Raising Kids in a PC World

Raising Children in a Politically Correct WorldThis past Monday was a holiday in parts of the country, but there was no three day weekend here in Seattle. Not only is Columbus Day not a holiday here, but as of October 6, it isn’t even Columbus Day anymore. Seattle (and Minneapolis) now celebrates Indigenous People Day.  The change in name is an attempt to shift the holiday’s focus from Christopher Columbus to the people he encountered in the New World and their modern-day descendants.

Now I get it. I know Christopher Columbus wasn’t the nicest guy. And I realize that there were already people living in the Americas when he “discovered” it, so I have no problem celebrating/honoring the indigenous people. But growing up we learned about Columbus and the ocean blue, his three ships and all. So what do we tell our kids? What do you teach them and when do you allow political correctness to rule the day?

This question of course doesn’t just apply to the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. There are many things we grew up being taught that are no longer considered “PC.” How much do you try to teach your children political correctness and when is it too reactionary?

Of course, the definition of politically correct is in the eye of the beholder. Some may see the acceptance of same sex marriage as a politically correct change, while I see it as a welcome change to extend a basic right to all. (And Lila thinks having a family with two moms would be really great.) Others see one of our favorite team names as offensive and in need of a change.

We aim to make our children into kind, caring and informed people. And even though we celebrated Columbus Day as a child, A and I turned out ok.  I suppose there will always be changes in public opinion and teaching, and we just need to do our best to teach our children what we think is right.

Pumpin’ Ain’t Easy

Pumping Through the Baby's First YearOver at Liberating Working Moms we’ve been talking about pumping at work – come check it out as several contributors (including me!) talks about what we did to make pumping work for the first year.

School is Back in Session

School is Back in Session: How Many Extracurriculars are Best?Our kids are too young for real school. Lila is in preschool, but still at the same day care center she’s attended since she was 4 months old. So in theory, “back to school” season isn’t that big a deal for us, it is just business as usual. But fall has brought new classes and schedules for us and for the girls.

We consciously took the summer off from all classes. We wanted to be able to have our weekends free to do whatever we wanted, we traveled and we thought the girls might like the break. Lila would ask every weekend when ballet was beginning again, towards the end of the summer suggesting that we just stop by the ballet studio to see if classes had begun yet.

This fall both girls are in gymnastics, Lila is also in ballet and catechism classes. When we enrolled Lila in ballet, I suggested that we try it instead of gymnastics, but she protested. So we’re trying both. She seems to be doing ok and enjoying the busy Saturday morning that having both classes provides. Lucy is growing less shy in her class and really seems to have fun playing on the equipment. We split up the classes – one parent with Lila and one with Lucy, so the schedule also gives each of us one on one time with the girls.

Because our weekly schedule is pretty go, go, go, I do get concerned that having the girls in class on the weekends is too much for their schedule (not to mention mine and A’s). I worry that we’re scheduling their weekends too much, forcing them to get up and get out on the weekends as they have to do during the week. Many other parents talk about not wanting to over schedule or rush on the weekend, and it makes me question our choices for our daughters’ weekends. But the thing is they like it. Lila missed classes over the summer and it works for us. (And let’s be honest, class or no class, no one sleeps past 7am on Saturdays, so getting out for a 9am class is not that big a rush compared to week days.)

So we keep doing what works for our family. Three classes on Saturday mornings and one on Sundays. We don’t put a lot of pressure on ourselves; if someone is sick or tired, we don’t go to class. If we want to go to the farmers’ market or just lay around in our pjs and watch football, sounds good. I do need to remind myself that while what we are doing now works for us, that doesn’t mean adding more is a good idea. The call of swim lessons or foreign language is out there, but I remind myself that ALL of us need a break, some unscheduled time and a chance to practice doing nothing.

