Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year!!?

Here it is, the end of the year... and I feel as though I ought to post something... If you click on the title above, you can hear Weekend America's "Trailer" for the new year -- that's something! I thought it was very creative.

I'm babysitting tonight. It seems like my life has come full circle: I used to babysit every New Year's Eve for years and years from the time I was about 12 or 13 or so until I was in my early 20's. But it isn't a bad thing -- I have always enjoyed the company of children and babies!! And a number of parents seem to like having me take care of their kids on occasion. So that works.

Let's see, what else... I'm reading an interesting book about the Silicon Valley and another about blogging, and I'm still working on getting those last few Christmas cards and gifts out. Lots of things planned didn't get done on this break, but I'm hoping that January won't be so crazy that I can't accomplish some of that in the coming weeks.

That's about all that's on my mind today. I'm not at the point of making "New Year's Resolutions" -- actually I've been reading about why not to do that! Here's a link -- let me know if it works!

Blessings to all in the New Year! And please drive carefully tonight, if you're out!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Random thoughts and news

The Christmas break is zooming by... I wish it would last a few more weeks!! On the other hand, work has been more sparse than I expected, so I guess it is about the right length. :-)

I need to start back with my Pilates routines... I picked up a new book Tuesday, Pilates for Every Body by Denise Austin, that has several routines in it which I can vary according to my mood. It boasts "...[A] Complete 3-Week Body Makeover". I'm ready!! My body's ready!!!

John, Brenda, Meredith, Daniel, Caleb, and Timothy were here yesterday, first time they have visited in quite awhile. We had a good time, though too short. They left during a thunderstorm. (A thunderstorm in January?!) I totally forgot to take any photos -- oops! Hopefully there will be another opportunity before too long.

Veggie Revolution update: There was a great article in the Observer about the book on Sunday. (Click here to read it.) Also, Sally and Sarah Kate have a bunch of signings lined up, the first of which was last night, at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. (I wonder how it went?) The complete list can also be found at the link above.

I've got to get my Christmas cards done... but at least this year I made a big dent in the list before Christmas. I got a response already from one -- Father John called Tuesday night! It was such a kick to talk with him after all these years! He is doing fine, and he said he would love to have visitors. (I'm beginning to think I ought to drive out to CA this summer, instead of flying...)

A random thought from yesterday: I wish movie-rental stores would categorize and display their movies using the same categories as bookstores. In particular, I wish they'd put biographies in their own category. (I was thinking about a movie about T.S. Eliot that I would like to see, but I don't remember the name of would be easy to find if they just had the biographies together!! Come to think of it, the library probably has it...for free!)

Anybody else have random thoughts, news, etc., they'd like to share?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Advent --> Christmas transition

Well, it finally happened -- I started to get in the Christmas decorating mood! There is now a diminutive Christmas tree, complete with lights and two ornaments, in front of the fireplace!

I've been wanting to post but have not had a lot of extra time. Lots going on here: mostly a fairly full work schedule and today's Math Club Christmas party. This week work will be MUCH lighter, but Emily will be coming home very soon and John and Brenda et al. will be stopping by mid-week for a visit en route to visiting with Brenda's folks in Georgia so it's just as well if I'm not too tied up with students. I hope I can get this place in some sort of shape before then!!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Franciscans in the news

Tuning in to NPR's Weekend Edition this morning, I caught the tail end of a story about the Franciscans of Assisi. So when I got home, I checked in on the computer to find out what the scoop was. You can click on the link in the title above to get the Washington Post version of the story, which was just one I found. (There wasn't anything about it in today's Observer; no surprise there.) In my search I also checked out the National Catholic Reporter online. It was the first time I had gone to this site, and I was pleasantly surprised at what they had to offer, although I didn't find reference to the Franciscan story I was looking for. Joan Chittester writes a regular column, I gather, and there were other well-known writers and apparently balanced reporting. I'll be inter4ested in what they have to say on this Franciscan issue. Maybe there's already something there and I just missed it...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

winter weather

I woke up this morning to a pouring rain. I'm still living in my office so the downpour was happening right next to my bed. But now, it has mysteriously stopped. Or I have gone totally deaf. (Don't worry -- I know that isn't true because I can hear the tapping of my fingers on the keys and the wail of the train horn in the distance!)

