26 October 2007

How To Be a Cool Third Grader

1. Get a cell phone.
2. Get to school on time.
3. Get MacDonald's.

Apparently, life is about "getting."

Samuel brought this list to me this morning, right after I told the kids that I thought we were probably going to be late for school. I had decided that being late was preferable to stressing out the kids by rushing and yelling. I was just going to take it easy and not ruin everyone's morning by attempting to blast through breakfast, getting dressed, packing backpacks, etc. But I had not considered the cool factor, so it's good he brought me his list.

I thought the on time part was odd...because we are never late for school. Maybe he was building a list with at least one thing that would qualify him as cool, because he sure as hell knows by now that numbers 1 and 3 are pipe dreams.

At the risk of sounding like every generation of parents that can't believe the things kids are into "these days," I would like to know why cell phones and MacDonald's = coolness. Oh, wait, that's right: I think it's this thing called advertising, that industry in service to the greatest form of government economy in the world! Well, ad execs of America, you can rest easy tonight, knowing that you are doing your job; your strategy is working. Your ads are making my children ask me for things, things they do not need, things I do not want them to have, things that are not good for them, lots and lots of THINGS.

But hey, that's what living in a free society is all about, right? The freedom of a corporation to make parents' lives difficult in order to increase its own profits. The freedom of children to be convinced that they need Happy Meals. The freedom of a mommy to take the Happy Meal and run over it repeatedly, crappy toy and all. Just a fantasy of mine.

I go a little crazy sometimes, contemplating all of the messages my kids are getting from the "great big world out there" that run so contrary to the way I want them to grow up. I'm swimming against the current in so many ways, and dragging the kids with me, mostly against their will (he really wants a cell phone). If I could get back the minutes lost to conversations with my children that end with "Because I Said So!" I would probably have enough time on my hands to figure out an exit strategy for Iraq. But I can't devote my time to that, because I'm too busy explaining to my boys why they can't see Spiderman 53, why they can't eat MacDonald's, why they can't wear their jeans with the waistline around their bums, why they can't chew gum (yes, I'm one of those moms), and why things that look so good on TV are really evil. Sometimes, it feels like this country just doesn't care about children. If we, as a country, truly cared about kids, then the choices that surround them would be mostly things that are good for them.

Maybe Sam's Cool List would look a bit different. Betcha cell phones would still be featured prominently, though.

The good news is, he's still 1/3 cool; we made it to school on time.

25 October 2007

Haiku for My Children

Crying in the night,
Heart sinking at losing sleep.
Catching up with you.


You: force of nature,
Caught in rare quiet moment.
What is it you see?


Evening windows up.
Kids playing, shouting, running.
Neighbors hurry by!


Soccer game muddy.
Gives me dirty laundry, and
Boys that smell like earth.


Escape to shower
Revel in water, steam, warmth.
Can still hear mayhem.


23 October 2007

Requiem for Elmo

Parents everywhere, prepare yourselves and your little ones. I am sad to report a tragedy, one that will cast a pallor over many a small heart.

I entered my daughters' room this morning only to discover that beloved Elmo had passed. Lola had, carefully, thoughtfully, tenderly, laid him out in repose, almost as if she intended for family members to come and pay their respects.

Still to be determined is whether or not beloved Elmo's passing is the result of natural consequences or foul play. Perhaps he fell in Dorothy's bowl when no one was around. There is a rumor that Mr. Noodle has a dark side, and an investigation will need to take place to rule out any crime.

One only wishes that muppets could actually close their eyes; perhaps the scene I confronted would have seemed less gruesome if they could.

Please join me in a moment of silence for dear Elmo.




I am having trouble "moving the body," so to speak. I would like to clean up a bit in there, and put the toys back where they belong, but it seems...disrespectful to just pick him up by a leg and toss him in the toy box.

I'll probably get over it, but for now, I'm somber.

22 October 2007

Questions, Questions

This whole blogging thing is harder than I thought it would be! I haven't had any time in the past few days to post anything. We've had a busy, but relatively unexciting weekend of soccer games and general playing; Rick worked a long day on Sunday. Before I knew it, that time I was carving out to write got eaten up by feeding, cleaning, playing, and various other activities.

