Last year my resolution was to live in the moment more with Carter and just enjoy his second year as much as I could. I feel like I did that well. Props to Scott Noelle, Alfie Kohn, and Naomi Aldort for for helping me find my path to relaxed, peaceful, joyful parenting. :-)

This year: We're planning an IVF cycle in the summer, and so my goal is to get as healthy as I can before June. I set a goal of losing 50 pounds back in October, and have lost 20 so far (though I'm betting I've put 5 back on over the holidays). So I guess my personal resolutions for this next year are:

1) Get healthier (lose 30 more pounds, exercise more regularly, eat better)
2) Get pregnant!
3) Learn to cook healthy food more creatively. (I need to branch out from steamed veggies and baked chicken, SRSLY.)

Happy New Year, everyone!

So we're in New York City tonight, staying in a hotel one block from the ball drop site on Times Square. We got up at 4:30 am and flew here with our 2yo son, and it was in the back of our minds that if it worked out, we might venture out close to midnight and go see it in person.

Of course, Carter fell asleep around 8:00, and Doug and I are so tired that the idea of hauling him out into the cold to wait hours to see something we can watch perfectly well on TV is just... no. I have my PJs on, I'm warm, my baby is asleep, and I will watch that ball drop on NBC, just like I would've done if I'd been anywhere else. Good thing that's not the main purpose of our visit, heh.

Times Square was already crazy at by 7:30. It was incredibly hard to get back to our hotel after dinner, as it was in the "zone".

I did procure a pair of New Year's glasses, though, and got a shot of me in them in the hotel lobby. That's as close as I'll get to Times Square for now!

Happy New Year, everyone!
I've read many stories about people asking their toddlers if they remember being born, with the surprising result that many young children can recall details of their births that they would have no way of knowing otherwise. It's commonly believed that children don't remember much from their early childhoods, but research is starting show that isn't true.

So things like this really make me wonder how much Carter remembers. Does he remember being cut from my body far too early, isolated from human touch and warmth for so long? Does he remember painful procedures, the few blissful hours a day when he would sleep on my chest, the sound of the machines in the NICU?

When we brought him home from the hospital, he would not let us put him down. He demanded that we hold him 24/7 for months, and so we did. I think he was in constant contact with a human being for most of the first year of his life. He needed it so badly, and we were happy to provide him that security.

He hates loud noises, hissing sounds, and is incredibly disturbed by machines like vacuum cleaners, blenders, and hair dryers. He talks a lot about things that are "loud", many of which aren't actually that loud at all, but sort of hissing or continuous in nature, and I can't help but wonder if he is reminded of the sounds of machinery in the NICU when he hears those "loud" things.

I've often wondered what the legacy of his NICU stay would be, but it wasn't until now that I considered it might be something other than developmental. :-/
I'm reading Parenting For A Peaceful World right now, and it's a fascinating read. It starts by tracing the history of human childhood through the ages, and the picture is not only unpleasant; it's horrific. The author states that prior to the 20th century, there is NO evidence that any child, anywhere, escaped what we would today call severe abuse. I mean seriously -- think about that.

He goes on to make a very strong biological and psychological argument for the way that mass abuse of children has shaped human history. He traces the rise of the most brutal regimes in western history to violent and abusive parenting approaches that numbed generations of people into submission. He also shows that peaceful movements and changes in societies can be traced to positive changes in parenting approaches. In other words, the way we (as a society) parent our children has a huge impact on the world, much bigger than any of us realize.

I can't do it justice in a few paragraphs, so I highly recommend it. I think it should be required reading for parenting or working with children in any capacity, actually. Here is a video that summarizes some of the main points, but even that doesn't do it justice.

I think one of the things I've gotten from this book that I didn't expect is that we in the AP community often claim that we're parenting the way humans were "meant" to parent. But there is very little evidence that human children were ever parented this way. We're forging new paths, and rather than look back at a romanticized, inaccurate vision of the past, we should look forward.

I could go on and on. Fascinating!