There was some real winter weather up in Connecticut last week -- it snowed about four inches on Thanksgiving Day!! Susie and I shovelled half of her driveway while it was still snowing. It's one of those C-shaped ones, so we didn't have to do but half of it to enable the cars to get out, but now I really know how people can die of heart attacks while shovelling snow!! All in all, my trip up north was very much fun, and it was great to reconnect with old friends and make some new ones. Friendships that last through the years are something I am very grateful for.

Not much else to report, but I'm snowed under with work for a change. Next week won't be so heavy -- SAT's are this weekend so some students are finishing up with me this week.

I hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2005

interesting math problem from Duke contest

For those of you who read last night's post and are curious about what I consider an interesting math problem, here's one in particular that I liked. (I'm recording it from memory, so it may not be exactly the same as the one in Saturday's relay.)

Find n, the number of right triangles of integer side lengths (i.e., Pythagorean triples) that have a leg of length 45 units.

It got me to thinking (while I was driving, no less!) about the formulas for deriving Pythagorean triples... One of the kids at the contest said he thought it could be solved by setting 45^2 = c^2-b^2, factoring the right hand side of this, and finding the number of factors of 45^2 (that's easy, remember how?) to find the number of triangles. Maybe he's onto something, but I have another (though related) way that seems simpler to me. (Or maybe I'm just quite rusty on contest problems and there is an obvious answer...)

Monday, November 07, 2005


I know it's been awhile since I've posted, and you-all are about to give up on me.... I was in Atlanta, then in Virginia, then yesterday a day trip to Durham for the Duke Math Meet, with a few days in between to catch my breath. I sort of want to talk about all the various trips, but I don't have time to write all that right now, and probably won't until a week or two or three from now, with another five-day trip on the horizon. In the meantime I can just say it was all good. The most recent trip, the one yesterday, was interesting for a lot of reasons:
--the contest was really hard and had some interesting problems
--listening to the kids talk on the way up and back was enlightening
--I made a new friend and reconnected with some old ones
--and last but not least, I made a lot of progress with one of my more recent ideas, a plan to have a website or listserve or some other way for NC math coaches to communicate with one another over the internet. One of the many coaches I met yesterday (I introduced myself to every one that I could find, at lunchtime and other times) shared with me a very workable way to do this, so when I get back to town I will check it out. Today was too full of catching up with stuff around here, and tomorrow I'll be working most of the day. Oh, another thing I did today was go to hear the York County Choral Society's Fall Concert (Carmina Burana), which was conveniently right before Mass tonight in Rock Hill. It was an excellent concert; I don't think I've heard much better singing (it was close to Caltech quality, my gold standard!) The fellow who leads the singing at our Sunday evening liturgy was the baritone soloist, and he was awesome, as ever.
Well, that's about all for now... I guess I'll go off to bed. I'm almost finished with Sally's book, Veggie Revolution, and I recommend it even more now than I did below. (Click on the book's title to read my review -- I just wrote it, when I probably ought to have been sleeping! I hope it makes sense...)

Math Power

Another quick note, in the "Breaking News" category: Patricia Clark Kenschaft's book, Math Power, has just been published in a revised edition. This is a very important book for me -- it says so much of what I believe about children/math/learning, and I wish every parent and teacher would read it!! Pat Kenschaft is a great writer with wide interests including a passion for math and for the environment, among other things. I met her serendipitously at the MAA/AMS Meeting in January 2005 after being a fan of hers for a number of years. She is a very warm and energetic individual with broad interests and a wealth of knowledge on so many topics. At the time I met her she was beginning to get a little discouraged about getting Math Power republished, but her efforts have finally come to fruition. I was delighted to be able to encourage her in these efforts, and to be of some small help in making the new edition for useful for homeschooling parents.
Please check out the book on -- there is a long excerpt from the introduction to the new edition. (And you might see the name of someone you know in there!) Request that your local library order the book, buy it for any parents of young children that you know, and/or do what you can to get the word out on this terrific resource.
Incidentally, Ms. Kenschaft has just finished with another book (on women and minorities in mathematics), and is working on yet another book project about math as well. I'll keep you posted on those...

