Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Funny Kid Things

OK, this post is mostly for me, but it's my blog.

Last night Quincy said that meat is healthy because it comes from people (""To Serve Man": It's a cookbook!").

This morning Q was chanting at Phoebe (much to her delight), "You will be dead when the tiger is dead." He said it probably 100 times in ten minutes. Deep, little dude.

On the way to school, Lily told Quincy that she wanted to be a doctor because she wanted to be French. Nathan asked her why she wanted to be French. She said, "Because I want to have a lot of money." Rich. She meant rich.

Yesterday, Ian's doctor said we could leave as soon as the nurse brought us the visit summary. Ian asked, "What's a summary?" Lily replied, "It's a boat that goes underwater." Who hasn't confused a summary and a submarine?

A few days ago, Lily was begging me to put on a Hannah Montana tattoo that she got from a preschool classmate. I told her that I didn't like Hannah Montana because I thought that she taught little girls that they should be pretty and not smart. Lily threw a fit and then said, "But she isn't even here, so how can she teach me anything?!" She made a good point, so we compromised. She threw out the tattoo with HM's face on it and I put on the butterfly tattoo after cutting HM's name off.

Ian and Lily just had their birthdays, so of course it's time to start planning next year's party. Ian has decided that he doesn't want a theme cake next year ("I'm too old," he said.), but Lily definitely does. She wants a human body cake with red frosting for the oxygenated blood and blue frosting for the deoxygenated blood and a big cut with blood (frosting) squirting out. I'll bet that Ian won't go within ten feet of that cake.

Monday, February 16, 2009


About a year ago, I discovered Fiber One bars. They looked great--chocolatey, carmelly, delish--and the box said they had 35% of the daily recommended fiber! They were awesome. The kids loved them, Nathan gobbled them up, and I snacked on them constantly.

Then came the gas.

We all got it, but we didn't initially associate it with the Fiber One bars. But I got curious. Just how did General Mills pack nine grams of fiber in such a small bar? So I googled "fiber one bars" and I found an internet community devoted to and reviled by the bars. Number one topic of internet chatter? Gas.

Most everyone on the message boards agreed that the bars tasted really good, but some thought the accompanying gas was too big a price to pay for something yummy. I also found out what provided the fiber (and the gas): inulin, a dietary fiber that is naturally found in onions and some other veggies and often added to processed foods. In ingredient lists it is often listed as "chicory root", a common source of inulin.

Inulin is healthy. It is a probiotic, it boosts calcium absorption, and it is great for diabetics because it isn't absorbed and isn't counted as carbohydrate intake. You just have to be careful how much you eat and how much you feed the kids.

Now I always check labels when a product's fiber content seems too good to be true. And we still occasionally eat Fiber One bars, but now we call them "fart bars".

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Regulation #5

Recently, I saw an upper-middle class woman on HGTV bemoaning the fact that she would have to deprive her daughter of the good life (a ridiculously large house, a cell phone, her own car, etc.) because the woman was losing her job.  

On the flip side, I visited Alcatraz in December and bought a charming magnet with the inspiring inscription: "Regulation #5: You are entitled to food, clothing, shelter, and medical attention.  Anything else you get is a privilege."

These two extremes got me thinking--what do we owe our kids?  Beyond the three hots and a cot, what really matters?

Traditions - They help kids form memories, and I'll even argue, values. For the past few 4ths of July we've gotten the kids in their p.j.s, let them pick out candy at 7-11, and watched the fireworks from our car on the Ocean View Blvd. overpass.  Sure, it's a non-traditional tradition borne out of laziness (who wants to park six blocks from the high school, walk with four kids and lawn chairs, and then pack in with thousands of other people?), but the kids have a blast and learn that sometimes the best solution is the unconventional one.

Education - It's not about just making sure the kids are in a good public school or that they go to college, but that they're really learning (kids aren't crock pots; you can't just turn them on and get something warm and juicy eight hours, or 18 years, later).  For us this means homeschooling, but it might just mean talking to teachers or doing special stuff at home.  (When we had problems, we tried marching into the principal's office and kicking some bureaucratic butt, but her butt was surprisingly kick-resistant, so we left the school.)

