Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Have Kids. Will Travel.

I've been suffering from a rather serious case of wanderlust lately. I suspect my husband wishes there were an ointment or antibiotic that would clear it up. However, I know the only cure for a raging case of travelitis is to scratch that itch and plan a trip. Which is exactly what I'm intent upon doing.

Before we were married, my husband and I took a trip to Spain and Portugal. While we were there, we ran into a family of four who was taking a year off and touring Europe in an RV. They drove wherever they felt like and stayed as long as it suited them. Along the way, they homeschooled their kids. I was completely enthralled. It was one of the most amazing things I could imagine doing. What I couldn't (and still can't) imagine, is having enough money and flexibility with jobs, etc. to be able to do something like that. But it remains one of my favorite fantasies.

Since we've had kids we've taken a couple of vacations. Relaxing, fun and wonderful - but nothing that requires me to change currency or learn a few phrases of a different language and that's what I'm really wanting to do. I believe that the gift of travel is one of the best gifts a kid could ever get and I'm hoping that by the time they're adults, my children will have seen as much of the world as my husband and I can afford to show them.

When it comes to travel, I've heard the saying "Getting there is half the fun," I think that saying was on my Care Bears wheelie-luggage as a child, come to think of it. I disagree, getting there sucks. Long lines at TSA, forcing me to remove my shoes (not to mention making me take a pair of Robeez off of a 5-month-old baby), followed by long hours on a cramped plane with bad food, hoping the entire time that our luggage makes it to the same destination. No, getting there is just a necessary evil. What I think is half the fun is planning a vacation.

While spontaneous trips are nice, I actually prefer an entire year to plan and dream about my pending travels. I like to watch as many travel shows on the area as possible, read travel guides and watch movies and read novels that are set in my destination. For me, the more I read and understand where I'm going, the more magical it is when I get there. For my kids, I also have visions making them toddler-appropriate books that will explain the sights we're going to see and outline our trip for them, so they'll be able to get as much out of the experience as possible.

We're talking about going on a trip next year with another family. Initially, I thought Australia would make a great first-time vacation for kids, since the language is the same, the food would be similar and it seems that most of the main attractions are outdoor activities like beaches and nature reserves. I got out-voted. Everyone else thought that was too much plane time for three toddlers. They might be right. I'd also considered Costa Rica but the things I'd want to do there would be more adventurous and better-suited for school-aged kids, so that's on hold as well.

So now, the talk is Italy. Everyone seems to be onboard with the plan, though no one's as enthusiastic about starting the planning process as I am. I've been on Ciao Bambino's site so much in the past couple of weeks, she's probably wondering what's driving her stats up so high. Her site, which is all about travelling with kids, recommends four days in Rome, followed by a week in Tuscany, and three days in Venice as a good Italian starter trip for kids. Sounds heavenly, no? I'm already dreaming of a picnic in Rome's Borghese Gardens and watching the kids toss coins into the Trevi Fountain. In Tuscany, I imagine dining al fresco on the terrace of the villa we will rent, then strolling through a village's piazza while the kids drip gelato everywhere. The kids are pretty good about napping in the car, so it's my hope that some of the days they can nap while my husband and I drive around and just take in the sights. Other days, I'll sit out on that same terrace and sip white wine and read a book while they take a siesta. In Venice, I'll sip cappuccinos in Piazza San Marco, while my kids happily torment pigeons. Then, we'll take a gondola ride while I pray nobody tries to jump into the Grand Canal...

There are several things that need to fall into place before this trip can occur, so who knows if it will actually come to fruition. For one, I'm realizing how much more expensive travel is with kids. Airfare alone is double what it was in our childless days. Probably more given the increase in gas prices and the fact that with kids, it's a lot harder to take the red-eye or whatever wonky connection scheme will shave a chunk of change off the price of a ticket. Lodging's more expensive as well. Before kids, my requirements for a hotel were that it should be clean, well-located and cheap, cheap, cheap. As adults, hotels are usually just a place to sleep, then you're out sight-seeing all day and not there very much, so what's the point in splurging? However, since we'll have three toddlers who all require naps, we will be spending a decent amount of time in our lodgings and it's worth it to have a place you can enjoy.

So, in case you were wondering what I've been spending my time fantasizing about lately, there you have it - I'm dreaming of being under the Tuscan sun. As soon as my husband agrees to it, I'm going to buy some "learn to speak Italian" CDs, so I can learn at least a few phrases of that gorgeous language before the plane lands.

Okay, since it's clear that for me, fantasizing about travel is nearly as important as actually doing it, I'm going to pose my all-time favorite hypothetical question to everyone (btw, I LOVE hypothetical questions). What are your Top 5 Domestic Travel Destinations? What are your Top 5 International Travel Destinations? I've put mine below. I constantly mentally update this list, when I'm not busy imagining how I'd spend my Lotto winnings, were I ever to buy and win a Lotto ticket, that is.

1. Savannah, GA
2. Grand Canyon
3. Florida Keys
4. New England in the Fall
5. Alaska (this probably wouldn't make my list, but it's my husband's #1 choice and I'd like to think I'm a good wife)

1. Italy
2. Croatia
3. Greece
4. China
5. African safari

Friday, May 27, 2011

Celebrity Mom Crush

(Hi, this is Dana. For inexplicable reasons, Blogger has it out for me lately and among other things, will not let me log in as myself so...)

One thing you should know about me - I love me some celebrity gossip. Just ask any of my former co-workers and they'll tell you all about my addiction. Over at TODAYMoms, I'm talking about my Celebrity Mom Crush of the week. This week it's Jessica Alba (she had me at BPA). Last week, I was crushing on Maria Shriver. Come check it out.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mommy Groups

These last few weeks, I could really have used a friend... or a whole group of them. Thankfully, I do have a couple fantastic friends, but they aren't available to get together every day and none of them live in my suburb.

A confluence of evil factors has made the last few weeks suck. First, my husband's busy season at work has started, and with a vengeance. This is good, but the intensity of this year's start has had him working 16+ hour days. I have hardly seen him for two and a half weeks. A quick "hi, honey" at 6:30 AM before he leaves for the day and maybe half an hour when he gets home in the evening, before we each fall asleep from total exhaustion, has been all the time with him I've had. That sucks in and of itself, but added to that, my kids both got sick about a week and a half ago and are just now both fully recovered. It was a terrible shopping cart-borne flu or infection that made them both very sick for about 7 days each. That wasn't enough in the case of my 3-year-old, who developed pink eye as a final insult. So not only was my husband effectively gone for the last few weeks, my daughters and I couldn't go anywhere due to illness. It's been like house arrest.

