Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The first day.....

The French Mommy is back after a one year break.  I miss writing and now I have no excuse not to write.  The tools of the trade can now be carried in my pocket....including the ability to photo what I see and do.
This year I want to start an observation health blog.  Watching myself and those around me making choices about living life healthfully according to them...yup throw out the studies and lets just look at reality. Struggle and success....all birthed out of choices.
Now you may be wondering about the f word...FAILURE...I have decided failure is a temporary state when it comes to my health goals...meaning we all have setbacks but it is about a lifestyle change...get up, get out and move...perhaps my new long lived to be motto.
So join me at The French Mommy and Healthy Choices
It will be an interesting diary of a foodie who needs some control.  (That is me by the way)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tine Wasting--- a 7 year olds secret code for Wine Tasting

Winters California, about 20 minutes East of Davis California...a simple little town, never heard of it until Friday night, September 3rd.  We had just spent a little more than 4 hours to drive to Davis, from San Jose. That is just about twice as long as it should normally take.  The traffic was caused by a 'Jack-knifed Big rig' on I- 80 so at Vacaville it was a total parking lot.  The weather was 105 outside and we were moving at about 1 mph.  So we pulled off the road, and contacted my concierge service for a different rout.  30 minutes later we are at our destination, The Hallmark Hotel, in downtown Davis.

We checked in and were introduced to a very lovely local wine from the Turkovich Family Wines and they are located in Winters.  Mark and I enjoyed the glass of Tempranillo, a lovely full bodied red.  I was ready for just about anything by then, but was surprised to find the wine, so smooth.  Mark enjoyed the same type, and from there we devised our goal of taking our 21 year old niece 'tine wasting' oh I mean Wine Tasting the next day. 

You see we were in Davis to visit my niece, and Margo's godmother.  She is a senior at UC Davis, and wanted to show us the sites of this college town.  At the same time, Mark and I were going to take advantage of the godmother-god daughter sleep over and enjoy our own night out after we dropped her off.  But first we ate at a wonderful little restaurant.  Tucos Wine Market & Cafe, our niece said the food was good, and the service slow, but worth the wait.  She was right!  Little Margo enjoyed a tasty Buffalo Burger, Mark ate the Ravioli, I had the chicken pot pie, and Claire enjoyed the black bean nachos.  We all shared the chocolate cake souffle....Actually we all loved the chocolate cake souffle, good thing we only ordered one.  From here we walked to Claire's apartment, the abode for two budding artists of different mediums.  Claire is the photographer, and her roommate, Andrea, the painter.  This was Margo's glimpse into the world of roommates and university.  Of course her glimpse is rather stilted, only because she got to hang out with her god mom, and have the best bubble bath ever and stay up late, and then sleep in and then awake to draw with real oil pastels.  Now that is everything a 7 year old would love to do.

We too had a nice night, and woke up to a relaxed breakfast, and then a walk to the coffee shop for that strong cup of joe.  We all met at the farmers market.  This is a great farmers market, you smell all the spice, the fresh fruits, the laughter...it is an adventure of sorts to wonder around there.  It actually makes me quite jealous, because it is like returning to a small town from many years ago where families met and played at the park.  There is a group playing big band music and a singer lending voice to those tunes of old.  "Hey Mark, you want to dance?"  He says no, but we dance a few steps anyway.  And then we all spend the next hour sitting on the grass watching children chase balloons.

At last it is time to move on to the afternoon adventure of wine tasting.  We arrive at the Turkovich wine tasting room and enter.  We are the second group to arrive, and are pleased to discover the wine and cheese tasting is free!  Claire is excited to experience her first wine tasting and we begin to teach her to swirl that wine.  She practices with the whites, so she is ready for the reds.  Next we show her the legs of a wine, you know the legs that drip down the sides of the glass letting you know how much sugar is in the wine.  Meaning the more sugar the higher the alcohol content...it is one of the showy techniques to wine tasting, but has nothing to do with the flavor.  We decide to pair the cheese with the wines, and the fun begins.  By this time little Margo is involved in playing her smurf games on the I-Touch while we continue in our wine tasting festivities.  Claire is a quick study and learns the aeration techniques of wine tasting, you know where you almost gargle the red brew to figure out the subtle flavors that make the red wine so complicated.  Next we see the wine maker, and start talking about Winters and wine, and how he got to be doing what he is doing.  He had graduated from Cal Poly, and trained at a few other wineries, with the purpose of opening the Turkovich Family Winery.  Their tasting room was just opening, and we found out they also made their own cheeses.  So we drank, I mean tasted, learned about his family business, and enjoyed the process a bit more.  You see Tine Wasting.... I mean Wine Tasting is all about family, and process, and discussion about what you like and don't like of the wine.  It is about the smells, and flavors the cups of red provide, and the enjoyment of the flavor.  These are the things we want to teach Claire, that there is much in such a little taste to ponder.  Sort of like there is much in life we all ponder.

Claire had a great time, we had a great time, and Margo was rewarded with ice cream because she did not complain once while we were Tine Wasting according to her.  If you ever head up to Davis, be sure to drop by Winters and try some of the wines at  Turkovich Family Wines...

Monday, August 8, 2011

To Be a doctor or not to be a doctor or whatever they say.........

In Stiches was very, very funny and reminded me of the crazy med school stories told to me by my sister in law....Let's see the pizza delivery was directed to the cadaver room....or were there some other details left out?  But there is more to Anthony Yuen's book then funny stories...it really got me thinking about direction in life.  You know, how much do we direct our children in their lives?  Do we let them choose everything on their own, or do we direct them in only one direction and that is that?  Somewhere in the middle I bet is what works overall.  However you will find examples of success at the extreme ends too.  For instance Anthony became a doctor at the direction of his dad...but Anthony chose what kind of doctor he wanted to be.  I don't know what happened with his brother...that is another story....

I watch my brothers and sisters give guidance to their kids who are in college or about to enter college.  In all cases they provide a broad plan to follow, mostly, study what you enjoy, but also include something that will get you a job, oh yeah, don't forget to graduate too.  So far two have graduated in the prescribed times of their majors, one is working in her field, the other interning to discover what is next for her.  Two others are on schedule to graduate in spring of 2012...both of these are studying psychology, one has a certificate in medical billing codes as the way to earn money when she graduates, and then pay for graduate studies once she knows what that shall be.  The other is doubling in Fine Arts with an emphasis in photography, and psychology (doing research as an undergrad) oh and she is minoring in Chicano Studies, and is recently certified as a doula.  Ask her what she wants to be when she grows up and she says, "I am thinking about graduate school in nursing ... perhaps women's health or midwifery."  That was part of her thought process before starting college and is still there 3 years into her studies of everything else.  Bottom line, both of these gals will have a skill or two they can use to find a job when they graduate.  Oh they are both graduating on time, at least the first time around.

Now I think of the three freshman soon to be sophomores in college.  One was invited to check out sailing opportunities with the US Coast Guard.  Her parents had the wisdom to send her to a one week long camp two summers ago to check out the guard as an option.  She went, loved it, including the crazy fitness level, and well she has sailed on the Eagle across the Atlantic and has all kinds of stories to tell.  She is starting her second year at the Coast Guard Academy and will graduate in Marine Environmental Studies.  Another nephew is studying physics and is about to start his second year.  His dream is mechanical engineering (I think)...In both cases the parents are letting their kids determine their direction.  The third of this group is at a small liberal arts college, competing in synchro and working on her liberal arts degree...not sure yet where this will take her...but she has the support of her parents.  I think bottom line, that is what is needed most...our kids need the support of their parents. 

