Thursday, November 27, 2008

For your consideration...

A few weeks ago we went to a quinciera for a friend in our congregation. Jacob and Claire loved the dancing. Unfortunately, Clint was out of town, and I was only able to snatch a few moments of video while chasing Isaac around. The quality is pretty low, so you can't see the dead serious expressions on their faces, but I'm sure you can imagine :)

Happy Thanksgiving

It's Clint's favorite holiday come again! We spend the day in the kitchen, working together, and then we eat. And then we eat leftovers. And leftovers the next day too! And maybe even the day after that.

Clint cooks the turkey, dressing and gravy. I take care of the side dishes, rolls and pies. It makes for a nice division of labor.

As much as it's nice to share a meal with friends or extended family, we like our own cooking and our own company. Next year we can be more sociable in our thanks.

Isaac, by the way, loved his first real turkey encounter. Bread soaking in drippings, gravy, shredded breast meat, and as you can see, tasty wing tips. It was great.

Monday, November 24, 2008


So Claire and I went to see Twilight at the Saturday morning discount matinee. Claire, not quite 7, is about six years shy of target audience. She has not read the books. But she's seen me reading them, and we've talked about them.

Claire came so because it was a girl's day out. Other than High School Musical, which I'm not spending any money on, I can't think of many high school movies I'd let her to see. (Back to the Future or The Goonies would work, but they're pretty tame by current standards.) She hid under my coat for the scary parts (the worst were some of the previews), but overall seemed to enjoy the movie. Mostly she enjoyed getting to go to the movies with me--this is only the 3rd movie she's gone to since we moved to NY.

I enjoyed it mostly for the same reason. We met a friend from church, ran into a couple of more once we got there. It was fun to go out for this shared experience based on a book we had all read. And I didn't have the baby attached to me! Huzzah! (It would not have been fun to see it with Clint. I would have been judging the movie through his eyes the whole time and cringing--like watching Harold and Maude with your grandmother. He probably will watch it when it comes out on video--it's filmed in St. Helens and Astoria, Oregon, close to where he grew up.)

As for the movie itself, it was better that I was expecting it to be. Not as good as the first Lord of the Rings, but better than the Harry Potters (which never felt like complete works that can stand on their own independent of the books. Even the best of those, the 3rd, was confusing for my husband who hadn't, and likely won't ever, read the book.) The story was nicely tightened for the screen adaptation. My personal favorite scene from the book was absent (blood typing), but the film flowed smoothly without it.

I actually liked the movie better than I liked the book on the first reading. (Note-I've only read it twice, but it was better with the perspective gained from reading the entire series. That and I could skip through the repetitive self-deprecation and kissing and marble skin and velvet voices.) The movie eliminated the the whiny, self-conscious teen second-guessing that made Bella such an annoying (if realistic) character, making her much more decisive. The film didn't give compelling reasons for her to fall for Edward--she just announced that she was in one of the voice-overs. But then again, I didn't think Edward was all that attractive--maybe if I had, that would have been enough. The best realized characters were the dad and Alice.

All in all, not a bad addition to the chick flick category. It should fit neatly between Stardust and While You Were Sleeping.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Formula Rant

I recently got a flyer from the formula company Similac in the mail. It was informing me that most toddler food –cow’s milk, chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, applesauce—is deficient in essential vitamins and nutrients. Because these little finicky eaters growing so rapidly, it is imperative that they ingest adequate nutrition. Their solution? A new powered formula you can buy for toddlers!

Every parent who feeds their infant formula bemoans the exorbitant cost. But they pay it, sometimes double, for brand name formulas, because they have been scared into thinking they must. Each new “health claim” serves to further reinforce the companies’ case to the parents that this product is crucial to their child’s health and future.

And then is there is another kind of scare. The widespread contamination of China’s milk supply revealed the vulnerability of a nation dependent on unscrupulous companies for it’s children sustenance. Company officials were deliberately adding melamine to watered-down milk so it would appear to have acceptable levels of protein. The fact that it causes kidney failure and death didn’t bother those who added to milk for children and infant formula any more than it did those who used it to bump up testable protein levels in pet food. I hope there is a special circle of hell for those who put their personal profits ahead of the lives of all the innocent children of their nation.

This second scare reinforces the sense that consumer parents have that in order to assure their babies have the best, safest food, they must buy the most expensive, name brands. Who knows where those half-price generic formulas are made?

All of this plays into the relief parents feel when their child reaches the magical age of one, when pediatricians tell us we can safely feed them cow’s milk. Household budgets take a breather.

Until now.

Because formula companies naturally want to make more money. The only way to do that thus far has been to introduce formula into markets where breastfeeding had been the societal norm. Never mind that many of these places are in underdeveloped nations without adequate supply of fresh, uncontaminated water, so that even if the formula is heavily subsidized or donated, it may still pose a risk to the infants who consume it.

The brilliance of the formula for toddlers is that it expands the already existent formula-sipping base by extending the length of time that the product must be consumed to the exclusion of other similar products.

I think about my own kids and the choices we’ve made with them. I chose the breastfeed exclusively. No formula. Because we had already made the decision to accept the financial sacrifices our culture demands of a single income family, breastfeeding was convenient and appropriate for our budget. And I felt good about it—according to everything I read, human milk is the best food for human infants.

My first I weaned at fourteen months because I didn’t want to be pregnant and nursing at the same time. He was in no way ready. He ended up drinking tons of milk and was very reluctant to eat solid food. I constantly worried about the potential negative health effects of this predominantly liquid diet. (Evidently I’m not alone, and the formula companies know it.)

The second I nursed until twenty-two months. I was far less stressed about her diet because she was still getting the breast milk, in addition to her solids, some cows milk, and dilute juice. The World Health Organization actually recommends breastfeeding until the age of two.

Now we’re on Number Three. He is fourteen months old, and absolutely refuses to drink cows milk. And since Similac has informed me of how deficient that is for him, I feel even better about continuing to nurse him until he approaches his second birthday. Bet they didn’t see that one coming.

Friday, November 7, 2008

We survived Halloween

Halloween is over. Jacob was a forest magician. He designed his costume himself. Claire, once a forest fairy princess, decided she was a forest magician girl. With wings. She might like watching the Dark Crystal now. Isaac, as all his siblings before him, was Bugs Bunny. Like all his siblings before him, he freaked out whenever we put the hood up. We got that costume when Jacob was a baby, before I started sewing in earnest.

Last night I had the kids go through the massive bowl of candy they collected last week. Out of the six pounds left, they were told they can keep one. We learned that dum dums weigh less than almost everything else. They even rejected most of the chocolate because it was so heavy. (Of course, most of the chocolate had already been eaten :)

With the candy gone, costumes washed and put back in dress up boxes, the holiday is officially over.

Time to start working on Christmas gifts.