Wednesday, September 25, 2013

about that time I had an IUD for two days

 A few months ago, I had an IUD for a brief moment. I struggled with whether to write about my experience here, but then Jamie (aka the grumbles) blasted through with all her badassery and Hell Yeah Unicorns, and I was inspired to share my story, although luckily my story is not nearly as horrible and gory as hers. Sorry Jamie.

I am sharing my experience because my story wasn't one of the many I read about prior to getting my IUD. As a doula, I want my clients to have as much information about birth so they can make their own empowered choices. I support whatever those choices are, so long as they are accompanied by corresponding evidence. I feel the same about your reproductive choices, Reader. The More You Know, and all that jazz.


Last night I watched Lena Dunham's show Girls for the first time. We got the first season from the library, and because binge-watching is our favorite way to get into new shows, we watched three episodes in a row. I am really not quite sure how Girls is related to the rest of what I'm writing about today, but somehow it seems vaguely intertwined. Something about solidarity, mothering our female friendships, hoes before bros, or along those lines. Plus, it's really hard for me to start out by saying "So y'all, about my vagina..." and this side note is my way of stalling.


So ya'll, about my vagina.

Looking back, I can't even remember exactly why I thought the IUD was the way I wanted to go, except that I was sick of swallowing The Pill's nasty hormone cocktail, and hormone-free birth control seemed like a good option. What I had read about diaphragms wasn't all that gung-ho either, so I figured in the realm of the sucky contraception options available, maybe ParaGard would be okay. ParaGard is the IUD made of copper, and my gynecologist assured me it's been on the market for a long time and is substantially improved from previous versions. I asked a few friends who used it, did some brief questioning of Dr. Google, and then jumped in, vagina-first.

{Warning: some graphic details will follow. Put down your sandwich}.

I'm not exaggerating when I say IT HURT LIKE A BITCH to have the IUD put in. Something about expanding a balloon inside my uterus to check its size (BLARG! hmhmhmhhmhm...I can't hear you...), then some bleeding that resulted from her pinching me from the inside. Yup, you read that right. She stabbed me in my uterus. Ever been poked in an internal organ while under no anesthesia? Doesn't feel great, amiriteladies?

Let me put it this way. I have experienced two unmedicated births, and this experience was hands-down more traumatizing. With my births, I was fully expecting the pain, and I knew it was natural, serving the amazing purpose of bringing my babies to my arms. That kind of pain I can handle. But the kind of pain where she doesn't bother even telling me it's going to hurt, beyond a flippant "this will sting a bit" as she was putting her hands in me, is another story. Once I started up my Lamaze breathing, she glanced over my splayed legs with a half-alarmed, half-annoyed look and said "You're not going to pass out, are you? I've had some women pass out on me and fall off the table." OH REALLY, thaaaaaat's quite interesting. Maybe you could have mentioned that in addition to the sting. A bee stings. This was not a sting.

I went home feeling a little shaky and tried not to think about it.

Cut to a morning less than 48 hours later. I was making eggs in a cast-iron skillet, and even when still cool, it felt hot to the touch. I ran over to the sink and scrubbed my hands clean, but the itchy, burning feeling didn't subside. The closest I can come to describing the feeling is that it's like accidentally touching fiberglass. You can't see the stuff, but it hurts acutely like you want to remove a splinter right away. My hands stayed swollen, splotchy, and red all morning.

I didn't yet connect the trouble to my IUD (Would you have? Three feet away inside me, it seemed like a non-issue), but I did consult Dr. Google with the query, "Why is my skillet giving me hives?"

[This part in the story is where I should probably pause and tell you that no earlier than a week before this problem, I had an exchange with my husband about how I never wear earrings because they are so itchy and uncomfortable. He postulated that like his mom and sister, I probably had a mild nickel allergy. It explained so much, including why some earrings were bothersome and others were not.]