So that is what I learned or thought about after laughing out loud while reading Anthony's book In Stiches.  But mostly I learned, kids know when you love them, even if you do not say it every day.  Perhaps that is the most important key to life, loving our kids enough so they really get it, and feel secure enough to make it through growing up. 

In Stiches was supplied by the Left to write book club at no cost to me...Hmm I should also say everything I wrote belongs to me too....meaning no views are those of Left to Write....Until the next book...

Anthony Youn's memoir In Stitches gives readers a look into the training of a medical doctor who discovers his passion is plastic surgery. As a member of From Left to Write book club, I received a copy of this book for review. You can read other members postsinspired by In Stitches by Anthony Youn, M.D. on book club day, August 9 at From Left to Write

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tide Pooling with Little Margo, more than just a slippery step.

We are walking over the tide pool areas, we have been carefully stepping over the rocks, and through the seaweed and looking into puddles of water for the past 40 minutes or so.  Margo has already tumbled once, and is now holding my hand with every step.  Aria, her friend is gliding from place to place, "Margo look over here, a blue banded crab", and then she moves to another spot, Margo is barely able to catch up to the last spot.  Finally the words come out, "I don't want to be a land marine biologist, I want to be the diving kind."  And then she trudges on, trying to manage the rocky, slippery footsteps, and take a moment to look at the wonder of the living sea creatures hiding in each little pool.  We are at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve at Moss Beach

I am glad she is enjoying herself despite the difficult journey to get from one place to the next.  We see all kinds of wonder...the bat star fish, the big purple starfish, both alive, both clinging to the rocks, or relaxed in the pools of the ocean water.  Margo is bending over and touching every see anenimi she passes by, and there are lots of them.  We walk closer to the edge of the platform, where the rocks meet the incoming tide...and now we find little eels, and limpets, and even sea grass, and little crabs that live in the grass.  These two little creatures are holding on, until the tide returns and covers them.  They will need to wait a few more hours for sure.  About 15 more minutes have passed, and now Margo was ready to return to the car, asking us to walk back to the sandy beach, where she can manage the gravity.  Aria and her brother are still engaged in the adventure and study of the little sea creatures...Margo has had it with unsteady walking and slipping and holding onto me, her mom, with every step she takes.  What do I do????

I see the rangers talking, not too far from where we are standing, so I separate myself from my daughter and go to speak with the rangers.  I think I look a little desperate...I really am desperate because I want Margo to enjoy the tide pools and the treasures they hold, but I do not anticipate all the extra energy she needs to just walk around without tripping.  I never remember it being that difficult...but then again I did not struggle with balance either when I was young.  So I approach the rangers and quickly explain "My daughter has a developmental motor planning and balance disability which makes it extremely difficult for her to step through the tide pool area.  I am not as sure footed as I would like to be while helping her, and well, she is not enjoying the beauty out here.  In fact her dream is to become a Marine Biologist, but right now she is about to give up on the whole adventure.  Can you come alongside and help her get re-engaged into the beauty of this place?"  Neither hesitate to offer help, in fact one of them says, "Oh I remember her, she is the one who needed help crossing the stepping stones to the beach, sure I can help out."  Thank God for Ranger Laura, she comes right up to Margo and starts to show her some of the little animals to see, and the next thing you know, Ranger Laura takes Margo by the hand and they begin to walk, watch and talk.  Margo relaxes, she is walking with someone more sure footed than her mother, and someone who teaches her about the sea and its environment.

Margo wants to go to the sea caves she observes, and Ranger Laura thinks that is a great idea, and off they go.  Soon the other little kids who had started this journey with us, come to Margo and Ranger Laura, to discover along side them.  Margo is relaxing and talking about the ocean, and the shells, and the little blue banded crabs.  And Ranger Laura stops, bends down and points out the interesting tide pool animals they can see.  It continues on like that for almost an hour, and at last Ranger Laura and Margo are walking back on the sandy beach.  There Ranger Laura explains why the harbor seals need space for safety...and then she pulls out her binoculars for Aria and Margo to get a look.  It is fun....they watch the young harbor seals jump into the cove and swim, and play with each other. 

Soon Ranger Laura is called to check on some other area of the tide pools and we walk back to cross over to the other side of the creek.  My boot is soaked in the creek, as I slipped off the rock...Margo is clamoring on a fallen tree.  At first she wants me to help her across the fallen tree, but no I say, you can do this, just keep crawling to the other side.  After a few minutes, she starts making progress, and before you know it she is safe on the other side.  Land oh Land, Margo is on solid land, and happily reflects upon a wonderful day.

It is a great day, Margo keeps going, yeah she complains, because she is tired, and anxious about falling on the hard rocks of the tide pools.  The best part came because I was at the end of my rope, and asked for help... there was Ranger Laura!  I love the ocean, and the tide pools, and I am so glad I can share this adventure with my little Margo.  Thank you Gia for the ride, and thank you Ranger Laura for Margo's personal tour and your gentle hand holding while you both walk across the slippery rocks.

I am going to trust that there will be other Ranger Lauras in Margo's life to help her, as she stumbles across a rocky path from time to time...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Coffee with Shua....the best way to enjoy a cup of joe

Coffee Maxine?
Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, at least according to PEET's Coffee...and Eritrea is the same, but different.  Eritrea is next door to Ethiopia, and at one time was part of this large coffee nation.  But Eritrea was also a colony of Italy after world war 1 for many years...mix those two coffee drinking cultures together and you come up with a wonderful cup of joe!  It is not just a cup of something that has the aroma of wealth, but it is a cup which is made with tradition.  A tradition that invests in the development of friendships, and family relationships, not just the black gold.

There is never a quick cup, and in fact we are always offered three cups in series, the first is the strongest, the second a little less so and the third follows in the strength of a good cup of Peet's coffee.  But I get ahead of myself, this is the story about Shua, and how she became my friend.
Shua is Reggatt's mom who is visiting from Eritrea.  She speaks her native language and a little bit of Italian....I speak French and Japanese, so no, we don't really talk, at least not with words.  But just about every morning when I bring little Margo over for a play date, Shua will greet me with the 'becks', you know the little kisses on each cheek.  I always give three, just like I learned from my french mom.  She smiles brightly and then asks if I want some coffee.  And no it is not in English, but with gestures and kindness, and sometimes an interpreted message from her son-in-law Tee.   

I remember the first time Shua made me coffee.  Out came the green beans, poured into a little tin pot attached to a long metal handle.  The stove is turned up, with the flames dancing against the pot, and I hear the shh, shh, shh, sound of the coffee beans being tossed to and fro; almost like a rhythmic dance that lulls you to sleep or brings you an extra moment of relaxation.  Next I hear the pop and crackle of the beans as they become darkened, to whatever flavor Shua deems is best.  Suddenly she glides about the room presenting the darkened beans, still roasting in the pot to be smelled.  I brush the smoke gently towards my nose and sniff, oh my goodness this is a lovely rich aroma.  Shua presents the treasure to the all of the adults in the room and finally even to the children.  Each person provides that suttle glance of approval, and the next step continues.
The beans are poured out upon a woven mat shaped like a large rounded leaf and then carefully placed in the grinder.   The clay pot, is preheated with hot water prior to adding the ground beans, and once filled with the grounds and water is placed over a low fire to just stew.  About 10 minutes later, Shua begins to pour the black gold, into little espresso cups.  Some will add a bit of sugar, others some cream, but I love it straight.  And soon, I am saying 'Taroom', after the very first sip.  This is the traditional comment one must make if the coffee is good.  Silence, means the coffee does not hit the spot, then the preparer must go through the process again, without saying a word.  It is understood, serve your best, and if it is not to the liking of your guest, whether that is your family member or someone like me, start all over again.  But Shua is an expert, she never has to start all over again.

