31 May 2012

Review: Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman

I read about this book over at Janssen's back in February, and I put it in my mental list of books to read. (Yes, I'm on GoodReads, but mostly I just use it to document what I've read rather than to find new books to read. I find new books by perusing the available audiobooks on the library's website. I haven't stepped in a library in months. I have a sad life. And I'm only about 200 pages away from being finished with Truman, so maybe I'll go back to the library again when I finally finish it.)

In short, this book is about an American woman who raises a few kids in Paris. While she's there she realizes that French parents do things a lot differently than we do. Her book is not really a parenting manual but instead just a series of observations about what works and doesn't work between the two societies.

I loved this book so much. I just could not stop talking about it. (Show of hands if you have talked to me in real life and I have blabbed endlessly about this book. Exactly my point.)

There were a number of things about the French parenting model that I could never see working in the States, mostly because our societies are just too different. (Nearly-universal daycare and preschool being the main one.) But there were just so many things where I thought, "Wait a second. Aren't most Americans already doing that? Why not? Americans are dumb!) I think that is because I have quite a hands-off approach to parenting. (Which is probably why my child has fallen down at least three different sets of stairs and fell out of a windowsill and broke his arm. In America I am negligent. In France, I am letting him explore and learn for himself.)

My main takeaway from this book was about how French parents get their kids to eat everything. Ike's a decent eater, but he definitely prefers breads to anything else. Now, I offer him vegetables first, then fruits, then some kind of bread. If he's really hungry, he'll eat the first thing he has and get some nutrients before I give him the stuff he naturally prefers.

Also, we aren't doing snacks anymore. And you know what? He actually eats his food at meals. Because he's hungry. Because he hasn't been snacking all day. I've also begun to notice how horribly pervasive our feed-the-toddlers-constantly parenting is. When I traveled with Ike to Sacramento people's natural instinct when he was bored was to give him a snack. Yep, that will work to pacify him, but at what cost? I don't want him to grow up seeking food as an outlet for his boredom. (Oh, hello American obesity epidemic! Now that you mention it, this blog post is boring. Go get a brownie.)

As to what to do at church, I'm not sure. When we are surrounded with families who are having snacks all during sacrament meeting, it's really hard to not give a snack to our kid. In fact, when he sees other children eating (especially because they are usually eating fruit snacks (which I refer to as gummy bears shaped as fruit)), he turns to us and asks us for food. If we don't have the food, he goes to the other families and asks them. That is the real drawback. If we don't provide our child with food, he'll demand it from other parents. It's a little embarrassing, so we usually just come stocked with an arsenal of snacks. Last week we attended a 9 o'clock church service. (Recall that our ward normally meets at 1.) I figured we were in the clear because, hey, it's 9 o'clock. Kids don't need a snack at 9! Au contraire! Snacks, snacks, everywhere! (And this wasn't even a very young congregation. Imagine ours next year where nearly every single row has at least one child under 4.)

This book review turned into a tirade against snacks in church. Sorry about that. Read the book. Be amused. Roll your eyes at the French. Crave good cheese. Determine not to have a whiny, tantrum-throwing, demanding child.

26 May 2012

20 Weeks

Twenty weeks, folks. Where is the baby? Hanging out toward my back, I believe.

It's pretty common knowledge that your belly pops out faster on the second pregnancy. I did experience that a little bit, but for the most part people who don't know I'm pregnant can't really tell that I've got a baby bump. A couple of weeks ago, my boss, whom I am friends with on Facebook and who has commented on/liked various pregnancy status updates, asked me to verify that I was indeed pregnant. For comparison, this was me at 21 weeks with Ike:
Also, I've been trying to decide if I should go back to short hair. Historically Eric had liked it short (like the third picture), but then sometime before Ike was born he was looking at pictures from earlier in our marriage and asked me to grow it out again. I haven't gotten it cut short in about two years, but I'm considering going back to that for a while. Thoughts?