8 More Books Please!

8 More Books Please! Our Favorite Toddler Books Sure, Lila loves to read, but Lucy is becoming quite the reader. It is not uncommon for us to be making dinner in the evening and notice Lucy isn’t in the living room. We’ll find her in the play room, surrounded by a giant pile of books, quietly “reading” to herself. It is not surprising, since birth Lucy has heard us reading to Lila.

Just as Lila has her favorites, Lucy very much does too. What is interesting to us is that her books of choice are very different from what Lila liked at her age. It is fun to see what their individual taste leads them to enjoy reading and fun to celebrate their freedom to choose whatever books they want.

Just a few books Lucy would recommend you (or your favorite toddler) check out:

Ladybug Girl at the Beach – Ladybug Girl is above and beyond Lucy’s favorite book series. Ladybug Girl has a trusty sidekick, her dog Bingo, who bears a resemblance to a certain lovable beagle. Ladybug Girl’s real name is Lulu, which happens to be Lucy’s nickname at daycare. There are many books in the series, including a set of board books. Lucy’s current favorite is Ladybug Girl Says Good Night , in which Lula requests “8 more books please!” before bed. Lucy can barely make it through the line without giggling hysterically.

Curious George and the Birthday Surprise – Lucy has a thing for monkeys. I think that’s pretty common for toddlers. Her lovie is a monkey name RuRu, but she loves Curious George too. She likes to point out the Man with the Yellow Hat and read about his crazy adventures – like when he invited all the dogs into the house to eat the frosting. 8 More Books Please! Our Favorite Toddler Books

Baby Einstein Alphabooks – These books don’t have much plot. Ok, they have no plot. They are 26 books, one for each letter with 3 words and pictures for each letter. I have little patience for reading these books but A is really good about reading them to Lucy. They talk about recognizing the letter, the words, other things that start with that letter. I have no doubt that it really helps with learning to read and knowing the alphabet. (Lucy can sing her ABCs, in adorable toddler speak.) So I highly recommend these books for helping with pre-reading skills. Just be sure you have someone like A to do the alphabet training with your toddler.

Hands Are Not for Hitting (Board Book) (Best Behavior Series) – So this is a weird one but Lucy LOVES it. We bought it after Lucy was born and while going through some big sister adjustment, Lila had a hitting phase. Lucy loves it, she loves to imitate what the kids in the book are doing (waving hello, brushing their teeth, etc) and one of her favorite people’s name appears in the book which makes her very happy. There is a whole series of these books (Teeth are Not for Biting, Tails are Not for Pulling) and we’ve never read the others, but I imagine they may be just as enjoyable.

Toddler books can be exhausting, but we’ve manage to find a good number of books that we can all enjoy. Have you had good luck with toddler books? Any tales of books to avoid so you don’t pull your hair out while reading it for the seventeenth time in a row?

 

8 More Books Please! Our Favorite Toddler Books

 

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Learning to Love to Read

Learning to Love to Read: Our Favorite Children's BooksSince Lila was born, we have read to her. Every night we read to her before bed. (We randomly set the limit at 3 stories. Lila is already petitioning that this increase to 4 stories when she turns 4.) It’s been great to share some of our childhood favorites with her, as well as discover new books through her eyes. It is not so great to discover those books that make you want to poke your eyes out instead of reading it one more time but that your child inexplicably loves.

We soon discovered that we could not keep buying new books for the girls. Not only was it not financially sound, we were running out of room. I thought Lila would get a kick out of having her own library card, so last summer we became regular customers of our local library. It has been fantastic. The variety and constant stream of books coming into our home is exciting for the girls. I love that I can request books online and have them be held for me. I review the monthly newsletters from our local children’s book store and Amazon.com to find new books or authors for us to try.Learning to Love to Read: Our Favorite Children's Books

Even though we’ve probably read borrowed over 200 books, there are definitely some favorites that Lila likes to read over and over again, requesting them from the library multiple times. Since I’m always on the look out for new children’s book recommendations, I thought I’d share them here in case others are looking for ideas.