We finally got out for a great playdate with Dana and her kids today, which was just what we all needed. We don't see them everyday or every week, though, partly because we're all busy and partly because we live about 20 minutes away in a different suburb. I have tried hard to make friends in my neighborhood and in my suburb, and one of the things I tried was to join two different "Mommy Groups."

The first group had a booth at the farmer's market and they seemed really friendly. I grabbed an information packet from them and I was so optimistic and happy, thinking this would be a surefire way to make some local friends. I went home, filled out the form on their website and awaited a reply. They replied promptly, saying they couldn't accept my membership until they could interview me in person.

What?! They needed to interview me? Personally, I had enough of snobby cliques in high school, so I told them that wasn't necessary, I was no longer interested. All I wanted was some other moms to meet up with at the park... I wasn't trying to join a sorority.

Later, I saw a handout for another mommy group in my suburb at the library. I grabbed one, took it home and went to their website, an extremely sparse page that contained only a contact e-mail address. I e-mailed and waited... and waited... and waited... for a response. Three weeks later, I got a response from the "Vice President of New Membership" (*snicker*... WHATEVER) telling me to please address future e-mails to a different address, because she didn't check this one often. I was tempted to point out that the address I'd used was the one on their website and if she's the "Vice President of New Membership," she should be monitoring it, but I held my tongue and replied to the specified address, sending my home address for an information packet.

Another two weeks later, the info packet finally arrived. In it was page upon page of rules and regulations. There is a mandatory monthly meeting and childcare is provided. You have to rotate manning the childcare room with the other members. When you are in a monthly meeting, you may not go check on your children in the childcare room... it will just upset them, which will in turn upset the other children.

Riiiight. I walked over to the recycling bin to deposit the information packet immediately upon reading this, but I kept reading as I walked. The control freakery went even deeper than that. One of the reasons I wanted to join a mommy group was to meet other moms of toddlers so we could form playgroups. This group did not allow you to meet, decide you like each other and then form a playgroup organically. No, all playgroups were set up and scheduled by a Playgroup Administrator (once again... WHATEVER). You didn't get to just become friends first, you would be randomly thrown together with whomever and wherever the Playgroup Administrator decided.

To add insult to injury, this mommy group was for stay-at-home moms ONLY. If you had to go back to work ("for economic reasons," the paperwork stipulated), you were out of the group. That's right, kicked out. So if you weren't depressed enough about having to go back to work, getting kicked out of this ridiculous group ought to be enough to send you over the edge.

Into the recycling bin the information packet went. Since then, I have not even tried to join another "mommy group," having decided from these two experiences that they are for women who don't feel important enough just being mothers (and who may be insane), but instead have to create a work-like environment for themselves with rules and administrators, a hierarchy and bosses.

Instead, I am trying to make friends the old-fashioned way, foregoing mommy groups, meetups and the like. It's slow going, but I feel very fortunate to have the few friends that I do, who are real friends, not people thrown together with me by a Playgroup Administrator.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

WAHM, SAHM, Working Mom. Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

Aah, the mother of all mommy-wars. To work or not to work. That is the question. The question that will take a mom's defensiveness to all-time highs like nothing else, that is.
The more time I spend in the trenches, the more I'm convinced that this decades-old debate is just a way of masking our deepest mothering insecurities and jealousies. Because, no matter where we fall on the working spectrum, we're riddled with self-doubt about our choice and convinced that someone else has it a bit better than us. Are we doing the best thing for our children, our spouse, ourselves, by working or not working or working from home, as the case may be?

Even if we were so inclined to call a truce, it seems researchers and the media just won't hear of it. Rarely a day goes by without some new essay or study discussing the effects on children based on the type of child care they receive during their early years. "Poor Behavior Linked to Time in Daycare", "Study Shows Consistent Benefit of Early Daycare". Kids in daycare more likely to get sick. Kids whose moms work, more likely to be fat. Kids whose moms stay home watch more TV. Kids who go to daycare develop stronger language skills. And on, and on, and on.

The results of these studies appear to be across the board and completely inconsistent. Except in one important respect. The mom's resulting guilt and insecurity over her choice. Regardless of your working situation, half of the studies out there are condemning and criticizing what you're doing on this front. It would take one self-assured woman not to second-guess her decision. The mom at work who had a hard time separating herself from her little one that morning logs onto her computer, only to find that her decision (or need) to work is making her child fat. Guilt and insecurity follow. The stay-at-home mom who turns on Sesame Street for her kids so she can get a few things done around the house and then logs onto Facebook for a couple of minutes of "adult interaction" before Elmo's World ends, comes across the headline about how kids who are at home with their moms watch too much TV. Guilt and insecurity follow.

This is also another of those topics that friends and family love to weigh in on as well, most often condemning a mom's choice, no matter what that choice may be. Stay at home moms are often accused of being spendthrifts, blowing through all of their husband's hard-earned money and not doing nearly enough around the house to compensate for their lack of income. Alternatively, working moms are often accused of dragging children to daycare, even when they don't feel well. And, oh, the long hours those poor kids have to spend in daycare, they hardly know who mommy is. And work at home moms often find themselves in a no-man's land, where people tend to forget that they "work" and think of their efforts at employment as a cute hobby. The phrase, "no-win situation," comes to mind right about now.

Today, I ask all moms to stand up for ourselves and each other and say No More! No more taking each other to task over this decision or need. Let's acknowledge that the vast majority of moms are just doing their best and muddling along in this journey together. Let's acknowledge that each family has different needs, both financially and emotionally. Needs that factor into a mom's decision to work or not work. What works for one family, may not work for another. Let's agree to cut each other a break, okay? Cause it's hard enough out there without moms second-guessing each other every step of the way.

Every time I see a headline that is a variation on the theme: "Who has it easier, working moms or stay at home moms?" I get steamed. Not one of us has it "easy." Motherhood's not an easy gig, no matter what the state of one's employment may be. Each of these titles comes with its own benefits and drawbacks.

