Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Callaway on foot

This week we’ve been enjoying a brief visit from my mom, who flew in from Colorado Sunday afternoon and will leave us again Thursday morning. The last time she was here without my dad she was slaving over dinners, scrubbing floors and counters for me (and everything in between) and accompanying me on power walks as we tried to prod overdue Owen out of my bulging belly. This time I’m doing the cooking and letting her get in as much play time as possible with Will and Owen (mostly because I love to work on a simple meal with no distractions while listening to the sweet sounds of grandma-grandkid conversations in the other room).

Yesterday we laid low but did the usual walk to Lakebottom Park, where Grammy and Will enjoyed swinging side by side.
And today we hit Callaway Gardens, where I realized that the next best way to see the Gardens when you can’t tour the whole place on a bike is to stroll down the bike path (which is pretty clear of bikes on a weekday) from one stop to the next. A good mom tip for those of you who live nearby and frequent Callaway: Stop the madness of loading kids back in the car at each tourist destination and park just a couple times – first at the Butterfly house and then somewhere like the Discovery Center –and make it a car-free stroller journey from there.
We took in a Bird’s of Prey Show (which had Owen shouting so loud in amazement that the crowd sometimes took their eyes off the owl or the peregrine falcon to crane their necks and get a look at squawking baby), fed some turtles, ate a lakeside lunch, strolled down the bike path where Will found nature objects for a “decoration” he was scheming about as he pushed his own stroller most of the way, wandered over bridges in the Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl and then looped back to the Sibley Horticultural Center, where Will tried his hand at nature photography for the first time. Here is one of his point-and-shoot masterpieces.

But the highlights were really the walks in between the sites. In the woods, away from the crowds, we stopped for several minutes to watch a great blue heron, who stood just 20 feet from us at the edge of the lake, while a bald Eagle soared in large loops over the lake.

Just before we headed back in the car, Owen nearly jumped out of the stroller when he saw these ducks.

Monday, April 28, 2008

No lions here

On Saturday we went up to Atlanta with intentions of going to the zoo. But the weather was a bit questionable and we wound up giving Will the choice of a day at the zoo (which he hasn't been to in two years) and a day at Imagine It!: The Children's Museum of Atlanta, where we'd never been. He immediately chose the museum as the less scary option (he'd been worrying about how we were going to avoid the gorillas, tigers and lions at the zoo, and he told his Aunt Alicia this weekend that he plans to go to the zoo once he is 7 years old. Apparently he's intending to get brave by then).

So we decided to check out the lion-free kid's museum. I didn't get my animal-viewing fix (we'll save for that the fall), but it was fun to watch both boys immersed in so much exploratory fun. If it weren't for the fact that nap-deprived Owen was headed for a meltdown by mid-afternoon we could have stayed all day. Here are some highlights:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sweet independence

Today, Will, who has been gradually learning to pump on the swings at Lakebottom Park, finally mastered the concept. He was so thrilled to not only be pointing his legs in the proper direction, but also propelling himself forcefully enough to stay in motion, that after one push from me he pumped and kept himself swinging for a full, uninteruppted fifteen minutes. (I started quietly keeping time once I noticed how immersed in the activity he was becoming.) “I finally get how to do it, mom!” he said. And in his joy, he started shouting silly-talk at the trees on each upswing.

Meanwhile, Owen and I got to enjoy ourselves on the toddler playground and just wave back at swinging Will now and then. The peek-a-boo tunnel is about as thrilling for Owen as pumping on a swing is for Will. When Will finally gave up his swing session, he was eager for a little peek-a-boo too.

And back at home, Rob decided it was time to launch a three-piece band.

***On an unrelated note: If you’re a garden enthusiast and live nearby, you might want to go on the Keep Columbus Beautiful Commission’s 2008 Tour of Gardens on May 3. See my story in today’s Ledger for details. Proceeds go to Keep Columbus Beautiful.