But this whole idea about kids playing on their own, or discovering the outdoors, well, it's just been in the news these days, hasn't it? Yesterday's Chronicle had another article about kids being unused to -- even uncomfortable in -- the great outdoors. Another good read. Rick and I wish we could pick up and move somewhere rural and quiet and conducive to hours of outdoor play. Maybe we will someday...


And here's a small list of the questions I got yesterday from my oldest, after he and his brother spent time with some friends, two boys about their ages. These are kids we really like, and we really like their mom, but MAN! One afternoon yields all of this?????

What is humping?
What does f*** mean?
Why does Joey call his dad's girlfriend's daughter his sister?
Did you know that Joey's mom smokes?
Do you want to hear the bad words I listened to in some music today? (What mother would say no to that?)
Joey said his parents didn't get along; what does that mean? Why don't they live together?

All the more remarkable because we really do like this family. They are certainly living in a vastly different world than my kids are. While I don't want them exposed to so much all at once, I'm savvy enough to know that we can't pick and choose when our children will have tough questions. I would prefer fewer questions all in one day...but I don't get to make that decision either, I suppose. My informal poll of a few friends tells me that 3rd grade is a pretty normal time for all of the questions about sex. I guess I'll be going back to my friends who have already had that talk and saying "Now, how did you do that, again?" (You know who you are...)

On to another day...

19 October 2007

Overprotected Kids?

I just read this article on SFGate.com (website of the San Francisco Chronicle), and it goes well with my musings on when to let the kids play outside.

Our next door neighbor gave Samuel a copy of the book the article refers to, The Dangerous Book for Boys. Now we have to make the time and space for the kids to actually do some of the things in the book.

Next challenge: Fearless parenting.

18 October 2007

Freakin' Mom

I sent my kids to their after-school care program the other day, which we don't do that often so they aren't that used to it. When I walked in, Samuel came running over shouting "FINALLY!" over and over and over. It was a little touching and a little overwhelming.

Later that evening, he said to me: "Mom, when we were waiting for you to pick us up, I was wondering why you were taking so long, and I meant to say 'where's my crazy mom' but instead, and I don't know how this happened, it just came out, but I said 'where's my freakin' mom." He was bothered by this, because he knew he had said something approaching a swear word. (Is this a swear word? I think so...but I'm not really sure...)

Now, I could spend time and brain cells trying to trace back where he picked up this jewel -- I would admit to it if I thought he got it from me, and I don't really think this is one of his dad's preferred curses -- but I was sufficiently impressed that (a) he had some awareness that it probably wasn't such a great thing to say and (b) he told me about it very openly. So I just laughed a little, asked if anyone else had heard him (would I be hearing about this from a program staff person? Apparently not, he had just said this to himself, out of earshot of anyone else...whew!), and moved on.

It was cute. I didn't know that swearing could be cute. But there you go, yet another example of how much parenting teaches me! Here's my lil' truck driver:

17 October 2007

Craving Independence

As the kids get older, they, especially Samuel, are craving little opportunities to exert their independence. Sam wants, for example, his own cell phone and an ipod. Yeah right. Don't hold your breath, kid. He asked me how old I was when I got my first cell phone: I had to break the unfathomable news to him that I was around 28, and that there were no cell phones when I was a kid. (As if from a script, Vincenzo used the opportunity to ask if "they" had electricity when I was little.) So these are the no-brainers: sorry Sam, you have to wait until you are older.

But there are other things that Rick and I are struggling with whether or not to let them do. A boy from down the street knocked the other day and asked if the boys "could come out and play." Sounds like the quintessential childhood question. But I didn't let them go. We know the boy a little bit, not well, but well enough to know he's a sweet kid, very friendly and polite. But we don't know his family; I wasn't even sure which house he lives in. So there's that. The boys across the street often play in front of their house, riding bicycles or playing catch in the street. We live on a corner lot, and the drivers around here can be completely NUTS. It's pretty scary. We've lived here for almost 10 years, and we've seen more than our share of bad accidents on or near our corner, usually due to speeding idiots. (The kind of idiots that make my husband remark, as the too-loud engine fades into the distance, "I wish they'd get in an accident -- not bad enough to really hurt them, but enough to scare the **** out of them." I get it.)

The boys are also asking for permission to walk around the block by themselves. Scary. So basically, the question is, should we -- can we -- let them play outside with other kids from the neighborhood, or walk short distances from our house on their own?

