Category Archives: kids

Update to a tragic story

A brief update to this post.

They’ve locked the website that had her journal entries regarding her child’s medical condition, so that link no longer works.

I think everything I talked about, no matter what the true situation with this mother allegedly trying to suffocate her child, is important is view of our developing medical technology and its ethical application to the suffering and dying.

However, none of it may be applicable in this case.

A possible theory is that the mother has Munchausen’s by proxy. The website I’ve linked to here may not be the best presentation of the “disease,” but it’ll give you the gist.

I felt a certain compassion when I thought the mother may have been attempting euthanasia out of desperation to end the suffering of her baby. But to suppose for a moment that it is Munchausen’s, that the baby may never have been ill or had any birth defects in the first place… unthinkable.

I think of the times when I have accidentally hurt my child… I think the worst one was when my oldest daughter was about one, in my haste I accidentally caught a bit of her belly when I was zipping her footie jammies. There was the tiniest little cut, and she wailed for about three minutes, but the guilt went on for days, until the little owie had healed and went away. Okay, that’s not true, I still feel a little guilty. But I never made that mistake again.

Even having to say no to my child — when we can’t go to the park, when it’s too close to dinner to have another cookie, when I have to finish the dishes and I can’t read a book right now — and seeing them be genuinely sad as a result is difficult for me.

I cannot even fathom hurting a child ON PURPOSE. Your OWN child. Causing your perfectly healthy child to suffer.

I’m not sure I’m going to be able to find any compassion on this one.

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“Baby Food”

I recently found, in the Jan. 19, 2009 issue of The New Yorker, an article entitled, “Baby Food” written by Jill Lepore. I got to this quote and it just about made me cry:

“When the babe, soon after it is born into this cold world, is applied to its mother’s bosom; its sense of perceiving warmth is first agreeably affected; next its sense of smell is delighted with the odour of her milk; then its taste is gratified by the flavour of it; afterwards the appetites of hunger and of thirst afford pleasure by the possession of their objects, and by the subsequent digestion of the aliment; and, lastly, the sense of touch is delighted by the softness and smoothness of the milky fountain, the source of such variety and happiness.”

No offense, I swear I’m not a genderist, but I can’t believe it was written by a man; in 1794, Erasmus Darwin (Charles’ grandpappy) included this passage in his “Zoonomia; or The Laws of Organic Life.” I feel like it so beautifully expresses the whole, multi-layered experience. I realize it is written from the perspective of the child, and I wasn’t ever breastfed, and most of us wouldn’t remember it if we were, but it reflects so well the feeling of total satisfaction and well-being that pervades every aspect of existence when a child nurses.

I really don’t understand bottle feeding.

And the gist of the article is how many women now decide to bottle feed their breast milk. Yes, I know: work, partying, vacation sans enfants. But I’ve had to use a pump (my first baby was premature) and lemme tell ya, it ain’t fun. It is the worst of both worlds.

Whereas, in my opinion, breastfeeding, you know, out of the breast, is the best and easiest.

Anyway, if you have the slightest interest in breastfeeding or children, check out the whole article.


Filed under kids, society

Close-cropped progeny

I can never resist a request for pics (macbeck – is that you my dear artist friend?)

So here’s the little ones pre-infestation and then what I did to them to facilitate eradication of the nasty-crawlies:



Mathilda, right?


Then little dude before:


And post-buzz:


Those parasites may be able to suck the blood from their scalps (I’m making myself itch again just thinking about it) but they can’t make them stop smiling!!!


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Further lessons in humility…

Heaven knows I’m sure I need them.

We found lice eggs on my baby son’s head, so it was time for the buzz.  He’s 20 months old and had just grown in the sweetest curls.  But he’s too squirmy to have to search through his head all the time, and I hate the thought of putting poison on his baby head, so we just buzzed him.  It made me sad.

