Friday, June 28, 2013


Think about the last time your child got muddy.  
What was your reaction? Were you worried about the carpet? The washing machine? Their new shoes? 
I was. 
But look at his face! Look at the mud pizza! Look at his face again! 
Children wash.
Clothes and shoes wash. (well, usually)
Pete turned 8 this week. Aside from wondering when my chubby baby turned into this lanky elementary schooler, I am overjoyed that he still feels most at home outdoors, covered in dirt and with various bugs and rocks falling out of his pockets. 
Get outside and get dirty with your babies of all ages!

Join fans of play, mud, joy, and laughter across the world tomorrow for International Mud Day

Monday, March 28, 2011

Food Fights

I woke up this morning to the crinkling of a food wrapper.
At 7:23 a.m.
Fine, I think. Its probably rice cakes or cereal. Or maybe a Lara bar. 
5 minutes later I find him at the table, bar wrapper in hand, smiling sweetly. I praise him for not getting ice cream out of the freezer like he did yesterday ay 6:30 a.m. He grins and says: "Yeah, Mama, it's good I didn't eat any chocolate chips!"
"Yes, it is"
In the cabinet I find the previously unopened bag of chocolate chips very carefully taped closed with Pete's red masking tape.
Sneaky? Yes.
Stealthy?  No.
I bit back my urge to yell and calmly announced that it was interesting he'd decided to have his dessert before breakfast rather than after dinner with us.
Tears. Tearing of hair. Beating of scrawny kindergarten chest. More tears.
7 hours later I picked him up from school and he happily ate what was left in his lunchbox on the drive home: a few lonely grapes, salad greens and a carrot.  As green salad drool rolls down his chin, he starts in about cookies and cake and when he will get to eat sugary yum again. "Tomorrow", I say, as I start into my mommy lecture on eating foods that help our bodies grow.
I can see his ears shut and his eyes glass over in the rearview mirror.
He's heard it all before and couldn't care less.  (Duh. He's 5)
Calm down, Mama. He's 5. This isn't a big deal. Right?
But what about the huge numbers of overweight kids?
What about my nephew that refuses all things green?
And his sister who, at 13, has never eaten kale?
What about the alarming number of toddlers who can identify a McDonald's sign?
Today, for the first time in nearly a year, the fight about food with Pete isn't about gluten or dairy.  The ice cream from yesterday was sorbet and safe for him to eat. The chocolate chips from this morning were vegan and gluten free.  This was simply about tasty treats.
Deep breath.
And another.
I spend a huge amount of energy ensuring that everything that goes into Pete's mouth is safe for him. The gfcf diet has been so amazing for him that I am constantly on high alert for "bad" foods.
Yes- he shouldn't sneak food. 
Yes- he shouldn't eat chocolate chips before breakfast.
Yes- too much sugar isn't healthy. 
But can I relax about sugar a bit so Pete doesn't feel forced to sneak it in the wee hours of the morning? YES.
I took wheat, gluten and dairy away. But chocolate?
That I can give him.
In the light of day.
No sneaking required.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Kindergarten 2.0?

Pete is in kindergarten. He loves his school and most days is standing at the door tapping his foot ready for school long before his parents are fully dressed. On Friday we attended a spring parent-teacher conference. Since he is at a lovely hippie school, it was called a "child led conference" and we lit a candle to remember Grandpa and call the fire sprite. (Really, we did) As with any interaction we have with his teachers, we left feeling supported and very secure in the fact that Pete is extremely loved in his classroom and school community. We could not be happier with his current situation. Every time I walk onto the campus, I just want to hug people. And I haven't felt like that since college. So what's the problem? He's just not ready for first grade. 
Pete has Sensory Processing Disorder. (info) Some days he manages to hold it together fairly well. Other days he is a wiggly spinning crying yelling jumping mess of a boy. He takes some special handling.  He is currently not receiving OT because he is doing so well with yoga and our arsenal of sensory activities. A gluten and casein free diet has also made a world of difference for Pete. His teachers have been very open to learning about SPD and neither us nor his teachers feel that his sensory issues have held him back academically or socially this year. (yay!)
He is also a young kindergartener. He will be 6 in mid-summer. He recognizes 17 uppercase letters and can connect a handful of letters with their sounds. In 1985, when I was in kindergarten, that would have been enough. Current curriculum calls for children to be well on the road to reading by the end of the kindergarten year. 
We have no idea what to do. It seems the school is willing to leave the decision up to us. 
I want to raise a child who loves to read.
I want to raise a child who loves school and learning.
I want reading to be fun, not homework.
I want school to be fun for as long as possible. 
I want him to play and build fairy houses and make rockets out of paper and crap from the recycling bin.
I want to have unlimited money to keep him in private school forever.
I want money to not be a factor in this decision. 
I want him to be happy.
I want him to feel smart. 
I want him to keep him little forever.
I want him to be a big boy with his friends. 
I want him to be happy.
I want him to be happy. 
I want him to be happy. 


My Grandfather passed away 9 days ago. He was the perfect Grandpa: booming laugh, mountain top farming, tractor driving, gun toting, story telling, bee keeping, leather vest, walking stick, hymn singing, boy and girl scouting, loving guy. If I close my eyes I can still hear him laughing.
I never met my great-grandparents. Pete has had the honor of knowing 4 of his. My mother's parents live close enough to us that we have been able to see them at least every few months. He has planted flowers and baked cakes and hiked and driven trains and played hide and seek with them. I am so thankful.

My grandmother, whose husband just died, has advanced Alzheimer's Disease. She is able to live at home, but has very little idea who we all are and needs 24 hour supervision. However, when Pete walks in the door of her house she lights up and walks directly to the place where the toys are kept. Watching them together reminds me why in many cultures several generations of a family live together in one home. Pete has adapted seamlessly and without question to her advancing Alzheimer's. He seems to understand that she has moved back into a "child" category and never turns to her for adult things (food/advice/permission).
Moments after this picture was taken, he made them each a lego rocket and gave her detailed instructions on how to fly it. She followed behind saying "vroom!" right along with him while I tried to reign in my emotion at watching my son re-teach the woman who spent countless hours overseeing my childhood play how to play. It was amazing.

When Pete arrived at Grandma and Grandpa's house several hours after Grandpa died, he greeted everyone, and within minutes had led Grandma out to the garden. She proudly showed him several silk flowers that she had planted in her previously thriving garden. He ooohed and aaahed and shot me a sideways "I get it" glance. He showed her how to use the wheelbarrow and the two of them carefully and lovingly replanted several clumps of weeds that my uncle had pulled up earlier that day. Finally, he taught her how to play "Easter egg hunt" with a small ball. The adults in the middle generations breathed a sigh of relief and quickly talked dinner plans and funeral arrangements while the oldest and youngest of us played happily in the yard. So wise at  5 and so young at 80.

So: Find the oldest and youngest people that you know. Add nature, a kitchen, a book, or a pile of toys. Mix. Stand back and be amazed. I am. Grandpa was.