Here are the issues: First, they are pretty clueless. They don't exhibit great signs of awareness when they are walking near cars or having to negotiate people. We have real doubts about whether they are "up" on safety issues, so we need to address that. Second, there are random dogs in our neighborhood. Scary dogs. Without owners. Not often, but not unheard of either. Third, we don't live in the greatest neighborhood; in fact, our city in general has been experiencing a heightened level of violence these past few months. Most of the incidents have not been near us, but a few have. And the local park, a mere two blocks away, is known as teetering between being kid-friendly and being drug-pusher-friendly. I'm not sure which way it has been leaning lately.

Add it all up, and you come to the same conclusion we have always come to: Like hell they can go around the block or play with the boys across the street or do ANYTHING that does not involve our watching them every minute.

But then, we come up against the reality that they need to learn how to be in the world without us around. They need to be able to play without being watched all the time -- it's what we all did when we were growing up, and it's how we learned to figure things out for ourselves. These kids look to us for so much -- too much, sometimes -- because their lives take place always in our eyesight and earshot.

I don't want this for them. I want them to be able to walk around the block, play with the neighborhood kids, get to know the families up and down the block. Just today, Samuel had a bummer day at school (subject for another day), and he was pretty out of sorts on the way home. He asked me if I could think of something to make him feel better. After saying no to his suggestion that he get to watch Tom and Jerry, ( do they ever learn to ask for things that have better than a snowball's chance in hell of happening?) I almost told him that today could be the day he gets to walk down to the other end of the block by himself. Knowing, however, that Rick would prefer to be consulted on this decision (I made the mistake of letting Samuel have 30 minutes of computer time without consulting my husband; note to self: do not make child-related decisions unilaterally.), I decided to wait. So I talked to Rick about it when he got home. But, as it turned out, Sam got interested in some other things and it never came up. The possibility did, however, give us the chance to talk about the struggle that is this decision.

When do we let him do these things that we wish he could do, but that scare the hell out of us? Shortly after we talked about it, we heard some fool screech down the street, so loud it made us start, and we were reminded why we have such reservations.

And yet, even with all of the reservations, we find ourselves on the brink of giving him -- them -- permission to do these small, independent things that pretty much give us heart palpitations if we think too much. Yet another example of what I know to be true: Parenting is not for the feint of heart. No sissies allowed. Waffling discouraged. Because guess what? Tomorrow morning, chances are very good that one of those little people will ask me for permission to do something that my entire being wants to absolutely NOT let him do but that my heart and soul know he should someday -- and soon -- be allowed to do.

15 October 2007

Blog Action Day: Slow Food!

Today I am participating in Blog Action Day. As some of you may know, today is the day that Blogger has set aside for bloggers to write about THE ENVIRONMENT, as it pertains to their life and blogs. So here's my contribution.

I have become more and more interested in the Slow Food Movement. This is the movement devoted to getting people more aware of and involved in the way food appears on their table, and how their personal choices about food consumption impact the community and the world. Slow Food means local food: buying your food from local growers and farmers.

At our house, one way we have switched to "local food" is by purchasing an organic veggie box from River Dog Farm. I absolutely love this box of veggies. My kids get excited about going to pick up the box (it's dropped off at a central site for local subscribers to pick up from), and often, the fresh bell peppers do not even make it back to our house. We get green beans, potatoes, onions, garlic, eggplant, greens, squash, melons,...many wonderful organically grown products. I like the fact that our dollars are supporting a farm that is only an hour and a half away and is family owned, that supports its workers and uses environmentally sound farming practices. I love that each box comes with a little newsletter featuring great recipes for using the contents of the box. This is especially helpful to me: I wouldn't have known what the heck to do with the turnips the box contained earlier this summer, but thanks to the newsletter, I enjoyed some incredibly yummy turnip-potato latkes. Dee-licious! This is money very well spent, and reduces the amount of money we spend at large grocery stores that ship food from all over the country and the world. So today, I am encouraging everyone to do two things.

First, check out the Slow Food Movement, USA website, to learn more about how you can get involved. There are many things to learn about slowing down our food, from shopping to preparing to eating, and this website is a great resource for getting started.

Second, learn more about Community Supported Agriculture: that's the phrase used to describe farms that sell veggie boxes directly to consumer-subscribers. Here in the SF Bay Area, River Dog Farm is just one of many farms that provide this service. Google CSA's in your area to find one local to you. Look at the River Dog Farm website by clicking here.