21 May 2012

Whirlwind Weekend

This weekend I took my fifth trip in seven weeks. Unlike the others this was not a work trip, and I got to take Ike with me. We flew to Sacramento where we met my sister who was coming in from Dallas. Then we headed up to the Redding area to attend our cousin's wedding.

  • Getting to hang out with my sister for a weekend. We hadn't seen each other since last July, and Ike needed an aunt to dote upon him. (At least he thinks he did.)
  • Going to my cousin's wedding. We just met for the first time in 2010, and my sister had never met her. (I know, it's odd. It's also kind of complicated.)
  • Being in beautiful northern California. It's seriously lovely up there. Kind of hot, but lovely.
  • Some incredible strangers who helped me lug my belongings and care for my toddler during my travels. Seriously, I owe the universe so many good deeds after this weekend. One man carried my luggage and Ike's car seat from the shuttle bus to the Southwest Airlines check-in line. To me it was way above and beyond a simple favor.
  • Visiting the Sundial Bridge and the Shasta Dam.
  • Viewing the solar eclipse via the reflections of another passenger's wedding ring. When the light hit it just right the reflections made these perfect crescents all around. I knew I wouldn't have the chance to see the eclipse because I'd arrive back in Utah too late, so I was very happy when she pointed out the reflections. It was as good as I could get given the traveling circumstances.
  • Getting my child to finally call me "ma" when trying to get my attention; as opposed to just shouting at me indiscriminately.
  • Watching my child put two signs together for the first time; they were "more" and "please." Of course.
  • Coming home to a very clean house, home-made beef jerky and brownies, and a husband who finished a couple of other projects over the weekend. He was a busy man.
On a mostly unrelated note, yes, this is what 19 weeks pregnant with my second baby actually looks like. Feel free to be jealous; I'm still in regular clothes and shocking people when I tell them I'm pregnant.

11 May 2012

Toddler Activity #1*

Eric discovered an awesome activity for our child - putting coins in the Belle bank. It occupies his attention for long periods of time and helps him improve his dexterity. Look how focused he is! He's great with the bigger coins and has to work a lot harder with the smaller coins. You can see in the top picture that the coin is turned perpendicular to the coin slot. Seriously, it's not a super easy task for him, but it is one he loves to do.

Also, yes, this is my beloved Belle bank. She's been looted a lot more than usual lately since Eric has been going to yard sales again. Plus Ike has this new fascination with her.

*The fact that I've numbered this post as if it is the first in a series in no way obligates me to have a series of posts about toddler activities.

09 May 2012

Best Street Ever

When we moved into our house a year ago we knew there were a lot of kids in our neighborhood, but we didn't realize just how many there were. Now that the warm weather is here I can often hear the sounds of children on our street playing and riding bikes. It makes me seriously happy, especially when some of those kids belong to the babysitter, and Ike sees them and gets so excited to see his friends.

It is fun knowing that Ike will have tons of kids to play with as he gets bigger. I made a little map of our street with the genders of the children and the years they were born. (On some it's possible that I'm off a year, but I'm pretty good at remembering how old kids are, so it should be fairly accurate.) Our house is noted by the actual blog-names of my children rather than simply designating them as generic boys.

You'll have to click on the image to see it full-sized. If it put it in any bigger it wouldn't fit properly on my blog. If you don't feel like clicking, just know there are a lot of little kids on this little section of our street. Lots.

07 May 2012

Grocery Store Memories

Miss Nem recently saw a lady at the grocery store dumping out the cartons of strawberries, picking out the best ones, and then filling her own carton with only the best strawberries. At the end of her post in which she detailed this bizarre event, she asked what kinds of crazy things we'd seen at the supermarket. I didn't want to hijack her comments, so I knew I would just have to write a post about weird things I saw and encountered while working at grocery stores for roughly two years.

First of all, I worked and lived in a low-income suburb of Dallas, so there were generally higher rates of theft. With that said, I was never in any particular danger at work, except for the time that the store was robbed by armed men and I did have a gun pointed in my general direction. But I don't want to write about that.