Shua also serves her best in life.  I see it as her children have grown and moved to other countries to live...I see her best in the life of Regatt her daughter and Shua's two grandchildren, Soli and Abbi.  I watch her care for her husband, Abraham, with kindness.  Shua is gentle and kind, and I see that every time we greet one another, and share a smile between each other, and those little becks. 

Before her departure from out neighborhood, off to stay with one of her children in another state, Shua provided me with the Eritrean traditional coffee ceremony.  I have attended a few Japanese tea ceremonies with my friends while in Japan, and this peaceful ceremony provides the same sense of beauty and grace I had observed many years ago at one of my student's home. 
There is a special table, covered in carvings and beans, that is set up over a piece of floor covering.  The incense is lit, and the process begins,  Shu, Shu, Shu, Shu, start the beans, roasting in the pot.  I am invited to smell the aroma of the roasted beans, and soon, they are ground and placed in the pot.  We wait, and smile, and I take photos so I will not forget...and then we drink.  We laugh, and talk a little bit, but mostly we sit and enjoy the moment.  Yes the little girls, are running around, but that does not matter. Here on the mat before the table is Shua, and the coffee.  "Taroom", Shua, "Taroom" for your friendship.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A story of moms ...are you one?

I hear a little voice say, "Mom, I made you breakfast in bed!" I look at the clock it is 7:00 AM. I am presented with a bowl of cereal on a wooden tray. Next I hear the story of the preparation: “I snuck down the stairs so you would not hear me, and moved the stool to reach the cereal. This was the only cereal I could reach...I was so afraid you heard the stool move...and I used the bathroom downstairs so you would not wake up with the flush, the flush is so loud, I really really wanted to surprise you mom! Were you surprised? Oh...I spilled the milk, just a little bit, but I did it all myself, and I snuck back up carrying the bowl of cereal and then I found the tray upstairs and put the bowl on the tray, and brought it in to you." It is now 7:02, she is smiling quite contentedly, and I am enjoying this bowl of cereal. This is the best bowl of Trader Joe's High Fiber cereal ever! And I tell her that too, along with how surprised I am. Oh, she says she has another surprise...the card she made at school. Downstairs she goes to find it, daddy follows to help her. Next a little paper bag is placed on the tray and hidden inside is the book mark she made for me and the card she constructed at school. Both are perfect, she is my daughter of course. She jumps into bed and crawls over me, with her elbows pointed just the right way so I know it is her, I do not flinch, (but I am screaming inside, imagine a nuggie on your shin bone), "Mom I want to snuggle with daddy right now," "No problem," I say as I wrap my arm around her too. Back to sleep.

But prior to today, I am reading about President Obama's mom. The writer of the article makes the point that being a mom takes courage...and I am thinking about this now.  Who are all these courageous mothers I know? What makes them courageous, and often times selfless? Good mom's are a rare breed, but I know a whole bunch of them, perhaps you do to. What makes each one courageous....?

Grandmamma Margo, has five children under five by the time she is 26 years old. No family here in California, living in a land of a different language, and somehow she does it all (and still lives to tell about it, although the trauma of it all reduces her detailed memories into stories we all love to hear.) Mommy Lis, has two grown up kids in college, they love her deeply and you know it when they talk about their mom. In her spare time she helps start a health care clinic on an elementary school campus, initiates a study and eventual program to combat iron deficiency utilizing a cast iron pan, and fresh vegetables.... and well, everyone loves Mommy Lis, but she never brags about her many accomplishments, so I just did! Auntie Julie, passes the bar, and ends up working in health care law at the university level in the midst of raising two brilliant girls and one smart son, all the while keeping her sense of integrity and justice. She encourages her children in the desires of their hearts, and in that way is a great gift to each one. Bottom line, Auntie Julie creates space for her children to be themselves, one a college student, the other a 1st year cadet in the coast guard and the third, a high school student finding his gift in sailing. Auntie Eve, she is the first of our brood to have kids. She is also the first to have children graduated from college too. One is an architect, and enjoying her craft, while the other graduates in May, with a vision of service to those about her. Two different children, applying their talents in different ways, still both the same mom. That is what is so wonderful about moms, we have to learn to recognize the uniqueness of our children and encourage them in their talents. Then there is Auntie Cori, to many she is Dr. Cori, providing incite to other mom's and dads too, about the health of their child. Heck she provides me with lots of incite to my Margo...but when you meet Auntie Cori, she is very down to earth and easy to hang out with. She encourages her kids in all of their activities, it could be hockey, lacrosse or hip hop dancing for her teenage son; ballet, tap, and piano for her littlest one, and that continued support for her college kid, on the synchronized swim team. She works lots of hours every week, even though she says she is on a reduced schedule, and her down time, is with her kids too. You mom's all know about that, our down time is with our kids whether we work or stay at home, somehow it becomes all about our kids. How many miles do you drive each week to ensure your child gets all the activity and life skills involvement they need?

I have another friend with three children, all playing soccer; all on different practice schedules and game times...her husband is a triathlete and practices too. But she does it all, and enjoys her craft of photography and writing. Moms are creative! We have to be! There is no way to be a mom without being creative, what about you, what is your creative solution to school projects, kiddy arguments, and even just serving a meal everyone will eat and even enjoy? I have mom friends who are nurses, and work like crazy caring for patients all day or night, and then come home to care for their children. They even want to keep growing as a person, it is not enough to just make it through the day for them, and in reality it is not enough for any of us mom's to just make it through the day. We are too valuable for that.

I know some moms who adopt to enhance their momminess, or actually their hearts just expand to include others into the family. That is a mommy reaching across an ocean to a little one in a far off land. These mom's have hope for their native born children and those that were birthed into their family through the slow process of paperwork, waiting, more paperwork and waiting again, and then suddenly it is time to go and pick up your child and bring them home. These moms literally expand their borders, and I know more than a few who inspire me with their love and making the family work and grow.

And then I think about all the moms, and I know there are many, who walk through the financial land minds of this current economy and make life happen at home and for others. I truly hope their kids and husbands one day understand all the comfort and wisdom they bring into their daily lives just with the simple wisdom of stretching the dollar for a birthday, or family fun night. Moms don't stop the fun because life is more than a bit stressful, moms don't cave because the world of finance is bouncing all around in fear, these moms move forward and make life better. You moms know who you are, take a big bow.

I know some moms just find out their husbands are laid off, or his pay check is cut, or some other stressful thing is happening at his work. And these moms come up with ways to encourage their hubbies even in the midst of these difficult times. These moms are worth their weight in gold and diamonds...I bet you are one of those moms...are you?

Moms are courageous, moms are brave, and even when we make mistakes, we grow, and learn. And moms, well we have the best seat in the house to enjoy the moments of our children as they grow...we just need to remember to be present to that moment. Remember moms, "your value is greater than rubies"...when my daughter reads that in another mother days card she makes for me she asks, "Mom, am I more valuable than that?" "Oh yes Margo, you are more valuable than rubies, back then that was like gold, you are more valuable than millions of dollars." She is quiet, and then speaks up saying, "Mom I am more valuable than infinity rubies and dollars, more than infinity." She gets it!  And I hope each mom that reads this post finds they are more valuable than infinity rubies too, because moms just are!