Even sadder, I keep finding eggs and bugs in my littlest daughter’s hair, and she has never had her hair cut (only bang trims) in all her 6-1/2 years.  Her lovely brown ringlets went all the way down to the small of her back.  But enough is enough.  Luckily she and her Dad just finished the Matilda book and movie, so she is thrilled to have a cute bob just like the lead character’s.  And it does look sweet.  But me and my sentimentality, I had to shed a tear first before chopping it off.  

I feel totally drained.  Every morning this week has been spent/wasted dealing with bugs.  I poisoned all our heads Monday, but today I still found bugs in my little girl’s hair.  Back to the store, more poison, more expensive stronger brand.  Damned if there weren’t still LIVE BUGS in her hair an hour after treatment.


I’m going to try the oil treatment tomorrow, see if something more natural won’t do the trick (oil is supposed to suffocate them if you completely saturate your hair and leave it on for a couple hours.  And it’s not poisonous!)

Anyway, enough bitching.  Just in case anyone wondered why I haven’t had anything intelligent or insightful to say in a few days, it is because my critical powers are focussed on searching every strand of hair for bloodsucking parasites, and my eyesight has been encompassing nothing of interest.

Hope to be back in the game soon.


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Monkey pics…


These are photos I took at a really cool park in Eugene, Oregon about 2 1/2 years ago.  It had the neatest rope climbing structure, among other things.  Joy made a nice comment about the bit I used in the header, so I thought I’d torture y’all with the whole series.  (Blame Joy!  😀  )




The first photo was of my son, Garth, about 10 at this time.  The pic above is of Livi, who was round about 4. 



I was trippin’ on the shadows, if ya couldn’t tell.



More proof no thinking person needs that we are somehow related to the chimps.




This is the rest of the Monkey Toes header photo… definitely incomplete without the shadow of her on the ground.




My boy.


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In the True Spirit of Halloween…

I am about to commit an act of unspeakable evil. But since I admitted it ahead of time you have to forgive me!!!


I am sure this is breaking the cardinal rule of blogging, but in my defense, when I first posted it a year ago, NO ONE and I mean not a single soul on this or the other side of the veil of tears read my blog.  Okay, maybe one person stumbled onto it by accident.  But now that I have some wonderful readers I cannot resist the temptation to entertain them with this holiday-appropriate article.  I do hope my sinful act is not in vain…

Halloween: Not Just for Kids

I’ve always loved Halloween – a pleasure that was condoned until I was 13. Now, at the ripe old age of 30-something, some people want to know, why do you still get into it? Well, I’m not alone. Sixty-three percent of Americans celebrate Halloween, with 30% of the adults joining the kids in costume, according to the National Retail Foundation’s Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey. Americans spend more than $4 billion a year on candy, costumes, cards and decorations for Halloween, and the holiday’s popularity has been spreading internationally. Halloween became popular in Britain after “E.T.” arrived in theaters and demonstrated the unbeatable fun of trick-or-treating. Germans see fit to blow more than $100 million a year on the holiday. And in Romania, home of the Dracula myth, revelers brave the haunted night to attend parties with vampire themes.

But the question remains in some people’s minds: why would adults enjoy participating in Halloween?


I have to admit that, for me, candy has a lot to do with Halloween’s appeal. (And by “candy,” I mean “chocolate.” I’m one of those for whom any candy not involving chocolate is really more “trick” than “treat.”) ‘Tis better to give than to receive, as they say, and I do enjoy opening the door and depositing a sweet in each child’s bucket, so much so it might seem I had stock in a dentist’s practice. But I’ve always got a private stash of my favorite candies close at hand and, because it’s Halloween, I can indulge to my heart’s content, though often this involves my stomach’s discontent.

Since becoming a mother of trick-or-treaters, I never have to worry about running out of candy; I always know that very soon, my intrepid young treasure-hunters will return with bags of sweet plunder, replenishing my dwindling sugar supply. The key is to talk up the Tootsie Pops and Sweet Tarts – just to distract them as I snag some of their M&Ms. (I’ve also found it useful to encourage the belief that coconut is just this side of poisonous, thus ensuring that the Mounds will all be mine.)