Belinda in Paris – This is one in the series of Belinda books by Amy Young. Belinda is a ballet dancer with very large feet and very large talent. A budding ballerina herself, Lila loves to read about Belinda’s adventures. Her favorite has been Belinda in Paris, perhaps for its worldly feel or just very silly story.

Madeline – In an old house in Paris. . . Lila is a bit of a Francophile, as you may be able to tell by the first two books on the list. Madeline caught her attention with its familiar rhymes and the little girl’s infectious spirit. The older books can be a little wacky – ever read Madeline and the Gypsies where she and the Ambassador’s son are kidnapped by a gypsy circus and to prevent the children from being discovered, the old gypsy lady sews them into a dead lion’s pelt? But Lila has returned to the series many times, now owning many of her favorite titles.

How Rocket Learned to Read – this book is an adorable tale of a little dog who meets a bird who teaches him to read. It is a a good “first reader” book without being an annoying “This is cat. See cat. See cat sit.” It has lots of easy words and incorporates learning to spell and recognize easy words into the plot. That and Rocket is gosh darn adorable.

The Seven Silly Eaters – We own this book, having received it when Lila was born. It is a very silly tale of a large family of picky eaters. Lila likes the rhymes, all the kids, the ever increasing number of cats in the house and now enjoys that one of the siblings is named Lucy. It is one book that I don’t mind when Lila picks it up several nights in a row.

Tallulah’s Solo – Another great series about a little girl who loves ballet. Unlike Belinda who is a “real” ballerina, Tallulah is a little girl with big ballet dreams. Her family is very Seattle hipster – Tallulah and her little brother Beckett, dad wears a beret, mom is fashionably shabby – and Tallulah always learns an important lesson. I think Tallulah’s enthusiasm and resulting adventures are great for our little ballerina, without being preachy.

These are just a few of the amazing children’s books we’ve discovered since Lila’s love of reading developed. We’re lucky that Lila loves to read and that she is free to make the choice as to what books to read. Banned Books Week celebrates all books and the freedom to read them. Did you know Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax has been banned? And Charlotte’s Web? I look forward to sharing both these books, and more, with the girls as they continue to grow and discover more favorites.

What are some of your little ones’ (or your) favorite children’s books? Any ballet books we may have missed? I feel like we’ve exhausted that topic at our library!

Learning to Love to Read: Some of Our Favorite Children's Books

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The Dreaded Phone Call: Dealing with Sick Days

Dealing with Sick Days

Sad sick Lucy Goose

I keep my cell phone on my desk at work. Its ring interrupts my thoughts and with the exception of my husband’s personal ringtone, I often find the ringing jolting. Glancing at the phone, recognizing the number as one from my daycare center is always concerning. The calls usually go like this:

“Hi Lauren, this is Miss So and So from your daughter’s day care. Your daughter is fine, but she has a high temperature and needs to be picked up.”

While I’m thankful that it is not a true emergency, the call still causes me to jump into action.

 

Read more about how we handle sick days over at Liberating Working Moms today!

Seattle Fall: Do the Puyallup

Despite the temperatures not feeling very fall like today, we celebrated the fall’s rumored arrival with a visit to the Washington State Fair. Or you know, Do the Puyallup.

This was our third year visiting the fair, each visit bringing something new. Our first year I was pregnant with Lucy and Lila was young, interested in the farm animals and not much more. Last year we had tiny Lucy and we went with friends, bringing two energetic two year olds to the fair. The idea of rides were introduced, as was the idea of fair food. This year, our group once again grew by one – our friends have a new baby, so we attended the fair with two three and a half year old, a one and a half year old and a seven month old.

With the two older girls able to have their own opinions this year, planning took on a new challenge. We couldn’t just announce where we were going next. The kids had things they wanted to see, things they wanted to do and most certainly things they wanted to eat. Seattle Fall: Do the Puyallup

We started with the animals – baby cows, baby pigs and yes, the cat show. We even saw a hairless cat who Lila said “felt like a person.” The baby pigs are always a treat, so many of them, so little and so, so aggressive to nurse from their mom. I always feel a connection to poor pig mom, even if she has about eleven more babies who want to nurse than I do.