Here's the "If You Go" details, since they didn't make the online edition of the paper:

What: The Keep Columbus Beautiful Commission’s 2008 Tour of Gardens
When: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday (May 3)
Where: Green Island and Brookstone neighborhoods
Cost: $20 in advance. $15 per ticket for groups of ten or more. $25 per person the day of the tour. Proceeds go to the Keep Columbus Beautiful Commission. Tickets can be purchased at any of the featured gardens the day of the tour. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Keep Columbus Beautiful Commission office at 685 Front Ave.; the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau, 900 Front Ave.; The Butler’s Pantry, 2533 Auburn Ave.; The Butler’s Other Pantry, 1640 Rollins Way; River Road Pharmacy, 5100 River Road; Columbus Coffee Company, 1660 Whittlesey Road, the Nursery of Lee Bayard, 1210 13th St.; and Spring Harbor, 100 Spring Harbor Drive.
Details: The tour is self-guided. Tickets and maps will be available at each of the featured gardens, and you can choose your own starting and stopping points. A plant sale will take place at Brookstone School throughout the tour and is open to non-tour-goers as well. Columbus Flower Workshop will present a standard flower show throughout the tour time at Spring Harbor at Green Island.
More information: Call Keep Columbus Beautiful at 706-653-4008 or 706-653-4009.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Corn, corn and corn

If you’re not a paranoid, label-reading grocery shopper already, take this challenge: Go into your refrigerator, your pantry, your cupboards and look at how many of the items that you eat have corn (or high fructose corn syrup, or corn-fed beed – which almost all beef is these days) as an ingredient. A few days ago, Rob and I finally got around to watching "King Corn," a documentary that aired last week on PBS’s “Independent Lens” series, after I’d been enticed to see the film by an interview I heard with the filmmakers on NPR. The documentary follows two recent college grads who learn that the carbon in their hair indicates that their diet is comprised largely of corn and who become inspired to go rent and plant an acre of corn on an Iowa farm and then follow its journey from “seed to feed.”

The saddest thing, of course, is the role the U.S. government has played in subsidizing the mass production of corn, sacrificing human health and agricultural diversity in the interest of producing cheap food.

So here’s to community-supported (and sustainable) agriculture, grass-fed beef, honey bees, 100-percent juices and plain old tap water.

If you missed the film on PBS, it's available on Netflix. And you can watch a preview here.

Here’s a quote from the filmmaker, Aaron Woolf:

“I feel that the seeds of an improved food economy and food culture will come from forging reconnections everywhere––between farmers and consumers at produce markets and in CSA subscription farms; between constituents and legislators collaborating on an agricultural policy that makes us healthy; between eaters and the food we eat. I hope KING CORN can be a small part of helping these conversations and connections grow."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day in little ways

Today is Earth Day 2008. Go here for some ideas of recycled and animal/nature crafts to try with your kids and for other kid-friendly earth day activities.

Will brought a nature-filled show-and-tell bag to school today with a Happy Earth Day sign he colored and some pine cones, rocks and leaves he's collected to pass around.

Other than that, we're keeping it simple and just talking about Earth Day and why we celebrate it with Will. I think I’ll take him and Owen on a neighborhood nature/clean-up hike this afternoon. We’ll bring a trash bag and gardening gloves and go litter hunting – and at the same time scout for animals and plants in our neighborhood. And once Rob's home, we'll probably have to have a little living room family dance session, pass around our globe, and sing along to Raffi's rendition of "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands."

These little holidays that sometimes feel like tokenism to adults are a fun excuse to celebrate with kids.

Monday, April 21, 2008

We sing for kids

It was concert time at Will’s preschool this morning -- to launch the school’s celebration of the Week of the Young Child . The highlight of the show was the youngest toddler group, which showcased one twirling, dancing, gleeful boy and an entourage of other bewildered kids who all stood stock still through their performance. They were too awed by the crowd to move or sing.

In many ways, Will still belongs in their ranks. I found myself getting slightly nervous as the three-year-olds’ performance approached. Would Will bolt the stage or scowl at the crowd? (Scowling is one of his most recent “I’m feeling shy” defense mechanisms – not a very endearing one of course.)

But Will chose to be politely shy. While most of the kids around him sang and did accompanying motions with varying degrees of enthusiasm, Will seemed to barely mumble the words for the first part of one song and then mostly look around. At one point he shut his eyes as if to block out the crowd. By the second song, he was trying to get comfortable and I watched as he’d almost imperceptibly do hints of the dance motions. A tiny, slow motion tilting of the head instead of the fast-paced head bobbing of his classmates, for example.

So I settled into it and enjoyed watching my little shy guy try to make the best of his stage fright.

Back at home, I asked him if he’d enjoyed the concert.

“Yeah,” he said, then quickly added: “Mom, when I’m singing to a lot of people I just sing a little
bit and then I stop. Because I’m scared of singing to a lot of people. I just like singing to two adults and a lot of kids."