Stop global warming!

Please click on the link above to find out more about this movement. They ask that we give them a list of folks to send the message out to, but I hesitate to give them e-mail addresses because I don't see on their privacy notice that they don't share them. So please go to this page and sign up if you are so inclined! At least read what is there -- it is vital information for all of us. The current administration is downplaying the seriousness of the situation so we must educate ourselves about this huge issue and take action on persoanl, local, national and global levels every time we see a way to do this.

I'll try to write more later -- the weekend was great!! We arrived back here at about 12:30 a.m. so I'm moving a little slowly this morning. Dan is off at Dilworth Coffee getting his morning started.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Oh boy oh boy oh boy!

I'm off to the airport to pick up Dan!! Then tomorrow off to his high school reunion, and visiting friends we haven't seen in awhile. It's been a long day, and I will try to write about it sometime soon, but with the upcoming travels I don't know when that could be...

Also, good news -- my work has picked up some! So I am not so worried about the immediate future....

In the meantime, Love to you all.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Context -- please read this before reading backwards

Somehow I think I've gotten over a hump of some sort. I went back this morning and edited and posted some old posts, one of which I never posted or posted only briefly, and now I have split up and reposted ("Crabby Old Earthmama" and "Revisiting parenting...") and the other was posted but was way too long, so I split it up and reposted the pieces ("Yoga", "Anne Bradstreet..." and "Babysitting news...", which is still probably too long.) "Crabby Old Earthmama", in the September archives, details some of my feelings about posting my opinions, especially w.r.t. "Revisiting Parenting".

Maybe I'm getting over my fear of writing-for-other-people-to-read. [Hmmm... is that a good thing or a bad thing? And does anybody besides Emily read this stuff anyway?] In any case, I have to stop writing now and go work on other things.

Blessings to all!!

for you Veggies and especially you possible future Veggies out there...

My friend Sally Kneidel has written a new book (her 11th!) and it is about the rationale for being vegetarian. It includes recipes as well. I started reading it last night, and it is great!! I hope all of you reading this will pick up a copy and see what you think.

Sally is an excellent writer, and collaborated on this book with her daughter, Sarah Kate Kneidel. I haven't read much of it yet but even the introductory sections are quite fascinating.

One of the things I really like about this book is that its tone is not strident; Sarah Kate and Sally present the information in a matter of fact way and let the readers decide for themselves how to feel and what to do about the material.

Sally and Sarah Kate did a ton of research for this book. I can tell you first-hand that when Sally is working on a book, she takes her subject very seriously; it is never far from her mind. I had the pleasure of accompanying her on a trip to New Town Farms, which she writes about in the book. It was fascinating not just to see the farm and hear the farmer talk about his work but to see how Sally conducted the interview.

Reading this book is an experience like no other I've had... I can hear Sally's voice when I am reading the book, so it is more like being read to than reading, actually. And I love being read to!
I'll post more about the book later, when I've read further.

Daylight Saving Time

Did you set your clock back?

What did you do with the extra hour?

Here's a heads up for those of you who like to be in the know on what's coming up:

"On August 8, 2005, President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This Act changed the time change dates for Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. Beginning in 2007, DST will begin on the second Sunday of March and end the first Sunday of November. The Secretary of Energy will report the impact of this change to Congress. Congress retains the right to revert the Daylight Saving Time back to the 2005 time schedule once the Department of Energy study is complete." (From the Webexhibits article on "Daylight Saving Time", link above.)

I really hate DST, but I guess it just doesn't do any good to rail against it.