Friday, March 18, 2011

First cavities, yes more than one!!!!!

I have no photo to take your through the steps of pediatric dentistry and filling those little cavities, but I can tell you Little Margo's story of the process.  It really is still bright in my mind, or should I say engraved in my mind....Last month Little Margo had her first checkup for 2011, I was not expecting anything out of the ordinary except cavity free teeth, but to my chagrin, she had two cavities, on the same side of her mouth, one up and one below.  It turns out her adult molars had come in on that side, squishing her teeth together, and the inconsistent use of dental floss created the opportunity for a cavity or in this case two to appear on the digital Xrays!  Next question, "Would you like to use the Nitrous Oxide gas, she won't mind anything we do after that?"  I decided to say no, hoping this process would make an impression about the importance of brushing and flossing daily.  Plus it would cost an extra $74.00 dollars, which we do not have in the budget if we used the gas.  Was I mean?  Was I a cheap scape?  My hubby and I talked it over, and decided we could start out with this process and then if gas is necessary let it flow, let flow, let it flow.  (Gee sort of sounds like an old winter song...)

I also talked to my own dentist, who also works on kids, and she said Margo would be fine without the Nitrous Oxide.  Dr. Jackie, one of the other dentist's of Dr. Ligh's practice also felt she could talk Margo through the procedure without much trouble.  So the decision was made.  I was also instructed not to mention the shot, or details of the procedure ahead of time, Dr. Jackie was going to do all the coaching.  Yes I did listen to this advice in every way.  Margo asked, "will it hurt?"  "Only a pinch," I responded, "Dr. Jackie will tell you all about it."  With that said she was calm for the next few weeks, and that brings us to today.

Today was like any other day at the start, except we rushed to the dentist rather than rushing to school.  We arrived on time, and within a few moments Little Margo, was called to the back.  Of course she was followed by her dad, (Mark) and myself.  I was the last to enter the room, and the first to leave at the site of the shot.  I just could not take it, I still hate shots, and I could not believe I was going to let the dentist give Margo a shot....Ok, now you know why I brought Mark.  He had to be there, not to hold Little Margo's hand but to hold mine, and allow me to "hide behind his back".  Oh yeah, this is about Margo not me...OOOOps.

Dr. Jackie did an excellent job talking Margo through the process.  There was the 'fizzy gell' applied on the gum and the tooth to help numb it a little bit prior to 'the pinch'.  Margo was a little scared of this, not because it hurt but because it felt so different.  Dr. Jackie's calm voice with a smile, said, "are you a little scared of the feeling?  This is the fizzy tingling part I told you about, that is all."  At the appropriate time, came 'the pinch', yes there was a bit of letting the doctor know, "this hurts, aah..."  and then the dance began.  It was a dance between administering 'the pinch', and allowing Margo a little break between applications.  "Can you count to 20 while I do this, we just need 20 seconds?"  And you hear the brave voice, say "hmm hhm."  The dance continued, until both areas were shot with Novocaine.  Now I must confess, I snuck out of the procedure room when the shots were going to be applied, but I stood outside and heard every word.  Mark stayed, held Margo's hand, and was a steady encouragement to her.

Numb, teeth, numb tongue, numb cheek, numb chin later, and the cavities are drilled, filled polished and complete.  Did you know Margo was taught the drill is a brush, to clean all the bacteria away.  In fact before Dr. Jackie used any tool that made noise, she would describe it and turn it on outside of Margo's mouth, so she would not be surprised by any of the sensations.  Dr. Jackie, talked the entire time about what she was doing or going to do in ways a child could understand and not be afraid.  One hour later, we had two teeth filled with composite material, adult teeth sealed, and Margo's mom, resting comfortably against the back of her husband.  (No sweating, feeling faint, or any other type of fear driven symptom for me!)

I just dropped Margo off back at school with a soft lunch now in place and soup planned for dinner.  Little Margo was happy that her cheeks did not look swollen, although they sure felt it.  She was assured that no one could tell anything happened.  As I write this final paragraph, I can see my Little Margo eating lunch with her friends, knowing how brave she had been.  I also believe, she will not want as much candy and other sweets to ward off another cavity experience.  Oh yes, she is now very diligent at flossing and brushing her teeth.  So perhaps the 'no gas' route was the correct action to take.

If your child needs to have a tooth extracted, then enjoy reading Loosing the first tooth...Lots to learn! This one has lots of pictures.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Motherhood, we watch our children grow and are amazed...

We celebrate our children, really as mom's that is something that is birthed in us along with the little bundle that pops out of us on her/his special birth day.  We remember all the little stories, and tell them again and again, until each story of accomplishment or cuteness is replaced by another, at least that is what I do.  I remember not so long ago, watching my sisters do the same thing with their little girls and boys.  I was not married, and had no clue about anything 'children', but determined to learn the art of listening and participating in the bragging, the discussion of 'the first steps', school awards, attending ballet recitals...and well you get the picture.  I had 10 nieces and nephews to practice with, and now I find I do exactly the same thing.

I am not brainless, nor thoughtless, I care about politics, the environment, and even how to make a company run well, but my child, ah, she seems to overwhelm my brain.  Perhaps it is due to the hormones of connection at birth, (which I can't remember their name right now) still coursing through my veins, even 6 years and 11 months after little Margo's birth. 

Ha, if I bragged, I could talk about her curiosity, and even thoughtfulness at such a young age.  She writes and publishes her own books, by hand, down to the detail of the book spine with the title and by, "Margo B", written upon the soon to be taped on strip of paper.  Oops I forgot to tell you she is also the illustrator of every book published thus far.  She knows how to add and subtract numbers, single digit, and reason out equations from stories.  In fact today, includes interviews with 4 friends, 2 adults, and 3 other kids in abstentia, tracking their favorite vegetables.  The choices: broccoli, carrots and lettuce.  Carrots are the clear favorite upon viewing the written graphs of her 1st Grade math project.

But I am most proud of her courage and perseverance.  Little Margo has no clue these attributes are becoming a forged part of her character.  Today, while taking her to the Pre-team swimming class, Margo started to talk about 'hating swimming'.  She continued on, with the problem of starting out second and then becoming the 4th position swimmer after the coach made some corrections to her swimming.  I let her talk more, (thank goodness I kept my mouth shut!) and soon heard her say, "when I am fourth, I can't hear what the coach is asking me to do for the next direction, because I am still swimming..." and then the tears start, and I respond, "oh that can be hard, perhaps you could watch what the swimmer ahead of you is doing?" 

We arrive at the pool, on time, and yes I thank God, because if we are late and they started swimming the possibility of a mini meltdown is extremely high!  (I can hear you mom's chuckling at that line too.  My daughter is curing me from my inherited lateness syndrome!)  Margo has a few minutes to sit with a few of the other girls of the class, her coach arrives and it becomes girls in one lane, boys in the other, and she is identified as swimmer number 2.  I am thankful, and proceed to the viewing area, to watch, and enjoy the moment.  Crap! more kids are coming, and those two lanes are now crowded, and there is Margo swimming through the turbulent water.  Oh no, another child arrives and now Margo is 3rd, oh no again, she is last.  To me the untrained swimmer of team drills, it looks like chaos!  Oh heck, it is chaos, and I see Margo keep swimming.  She waits at one end a little lost, and yells to the coach, "what am I to do now?"  She makes it back to the edge of the pool after the 8th or 10th lap of swimming, and her face is scrunched, and I see the beginning of the quivering lip, and I am thinking,"ok, you can do this, don't get too anxious..." and then I find myself praying for my daughter. 

