Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I was drawn into a Twitter debate over some bloggers' attendance at a Nestle conference that has bubbled into a bitter brew of a chocolate (that incidentally, my mother never let us eat because of the company's sales practices in Africa), which really has little to do with either of the ongoing wars on breast vs. bottle or the ethics of manufacturer-supported blogging.
At the heart of this issue for me is the company's continued practice of selling infant formula in parts of Africa in apparent conflict with the World Health Organization's and, according to some accounts, it's own guidelines for sales of breast milk substitutes in those countries.
While I agree this issue has been a difficult one that has gone on for decades, and one that sparks great consternation among proponents of breastfeeding and those who support choice in all feeding methods (philosophies I don't believe have to be mutually exclusive), I truly believe this is ultimately a business ethics issue. And as such, consumers have every right to demand answers.
Here's some background information.
Some people think that Nestle has an obligation to provide formula when it is asked by hospitals in third-world countries. How could someone say no? Others think it is promoting its product to doctors and directly to mothers. One thing seems clear, to me, however, Nestle should abide by WHO guidelines in all countries, even those that don't enforce them.
At issue -- besides any overt nafariousness -- is a difference between providing a substitute and a suppliment. With HIV infection and studies changing results on issues such as breastfeeding with tennis match speed, it seems difficult to parse "best practice" for sales of formula preparations. Especially in places where poverty and and santitary conditions are so dire.
Now, some have said that it is wrong to think a company can't be pressured to change, especially now that the wheels of marketing spin as fast as 140 characters gets pecked out on keyboards that are now globally webbed.
I don't believe things can't change. But changing an unpopular marketing campaign style such as Motrin isn't the same as changing a sales practice that's been in effect for nearly 40 years. I don't think it's nestle's job, nor should anyone seriously expect them to promote breastfeeding in Africa. But if they are really going to "help" Nestle should make a product for Africa that would ensure mothers there have the same security we have when we feed our children formula. Mothers around the world really do want the same thing: We want to watch our babies grow up unaffected by preventable diseases.
I bet each and every one of us would give a little of our expendable income to further that end.
And there's the catch. We shouldn't need to. Breastmilk, for most women, is the best and cheapest alternative. And in impoverished nations, to promote anything else may really be promoting infant mortality.
What we forget is charity that isn't appropriate or safe isn't charitable. And what we lose sight of is that profiting off of someone else's suffering will be and should be viewed with suspicion.
Seriously? I'm listening to Nestle. I'm just not hearing them.
My worry is that they ARE listening to me, but instead of doing the right thing at the expense of profits, they are using what they learn to devise better ways to get away with murder.
Maybe it's time for Nestle to listen to those of us who don't already have its ear.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
This is in no way proof that she will, in fact, BE a "beautiful fairy-princess-queen of Odenblogs" for halloween. But thanks to Goodwill prices, it won't matter if it just winds up in the play dress pile.
I also picked up a baby gorilla outfit. It was a bargain, and I can live in hope that he will accompany me this year as Second Banana.
It would be easier, though, especially this year after the GREAT MOVE OF OUGHT NINE, if we could all masquerade as the #1 child's toy of all time: A cardboard box.
Maybe next year.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Or a garden-variety cold.
I'm probably going to bundle myself up this weekend and plant myself in the middle of the driveway ... right about where that pretty blue bin is sitting now ... and egg the kids on as they chase each other up and down on their Plasmacars.
If I have any bursts of energy, we may hit up one of these events:
Five Rivers Environmental Center, 56 Game Farm Road in Delmar is hosting its Fall Festival Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. Center naturalists have planned a bunch of fun family activities including guided hikes, hands-on crafts for kids and plant and book sales. Refreshments will also be available. Free. Call 475-0295 for more information.