The link above goes to Amazon, btw. Read the reviews for even more accolades.
I stopped at Starbucks on the way to work this morning, and while I'm putting cream and sugar in my coffee, this random dude next to me strikes up a conversation:

Random Dude at Starbucks: "So, any big plans for the weekend?"
Me: "No, not really. I'll be grading finals all weekend, actually."
RDAS: "Oh, what grade do you teach?"
Me: "I teach at UT, actually. Have a huge stack of calculus finals to grade this weekend."
RDAS: *makes a face* "Ugh, calculus. Sounds ugly and boring."
Me: "Um, well, I hope not. I try to make it interesting."
RDAS: "It's just a bunch of stuff they'll never need to know anyway."
Me: "Ummm..."
RDAS: "Oh, but college isn't trade school, right? It's all about *makes finger quotes* broadening your mind."
Me: 0_o
What I thought: "So what do you do for a living? I'd like a chance to insult your career too."

But what I did was laugh it off and leave. The mature response, to be sure, but deep down I really wanted to tell him what an asshole he was. :-P


Dec. 5th, 2009 11:20 am
DH has been a huge Kiss fan since he was a kid, and last night they were in Austin -- so of course, we went! This was the 5th time I've seen them, and I've enjoyed it every single time. We had great seats (9th row center), and I was able to take surprisingly good pictures with my phone.

Kiss shows are just so over-the-top! We could feel the heat of the fire pots from where we were, and we were completely covered with confetti by the end. I got home and found confetti in my bra! It was awesome. :-D
It's called a PENIS. Okay? It's not a "bad" word, or a word you have to say with your eyes covered while you giggle. It's just a word, and it's the most appropriate word you can use to describe that particular part of your son's genitalia.

If I read one more post by a parent concerned about their son's "pee pee" that turns out not to be about strangely-colored urine or potty learning at all, I'm going to lose it. :-P

If you'd like to make a donation in honor of Carter, please click the picture. Thank you!
This morning on my way to work, my trusty little 7yo BMW decided it was going to take action to slow down my day. I went into Starbucks to get a coffee, and when I came out, my car was completely, totally dead. It didn't turn over, no lights, nothing. I called Doug, and he managed to get it started so that I could get it to the dealer.

The dealership is crazy busy today, but we HAVE to have this car working, because it's the only one we can transport Carter in. So I canceled my classes and resigned myself to spending a day in the very comfy lounge of BMW of Austin.

And upon reflection, I think this just might be the universe's way of telling me I really needed to take a day off to get caught up on the backlog of grading and reviewing that has stacked up these last two weeks. Sitting here stranded, I am getting SO much work done! I was up until 1:30 last night working, and was dreading getting even more behind today.

So thank you, car. I think I needed this!
But not here, LOL. I'm doing it over on Carter's blog. I did it last year, and it was actually easier than I expected to post once a day. It's the best-documented month of his life post-NICU!

It will probably inspire me to post more here too, though.
I recently joined a fitness club, and then joined one of their weight loss programs. We had our first meeting tonight, and I think this is going to work well for me. We meet 3 times a week for an hour and work out with a personal trainer, which for me is the best feature. We also have to keep extensive nutritional journals and such. The program is 12 weeks, right throug the holidays.

My goal is to lose 40 pounds before IVF in March. I'd love to lose more like 60, but I would be thrilled with 40. We'll see how it goes, but I think this program is really going to help me!

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Um, what?

Oct. 8th, 2009 05:18 pm
We're at the kiddie haircut place and there's an animated film playing on the TV. I don't know the name, but it's about cows. The cows are funny, walking around on their back legs and talking, singing, etc., udders flapping in the breeze. Cute, right?

Except that some of these cows are male characters - voiced by males, with male names, referring to each other as males ("he", "dad", etc.). And they all have udders. UDDERS!

This is unbelievably annoying to me. I mean seriously, only female mammals make milk (generally speaking; I know it,s possible for some men to lactate, but anyway).

Is it weird that I can look past the fact that the cows are talking, walking on their hind legs, playing golf, and so on, but bulls with udders is a dealbreaker for me?

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Doug is the cook at our house, and he's a fantastic cook. But when he's gone (and he's often traveling for a week at a time), it falls back to me. I'm a decent cook, though not a great one. One of the qualities of good cooks that I just don't have is the creativity it takes to invent dishes. Doug has this in spades, but I really need a recipe to cook something. He could do one of those Top Chef challenges where you are given a twinkie, a tomato, and some cheese and have to make a gourmet appetizer from them. I would just sit there and stare blankly at the ingredients, you know?

