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Archive for September, 2012

The iFamily

We might be considered an iFamily. We have 2 iPads, 3 iPhones, and 2 iPods altogether. One iPhone is broken and we tried repairing it to sell. One iPod is a nano, so it’s not a touch screen. One iPad is my work iPad – but sometimes all 7 of these devices along with a couple of computers, a tv and a kindle Fire are in our house all at the same time. Sometimes that feels a little excessive but then I look around and see they are all quite necessary.

Taylor is upstairs reading a book. Riley is unloading the dishwasher while he watches football on the iPad. James is playing a counting game on an iPhone. I am writing this blog post on my iPhone. Natalie is practicing sight words on the iPod touch and Liberty? She’s only 1 1/2 – but don’t worry. She is just beginning to join in on the fun.

iOS 6’s new Guided Access feature allows me to make all or parts of the screen un-reactive to touch. Which means that now I can put Elmo’s World on the iPad and she won’t scream and chuck it when she accidentally turns it off. And she can no longer accidentally switch my preferred Safari browser from Google to Yahoo. (I have no idea how she does this but it’s her favorite).

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This photo is of all three of my babies on the one single, solitary thing that scares the crap out of me at the park.

It’s very tall and I’m not too fond of heights. It’s metallic and slippery and the steps are extremely steep. And all the kids love it.

Liberty tends not to notice the steel death trap unless her siblings decide to go over. Then the magnetism is irresistible. I beg them often to repel its charm.

Occasionally I give in. And they squeal likes pigs in mud. All the way to the top. Natalie reminding me that “Liberty could slip and fall and break her head and die.”

Not sure where she got that idea…

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WordPress has come out with its weekly writing challenge for the week based on the Occupy Wall Street movement. As my readers know, I tend to be more conservative than liberal. But, then you also know I fancy myself an environmentalist and a “localist” as in I’d rather buy local food and products than shop at major chain stores – although they have their place as well in my opinion.

So when WordPress challenged me to spout my views about the Occupy Wallstreet Movement, I quickly, and naturally, thought “hippy, leftist, freeloaders with nothing better to do…” But I challenged myself, as the challenge suggested, to dig deeper and take a more multi-sided, balanced look at the movement.

I’ll admit that my fodder for these types of political debates often come from the likes of Neal Boortz or Sean Hannity (I know my Liberal friends just threw up in their mouth a little just now) but today – today I looked for a primary source of information. I went directly to the Occupy Wallstreet website and let THEM tell me what they believe: http://www.nycga.net/resources/documents/declaration/.

And when I read The Declaration of the Occupation of Wallstreet, I actually found a few “facts” I could get behind. Sort of.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

I have a lot of issues with processed food and the processed food “industry.” The large volume of processed foods full of preservatives, corn syrup, sugar, excess sodium and other junk. I just saw recently that Del Monte started selling healthy, “on-the-go” convenience store snacks in the form of peeled, packaged bananas. Say what??? When I was a kid, bananas came “packaged” in their own skin. Are Americans so dumb that they would only know that bananas are healthy and good on-the-go if it is stamped on some sort of package?

In my dream world, neighborhoods garden together to produce enough fruit, vegetables, chicken, eggs and wheat to last the neighborhood a winter. And a near-by farmer (or one of the neighbors) keeps beef and/or pork. This would cut down on fossil fuels needed to transport and help people regain trust and the community sense that has been lost in these times.

And while I believe all of this to be true, I can’t put all the blame on Wall Street. Or the government. Or corporations. Because if the people didn’t buy the stuff, it wouldn’t still be for sale.

They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.

This one is not too different than the one above. And for our part, my family buys local, grass-fed meat whenever possible. And we have even been involved on Butcher Day with the chickens on the Farm Behind the Willows. You can’t get much fresher chicken than that!

Again, I put a lot of blame on consumers here. If the treatment of animals was important to consumers; if consumers cared about the quality of their meat; they would not buy beef from factory farms where cattle are kept confined tightly and force fed corn to fatten them up. This decreases the quality of the meat and promotes the spread of disease. I don’t know whether there is a cover-up by Wall Street in effect here – there is a lot of info out there about factory farms – but unless you’ve met the chicken you’re going to eat, you can’t be certain how it was raised.