To the untrained eye there is an apparent inconsistency in my delight in Halloween; I won’t go anywhere near a horror flick, and indeed will scream and hyperventilate if my son creeps up behind me and says, “Boo!” in broad daylight, so why do I enjoy the creepiest of holidays? The thing is, when Halloween first started a few thousand years ago in ancient Celtic communities, it was the night when dead folks or demons were said to wander among the living. The idea of a scary costume was to frighten them off, or at least to blend in among them and not appear to be a vulnerable living target. Being the scaredy-pants I am, I can get onboard with that.

Plus I love the attention. When I was seven I dressed as an alien in a homemade green fur costume with a tinted motorcycle visor mask and twisted copper wire antennae – I got applause at every house I went to. Often the door-opener would call to other people in the house to come and see the Martian that had landed on the front stoop. That kind of childhood glory can be seriously addictive.

The creativity of costuming is a good chance to turn my imagination loose. The National Retail Foundation reports that in 2006 the most popular children’s costumes were the princess and the pirate, but I like to get a lot funkier than that. (I find that sampling the candy I bought for handing out helps stimulate the creative process.) Our family disguises have included a bellydancer, Tigger and a sorcerer, all handmade by me. It’s one thing to have a child select a pre-made costume from a rack at the big box store, but it is even more fun to have them select a pattern, fabric and notions for a custom outfit.

Even better are the get-ups whipped together five minutes before the doorbell starts ringing, like the year I was a scarecrow wearing a plaid flannel shirt, my jeans and a straw hat. To complete the effect I blackened my whole nose with an eyeliner pencil, teased my hair until it looked like a bird’s nest and grabbed some long brown grass from a neighboring field so it could stick out the ends of my sleeves and collar. My neck itched all night but it was worth it; the neighborhood kids’ eyes bugged out to see a grown-up joining in their game with such abandon.

The artistic side to Halloween continues with the decorations, especially the Jack-O-Lantern, which is derived from the ancient Celtic custom of making a lantern out of a hollowed turnip. This tradition is based on the legend of “Stingy Jack,” a swindler and a drunk who got in trouble with the devil and had to wander about with a candle in a carved-out turnip. When the Irish brought their Halloween celebrations to the New World and found a plethora of pumpkins, they upgraded this particular practice and now we have the fabulous works of art that sit on front porches with faces that beckon or threaten, depending on whether you are a trick-or-treater or a mischievous spirit. This may be my favorite part of Halloween; after all, which other holiday’s decoration preparation involves wielding a sharp knife to gut a monstrous gourd that will end up as a one-of-a-kind candle holder? (And if I find myself getting discouraged, a quick dip into the candy stash provides just the right little pick-me-up!)

Though the US Census Bureau reports that there are 109.6 million occupied housing units in America, all potential trick-or-treat stops, I believe that Halloween means more than trying to get our share of the available loot. In today’s mobile society, a lot of us get the chance to interact socially with co-workers, church groups and at school functions, but because we tend to move a lot, we seldom get to know our neighbors. Americans have gotten further and further away from the basic human need to know the folks that inhabit the same territory as we do. Halloween gives us the opportunity to accompany our kids as they knock on everyone’s door for a brief, friendly exchange.

And what a better way to greet a neighbor than with a chocolate bar!

This article was first published in The Lake Magazine


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It never ceases to amaze me that at such a young age, we are aware that people are looking at us and that they think we are awesome.

Eventually it starts to mess with us, because when we go out into the world, we can’t be sure that people think we’re all that great.  Maybe we start to feel painfully self-conscious, maybe we are just making an extra effort to blend into the wallpaper, or maybe we get off on the attention.

But that pure joy of a little kid who knows he is surrounded by people who love him, who gets that smug little grin because he knows everyone thinks he is too cute… that feels so good.  Makes me feel like all is right with the world.


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