The Brunswick Community Library is hosting the grand opening of its new facility, located at 4118 Brunswick Road from 10 a.m. to 4. p.m. Saturday. Festivities included stories and crafts for kids, readings and book signings with local authors, food and entertainment as well as a family sing-a-long with Ruth Pelham of the Music Mobile at 1 p.m. for more information, check out the Web site at www.brunswicklibrary.org
Grafton Lakes State Park on Sunday is hosting the 23rd annual Barge Chaser Canoe and Kayak Race. Registration is at 10 a.m. at the Beach Nature Center. Race will begin at 11 a.m. Paddlers of all skills levels are welcome to participate. Two races will be held, a 2.5 mile sprint and a 7 mile paddle and portage. The event is sponsored by Northern New York Paddlers, and participants are encouraged to bring a potluck dish to share.
For more information, call 343-8133.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
“My mama says yes.”
While eating breakfast …
“My car not working.”
While washing his hands …
“My papa not coming.”
While eating dinner …
“My school bus not coming.”
While participating in story time at the library …
“MY. MAMA’S. WORKING!!!”
While brushing his teeth …
“My dragon not rawr.”
... and just when I was beginning to worry about the not-so-random negativity ...
“My poop not working.”
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I'll admit, there are times I'd like to throw him back ...
Still not sleeping through the night (Don't ask).
Only wanting Ice Ceem Sanwiches for breakfast. (It's got some food value, right?)
Then there's the whine. (You know the one.)
The tantrums. (Oh the unpredictable nature of bad moods.)
And the fighting. (ASK! NO!!!)
But not today.
Even though his sister almost missed her school bus because he was chasing her around the driveway on his car (and I wasn't paying close enough attention to the time) ...
And even though I had to chase after him when it was time go to work, all while he screamed in his big-boy outdoor voice, "NO CATCH ME!!!"
I have to admit, it was the best catch of the day.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Saturday turned out to be a second moving day. Oh, it started out like any average Saturday ...
We sat around and drank coffee while the kids chased the cat around the house and fought over which toys were allowed to be played with and by whom ...
I kvetched about the laundry piling up and the dryer I didn't want ...
We shivered our way down to the village square where we treated ourselves to breakfast, and more bickering by the kids, and finally the farmers' market ...
When we got home and started the usual "OH WE'RE HOME, LET'S START CLEANING," which consists of shuffling junk piles into a more orderly configuration of junk piles ... as the kids shower their toys liberally into the new clearings. ...
But the van -- filled with estate furniture that had been graciously donated to us by his maternal aunt -- called to him: "EMPTY ME."
So in the middle of the day we combed through these new-to-us possessions, and quickly decided to replace our plastic-covered dining chairs, drag a couple of dressers into bedrooms, adopt a few standing lamps and swap TVs; ours for one of a more manageable size.
It was like another moving day with the driveway cluttered with stuff ...
Some staying ...
Some going ...
Some heading into storage for posterity ...
Some heading into storage for some future yard sale ...
Those blue chairs with the vinyl seats that we've been unsticking ourselves from after family meals ... banished, replaced by mismatched but perfectly lovely hardwoods.
My desk ... used for years as our dining room table ... went back to it's position in my office; circle fills the rectangle.
A corner cabinet ... for no other reason than it fits, as if it were built in.
A bench follows two end tables and a drop-leaf game table into the living room.
An embroided chair and a rocker ... too nice to stay downstairs where the cat will sharpen her claws on them ... are carried upstairs ...
I was amazed they all seemed to fit and make the rooms seem bigger.
We moved a Swiss-made precision instrument of a bed into the place that is my office … where the cat and a pile of homeless boxes live for now.
Will my "office" ever really be an office? Is it destined to be a guest bedroom? A cat’s lair? I think I’ll start calling it what it was destined to be: Swiss Army Room.
It may still be found furniture but it feels so much more grown up. After all, it wasn't found on garbage day.
Friday, September 18, 2009
It’s safe to say that we make pilgrimages to see the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus perform. Their variety act certainly earns its vaudevillanous reputation.
Ringmistress Philomena, a tattooed wonder of grace and athleticism (not to mention prominently listed on Jed’s laminated card *cough-ahem-cough*) leads a troupe of world-class entertainers from the bizarre to the prophetic.
Of course the last time we went to see their show we ended up donating a pint of blood to the mosquitoes as we spread out on a blanket on a local historic lawn. We also felt the need to leave the performance at intermission declaring the blood sucking parasites the winner of this round.