The Working Mom. Generally speaking, moms who work outside of the home have the least amount of flexibility. Working outside the home often means long hours away from kids and missing out on some of the fun experiences kids have. Dreading the inevitable call from daycare, telling them to come and pick up their sick child is something most working moms live with - especially on days where there's an important meeting/conference call, etc. Of course, working moms have some benefits to their role as well. They usually have a lunch hour and a smattering of minutes throughout the working day to run errands, shop online and take care of some personal items, sans kids. Let's be honest, that drive to and from work now constitutes some nice alone time as well. Working moms also are more likely to have their own financial security. If something were to happen to their marriage or their spouse, they still have their own source of income to rely on.

SAHM. They stay at home mom has given up a career, or at least a job, as well as daily interaction in the adult world to stay home with her kids, so those kids better grow up and appreciate it, darn it. This role has the greatest amount of flexibility, as moms aren't trying to balance both work and motherhood. They can focus on the family, without the pull of the job. There's a lot of freedom to that. Naptime can be devoted to catching up on TV, Facebooking, reading a book, or otherwise getting some time in for oneself. However, the stay at home mom has also made trade-offs and sacrifices. Let's face it, she's now financially dependent on her spouse, which can be a source of tension and insecurity. She may want to go back to work at some point and worries that her time off will make it hard for her to re-enter the workforce. Maybe she wants to go back to work now but it just doesn't make sense financially to do so. Childcare's expensive and a mom has to make a fair amount of money at a job even to cover the costs of childcare, let alone anything beyond that. Also, the stay at home mom is in the greatest danger of feeling isolated from other adults during the day if she doesn't have a strong support network of other SAHMs nearby.

WAHM. In many regards, the Work-at-Home-Moms have the best of both worlds. They're at home with their kids and are able to make those Tuesday morning playdates. They fit in work during naptime and after the kids have gone to bed. This allows them to keep up professionally, get the mental stimulation that working provides and bring in some extra cash. The downsides of course are, looking at that schedule, when does the WAHM have time to just kick back and relax? Maybe from 10:00 - 10:30p.m. Also, since the type of work people can usually do from home is part-time, contract or freelance work, this work rarely comes with health benefits and is often a lower-rate of pay than a mom would earn if she were working outside the home.

Now, can we all agree that each of these roles has some real pluses and some real minuses? No matter what path a mom takes, she's making trade-offs and so is her family. Let's imagine for a moment what moms might be able to accomplish if we stopped fretting about these choices and focused that effort and attention on causes that could actually improve the lives of mothers and children. If we put half of the energy we spend criticizing and second-guessing one another for our decisions regarding working, just think of what we could do. Improving parental leave laws comes to mind, as a big first start. Improving access to affordable childcare does as well. So does improving working conditions for moms who breastfeed, or need to take time off with sick children. There are so many causes out there that if we put forth the time and the energy would benefit ALL moms and ALL children. Moms are a strong and powerful force, we shouldn't underestimate ourselves. Let's wave the white flag on this particular war and move on to more important matters.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Reading Guide for the Week: Some of our Favorite Bloggers and Their Posts

Here are just a few of our favorite posts from last week. Enjoy.

Mammalingo had a great response to the wildly popular, not yet available book, "Go the F@# to sleep." Mammalingo's version, "Oh S*it, I'm so Tired," is hilarious and definitely worth a read.

While we're on the subject of children's books that are actually for adults, check out this hilarious listing at CafeMom. We're dying to check out The Taking Tree - especially as some of us hate that greedy little bastard of a kid and don't understand why everyone thinks it's such a sweet book.

We're fans of breastfeeding here at 18 years 2 life (but not for 18 years, that would be creepy and we don't need to wind up on the news like some of those wackadoo British moms who slip tweens the boob now and again). What we're not fans of, is the pumping, so we love the Murdering the Breast Pump post at Aiminglow. The description of smashing it "Office Space" printer-style is hilarious. PC-Load Letter?! What the F*&k is PC Load Letter?!

Well, the Rapture that wasn't is this year's Y2K, a lot of hype, a complete lack of end of days. Even though our to-do list remains, it's still fun to read The Momalog's Etiquette Guide to the Rapture.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Show & Tell: Lesser-known kids' shows that I love, and that I love to hate

When your kids are sick, you end up watching a lot more TV than usual, particularly when they're so sick and miserable that they can't sleep. Then you get to see the weirder, lesser-known TV shows that Nick Jr., Sprout and the other kids' networks run at night. There are some lesser-known kids' shows that I truly enjoy and some that make me want to run away screaming. Here's the list of my favorite and least-favorite lesser-known kids' shows.

Lesser-known kids' shows that I love:

1) Maggie and the Ferocious Beast: This is a Canadian show. You can tell by the way the characters say "about." It ran frequently on Nick Jr. last summer and we amassed quite a collection of them in our DVR. Sadly, we lost them all in a recording accident and I was as sad as my three-year-old was. This show is imaginative, sweet and adorable. Maggie, a little girl, plays in "Nowhere Land" with a pig named Hamilton and a yellow and red polka-dotted Ferocious Beast. It's loads of fun, and I hope Nick Jr. airs it again soon. I also really love the way my 3-year-old says "ferocious." To her, it's "Maggie and 'Ingrocious' Beast."

2) Wow, Wow, Wubbzy: I never hear anyone talk about this one and I don't know why, because it's awesome. It's educational, particularly about social subjects, such as helping your friends when they're down, meeting new people and being tolerant of differences. It's also very funny and witty, and the music kicks ass. To support this statement, I give you the Robot Dance:

3) Dinosaur Train: This one is on PBS. It's very educational and entertaining. I've learned a lot that I didn't know about dinosaurs from watching it. Each show consists of two segments, where cartoon dinosaurs go about their dinosaur business, showing kids what they did, how they lived, what they ate. Between each segment, a paleontologist explains in further detail all the scientific goodness in the preceding segment. It's one of my 3-year-old's favorites.

4) The Upside Down Show: I normally find children's shows that star grown men highly creepy (The Wiggles are a great example... creep-creepity-CREEPY!). These guys somehow manage not to be creepy. The show was made several years ago and airs every evening on Nick Jr. My kids love it. It's very imaginative and creative and shows kids that they can make their own fun anytime, anywhere, without expensive toys.

5) Peppa Pig: This is a newer show that airs Saturday mornings on Nick Jr. Peppa Pig and her family of adorable pigs with British accents have all sorts of hilarious adventures like jumping in muddy puddles and having barbecues (which is a little disconcerting since like, they're pigs, so what are they barbecuing?!). It is very witty and has made me laugh out loud many times. I hope this show is around for a long time.

