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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cutting the Cord, One Fiber at a Time


That is (approximately) how many nights my youngest son, D, has slept next to me. When we brought him home from the hospital, there was no bassinet, no Pack-n-Play, no crib. He was just placed between my husband and I in our big (or so it seemed) king bed.

And, now, tonight he sleeps in his sisters' bedroom, next to Jilly who reluctantly let her brother crawl, kicking and screaming, into her full-size bed.

There were many tears shed tonight, on all sides. D begged, "I want to sleep in MY bed!", not understanding that our bed was always on loan. Not understanding that his big limbs now hurt when they kick or flail in the night. Not understanding that Mommy cannot possibly move any further off the edge of the bed without landing with a thump on the floor.

Our plan is to ease him out of our room, and then, out of his sisters' room and into his own bed. We would have made the move straight to his own bed but he doesn't have one yet. We still need to redo the kids' playroom into a bedroom, but I'm hopeful that if he can help design his bedroom, he'll be more apt to be accepting of it (naive of me, isn't it?).

I have no doubt that tonight I will wake to find his sweaty, teared-stained face on the pillow next to mine. And, I'll let him stay--Supernanny be damned. I know that I should be firm, consistent and not waver in our decision. But, if we have to do this in baby steps, so be it.

After all, this conflict over where D sleeps is going to be a non-issue in a few short years. Just take a look at Bossy's photo of her son as he shops for things he needs for college. Yeah, I can see the four-year-old in that face. And, I plan to hold on to my own (almost) four-year-old as long as I can, because it won't be long before I'm wondering where all the years went.

Update: at 4:18am, D was back in my bed. I heard him crawling into our bedroom (crawling? maybe b/c it was so dark?) but there was no crying or shouting, so I just scooped him up. He fell asleep with both hands on my cheeks. And then kicked me in the belly a half-hour later.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I am a Unitarian Universalist.

Seven years ago, I knew nothing of this religion but was intrigued by the beautiful historic church in town that flew a rainbow flag. A few years later, I became a member of this church. Without a doubt, our congregation has some of the most accepting, friendly, open-minded and caring people I have ever had the pleasure to meet.

I am now a Sunday school teacher in our church's RE program. I love these kids---their innocence, curiosity and ability to drive me crazy---they make me happy I decided to volunteer even when my practical self said, "I have no idea what I'm doing!"

When I heard about Sunday's shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist church my first thought was of the children. About 25 of them were in the front of the church, performing the musical Annie, when a disgruntled man walked in and opened fire, all the while shouting hateful things at the petrified people in front of him. One congregant, a 60-year-old church member and usher who had recently taken in a foster child with his wife, placed himself in the line of fire to protect others. He and a 61-year-old retired teacher died from the shootings.

The gunman apparently hated the liberal movement and the church's support for gay rights.

There are times when I am at church and I look at the people around me--old, young, black, white, straight, gay, male, female--and I think how great things can be when we accept people for who they are instead of what they are.

Unfortunately, we still have so far to go.

My thoughts are with all of you.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Down On My Knees

Look what I was doing on Sunday morning. . .


Friday, July 25, 2008

Food Allergies, Part Deux

After things settled down over in the comments section of this post, I went back and reread what everyone had to say both here and here. There were two comments in particular that I wanted to revisit with regards to peanut allergies in the United States.

The first was written by Toyfoto:

In Africa they are saving children from starvation with a peanut-based product. They don't have the allergies we have.

The second, written by Robin, said this:

It's odd, here in Israel babies are practically weaned straight onto "Bamba", a peanut-based puffed snack (think cheese doodle made from peanuts), yet you almost never hear of peanut allergies. OTOH, most Israeli kids don't eat much peanut butter. Except for mine, who would probably starve without it, but bringing it to school is not a problem here.

Interesting, isn't it? If severe and common peanut allergies are not as prevalent in other parts of the world, what is going on here? Why are there enough kids allergic to peanuts, I mean seriously allergic to peanuts, that there has to be a ban on their products in almost every place where young children congregate.