Faith and Possessions

So, the lecture yesterday morning. It was great!! There were lots of people I know there, some of whom I don't see often, so I had a good time talking with them. But more than that, Luke Johnson is a very engaging speaker, and he knows what he is talking about. There were three major points of his talk that struck me: First, his discussions of the language around possessions: rich vs. poor, being vs. having (he credits Gabriel Marcel here, see this link and mystery vs. problem; second, the importance of the intentional community, along with its role (for lack of a better word here); and third, his definition of idolatry and discussions around that term. I'm getting a cd of the talk, and I'm sure all of these ideas are discussed thoroughly in his books, but I want to expand on the third point here, mostly so I don't forget it. He talked about how we are born longing to center on something. It is when we center on something other than God (or "our Higher Power", in 12-step language) that we begin to have a "deep disordering of freedom" -- idolatry -- and it when we center on God (or H.P.) that we have faith. Both begin at the same place, he says: our experience of our own closeness to death at every moment. In response to a comment during the Q & A at the end of the talk, he suggested that we "spend our lives oscillating between idolatry and faith."
The talk was both affirming and challenging, and made me realize again that I am not alone in my conviction that Christianity and the Christian community must be countercultural in some very fundamental ways.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

listening to Arlo

I'm just here, chipping away at the chaos in my office, thinking about you-all and listening to my new Arlo cd, Live in Sydney... I think that had to have been a hard concert for Arlo to play, as the audience seems to be just sitting there quietly listening to Arlo's stories, with none of the usual catcalls and other audience wildness that happens here in the 'States. He even tries to get them riled up a few times, with mixed results. Well, anyway, it's a good cd from the standpoint of the music and the stories. Maybe the audience will get more crazy on the other cd (it's a 2-cd set.) I've been trying to get time to sit and listen to this for days, ever since it came in the mail (thanks, Liz!) Office cleaning gives me the perfect opportunity. Speaking of which, it's slow-going... So far there is a little space in the closet that wasn't there before, and about 8 inches on a bookshelf has opened up. I was going to get rid of a whole pile of math books but haven't been able to let myself part with as many as I had hoped. Does anyone want the math puzzle books I'm giving away? I'm keeping the Martin Gardner books and a couple others (unless one of you would like to have them), but there are a number of others that are in the giveaway bag. Maybe I'll post a list of the discards before I get rid of them. There are other books to go besides these, including maybe some cookbooks and a bunch of "Key to" workbooks -- hmmm, maybe I ought to take those to John and Brenda.... Does anyone want my three-volume set of American Religions?
Gotta run, I've got a sitting job tonight. Been doing a lot of that lately. I'll be back on the office cleaning tomorrow afternoon. Must make space for Dan -- he'll be here in five days!!

Don't forget to turn your clocks back tonight, and get an extra hour of sleep (or whatever...)


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Anne Bradstreet and Luke Timothy Johnson

My reading the past week has been a book about Anne Bradstreet, the author of the poem I read at L and T's wedding a few weeks ago. It is Mistress Bradstreet: The Untold Life of America's First Poet, by Charlotte Gordon. I don't know how I got caught up in this -- I have about six other books, at least, waiting to be read -- but it is for some reason very fascinating to me at this particular moment to read about this particular woman. It has a lot to do with the way it is so carefully written, I think. It is obvious that Ms. Gordon did a tremendous amount of research. She tries to get inside the mind of her subject and discern how it must have felt to be in the unimaginably difficult situations Anne B. found herself in, including spending nine or ten weeks on a ship with the other emigrants to America (her first and only experience with sea travel) and, upon landing on the shores of what is now Massachusetts in the early summer of 1930, finding that the settlement where this group of Puritans were supposed to be wintering in a couple of months was pretty much non-existent. They had little hope of finding adequate supplies and building reasonably warm shelters in order to get through the winter. Consequently, 200 of the settlers in this group of about 700 died that first winter. I think I, and most of my contemporaries, would find that rather daunting!! But Anne B. and her little group persevered.

