP (formerly British Petroleum), has repeatedly put special interests first when it comes to the environment. In her scant two years as governor, she has lobbied aggressively to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, pushed for more drilling off of Alaska’s coasts, and put special interests above science.

Ms. Palin has made it clear through her actions that she is unwilling to do even as much as the Bush administration to address the impacts of global warming. Her most recent effort has been to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the polar bear from the endangered species list, putting Big Oil before sound science. As unbelievable as this may sound, this actually puts her to the right of the Bush administration.

This is Senator McCain’s first significant choice in building his executive team and it’s a bad one. It has to raise serious doubts in the minds of voters about John McCain’s commitment to conservation, to addressing the impacts of global warming and to ensuring our country ends its dependency on oil.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Crazy like a fox... and just crazy, too.

Well, when I woke up Friday and read the news of McCain's VP pick, I thought to myself, "Ohhhhhhhhh that's smart."

A young woman. Bam! A lot of people will be attracted to that paired with McCain. A lot of people are still yearning to vote for a woman in this election. Even I (who have wonderful online friends who are breastfeeding moms of many in Alaska, just like Palin), could perceive the attraction here.

But when I read what MoveOn had to say about Palin's incredible lack of experience and policies, I had to back away from my initial assessment. This has got to be an incredibly dumb choice. They took a risk, but it's just not the right one.

Here's what I read...

Dear MoveOn member,

Yesterday was John McCain's 72nd birthday. If elected, he'd be the oldest president ever inaugurated. And after months of slamming Barack Obama for "inexperience," here's who John McCain has chosen to be one heartbeat away from the presidency: a right-wing religious conservative with no foreign policy experience, who until recently was mayor of a town of 9,000 people.


Who is Sarah Palin? Here's some basic background:

* She was elected Alaska's governor a little over a year and a half ago. Her previous office was mayor of Wasilla, a small town outside Anchorage. She has no foreign policy experience.1
* Palin is strongly anti-choice, opposing abortion even in the case of rape or incest.2
* She supported right-wing extremist Pat Buchanan for president in 2000. 3
* Palin thinks creationism should be taught in public schools.4
* She's doesn't think humans are the cause of climate change.5
* She's solidly in line with John McCain's "Big Oil first" energy policy. She's pushed hard for more oil drilling and says renewables won't be ready for years. She also sued the Bush administration for listing polar bears as an endangered species—she was worried it would interfere with more oil drilling in Alaska.6
* How closely did John McCain vet this choice? He met Sarah Palin once at a meeting. They spoke a second time, last Sunday, when he called her about being vice-president. Then he offered her the position.7

This is information the American people need to see. Please take a moment to forward this email to your friends and family.

We also asked Alaska MoveOn members what the rest of us should know about their governor. The response was striking. Here's a sample:

She is really just a mayor from a small town outside Anchorage who has been a governor for only 1.5 years, and has ZERO national and international experience. I shudder to think that she could be the person taking that 3AM call on the White House hotline, and the one who could potentially be charged with leading the US in the volatile international scene that exists today. —Rose M., Fairbanks, AK

She is VERY, VERY conservative, and far from perfect. She's a hunter and fisherwoman, but votes against the environment again and again. She ran on ethics reform, but is currently under investigation for several charges involving hiring and firing of state officials. She has NO experience beyond Alaska. —Christine B., Denali Park, AK

As an Alaskan and a feminist, I am beyond words at this announcement. Palin is not a feminist, and she is not the reformer she claims to be. —Karen L., Anchorage, AK

Alaskans, collectively, are just as stunned as the rest of the nation. She is doing well running our State, but is totally inexperienced on the national level, and very much unequipped to run the nation, if it came to that. She is as far right as one can get, which has already been communicated on the news. In our office of thirty employees (dems, republicans, and nonpartisans), not one person feels she is ready for the V.P. position.—Sherry C., Anchorage, AK

