Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I mentioned the other day that baby E's language development has taken off in the last few weeks. He's  gone from using only a handful of words, to using tons of them. He's gone from using 1-2 signs, to 8-10 regularly. It's amazing. It's like a light has finally gone off as he realized that by saying or signing words, he could get things to happen.

He signs for "milk" now when he wants to nurse. He says "up" when he wants to be held. He signs "eat" or says "ahhh-puulllll" (aka apple) when he's hungry. He says and signs "help" when he closes himself nearly all the way up in a kitchen drawer. He says "buh-byyyeee" when people walk out of the room, whether or not they're actually leaving. He signs "more" when he wants something else to eat, or for me to sing "Twinkle, Twinkle" for the thirteenth time. He signs "please" with the most adorable turn of his head to the side, and he knows it will likely get him what he wants, especially when done without prompting.

He gets it.

Hubby has expressed some worry over the last 8 or so months, feeling that baby E was falling behind in his language development. I knew he was on target, but compared to the kid, I can see why hubby was concerned. The kid was talking in sentences at this point. (Though he sure wasn't climbing on top of the kitchen table, or anything else.) He was no longer using signs because he didn't need to. That kid could say absolutely anything. I mean, when he was about 19 months, he looked at me and said, "I not available ah [to] you". He used to take my face in his little hands and make me repeat words over and over until he could say them perfectly. And then he used them. A lot.

So the fact that baby E isn't yet putting words together, and continues to use signs does seem worrisome. Except when you step back and realize that he is only 17 months old. And that means he should only have a handful of words. And the signs are actually a bonus. He's right where he should be. And I'm more than thrilled with that.

Today's lesson: The kid never has been a tantrum thrower (I'd say he has thrown fewer than 20 ever). Baby E, on the other hand, has multiple tantrums an hour. I've got to believe that the differences in their language development has a lot to do with this. Sure, their temperaments are very different. But being able to express exactly what's in your head must leave a kid feeling empowered. And not being able to express more than the basics, has got to be frustrating. And make a boy fell a bit pissed off at times.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Why I both love and hate Melatonin

It's been roughly a month since we started drugging baby E to get him to sleep at night. Though I say that in jest, I do still have some reservations and guilt about it. However, lemme just tell ya, that baby is now sleeping. Not every night, all night. But most nights, mostly all night. We are getting up with him maybe once a night, and at that only every other night or so. Instead of 2-4 times each and every night. That means that at a minimum every other night I get to sleep all. night. long.  I mean, the Melatonin - for real - has been the savior of my sanity. And probably my marriage.

My sweet baby E is happier and napping better during the day, too. He's taking (generally) 1 nap a day now, instead of two. And it's a longer one, like 2-3 hours, instead of an hour and a half or less. He is less crabby and that baby's language development has taken off. (A post for another day.) He's still into everything, but I don't think that has a thing to do with anything other than who he is.

I'm a happier momma because I'm finally sleeping. I am more patient, calmer, less edgy, and better able to focus on everything - work, kids, hubby, adult conversation, everything. Hubby, too, is more patient and less cranky. It's been a good, good thing for us all.

So why then do I continue to struggle with it?

Well, in short, I hate giving my kids medicine. And while I don't consider Melatonin a medicine exactly, it is a pill (albeit crushed up in some applesauce). I feel like we're drugging him to get him to sleep. Which isn't, of course, addressing any possible underlying issue (i.e. whatever it is causing him to not sleep on his own). It feels in some ways like a really selfish decision, "making" him sleep when his body doesn't seem ready to do it on its own.

And yet, that sleep...oh that sleep... I can't turn it down. So, I guess I'll continue to feel guilty about drugging him to get him to sleep. Because neither hubby or I are willing to give up that sleep. At least for the meantime. Maybe in a couple of months when our sleep deficit has been significantly decreased we'll consider weaning him off it and see what happens. Maybe. Hopefully. Possibly.