Lesser-known kids' shows that I love to hate:

1) The Fresh Beat Band: This is a live-action musical kids' show on Nick Jr. It's a newer show, and I am hoping it isn't around long because it's awful. The music is the worst... they call it "hip hop" on the show, but it's saccharine, insipid and clueless, as if Lawrence Welk had created it. I want my kids to appreciate music, so I play real music for them, not this garbage. Also, the cast is way too cheerful in a "Stepford Wives" sort of way. I find their forced smiles terrifying... they might just be undead.

2) Oobi: This is one that you'll catch on Nick Jr. when you're up really late with a sick kid. It's on around midnight. In this show, human hands with googly eyes glued onto them act out various scenarios.

The hand-characters are voiced by grown adults, using falsetto voices. This is bad enough, but one of the actors has really, really hairy arms, which makes it all that much more threatening. And what exactly is going on in this scene?

3) Miss Spider's Sunny Patch: Spiders are scary as it is. They are made even worse by this show's animation style.

4) Bubble Guppies: This is a new Nick Jr. show that I find desperately boring and unimaginative. It's supposed to be educational, but I can't tell what it's trying to teach. Math? Vocabulary? I'm not sure. The lifeless CG-animation and Fresh Beat Band-quality awful music put this one on my "hate" list.

5) Franklin: Franklin is an older show, produced about a decade ago. It airs Saturday mornings on Nick Jr., often after Peppa Pig. Franklin never gets to have any fun. Every episode is about some ponderous, heavy topic like lying, theft, cheating or death. That's right, death. One morning my husband couldn't switch the channel fast enough to prevent our 3-year-old from seeing the episode where Franklin's grandma dies. There was no warning that this was about to be a "very special episode." They just started rolling with it without letting parents know what was about to happen.

I hope you've enjoyed my list of great and awful lesser-known kids' shows so you know which ones to watch and which ones to avoid like the plague next time you're stuck home with sick kids for a week.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The silver lining to a filthy shopping cart

I caught my 17-month-old licking the shopping cart while we were at the grocery store last week. I used to laugh at those fabric shopping cart covers, but not anymore. Now I wish I had had one last week, because the very next day, her nose started running and she started coughing, and I remembered her licking that shopping cart and thought, "Oh, no, here goes."

Sure enough, she got really sick. The night my husband and I were supposed to have a positively epic date night, she developed a fever and threw up. Date night was canceled. The next day, he and I both started to feel sick and my 3 year old started developing a cough and a runny nose. Like a butterfly flapping its wings in China, all it took was one baby licking a shopping cart to take down the whole family.

I try to look for the good in everything, because I've discovered that life is easier and a whole lot more enjoyable that way. So here are some of the things that you can enjoy about your children being sick with a cold, flu or other short-lived, minor illness:

1) More snuggling. They feel terrible and need affection and reassurance. They feel too crappy to be the constant, vibrating, perpetual motion machines that they usually are, so they can't get away from you as fast. They are more willing to sit on your lap and accept some hugs and kisses.

2) Longer naps. If both kids are sick, you can manage to have a day where they both nap together, so you can recharge for the next round of intense caregiving and do something fun for yourself. If you're sick, you can nap, too!

3) You are highly likely to catch what they have. This is bad, but what's good is the sympathy you'll get from your spouse. No way will you have to cook dinner tonight.

4) You can't really take your kids anywhere, so you're guaranteed a fairly low-key week. It's a great time to catch up on laundry and your favorite soap operas.

5) You get an opportunity for real nurturing and bonding. Attending to your sick, miserable child's every whim and giving her every creature comfort imaginable to help her feel better is something she'll remember. She'll learn that she can rely on you.

6) You get to feel immensely grateful that this is just a cold or just a flu and not anything more serious. Caring for a child (or two) that's sick with a flu for a couple of days is intense, exhausting and frightening. I can't imagine how terrifying it would be to care for a child who's sick with something worse.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Stranger Danger

In parenting, as with life in general, timing is everything. How do we know when they're ready to climb a ladder by themselves or go on their first unaccompanied playdate? Those tend to be fairly easy to suss out. The harder ones are the "talks." The "talks" where you try to impart some crucial life lesson. Crush the sea turtle in Finding Nemo may have said it the best, "You never really know. But when they know, you'll know. You know?"

My three and a half-year-old daughter, Bonnie, is one of the friendliest, most gregarious kids you could meet. She happily introduces herself to everyone she meets: "Hi! I'm Bonnie and this is my brother, Clyde. I'm three-and-a-half and he's one. He's having a Toy Story birthday party and I'm going to have a Max & Ruby birthday party. Do you know Max & Ruby? Did you know that our cousin's having a baby girl?" And on, and on, and on. Every cashier who's scanned our groceries knows that the ice cream's for daddy, the coffee is for mommy, and the Miralax helps Bonnie's poops. She's so friendly and so clearly delighted to talk with people that most people happily chat back with her and walk away knowing a whole lot about our family.

Her openness and willingness to make friends with everyone big, small, and canine delights me to no end. Lately though, I've started thinking about Stranger Danger and wondering when I need to have that talk with her.
I've been going back and forth about this for awhile. Then, the other day at the park, something happened and she knew and then I knew. More accurately, she really didn't know, which is what made me know, you know?

As a mother of two young toddlers, the main goal of a trip to the park (aside from wearing them out so they'll sleep well later) is just to keep everyone alive until we get home. This means that Clyde (who's only 1 1/2) gets most of my attention, as he's at the age where he'll try to walk off 6 foot ledges and attempt feats well beyond his skill level. Therefore, Bonnie, being a bit older, gets more free rein.

Back to the "telling" aspect of this trip to the park. Bonnie met and befriended a little girl her age and they were happily playing. I was at a different play structure catching Clyde as he delightedly stepped off the platform (not checking to see whether I was there to catch him or not, but that's neither here nor there). Then, the park started to fill up and more families arrived, including some grandparents. Their charge joined in the activities with Bonnie and her new pal. Both grandparents started talking to all of the kids. Before long, I could hear enough of the conversation to know that this grandfather knew a fair amount about our family structure already. Then I heard it - she called him "Papa." Yes, this was obviously what his grandchild called him and Bonnie had just picked up on it. But it made my blood run cold. It made me realize that she could and would so easily go off with anyone who was friendly to her and mentioned candy, a puppy or any of the other stereotypical "lures" predators use on small children. Now, I'm sure this man was simply a nice grandfather but he could have been someone else, someone who wasn't just a nice grandfather.

