Sunday, November 27, 2011

Low Stress Parenting Blog #1

Some people might call us lame parents, but my husband and I haven't done a lot of the things that many new parents do.  We didn't decorate the nursery before the kids were born.  We still haven't decorated it and they are 2 and 4.  We have never done a photo on Santa's lap.  We don't make Christmas cookies.  We didn't trick-or-treat until this year.  Birthday parties consist of nothing more than cake at Grandma's house.  Meanwhile, my friends and acquaintences have enrolled their kids in swimming lessons, ice skating, soccer, and gymnastics.  They have birthday parties with Barney themes.  They make gingerbread homes, pasta necklaces, and an assortment of other crafts.  My kids don't know about super heros or most cartoons.  We rarely make cookies, mainly because we avoid junk food whenever possible.  The poor kids never even get juice unless they are sick!  The 4-year old first learned about goldfish crackers when she started pre-school.  The 2 year old still doesn't know about them, or pretzels, Cheez-its, or any of the rest of the crap that children (and adults) love. 

Call us lazy.  But we look at these ages as the only time we'll be free from doing all that extra stuff.  At this age, the kids don't care, so we are enjoying our freedom.  We know they'll eat tons of sugar and other bad food down the road, but why in the world would we give it to them when they are too little to even ask for it? 

But this weekend, I caved and did one of those projects I usually avoid.  The kids and I made gingerbread houses.  I have friends who have done this with little kids, and I read a blog where a woman did it with a little boy my son's age.  She went on and on about how much he enjoyed it, and the end result looked great.  So I went to the store and bought white frosting, gum drops, Twizzlers, pretzels, red hot candies, and sprinkles.  Then we settled down to make gingerbread houses the "easy" way, with graham crackers for the walls. 

One friend had suggested building them over milk cartons, to keep them standing upright, but I couldn't figure out how to do this.  The graham crackers didn't seem quite big enough to go over the milk cartons.  In the end I just used two long crackers and two half crackers for the four walls and a long cracker for a flat ceiling.  They kids were thrilled during set up.  I built the structure and showed them how to decorate.  (I smeared frosting over the roof so they could stick stuff on top.)  They managed this part fine, except that the houses each caved in twice, triggering momentary hysteria from both kids.  Then I showed them how to put a dab of frosting on the back of the candy, so it worked like glue.  This was completely over the two year old's head.  He put it on the "front" and couldn't understand why it didn't stick.  It was ok because he didn't really care, anyway.
This project held their attention for exactly three minutes.  Then the two year old started eating everything in sight and the four year old said, "I'm all done.  Can I wash my hands in the sink?"  In the end, both kids were vastly more interesting in washing their hands in the sink than in decorating gingerbread houses.  The whole venture cost me about $10 in candy, half of which I still have and will probably never use.  Set up time was about five minutes.  Clean up time was another five.  The kids' sugar high lasted several hours.  Now we have two gingerbread homes that I guess need to be eaten.  Looking forward to that second sugar high. 

In the end, both kids would have been just as happy spending the morning under a blanket and chair fort in the living room.  Oh, and, although I think my kids' gingerbread houses are charming, they are no where near the quality of the ones I saw the three year old build on that blog.  I'm not saying the mom cheated or that my kids' decorating skills are lacking.  I'm just saying...totally different looking
gingerbread houses.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Open Letter To President Obama about the Keystone Tar Sands pipeline

November 4, 2011

Dear President Obama,

Thank you for involving yourself in the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline project. I trust you to stay above the politics and cronyism that seems to be propelling this plan forward.

I live in Nebraska. I supported you as a candidate and my district was responsible for giving you one of Nebraska’s three electoral votes in the election. The more I read about the pipeline, the more baffled, worried, and disheartened I become. I’m baffled that anyone thinks it makes sense to build a pipeline across the entire country just to process Canadian tar in Texas. I’m worried because the pipeline will go over the Ogallala aquifer, a huge water source for millions of people, and the Trans Canadian pipeline built a year ago has already had 12 leaks. Finally, I’m disheartened since I read that Hillary Clinton’s former campaign manager is a lobbyist for the project and that he seems to think approval is a slam dunk because of his connection to our Secretary of State.

This kind of cronyism is at the heart of what the 99% protest is all about. Too many of our wealthiest citizens achieved that wealth, not from hard work, but from insider connections and politicians that pass laws to benefit the 1% and ignore the rest. Sure, building the pipeline will create temporary jobs for regular people, but most of the money is going to a bunch of insiders who think they have the politicians in their back pocket. It’s time to show them they are wrong. I want my democracy back. Whatever you decide, please don’t let it be influenced by that top percent who think they can have whatever they want for the asking, regardless of what it does to our country, our people, and our environment.