Next Saturday I am hoping to go to a talk on "Faith and Possessions" by Luke Timothy Johnson, a professor from Emory University. From what I have been able to read about him on the web, it promises to be a great lecture. It would be interesting to hear him talk on the topic of his interview (if you haven't already done so, click on his name above for the link to the interview -- it's at the bottom of the page the link takes you to) but that isn't an option this time. If you live in the Charlotte area and want more info, click here.

That's about it for now...time to get ready to go to Mass. More later!

All blessings!!

Babysitting news...

More babysitting this weekend... Last night for a three-year-old girl, and the night before for a 6.5-yr-old boy and an 8.5-yr-old girl whom I have sat for before, about 14 months ago. The latter are the kids whose trampoline I jumped on with them last year. The trampoline is temporarily out of commission so we didn't repeat that experience, but we played games for awhile (each of which sparked its own unique spat between brother and sister) and then we came across a book of string games (Cat's Cradle, etc.) and I found out they had not learned any of this yet, so I taught them (or attempted to, anyway) how to do Cat's Cradle and the Cup and Saucer, which were the only ones I could recall in the short time we had before their bedtime. They were fascinated. I wish I'd had J, F, and E there to do the teaching -- all were much more accomplished at this than I. :-)
Last night's job was really different... The little girl was very sweet; she is going through an extended princess phase and wears her Cinderella [princess] costume (complete with "glass" slippers) all the time, her parents tell me. And of course it was endearing that she appreciated my rendition of "I See the Moon and the Moon sees me..." and the Milne poem that begins "John had Great big waterproof boots on...." (I'm going to have to relearn more stuff by heart for these occasions! I ran out of material pretty fast.) It was a relatively uneventful sit (except for the 2-yr-old cocker spaniel who tried to eat my spaghetti) but it made me feel all the more sympathetic for today's parents and the unique challenges they face. I talked with the parents a little after they got home about some of the issues. Mostly our talk centered around two issues: the difficulty in learning how to manage children's exposure to various electronic media in our high-tech society -- there being not much precedent in past generations; and the isolation of children from other children in the after-school hours, unless they are in day care, due to the small numbers of children (and parents) who are at home during in the day now. We were reminiscing about how in our youth, and in my kids' growing up years, children played outside so much. (In another conversation earlier this week the same topic came up, and people reminisced about what games they played outside. One remembered "Sling the Biscuit", which apparently was like a game I played with my friends, "Statues". Others remembered "Capture the Flag" and "Red Rover".)
I talked some in a former post about the media issue... Judging from my limited experience with child care kids the past 15 months or so, children of all ages are not just watching more tv than a couple of generations ago, but allowed to choose more for themselves when and how long to watch, even though parents do seem to be limiting their choices somewhat of what to watch. I don't know if parents now are unaware of the well-documented negative effects on children of watching tv or if they know of this but find it too difficult to regulate this. It is a complicated issue, for sure, and something each family must figure out for themselves. Parents don't want their children to grow up ignorant about media, but how to help children learn what it is and how to use it judiciously without them getting hooked on it? Our family's solution was to not allow the children to watch tv except very occasionally and under very specific circumstances, and for my part I decided to wean myself off tv, and didn't watch except on rare occasions for many years (and this is still pretty much the case.) I don't know if this was the best solution, it just seemed like it would be easier than allowing tv, having it readily available (ours was tucked into a corner of the basement play area), and then having to constantly monitor and regulate the activity.
I'll post some links to resources about the media issue (websites and books) in my lists on this site.