This incident has reaffirmed the timing. The timing is now. Now I just need to work on the messaging. This is one of those balancing act talks. How to caution her without scaring her? How to make her safe without losing her delightful childhood innocence? How to let her know it's okay to talk to strangers - just not too much? I'd hate for her to lose her sense of innocence and the feeling that everyone's a friend she just hasn't met yet. The thing is, not everyone is a friend. Some people are dangerous and others are just rude.

My daughter is rarely without me and her opportunities to encounter someone outside of my supervision are limited, at best, but they always say it can happen oh, so quickly. The other aspect of having to introduce the Stranger Danger concept that I'm struggling with is that it's just one more sign my baby's growing up. Introducing this concept will be her first lesson in the ways of the world and thus the loss of her first bit of innocence - and that's sad for me and for her. I'd like to put her in a little, plastic hamster ball where she could safely navigate the world from but I know that's not realistic. They don't make them in her size. I checked. So for now, I'll keep an even closer eye on her and work on finding the right words and hopefully the right book to help her understand that while the world is generally a good place, we still have to be careful.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Show & Tell: Please Tell Me There's Life After Macaroni & Cheese

Before I had kids, I worried about the fact that my favorite restaurants didn't have changing tables in the bathroom and when I thought about it, I don't know that I ever saw babies or small children at those restaurants. Deep down though, I knew I'd make it work. My kids would grow up on pesto fettuccine and be able to appreciate the subtle flavorings of a good reduction sauce, even if I did have to take them out to the car to change their diaper. It's kinda cute, just how naive I was.

My first clue that my kids wouldn't be as culinarily adventurous as I'd hoped was the time I took my daughter to Baby Loves Disco. She was just over a year old and they had some vendors there, sharing their goods with babies and moms. Among them, was a gourmet baby food company that produced products like "Baby Borscht" and "Baby Dal," which were designed to cultivate wee palettes. I was delighted and thought this would be the perfect way to introduce my little girl to foreign flavors. As the vendor and I eagerly looked on, she took her first bite. Then she spit out that first bite in the most dramatic way possible, giving a withering look that was most impressive for one so young.

I began to accept that my kids would be eating a more traditional toddler diet primarily comprised of macaroni & cheese and chicken nuggets. Now though, I'm once again changing my tune. I'm sick of all of the unhealthy, processed foods that my kids eat and want them to start branching out.

Thus, today's Show & Tell is more of a Show & Plead. As you can see from the photo to the left, we have a LOT of macaroni & cheese in our pantry. That's because it's the only food my kids are guaranteed to eat. You will note that it's Kraft - they tend to get a little suspicious if I mix things up a bit and try to give them, say, Annie's White Cheddar Shells. If it's not a traditional elbow noodle produced from a blue box, forget it. Grilled cheese sandwiches are usually a safe bet but quesadillas are a no-go, what's that foreign-looking tortilla and why would they put that in their mouth?! Their one gourmet indulgence is prosciutto - they are big fans of the cured meat. I actually had to convince them to try bacon by promising them it was kind of like prosciutto.

So, back to my problem. My kids are textbook picky eaters. I'm desperate to move beyond the blue box. Will you please share with me some of the recipes your kids love and willingly eat? How did you get your kids to branch out? Any recipes, ideas, suggestions would be gratefully appreciated - by me, probably not by Kraft shareholders who do so love the annual dividends my family helps supply them with.

Friday, May 13, 2011

In praise of the weekend

When I quit my Monday-to-Friday, 40-hour-per-week job to stay home with my girls, I thought I'd lose track of what day it is. I thought every day would be like a weekend day, and the only way I'd know what day it is would be to look at a calendar.

I could not have been more wrong. Even though I am home with my daughters every day and no longer report to any kind of office to work, I am keenly, sometimes painfully aware of what day it is and how much longer it is till the weekend.

When I worked full-time, I hated Tuesday, because it was really just like a second Monday, only with worse traffic, because fewer people blow off work on Tuesdays. I liked Wednesday, because I knew it meant the workweek was half over, and I hated Thursday, because traffic was the worst that day and it was another 8-hour day in my way before the weekend. I still feel the same way, only for slightly different reasons.

The weekend is still the only time I get to see my husband. Most days he's up early and I get to see him as he turns off the alarm and gets out of bed. Most days he's back late, too, particularly during his industry's busy season. Weekend mornings are the only ones where we wake up together, usually when one or two small voices say "Mommy? Daddy?" We laze about, get up and get dressed after we play with our kids in bed, then have a lazy breakfast and get the day started. We actually get to see each other and talk. During the evening, instead of being too exhausted to stay awake, we can watch a movie or TV together, getting caught up on our terribly backed-up DVR.

The only time I get any time alone in my own head during the week is when I take a shower. I can't even use the bathroom alone most of the time. Usually I try to do my daily business with one kid clinging to my knee and the other yelling at me about something she wants, or if I dare to shut the bathroom door for a little privacy, I am punished with screaming and crying resulting from hurt feelings. How COULD I shut the door?

On the weekend, though, I can sneak off to use the bathroom alone while my husband entertains the kids. I can have some quality me-time during my 17-month-old's nap while my husband watches our three-year-old. I can really get some blissful reading and knitting time in on weekend nights. I even make an afternoon pot of coffee to ensure that I'll be able to stay awake for such debaucherous nighttime activities despite my perpetual state of sleep-deprivation.

During the week, unless we have a playdate, I don't get to talk to another adult all day. There's no watching TV in the evenings, not usually, because my husband's beat from working all day and falls asleep on the couch or I fall asleep as soon as my 17-month-old does. During the day, I work hard, cleaning, running errands, doing laundry and making phonecalls. On the weekend, I don't do any cleaning, and only do laundry that's absolutely necessary, such as if someone's diaper explodes overnight.

Yesterday I thought it was Friday until mid-afternoon and I was really bummed when I realized that there was still one more day of daily grind to get through before the weekend. Today my husband told me mid-day that he's having another brutal day and would be late for about the fourth night in a row, but I know tomorrow morning we'll all be lazily waking up together for a day of doing next to nothing, so I'm OK with that.