I am not praying things like, "Ok, God, help her swim faster, get the strokes right, etc.. etc... etc..."  Oh no, my prayer is desperate, "please God help her finish and not give up, please, please, please send the Holy Spirit to enable her to just keep swimming and not emotionally fall apart."  I see her and give her the thumbs up, sign, but I can't tell if she see's me behind her blue colored goggles.  Eventually I begin to slowly relax, as I note she is relaxing.  Somehow, Margo has figured it out enough to enjoy her laps.  The desperate look is quickly disappearing.  I marvel at her ability to attempt the different drills, I rejoice watching her swimming on her back, only kicking, moving each shoulder out of the water by turning her torso without turning her head.  All I can tell you, is that she attempts every drill with success, and just keeps swimming. 

While she is still away from the edge of the pool, completing her last lap, I speak to her coach, about how anxious Margo looked during practice today.  Her coach responded, "Yeah I noticed, and she is doing so well too, I don't understand it."  And then I just blurted out, "It is difficult for Margo to hear you when you are addressing everyone differently.  She is not able yet to decipher what she needs to listen to, or what is important.  I think that is why she gets so anxious at practice, she really wants to follow your directions."  I only recently got an understanding of this issue, when I spoke to her doctor last week... and could articulate it in a way her coach could understand.  And yes a light went on with her coach, she had thought it was just her physical modalities, but her swim coach will now come up with a simple way to address Margo, so she knows what she needs to do.  This conversation took all of 15 seconds.  "Tell Margo she did a great job at practice today!"

Margo receives the high-five from her coach as she exits the pool, I greet her with a towel and flip-flops, and look her in the eye and let her know, how amazing it was to watch her swim all those laps, doing all those different drills.  "Oh yeah, your coach was telling me what a great job you did today too!"  She looks at me funny, and says, "mom, why were you looking so grouchy when I looked at you while swimming?"  "Darn, Darn," I am thinking, "she missed my big toothy smile and thumbs up sign."  You know she saw my anxious feelings hanging on my sleeve.  Basically I told her I was concentrating on something, and that is what happens to my face when I do that, which is true, I have quite the furrowed brow as evidence of that fact.  I said I would try and do better next time.  (Do you think Botox would work?) She relaxed some more, and could take in the compliments of her past hour, and all was well with Margo, and my world.

I am a mother, I am like most moms, we are concerned about the lives of our little ones.  I am just beginning to understand the phrase, "even when you are 30, you will always be my little girl."  And I am Margo's mom, so very proud of her courage and perseverance.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cards for the holidays . . . a few ideas

It is Christmas, or at least the holidays are quickly approaching, and it is time to get the card craze settled. Meaning, I am ruminating about what I want to send out. In fact, this year I might actually do it! I have been inspired by photo cards the past few years and have actually thought a bit, “what would I do?” Last year my friend Linsey sent a postcard, with a picture of her kids on the front, and on the back, the kids were holding their parents in the palm of their hands. Margo asks me all the time, “Mom, are L, B and A giants or did their parents shrink?” Now I am thinking, “hmmm, perhaps our kids really are our giants…” but that is a discussion to be had on the couch with a large glass of wine and my child is sleeping, not for blogging. So this year I want to take the plunge and start looking at the holiday card designs from the new Shutterfly holiday collection, Christmas cards

The cards I enjoy most are those which tell some type of story. No not a traditional story, but a story jumps out at you when you see the photo. For instance, my older sister always has a card with a wonderful photo of the family. But it is not a classic photo, one year Rosie, their family dog was featured in the arms of my god-daughter Clair wearing a pair of shades. One look at this photo, and I am flooded with memories of watching this family growing up over the years. I see the love and fun they have together, a definite joie de vivre, as expressed in a Christmas photo card. I have been browsing this web site, Christmas photo cards and may have discovered a format I can use for my current idea.

My little Margo has become quite the illustrator this year for her ‘books’ which she publishes herself on the computer. Yes she has now ‘published’ three books:

Circles: I am not sure what this one is about because she only created the first page, but it is intriguing with the circles on the cover page.

The forest: is a wonderful story only a 6 year old can tell and illustrate, about a brother and sister deer born on the same day but at different times, learning to live and enjoy the forest. They have learned they can not marry each other so they go and find another deer to marry in the forest. It is all of 5 pages long and very engrossing.

The hanted house: (no that is not a spelling mistake; remember she is only in the first grade.) This is the classic haunted house story, with bats, and red eyeballs, spiders and pillars. Of course it is completely illustrated as well, by my one and only little Margo.

My idea is to use the page of each book as a photo and put these stories as part of our Christmas or New Years greeting. Margo so wants to be published and I think this is a great way to do it. My cards will tell a story, and let everyone know, what is important to our little 1st grader. And I think it will provide a smile on each one’s heart.  I think I have found more than a few cards that would work.  Rough Edge will work perfectly, I place the title page on the front, and then edit the layout inside to fit the rest of the pages and written story.

But now I have been inspired with another card style, “Ten Best Memories New year’s Card.” I could capture the year in photos, and I have a bunch of them from almost every month. So I forget Christmas and focus on New Year’s cards instead. Now that could be different, and it gives me an extra week or so…..hmmmm I am liking this already.  Or I keep it really simple, show off a bit of my french roots with the Noel Christmas Card.
Hey it has Noel in the title, and that is French enough for me, plus it is simple.

Do you want 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly? Click here to go to Shutterfly for information on how you can get 50 free cards this holiday season, and make sure to select Clever 1000 as the referral source.

This post is part of a series sponsored by Shutterfly. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Missed our camping vacation, so now I am dreaming of the Ultimate family vacation!

Cheerios® is giving you the chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, your ultimate family vacation. As part of a paid promotion for their “Do What You Love” Sweepstakes, Cheerios® is sponsoring my post today about what my ultimate family vacation would be. Read mine, Enter the Sweepstakes for a chance to actually win your own fantasy family trip or one of a bunch of other great prizes.

We love adventures for our family vacations and you may have read a few of the simple yet satisfying vacations we have taken together, with little Margo.  In fact this past weekend was to be a superb treat, back at Mt. Tamilpais.  The weather was to be clear and warm, just right when hiking or visiting Stinson Beach, however, none of this came close to happening.  Our trip became a return visit to the car shop, because the alternator malfunctioned.  So Mark and little Margo, made a go of camping in the backyard, and I was in charge of kitchen duty and volunteered to watch the inside of the house.  While Mark slept out in the wilds of our 15' X 20' backyard, I dreamed of a better vacation for us; actually an ultimate family vacation...do you want to come?

Prior to the birth of our daughter some years ago, Mark and I were avid bike riders.  We loved to go on a 40 mile trip in the spring and summer, more than once in a blue moon.  I always entertained the possibility of joining our two passions in one trip.  Wine and bikes, and no not here in California, but all the way in France.  We would ride our bikes during the day, stop at local wine makers along the way, and then eat to our hearts delight at the bistro or restaurant our host village provided.  I would visit the local cafe, order a rich cup-of-joe, with a baguette and cheese of the region trying out my french and being totally content!!!

I know now you are wondering, "but what about your little Margo, she does not drink wine, and who knows if she can ride a bike....."  Ah not to worry, she would love the castles, or chateaus, and the old cobblestone rodes.  There would be opportunities to "pet donkeys at the XVI century farm near the flower and vegetable gardens."  There even would be a hedge maze to try and not get lost in while looking for a path towards freedom.  Heck this is sounding way better than Gilroy Gardens....I mean we could explore the garden's of the kings!  I think we could catch a ride on a hot air balloon just outside Tours for another day adventure.  What 7-year old would want to miss an adventure like this.  And finally, I could bribe my little daughter with fresh chocolate, stinky cheese, and more chocolate, depending upon what village we happen to be visiting that day. 