That's it! That's my plug for the environment: give your money to CSA programs instead of to large, conglomerate food producers that use ecologically-damaging (or at best, questionable) practices, waste fuel resources on transportation, waste paper resources on packaging, and line the pockets of mega-food production companies at the expense of small farmers and their families.

Go forth and eat organic veggies!

14 October 2007

NPR Envy

Every mother has a secret life.

The one she would rather be living on the days when the kids are fighting too much, when there are too many dirty dishes, piles of laundry, diapers to change, problems to solve. In other words, every day. This secret life is the one that looks fabulous, meaningful, and thrilling. Here is mine:

I want to be Linda Wertheimer. Or Michele Norris. Or Nina Totenberg. I want to be a correspondent for National Public Radio. Of course, this fantasy comes partly from an intense desire to do something OTHER than the many tasks I have to do each day. Here are the things that I am sure are not on the job description of an NPR correspondent:

1. Field the following questions: Why is she looking at me? Where is my yo-yo? Can I have ice cream for lunch? Why does he get to do all the fun stuff? Why don’t you let me do anything fun?

2. Spend the majority of your day cooking three meals for ungrateful and frightfully picky eaters; follow up each meal by cleaning up after said ungrateful eaters

3. Troubleshoot all mechanical and emotional breakdowns

4. Willingly allow your body to be used as a jungle gym; do not stop; do it again. And again. And again. (Once, when I was really tired of swinging my daughter around, I told her to stop saying "again." She complied. She switched to: “Once more! Once more! Once more!”)

Here are the things I am certain ARE on the job description of an NPR correspondent:

1. Spend leisurely hours learning about really interesting people and topics

2. Convey your unique brand of confidence, expertise, and humility in fascinating stories you’ve whipped up while listening to classical music and sipping on lattes

3. Travel to exciting places without having to strap anyone into a car seat


I listen to NPR all the time. So much so that I can soothe a crying infant by humming the theme song from All Things Considered. You know the theory that babies actually hear in utero? I think it’s true: my babies all seemed mesmerized by the sound of Noah Adams’ voice. I spend a good deal of time with small children, so often, NPR is my only adult interaction, even it’s just between my ears and my radio. In the evening, when I am finally around another adult, my husband hears many a sentence that begins: “I heard on NPR today…”

I’ve gotten pretty good at tuning out the kids so that I can hear just a little bit more of Terry Gross (uh-huh, uh-huh), or Brooke Gladstone, or Steve Inskeep. The children, on the other hand, have begun to groan and say, “not the news!” when I turn the radio on. NPR is my lifeline to the world, my source for news, my place to learn new things. I have grown to trust and admire many of the correspondents; hence, my secret fantasy to actually BE one of them.

But lately, a little bit of jealousy has been creeping in. They’re all so damn wonderful and insightful and fascinating. It’s easy to be all of those things when your brain cells have not been decimated by too much Dr. Suess and too many potty jokes. So really, I can’t decide whether to hate them or dream of being them.

We’ll see. I’m not sure I have time to attend journalism school anyway, what with all the playdates and soccer practices I currently have lined up. But then again, I can’t even get someone from Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me to return my emails and let me be on their show, so maybe I’m just not NPR material.

12 October 2007

You're Going to Do What?

These are the words that would go with this face, if she knew what I am contemplating:

I am about to wean her from breastfeeding. Half by choice, and half by circumstance, and 100% a big deal for both of us.

It's just happening naturally, between her sleeping through the night, mornings getting crazier, needing to put her down before the older kids go to bed, having her at daycare three days a week...the opportunities for regular feeding times have dwindled. Yesterday, I did not breastfeed her at all; that was a first. It just happened that way.

I am mourning a little bit about this; I will miss her little warm body curled around my middle, her little fists beating my chest to make the milk flow faster, her sweaty head growing heavy with sleep crooked in my arm. I'll miss the sound of her little gulps. I'll miss the feeling of the milk flowing out of me and into her. I will, in short, miss having a baby. It seems that once they stop breastfeeding, they start growing up with alarming speed. She'll walk one of these days, and she won't stop walking until she's walked right out of the house, never to return. She'll talk soon, and someday will use her words to curse me high and low.

From the day she was conceived, she has been growing away from me. Choosing to stop breastfeeding is like saying: "OK world, she's yours!"