And it isn't just peanuts. We know kids allergic to soy, milk, gluten, wheat and egg. When my daughter attend a Montessori preschool a couple of years ago, the director told me that they literally had dozens of Epi-pens in their medicine cabinets---all prescriptions filled by parents and sent to the school to protect their child from potential harm.

We were one of those families. As many of you know, Belly is allergic to milk.
I've heard people blame immunizations (check), overly sterile environments (not our house), cesarean births (yup, she was an emergency), formula (check, but mostly breastfed) or possibly just better awareness of allergies. But, what if it is more than this? Will food allergies just keep getting worse and worse?

And, to those of you whose children have multiple food allergies, or ones so bad that your child could die from a smell: you have my empathy. Parenting is hard enough without this too.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Maybe Blowing Out 41 Candles Would be a Bad Idea

Nothing says "Happy Birthday You Old Bag" quite like going to the Asthma Doctor for a check up, taking a breathing test and finding out your "lung age" is 63.

But, don't feel too badly about my Pity Party. I did get to bring home a goody bag:

(all kidding aside, it was a damn good day; I'll do 41 more without hesitation)

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Shhhhh. . .It's a Secret

Over at New England Mamas, we're sharing our Secret Spaces with the world. Check out my first revelation here and follow the entire series for the rest of July. One random commenter will even receive a prize.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Well. . .At Least She Tells the Truth

Today, Fairly Odd Father installed a reading light above Belly's bed.

Jilly just came downstairs, stood next to me and announced:

"I was trying to turn the light off, when it magically fell."
"Well. . .I was touching it."
"Well. . .I pushed it."


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ocean's Seven (and a half)

It hasn't been an easy summer for my oldest and I.

Somewhere between the relative structure of the school year and the "hazy/lazy days of summer", Belly and I have started to clash more and more. At only seven-and-a-half, she can sure act like a hormonal 15 year old, complete with eye-rolling groans, hand-on-hip glare and sassy attitude. It is all I can do to not shout: "you watch your step, missy, or you can go live with that no-good boyfriend of yours!"

Oh, wait, she's only seven.

Today, we went to the beach with some friends. It was a perfect beach day: clear blue water shining under a bright sky, rolling waves crashing to shore and rushing up the sand, and a constant wind coming up off the water. D screamed every time the waves rushed for his feet as he scrambled for dry sand. Jilly sat and dug in the sand, covering herself with it before running toward the water to clean off.

Belly, my oldest, stayed with the waves.

At one point, we were not far apart but she was inching in deeper and deeper. The water rose to her chest before I warned her not to go too deep because she was still learning to swim and the undertow was strong and wah, wah, wah, wah (cue Peanuts' parent voice).

She gave me that, "Oh MOTHER!" look and kept going until a wave broke over her head and knocked her off her feet. She came up sputtering, looked quickly for me and, seeing my advancing hand outstretched to her, happily grabbed it and let me pull her close. For a few minutes, she was tangled up in my arms as we bobbed in the surf. I felt her legs, the ones that used to dangle just a few inches off my hip, wrapped completely around my waist. Her arms, the ones that once could barely reach around me neck, hung down over my shoulders.

She is no longer a baby, but she needs me; that I know. And, although I know the struggles we have are not gone by a long shot, I will try to remember that look on her face after the wave knocked her down and she came up to see my arms there, stretched out and waiting for her.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

You Can Go Back to Quiet Now

For the longest time, D, didn't really speak. I tried to be casual about it ("he's a boy", "he's the youngest of three", "his sisters talk for him"), but last year I got nervous enough about it to have him evaluated.

Eh, I shouldn't have been so worried. Not only is he talking, he is talking back.

D: "I want a black cookie*!"

Me: "No cookies! It's almost dinner!"

D: "I want a BLACK COOKIE!"

Me: "No, D, not so close to dinner!"


Me: (spelling it out) "N. . . .O. . .NO!"

silence, then:

D: (spelling. . .something) "E. . .F. . .G. . .H. . .I. . .J. . .YES!"