Looking back over my week...
I went to yesterday's Yoga "levels I and II" class at the YWCA, and met Alison, whom Emily recommended as a fabulous teacher. She is a warm person, very positive, very knowledgeable, and a teacher who is relatively easy to follow (considering that I have very little idea of what I am doing, still.) I was especially impressed by how she takes her time to get to know new people -- she came over to me before starting the class and welcomed me and asked my name. She is also very aware of the class as a small community: she cares about each member and took the time to have everybody share their name and a little about themselves before starting our practice. (I gather she doesn't do this every time, but just occasionally.) She also took a minute or two to talk about what it means, the "practice" of yoga. The students in the Saturday morning class have been together, most of them, for quite awhile; yesterday there was only one other real beginner besides me. They asked Alison how her baby was doing, and she said fine, and related the detail that now, at six weeks, he is starting to smile a lot, and she is really enjoying that. (So there's an update for you, Em, on what Alison's been up to lately!) I reluctantly left the class a few minutes early to get home for an appointment with a student. I probably won't be able to get back to this class for about 6 weeks because of things going on for the next five Saturdays, but I hope eventually I will get to be more of a regular attendee. In the meantime I have checked out a yoga dvd from the library to try to get in more practice. Also I checked out a Pilates dvd. Will let you know in a future post what they are, if they are any good. Maybe if I get regular with this stuff, I won't be so sore afterwards!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

domestic violence

Last night I went to an information session about volunteer opportunities with Child and Family Services working in the area of Domestic Violence. It was very interesting. I knew already a little bit about all of the areas that the presenters talked about, but I learned a lot more in detail about the various ways to help. There were four major areas: being a support to rape victims by phone and in the hospital (emergency room), connecting with and supporting domestic violence victims at Carolinas Medical Center, helping out in a variety of ways at the Shelter for Battered Women, and being a support person in the courtroom for victims of domestic violence (mostly when they are seeking a restraining order.) I haven't figured out yet what I can do, but I do want to participate in some way. There is a tremendous need for volunteers in all these areas.
In the meantime, I have connected up with a friend of a friend to do some work with students in a low-income neighborhood in northeast Charlotte, one evening a week. There is another possibility for volunteering that I haven't explored yet, working in a middle school. I don't know where I will go with that. And I don't know why at this point, volunteering has become such an intense interest for me. I have been doing a lot of volunteer work for a lot of years, so it is not like I feel guilty for not doing anything to help in the community! I guess I just see such a need, and I have always been an idealistic person, believing that one person can make a difference, change is possible, etc. And I believe that all this extra energy that I have ought to be spent doing something worthwhile, helping others.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Today's been interesting, sometimes frustrating, and only moderately productive. But I wanted to relate one thing in particular that was a victory for me: I finally went to my first yoga class! This may not seem remarkable to most people but several people very close to me who have been trying to convince me for years to try yoga will be glad to know that the seeds they planted have finally taken root. Thanks to all for your encouragement! What finally convinced me to go was rather simple: desperation. I have been cooped up inside for several days due to work, lack of transportation (my car was in the shop for 50 hours or so), incessant but badly needed rain, and lack of motivation, and about 5:30 I caught myself headed to the sofa for another evening of reading and napping. "Enough of this!" I said, and headed off to the YWCA, where the only class tonight was YOGA. The rest is history. I still love Pilates, though. I hope to do more of both.... By the way, I enjoyed the class, but I had to do easier poses at many points in the class. The instructor was very helpful in this regard, and also commented on my good position several times. Must be the Pilates training.
p.s. My favorite pose is The Corpse :-)

Monday, September 19, 2005

Revisiting parenting in a new context

Today’s parents have some new issues to deal with as well as some new twists on the old ones. Here are some examples, based on my recent experience, of what is going on in the parenting realm nowadays.

Today’s parents grew up with television, in a different way from how my generation did. It came to me yesterday, when I was thinking about how the parents of my young charges use TV, that to these parents TV is as much a part of their daily life and experience as radio is to me and was to my parents. Quite a large number of people nowadays like to have the TV on, whether anyone is actively watching or not, in the same way my generation and several before mine would leave a radio on all day whether we were actively focused on it or not. (I still tend to do this with the radio occasionally, until the noise starts to get to me…) It doesn’t seem to occur to some of today’s parents that it might be inappropriate or even harmful for their children to watch many TV programs, or just to be sitting in front of the TV when they could be engaged in more active or worthwhile pursuits. I don’t fault these parents for not thinking along these lines – they get little encouragement from our consumer-oriented, media-saturated culture to question the status quo. This is just an observation, and something I will continue to ponder and occasionally voice. For those who would like to explore the issue of children and TV in greater depth, an excellent resource is The Plug-In Drug, by Marie Winn, which was released in a new edition a few years ago. My personal favorite book about TV, though, is Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, by Jerry Mander (lots of used copies are available from abebooks.)