Fair enough, I thought, since I prefer singing to no adults and two kids.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Diaper escape

Owen has hit that critical moment in his diaper-changing journey when he has recognized the exhilarating possibility of escaping from the changing table. Gone are the days when Owen would merely cry if he was in no mood for a diaper change. Now, regardless of whether he is feeling cheerful or funky, his first reaction upon being laid on his back for a diaper change is to immediately flip himself over and attempt to crawl away. So now, for safety reasons, I wind up doing some of his especially squirrely diaper changes on a changing pad on the floor. I come armed with an assortment of toys and I do obnoxious songs and dances directly overhead in a desperate attempt to keep the squirmy guy on his back. I call in back up – and Will does his own songs and dances, reads board books, offers still more toys. And 75 percent of the time none of it works. So I change Owen’s diaper as he struggles on his tummy to crawl away. This would all be manageable if it weren’t for the fact that I’m still using cloth diapers on Owen during the day – the old school Chinese prefold kind, with old-fashioned safety pins for securing the things. And I can’t get comfortable pinning diapers on a crawling baby. So fifty percent of the time I’ve been throwing in the towel and reaching for disposable.

Back when I was diaper waffling in October, I predicted I would abandon cloth once Owen got squirmy, stinky and belligerent on me. But I really hate to start using nothing but disposables now that I’ve settled into the fairly simple process of storing and laundering cloth diapers. It’s cheap and, since I hang-dry the things, I’m pretty sure it’s better for the environment.
So I decided to do one of those ridiculously specific Google searches: “getting baby still to change diaper.” And I landed at this web site, where I quickly ticked off all the advice in my mind. Done that. Tried it. Worked once but never again…. And then I hit the gold mine: Offer something ordinarily forbidden like a cell phone, a television remote or masking tape…. So this morning I gave Owen a TV remote and he marveled at it, still on his back for an entire diaper change. Next diaper change I tried it again and before I had so much as pulled his pants down, Owen immediately flipped himself over to explore the remote like so.

So out came the masking tape, which worked for one diaper change but was old news by the time
Owen was due for another change. This time I was prepared with a back-up novel item – a piece of thick string, and again this worked for just one diaper change. So next time we moved on to one of Will’s sippy cups (which Owen covets more than any of his toys) and then a spool of thread. If Owen’s squirminess forces me to present him with new items to explore, I guess that’s just the innate learner in him, demanding that he be taught with fresh materials – so I don’t mind obliging him. As long as I can keep coming up with novel ideas – or perhaps a rotation of about 30 of them??
By the end of the day, though, I was ready to let Rob have a hand at the diaper changing. Surely he could handle just one disposable after Owen’s bath?

“Okay, you’re up,” Rob calls to me from the bedroom, as if to suggest that he’d diapered the boy and it’s time for me to take over the bedtime routine.

So I walk in and, behold, there is naked Owen crawling on the floor toward nowhere, with his Pampers lying open a couple feet behind him. So there we were again: me and Squirmy and a spool of thread. (It took the thread PLUS a gleeful verse of Little Bunny Foo Foo to get that simple disposable on Owen, and he still flipped on me before I finished the job.)

How do you restrain, subdue, hypnotize or otherwise manipulate your kids to keep them still for diaper changes or other obligatory tasks?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Interpreting babble

In our quest to understand Owen’s babble, we can’t help but think that he’s saying words with deliberate discrimination. Just this week he has become a proficient and impassioned pointer, and as he points at various objects in the room and says, “guh” part of me wants to jump to the assumption that he’s saying “get” – just because get happens to start with g and I know he’d like to “get” everything. Of course, I know he doesn’t “get” the word “get.” “Guh,” accompanied by a pointing finger probably means something more like: “Wow, look at that. I’d like to call that something but I don’t how to talk so I’ll just say ‘ga.’”

But I do feel pretty certain that when Owen says “mamamamama” from his crib he’s asking for me. And every time we see a cat, especially our own cat Frances, we say “cat” several times to Owen while doing the ASL sign for cat, and he generally produces a “ca” for us. So “ca=cat” made it into the baby book list of first word accomplishments. Somehow, though, Owen’s skipped the “da” sound until this week. So when he woke up cheerfully from a nap yesterday, looked up at me and said, “dada,” I got excited and ran him over to the wedding picture in our bedroom, where I pointed to Rob and said “dada” several times over. Owen kicked his legs and grinned in excitement, but failed to repeat the elusive “dada.”

Today, though, when Owen said “dada” while Rob was in the kitchen we both decided it was official: Owen’s new word is “dada” and it means “dad.” Even if he doesn’t say it for another month, and then only while looking at me or the cat or some other non-paternal object, we’ll certify dad as a 9-month word. We aren’t doing objective science here; we’re just a couple parents happy to pretend we’re having two-way conversations with a babbling baby.