Sense of a bigger world - They need to know that the world is much different outside of La Crescenta (far fewer RVs per capita).  They need to see and experience some good and bad stuff from the bigger world. We frequently talk to our kids about slavery and injustice (in little kid terms--no genocide pictures), and after Nathan yelled at the "Yes on 8" supporters on the freeway onramp, we explained the intolerance of Proposition 8 (this made their "No on 8!" cries during our carpool with the little Mormon girl a little awkward).

Security - They need to be able to grow and develop without (much) scrutiny and know that they can always come home.  But I think it's perfectly reasonable to tell your three-year-old that buttoning the top button is dorky unless you're wearing a tie.  And clip-on ties are dorky unless it's a bow tie.  And bow ties are dorky unless you're under 10 or over 70 or just "quirky" (and quirky in quotes doesn't mean gay, but gays can be quirky, and since my mother thinks this is offensive, I'll also say that middle-age white women from Orange County can also be quirky).

Family - Siblings are the best gifts you can give your kids (extended family is great too, but sometimes you can't really choose to give that gift).  It's no secret that I like large families, and I'll even go out on a controversial limb here and say that one-child families aren't great; only-children are missing out.  Sibling relationships can be the most rewarding, challenging, frustrating, and long-lasting relationships of our kids' lives.  Plus, kids need siblings to help them decide on nursing homes when mom and dad get too old, feeble, or irritating.

Basic skills - They need to know how to do it themselves, whatever "it" may be.  I don't care if my kids take their cars to mechanics or hire plumbers, but if they can't do their own taxes, mow and edge the lawn, and write a complaint letter, I haven't done my job.  I'd also like them to be willing to try anything.  Never made a wedding invitation or cut your husband's hair with clippers?  Try it, it's surprisingly easy.  (And while hair isn't very forgiving, husbands are.)

Much of my list could have a tangible or monetary component (extensive travel, expensive lessons), but all can be provided with very little money, and the results are priceless.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Bare-ass Jack

Despite my allergies, my not needing another poop-maker in my house, and my general indifference toward pets, we got a cat.  I guess I agreed to a cat because they are less work than dogs (muddy paws, house training, barking, regular walks, etc.) and because I thought I was depriving my kids of some basic rite of childhood (they also have never had Twinkies, but it's not like kids are walking around our street with Twinkies on leashes).  And they are really enchanted with the cat. Unlike finding Phoebe in her crib covered in vomit after I had ignored her cries at 3am, getting the cat was a high point in parenting.

So, his name is Jack.  Or Bare-Ass Jack (he was bitten by a spider and the vet had to shave his butt to look at the bite).  Or Captain Jack.  Or, when he keeps us up all night wanting to play, Jack-Ass.  

Anyway, he's cute and friendly, and cuddly, and Nathan takes care of the litter box and the nail trimming, so I guess I'm okay with Jack.  But I'm still not a cat person.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I come from a long line of breeders.  My mom only has two kids, but she is one of five.  My grandma and grandpa on my dad's side are one of five and one of eleven (funny stories come out of families that large).  My dad has just one brother, but between me and my uncle's two daughters, we have fifteen children.  Going back just two generations (to my grandparents), I have well over one hundred relatives, not counting in-laws (I'm trying to do a count in my head, but I'm quickly losing track).

So maybe that explains why my daughters love babies so much.  Maybe they are genetically destined to have kids.  Some little girls love stuffed animals, Barbies, My Little Ponies--Lily and Phoebe love babies (real and plastic).  Lily is absolutely drawn to babies in that smoochie- boochie, chubba-dubba, cutie-patootie, grab-their-cheeks, pick-them-up-and-drop-them-on-the-tile-floor kind of way.  And Phoebe hugs any doll with baby features and deliciously chewable parts.  (She also loves the big, plastic Incredible Hulk, but I'm convinced that she knows deep down inside he's just a big misunderstood baby in need of love--she's pretty smart.)

Nathan has a theory (totally unproven, unfounded, and a little screwy) that people have families with similar numbers of kids as the families they grew up in, so, with four kids, he's hoping for 10-16 grandkids.  I am hoping that some of Lily and Phoebe's baby love results in grandkids.  Then again, maybe Lily will raise alpacas and Phoebe will be drawn to muscular men with bad tempers.