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

Again – local craftsmen creating toys or goods from sturdy, renewable resources could probably cut down on this problem. Along with a healthy dose of taking responsibility for yourself and your children. But large manufacturers of toys or lawn mowers or vehicles don’t get impacted heavily enough from products that injure consumers.

Take drop-side cribs for instance. They are now illegal in the United States because there were numerous reported injuries and recalls over the last decade. The Consumer Product Safety Committee completed a study in 2011 that indicated that over the past decade, 32 infants died in incidents involving a drop-down crib. 32 deaths out of about 10 million cribs sold is not going to impact the manufacturers too much, even as sad as it is. In this case a new law has been passed to support the protection of infants in their cribs. Infant cribs are cheaply made – with plastic parts and flimsy wood. Regulation of these types of things gets out of control – and manufacturers continue to try to push the envelope – decreasing their costs to increase profit. Again, consumers continue to buy these products so I can’t blame only Wall Street and big business… But consumerism and materialism – the drive to buy, buy, buy in our culture promotes cheaply made products which compromises the safety of our citizens.

They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

When I was in 7th grade, I joined Mrs. Ritter’s Environmental Club after school. Recycling was a new fad at the time and our club put paper recycling bins in all of the classrooms, carefully labeled with the types of paper allowed and kind reminders to remove staples and paper clips. We also spray painted reminders on storm drains to kindly not dump toxins as they would drain directly to the lake or river in town. We also helped plant the school prairie which provided hands-on education for students for many years. These three local community projects made me feel important. That our club was actually doing something. In 7th grade.

If 7th graders can initiate recycling in their school district and we can land a man on the moon, create touch-screen technology in the palm of your hand, and have wireless Internet virtually anywhere – there is no excuse why we haven’t been able to develop alternative fuel sources for vehicles and electricity.

I’m definitely on the side of the Occupy Wall Street gang on this one. With as innovative as Americans are, with as many technological as we’ve seen in the past 50 years – from the invention of the computer, which took up an entire room, to the iPad with unprecedented computing abilities in the palm of your hand and an app for everything – alternative fuel development is a must. And while we do, we might as well use the oil we already have in our country.

In essence, I can still call myself a tree-hugging Republican. Those Occupy Wall Street people have some good ideas – but the key to the change is within our hands. We need to change the way we do things. Liberals tend to hate the fact that “money talks” – but while it does, I’m making a new commitment to let my money say that I’m not okay with cheap toxic processed food. I’m against factory farms and their disgusting treatment of animals. I’m not ok with cheaply made crap that is unsafe for my children. And I’m not okay with continuing to support unstable foreign countries because of our dependence on oil as a main source of fuel.

And so, WordPress, my vote goes to : “It’s a nice idea, but I don’t think protests do anything.”

**photo used with permission from Occupy Wall Street

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On Co-Sleeping

I’m certainly no expert. But I have raised 3 children from birth and one from toddlerhood. They’re all very different, but one thing my three bio-children have all had in common is that they like to be close to mom and dad.

I had no intention of co-sleeping. When I had Natalie I was very “responsible” – created and decorated a nursery complete with changing table and crib. I had handmade sheets and blankets (thanks Veronica and Nana!). Home-sewn curtains and a lovely paint color (thanks Uma!). The room was ready. I brought home a snugly newborn girl and started to work on getting her to sleep through the night as soon as I thought she was ready.

We had set up a futon in her room as well and even though I didn’t believe in bringing a baby to bed with me, I did spend quite a few of her crying, sleepless, teething nights sleeping on a pulled-out futon with her, while Riley slumbered on in our room. And, even though I didn’t really think about it at the time, I was co-sleeping = sleeping near the baby to meet her needs.

James only slept for about 15 minutes at a time alone in his crib when we first brought him home. After a few nights of trying to get him to sleep I decided to let him nurse and if I nodded off in the chair with him, so be it, at least I was sleeping. Well, after a few nights of that I decided my neck and back might feel more comfortable if I just brought him to bed with me. That first night I snuggled him in my blanket with me, wrapped right around him and me, like a sleeping seat belt and fell asleep. And we slept. For hours. Ah.

When James was about 6 months he started sleeping in his own bed in the beginning of the night and stayed in there for longer intervals until he slept all night by 7 months. He stopped nursing around that time, too and any teething, fussy, or sleepless nights became difficult because he would no longer sleep in our bed. He had outgrown it.