There is an educational side to this trip too.  The art of the Renaissance period would be all about us at the Chateau de Chenonceau.  I would provide Margo, a drawing pad and pencils to create her own masterpieces for us to enjoy.  And you know what, that is something she would enjoy in every way.  Perhaps we could frame a few of her drawings and show them at a local cafe, just for the experience of her lifetime.  You know she always talks about drawing a picture for an art show...This is France, enjoy the people, the lay of the land, the wine, the creativity, the food, the wine, Oh I said that already.... But you get the idea, this trip would be fantastic.  Hmmm...perhaps I could invite Margo's god-mother and god-father along for the ride.  I love dreaming...do you want to come? 

Don't forget to enter the “Do What You Love” Sweepstakes, for a chance to win your own ultimate family vacation. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

Friday, October 1, 2010

ROOM, it makes you think about motherhood....

I started reading ROOM, and through the voice of 5 year old Jack, I pondered motherhood.  All kinds of questions flooded my mind, "would I be able to create a safe world for my daughter in an 11 X 11 foot room with a TV?"  Or would I just give up, and allow my child to die?  It was  interesting to watch the instinct or was it desire,  choose life as exhibited in the book ROOM.  I watched our heroine, establish order to everyday, from within her woodshed prison.  She was the picture of motherhood in action.  Some may have disagreed, but I didn't care.  She established a safe haven for her little son Jack, and in many ways for herself as she lived through the 7 years of being held kidnapped.

I talked to a friend who was from Germany, and she told me she thought Room was based on the story of a woman who was imprisoned in a basement for several years.  This captive bore seven children from the continuous abuse by her captor.  She too, as much as our heroine Ma, in ROOM, invented a world that excluded the outside so as to eliminate the claustrophobia, 4 walls created.  I do not know if the author, Emma Donoghue, intended ROOM to mimic true life stories so closely, but somehow it did.

Creating order to a place, creating order in our heart, and providing order to our children has become a mainstay of motherhood.  I never really thought of "order" as being so important to motherhood.  I knew I demanded order for my child's classroom, and yet had been struggling to create order in my own life.   I knew if I lived only in one room with such simple means, I would have created havoc.  My thinking postulated, why should I clean up, who cares, who is coming to visit except my torturer....However, now, my thinking has changed.  Why you might ask?  I had discovered I need order for me; not just for my daughter's sake.  So, I began organizing my house, bit by bit, these past three weeks, and I have gained insight about my house.   As I get rid of the clutter and establish some sense of order about me, I enjoywhere I am.  And surprise, surprise, my little Margo has begun to participate in the ordering process.  Some of her organizing activities were not even requested, but inspired by what has been happening downstairs in our house.  I even read this book, peacefully in my living room, because it was clean and ordered.

"Ma", creates an ordered world for Jack to grow up in, even though it is 11 X 11 feet.  Jack grew, and thinks for himself and developed as a little boy.  I have been  establishing order in my life and as a result I found, my heart is growing and developing, and exploring.  My little Margo, has enjoyed bringing her friends into our home to play.  No longer has my abode been left in disorder, but has experienced creative moments and activities.  Perhaps if we found ourselves imprisoned by our chaos, we could be set free by our acts of order.

I enjoyed reading Room, even though this story described such physcal and emotional hardship, because in the midst of it all, I saw the beauty of motherhood as love, expressing order and peace.

The book ROOM was provided by From Left to Write book club.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Old Fashioned Apple Pie and Gizdich Ranch

This is the classic "Old fashioned Apple Pie", according to my Farmer's Pie Book. This book is a benefit from my deceased mother-in-law Julie Bagoye. I do not know how often she used this book, I only know it was hers since the early 60's. I do not know if she ever went to Gizdich Ranch to pick her own strawberries and apples, but I do know, she was part of the Bagoye Ranch. Meaning at some point in time they too grew Apples, Peaches, Plums, and most recently walnuts. Did she make tasty fruit pies for Mark when he was young? Did Mark used to help her bake the pies?

According to Mark she made a few of these great fruit pies, so in the tradition of Grandma Bagoye, today we made an apple pie. The apples were all hand picked by Sophie, her friends and the two dad's, Mark and Te. (I think I picked a few apples myself, but not many according to Mark's observation.) So today, this very afternoon, Sophie, Mark and I conspired together, to follow the classic apple pie recipe from the farmers pie book, and you see the photo above. Yes the house was filled with the wonderful mix of aromas from the Cinnamon, apples and nutmeg since the baking began a few hours ago. We even purchased an old fashioned apple peeler, with hand crank, to prepare the perfect apples pieces. Mark organized the machine, and Sophie supplied the power. She mixed the ingredients together too, so this is really her pie.

Yesterday while at Gizdich Ranch, I purchased a berry and a dutch apple pie to eat after lunch with the kids. We thought we had convinced the group of first graders, to eat their lunch then go and play, and at some point, we would call them back and surprise them with the pies. Alas, even after they had agreed to the plan, about 15 minutes later, we heard the voices of an uprising! "We want pie! We want pie!" they all shouted in unison. We looked at the ugly mob, and noted each one held their plastic fork high in the air in the similar fashion of an old fashioned
demonstration from the '60's. Soon all eyes, from everyone around were focused on this small group of 5 and 6 year old demonstrating their desire for pie. We parents did feel a bit of pressure and found ourselves acquiescing to their demands. Does that mean we gave in...No! we call it a settled negotiation. Further conferences were held by the rebels to determine who received the first piece of pie. Sophie spoke up and said,"after negotiating, I get the first piece, then Soli, and Alexandra followed by Abygale and Enya." Peace returned to our group as each enjoyed their pie, as did I.

Back home we divided the 50 pounds of apples and 12 pounds of strawberries equally between the 5 children. That was when I decided we would make our pie this weekend. And so we did, today. Adventures and memory making at the Bagoye's, gotta love it!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Just keep swimming!

Dear Linsey,

I am having such a difficult time writing this post about Cowboy and Wills, by Monica Holloway.  I did enjoy reading the book, even though I cried while reading various chapters.  I could so relate to Monica, in her struggles to guide her son through autism spectrum disorder.  All the while I would think about Margo, and the struggles we have gone through as she pushes through her gross motor delay. 

For instance, I was reminded of the difficulty it had been for both Mark and I to come to grips with Margo's delay.  I am not sure what to call it, a disability, a special ed thing, a neurological disorder.....dyspraxia?  To the trained eye, it is obvious, something is off, to my friends they see nothing wrong with her.  To Mark and I, we celebrate her progress: for instance, this past summer, she was able to make it through the rigors and confusion of swim practice without crying.  A year ago, she cried almost every day at swim team practice, yes she was only 5 years old, and the coaches would yell at the other swimmers to get out of Margo's way.  Why? because if she was touched by someone in the water, it totally threw her off and she lost a sense of what she was doing, and it disrupted the sense of order she had established with her body and its movement.  This year, she would just keep on swimming.  That was our theme, keep on swimming, just like Dori in Finding Nemo.  We would celebrate each day she did not cry at practice, and the days she did, I would hold her and say that's ok.  But we celebrated her bravery!I learned from her OT, that Margo does not distinguish between competing sounds.  It's like being in a room, where everyone spoke with the same loudness and you had no clue who was the important person to listen to.  All of this to say, she was never quite sure what she was supposed to do in swimming practice.  So this year, Margo learned to ask the coach, and let them know if she did not hear what they said.  The coaches were very good about re-explaining the swim drills to Margo and she did her best at executing them.  Sometimes, she definitely took the directions literally and it would become the most interesting expression of a one armed swim drill any of us had ever seen.  Eventually, something would click and she would figure out what needed to be done.  By the end of the season, Mark and I realized we could not help her with the swimming, but just needed to let her work it out with the coaches.  In the end, she received a trophy for most improved over the course of the past two years.  It was not an improvement in time this year, but of form, and dedication, and always trying and not giving up.  That is what the coaches explained to all of as about Margo as they presented her the trophy at the end of the season dinner.