Feeding children and babies… I won’t even get into my views on breastfeeding, as that could be a many-paged essay and there are much more competent writers on this issue. Check out La Leche League's website for comprehensive, reliable information on the topic. Anyway, I thought that it was settled years ago that the primary source of nourishment for babies up to the age of one year should be human milk, or if that wasn’t available, infant formula, but apparently parents today are not being told that. One mom told me her doctor recommended that she start feeding her 5-month-old "solid food" on a regular basis so he wouldn't refuse it later. I’d love to see some research on this one! (Why feed babies baby food from a jar if you want them to eat real food later, anyhow? There isn't really any resemblance between the two.) Also, years ago parents were encouraged to avoid feeding their children food laden with additives, nitrates, saturated fats… I thought that issue was settled, too! But in the homes I have been sitting in, there is a reliance on hot dogs and other nutritionally deficient foods that is truly remarkable. And it is not like these families cannot afford to feed their children well; that is not an issue. Is it like the TV issue – people are so used to eating junk that they don’t even realize anymore that it is junk? Are people afraid their children will starve to death if they refuse to feed them in ways that are unhealthy? In reality, these children’s bodies probably are starving for the nutrients that are missing in their diets. Or do they just think it doesn't matter what kids eat?

I read an interesting (though limited) article in the Charlotte Observer this morning (10/10/05) about how parents really could be feeding their young children spicier and more varied diets; according to this article, it might actually be okay to feed children the same food that their parents eat! What a novel idea. I don’t think too many parents are subsisting on a diet primarily of strained peas, "junior" meats, rice cereal, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, Goldfish, and chocolate milk, so paying attention to suggestions like this would probably be an improvement in most babies’ and children’s diets. (Here's a link to another version of the article.)

One other issue, something I came across in the newspaper yesterday… There apparently is a movement afoot to train babies as young as a few months old to use the toilet instead of diapers, an idea that people in my parenting generation would have found hysterically funny and quite ludicrous. But now that paper diapers have become the norm, this idea makes more and more sense. Our environment has got to be adversely affected, to say the least, by the thousands of tons of soiled diapers that go into our “sanitary” landfills each year. There has got to be a better way. People in other cultures have been "potty training" their children from an early age for many generations, so certainly it is possible. Anyway, I thought it was an interesting idea…if you have heard anything about this, or had experience with it yourself, please let me know. Check out this link for more information. And here's another one that is very well-written and convincing.

Enough for now… I need to get back to my real life… :-)

Crabby old earthmama

Blogging is still such a new thing for me. I started this blog so I would have a way to put some ideas out there, and maybe strike up a dialogue with some of you… so what are my ideas of late?
Recent babysitting experiences have gotten me to thinking about contemporary parenting issues. Parents today have choices to make that the parents in my generation didn’t even dream of, but there are also some areas where they are unaware that they have options --options that my generation of moms took for granted. Of course, anybody who knew me in my “young mother” days will tell you that I was just a bit on the fanatical side when it came to a variety of issues like nutrition, television, reading, the value of open-ended play time, etc. As I'm still rather opinionated, I am concerned about possible problems generated by my blogging about parenting issues:

1. My children and their present/future spouses might get the idea that when/if they have children I will be a nagging, irascible mother/mother-in-law who will criticize everything they do. I would hope not, and if I ever start showing signs of this, please shoot me! Every family has the right to choose its own methods, priorities, limits and so on, and I respect and honor that right.