Today's lesson: As people, as parents, we are often judgemental. About the decisions that other parents make. About the decisions our co-parent makes. About the decisions we make ourselves. We're often heard to say "I would never...". And, yet, I don't think we ever really know what we will do in a particular situation until we find ourselves in said position. And I choose to believe that we all make the best decisions we can in the midst of the situation. It may not be the same decision we would make a moment, a month, or 5 years later, but it's the best we can do right then. And, because of that, we owe it to ourselves to be more gentle with ourselves, with each other.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Why I scrapbook

There. I've admitted it. I am a scrapbooker. And I love it. I have a whole room dedicated to paper, and pictures, and different kinds of adhesive, and things that cut, and ribbon, and buttons, and who knows what else. I mean, really. I totally don't know. It's complete chaos in there. For all I know there may be another child hiding in there somewhere. It'd be hard to find it. Or for it to find it's way out. Someday I'll clean it out. Maybe. Probably not.

Anyway, the question begs to be answered, why?! Why do I scrapbook? I can't tell you how many times I've been asked. Usually it's posed by another woman, who has this weird, perplexed, almost judgemental look on her face. Like "why the eff would you waste your time on that?!". Or maybe that's just how I'm taking it. Because I feel guilty often when I scrapbook. But that's a whole different post.

Okay, so why? I scrap for 2 main reasons. First, I scrap because it's my "me" time. I've described it as my therapy. It's just about the only time I have the opportunity to be by myself, do something creative, and not be constantly interrupted by children or husband. Because hubby generally avoids scrapbook world. I think it scares him. And children with good self-preservation mechanisms do, too (usually).

I spend most days talking to other people about their own stuff (issues, crap, drama, problems, trauma, whatever you want to call it). And while I love being a social worker, it does leave me little time to think about/deal with/whatever my own stuff. Scrapbook times guarantees I have a quiet space to just be. I don't have to be empathetic, ortell a family that I'm about to call child protective services on them, or think about someone else's trauma. And it's also the only way I get to be creative. 'Cause there just isn't time to do it in any other ways.

The 2nd reason I scrap is for my boys. There are lots of pictures of me from when I was a kiddo, but the little stories and circumstances that go with those pictures aren't documented. I so treasure the pictures, but I wish I knew the stories, too. Of course I could ask my mom, but chances are that the words that go with those images, at least for a lot of them, are long gone. I want my boys to have the stories that go with the pictures. I want them to be able to share those stories with their children and grandchildren.

Also, I want the boys to be able to know me through the words I write to them in those scrapbooks. I want them to know who I am right now, when they are 1 and 6, and I am 33. Not just the me they will know when they are teenagers or adults and I am hitting middle age. With all the drama that comes with parenting middle and high schoolers to alter their memories. I want them to know the young mom, not the tired, worn down one (well, considering I'm sleep-deprived, I suppose I am currently tired and word down, but I suspect it's in a different way than I will be in 10 or 20 years).

I want my boys to know the children I know right now. To be able to see themselves through my eyes as little boys. Not as the children I will tell them about when they are older. And there are all those experiences between now and then to color my opinions and memories (as well as their own).

Scrapbooking is about me. But it's also about my boys. And, I consider it a gift I am giving to their future selves. And, heck, when I'm old and can't even remember my own name, maybe those scrapbooks will be a gift to me, too.

Today's lesson: The women's bathrooms at the hospital don't have urinals in them. And I'm not going to explain any further how I learned this lesson. Except to say that it may have been the hard way.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Just ew

Lest you think my little one is the only one who puts disgusting things in his mouth, here's a lovely little story for you about my kid.

Monday we were all home thanks to Presidents' Day and me just having Mondays off work. So the boys and I - because it was a wonderfully sunshiny kind of day, - took a walk with a friend. We were bopping along and I pointed out a lovely little patch of crocus flowers. The kid crouched down to get a good look at them. He loves flowers, and trees, and plants of all kinds, well, just nature in general. So I just assumed he was really checking them out. But then he said, with head still down, "there's also a piece of gum down here". "Ew, kid! Come on, lets go." And off we went.

