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The one with all the books. August 14, 2006

Posted by table4five in Family, Parenting, personal thoughts.

Today marks the 37th season of Sesame Street. And while I’m still reeling from the fact that I am older than Sesame Street, I’m also joining Mrs. Davis from The Lovely Mrs. Davis Tells You What To Think in commemorating the occasion by posting about my favorite childhood books and TV shows.

How old am I? I am SO OLD, when I was a kid there were only four channels on TV. FOUR. ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS. We also had this huge box that sat on top of the TV with a giant dial that turned the antenna on the roof (remember those?), and on really clear days we could pull in CKLW, a Windsor, Ontario station that showed “Bill Kennedy at the Movies.” My parents dictated everything we watched, except on Saturday morning when my brother and sister and I watched cartoons. I know Sesame Street was on, but I honestly don’t remember watching it. When I was a pre-schooler, I have no memory of watching TV at all.

I do, however, have a crystal-clear memory of being in the second grade, during a rainy day when outside recess was cancelled, and we sat on the floor in our classroom and watched “The Electric Company” on a TV that was wheeled in on a cart. I’ve looked at the DVD of the show, and none of it rings any bells, except for one thing. There was a song, used to teach kids how to pronounce “tion” at the end of a word. The only part of the song I remember is the chorus, which went “t i o n shun shun shun shun!” So I would like to buy that DVD, and share that little bit of my childhood memory with them.

Books, however, are an entirely different story. I started reading when I was three. I progressed from Golden Books to chapter books by first grade. The first book series I read was “Little House on the Prairie”. My Mother had to write a note to my first grade teacher giving permission for me to check out those books from the “older readers” section of the school library, and I had to read a page out loud to my teacher to prove I could read all the words. This, I remember doing.

My boys have shown no interest in the “Little House” books, not even the “boy” ones like “Farmer Boy“. I’m hoping Kaitlyn will want to read them, and will be careful with my first edition paperbacks. My Mother saved every book she ever bought me, and I now have them in carefully packed boxes in the basement. I’m hoping Kaitlyn will want to read “Harriet the Spy“, “The Moffats“, “All-of-a-Kind Family“, and “Understood Betsy“. I want her to read “B is for Betsy“, “Papa Pellerin’s Daughter” (out of print), and “Laura’s Luck“.

There’s “The Good Master“, and “The Singing Tree“, “A Wrinkle in Time“, and “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler”.
And then there are my Raggedy Ann and Andy books. I have first edition hardcovers of every book in the series. These are extra-carefully packed away. I got them out once to show Nathan, hoping he would share my excitement at the wonder and magic of the stories. But he didn’t, because the stories are about dolls and stuffed animals. If Kaitlyn doesn’t want to read them either, then I will just keep them for myself. Because there is NOTHING that will make me part with those books.

Even though I have much stronger and fonder memories of the books I read as a kid, I still have great respect for Sesame Street. We’ll be tuning in to see the new season and meet the new Muppet Abby Cadabby. In fact, my husband, who I never think is paying attention to things like kids’ TV shows, told me about it today, and said “they have a new cute little Muppet this season.” Awwww! He is such a Dad.


A Post in Three Parts:Part One (Happy) August 11, 2006

Posted by table4five in Parenting, personal thoughts.

Subtitle, courtesy of Fancypants: Happy, Shiny, BULLSHIT.


Happy: This was a morning that required more than just my usual drip coffee with half n half and Splenda. No, this was a serious coffee morning. My ability to sleep shrinks ever more greatly as the days pass, until I am now up until at least 2:00 am, and yet must awaken by 7:30 in order to do something that approximates parenting. And so, after getting Kaitlyn changed and started on her morning bottle, I went to Beaner’s for a Grande Mocha Caramel.

Yes, that means I left my kids alone in a house locked up tighter than Fort Knox for twenty minutes. Ryan is beyond capable, some days he is a better parent than I am. They know my cell phone number, they know not to answer the phone or the door, they know to only leave the house if it is on fire, and then to go only to the next-door neighbor’s house. That doesn’t mean that I linger at the coffee shop for even a second longer than necessary, no. I get my ass there and back fast.

So, back to the happy. As I stood there, locking the front door, a breeze swept in through the trees, ruffling my hair a little. I looked up, taking in the bright, clear blue sky, and registering the fact that it was a good ten degrees cooler. My first thought was “oh no, that’s a FALL breeze.” But it wasn’t. It felt different than a fall breeze.

The fall breeze is smoky, with the rustling of dried leaves and a chill behind it that portends the cooler temperatures to come. Fall breezes send Mothers looking for last year’s Old Navy hooded sweatshirts, zipped onto protesting children and no doubt abandoned the second they are out of sight, stuffed into the bottoms of backpacks along with the Kleenex pocket packs we always make them take but which they never use.