This shouldn’t be a problem on Sunday when The Bindlestiffs perform from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Arts Center of the Columbia-Greene Community College, 1.3 miles east of The Rip Van Winkle Bridge in Hudson.
In addition to Philomena’s brilliant and bawdy physical comedy (down boy, it’s toned down for family audiences) the show will also feature Magic Brian, aerialist Harvest Moon, Juggling by Paris the Harlem Wonder, and Kinko the Clown. Live music by El Mystico, Francisco Monroy is also planned.
Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students. I’m telling you, it’s cheap at twice the price. For Tickets and information, call: 518-828-4181 extension 3344
LARK FEST …
The hippest street in Downtown Albany closes off to traffic Saturday and opens up to the visual arts, music, poetry, magic acts, dancing and scores of flavorful food vendors. Events get underway at 10:30 and go to 5:30 p.m.
Look for eba’s "The Family Creative Zone," featuring fun craft activities for all ages on upper Hudson Ave. from noon to 4 p.m.
OMG … CHOWDER!
Troy’s third annual Chowder Fest will have River Street awash in creamy-fishy-goodnes as 30 local restaurants participate. Chowders range from Seafood to Vegetable and Manhattan to New England. Ice sculptures, live music and refreshing libations. This year Chowderfest kicks off a week of events celebrating the quadracentennial of Henry Hudson’s navigation of the Hudson River. Bou-yah-baise!
OMG … SOUVKAKI!
Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Church kicks off its Souvlaki Fest 2009 on Friday. This year’s event starts on Friday with take-out lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; full service from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Menu includes chicken or pork Souvlaki & Gyro, Greek salad, Spanikopita, spinach pie, Tiropita, cheese pie, Loukoumathes (fried dough with honey), rice pudding, various Greek pastries. Phone orders accepted for pick up. Call 489-4442 for more information.
Grafton Lakes State Park will host a star watch with Albany-area astronomers Saturday evening beginning at 7:30 p.m. The tour of the night sky is free and will be held at the Deerfield Pavilion. Call 279-1193 for more information.
OTHER EVENTS THAT ARE DESTINED TO SAVE THE PLANET
Columbia County Farm Festival gets underway at Golden Harvest Farms, Route 9 in Valatie, Saturday at 10 a.m. The event features a chance to mix and mingle with local growers, as well as a good old-fashioned hoe-down with The Wickers Band and square dancing beginning at 3:30 p.m. While you’re at Golden Harvest, mosey on over to the distillery and check out how they make their chic-chic apple vodka, Core. It’s pretty interesting. $5 per car.
Not quite as sex-ay as tattooed circus stars and boutique vodka, but we all know recycling is the new black. Advanced Recycling Inc. will have its second electronics "take-back" event at the Rhinebeck Fairgrounds Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. all three days.
The first electronics recycling event collected 69,000 pounds of spent electronics from the Hudson Valley region, and organizers hope to collect 100,000 pounds at this event. Individuals can load their cars with broken TVs, computers, phones, stereos or whatever fresh batteries won’t cure. No pre-registration necessary; $10 per car. Businesses and schools will have to call ahead, however, and will have to pay based on inventory. For more information, call Laurie Rich at 845-876-6330.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
Olana will host “Artlandish,” Sunday, Sept. 27 from 1 to 4 p.m. In this workshop, visitors will create art in the landscape in the way Frederic Church himself created his Hudson River School masterpieces by sketching in the landscape and finishing in the studio. Paper, pencils and clipboards will be available at the Education Center for those venturing out into the landscape, and colored pencils, oil pastels and watercolors will be available upon your return. The workshop is free, put participants should be prepared to leave a photo ID at the center until art materials are returned.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I know I should feel relieved that no one got stung ... seeing as how this hornets' nest was within a few feet of the place I've been parking my car (not to mention loading and unloading the kids) at the new house.
But the fact that we potentially killed off thousands of its inhabitants with only two cans of some wasp-be-gone type pesticide makes me feel a little remorseful.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
You're not a baby anymore.
But you're not a big boy yet, either.
