Archive for April, 2009

Okay, this is a subject I’ve been thinking about ever since I was pregnant with Walter. I really feel keenly that it is the parents’ duty to teach kids about sex in appropriate ways. But my own parents avoided the subject. This seemed to be the experience of many of my peers. I have many opinions about this, but for now, I’m interested in your own experiences. I have a number of questions. I would like to get a feel for how you approach the topic in your families and what you feel about it.

Please remember that because this can be a very personal subject to people, if someone comments in a way that is completely different from your opinion and perspective, please be respectful of their viewpoints.

So here goes: (And I promise a follow-up post about my own feelings about the subject.)

1. Do you teach your kids about sex? Why or why not?

2. If so, at what age do you begin the discussion? Do you have one big talk or do you break it up into segments over the years?

3. Do you have a formalized discussion or do you wait for questions?

4. From what perspective do you teach about sex? Is it from a religious, secular, or more clinical perspective? Does your approach vary based on age and understanding?

5. Do your kids ever ask you questions about sex?

6. How do you feel about sex ed in schools? Do you think it should be taught in school? Please explain your opinion about why or why not you think it should be taught in schools.


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Mommy blogging

I’m starting a new blog that is dedicated more to my family life. It will follow the stereotypical mommy blogging pattern with pictures, bragging, detailed stories about the funny things kids do and say, more pictures, and my rants/raves about housework. The blog will be private because of the pictures of the kids. If you are interested in reading the blog, please comment and I’ll send you an invitation.

I’ll still continue to write on this blog. The purpose is entirely different and I find it intensely theraputic to write about things I’m interested in. I just didn’t want this blog to morph into something different.

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I’ve been skirting a big issue for the past year in my blog entries. I’ve been reluctant to write about it because I wasn’t sure how to deal with it myself. I have countless drafts where I tried to grapple with what I was experiencing. Always, words failed me and I stopped writing. My issue is that it’s taken me a long time to transition back to living in the U.S.

I fully expected my transition to be simple and quick. After all, I didn’t have to contend with a new langugage, cultural differences, transportation difficultes, wrangle with the social security office or choke down strange food. So it would be easy, right? Well, it hasn’t been.

It has puzzled me for a while. Then last week, I received an email from a friend who had lived in Sweden and then moved back to the U.S. She talked about finding herself in the last year. And it dawned on me. I’ve been trying to find myself.

Five years is a long time to live in a different country. During that time, I forged an identity for myself. I was the adventurous American mother of four who bicycled around a charming  old city. I was involved with the schools, helping other international parents transition to a different culture. I was secure at church, aware that I was needed and appreciated. I hobnobbed with people from all over the world. I thrived from the experience. It was such an intense and meaningful time in my life which changed my outlook and aspects of my personality.

I’ve struggled to find myself in New York. The perimeters I had set around myself and my identity have changed. The hardest part has been realizing how many people really don’t care that you’ve lived abroad. They don’t really want to hear about your experiences or changed perceptions. I found that as I stopped talking about my experiences I felt that I was closing off that part of my life. I suppose that is ridiculous because those experiences have really shaped me and the person I’ve become and the person I’m becoming is still influenced by my foreign experiences.

In this struggle to understand myself better, I find that I’m not entirely comfortable. And hopefully, this discomfort will push me to go outside of myself–to explore once again, pursue friendships, and create new experiences.

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Grrrr. . . doctors

As per the request from the ob/gyn who confirmed my pregnancy, I went to a perinatologist to discuss my pregnancy and possibile complications from my lupus. The discussion went very well. The perinatologist was very optimistic based on my previous pregnancies that everything would be fairly uncomplicated. She said that that ob/gyn group could manage my care with extra help from her. I was pleased with this decision because I wanted to deliver at the hospital that is a mere 10 minutes from my home.

Today the ob/gyn practice called me and told me that after conferring with the perinatologist, they wouldn’t accept me as a patient because I was too high risk. I was stunned and confused. Then they recommended a doctor that works in Scarsdale and delivers babies at a hospital in the Bronx. At this point, I’m thinking, “you can’t be serious. Like I’m going to drive over an hour south to deliver my baby in the freaking Bronx when I have a hospital 10 minutes away.”

After I got off the phone, I burst into tears. Blame it on pregnancy hormones and stress about doctors. I called Brent and sobbed the whole pitiful story to him. And this is where my knight-in-shining-armor rescued me. He called the perinatologist and learned that she had indeed recommended that I continue my prenatal care with this ob/gyn group that refused to treat me. She was very confused about their decision. She gave Brent a few names of different doctors that are still quite far away.

Brent called around and found a doctor that was willing to see me and look at my case. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’ll take me. I already have a high-risk doctor that can step in for any complications. I just need someone to manage the more routine care.