I love being home with my daughters and wouldn't trade it for anything. The worst day at home with them is better than the best day I ever had in the office. I like to look back on my preconceptions of what being a stay-at-home mom would be like and laugh, though. I had no idea what I was in for! Play-Doh in my coffee, my three-year-old punching me in the face, cleaning up pee from every surface imaginable... Thankfully there's the weekend, where I recover from it all and recharge!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Forget the Princesses, It's the Disney Princes I Have a Problem With

 Many people like to complain about the pervasiveness of the Princess Culture. While those Disney princesses are everywhere, enticing us to buy our little girls everything from backpacks to Spaghetti-Os, my problem's not with them. Generally I find the princesses to be delightful, smart, kind, pretty and fashionable young ladies. There's no fault in Snow White's darling Jackie Kennedy-esque flip, or Cinderella's timeless ball gown. And her ability to accessorize with that black choker? Flawless. Not only are these gals beautiful but they're charming and witty to boot. Ideal role models. No, my problem's not with the ladies but with the loser princes Disney's created for these poor girls. Prince Charming? Prince Charmless, more like.

Recently, I was watching The Princess and the Frog with my daughter and I couldn't get over what a zero Prince Naveen was. Really, Disney? You pair a gorgeous, smart, talented and ambitious young girl with a rude jerk who has no job, money or marketable skills to his name? They only thing he seems to have going for him is his empty title of "Prince." Since this young girl lives in New Orleans, not Old Europe, what's a title going to do for her? Nothing. It won't be some grand entrance into society, allowing her to lead a life of happy luxury. No, Disney just saddled Tiana with a man who will need her to take care of him until the end of time. Blech! She would have been much better off with a hard-working chef or even a busboy to help her get the restaurant of her dreams up and running.

My reaction to Prince Naveen got me thinking about the other Disney princes though, and I realized he's just the latest in a long line of suitors with issues. Royal lineage aside, none of them is a young man I'd willingly give my daughter's hand in marriage to. Let's take a look, shall we?

Snow White. Here's another, delightful, fair, young woman who winds up with a very questionable suitor. Dealing with a witch of a step-mother, Miss White is run off from her home and finds herself charming woodland creatures and caring for a group of unkempt, coal-mining midgets. As if this fate weren't bad enough (surely she could have found someone to take her in that wouldn't treat her like an unpaid scullery maid), the Queen places a spell on her, making everyone think Snow White is dead. The Seven Dwarfs place her in a coffin for an extended wake --of course they're grieving, it's not like they're going to find anyone else who will perform slave labor for them. After a while, the prince shows up and kisses her, breaking the spell. I have two issues with this "happy ending." Number One: I'm sorry, but in real life, any guy who kisses a corpse in a casket is just downright creepy. I suspect that even Dexter would think that is the hallmark of a disturbed individual. Number Two: Where was this prince when she got run off and was caring for the little men? A real man would have helped out a lot earlier.

Cinderella. Again, a beautiful, sweet, charming gal who is able to happily converse with woodland creatures, despite the ill treatment she receives at the hands of her step-mother and ugly step-sisters. Our gal gets decked out to the nines, Pretty Woman-style and heads off to the ball. The prince, of course, falls in love with her. Except, this Prince has such bad eyesight or is otherwise so dim-witted that he can't remember his true love's face the next day. Seriously? She's the love of your life, dude, yet you can't remember what she looks like? Any gal wearing a size 6 1/2 in your Kingdom will have to do because you can't recall anything else about her - what you talked about that night, the sound of her voice, how she smelled, let alone what her general features were? Cindy, just dump him already - he's not worth your time.

Rapunzel. I'll keep this one short but any guy who's not bright or resourceful enough to bring a ladder with him when he goes to rescue his true love out of a tower is too dumb to bother with. He knew she was locked in a tower and his best plan was to climb up her hair? What if she'd recently gotten a bob or a pixie cut? Besides, I don't care how long and strong your locks are, it would hurt to support a grown man's body weight with your scalp. Rapunzel, it's time you let a real man appreciate your gorgeous tresses.

Ariel. If my memory serves me correctly, Ariel was the first of the "spunky" princesses. Beyond the sweetness and light characters before her, Ariel's a modern girl with some sass and spunk. Throw in her trademark red hair and you've got a gal I could be friends with. Prince Eric doesn't seem to be as bad as some of the other princes but I do question him falling in love with a girl who can't speak and doesn't seem to understand the basics of functioning human society. Honestly, she didn't even know what a fork was for. So, while he might not be as dumb as the others, he's definitely shallow as it's clear from her lack of speaking ability that he's only into her based on her looks.

Belle. This one's right there in the title. She's a beauty. He's a beast. Not only is he not human but he's beastly in both appearance and demeanor. Yeah, he'd had some rough breaks but so did Cinderella and Snow White and you didn't see them getting all pissy about it. No, they remained sweet and charming regardless of the crap life threw at them. Yet, once again, they force the lovely, charming, musically-inclined Belle to fall for this monster. Grr.

Jasmine. I think Jasmine seems to have fared the best of royal girls. Maybe it's because her suitor's the one who got top-billing in the movie or maybe it's because she had the good sense to fall for a commoner and not some worthless prince. Yeah, Aladdin has his ethical dilemmas but he comes through in the end and does the right thing by Genie. He's also resourceful and clever but again, this is probably because he's not actually a prince but a mere "street rat."

What gives, Disney?! Why would a corporation go through such trouble to create such wonderful (not to mention marketable) heroines and spend so little time developing worthwhile suitors for them? It also makes me wonder why it is that the princess debates are so off-track. Parents shouldn't be worrying that Disney's indoctrinating their daughters to want to become princesses, they should be worrying that Disney's somehow convincing their daughters that they should expect so little in a life partner.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Tale of Two Trees

Before I was born I already had two moms - and probably not how you’d think.  One was a woman in her mid-20s who had recently been given the heartbreaking news she’d never bear a child.  Another was a young mother - pregnant out-of-wedlock and willing to give her child another life.  Yup, I’m adopted. 