Back to my kryptonite skillet. Google revealed the most common answer to be that modern iron skillets are sometimes plated in nickel because it is virtually indestructible and a good conductor of heat. Aha! That piece of information also helped me understand why our smaller heirloom skillets weren't posing a problem to my hands. They were likely made prior to nickel-plating.

What I hadn't yet figured out is why I suddenly was more allergic to the skillet now. What had changed? The IUD was made out of copper, not nickel...or so I thought? Not so fast, oh-ye-who-trusts-pharmaceutical companies. With some digging, I turned up others saying they had spoken with reps at ParaGard, who explained that while the IUD is coated in copper, it is actually comprised of a nickel core. Say what?

It's not difficult to understand why they chose this make-up because nickel is quite cheap compared with copper. What might be more difficult to understand is why it isn't written ANYWHERE ON THE PACKAGING that nickel is in the ParaGard. Is it still tough to put it together when you hear that nickel is one of the most common allergies? It's no surprise to me that ParaGard isn't advertising the nickel in their product when so many women would potentially be excluded from its use.

I immediately called the doctor, who was actually also surprised to hear that nickel was in the ParaGard. I would have almost preferred her saying "OH, you didn't tell me you were allergic to nickel! Yes, I know about it." She agreed that I should come in immediately and have the offending IUD taken out, which I did. While I may not have had any unicorns dancing around, I definitely saw Bob Marley's three little birds doing a happy dance around me on my way out of the clinic.

It's okay Bob, I'm not worried about a thing any more.


When I told my cousin this story, she pointed out how much worse it could have been if I had paid for that IUD. So true! Did you know those things can cost upwards of nearly a grand? I didn't until I had it taken out. I won't toot my horn too loudly with this next bit of info, but we have no copay for office visits. As in, I walked in and got the IUD, then two days later I had it removed, and it cost me zilch. But for people who are paying out of pocket, you'd think that medical personnel would be more committed to discovering the ins and outs of their expensive products. What do you think?

Monday, September 23, 2013

{38}: town day

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."

On the Range
September 17 - 23, 2013

{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.

Milestones & Isms

  • Charlie: Mommy, let's play zig zag ohses! (she meant tic tac toe)
  • Charlie (earlier in the week): Can you turn it a little upper? (the music)
  • Vivi: Daddy, are you going to Mulan the grass?



  • Microwave-baked apples, so good over ice cream or oatmeal
  • Gwumpki (stuffed cabbage rolls)
  • I made chili and then ate the leftovers with noodles when I was in a hurry. It was definitely an eating-over-the-sink mom moment. As I made it, Tina Fey's voice sang in my head, "You take some pasta, roll it in some chili, top it with some cheddar got cheesy chili mac!"

Friday, September 20, 2013

{this moment}: yard camping

{this moment} A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

me time

The most unusual and delightfully surprising change has happened to my daily routine since the girls have started school again. I'm going to tell you the following without trying to sound like a braggart. I HAVE FREE TIME. Okay, so I suppose writing in all caps isn't the best way to appear like I'm not bragging. But if you're a mom like me with two young children, and you feel like you'll never have a minute to yourself again, like your brain will never fully work again, take heart. You will get time to yourself. You might even get your brain back. It happened for me, and it will happen for you too.

The surprise isn't that I am getting free time, it's that it totally caught me off guard. Here I am, the mom of two potty-trained individuals who can entertain themselves for literally an hour or more without needing me, and I was somehow unaware that I'd have more time to myself when kindergarten got going. In my defense, my brain wasn't working too well prior to a week ago...

Jumping on the couch, a morning favorite.

A great part of this set-up is that even when Charlie is home with me (she still only has school two mornings a week), she is so easily entertained and quiet that it's like being alone at times. I can set her up with an activity, like an art project or a stack of books, and I get a full thirty minutes of time to think, write, read, or switch laundry. As a result, I'm currently sitting in my dining room at the computer with no mess in sight, and Charlie is dancing nearby to a Raffi song.

Not sure what she's doing here. But she's quiet as a mouse.