Every morning as we prepare for your sister's school bus to pick her up, you talk about how TODAY is the day it will take you, too.
You have your "pack back," which contains your lunchbox. Those are the things, you presume, you need to gain admission to the giant yellow bus.
The first day good-old-#13 shut its doors and chugged on without you inside broke your heart. An hour of tears followed the snub.
No "Big Boy Adbentures," including a special trip to the toy store for a new racer, could right the slight.
You were prepared the next day, though I think you secretly thought the backpack and its sandwich fare would change the outcome. Nevertheless, when it didn't you didn't let it rattle you. You screamed "goodbye" to your sister, whom we had trouble seeking through the smoked glass windows of the bus, and waved your arms so hard I was afraid you might slip from mine.
She was in there. You were out here. It was O.K.
As we walked back to the house, you convinced yourself the new mantra we've been chanting - "When you're bigger" - would likely be tomorrow.
"I'n bigger now?"
"Not yet, buddy."
"O. ..... K. ...."
Every day seems to bring the alternating emotions of resolve and dispair. On days with heavy tears we stop at the Post Office so you can push the key into the lock, give it a turn and open the door to our mailbox. Close. Turn. Extract.
It's a simple diversion. Why not. And so we stood there and turned the brass key back and forth. No more mail. Ah ... No mail.
Before long we are back in the car and going along the route of our usual routine.
You question everything you see:
"That My school bus?
"Tomorrow I go on school bus?
"Horsies! WOOK HORSES, MOM!"
We stop as the red lights of another school bus flash in front of us.
"Tomorrow I go on THAT school bus? THAT my school bus?"
"No, honey. You're still a little boy. When you're a big boy then you'll go on a school bus."
Then you smile your crooked smile ... one eye squinted shut: "O ..... K. ..... Tomorrow I'n goning big boy adbenture .. on school bus."
It occurs to me, that as much as I would like to protect you from certain heartbreak, I just hope you can always feel this way: That tomorrow will always offer another chance.
Love and sideways grins,
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
If this is what happens after only one week and one day of kindergarten ...
MOMMY: "How was your day at school? Did you play with any new friends?"
ITTYBIT: "It was O.K. I played with Amy and Alexis ... but mostly Alexis. It’s sad."
MOMMY: "What’s going on with Amy?"
ITTYBIT: "We’re becoming unwrapped."
MOMMY: "What do you mean,'unwrapped'?"
ITTYBIT: *Big sigh* MOM! "You know how you start out like this?
Well, pretty soon you’re like this!
And then, after a while, you just end up like this!
You just get unwrapped."
... what will first grade be like?
Monday, September 14, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
On this day three years ago I wrote a letter to my daughter about the day our country changed.
September 11, 2001.
I wrote about what I was doing on that day when I learned two planes had crashed into The World Trade Center. I wrote about how I felt and what I witnessed in the days following the attacks. I wrote about the fear that gripped each and every one of us.
I read that letter every year on this date.
And each year, I see how little use that fear has been to us.
Moreover, I’ve come to a more somber understanding of what that fear has taken away from us as a nation.
And I remember what was so miraculous about humanity -- a word that’s meaning in our collective lexicon holds more imperfection lately than kindness – on that day.
On that day we only saw suffering, we didn’t see race or creed or color. We looked for ways to help instead of ways to insulate. We looked at each other and instead of seeing all the things that make us different we noticed all the things we share. Empathy enveloped everything we said or did.
It saddens me that we tend to exhibit this rather significant part of our inner souls only in the aftermath of tragedy, and only briefly. The things that sustain us the rest of the time are competition, greed and fear. It doesn’t have to be this way.
We can learn to be brave just as we’ve been taught to be afraid.
Living in fear is not really living life to its fullest.
So for me, on this inauspicious day, I will celebrate the ways we took care of each other eight years ago, and the way we faced fear with stone faces. It serves as proof we still have true bravery within us.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
What's the best thing about fall?
The question should have been what's NOT to love about fall ...
I love that here in the northeast of the good ol' U.S. of A. fall means the return of sweater weather, the temperature that best suits my clothes.