But I decided a couple of years ago that I needed to start challenging myself to broaden my repertoire, and I started by mastering some classic Italian dishes that I love. One of them was risotto, and I quickly learned that I could be creative within the boundaries of a structured basic recipe. I can make risotto with whatever we have on hand, and it always turns out well. I need to find another basic recipe like that. (I'm open to suggestions!)

Another thing we did about a year ago to try to eat healthier was subscribe to Greenling, a service that delivers fresh produce from local farms (among other things). We get a "local box" every week of whatever is in season. It's been interesting to see what we get every week, and to challenge ourselves to cook with what we get.

It's zucchini season now, and we got two huge zucchinis in our box on Friday. I shredded both of them and used them to make two loaves of zucchini bread (I use Paula Deen's recipe, yum!), a batch of salmon-zucchini fritters for dinner (I combined a can of salmon and about a cup of shredded zucchini with bread crumbs and an egg, then formed patties and fried them), which were surprising good.

That still left me a cup of shredded zucchini, so this morning we had a zucchini frittata for breakfast. Frittatas are basically thick omelets, and you make them out of leftovers, traditionally. You saute your ingredients (in this case onions, zucchini, and some bits of deli sliced chicken I found in the fridge), then add 3 or 4 beaten eggs, let it cook until those are almost set, then top with some shredded cheese and pop the whole thing into a 425 degree oven for 5-10 minutes until it's done and the cheese is bubbly.

Carter LOVED the frittata, and gobbled up a lot of it. He wasn't as impressed with the zucchini bread, though. He tasted a bit, but it went on the floor fairly quickly.

I've also started making jello from fruit juice, which I feel better about giving him than the regular stuff. I heat 1 cup of fruit juice to boiling, then add one packet of plain Knox gelatin and stir until dissolved. Then I add one cup of cold fruit juice, and pour it in little cups like usual. It's a lot less sweet than regular jello, and doesn't have the other added artificial stuff. Carter seems to like it just as well! We've tried apple and grape juice so far, and both turned out well. I've had wine jello at a restaurant before, so now I'm thinking that would be a fun thing to try. Of course, that would be for me and Doug, hee. :-D
I keep recommending this article to people, and I thought I should post it here for my own reference. It's a quick read, and really shifted the way I think about tantrums.

Cry for Connection: A Fresh Approach to Tantrums, by Patty Wipfler.

Full text under the cut )
The more I read parenting magazines (with the possible exception of Mothering), the more I realize that your perspective plays a huge issue in what you see as a discipline/parenting problem. There are so many things I see and hear parents of toddlers say about the various discipline problems and sleep problems and eating problems they're having with their children, and I am really, honestly baffled.

It's not that my son is an angel who doesn't do any of the things they mention; it's that I don't see those things as problems, you know?

Yes, he often throws more food on the floor than he eats. He's learning about textures and colors and gravity, and he's experimenting with all of those things. Sometimes that is more exciting than eating, and sometimes he's just not that hungry. So I just put a towel under the high chair to catch it all. Some of what he drops he will eventually eat, when I put it back up there. He's also sorting, which is an important mathematical concept. If I look at what he tosses and what's left, there's usually a pattern to it. I actually get excited watching him sometimes!

Yes, he sometimes fights naps and bedtime. But this is his way of telling us he has more energy to burn off, that he needs a little more time to settle down. So we don't fight back. If he's not sleepy, we don't push it; we just let him play more. He will almost always be ready to sleep within another half hour. Sometimes it would be a heck of a lot more convenient for me if he would go to sleep at a particular time, but why should my needs always supersede his? And hey, that's another half hour of quality time I get to spend with Carter, so it's all good.

Yes, he wakes up several times a night to nurse back to sleep. We cosleep, so this isn't a problem for me -- I can go right back to sleep after arranging my boob for him. Nursing ALWAYS works in the middle of the night, and it's the quickest way to get us both back to sleep. And there are patterns in his waking: Some nights he barely wakes at all, and then there will be a period of a week where he wakes a lot every night. Those periods always correspond with something big, like getting 4 molars at once, or making some big cognitive leap. Of course the poor kid needs extra cuddles on those nights. Being a toddler is hard!