And then, several minutes later I noticed the kid chomping away on something. So I asked him what it was. And he put his head down and started walking really fast. And it hit me. Dearlordinheaven, he put that piece of gum in his mouth. My sweet baby boy was chewing away on some piece of ABC gum he found ON. THE. GROUND. It was in someone else's mouth. And could have been peed on by a dog. Or have bird poop on it. Or god knows what else. Yuck. Gag. Shudder. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

I told him to spit it out immediately.

Today's lesson: And that is why God invented mouthwash, people. Actually HERE is the history of mouthwash, in case you're interested. Because after I wrote that I all of the sudden needed to know. And it made me feel MUCH better about baby E eating that pee pee toilet paper. And now you're curious, too, aren't you?!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My little jailbird

"I can't stop wo-wo-wo-worrying that I'm going to go to jail", is what my baby blubbered Sunday night. He'd come sobbing out of his room about an hour after he'd been put to bed. An hour after we thought he was already asleep, because he'd gone to bed almost an hour late as it was. I couldn't make eye contact with hubby because I was afraid I would start giggling. Which would not, of course have been the appropriate response to my baby's emotional pain. Probably.

Let me go back to earlier, to share with you the back story. And then you can decide if this was a parenting fail, or success. Because, in truth, I'm not sure. Even though I'm still giggling about the whole thing.

Saturday I had to work. Hubby had both boys and took them to the grocery. The were walking along and saw a Superman key chain. Hubby commented on it, as he is quite the fan of Superman. And then they walked on. Back to Sunday. I was down in the basement cleaning up the kid's "man cave" as we were having some friends over for dinner that evening. I noticed a Superman key chain I'd never seen. I asked him about it. He said they'd gotten it from the grocery the previous day. I thought nothing of it and continued cleaning.

Less than 10min later, I heard hubby telling the kid to go to timeout. (Side note, I was very proud of hubby for remaining cool and calm throughout this whole thing.) Apparently the kid had shoplifted the key chain when they were at the store. Hubby was asking him about it, but getting little response. So we let him stew in timeout for a few minutes then asked him to come sit at the table with us.

We explained that what he'd done was stealing. We don't take things from our friends' houses when we're visiting them, because the things at our friends' houses belong to them. Not us. And the same principal applies with stores; things in stores belong to said stores until we pay for them (either with cash or debit/credit cards). When he walked out without paying for the key chain he'd stolen something that didn't belong to him.

And then I threw in there at the last minute, just for fun, that people who steal things can go to jail. I wanted him to know that there was a serious consequence for stealing. His immediate consequence was that he was going to go the following day and return the key chain, explaining to the store employee what he had done.

The whole time he refused to sit down, and just stood there looking immensely pissed off. I asked him if he was angry, or what he was thinking, or if he had any questions. He just growled "no" and refused to make eye contact. So, we let it go at that, reminding him that we love him no matter what but know that he feels better about himself when he makes good decisions. (insert glare and another growl here)

We didn't say another word to him about it and had a lovely evening with our friends.

Then, Sunday night, long after we thought he was asleep, he came out. I assured him that he was not going to jail, because they don't put 6yo's in jail. But, if he continues to steal, it may be a consequence. After many hugs and cuddles and reassurances and kisses (in between me trying not to look at hubby or giggle), I finally got the kid back to bed.

Monday morning, hubby took the kid back to the store and they returned the key chain. He told them what he'd done and apologized. Theyasked him if they needed to call the security guard. She dropped his head and mumbled "no" between a few very real tears. They then told him it was okay, but not to do it ever again. He seemed much relieved that there were no police or jail involved. And - hopefully - that will be the end of that.