Now I just need to decide what to do with my time, other than read my stack of books and laugh until I almost fall out of my chair at the Bloggess. Once I had a few minutes to think about what I might like to do, the answer became obvious. Write! Nate has been so helpful at organizing my thoughts and ideas (turns out there's more to consulting than just prolonging the problem), so I've even developed a framework for what I want to write. It irks me when bloggers--especially Facebookers-- are vague because they hope people will be on the edge of their seats ("I can't tell you about it, but something amazing is about to happen to me!!"), but I honestly still don't know what to tell you yet. When I do, I promise not to be vague.

I remain, Reader, your most humble and faithful aimless digressor,

p.s. For the two of you who are wondering, yes I did in fact get the idea for the "me time" title from Cards Against Humanity. It might just be my favorite card.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

{37}: fall is here!

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."

On the Range
September 10 - 16, 2013

{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.



I'm not sure why I never posted this video before (or if I did, I can't find where), but I just rediscovered it on my desktop this morning. It's of Vivi collecting "clumps" of snow. It was hilarious to me because there was more snow on the ground than one could possibly enjoy, yet she was finding special mounds that she insisted on carrying with her. Girl loves her some winter weather.


Here's a video of Charlie playing by herself. I love the age when they talk to themselves in teeny munchkin voices.


Monday, September 16, 2013

reboot family dinner {+ a giveaway of two great books}

{Note: Congratulations to Emily and Jessica, the winners of the giveaway books. I hope you enjoy them, ladies!}

I enjoy our summer lazy routine where we let the girls watch more TV and eat more ice cream, but there's also a quiet bliss to our back-to-school fall routine. We begin spending more hours indoors, whether in school or in our living room, and our busier schedule makes those rarer family trips outdoors to pick apples or play t-ball all the sweeter.

With school fully ramped back up, I am getting back into the swing of family dinner. I admit to struggling a bit at times, continuing to serve the girls summer staples of deviled eggs or tuna salad before Nate and I have our own dinner hours later. And pretty please don't ask me whether they've been eating lots of snacks.

We've had our successes too. On Sunday, for example, we went out to pick apples and filled our bellies to the brim with fruit, so we weren't as interested in a full dinner that night. Instead, the girls played happily in the next room while we chopped and simmered apples close by in the kitchen. They loved to sample a bit of still-cooking, piping hot applesauce, and Daddy whipped them up a quick grilled cheese sandwich and mug of tomato soup while we were still mixing and canning apple creations.

Charlie's favorite part was the bluegrass band playing at the farmstand. Girl after her mama's heart.

We've all heard in recent months about the importance of sitting down to dinner as a family. Lately I've been pondering the definition of "family dinner" and wondering if there's more room to bend the rules a bit. I'm happy to be working with The Family Dinner Project (FDP) to experiment with my neighborhood pals and see if we can make family dinners better together. They have some fantastic ways to fit in food, fun, and conversation with your children into your day.

I'm betting you can guess Vivi's favorite part of the day...

On apple-picking day, we didn't all sit together at one time to share a big spread of food; however, we did connect as a family in picking and putting away a bounty of fall's delicious harvest together. Later on in the evening at bedtime, we played a game FDP calls Rose & Thorn, asking them what their favorite and least favorite parts of the day were and sharing our own.

If you are interested in making family dinner better in your household, I encourage you to check out the FDP website. They have so many wonderful (and free!) resources. I'm also happy to be offering a giveaway today of two books that have helped us keep the kids interested in trying and eating new and different foods, which is one of the important pieces in the family dinner puzzle. Thanks to their generous publishers for making it possible to share these books!

Here are the books you can sign up for a chance to get for free (sign-up is below, and it will be open until Sunday September 22nd, 11:59pm ET):

1. French Kids Eat Everything. I wrote about this book in April, and the post was syndicated on BlogHer. A publicity manager of the publisher, HarperCollins, found what I wrote and offered to share the book with two readers of this blog. I absolutely loved this book; it changed the way we eat dinner forever, and it has made the experience so much more pleasant. See more of what I wrote here.