The girls were pretty into rides this year, though they were limited by height restrictions. They did manage to ride the merry-go-round, a train and a variety of other small vehicles that go around in a circle. Not realizing there was an age restriction, we did sneak Lucy onto one of the rides. She was. . . confused.

Seattle Fall: Do the Puyallup

 

The older girls were a little more into it.

Seattle Fall: Do the Puyallup

 

Lastly, fair food was had by all. Our friends are native Puyallup-ians, so they have certain food they search out. We’ve been happy to tag along for fun. Scones and bbq are delicious, I recommend. We split before dessert – they had fried dough (or elephant ears as they call it there), the girls had ice cream and I smuggled a caramel apple home. (I had hoped to eat it in the car on the way home, but Lila never went down for a nap, so I enjoyed it before writing this.)

We’re not native Washingtonians, but we’ve come to enjoy the Puyallup Fair as one of our early Seattle fall traditions.

Have you done the Puyallup? Any food we need to check out next time?

 

 

Another Season, Another Letter to My Bear and Goose

Dear Bear and Goose, 

Another season starts today and it is incredibly hard for me to believe that this is my fourth letter of this kind. (One, two, and three.) Where has the time gone? Has it really been only five football seasons since your father and I would lay in bed and roll over to turn on the 10am game (best part of living on the west coast)? Has it been only five years since we ordered a bucket of beers at the local bar to enjoy with the games? (Technically more, since you were an “inside baby” five seasons ago.)

It is not so much that football has included a Bear or a Goose for the past four years that is hard to believe. For me, it is that I remember so very little what football season is like without you.

A Letter to My Bear and Goose - Our 4th Football Season as a Family

Guess which one is the ham?

I’ll be honest girls, there are Sunday mornings when I hear you first stirring, often an hour earlier than you rise during the week, and I think to myself, please, just one Sunday morning. Just one day to lay in bed, read a book, nap and watch football. But you know what? Wes Welker isn’t a Patriot anymore and laying in bed reading and watching tv isn’t in the cards for your dad and me anymore.

I may long for those lazy days some mornings, but you don’t let me dwell on those feelings very long. As soon as I enter your room, you remind me why my life these days is both difficult and wonderful. Lucy Goose, you roll around in your crib, giggling and talking your own version of Parseltongue. Soon you reach for me for “cow-dles” and milk. (You very quickly become impatient for milk.) Lila Bear, you wake up and want to know what day it is and what the plan is. You immediately want to choose your clothes for the day. Unlike the days when I could choose an appropriate onesie for the day’s games, you tend to favor dresses or tutus these days.

I love football. I love Tom and Robert (as you, Lila, call them) and I love lazy Sundays. And one day, maybe we’ll all lie in bed together the watch the early game or snuggle on the couch for Sunday Night Football while eating Trader Joe’s frozen pizza. But until then? I’ll cuddle you at 7am on Sunday morning, I’ll read you Duck and Goose 1, 2, 3 over and over again even when it is 4 and 1, and I will treasure our time together.

All my love,

Momma

The Unofficial End of Summer

Sigh, it is Labor Day and so summer has ended. Or so they say.  The weather is turning. Lila starts preschool tomorrow. The unofficial end to summer certainly feels final and official. We’ve had a great summer. Vacations, beach trips, amazing weather. Looking back at our bucket list, I’d say we did pretty good.

Successful Seattle Summer with the Kids

Lucy Goose Beaching

Beach – check! We not only spent the 4th at the Oregon coast, we went on vacation on the Connecticut coast and then explored several Seattle beaches. We liked Golden Gardens for its sand and vista, Carkeek for its relaxing atmosphere and Lake Union for the many activities within the park, including a water front.