I’m still pretty upset at the other practice, but I suppose it will be okay.

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Yesterday, I my application to be a field editor for the Taste of Home Cooking magazine was accepted! I’ve been reading the magazine for years. Field Editors submit their own recipes which are then tested and published.  Some of my favorite recipes have come from the magazine: asparagus chowder, oat pan rolls, chocolate cheesecake with raspberry sauce, fried pickles, salmon chowder, etc.

One of my favorite features about the magazine is the Editor’s best meal column. A field editor will submit four recipes for a complete meal.  I’ve been mulling what I would submit if selected. I have three fantastic recipes: Paprika Chicken with Dumplings, French Bread, and Chocolate Cake. But I don’t have a good vegetable or salad dish. I guess I need to work on that.

Anyhow, what recipes do you think I should submit? Do you have any favorite and memorable meals that I’ve made you?

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I picked up an interesting book at the library, The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better off Financially by Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher.  Waite and Gallagher are two social scientists who have gathered a tremendous amount of data about married and cohabitating couples. They’ve also studied the current research by other scientists. They put together a fascinating book about the enormous benefits that marriage provides both men AND women.

I’m not quite done with the book, but I’ve already learned some interesting facts. Did you know that “Husbands earn at least 10 percent more than single men do and perhaps as high as 40 percent more?” (pg. 99) That was an astonishing fact. I had no idea that being married affects a man’s earning power so dramatically.  This is true not only in the United States, but in other countries as well, such as Sweden.

Another fact that really surprised me is that the wife’s level of education directly affects her husband’s earning potential. “One study found that, after researchers controlled for the husband’s own education, married men whose wives were high-school dropouts earned 11.8 percent less than comparable single men. By contrast, men whose wives had a high-school diploma earned 4.3 percent more than comparable single men, and men whose wives had some college earned 7.1 percent more, while men married college graduates earned 11.5 percent more than comparable single men. Wives’ education remained a powerful predictor of husbands’ earnings, regardless of whether or not they had children and regardless of wheter or not they themselves were employed.”  (pg. 104)

This has been such an interesting book for me to read, for it confirms many ideas and feelings I’ve had about marriage. Brent and I married when we were very young (22 and 21 respectively). During that time, Brent has been a full-time student. Some people thought that being married and being father while attending school full-time (and working) would be a detriment to my husband’s academic career. I’m more inclined to think that we provided many benefits to Brent as he studied. For one, he didn’t participate in the wild parties and drinking that many grad students engage in. (Not that he would have done that anyway. But, knowing Brent, he would have been actively engaged in finding a wife. So that would have added some strain.) And he was more focused on getting his work done in a timely manner. If he wasn’t productive in the morning, he couldn’t just work till the wee hours of the night. I think it helped him focus more. Also, we were the factors that drove him to do his best because so much was and is riding on his success.

What do you think? Did you have any idea that marriage was so good for a man’s wages?

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new-year-2009-019new-year-2009-046This year, for President’s Day, we took a 3-hour trip to Valley Forge in Pennsylvania. The area is a National Park and had a plethora of events planned for President’s Day. We really had a great time.

We watched an introductory film about the importance of Valley Forge as it was the training grounds during the winter for the Continental Army. The soldiers had to make do with very little supplies and clothing because most of the colonists were unwilling to accept the continental script as payment preferring instead stable British coin. It really disappointed me that the colonists weren’t more generous and lacked faith in the cause of the continental army. I know they were afraid and wanted to ensure the survival of their families, but it still is a shame that so many had to suffer because of it.

The boys tried their hands at weaving simple bracelets, making cards for General George Washington and discovered common colonial toys. Then we went to the visitor’s center where the boys donned continental army costumes and met George and Martha Washington (re-enactors). We sang Happy Birthday to the general in Swedish. We tasted Martha’s birthday cake, which was pretty good.

The highlight of the day was when the boys signed up for service with the Continental Army, were issued wooden muskets and learned a couple of drills. General Washington reviewed the troops and took them through a stirring and scary bayonet charge.

The kids were pretty tired after all the activities leaving Brent and I free to enjoy our drive through the park as we stopped at cabins, learning how the soldiers lived and watched a musket drill.

The park is beautiful and rather peaceful. It’s hard to imagine that over 200 years ago, our country wasn’t even a country. And while it was fun to watch  my boys pretend to be soldiers, I can’t forget that many young men, some barely in their teens risked their lives for the creation of our nation.

If you are interested in learning more about the Revolutionary War, I would highly recommend David McCullough’s book, 1776. It is a superb book and will really give you a better understanding of what the colonists faced when they chose to fight against the British.

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