The world looks like it's on fire with its bright reds, yellows and oranges. The blue even looks bluer as the days get shorter.
The sound of Canada geese winging their way south.
There's the leaf piles and the apple picking.
And back-to-school shopping. ... Seriously, what red-blooded American doesn't just feel a little better with a fresh box of crayons and some super fast sneakers?
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
The main reason I DID NOT cry when she got on the bus this morning, alone, headed to her first full day of kindergarten ...
There is only one person allowed to cry at any given time in our household. This time it was Silas' turn.
Poor guy just wanted to ride the bus.
Tomorrow it's going to be worse, too. He seems to think they'd let him on if he only had his backpack.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
How many ways can a parent fail their child on the first day of school?
Why don't we count ...
1. Bus for kindergartners makes a special trip on the first day. ... One hour AFTER the usual time. Stepping on the early bus only to have to climb right back down will cause tears.
2. That bus tag that has your name, address, phone number and route number? The one every other kid has pinned to their clothes? Should have been pinned to your dress not lost in the mess we call our house.
3. You will need to pack a healthy snack each and every day ... BUT NOT ON THE FIRST DAY. Everyone eats graham crackers and milk on the first day.
4. Uhm ... lunch money?
5. Where is that piece of paper from the dentist's office confirming that you are a patient? (Probably hanging out with the bus tag in the mess we call a house).
6. Oh look, there's all these cute pictures of your classmates on the bulletin board. ... We needed to provide a photograph from home? Where did they ask for that? Oh, right there ... where it says put extra clothes in shoe box to store in cubby. At least I remembered the shoe box. Perhaps tomorrow I will remember the clothes.
7. Forms ... morfs ... smorfs? What form was that? Oh, right ... the health one.
8. Homework folder? Whoops. Wrong one.
9. Oh. ... the scissors were communal? Shouldn't have put your name on them, huh? Oh riiiiight. ... says so right there with the photo and extra clothes shoe box.
10. Tearing up in class to the point of vision problems after reading (in class) the little note from your teachers, tucked inside a sandwich baggie containing a little pink cotton ball:
"To Our Dearest Kindergarten Parents,
We just wanted to give you a little gift as you leave your "little growing edge of the world" with us for the first time tomorrow so you will not go away empty handed.
As you hold this cotton ball in your hand tomorrow, the softness will help you recall the gentle spirit of your child. After you have wiped your tears, make your self a warm cup of tea. Put your feet up and relax. Remember that together we will work along side your child this year to help him/her grow to his/her fullest capabilities.
Thank you for entrusting your child with us for the upcoming school year. We promise to do our best every day to be your child's companions in learning and exploring this bright new world he/she has just stepped into ... the wonderful world of "I can!"
Kate and Nicole
Please know, Ittybit, I don't usually cry at sappy form letters. (Evidently I don't read them either.)
Friday, September 04, 2009
LOCK YOUR CARS, PEOPLE.
Don't even leave a window-crack space between glass and metal.
If you don't lock your cars, someone (who undoubtedly HATES you) will throw the largest hand-me-down toys you've ever seen inside, making your kids look hamster sized by comparison.
Thursday, September 03, 2009
Almost every word Deborah Copaken Kogan writes in her Huffington Post essay about the slap heard round the world has me shaking my head in agreement.
But a few have me just shaking my head.
Something about calling unwanted or unsolicited advice "agression" just doesn't sit well.
To be honest, watching the internet implode with anger and stunned disbelief that a stranger (in a Walmart) would actually lay hands on an unrelated child (in a Walmart) seems like watching another train wreck from the safety of the wrong side of the tracks.
Perhaps I am the cold, hard byotch I sometimes worry myself to be.
When I heard that story, after I fretted for the child and placed myself in her mother's shoes and mentally hugged her, I wondered if the man was having some kind of medical malfunction and not merely exhibiting the manifestations of a life lived with the meanness of a junkyard dog.
Surely he must be having a stroke. Or is presenting with Alzheimer's disease. Anything that would explain such abhorrent behavior.
But her essay wasn't really about him. It was about everyone who would talk to a stranger negatively about their children or their parenting skills.