Well, perhaps that's a bit dramatic. Suffice to say it's a moment for pause and a moment for reflection.

reflect reflect reflect

The bright side? NO MORE NURSING BRAS!

10 October 2007

Homework Hell

I am a reasonable, intelligent, dare I say compassionate person. I have the ability to tackle new projects, organize events, and guide small children through a long day. I know how to bandage a scrapped knee, make toast, resolve an argument, write an email and get dinner started ALL AT THE SAME TIME. I am, in short, capable of many things.

Then why, oh why, is it utterly impossible for me to be patient with my son when he is doing his homework???? As I write this, he is doing math at the table next to me. And I am trying desperately not to scream and jump out of my skin as I watch him day dream, pause, get distracted, take off his shoes, put them back on, adjust his paper, sharpen his pencil, take a drink of water, and generally STALL. I WANT TO SCREAM. We have been doing homework for 1 hour and 15 minutes so far, and he still has 10 math problems to do. He's gotten through two other assignments and half of this one in that time. The poor kid HATES doing homework, and I do not blame him. He's at school for 6.5 hours a day (today, thankfully, he had a half day, so at least we aren't right up against dinner/bedtime for once) and he needs to play. There are kids in his class who can do all of the homework in about 30 minutes. Unfortunately, he is not one of them. He is a bright little guy for whom homework is utter, complete, total torture. And we get to experience that torture each and every night.

A friend of mine, who runs her own school, has made this book, The Case Against Homework required reading for her teachers, and I am definitely going to check it out. The premise is basically that homework is actually doing more harm than good. Here's a quote from the website:

The truth, according to Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish, is that there is almost no evidence that homework helps elementary school students achieve academic success and little more that it helps older students. Yet the nightly burden is taking a serious toll on America's families. It robs children of the sleep, play, and exercise time they need for proper physical, emotional, and neurological development.

I got one thing to say to that: Right on!

Hopefully, reading this book will give me some good insight into the entire issue and help me help my son deal with it. If I weren't so busy trying to help him get his homework done, maybe I could go to the bookstore and pick it up.

So, all you parents of school-age children out there: HOW DO YOU HANDLE HOMEWORK? WHAT INCENTIVES, THREATS, STRATEGIES, BRIBES, OR THEORIES DO YOU EMPLOY so as to not have homework ruin your life and the lives of everyone else in the family? My blood pressure rises, my head feels as if it's going to explode, my nerves shred to bits... and here I sit, sucked into the vortex that is Sam's homework and minutes turn into hours, and I still need to make dinner, put sheets on two beds, get one kid ready for soccer practice, get one screaming baby up from her nap, and drink one large glass of wine. I feel helpless, completely in the grip of this mean, pushy, screaming mimi mother who cannot muster up enough patience and compassion to help my son get through math homework. ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.





OK, 110 minutes later and we are finished for tonight. And I was actually somewhat successful at faking being patient, if not actually being patient. Can't wait to go through it all again tomorrow, when we get to throw soccer practice into the mix as well!

And this is what happens when you devote this much time to one child and let the others explore the house on their own:

I'm exhausted. Now, on to the list of tasks that has grown over the last hour and a half. I think I'll start with the wine.

05 October 2007

Here Kitty Kitty

When I was a kid, so the story goes, I would pretend to be a cat, and my mom would put bowls of milk on the floor for me. I would only come to "Kitty." At least, this is what my babysitter, who wrote a paper about me for her high school child development class, claims. I do not remember this. I think it's very neat that my mom played along with the bowls of milk and all. And mom, you'll be happy to hear that the practice is alive and well at my house, only I have both a cat (Lola) and a dog (Elizabeth).

Reminder to self, and to anyone else who would like to learn from my mis-steps: When attempting to settle your squirmy children down for bed, best not to give in to the temptation to be silly, as I did this evening. What possessed me? I do not know. For some unfathomable reason, when I was getting the boys to brush their teeth, I decided to do so in a French accent: "Take your teeeeth into zee bathroom, and brush them." Which then, getting sillier, became, "Get your butt into zee bathroom and brush your teeeeeth." Lots of giggles. Then I overdid it: "Which is not the same thing as getting your teeeeth into zee bathroom and brushing your butt!" Why did I say this? Well, probably because it's fun to make them laugh. What price did I pay? Oh, only about 20 extra minutes of extreme hilarity, hyperactivity, REPETITION of the inane thing I had just said, and a kajillion requests to "say that again, Mom!" In other words, a steep one, at the end of a long day when all I want to do is have a beer, make a sweet pepper and feta cheese omelet for Rick and me to eat, and enjoy some non-kid quiet time.