Clever? Yes. But, we really have to work on his spelling.

*an Oreo for those who do not know D-speak


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Concerts and Nuts

Twenty-four years after seeing him for the first time, I will again see Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band perform in August. I haven't bought a single piece of his music since that "Born in the USA" tour, but I'm still tickled. Wonder if he'll finally realize he should've pulled me on stage to dance oh-so-many years ago?

And, after the brouhaha over my peanut post and Mrs. N's comments, I thought it a strange coincidence that I saw
this article today. Maybe the peanut butter should be shelved for a while after all.

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What Have I Started?

My oldest daughter, Belly, now has a blog (sorry, private and by invite only). Fortunately, she is only seven and spells for crap. So, at least for now, I will be helping her as she sits and slowly types in her deepest thoughts. I'm sure at some point, she will be hiding in her room and typing all sorts of lies about me and what I have refused to let her do.

Payback is a bitch.


I was feeling nostalgic on New England Mamas and decided to relive a few of my favorite New England Concert memories.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

We've Got Arm, and Other Things

(yeah, a little blurry, but he's a quickie, this son of mine)

Last week, I finally got around to grading my daughter. As agreed with our public school system, I had to fill out a progress report to show that she has actually learned something while home with me for first grade.

Do homeschoolers actually flunk their kids? What parent is going to say, "Well, I'm going to give Johnny an "F" in Math, so he will have to repeat 1st grade next year". Sometimes it is so odd trying to fit the homeschooling experience into the public school model.

Just in time for '08-'09 school planning, look what came in the mail a few weeks ago:

Oh, how cute! Homeschoolers have a catalog just for them! It even has a cute rainbow and a tiny schoolhouse on it!

Cute, my ass. This sucker weighs a ton and features over 35,000 products explained in teeny tiny typeface...(and, it really isn't just for homeschoolers but any masochist who wants it).

I'm awed by it, and a little afraid of it.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Hold the Cow

If you'd like to hear my conversation with Kristen Chase about raising a child with a milk allergy, please click on the little "blog talk radio" icon in the right column. Hopefully, I'm not too dorky sounding on the radio.

For anyone who would like to peek into our pantry, I've put together a list of our favorite milk-free "finds". These are things that we usually have on hand for Belly (and often the rest of us). I've left off the obvious things like Soy Milk, apples or carrots. Rest assured, she is not living on Oreos and Tings, although she would like that to be the case.

Favorite Milk-Free* Supermarket Discoveries

Oreos or Country Choice Organic Sandwich Creams
O'Soy Yogurt
Honey Maid Graham Crackers
Hannaford Store Brand Cake Mixes and Brownies (most flavors)
Pillsbury Frostings (some flavors)
Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Chips
Bakers Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks
Fig Newmans (Wheat Free and Dairy Free variety)
Dove Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Topping
SO Delicious Ice Creams
PhillySwirl Swirl Stix Popsicles
Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese and Sour Supreme
Tofutti Cuties
ZenSoy Pudding
Soyatoo! Sprayable Whipped Cream

Tofutti Pizza
Earth Balance's Buttery Sticks (new to our supermarket!) and their Whipped Spread
SoyBoy Ravioli (discontinued from our store---a sad day---really great stuff)

Here is also a great site for lists of vegan foods (a valuable resource for those with milk and egg allergies).

* Always double check labels, and note that some items may be processed on equipment that has been exposed to milk. For us, this is not a problem, but it may be a huge issue for people whose children are severely allergic to milk. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer directly.


Monday, July 07, 2008

When a Nutter Butter is Public Enemy Number 1

Back in the mid 1970's, I was in elementary school in Western Massachusetts. Every day at lunch, they had an interesting way of insuring children ate the slop that was set in front of them. They offered us crack on white bread for dessert.

Of course it wasn't really crack, but it was the most silky, gooey, creamy peanut butter I have ever had, stored in huge white drums. If you finished your lunch, you were allowed to go back into the lunch line and get a piece of soft, nutritionally void white bread with a huge dollop of peanut butter slapped across it. We would cradle this bread lovingly in our little hands and eat the open-faced sandwich in tiny bites, savoring every bit of it.