When Liberty was born, we barely had a room for her. She slept in a pack n play in our room for the first few months. I couldn’t co-sleep with her all night right away because my c-section prevented me from rolling over or laying her on my belly. But she slept close from day 1. I was feeling better after only a couple of weeks and she began staying in our bed more and more. She has always slept very well. Even now I can still snuggle in with her and take a nap on a lazy Sunday afternoon. And I love that.

Not to say that we haven’t had sleepless nights, but I’ve spent far less time trying to get her to sleep than I did with the other two. And she does sleep. Almost all night. In our bed.

Co-sleeping is not for everyone, but the notion of staying close and being there when your baby needs you is a natural mother response. Some moms do that with baby monitors, some with basinets, some with special co-sleeper attachments for their bed, and some with a family bed that parents and siblings share.

This picture, to me, is worth more than 1000 words about why co-sleeping works for us!

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Everyday life. That shouldn’t be hard to capture on film. It’s just a picture of what you do everyday. What do I do everyday? Well, that depends. We have four kids, a part-time dog, and two full-time jobs. We have sports, church, laundry, chores, shopping, vehicle maintenance, homework, reading,┬álaundry, driving, driving, driving and laundry.

But, this picture. This picture shows what everyday can look like in our house. One baby, sitting shirt-less on the kitchen table. Two middle children staring at a movie while eating dinner. Food strewn about the table, chairs and floor. Two parents constructing a new loft bed in the pre-teen’s room to make room for a desk to do homework at… because, really, who could work at this kitchen table?

P.S. Next time I post a blog post called “Weekly Photo Challenge” and there is no photo could someone let me know? ­čÖé

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Dear Blog

Dear Blog,

I have to apologize for neglecting you lately. You’ve been on my mind, believe me, but life sometimes gets in the way of me writing about life! That, and my youngest daughter misses me when I’m at work so she’s up partying until 10 pm
each night – and doesn’t take too kindly to me interrupting our party time to write to you. Or pay bills. Or do laundry. Or relax.

I’m going to take this moment, while I lay in bed, the youngest sleeping on my arm, the older three slumbering upstairs, to email my blog (and it’s readers) with a State of the Household address.

“The economy is flourishing. I will probably even get to find out how much money I’ll make this year very soon. That will be nice since the school year started weeks ago. We employ one person in our home – the nanny – and accomplish all other duties via free child labor. The plan is to create more jobs by paying the senior child to do jobs and cutting taxes to encourage him to create jobs for his younger siblings.

After suffering through two weekends of stomach flu, all members of the household are offered a daily cocktail of multivitamin chewy bears, sour omega 3’s, probiotics, and vitamin D/calcium at no charge. High fructose corn syrup is outlawed and refined sugar limited. It seems as though this contraband is still heavily consumed outside of the household and sometimes makes its way in via foreigners, such as grandparents.

Due to the recent policy of “spend only the money you have and nothing more” there have been serious strides toward slashing and removing the deficit.

Senior children attend government schools and are adjusting well to their new endeavors. The 7th grader began staying in the household for 2 weeks, then traveling abroad for two weeks to his mothers house. This change has been seen as positive by all members of the committee. The kindergartener loves school and loves her teacher.

The junior children enjoy playing and outings with their new nanny. They are all smiles each day to see her arrive.

The CEO and CAO continue in their appointed positions as Mom and Dad until the junior-most member turns 18. A complete record of campaign finances including bribes, er, incentives offered to the children is available upon request.

THis has been a State of the Household Address. Now, back to your regular programming.”

So, thank you, Blog, and faithful readers, for being there for me, even when days, weeks, months pass between posts. Just know that we are out creating the memories and artifacts that I may, one day, maybe, write about on my blog.

Love,
Sarah

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Kids and Bathing

Taylor turned 12 in June. I have to force, coerce, remind, yell, beg, plead and refuse to hug his stink before he will take a shower.

Natalie has to be warned, threatened or rewarded to take a shower or bath.

James will willingly get in the tub as long as it doesn’t interrupt his playtime, i.e. directly following dinner.

Liberty, my prized child, sneaks into the bathroom while I’m doing laundry, uses the toilet as a stool, climbs into the sink, starts the water and proceeds to take a nice soak. With her diaper on. And gets the rug wet.

*sigh* You just can’t win sometimes!

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