(In case you're interpreting babble in your own house, here's a parenting.com article overviewing what to expect at different ages. And an old 1999 review of an article in "Psychological Science" that pegs the origin of language at 6 months.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The scruff

Quote of the week: “Daddy, did it hurt when they put all those prickly things on your face?”

(As context for the picture: Lately Will and Rob have been taking a few minutes each evening to work on a puzzle together as a wind-down activity between Will’s shared bath with Owen and bedtime stories with dad. It brings Will great joy.)

Monday, April 14, 2008

William's trail

Yesterday we explored a little section of Bartram’s Trail in Alabama’s Tuskegee National Forest. Will was excited to find his name on this sign at the trailhead. (William Bartram earned the title of America’s first native born naturalist/artist. He traveled through eight southeastern states in the 1770s documenting local flora and fauna – and now many sections of his journey have been made into hiking trails.)
Later we went to a picnic-baby shower for some friends who live south of Auburn and are expecting their first baby in June. It was the perfect kind of shower – a casual outdoor potluck, with chicken viewing for the kids. Guests were asked to shower the couple with good wishes -- and, for those choosing to bring a gift, all-in-one cloth diapers on amazon.com substituted for a registry.

And I’m sneaking in this photo from our Saturday hike around Cooper Creek lake – just because it’s hard to beat an image of a kid running through a field of grass.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Our tour through kids' music

My article in today’s Ledger-Enquirer takes a tour through some of our family’s favorite kids’ music – including some longtime favorites of Will’s and some new discoveries Will and I made in the course of writing the article (granted he didn’t write it, but he did all the grunt work as my music-listening guinea pig).

The best thing that came out of the whole process is that we made a wonderful mix CD for Will that includes favorites off of about 15 different albums. I don’t necessarily recommend buying all 15 albums, but a good mix tape with your kids’ personal favorites is a pretty great thing to keep in the car.

I believe in catering to children’s requests for repetition when it comes to both books and songs. They love to learn the language of songs and stories and they thrive on music they can sing and books they can recite by memory. As Will sometimes says when we’re playing a selection off the new mix CD, “Mom, did you know? -- I’m starting to learn this song.”

So Will’s singing along with music more than ever. And now I no longer have to hunt for the tracks he loves although we do tend to play each song twice as we make our way through the CD.
So here it is: Will’s Kids’ Hits Mix (listed by song: artist/album -- with links to a few of the albums that feature multiple favorites for us).

1. Wild Wild Party in the Loquat Tree: Indigo Girls/Mary Had a Little Amp
2. La La La La Lemon: Bare Naked Ladies/For the Kids
3. This-a-way That-a-way: Ella Jenkins/Songs Children Love to Sing
4. Hop Along Peter: Jerry Garcia & David Grisman/Not For Kids Only
5. Baby Beluga: Raffi/Baby Beluga
6. Oh Susanna!: Children’s Favorite Songs (Walt Disney Records)
7. C is for Conifer: They Might Be Giants/Here Come the ABCs
8. Froggy Went A Courtin: Doc Watson/Doc Watson Sings Songs for Little Pickers
9. I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly: More Silly Songs (Walt Disney Records)
10. Shake My Sillies Out: Lari White/ Country Goes Raffi
11. All Around The Kitchen: Pete Seeger/ Smithsonian Folkways Children’s Music Collection
12. The Three Little Kittens: Nursery Songs Sing-Along (Peter Pan Records)
13. He’s Got the Whole World: Raffi/Rise And Shine
14. Dulce Dulce: Ella Jenkins/Songs Children Love to Sing
15. Dinosaur, Dinosaur…& 16. Jump Rope Jive: Philadelphia Chickens (written by Sandra
17. Riding in My Car: Woodie Guthrie/ Smithsonian Folkways Children’s Music Collection
18. Alabama Chicken: Sean Hayes/Alabama Chicken (this one's not a kid's album but Will loves it anyway)
19. Ha-Ha This-a-Way: Lead Belly/ Smithsonian Folkways Children’s Music Collection
20. Little Bunny Foo Foo: Nursery Songs Sing-Along (Peter Pan Records)
21. Go for G!: They Might Be Giants/Here Come the ABCs
22. Harmonica for Hannukah: Ella Jenkins/Songs Children Love to Sing
23. Apples and Bananas: Keith Urban/ Country Goes Raffi
24. Magalina Hagalina: Pete Buchwald/ Get On the Bus with Mr. Pete
25. The World is Big: Ella Jenkins/Songs Children Love to Sing
26. Yellow Submarine: The Beatles
27. Down By The Bay: Eric Heatherly/Country Goes Raffi