2. End of the Rainbow Fruit Salad. Here's what I wrote about it in July. The publisher offered to give y'all one of these books as well, so sign up below if you're interested! My kids love this one and still to this day call it the pickle book because of the illustrated pickle who helps make the salad.


Use Rafflecopter below for your chance to win! It's that easy. Just submit a comment or drop me a line by email or Facebook if you're having trouble figuring it out. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 13, 2013

first week of school done!

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Our big kinniegahdena

This is my third year summarizing the first week of school.  To reminisce along with us, check out Vivi's first week of pre-k and preschool. When I look back at those pictures, I see a little punkin who used to let me dress her without a fuss. Someone I could pick friends for based on whose mothers I got along with best. How unruly her hair used to be. What a happy little peanut.

Now I have a kid who is still happy but is full of opinions and stories. She's out in the world, navigating the ups and downs and making her own friends. We couldn't be more pleased. The school is great, the teacher is bright and energetic, and the kids are friendly. When I ask her every day to pick her favorite part, she tells me that she loves everything except the time when they have to sit still and listen. I chuckle at how easily I predicted that assessment by her.

Getting to this peaceful place in my mind hasn't always been easy, but today I'm genuinely glad about leaving her in the morning in good hands. It helps that the school recently switched to a Vygotsky-based curriculum I love, called Tools of the Mind, that is focused on play and building self-regulation skills and confidence. Honestly, I'm just happy they haven't mentioned the word "test" yet. Perhaps that's coming. Curriculum night is in a few weeks, so I'll check back in.

One way I helped myself get comfortable with the notion of public school was to make an internal pact to supplement her learning with subjects I think are important, like geography, science, and foreign language. It also helped me to become familiar with the general subjects kindergartners are expected to learn about universally, which I did by getting a book called What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know. I flip through it again occasionally to remind myself of the big picture. Another way I became more comfortable with school was to ask lots of questions. I pestered many people; perhaps my favorite example of the grilling was the time I interviewed a good friend and teacher for the blog.

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Kid #2 officially started preschool!

I can't forget to mention little sister too! She started as a new preschooler at Vivi's old school (here's the post last year about her starting "stay-n-play," which was like a mom's morning out). However, Charlie has been going there for other programs and to pick up Vivi since she was born, so I was confident she would feel comfortable. And she does! She barely turned around to give me a goodbye hug on her second day. Winning! Must be all that tiger blood.

Seacrest out,

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

{36}: standing still

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."

On the Range
September 3 - 9, 2013

{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.

My week...

We spent most of the week trying to keep our heads above water. It was the first time in my memory that we have all been sick with the same bad cold at the same time. Oh, the TP! We also got ready for kindergarten, with both an orientation and a screening for Vivi. She was excited to start school. I'll share more about that tomorrow.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

we are the FDA

Welcome to the September 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Staying Safe
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and tips about protecting our families. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

FDA Quotes

I steer clear of giving too much advice to new parents; what I know, they either won't understand or aren't ready to hear yet. Besides, being a mom for five years doesn't make me a parenting expert, and I am far too aware of the foibles I've made along the way to feel I would be any good at telling others what to do. There is an exception to this no-advice rule, and it's concerning the food and drug choices we make as parents. Here is the sum total of that advice: as a parent, you are the funnel by which all materials will reach your children. You are the screen, the poison detector, the regulation. In essence, YOU are the FDA.

One difficult truth I learned in public health graduate school is that the FDA is an agency under extreme political pressure to make profit-based rather than evidence-based decisions. The integrity of their decision-making process has come under scrutiny in recent years for good reasons. The FDA has repeatedly been accused of or directly confessed to succumbing to pressure by Congress, whose members are funded by big companies peddling myriad faulty products.

Note that this pressure isn't exerted by one political party or another; it is a problem that crosses the aisle. Even easier to demonstrate than the political pressure is the whacky organizational make-up of the agency where food is concerned. Let's take frozen pizza as an example; if you want inspection information about a frozen pepperoni pizza, you should seek out the USDA, but if you want the same information about a cheese pizza, go to the FDA. The same could be said about egg regulation, which this article cutely and aptly calls "scrambled."

