Saturday, January 31, 2009

More proof that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger

Hans came across this article in the NYTimes this week: about kids, health, and dirt.

For parents with small children it's really nothing short of shocking. Gastroenterologists, microbiologists, and immunologists are conducting studies to see if we really need to keep kids super clean. Their new school of thought suggests the rise in childhood asthma, allergies, and autoimmune disorders is due to the lack of dirt, germs, and here's the big wow, worms in our kids' bodies.

One doctor writes that the body is like an unprogrammed computer at birth, and exposure to dirt, etc., is how the body builds a healthy immune system. Researchers are currently using worms to both prevent and reverse autoimmune disease including multiple sclerosis. A quote the director of gastroenterology and hepatology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston: “Children should be allowed to go barefoot in the dirt, play in the dirt, and not have to wash their hands when they come in to eat.”

Hurray for dirt -- it's always been a hit with this boy!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The best things in life are free

I'm thinking of letting our museum memberships lapse because these days we seem to be getting most of our out-of-the-house entertainment at the beach.

On warm days Jack will splash in the surf as long as we let him.

On cold days we bundle up and walk along Ocean Beach. We watch crows picking through the sand for treasure and then burying whatever they find. We explore any random sand pits and write numbers in the damp sand. We bring a plastic bag with us for garbage. This inevitably escalates to "what's the weirdest thing we can find today?" Yesterday it was a toothbrush and a birthday candle. Today in addition to the usual straws, candy bar wrappers, and cigarette butts and we found a fork and a dime.

I love strolling while gazing at Mount Tam, the Headlands, and Point Reyes -- what a magical view!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Potty training, continued

We started actively (and desperately) potty training Jack at the end of August, and we're still working towards consistently clean and dry pants.

I know some people successfully potty train toddlers in one day and others start quite early with infant elimination communication, but we have not been that lucky. It's been slow and steady progress, with the kind of bumps and setbacks typical to children.

Jack does quite well using the potty at school (when prompted) -- I think seeing older kids (mostly boys) using the bathroom is very good training for him. Now that he's been at preschool for almost 4 months, he's not the youngest anymore, and he emulates the bigger kids in many ways, potty included. He has been expressing some independence lately, asking his teacher to wait outside the bathroom rather than accompany him. He is working on pulling up his pants as well, so he sometimes hobbles around the school with his pants all the way up but his underpants around his knees.

At home he will usually use the bathroom when we remind him, but he very rarely (like just about never) uses the potty independently. We remind him regularly and he does great, but if we forget or he gets really tired he is prone to accidents.

In retrospect, I would again stop using diapers completely (except at night), grit my teeth, understand and accept that every single piece of furniture and rug would get peed upon, and keep the process moving forward. We decided that once we started in earnest with training we would never go back, which was hard when we had day after day of puddles everywhere and messes in his pants, but we kept going.

I would not try any of the following:

They never have done any good. He was not ready until he was ready and that's that.

When he does have an accident I acknowledge it in a matter of fact way, get him cleaned up, and move on. I know someday (probably pretty soon) he will be totally ready to take responsibility for his bodily functions. Till then, we keep the sweatpants handy and the "accidente" towel on the sofa.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Best friends

For the past few weeks when Hans came home from work Jack would say "Da! You're my best friend da!" Every once in a while he'd add "and mommy too! Mommy is my best friend."

Last week on the way home from preschool, a shift occurred. I mentioned his da and Jack said, "Da is one of my best friends." When I asked who his other best friends were, this was his reply:

1) Da
2) Fredricka (our neighbor Liz's dog)
3) Ryder, a buddy at preschool

I didn't even make the list!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Monday, January 5, 2009

My turn

We've been making playlists like crazy here. Jack can whip up a list in about 5 minutes, and makes up awesome names for them too, like "Milk" and "Jellyfish."