I am very doubtful that this scene takes place in any public schools today.

It's strange how a food as ubiquitous as peanut butter has become Enemy #1 in the Food Allergy Wars. Every preschool my daughter has attended has been "peanut free". Elementary schools have "peanut free tables" where allergic kids can sit and be safe from the humble nut. I feel guilty when, out of desperation, I make a PB&J and bring it into a public space. We eat it huddled together and then afterward I scrub their hands before they touch anything.

And, yet, I understand all too well why this is necessary. Because although peanut butter (Skippy only) is a staple in our home, my oldest daughter, Belly, is allergic to milk. Well, not really milk, but casein which is a protein found in milk.

This means that she cannot have ice cream, yogurt, butter, cheese, Cheetos, pizza, milk chocolate, donuts, Cool Whip or even certain types of cereal, bread, soup, crackers and TV dinners. In some cases, especially when it comes to TV dinners or Cool Whip, this is a good thing. But, when she attends a birthday party, she can't eat the cake. When she goes to the movies, the popcorn is verboten. When the Ice Cream Truck rolls around, I have to quiz the guy on a Push Up Pop's ingredients until the rest of the neighborhood is ready to throw me under the tires.

What about you? Is this topic near and dear to your heart? Or, are you sick of all the rules surrounding what you can or can't pack in your child's lunch box? Please join me as I talk more about this subject with Kristen Chase of Motherhood Uncensored. I'll be the guest on her weekly online radio show this Wednesday night, July 9th, at 9pm. If you'd like to call in, I'd love to talk with you and hear your thoughts on this subject.

Just don't feel sorry for Belly. As far as allergies go, hers isn't so bad. As the guy at Whole Foods said as we searched the freezers for dairy-free pizza: "At least she isn't allergic to gluten. Now THAT sucks."

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow, Part V (The Finale)

A long, long time ago (February), I got the bright idea that I'd post photos of my "Life in Hair". Little did I know that it would take me six months to do so. To refresh your memory, Part I (let the humiliation begin) is here, Part II (shorter and shorter) is here, Part III (short and blond) is here, and, finally, Part IV (red isn't dead, yet) is here.

I'm finally up to my days as a married lady. You'd think that marriage would've calmed me down, but, alas, I still don't know what I want (when it comes to my tresses at least).

Here I am on my wedding day. Reddish hair, fresh face and hot. Oh, so very hot.

Eighteen months later, I was a momma. For whatever reason, this meant no hair coloring or hair cuts. Did I think that a hair cut would interfere with breastfeeding? Either that or I was just too tired to remember that I had hair.

Oh, and that cute kid in my lap? That is Belly.

A couple of years later, I was back to coloring and cutting my hair, but as this next photo shows, I had forgotten about sunscreen.

That chubby bug in my arms? Jilly.

My third, D, came some quickly after Jilly that there was really no time to think about switching hair styles. . .it was all I could do to keep track of the kids.

A few years later, I started to play around with color and shorter cuts again, which you can see in this really flattering photo. Glamour shot, isn't it?

So,this is where I remain to this day. Sure, the color has gotten a bit redder from time to time, and the length goes up and down a few inches, but now the only thing that really is starting to look different is my "maturing" face.

Thanks for sticking with me through this. Jess at Oh, the Joys! once suggested I turn this into a meme, but I don't think she thought it'd take me half a year to complete it! So, if anyone else wants to take a walk down memory lane and post their Life in Hair, please do so and let me know.

Finally, if you want to weigh in on your favorite photo in the series, let me know! I have a hair appointment coming up in a week or two, and I'm willing to take suggestions. . .

Double your pleasure, double your fun and come read what I have to say over here.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Status Report

Where have I been for the past week, or so? Well, here is part of the explanation, as told on New England Mamas.

Here is the other explanation:

Pop-Pop was in town, and the kids couldn't have been happier.

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