She's vehemently anti-choice and doesn't care about protecting our natural resources, even though she has worked as a fisherman. McCain chose her to pick up the Hillary voters, but Palin is no Hillary. —Marina L., Juneau, AK

I think she's far too inexperienced to be in this position. I'm all for a woman in the White House, but not one who hasn't done anything to deserve it. There are far many other women who have worked their way up and have much more experience that would have been better choices. This is a patronizing decision on John McCain's part- and insulting to females everywhere that he would assume he'll get our vote by putting "A Woman" in that position.—Jennifer M., Anchorage, AK

So Governor Palin is a staunch anti-choice religious conservative. She's a global warming denier who shares John McCain's commitment to Big Oil. And she's dramatically inexperienced.

In picking Sarah Palin, John McCain has made the religious right very happy. And he's made a very dangerous decision for our country.

In the next few days, many Americans will be wondering what McCain's vice-presidential choice means. Please pass this information along to your friends and family.

Thanks for all you do.

–Ilyse, Noah, Justin, Karin and the rest of the team


1. "Sarah Palin," Wikipedia, Accessed August 29, 2008

2. "McCain Selects Anti-Choice Sarah Palin as Running Mate," NARAL Pro-Choice America, August 29, 2008

3. "Sarah Palin, Buchananite," The Nation, August 29, 2008

4. "'Creation science' enters the race," Anchorage Daily News, October 27, 2006

5. "Palin buys climate denial PR spin—ignores science," Huffington Post, August 29, 2008

6. "McCain VP Pick Completes Shift to Bush Energy Policy," Sierra Club, August 29, 2008

"Choice of Palin Promises Failed Energy Policies of the Past," League of Conservation Voters, August 29, 2008

"Protecting polar bears gets in way of drilling for oil, says governor," The Times of London, May 23, 2008

7 "McCain met Palin once before yesterday," MSNBC, August 29, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Edna Always Could Say It Best

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,--but the best is lost.
The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love, --
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave,
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

-- Edna St. Vincent Millay

I adore this woman. And it's stunning to think of how these are merely her fragments and phrases....

Obama Mama

Passing along a video from a certain midwife friend's blog :)

And in honor of this week's convention... (I can't help it-- I know, as I sit there reading Lies My Teacher Told Me and watching the coverage replay at the same time that most of it is phooey, but this is truly an amazing, historical breakthrough. I really want my daughter to grow up thinking it's totally normal for a black man to be president. And a woman, but that can be next, and hey, it's okay I suppose if she's the first!)

And in honor of Pop, who is doing amazing work for the campaign up in his district...

(And it's pretty cool that the man holding the baby towards the end, right after Whoopie sings "remember me" is our OB who helped me deliver Sophie!)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Many Loves

Family at the beach

We have just sent off our last house guest, Sophie's beloved Auntie M, whose visit immediately followed Nonna and Papa's. There are a million pictures up on Flickr (seriously, Nonna's pics are way back on page 9 or 10 already, and there are many gorgeous ones taken on M's great camera) featuring some fun adventures and our silly girl. Sophie keeps saying Nonna, Papa, Melissa.... altho she understands they went home. She'll then say bye-bye.

The family funny faces

Playing music

Beach day

Through the chimes


Mama and Sophie at Moonlight Beach

Goofing off with Melissa

We took our family along to play groups at the park, walks on the beach, and explorations out our front door. We also got some serious organization and errand running done. Thanks again, Mommy, for not letting me get crushed under the falling garage shelves. And for buying me new shelves.

But now all my teacher stuff is out of my living room at long last! And thanks M for helping me get the supplies for S's new toy shelves. I'll have to take pics of the amazingly clean house and garage I suppose....


Sophie has been on hyperdrive for over a week, tho, playing hard with her many loves. Hopefully she can have some calm time in the next week or two before we head up north . It'll be our first looooong driving trip so I'm hoping for the best!