Oh well. They loved it. Bonding with my children through potty talk: I hardly recognize myself!

03 October 2007

Childhood, Brought To You By...

I worry about the impact of commercialism and consumerism on my kids. Actually, I worry about it a lot, and I don’t think I worry about it enough. The older ones especially are very aware of and intrigued by brand names, logos, companies that seem “cool.” Lots of people will say this is just normal. But it’s SO prevalent these days, and SO insidious, that I suspect that we don’t even know what damage is being done.

Since pretty early on, we have talked to the kids about commercials. While they don’t watch any regular programs on TV, we do watch sports. Soccer especially, lots of baseball, basketball…and the commercials for sports are fairly intense. My then 6 and 4 year olds had a conversation in the car one day about what make of car is the best, and I know they were basing their opinions on the ads they have seen. So we tried explaining to them that a company will make its car (or whatever) look absolutely great in a commercial, because the people who own the company want you to buy what they are selling and help them make money. And while they can’t lie, they won’t tell you everything about a particular item in 30 seconds, nor would they want to. “You have to make up your mind for yourself, instead of just believing what the commercial tells you.” “Commercials are designed to make you want to spend your money on what they are selling, not on providing something to you that you truly need or want.” “Everything looks good in a commercial; real life is very different.” This sunk in enough that Sam, when he was around 5, remarked with considerable disgust after seeing a bottled water commercial, “Why are they trying to sell us water? They know we’re going to drink it anyway. They’re wasting their time!” The foundation for the media-savvy consumer is laid. We can talk about industry competition when he's a little older.

But my children are subjected to far more ad-pressure than I was when I was growing up, and it’s absolutely everywhere. The local grocery store recently put TV screens at every check out line, where the captive audience has no choice but to absorb the messages from the screen, 90% of which are ads, and 10% of which masquerade as “community service” messages. The sides of buses, the cereal box on the breakfast table, the flyers that come in the mail, the magazines they get, the stadium where they like to watch the Giants play baseball, the inserts that come with any toy they get, it’s EVERYWHERE! Of course, this makes the job of parenting that much harder. They want everything they see, and who could blame them when it all looks so wonderful, and the people using all these fantastic products look so happy, so much happier than we seem to be on a day-in day-out basis. This is tip of the problem I think: that the kids are constantly being shown false picture of what happiness is and how to achieve it.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, there is a debate going on about whether or not the Golden Gate Bridge should accept corporate sponsorship, which would mean displaying some kind of corporate sign at the bridge site. Many people are extremely opposed to the idea; they believe that it would detract from the beauty of the bridge, and they don't like the mix of commercialism and landmark. I completely agree. But I wonder why we only get appalled at the big things, like the bridge, but we don't mind the thousands upon thousands of other ways in which commercialism seeps into our lives and exerts an influence on us. And I wonder how long we can sustain a society in which our national treasures can only be supported by corporate involvement. When beauty and art and human achievement can only be celebrated if someone is making money off of it, I think it's time to worry. Are we there yet?

I am convinced that linking consumerism with nearly every experience that our children have is detrimental to their development. They cannot imagine a world in which movies are not cross-promoted with toys and fast food. For them, banner ads and corporate logos are 100% normal and "baseline." Samuel wanted me to add a corporate symbol to a shirt I made for him -- because that's what they all have, right? So on some level, a thing is not legitimate, not complete, unless it's got a corporate logo, unless it's an advertisement for something else, unless it's encouraging us to spend our money and increase the bottom line for someone or some company. How do we help our children enjoy an unsponsored life? While the unexamined life may not be worth living, I believe that the unsponsored life is absolutely worth fighting for; I just have to figure out how to raise non-consumers in a pro-consumer culture. I'm not talking about taking them out of the culture. I'm talking about raising them to put consumption in it's proper place, with the right perspective and the true understanding of what exactly is going on.

It's a tough one. Yet again, I feel like I'm battling the larger culture, which would like to raise my children quite the opposite of how Rick and I are tying to raise them. David and Goliath indeed...