2. One might get the idea that I have nothing but negative thoughts about the current state of parenting. This is not the case! Children are as sweet as ever, and the parents I have encountered all love their children and are striving to do the best they can. I have great sympathy for today's parents. They have so many more choices to make than I had to, and are subject to stressors that didn't even exist in the 70's and 80's, when my children were young. This is not to say that "in the good old days" things were easy or better or whatever... I'm not a proponent of "going back to the good old days", mainly because they weren't always all that good. We have to deal with things as they are, not as we wish they could be! And today's parents are doing that. But I do think that sometimes they lack information about what their choices are, perhaps because there is just too much information for a couple to digest and a lot of misinformation to sift through, too. Hence my comments...

3. By taking a stand on one side or the other of an issue, I may seem to be ridiculing those on the other side (or sides.) That is not my intent, and if I come off that way I hope that my readers will set me straight so I can make the necessary adjustments. I can have blinders on just as much as the next person! And, more importantly, I believe that every parent is the expert on his or her own children -- they are the ones who know them from birth, and live with them day-to-day. So any comments I make are general statements, not a criticism of any particular individual.

4. So what is the purpose of my discussion of parenting issues, or any other issues that may come up? I'm just trying to share my perspective, which at times turns out to be a minority or countercultural view that doesn't get a lot of air time. And my hope is that I will stimulate my readers to think about the issues more deeply.

5. It may seem at times that I take things far too seriously -- that's something I've been accused of quite often. But our actions, even the small ones if repeated over and over, have real and sometimes irreversible consequences for the health of our Earth and of our children and families. Blind acceptance of the status quo, as well as of the messages of our culture and the mass media, is not a reasonable option!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Life is just so interesting at times. This week I've managed to land myself two substantial babysitting jobs and I paid a visit last night to a friend who had a baby on last Saturday (9/10), so my life is rather full of young children at the moment. And that means that I get to enjoy the viewpoint of the very young on a frequent basis for awhile, which is a great blessing.
Last night's 4-day-old... how do I describe the experience of holding and being with a baby that young, especially after not seeing a tiny baby like that for a long time? I could have watched his newborn grimaces and smiles all night long, as I did with my own babies. All the craziness of the world comes to a screeching halt; all those tasks that seemed of the utmost importance before I walked into the door of that house fade into a whirr of unimportant background noise off in the distance, in the presence of this exquisitely lovely new soul.
Tonight's babysitting stint (one could hardly call it work) was another opportunity to enter the slow and relatively unspoiled realm of child-life. A 4-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl were my charges for the evening, and they were a joy, though in a whole different way from last night's infant. They were so full of energy, and they wanted me to participate in their play. They danced a lot, and it reminded me of my kids and how they liked to dance. They were very physical. At one point they decided that jumping onto my lap from the pillows next to me on the sofa would be a good idea. Another time the little girl asked me to do a handstand, and I found that I really can't do that anymore, or maybe I just have lost my nerve. Their curiosity was fun, too -- they wanted to know if I had children, and even though I explained as best I could about my grown kids, they just couldn't get their minds around it: I have children that don't live with me, how weird! They came back to this topic a couple of times during the evening. When I tried to explain that all of my children live a long distance away from me, that didn't make sense to them either, so I didn't even go into the fact that I have a married child!
There was more, but I am too tired to re-type it now: I had lots more in here, but somehow it got lost when I previewed the post... the learning curve on this is a little steep, sometimes. Maybe later.
All blessings!

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Okay, I figured out about the title problem (see below.) This [blog editing program] is really pretty easy to use! Now if I just had something to say :-)
Oh, I know what: I had a wonderful birthday and am quite humbled by all the good wishes and gifts and caring from everybody. I will remember this day always, as a blessing and an affirmation! Thank you to all!!

First post

Hi y'all! Well, I finally did it -- joined the ranks of bloggers.... I don't know yet what I will put up here, but for the time being I'm just playing around with the settings and format and all to see how this thing works. I'll write a longer post later... btw, does anybody know how to get a title on a post? It didn't seem to give me the opportunity to do that just now. Thanks! And I'm open to suggestions on what to write, how to format, etc.