The problems in FDA regulation aren't limited to processed food but rather extend to sunscreen (see EWG's July 2013 letter to the FDA here), cleaning products, produce, seafood, vitamins*--which the FDA doesn't currently regulate at all (see footnote about vitamins below)--etc. Problems aren't limited to the FDA either. There's bad news for other regulatory agencies as well. Take the FTC (please!), which regulates all advertising, including for children's and infant products, but chooses to provide less regulation and more frustrating "guidance."

A particularly frustrating example of this lack of adequate FTC regulation concerns infant formula. Back in the late 1980's, pediatricians were outraged at a change in formula advertising to direct-to consumer-as opposed to doctors; some pediatricians even went so far as to boycott formula companies. The AAP then and now recommends against direct-to-consumer advertising, but they wield no regulatory power, and even though other countries have banned the practice, the US (via the FTC) continues to allow it.

Why were pediatricians so up in arms? They knew what could (and did) happen; formula companies now manage the information you receive and lead women to believe failure to succeed at breastfeeding is normal and expected. The hazard boils down to this likelihood: if you don't do your own research to become educated, you know only what they want you to know. Perhaps more importantly, you don't know what they don't want you to know.

What all this evidence means, unfortunately, is that parents can't rely on the federal agencies** to protect us; we need to do our own research when making decisions about purchases, particularly when they are for our children. If you're looking for a place to do such parenting research, Environmental Working Group is a good place to start.

*Should you take a multivitamin? This Harvard School of Public Health website discusses the evidence both for and against synthetic supplemental vitamins.

**It's not all bad news at the federal agencies of health protection. The CDC does a fantastic job of relaying transparent and evidenced-based data to the public. I highly recommend checking out their website for child-related health and safety information.