Splash Park – We only made it to one splash park, but the girls loved it. It was at Lake Union Park, which is close enough to go on a hot evening after work and also made for a great day adventure on the weekends.

Hike – OK, this depends on your definition of hike. We really had great plans to do a real PNW hike. But we got some kind of summer bug, nap times interfere with travel times, it just never worked out. So we went to Marymoor Park a couple times. Not really a hike as a long walk, but Cal came along and fun was had by all.

Baseball game – Yes! We went to two games of the Nationals series at the Mariners. Nats won two out of the three in the series (we saw one win, one loss). It was Lucy’s first game. We had beer, bbq and even Thai food. It was a ton of fun and I finally saw Stephen Strasburg pitch. (Steven Strasburg pitched his first MLB game when we were traveling across the country to move to Seattle. It was always sort of symbolic that he arrived as we left. It was like a piece of home we had to leave behind. So it was nostalgic to finally see him pitch.)

International Fountain – yeah, never made it there. If the weather holds, perhaps we’ll still have time to run around in its musical sprinkler fun.

Alki – After the hike, this is my biggest regret of the summer. I do hope that we can make it to West Seattle and explore Alki before the summer really ends. Early fall should be fine, even if it might not be sunbathing weather when we finally make it there. (It will still be Husky Deli ice cream weather, don’t you worry.)

Phinney Farmer’s Market – things moved too quickly this year and with the CSA we do in the summer, farmers’ markets just don’t make the top of our list. As with the other still “to dos,” we still have time. I have to be honest, I’m just not sure it will happen this year.

Beer Fest – We made it to Beer Fest. It was fun, as always, and it is great to go and remember how we feel in love with Seattle at Beer Fest 2006 on a glorious Seattle summer day. That said, I had a migraine most of the time and by the time I returned home I was sick for the next two days. It was worth it. (There was Space Dust. Space Dust is awesome.)

Seattle Summer: Baseball Fun with Natitude

Natitude in the Emerald City

So that’s the unofficial tally at the unofficial end of summer. We did ok making the most of this Seattle summer and I’m excited for our Seattle fall. Up next? The Fair, of course!

Asking the Hard Hitting Questions

The Why Phase: Three Years Old and Asking the Tough Questions

Carefree Lila

Lila is in the why phase. Which should really more accurately called the why, why, why, TELL ME ABOUT IT, why phase. Most of the time this results in questions like:

– why does the sun set?

– why does Lucy not know the alphabet?

– why is that dog walking there?

-why does Cal not wear pants?

We listen to NPR on our commute and the other day Lila asked what the man on the radio was talking about. It was a story about the Ebola outbreak in Africa. I tried to explain it to her in 3 year old terms – people were sick, doctors were trying to help them, Africa was far away from Seattle. It seemed like she was satisfied with this set of responses, until yesterday.

“Mommy, tell me about the people who are sick in the other place.” After realizing what she was asking about, I used the same approach as last time, but she was clearly concerned.

“They should wash their hands to get rid of the germs.” I agreed that this was a great tactic and that Africa had different living conditions than Seattle, which was contributing to the epidemic.

“What if people come on an airplane to Seattle?” I promised that wouldn’t happen and told her we did not have Ebola germs in Seattle.

“What germs do we have in Seattle?” We discussed cold and flu, sang the Daniel Tiger “rest is best” song.

As we pulled into the driveway, she seemed content with the topic and ready to end the discussion, when she thought of something else. “Mommy, I don’t want to leave you and Daddy and go live with God.” I agreed that she should stay with us for a while and that she wouldn’t “go live with God” for a long time.

I don’t know how she made the connection between the Ebola epidemic and death. It makes me sad for her to be so weighed down with such thoughts. I know she doesn’t really get the idea of death (or worldwide health crises) but that she’s contemplating any of this is not something I anticipated happening so soon. She’s a little kid, with big giant questions, many of which I just can’t answer. Here’s hoping she goes back to asking about Cal wearing pants again soon.