I know that this is normal kid stuff. And, truly, I don't think he understood that what he'd done was wrong. He didn't try to hide it from me when I saw it downstairs. He doesn't pay attention to us paying for things when we're at the store. And we only ever pay with credit/debit cards, which I think probably further makes paying seem rather ambiguous. In retrospect, I think some of his pissed off-ed-ness when we were talking about it was just not understanding what the big deal was.

I do think he gets it now. I don't think he steal again. He'd better not. And we've got some work to do regarding teaching him about this whole buying/paying system that we live in. Obviously.

Today's lesson: Sometimes, your kid's pain may make you giggle a little. Or a lot. And that may or may not make you a bad parent. But, also, sometimes that pain can go a lot further in teaching them the lesson. Because, sometimes, the pain means that the lesson has sunk in and they really get it. And by pain, I mean like the kid's fear of going to jail. Not like a broken bone or anything. Just clarifying for those of you out there in the whole "spare the rod, spoil the child" camp. That's not actually a good lesson. Just sayin'.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My new work schedule

This new job has really changed things up in our family. In addition to giving me my new-found anxiety about driving with the boys in the car, I'm now working two 12 hour (and two 8 hour) shifts. This leaves hubby home with the boys in the evenings a couple nights each week on single-Poppa duty. Also, I work every 3rd Saturday. That means more single parenthood for the hubby. He's been great about it, not complaining about this extra responsibility at all. He has expressed worry that we may have less time together, but I haven't seen this really happen. Fingers crossed it won't. Fingers also crossed that he doesn't start to bemoan his increased one-on-one time with the boys!

So, all that also means I now am only working 4 days/week. Which is fabulous. A couple of jobs ago, I used to work four 10 hour days, which I loved. This was my schedule for the first few years after the kid was born. It was nice to have that one-on-one Momma-kid time. So, it's nice to now have that with baby E. I do feel like I'm missing out on some time with my kiddo. And that makes me sad. Stupid public school 5 days/week schedule.

So far, the boys haven't seemed to really notice a change in my schedule. Other than the kid realizing baby E is getting to stay home with me more during the day. Not sure he's particularly thrilled about that. I think he mostly thinks that if E gets to be home, so should he. Also, now that I think about it, baby E has been wanting to nurse more often. But I don't necessarily know that that has anything to do with my schedule change.Who knows with that child.

All in all, we seem to be adjusting well. I think. I hope.

Today's lesson: Apparently I am the Dancing Queen. And I'm only 17. And young and sweet. At least according to my 6 year old. I'll take it. (Abba can clue you in, if you have no idea what I'm talking about. And, in which case, you'll have learned 2 lessons today, you lucky reader, you.)

Friday, February 17, 2012

So, maybe this happened...

This one time I might have been in the bathroom and baby E might have been in there, too. And I might have had to fish toilet paper out of baby E's mouth. Toilet paper, wet, from the toilet. The toilet that might have had pee in it. And after I might have yelled "no, E, no!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EEEEEWWWWWWWWW!!!!" and hubby came running. He might have said, "oh, that's not even the first time that's happened this week". And then he might have said, "at least there wasn't poop in the toilet this time". And I might have gagged a lot. And then washed baby E's hands. A lot. And then washed out his mouth. With water. Not soap. Though I might have really wanted to use soap. And then toothpaste, because water might not have seemed like enough.

Maybe. That just might have all happened. At the social worker's house. With her child. While she was "supervising".

Today's lesson: Even if your husband thinks that your baby eating peepee toilet paper out of the toilet isn't a big deal, it is. And it's gross. So very gross. And it isn't something you want to hear that happens "all the time". (shudder)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sometimes we sleep

I'd like someone to explain to me why, just when baby E seems to finally be sleeping better (note: we're usually still up once or twice, but they're brief, and that's still half the times we used to be up), the kid is now getting up. I mean, seriously?! I'm pretty sure they must be conspiring against us. For some reason. Like they like us being sleep-deprived. And cranky. And think the dark circles under my eyes are becoming. Or maybe they wouldn't even recognize me without them. Like when I got my hair cut super short and E kept looking behind me for it.