What songs or albums are hits with your kids?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Reading -- not just a contact sport

Yesterday Owen sat through an entire reading of "Goodnight Moon," the bedtime story we've been reading every night, without once attempting to attack the board book. This is the first time he has been so enthralled by the pictures and words of a story that he hasn’t been desperate to turn the pages back and forth through at least half of it. Until now, reading has been a mostly physical sport for Owen. So watching his wide, enthralled eyes and his finally relaxed arms last night brought me real joy. I’ve got another reader on my hands.

(After our story, Owen and I also make a nightly routine of saying goodnight to at least a dozen different objects -- from lamps and chairs to painted cats and wooden frogs – in Will’s room each night. He loves the goodnight tour, and so do I.)

What nighttime rituals help your children transition to sleep?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

"Working" with dad

Since Rob’s working this week, we’re spending Will’s spring break mostly at home. But yesterday we got to accompany Rob to one of his more pristine work places. He and other Nature Conservancy staffers had done a prescribed fire on Black Jack Crossing, a beautiful old longleaf pine plantation that is home to gopher tortoises and rare pitcher plants. Rob’s assignment yesterday was to go back and make sure nothing was still smoldering the day after the fire. So we came along and walked the outskirts of the burned section, which looked like this: (Here Rob and Will are examining an old gopher tortoise burrow)

Will was thrilled to just pretend he was driving this four-wheeler. (We didn't have the keys.)

Sandy roads and fire breaks became our hiking trail.

We collected pine cones for Will’s next show and tell.

We could have stayed all day at this little rocky hillside, which was the perfect playground for Will, who collected rocks and explored minor canyons…

and Owen, who reminds me every day that even little things like broken leaves are miraculous.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Horton spooks a Will!

Rob’s been looking forward to taking Will out to the big screen for quite a while now. We finally decided to send them off for their first movie adventure this weekend after deciding that “Horton Hears A Who!” with its G-rating, would probably be a relatively benign movie-going adventure. We’d forgotten about the sinister bird and monkeys in Dr. Seuss’s tale (which happens to be a favorite of mine and of Will’s).

And it turns out the real terror started for Will before the movie, when he grew so frightened watching a Narnia preview that Rob had to cover his eyes and convince him to stay for the feature film. Once they’d recovered from that touchy prelude, Will laughed through the first part of Horton. But apparently even a lively Seuss tale has to have its dark side for good ticket-selling movie drama , and Rob said the bird in the movie version was quite a bit more evil looking than the goofy, grinning “black-bottomed eagle named Vlad Vladikoff” that makes off with the dust speck in the book. And of course old Vlad was blown up to gargantuan proportions and surrounded by darkness and loud, ominous music.

Not that any of this was scary enough to drive the other hordes of toddlers in attendance (many of whom Rob said looked younger than three-and-a-half-year-old Will) out of the theater. But Will’s in a class of his own when it comes to fearing things. And since he watches almost nothing but PBS shows at home, he’s not a seasoned viewer of villainous characters. So when Will said, “Daddy, I want to go,” and Rob couldn’t convince him that it might be worth staying, they made a mid-movie departure.

Next time we go to the movies, we’re going to need to look for something as benign as “Charlotte’s Web,” which Will enjoyed immensely on DVD. And we’ll have to arrive just late enough to miss the previews.

How old were your kids when you took them for their first big-screen movie?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Spiritual parenting

I enjoyed listening to the podcast of “The Spirituality of Parenting,” http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/spiritualityofparenting/ which aired yesterday on American Public Media’s "Speaking of Faith" program. It’s an interview with Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, an Indianapolis-based rabbi and children's book author.

Sasso offers a simple framework for how to think about spirituality in children, regardless of what religious path you follow, and reminds listeners that: “Society does a very good job of teaching us how to be consumers and how to be competitors. The question is how do we not just teach our children’s minds – how do we teach their souls. We want our children to be gracious and grateful, we want them to have courage in difficult times, we want them to have a sense of joy and purpose.”