Growing up I always knew I was adopted.  My parents were very open with me and it was never a secret within my family.  It never made me different – not once did my multitudes of cousins, who also happened to be constant playmates, mention that I was not biologically one of them.  I was raised by two amazing people who instilled in me a sense of structure, well-being and security.  I know there were times, particularly in my teen years, when they wondered what planet I was really from and whether Catholic Services (who was my adopting agency) had actually played a cruel joke on them and handed them a baby from another species.  But those years passed with a “few” grey hairs (or a few less hairs) to show for it.  I can’t speak for them, but I consider them war medals of sorts – and they earned them

When I was 25 it happened.  After never considering finding my birth family, they found me.  Honestly, I was hesitant at first.  I had been provided the most amazing life – what more did I need?  But with the encouragement of my parents, I answered the letter and stepped across the threshold into my new life. 

And it was a new life.  I was an only child – but learned I have 4 brothers & a sister (although now the count is technically at 5 because I have 1 biological, 2 step & 2 in-law).  I have a biological mother and father - their spouses & parents (Gma & Gpa K, you are missed!).  I have a myriad of cousins I have yet to meet.  I have gained new friends.  Often, I have said I get the joy of siblings without fighting for bathroom time.  I know I’m a curiosity to all of them, but I have received exactly the same treatment from them as my adopted family – open acceptance.  And, for that, I am absolutely grateful. 

So, this Mother’s Day, I pay tribute to two mothers – the one who gave me life & the one who taught me how to live it.  To them I give my gratitude and my love. 

Look what I made!

I'm 35, but I still make things for my mom. Every year, I make her something for her birthday, for Mother's Day and usually for Christmas. No, not macaroni art or crayon drawings, like when I was a kid. Now I use skills that I picked up in adulthood like knitting, crochet or painting.

The entire process is fun, from handmaking the gift to putting it in the mail. There's a sense of mischief to it, since it's a surprise for her. I always get package tracking whenever I ship her something, so I can watch it travel from Seattle to Ohio and once it arrives, I smile as I wait for my phone to ring, knowing that she's received it.

Some things never change. It never stops feeling great to hear your mom joyfully gush about how much she loves something you made for her, whether it's some glued-together popsicle sticks when you're 8 or a purse that you knitted for her 20 years later. Whoever said "it's better to give than to receive" was talking about the reaction that you get when you give a hand-made gift!

Yesterday my mom received her Mother's Day gift, which I knew because as always, I'd been tracking the package. Sure enough, shortly after I saw its status change to "delivered" online, my phone rang and there was my mom, happy as can be about the gift that I'd crocheted. By the time I finished making it, I needed to get it in the mail fast so it would get there by Mother's Day and I had forgotten to buy a card. So I took a piece of printer paper and wrote a note, beginning, "Sorry about the lame card..." When she called, I once again apologized for the "ghetto card," but she said she loved it and she taped it inside a kitchen cabinet, right next to a drawing of her that I did in marker when I was 10.

I had no idea she still had that drawing taped inside the cabinet! I can picture it now... yellow hair, a stick-figure shape and in case there was any doubt, "Mom" written at the top. It's been in there for 25 years and now it's been joined by something I did earlier this week.

I already have a few favorite works of art from each of my kids, at ages 3 and a half and 16 months. I make gifts for them, too, from knitted blankets to whimsical paintings for their rooms. To my delight, they've both already shown interest in learning to knit or crochet, so I hope we can keep the spirit of handmade gift-giving going and I hope they'll know, as my mom has let me know, that if your kid makes you something, it's the coolest, most wonderful treasure on Earth that you will want to keep forever.

Guest Post at Macaroni Kids: This Mother's Day Remember, You Deserve a Present

Many thanks to the gals at Snoqualmie Valley-Issaquah Macaroni Kids for the chance to write a guest article for them this week.

Check it Out:

If love means never having to say you're sorry, then being a mother means having to say things like "Please take that rectal thermometer out of your mouth" and "How many times do I have to tell you? I don't like it when you put my mascara on the dog!" Read more...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Mother's Day Tribute to My Mom. And Her Friends. And My Friends.

Sara's post a while back about maintaining her sense of self while still being a mom resonated with me. Her memories of watching her mother paint made me think of all the little things I'd observed about my own mom while I was growing up, both the little personal habits and bigger personality traits.

It seems that while we, as moms, might not be aware of it, our kids are quietly observing everything we do. So often you hear about women who learned to cook or sew or knit from their grandmother or mother. While I would have loved to have been taught how to make baked ziti, my family's of Scandinavian and Irish origin, so great culinary skills weren't going to be passed on.

While there are many things I admire about my mom (Mom, don't think that just because I'm singling one out doesn't mean that's the only thing I admire about you...) the thing I admire most is her commitment to her friends.

My mom has always had a close group of friends and has put forth effort to stay in touch with them and spend time with them. Since I can remember, they've gone out to dinner to celebrate each other's birthdays, talked on the phone and gone on trips together. When my mom was pregnant with me, some of her friends hosted a baby shower for her. When I was pregnant with my daughter, those very same friends hosted a baby shower for me. These friends have been integral players in not just my mom's life but mine as well.

When I was 14, my dad died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack. It was a horrible time for us. I can't imagine how we would have gotten through without the support of her friends and our family. Her friends came from out of town to stay with us so the house wouldn't feel so empty. One even bought me a beautiful new bedding set to help distract and cheer me up, something I've always been touched by. Another friend invited us to visit her in Hawaii so we could get a break from things. Other friends (and my aunts) pitched in and helped us out in so many little ways. The summer after my dad died, I decided I wanted a dog. My mom was pretty much willing to give me whatever I wanted at that point, so I got my puppy. Her friends came over and helped build and paint a fence for that dog. I could go on about the wonderful things these friends have done over the years but the point is that the time my mom spent nurturing her friendships meant that when we needed people, there was a strong support network there for us.

Growing up, I never minded if my mom, who was a working mom, left on a Tuesday evening to go to dinner with her friends. I still had plenty of attention from both her and my father. Besides, she didn't always leave us to be with her friends, it was often that we were all together as entire families. I loved the time that we spent with my parents' friends and now consider them to be my friends as well.

I think that today, we often feel we need to be everything to our kids at all times and we forget they don't actually need our undivided attention 24/7 - I am certainly guilty of this. I've also noticed that since I've had kids my friendships have largely taken a backseat to mothering. While my kids are my top priority, my friends are also a priority and it saddens me that I've let so many friendships slide. Yes, we keep up on Facebook but sometimes it can be so difficult to get together in person. Most of my friends live scattered around the greater metro. area, which means they often live 40 minutes away. Sometimes a ferry commute's involved, or a border crossing, which makes it that much more difficult to see each other. Many of my friends work and most of us have small children and it just seems to get to be longer and longer between visits.