That, or it has nothing to do with us and they - individually- have stuff going on that's messing with their sleep. One of the two.

Either which way, I am thrilled to report that baby E is sleeping sooooooooooo very much better. Last night he was only up once, and briefly at that. But the previous 2 nights he slept about 11hrs straight. That's 11hrs each night. Not waking up. At all. I call it awesomeness. The melatonin seems to be doing the trick. Though, interestingly, he also seems to sleep better at night when we put him in a wool diaper cover. Not sure what kind of a connection there could be there. But, by George, we will continue to use them! And the melatonin. (Unless one of our pharmacist people finds something that indicates otherwise.)

Now, if only we could get them both sleeping 8pm-7am... Someday...

Today's lesson: Melatonin is my friend. And never say never, especially when it comes to parenting. You know, like you should never say you won't give your kid meds to sleep. Because you might just get super duper desperate and be willing to try anything. Even crushed up pills.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

TV lies

I think I've mentioned in passing a few times that I recently started a new job. I don't think I've told you anything about it though. Well, I'm now a social worker in the Emergency Department (ED) of a local hospital. Let me just tell you, as disappointing as it is, ER and Grey's Anatomy are not realistic. I mean, maybe you're not shocked by that. Probably your momma told you that you can't believe everything you read on TV. And mine told me that, too, but - somehow - I believed in those. At least a little. The reality, however, is much less exciting.

We have patients who are in the ED for the first time ever. And patients who are in for the 3rd time that week. Old, young. English speaking, non-English speaking. Every color and ethnicity. Patients who are generally healthy, those who have terminal illnesses. Ones who arrive alone, those who come with every single person in their extended families.

The reality of what's seen at an ED consists many things. A lot of breathing difficulties for a variety of reasons (kids swallowing things that aren't edible; respiratory issues; RSV; COPD; etc...). People seeking drugs (for valid pain/injuries, and because they have a substance abuse issue). Falls (down stairs, seemingly from simply standing, kids from places they've climbed, etc...). Burns (often kids accidentally getting some kind of hot liquid on themselves).

There are lots of ear infections. And vomiting. And coughing. These few things drive me crazy, so here's a brief teaching (or ranting) moment: the ER isn't the appropriate place for these kinds of issues, folks, unless it's the middle of the night and your kid is in horrific pain and has been screaming for hours. Or really can't breathe.  Otherwise, please access your regular pediatrician, or, of course, do whatever your pediatrician's office tells you. But, please, contact them first.

There is also a fair amount of child abuse. Injuries that have just happened. Injuries that parents claim have just happened but examination proves differently. Teenagers. Tiny, little babies. Single injuries, injuries covering much of their bodies. Babies who aren't gaining weight because of neglect (as well as those who aren't gaining weight because of some kind of medical condition). There's lots of - often frustrating - interaction with child protection. But that's a whole rant deserving of it's own post.

The reality also consists of a lot of car crashes. Like a lot. Just run-of-the-mill ones (car vs. other car/tree/telephone pole/etc...). Often associated with bad weather. Minor, and major accidents. Lots of accidents.

And these accidents are the things that seem to be affecting me, personally, the most. I mean, you'd think (or at least I did), that the child abuse would be the most difficult for me to stomach. But, apparently 12 years of social work have allowed me to be able to handle the abuse alright, and at least not take them home with me. I mean, am I infuriated that kids are being abused? Hell yeah. But those kids aren't the ones infiltrating my dreams at night. It's those car accident kids that keep disrupting my sleep.

I think it's because I look at my boys and I know they are safe from the angry injuries most of the "abuse kiddos" are experiencing. I know my boys are being fed appropriately and are growing well. I know that hubby and I, though we certainly get frustrated with our boys at times, don't use physical discipline. And when one of us has had it, the other is there for backup so that neither of us loses it. I don't worry about my kids being covered in bruises in that way.