Author's Note: This post was shared with Works for Me Wednesday.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon September 10 with all the carnival links.)
  • Stranger Danger — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares her approach to the topic of "strangers" and why she prefers to avoid that word, instead opting to help her 4-year-old understand what sorts of contact with adults is appropriate and whom to seek help from should she ever need it.
  • We are the FDA — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger makes the case that when it comes to food and drugs, parents are necessarily both their kids' best proponent of healthy eating and defense against unsafe products.
  • You Can't Baby Proof Mother Nature — Nicole Lauren at Mama Mermaid shares how she tackles the challenges of safety when teaching her toddler about the outdoors.
  • Bike Safety With Kids — Christy at Eco Journey In the Burbs shares her tips for safe cycling with children in a guest post at Natural Parents Network.
  • Spidey Sense — Maud at Awfully Chipper used a playground visit gone awry to teach her children about trusting their instincts.
  • Watersustainablemum explains how she has used her love of canoeing to enable her children to be confident around water
  • Safety without baby proofing — Hannabert at Hannahandhorn talks about teaching safety rather than babyproofing.
  • Coming of Age: The Safety Net of Secure AttatchmentGentle Mama Moon reflects on her own experiences of entering young adulthood and in particular the risks that many young women/girls take as turbulent hormones coincide with insecurities and for some, loneliness — a deep longing for connection.
  • Mistakes You Might Be Makings With Car Seats — Car seats are complex, and Brittany at The Pistachio Project shares ways we might be using them improperly.
  • Could your child strangle on your window blinds? — One U.S. child a month strangles to death on a window blind cord — and it's not always the obvious cords that are the danger. Lauren at Hobo Mama sends a strong message to get rid of corded blinds, and take steps to keep your children safe.
  • Tips to Help Parents Quit Smoking (and Stay Quit) — Creating a safe, smoke-free home not only gives children a healthier childhood, it also helps them make healthier choices later in life, too. Dionna at Code Name: Mama (an ex-smoker herself) offers tips to parents struggling to quit smoking, and she'll be happy to be a source of support for anyone who needs it.
  • Gradually Expanding Range — Becca at The Earthling's Handbook explains how she is increasing the area in which her child can walk alone, a little bit at a time.
  • Safety Sense and Self Confidence — Do you hover? Are you overprotective? Erica at ChildOrganics discusses trusting your child's safety sense and how this helps your child develop self-confidence.
  • Staying Safe With Food Allergies and Intolerances — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is sharing how she taught her son about staying safe when it came to his food allergies.
  • Don't Touch That Baby!Crunchy Con Mom offers her 3 best tips for preventing unwanted touching of your baby.
  • Playground Wrangling: Handling Two Toddlers Heading in Opposite Directions — Megan at the Boho Mama shares her experience with keeping two busy toddlers safe on the playground (AKA, the Zone of Death) while also keeping her sanity.
  • Letting Go of "No" and Taking Chances — Mommy at Playing for Peace tries to accept the bumps, bruises and tears that come from letting her active and curious one-year-old explore the world and take chances.
  • Preventing Choking in Babies and Toddlers with Older Siblings — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now gives tips on preventing choking in babies and toddlers along with Montessori-inspired tips for preventing choking in babies and toddlers who have older siblings working with small objects.
  • Keeping Our Children Safe: A Community and National Priority — September has many days and weeks dedicated to issues of safety; however, none stir the emotions as does Patriot Day which honors those slain the terrorist attacks. Along with honoring the victims, safety officals want parents to be ready in the event of another disaster whether caused by terrorists or nature. Here are their top tips from Mary at Mary-andering Creatively.
  • A Complete Family: Merging Pets and Offspring — Ana at Panda & Ananaso shares the ground rules that she laid out for herself, her big brown dog, and later her baby to ensure a happy, safe, and complete family.
  • Be Brave — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about helping her kids learn to be brave so that they can stay safe, even when she's not around.
  • Catchy PhrasingMomma Jorje just shares one quick tip for helping kids learn about safety. She assures there are examples provided.
  • Know Your Kid — Alisha at Cinnamon&Sassfras refutes the idea that children are unpredictable.
  • Surprising car seat myths — Choosing a car seat is a big, important decision with lots of variables. But there are some ways to simplify it and make sure you have made the safest choice for your family. Megan at Mama Seeds shares how, plus some surprising myths that changed her approach to car seats completely!
  • I Never Tell My Kids To Be Careful — Kim is Raising Babes, Naturally, by staying present and avoiding the phrase "be careful!"

Monday, September 09, 2013

eat chocolate. do it for the children.

I love this chocolate.* The reason you should love this chocolate too is it's from single-source heirloom organic cacao beans, and the cacao is gathered by a cooperative of families on a small island in the Ecuadorian Amazon rain forest instead of by child slaves in West Africa. If you haven't read about slavery in the chocolate industry, you should go read that link now. Kallari (pronounced kahl-ya-di) is a Kichwa (aka Quichua) word that means "to begin;" they are a small company of indigenous Kichwa chocolate makers, and the profits all go back into the collaborative. Could there be a better cause to support than a chocolate one?

The best part, aside from the fact that it is on the Food Empowerment Project's list of acceptable chocolate producers, is that Kallari is absolutely the most delicious chocolate I've ever eaten. It's fruity and almost floral, but with a spicy finish, and it has a creamy texture without the addition of milk (it's vegan, if you care about such things). Even the 75% cacao chocolate bars aren't as bitter as I expected them to be, yet somehow they are able to use half the sugar of standard chocolate because of their unique varietals. They grow the cacao in a canopy of other plants that are supposed to give extra flavor--e.g. banana, mahogany, and scores of others--to the beans. It's one of the only places where cacao growers are also making their own chocolate. Kallari chocolate is sold in some Whole Foods and other food markets in the US (search here for a location near you), or you can also buy it on Amazon and other online sellers. You can read more about the company in this NY Times article.