No, this was just a good Summer breeze, the kind that lets the kids stay outside longer than usual. The kind of breeze that lifts kites into the air and keeps those decorative flags my neighbors attach to the front of their houses flying briskly. My dismay at the possible onset of Fall was replaced by the happy feeling that Summer is not yet over.

Breastfeeding backlash August 6, 2006

Posted by table4five in BlogHer, Family, Parenting, personal thoughts.

That’s right, I said BREAST. I apologize if that makes this post NSFW for you, or if your work email filters won’t let you read it at all. But we all have ’em, and we need to talk about them.
There is a controversy swirling around the latest cover of BabyTalk magazine, which shows the profile of an infant in the act of breastfeeding.

This is one of those hot-button issues in which mothers seem to be damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Pregnancy and Parenting books and magazines are full of information about why and how to breastfeed. Women fight to have private nursing rooms set aside for them at their workplaces. But what are you supposed to do if you want to actually leave your workplace or home and go somewhere in public? Consider this excerpt from an article at CBSnews.com:

“It’s a new age,” says Melinda Johnson, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for ADA. “With the government really getting behind breast-feeding, it’s been a jumping-off point for mothers to be politically active. Mommies are organizing. It’s a new trend to be a mommy activist.”

Ultimately, it seems to be a highly personal matter. Caly Wood says she’s “all for breast-feeding in public.” She recalls with a shudder the time she sat nursing in a restaurant booth, and another woman walked by, glanced over and said, “Ugh, gross.”

“My kid needed to eat,” says the 29-year-old from South Abingdon, Mass. And she wasn’t going to go hide in a not-so-clean restroom: “I don’t send people to the bathroom when THEY want to eat,” she says.
That is exactly right. And as for the magazine cover, people do realize that the image was chosen for effect rather than accuracy, right? I have never seen a woman at a restaurant take her top off in order to give Baby unfettered access. There may sometimes be the occasional flash of skin, especially with older babies that like to pull at clothing while eating, but I doubt any nursing mother is intentionally trying to show her breast to the general public.

The best quote I have seen or heard anywhere on this topic has to come from Suebob‘s Mr. Stapler, who had this reaction to seeing the magazine cover and hearing about the controversy:

Suebob: It’s ok for other magazine covers to show women with their skirts up to their heez and their plastic boobs covered with 2-inch wide fabric strips…”

Mr. S: “Yeah. And this…It is someone EATING. It is a baby. It is the most natural human thing on earth. If people can’t get that, if they can’t get past that it is a breast, God help us all. I mean seriously. If they can’t get past that, we have no hope. No hope.”

A virtual standing ovation to Mr. Stapler, for saying “It is someone EATING.” I strongly encourage you to read the rest of the post, entited “Why We Love Mr. Stapler”. What this world needs is more men like him.

I found a link on the Huffington Post to a blog post written by Susie Bright.(Careful, this site is definitely NSFW) Ms. Bright is an author and teacher of women’s sexual issues, especially as they relate to politics. She was one of the leaders of a BlogHer session called “Let’s Talk About Sex.” And while the post she wrote pertains to BlogHer, I felt that she made a lot of points that can be applied to the breastfeeding issue. For example:

Remember when AOL shut down the chat room for breast cancer survivors, because they used the word “breast”?

And yes, we watch the news about children being bombed to bits, skin flambeing off their bones, because it’s all Absolutely Safe for Work, as long as you don’t show any woman’s tits.

Why are women nursing their children considered a prelude to a sex panic?

Every time a woman’s blog proclaims her intellect, her sexuality, and her nurture — all on the same page– she has diced the dominant paradigm.

The hand that blogs the cradle informs the world –this, the blog-her generation, is the crux of women’s liberation that I thought had passed its due date.

Another standing ovation, please, for that last sentence. I have been murmuring “The hand that blogs the cradle informs the world” to myself ever since I read it. I would like to put in on a t-shirt, a button, a bumper sticker. I would like to drop a few thousand leaflets printed with it from an airplane.

Damn it, it is like women’s liberation is moving in reverse. And we, women bloggers, have the power to stop it. Whether you are a Mother or not, you should be concerned that the sight of a photograph of the SIDE of a woman’s breast is causing so much controversy. My next post will be about BlogHer backlash, and how the sight of both a condom and a baby’s bib in the free totebag is causing even more controversy. I can’t be silent about this, and I can’t write a few sentences in which I once again invoke the Golden Rule and ask why we can’t all get along. Nope, this time, I got things to say, and thanks to the Internet, I got a place to say them. Stay tuned.