So I decided to make him a cd with some of my favorite songs on it.
1) Adagio For Strings, Samuel Barber. A lovely song. Somewhat tainted by its inclusion in Platoon, but you can't blame Samuel Barber for that.
2) Beyond Belief, Elvis Costello, Imperial Bedroom. One of best songs ever written? Such a clever man.
3) The Golden Age, Cracker, The Golden Age. This is an important message song for me.
4) Roadrunner, The Modern Lovers, The Modern Lovers. The essence of my Boston years in one song.
5) Been Caught Stealing, Jane's Addiction, Ritual De Lo Habitual. Such a happy happy song. I love it. And great guitar work by Dave Navarro.
6) Lotus, R.E.M., Up. Kind of subversive and rocking.
7) You Were The Last High, The Dandy Warhols, Welcome to the Monkey House. Overall I find the Dandys annoying but I adore this song.Whoops! This has a naughty word in it we will switch to "horse".
8) All Night Long, Peter Murphy, Wild Birds. When I hear this I think of my first weeks in San Francisco.
9) The Street Parade, The Clash, Sandinista. Just one of the great throwaway tunes on Sandinista.
10) Gloria, U2, October. One of my top 10 songs. I actually remember hearing it for the first time, in a Boston pizzaria.
11) Classic Girl, Jane's Addiction, Ritual De Lo Habitual. Pretty and sweet.
12) Blackbird, the Beatles, the White Album. Another pretty sweet song.
13) Wolves Lower, REM, Chronic Town. Favorite REM song.
Walking on the Moon, The Police, Regatta de Blanc. A song from adolescence.
15) California Stars, Billy Bragg and Wilco, Mermaid Avenue. Reminds me of camping and Walt Whitman.
The Great Gig in the Sky, Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon. Intrinsically mixed with memories of driving in Death Valley.
17) Dream brother, Jeff Buckley, Grace. Lovely album and this song gives me chills.
18) Black, Pearl Jam, Ten. Saddest song ever? Can't even talk about it without crying.
19) Helpless, Neil Young, Decade. A good song for parents.
20) Just Like Honey, (band shall be referred to as J&MC so as not to offend anyone), Psychocandy. So chunky.
21) Pyramid Song, Radiohead, Amnesiac. I don't know the lyrics and I don't want to know them. I don't know what this song is about but I find it so sad. Like all Radiohead songs, it contains some of the best drumming in modern rock.
22) Julia, The Beatles, The White Album. I think I remember John Lennon wrote this for his mom? It's my favorite Lennon song.
23) Pink Moon, Nick Drake, Pink Moon. Perfect.
24) Baby Blue, The 13th Floor Elevators, Going Up - The Very Best Of. The best cover of this wonderful song.

I had to leave out some songs. There's just no way Tattooed Love Boys is appropriate for a 3-year-old. I hope he likes this cd. I know I will.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Jack's first "mix tape" cd

I know, no one calls them mix tapes anymore. But that's how I remember them, and it sounds better than playlist doesn't it?

For a week or so Jack has been asking to put a cd called "oink oink oink" in the car's cd player. We never could figure out what he was talking about, until today when Hans asked Jack if he wanted to make a cd called "oink oink oink". He certainly did -- this is what he requested, in this order (song, artist, album):

Myxomatosis, Radiohead, Hail to the Thief,
Lucky, Radiohead, OK Computer
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Raine Maida and Chantal Kreviazuk, For The Kids
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Mozart, Lullaby Classics
It's All Right to Cry, Darius Rucker, For The Kids
Paranoid Android, Radiohead, OK Computer
Catch The Moon, Lisa Loeb & Elizabeth Mitchell, For The Kids Too
Telephone Song, Kirsty Hawkshaw, For The Kids Too
The Rainbow Connection, Sarah McLachlan, For The Kids
Hey Jude, The Beatles
Alphabet of Nations, They Might Be Giants, Here Come the ABCs with TMBG
Spring Song, Mendelssohn, Lullaby Classics
E Eats Everything, They Might Be Giants, Here Come the ABCs with TMBG

We listened to the cd on the way to a hike this morning, and Jack listened with a most beatific smile on his face!

Something new

Jack has invisible friends for the first time.
These friends are numbers.
Not boys. Not girls. Not animals. Numbers.
What am I supposed to do with that?