Well, we continue to be impressed with Sophie's accomplishments. I get to brag here, I guess, to those adoring grandparents and aunties and cousins and etc reading, so here goes...


Sophie knows her colors. She can say the name of a color if you ask her what color something is, and she can find "the green one" for instance. She knows red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, white, black, and brown, altho black and brown we don't hear about too much I'd say.

Mermaid Sophie

She knows the numerals 1 through 10. She can't count to ten, but if you read the counting books and point to the numeral, she can tell you what it is. Today I held up fingers and she could tell me 1 through 7 that way. Her favorite number is still 6! She keeps pretending to count (pointing at a bunch of things in her counting book or buttons on my capris or whatever, and saying Twos twos mumble mumble twos...), and loves it when I hold her finger to point at each item and say the numbers as we count.


She knows pretty much the whole alphabet. She's been calling X K but I'm not sure if she's just saying it backwards (like she still says diaper pa-duh).

Off to school

She can read probably about 30 words, and we really should add more to her little word collection. Whenever we add a word she really loves, she learns it in about two tries and then can tell you what it is whenever she sees it again. Yesterday she read the word "Nonna" in the Mangia Mangia book we were reading. I asked her what it was, and she had not paid any attention to that (last) page before (she was always ready to go get another Boyton book. ((And now she can read whatever, if I write the words for her, a small as on my shopping list. I made her her own little list today at the store with cat, dog, moon, Nonna, Sophie on it. And a picture of surprised eyes, which is her favorite joke right now.))

Got my backpack!

And just now she brought her Scuola book to me that we haven't read in a week or more and said "la la la" in an asking tone, because she likes the page where the little mice are singing with their jaws all dropped.

And today at dinner David asked her out of the blue what we did yesterday (she was getting antsy and we wanted to finish eating before cleaning the copious amounts of pasta off of her) and she immediately said "Ocean, waves" and made a little gesture indicating waves washing around. I was still trying to remember what was yesterday as she did this! We kinda looked at each other, then shrugged. We have to stop being surprised I guess!

Silly girl

She also knows some shapes. She LOVES circles right now. She knows triangles. We're starting to say the names for all the other shapes in her shape sorter, and she totally calls the trapezoid "trap" now, and has enjoyed making stabs at octagon and pentagon and the like. Of course she knows star and moon and heart already. And she will point to the train tracks set up in a long ring and say oval, and she also can ID the diamond in her shape sorter.


She drew with chalk for the first time, and it was so cute as she declared all her work moon and circle. She also drew a T and looked at it, then sort of exclaimed, T! Surprise! Later we said, draw another T and she made two strokes, altho they were not put together as a T. It was cute as she accidentally made her T and discovered it. She kept asking for "moon" and "circle" and "draw" and her little neighbor friend's mom so nicely let us keep one chalk for her to use again right away.


She says on her own probably going on 300 words at this point, as she's always adding more.

Sliding with Madeleine!

Whew! So what else is she up to? She's very good about saying please and thank you, and giving kisses (or asking for them!) if she goes "bonk." She says bonk a lot right now! She is back into riding her pony and bike, and she loves the "new" toys we threw into all those new bins (my old toys from childhood-- she loves the Cabbage Patch doll!). She also loves to say "my turn." Frantically.

Talking to Mama

Her new panda bear from Nonna and Papa

She is working on crawling and climbing, and climbed a couple stairs today. We're in trouble!


She had a menu in her hands today at brunch and immediately said "wind! windy!" which Grandma was doing for her (waving the menu at her to make wind) a month ago at my birthday dinner at Buca. We actually went to that same cafe for brunch on my birthday, so maybe that triggered it. It was funny!

Pretty toddler

Lovin on her horse

Shall we drum?

Happy with her basket and bag!

Dum ditty dum

I'm going to go play with her now. Forgive the shameless, shameless bragging. I have to tell the world how impressed I am with my girl! It's my job as her mommy.

Upside down!