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, blucky...as 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.