I think in the end, I am reminded as a mom, to a kid growing up highly uncoordinated, who just spent a day tripping in her new shoes, that I can't be a helicopter parent.  I have to let her fall down, scrape a knee, and mind you that does happen, as well as get herself back up.  As parents, Mark and I provide her opportunities to move her body with swimming, gymnastics, personal training and OT, and somehow, that develops confidence.  Margo has BFF's, and a great sense of humor.  She still looks like a deer in the headlights when part of a big group, but after a long while, figures out a few things she can do and then sticks to them.  This year Margo has started singing out loud and humming to herself.  She has started dancing to music, even with her friends.

Maybe this parenting thing is really about creating a space where our children explore who they are, and what they can do, or want to do.  Perhaps parenting is learning how to make the space larger as our child matures, till eventually it reaches their favorite number, infinite.  I think that is what I saw Monica do with Wills, Cowboy was a great part of the space.  I think I am doing this with Margo.  Yes I worry too much, but I still let go.  Gee parenting is hard!

Well thanks for providing me the book to read as part of  From Left to Write book club.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

'the stuff that never happened' .... good thing for me...

In a life we dream, fantasize and eventually live out what we believe or know to be true.  For some their life seems to be 'magical', others it is always hard and then there is Annabelle, the mother, soon to be grandmother, discovering she never left her lover from her past, until the two meet in her present reality.  I read the book, "The stuff that never happened," by Maddie Dawson, pretty much in one sitting, and yet I have been thinking about the ideas it has portrayed for the past few weeks. 

I have been thinking about the past and how it tries to push it's way into the present.  I know, it seems like a Zen thing to say, or maybe not....perhaps that is just reality.  How do I avoid my past determining my future, as so many pop-psychology books outline.  How do my husband and I, avoid being an 'old relationship' as our 14th anniversary sneaks up on us this year?  How do I parent my 6 year old daughter so she does not grow up to make the same mistakes as myself? 

Seems dramatic, I know, but I really did think about these concepts even in the midst of taking little Margo swimming, to art camp, grocery shopping, and all the other things mom's do when their child is 6 years old.  And what I discovered is that I have chosen to live and embrace the past and present.  I figure the past has worked its way into who I am, even the sad experiences of friendships made and lost, or pregnancies enjoyed and ended before their time.  I think that is a little secret to making an enriched life.  I do not separate my past from who I am, but create a patchwork quilt, of the choices and lifestyles I have lead, and find in that way, they have no power over me now. 

I and my husband have found it challenging, and engaging to talk about our relationship every so often during the past 14 years of marriage.  Some discussions have gone by the wayside, other's are looked upon with a smile and satisfaction.  Margo is 6 years old, and it gets a little more difficult to keep those heart to heart conversations coming throughout the weeks.  You know, too tired, or one of us is distracted by our 'attention starved' child.  But, we do work at it.  Really work at it, even if it means the conversation creates a temporary wrinkle in our relationship.  Learning to listen to each other, and continuing to discover about each other, is our key to not becoming an "old relationship" to each other.  I love to fix things, ha!!! I love to fix people too!!!  That can be dangerous, so I have to learn to listen, even when it feels uncomfortable. 

Upon occasion, I ask Mark, "honey what is it that bugs you about me?"  I know that can be a loaded question, but I was thinking I could work on changing that part a little bit.  So the list starts, "you fly by the seat of your pants when embarking on doing something new, ..." etc, etc, etc...  So when he ended his commentary, I took a deep breath and whispered, "So what do you like about me?"  And the list started again, "You fly by the seat of your pants....you stretch me and make me take risks...."  And we both realized, all the things he thought he didn't like about me were and are the things he likes about me in the first place.  Yes I drive my husband crazy at times, and he does the same for me, we are very very different from each other.  Perhaps that is what creates an adventure for our present and our future.  It is just good to be reminded of this every so often.  That keeps us young.

I have come to realize I cannot protect my daughter from everything, or even the ups and downs in life.  What I can do is help her learn how to process her feelings and the things that happen about her.   It can be very messy at times, especially when she just breaks down and cries and nothing seems to comfort her.  Those are the times I look her in the eye and just say, "ummhm, oh...that sounds hard..." and eventually she calms down, and we snuggle.  We try to provide her a host of experiences in her life, in the hopes these become a rich treasure chest from which to find answers to her own questions about living.  Yes I limit her T.V. and movies when at home, and I also find she is making choices about movies she thinks would be appropriate for her to watch or not watch.  She is actually self regulating, "Mom, that movie about ghost busters, has too many guns and it is too scary, so I do not want to see it."  She is regulating her world.  And I am guessing that is the best way to protect her.  She learns as we provide a bit of guidance rather than just control.

So yes, I indulged myself into some thinking after reading "the stuff that never happened" and have decided, I have a very happening life.

The book "the stuff that never happened," by Maddie Dawson, was provided free by the From Left to Write book club.

PS...I just read this to my husband and he now denies any knowledge of the list......I gotta love him and his humor.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

1st Day of Summer what is a mom to do?

She slept in and then it was off for bagels and bacon, followed by swim practice.  At first we were going to skip swim practice, but Margo told me she slept as long as she could and well that left room for swim practice.  Now we are at the library with her friend Aria.  We came to the Vineland branch, it has a great kids area, and special computers just for them.  Ok, this will cover half the day, but I have an open slot between library and gymnastics, what to do then?  Oh did I tell you I am trying to create TV Free Days.  Yes I am crazy to even think of such a thing, but I want to know if it is possible.  Do I have it in me to fill the day with creativity, quiet time, study time, play time and even cooking time?  I do not know, but today is the first day to try.

Do I have goals for summer with Margo?  Yes a big resounding yes!  Whatever they are and I will lay them out here, each must be surrounded by friends, adventure and fun, FAF, if you need a mnemonic of some sort.  FAF is a great way to start the first day of summer.  Margo's adventure starts with a bit of 'controlled chaos', by playing a game of sharks and minnows in the pool with the swim team.  Her coaches try to encourage her to catch someone, and she heads for them, then averts off towards the wall, wanting to get there first.  Eventually she will figure out the order of sharks and minnows.  There really is order in chaos, and eventually Margo will learn to understand that.  But right now, I put her in the middle of it all.  When she looks a bit confused the coach steps in and tells her that she is a shark now, or a minnow, and then all rights itself.  Next week, one of the coaches will join in the fun, and then she will learn a bit more about order and fun in chaos.

Today, the library is her choice destination to share with her friend Aria.  Right now they are on the kiddie computer playing games together.  I just hear them laughing, so that is a good thing.  Every day needs a large dose of laughter, not just for little Margo, but for me too.  Now what to do with the hours after lunch and before gymnastics?  hmmmm  I think we will cook together.  I  better find an interesting recipe for all the vegetables I have in the fridge.  I think 'stoup' is in order for dinner and weekend.  See you all next time as I continue the summer story.