One time I saw a guy walking out with a whole box of Velveeta "cheese" hanging by his side. By the time I saw him, he was pretty much already out the door, so it's not like I could have gone after him. Plus I'm a girl, and I'm not especially strong or beefy, so it wasn't a remote possibility. So I just stood there thinking, "That dude just walked straight out the door with a package of Velveeta."

There were many customers that I knew by name, or at the very least by face. I became well-acquainted with them and their families, and they knew a fair amount about me too. Some of them didn't know I was old enough to go to college, so they were really astonished to learn when I returned to work after my freshman year at BYU that that was where I'd been for eight months. Other people apparently thought I was older than I was, and they'd ask me questions about my children. When I told them I was still in high school, sadly the response was often, "That doesn't mean anything." Or "That don't mean nothin'."

I can tell you about lots of different types of cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco, even though I don't really know what the differences are between the different brands.

One time I could tell a guy was going to make tamales, and I told him how much I love tamales, and he brought some back to me later that day. I ate them on my break even though my co-workers said they were worried that maybe the tamales were poisoned. They weren't.

I listened to many, many, many customers tell me they weren't about to let their kids go trick-or-treating after the 9-11 attacks because they were worried about poisoned candy. For real.

One time around Christmas I noticed a large African-American man in the store pushing a basically empty cart for hours. I finally said something about it to the manager working that night. It turns out he was an undercover cop helping us find thieves. I got to see him tackle somebody who tried to steal batteries.

Don't ever go to the grocery store on Christmas Eve or Thanksgiving. Just don't. Also, if you live in the South (or other place that doesn't get much snow and ice) don't go to the store the night before the "snowstorm" comes in. Just don't. But if you do, buy ice cream.

Lots of people on food stamps buy lottery tickets. Everyone feel free to shake your fists about that. (There are also lots of people on food stamps who you can tell have been working hard all day and are clearly in need of a boost.)

Speaking of food stamps, the closest a customer ever came to making me cry: The family came through my line with two MASSIVE baskets full of groceries. I scanned and scanned and scanned and scanned. The total was a probably about $300-$400. They realized that was over what was on their food stamp card, so they started taking things off. At that store when it was time to total up the order, if there were voided items exceeding a total of $5, I had to get manager approval (via a card swipe) before we could finish the transaction. The manager came and swiped and took off. But the customer was wrong about the amount on their card, so they needed to take off more of their groceries. While they rummaged through their groceries to take off more of their total, one of the people went to find out what was wrong with their card. Unfortunately at that time there wasn't a way for me to find out the balance on their card. All I could do was tell them when they swiped their card if their was insufficient funds. And the funds were insufficient over and over and over again. Every time we needed to try to finish the order, I had to get a manager to come swipe his/her card. Eventually a low-level manager just came and stood by while I worked with the customer to try to figure out how much money was on their card. This went on for a good 15-20 minutes. Get the total. Swipe the card to avoid the high level of voided items. Customer swipes food stamp card. I tell them they are still over their budget. Finally they went to use a phone to figure out what the balance on the card was. And that was when they suddenly remembered the rather large sum of money they had already spent on groceries that month. Meanwhile, they were really furious with ME at my frustration over going through this rigamarole over and over and and over because they couldn't keep track of their food stamp balance. When they were finally checked out and our old-man sacker named Jack had taken their groceries out, one of them came back in to complain to the manager about my poor customer service. I was on a break by then. My manager came up to me when I was back from my break and told me that he just didn't believe a word they said. There was no way that Sherry would be rude to a customer. (Even though I probably was at least a little rude.)

03 May 2012

Baby #2

I had a regular OB appointment on Monday, and while I was there, the doctor suggested we have a peak at the baby and see if we could tell the gender. Sixteen weeks is about as early as you can tell, so there was no guarantee that we were going to be able to tell, but it would be fun just to see the baby anyway. As soon as the image came up on the screen, I could tell that this was a boy baby. (Just like I told you.) The image below isn't very good, but the one I saw in the office was as clear as day.

We're very excited, especially Eric who thinks this baby already has a name, which he doesn't. But he does have a blog name. It's Felix.