She offers some simple suggestions for making prayer a meaningful practice for children, and she suggests that taking a bit of time daily for silence and reflection is nourishing for a child. Her suggestion for saying a bedtime prayer with a child: “Ask children if they will tell you a prayer from their heart.” And if they don’t know what to say at first, then offer a model. She suggests saying: “ ‘Well would you mind listening while I say one from mine.’ Name your hopes, name what you’re grateful for, name your fears."

She also offers a list of book suggestions – including children’s literature with spiritual overtones and books on parenting and spirituality.

And while I'm on the subject of spirituality, I’ll mention that this book has meant more to me than just about anything I’ve read in the past few years. It also reaches across faiths -- and it offers some insights about parenting too. More on that in a different post….

Friday, April 4, 2008

Field trip to the farm

Yesterday Owen and I joined Will’s pre-school class for a field trip to Marengo Creek Farms in Opelika, Alabama. Owen was just as thrilled as Will to view the chickens, ducks, rabbits, border collies, Shetland ponies and sheep. Marengo Creek is primarily a sheep farm, and at the end of our tour we got to look on as a hard-working border collie herded sheep up, down and around a field. I realized that I’d never witnessed sheep herding in person before – and it was such a beautiful sight watching that tight cluster of sheep sweep across the field so quickly.
Before that highlight, though, we had to face this daunting tractor.

It was the vehicle powering a hay ride, which was also designed to be one of the highlights of the visit but which Will quickly decided he wanted no part of. Will has a hearty dose of the timid-skittish-shy genes that afflicted me until at least second grade. And he was of course the only child out of well over 30 children who cried at the prospect of the hayride, and at one point even laid himself on the grass in tearful protest while all other moms, kids and teachers boarded the trailers.

So I had to hand relaxed Owen off to Will’s teacher so that I could haul crying Will onto the trailer myself. There I sat apologizing to the moms around me as Will sobbed through the first couple minutes of the hay ride, and as I wondered for a moment if I shouldn’t have pushed him to do it. I knew at this point that his tears were all grounded in embarrassment with himself for having pitched a fit, so after I pointed out that all the other kids were too excited by the hay ride to even notice that he’d been crying, he finally settled down and enjoyed the ride. And I made a note to myself to just drag Will along when these situations come up. Otherwise, as I’ve learned from other experiences, he winds up regretting passing up these “scary” opportunities.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Weekend in review -- on Wednesday

I'm finally going through photos from our long weekend in North Georgia. Here are some highlights: Hanging out with Great Grandpa in Marietta
Rob took the boys and I on our first ever drive up Toccoa's crown jewel, Currahee Mountian, which is adorned with graffiti and four mega radio/tv towers. Obviously this scenic locale gets visited by high school partiers more than nature lovers. Rob remembers a high school gathering or two up there himself. I was almost tempted to go on a beer can pick-up hike with Will, but thought better of it.
We enjoyed our picnic spot nonetheless -- Will most of all because he got to throw rocks off a minor cliff. Although, here I guess Owen tops Will on exuberance.
Then we drove down to the bottom of the mountain and hiked back up. It was the steepest hike Will's ever tackled, so by the time we got to the top he was pooped. And Rob was stuck carrying him like this for nearly the entire trip home. (We'll never force our young kids to hike -- too scared we'll turn them off to a pastime we love.)
Papa reads Brer Rabbit to Will, but calls him "Burr" Rabbit every time.
Will discovers the best-ever pastime for kids in the car. He used his teeth to slowly peel an apple, and collected the shavings in a toy dumpster. I challenge you to suggest a pastime that will engross a kid in a car for as long as this. If we do take that road trip to Colorado, I'm packing the dumpster and several apples.

On our way home, we stopped at Ella's 5-year birthday party and Will and friends frolicked for a couple hours on one of those giant inflatable jumpy, bouncy slide things.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Pricey parenting

As we celebrate April fool’s day, why not take a look at how the baby products industry manages to fool parents into thinking they need things they’d probably be better off without. Here is a quick little interview on Salon.com with Pamela Paul, author of "Parenting, Inc.," a book aimed at exposing the madness behind modern parents’ desires to buy “the best thing for my child” – including flashy “educational” toys that do more to thwart learning than enhance it; posh $800 luxury strollers; and baby classes that Paul said should really be dubbed “child classes for parents” (since they’re unnecessary for the child but a fine way for moms to connect).

And speaking of spending a lot on your little ones, the latest government estimate as to how much you’re likely to spend feeding, housing and schooling a child born in 2007 from birth until their 18th birthday is $204,060. That’s before college tuition, of course. So it probably wouldn’t to hurt to cut some of the fluff out of your baby budget anyway. See the full story here.