Yes, he pulls the cat's tail, and splashes in the toilet, and does lots of other things we've redirected him from dozens (if not hundreds) of times. And yes, sometimes he even says "no" right before he does them, giving the impression that he is being defiant. But at this age, defiance doesn't apply. Defiance is a concept adults have, one that we think we see in them, but toddlers do not think the same way adults do. Children aren't capable of considering how others think and feel until they're closer to school age, and they would have to be able to do that in order to intentionally be defiant. So we keep redirecting, keep reminding him what the limits are, or better yet, remove the temptation (e.g. put a lock on the toilet lid) so he doesn't keep coming up against a limit he doesn't understand.

Yes, he has temper tantrums and meltdowns when things don't go exactly as he expected or wanted. Toddlers need to vent their emotions, which are often very strong and confusing. He doesn't understand why we have to leave to playground now, just when he was having fun. He is angry and frustrated, so he cries and screams. I hold him and tell him I understand why he is upset, and eventually he gets it all out and he gets over it. We move on. As he gets older, he'll learn how to handle those emotions, but for now it's important that I not squash them or ignore them or distract him from him in an effort to make him not feel them. That only teaches him that emotions are bad, things to be avoided. That's not healthy!

So I don't see any of those things as PROBLEMS that need to be fixed. Those are totally normal, developmentally appropriate behaviors. He's not even two years old, for chrissakes! I don't expect him to understand and behave like a 5yo child. He'll get there, and my job is to support and guide him. I know we'll get to things that actually are problematic, but right now, there's honestly nothing I feel is a problem.

Maybe I'm just lucky to have a really easy-going kid, but I really think it comes down to perspective in a lot of cases. :-/
Surviving the Toddler Years, by Naomi Aldort.

Text beneath the cut. )

And this one, from Alfie Kohn, nails what has always bugged me about Supernanny and similar shows:

Atrocious Advice from "Supernanny", by Alfie Kohn.

Full text here )
This is a post I've been mulling over for a while, and I think I'm finally ready to write it out.

In May 2002 I received my PhD in mathematics from the University of Arizona, and subsequently accepted a tenure track position in the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin. That was about as good a job as I could have possibly hoped to get coming out of grad school, and the future seemed wide open. We had always planned to start trying to have a baby as soon as I graduated, with the idea that we would have two kids early in my tenure years, leaving me the last few years (when those kids were pre-school aged) to push hard for tenure. I imagined myself as a tenured professor, a successful researcher in my field and providing a example of a strong career woman to my children, who would be enrolled in the best preschool around.

But as most of us know, plans don't always work out the way you expect them to. )
I wish I'd found The Daily Groove a lot sooner. Every day he sends out a new little piece of parenting wisdom, and it's just amazing.

Carter is a little bit young for many of the activities on No Time For Flashcards, but I watch that site for ideas to tuck away for the future. It's really an amazing resource for parents of preschoolers. The woman who writes it is a former preschool teacher, now a SAHM, and she blogs about all the cool things she does with her son just with things found around the house. She also gives great book recommendations.

Trekaroo is a travel recommendation site for families. People can add places of interest, review them, post pictures, and so on. I've found great recommendations for cities we've been to, and the site is growing all the time. I need to get on there and add some things to do in Austin and Greensboro, actually.

Wholesome Toddler Food is a bit hard to navigate, but still a great resource. I wish it was more easily searchable (like, but there is some good information there about cooking for children.

And of course, Mothering is still my go-to site for all my parenting questions. I love the discussion forums there, and I love having a place to go where I know my approach to parenting won't seem quite so weird, heh.

Edited to add: I can't believe I forgot this one! I have always known of Alfie Kohn's writing as an educator, and I use many of his articles in my education courses. I adore his perspective on teaching and learning, and so when I learned he's actually more well-known for his writing about parenting, I was really excited. That site hosts most of the articles he's ever written, and they're almost all quick, accessible reads. HIGHLY recommended.

What are your favorite sites? What else should I check out?

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