Whether you choose to buy this brand or another, the next time you reach for some Nestle's Tollhouse chocolate chips, I hope you'll reconsider; along with child slavery, Nestle suffers from numerous other human rights and product safety issues. They aren't the only company with problems, just maybe the largest and most visible. Unfortunately, even Clif Bar and Trader Joe's, two companies I love and routinely purchase chocolate-containing foods from, refuse to disclose from where they source their chocolate. Bummer.

I think perhaps I'll make these chocolate chunk cookies with the rest of my Kallari chocolate. Mmmmm.

*I'm not just saying that because they gave me some for free. But they did. Ha.

Thursday, September 05, 2013


Charlie turned three last week, and I am reeling that she's already older than Vivi was when we moved to Boston. I wrote about Vivi turning three in this post. We marvel at all the ways Charlie is different from Vivi at her age. For starters, her gross motor skills are far superior; she has been swimming with coordinated arms and legs for nearly a year already, and she rarely trips and falls. Vivi was (and still is) falling on a daily or sometimes hourly basis, perhaps because she was taller for her age (100th percentile versus 80th). On the other hand, Vivi had already created 10 whole volumes of Vivisms (here's volume 10 from her birthday week, and here are all of the Vivisms) by her third birthday and had us in stitches every day with her hilarious pronouncements. Like my dad always says, it's amazing how each kid brings their own package into the world. It's so true.

We celebrated Charlie's birthday for the second year in a row (a tradition!) in DC while visiting old friends. She rode a train and a carousel and ate a coconut cupcake with coconut sorbet--she's a coconut fiend! As always, we never could have predicted that a foam alphabet game from the $1 bin at Staples would be her favorite birthday gift, but I love that she's still so easy to please.

Dear Charlotte, 
You are a cuddly joy! You go along with almost anything we want to do, scrambling to keep up with your big sister and shouting "ME TOO!" Just as other parents told me would happen, you are introduced to all that life has to offer at a much faster and earlier pace than Vivi was. Movies, okay. Candy, why not? The big jungle gym, of course!  
I say you go along with what we want, but you are not without your opinions. Almost as soon as you'd drawn your best artwork to date today (a masterpiece of faces!), you decided the picture would look best covered in buttons and purple scribbles and had a near meltdown when I tried to intervene. I am in awe of your tenacity of spirit and at the same time your patience in dealing with a sister (and a mom, for that matter) who insists you follow her every direction and whim. 
Being a clumsy person myself, I am drawn to your grace and athleticism, knowing you will have more success in playing childhood sports than I did. And you're still only three, a fact that we must constantly remind ourselves of, considering your maturity and capability. 
We are so happy to have you in our family of four!
Love, Mommy

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

{35}: DC

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."

On the Range
August 27 - September 2, 2013

{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.

My week...

  • We made our annual trek to DC to visit our friends David and Caroline and let our kids play together. I used to dream about having two generations of friends in one room, so it's great for me to see it actually play out in real life.


  • Design Mom offered a refreshing and simple mom's take on the Miley incident. But if you want to delve into deeper issues like feminist solidarity and minstrelsy, see this deeper reflection on Jezebel's GroupThink.
  • Historical fiction is quickly becoming my favorite genre. I just finished The Paris Wife and loved it. Before that I loved Sarah's Key. Here's an NPR story that recommends more historical fiction choices for the summer.
  • The Bloggess sums up the quirkiness of bloggers well.
  • Segregation is gone, but that doesn't mean integration has happened. This map is a beautiful way to represent the demographic facts.
  • The Onion's fake explanation is generally better stated than the real one could be, as is the case for this discussion about Miley Cyrus and the VMAs
  • I'd like to read this book, even if it means no more shopping at H&M
  • Interesting take on consumerism in children's books. I think shelves and bins are not a bad idea, but I agree with the author that they could have covered the donation and purge of stuff too.

  • Thanks to Elle, we are pumping ourselves up to make a bunch of these freezable meals. Sweet potato shepherd's pie or lentil curry, anyone?


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