Even the annectdote Kogan related in her essay - that of a stranger telling her that her son was on an beach and in a hole, genuinely (it would seem) concerned that the boy could be carried away if a tsunami-like wave were to somehow make its way to the place far from the surf they were sitting - seemed to only reinforce the judgemental snark we wish to stop perpetuating.
I know, it's not fair. People are asshats. They shouldn't just say every damn thing that comes into their head. (I promise I'll shut up after writing this out). We are all guilty of wanting that perfect retort that will demote the pompus fool to the under portion of the bridge most fitting for their troll-ness.
I mean, afterall. ... What would I do in the situation?
When Ittybit was born, in December, we took her everywhere despite it being the coldest winter I could remember. Numerous people chided us for "taking a baby out in such cold." The anger and indignation of being challenged rose in us. A slap in the face.
I slapped back.
"Thank you for your concern, but you can go shit in your hat and pull it down over your ears."
I think it may have been the first time my husband gleefully told people he comes from Minnesota, where he spent a few of his less-than-memorable teenage years, and where no one would ever leave home if they were waiting for timid winter weather. Otherwise he tells people he's from Maine, where he was born.
I had even convinced myself that when The Champ came around - a summer birth - at least we'd avoid the same type of earboxing.
But no. As I stepped out on the street one August afternoon, a sleeping infant in a sling and a preschooler in tow, a man sneered at me about how it was a crime to have a baby out in such heat.
I shrugged and gave him that pained expression that translates into "what-am-I-going to-do? I-have-to-get-groceries." And I let it go.
He's never going to understand my seething rage. It's not going to change his genuine concern. I know my baby is in no danger. I know I'm doing the best I can. I know I make mistakes. I know I am a good mother. Inhale. Exhale.
So now, instead of slapping back, I make it a point to smile at the women who have their babies out in the cold or in the heat. I mention how beautiful their children are as they cry or tantrum at the checkout. I tell them some days I'm there, too, and that I understand.
I don't need to rage against the injustice as much as I wish to offer a hand of support - a hand I know one day may be slapped away.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
The alarm goes off.
You dash from your beds.
Pull on your clothes.
Race down the hall.
Checking this way and that to see if you have everyone.
... the big yellow school bus that haunts you in your dreams passes your house just as you and the kids are tripping down the steps in untied shoes.
That's the kind of drill we had this morning as the family was lollygaging over breakfast or tossing pieces of crumpled up paper toward the cat.
I'd noticed the time and realized had it been a "school day" we would have 15 minutes to pull our stuff together and make the trek to the end of the driveway to meet the bus.
The drill sargeant in me was awakened.
*clap, clap* LET'S! GO!
Get your bag. Find your shoes. We've got five minutes.
LET'S GO - LET'S GO - LET'S GO!
It was almost exciting. Almost.
Ittybit smiled at me with an uncertain look that noted she might be having fun, or she might just be sizing her old mother up for a canvas jacket with arms that tie in the back.
The test was also for me. I grabbed her new backpack and her new lunch box (both entirely empty but with their pricetags attatched) and streched them around her shoulders. Looking her over and grabbing The Champ, who was now chanting "LESS GO! LESS GO! LESS GO!" with more enthusiam than a Bear's fan at a stadium game.
It's exactly 8:17 a.m. when we open the door and step out onto the porch ... a mere 500 feet from the bus stop. Two minutes late.
I can almost see the yellow blur and smell the fumes blow past us.
Sadly, The Champ couldn't understand why we were turning around and shutting the door. Having no idea that this was merely a drill, all he knew was that he never even saw the bright, yellow bus.
So he did the only thing a toddler could do in such a situation: He burst into tears. Body shaking, inconsolable tears.
And for the next 12 or 13 years, I imagine, this scene is going to play out over and over again.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
They aren't that smaaaaat.
They can, however, move things around. The many-times gnawed cob prong was discovered under the kitchen sink where it had been relocated from the utencil drawer (I know: Eeeeewwww).
So I conclude if our mice were children we'd likely be saving for Andover Trucking School instead of Harvard.