Thinking about my mom and her friends makes me want to put renewed energy into my friendships. Not just because I always feel better after spending time with my friends but also because it's a good example to my kids. I think it's good for kids to see their moms happy and fulfilled in a pursuit outside of mothering. And besides, let's face it, if I maintain my friendships as I age, it'll take some of the pressure off of my kids to visit and call me so often. So in the long-run, they'll really appreciate my friends.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama Bin Laden's Dead but Today's Not a Day for Celebration

When I left my office the evening of September 10, 2001, I had no idea it would be my last day working on the 39th floor of Two World Trade Center. No one who worked in those buildings knew that. Now, of course we all know that a group of terrorists, affiliated with Al Qaeda and given the go ahead by Osama Bin Laden himself, were busy preparing an attack for the next morning that would be so heinous, it's still incomprehensible, nearly 10 years later.

As it has been widely reported, the morning of September 11, 2001 was a beautiful morning in New York. When I got off the subway on my way to work that day, I remember hearing an older (seemingly deranged) man muttering "Don't go out there. It's insane." I didn't give him a second thought at the time and continued on my way. As I exited the subway station, I immediately noticed a lot of paper flying through the air. As I was trying to figure out why there was a ticker-tape parade that day, I started to notice it wasn't little confetti-like bits of paper but full sheets of paper, even full rolls of toilet paper, floating through the sky. I noticed another guy, bending down and picking a watch up off the sidewalk. These things were odd but not particularly alarming. Then I looked up and noticed the smoke. I could tell it was coming from the general direction of the towers but didn't know exactly where. My first thought was "Ooh, maybe they'll close the office because of the fire and I'll get a free vacation day." Clearly, I had no idea what was unfolding around me.

As I got closer, I could tell the smoke was coming from One World Trade Center (now called the North Tower. In the nearly two years I worked in the building, I don't remember anyone ever calling them the North and South towers - it was always One World Trade and Two World Trade - 1WTC, 2WTC, if you were sending an email). I joined a group of hundreds of people on a plaza about a block from my building and we watched as the first building burned. No one there had any concept of the significance or devastation of what was happening so close by. People made comments about how building maintenance must be pissed that the internal fire sprinklers weren't working. A couple of people said they'd heard that a commuter plane had hit the building but that was generally dismissed.

Then, as we all stared in the sky watching the fire, we saw and heard a huge plane approach and fly directly into Two World Trade Center. Everyone there immediately sensed the deliberateness of it and knew it was the act of terrorists. People turned and ran east. I followed them. This happened to be in the direction of my subway stop and I just ran and got on the subway, without really thinking too much. As I was running to the subway, I started yelling at people getting off the trains to not go out there. They ignored me as I had ignored the old guy before me.

The subway car I got on was relatively empty. Only one other gal and I had been out there and seen the devastation. We were shaken and incoherently trying to tell people what was going on. I remember saying that terrorists had hijacked an empty plane and flown it into the building. Somehow, I had subconsciously dismissed the idea that there could have been people on those planes. Without thinking it through, my mind had simply rejected the possibility that things could have been any worse than what I had just witnessed. Of course they were worse. Much worse.

I got off the subway in Brooklyn and immediately called my mom, at home in Seattle. I knew she'd be watching the TODAY Show and would be seeing the coverage and freaking out. When I'd first moved to New York and gotten a job in the World Trade Center, my mom wasn't too happy and reminded me that it had been bombed in the '90s. I dismissed her concerns, telling her how tight security was and explaining about the key cards needed to merely ride the elevators. I told her it was probably the safest building in the city. Of course, no one could have anticipated that key cards would be little match for a jumbo jet.

Luckily, on the morning of September 11, my cell phone was both miraculously charged and receiving service. I got a hold of her less than 20 minutes after my building had been hit. Cell service and long-distance service would both be spotty in the city for a long time afterwards. In the weeks and months following 9/11, we all began to learn more about Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. In New York, we also contended with endless rumors of fresh attacks.

In the nearly 10 years since that day, a lot has changed - both for me and for our country. My New York boyfriend and I broke up and I moved home to Seattle six months after 9/11. I'd had a great time in the city but that event changed things for me. I felt I needed to be home, closer to my family. I got a new job and met my now-husband. We've since traded Seattle for the 'burbs and had kids.

Our country has changed too. Long gone is the feeling of solidarity that we had after that fateful day. We've been engulfed in the "war on terror" in two separate arenas for so long now, that we often forget these wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are even going on. After years of color-coded terror alert levels and the hunt for Bin Laden, he too had largely faded from the spotlight. Until today.

When I woke up and turned on the TODAY Show this morning (like mother, like daughter there) and saw that he'd been killed, I felt relief. Then, I heard about Americans celebrating in the streets and I got upset and worried. Yes, he was an evil man, the sort of man who deserves to have his grave danced upon, but for our country and our safety, I hate that images of us celebrating his death are being broadcast around the world. Not because he doesn't deserve it but because I fear retribution.

Today, there have been a lot of comparisons between the deaths of Hitler and Bin Laden. The difference is that Hitler was an authoritarian leader of a recognized nation-state. A nation that was already crumbling after years of war. With Hitler's death, Germany had no one to urge them on in the war - it was over. Bin Laden on the other hand, was the leader of a movement but he was more of a figurehead really. He was someone fundamentalists could rally behind. While he provided his followers a blueprint, he, by no means, ran a dictatorship. With his death, terrorism and the threat of it, don't end. I'm glad that my children will grow up in a world where he's only a mention in their history books and not a boogeyman that still exists. However, even with him gone, the threat of terrorism remains. Our children are still being raised in a world where the incomprehensible is a possibility.

This war's not over, which is why I don't want to see us celebrate too much today. When I heard that people in the Middle East were celebrating 9/11 it made me incredibly angry, as it did almost every other American. The feeling was that you don't celebrate death, especially not the death of innocent civilians. Let's practice what we preached almost 10 years ago and keep the hoopla down. Let's express relief that he's gone and hope that this will somehow be something of a turning point in ending terrorist acts but let's not celebrate and fuel the fire. Let's set a good example for our kids and show them that you don't celebrate the death of anyone, even a monster. Let's also do what we can to keep them safe by not egging on extremists. Bin Laden's done enough damage already, let's not give him the power of martyrdom in death.
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