One week later since I started this post, we were TV free until today.  Today she said she would not watch TV for the rest of the year if I let her watch Curious George today.  Knowing that going the rest of the year would be way too difficult, I could not stand the thought of all the requests with please, pretty please, pleeeeeasssee mommmmmmm...I suggested how about until another week passes by.  She thought that was a splendid idea.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Loosing the first tooth....Lots to learn!

Here, did you see the problem?  What once were nice straight baby teeth, were becoming crooked and displaced by an eager adult tooth's entrance and the lingering solid presence of the baby tooth.  What was a mother to do?

Call the dentist, and I did, eventually, about three weeks later.  At that visit, the dentist was quick to explain we only had about two more weeks to encourage the baby tooth to fall out on its own.  Otherwise, we were headed for desperate measures, according to me.  Well the two weeks past and then we were back at the dentist.  Thank goodness Dr. Ligh knew what he was doing.  However, I being the skittish type, had to learn to become a good hand holder for Little Margo.  The bravery a mother can conjure up on behalf of their child is amazing.  I suppose I should include a few more detailed photo's of the event. 

For instance, Margo entered the treatment room and jumped up onto the couch herself, distracted by the TV built into the ceiling.  She was outfitted with goggles, and earphones and actually looked relaxed.   I suppose she was trying to ignore what was about to happen, or most likely just enjoying the movie.

Next Dr. Ligh informed Margo to relax while he placed some medicine on her tooth, to make it go to sleep.  Ok, that was easy enough, or so I thought.  He waited a few minutes and then re-applied the medicine.  It was at this point she started to shudder or shake.  Something I would do at a moments notice, hard to believe I gave birth so bravely sometimes.  But there is just this thing about the dentist office, and the drilling, and the fillings,...well I have wondered away from our story.  So next she was outfitted with a special mask used to inhale that concoction of Nitrous Oxide/Oxygen gas.  Now she became quite relaxed in about three minutes. 

Yes it was time for that final shot, or shots.  The needle is still long, just like I remember it.  But thankfully she was watching the movie and not caring much about anything.  Dr. Ligh explained what would happen, that she would feel a little pinch, and that was that.  She did not move or cry or anything.  The best part  of the procedure thus far was her being so relaxed. 

Finally the pliers for extracting the tooth were applied to the stubborn incisor, and Dr. Ligh began to say, "Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle....out."  And that was it, the tooth was out.  It really was that quick and pain free.  I was amazed.  Margo was congratulated about her bravery, and a special tooth fairy pillow was provided.  I was beginning to enjoy this type of modern pediatric dentistry.  Who knows, perhaps I will make it to my dentist in the coming months for a check up.  I wonder if she has Nitrous Oxide for Adults?????

And here she is showing that new empty space for the adult tooth to move into.  Yeah Margo!!!!  (Still watching that movie.)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Raising an Enviro-Radical...or just Little Margo

I have been discussing environmental issues with Little Margo since...forever. Yes that's correct, she knows about environmental issues in her own world. For instance, "Mom, quick, pick up that paper on the ground, it hurts the earth!" So, I oblige and then she picks up the next one. "Mom, is the Earth our mother?" "Well sort of Margo, she does provide us all the things we need to live, sort of like I provide your food and love for you." Ok, that comment sort of flies over her head because now she is imagining the earth feeding her with a spoon...you get it. Sharing environmental ideas with a 6 year old does have its challenges.

But in reality, little Margo really does get it. She gets that the air is not always clean and can cause her friends to need inhalers to breathe. She knows about allergies, and she knows about saving electricity because that helps the earth. "Mom, turn off the lights, you are wasting electricity," was her common word throughout last summer. Oh yes, she knows that some people put bad things in the water to make it undrinkable. I am trying to provide her understanding that not all families here in the US have safe water to drink. Did you know that? It is not just in some other country where the drinking water is contaminated with all sorts of chemicals from coal mining or some other industrial polluter...it happens here. "Jennifer Hall-Massey knows not to drink the tap water in her home near Charleston, W.Va." (Ref New York Times, Toxic Waters a series about the worsening pollution in American waters and regulators' response)

An Enviro-Radical, that is what our little family is becoming, or at least trying to become. It starts with understanding the problem and then finding simple ways to participate in the solutions. I was recently provided a book by the Silicon Valley Mom's Blog book club called, Green Guide Families, The complete Reference for Eco-friendly parents, written by Catherine Zandonella. I quickly looked up the chapter about cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers to see if my choice of cloth was environmentally sound. Unfortunately, my choice to use a diaper service pretty much eliminated any of the environmental benefits for this choice. However, my daughter did not suffer from the diaper rashes she so readily had when using the disposable diapers. I just did not have it in me, to wash the diapers myself. So we were not "E-Radicals" in this choice.

On to food choices, I did purchase organic baby food in glass jars. Not because it was the healthiest choice, but it so happened to be a better financial deal...However, I have made up for this for buying organic fruits and vegetables where needed. For instance I know I should buy organic carrots, but not necessarily organic eggplants when it comes to pesticide exposure. Buying organic can be expensive so I pick and choose about what I buy. There is a great list as an ECO-TIP: Top Foods to Buy Organic published in the Green Guide Families, check out page 97. I also have been discussing with my husband about decreasing our power footprint. So this means I purchase local whenever possible. Sometimes it is a bit more expensive; however the benefit is the taste! (Ok, ok, I will admit it the health too!) Regarding organic milk and hormone fed to cows to keep them pumping, this has been a topsy turvy choice. Why, organic milk is so much more expensive! We live on a budget, so what to do? I have read articles with for and against the thoughts of milk and hormones and affecting the early development of our young girls. But right now there is nothing hard in facts regarding cause and effect of organic milk vs. regular milk. I know someone is going to write a comment and that is fine. Although I find the data conflicting I play safe and purchase the organic milk. According to the Green Guide Families, these hormones do pose a threat to the cows, to add reason to my choice. Actually the comment that best got me hooked on organic milk was made by a dairy farmer in Petaluma. He mentioned that most farmers do not use rBST anymore, because the cows don't handle it well, but they do use other hormones. Darn, now I need to buy milk that just says no hormones! So yes 90% of the time I buy organic milk, and feel better.

I think the best place to go in honor of the upcoming Earth Day is the Monterey Bay Aquarium to see the Hot Pink Flamingos Exhibit. It was amazing, and became a very impactful place for the two 6 year olds I brought along. It opens up looking at our own Monterey Bay and the problem of crustations, and coral becoming brittle. Eventually it is understood the pH of the bay water is becoming less alkaline and more acidic, causing the brittleness of shells, bones and coral. Acidity, that famous concept now associated with all kinds of disease in our own bodies. And how does the bay get affected by humanity? Margo and her friend Alexandra could tell you, Air Pollution! By the end of the exhibit, Alexandra is writing a pledge in her kindergarten spelling to skate more instead of riding in the car. Margo writes about how pollution hurts the earth and she will use less electricity or something to that effect. Me, well I did pledge to ride my bike to do the shopping, and yes I am slowly working to that effect, by riding the bike at the gym. Soon I will ride my bike to the gym for my workouts, and then on to grocery shopping.

With Earth Day coming up this week, I plan on doing something with Margo to make another change in our family in our quest to minimize our family pollution to the earth. Margo will be happy, as will I, so will 'Mother Earth' and yes, I will continue to raise an Enviro-Radical!