But car accidents seem so out of my control. It feels like there is so little I can do to prevent them. Of course the boys are absolutely always in their car/booster seats, even if we're just driving the half mile to Gram's house. And hubby and I always wear our seat belts. I know hubby and I are safe drivers, though, yes, I totally did back into a parked car less than two months ago (no, thankfully, the boys weren't with me). Also, I've totally backed off on the speeding as well.

But, still. I have no control over road conditions. Or the weather. Or other vehicles. The fear of being in an accident with my kids in the car is invading even my dreams, stealing the (albeit) little sleep I could be getting.

And I'm not sure what to do about it.

Today's lesson: Slow down and drive safely. I don't want to see you in the ED because of a car accident. I especially don't want to see your kids in here for one. And, for the love of pete, pretty pretty please put your kids in properly installed car seats Every. Single. Time.  Even if you're just going around the block.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My baby is 6. Oh my.

I started thinking of all these emotional, gushy things to say about the day my baby was born. But then I remembered that I'd already said all of them last year. And all of that is still true of course. This day brings me smiles and joy, just in the remembering of it. It was a perfect day, 2/9/06.

But, today, I'd like to really tell you about who my sweet kid is, right now, as he turns 6.

Consider what a big year it's been for my boy. Really stepping into being a big brother (especially the part where he has to get used to baby E getting into all of his stuff). Starting public school. Being faced with his first bully (those awful mean girls). Starting gymnastics (and man, is he good at it!). Getting a real "big kid" room (pics of the robot room to come. Hopefully...). Losing his Oma. Having cranky, sleep-deprived parents short on patience (yeah, for a whole year). So many changes in a little person's life.

We've had bumps. Some small. Some enormous. Overall, the kid has way fewer time outs compared to a year ago. But the infractions that do earn them are a bit more irritating. I mean, where did these moments of disrespect come from?!

He's grown. Good grief is he tall now. He's just about up to my armpits. (And there's probably some kind of something to analyze in that comparison/measurement.) He seems so very grown up in many ways. And still very little boy in many others.

The things that come out of that boy's mouth! Oh my goodness. Hilarity one minute. Followed by some amazing insight the next. And whining about wanting his Optimus Prime the next.

The fascination with bathroom "stuff". You know. Like farts. And poop. (sigh) I live in a house with 3 boys (4 including the dog). I see a lot of this in my future. I can't say I'm pleased about it though.

He's busy. But in a different way than baby E, and really, in a different way than he used to be. He often seems unable to stop. But then he will. And sit and really listen. Or become absorbed in writing. Or say something deep and meaningful. And then he's off again, running laps around the house. That kid does have energy abounding. Not that that is new.

In some ways I grieve leaving the kid's baby times behind. He doesn't need his momma in the same way he used to. He still (tries to) curls up in my lap and gives and asks for frequent hugs. But he doesn't really come to me needing kisses when he gets hurt. He's losing that sweet baby smell. And it's been replaced by little boy funk. Of course his hair products blessedly covers that up most of the time. But sometimes there's a distinct stank.

He's absolutely sweet and loving, with not a mean bone in his body. I don't think this is something that will ever change. I think that is the essence of who he is.

Happy birthday, baby boy. Momma adores you for the being baby who made her a momma. For being the toddler who wrapped his gooey hands around her neck and whispered that she is "mine's momma!!!!!". For being the little boy who writes loves messages in a bottle declaring his love of his momma, his intention of living with her forever. For the opportunity to watch him continue to grow up.

Happy birthday, kid.

Today's lesson: Parenthood is such an education. Mostly about things you never expected.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Superbowl

Last year I told you why the Superbowl is special to us. In short, it was on Superbowl Sunday that we first met the kid's birth parents. It was on Superbowl Sunday that we realized that - like, for real! - we were going to be parents. And soon. It was on Superbowl Sunday that we, for the first time, were able to say that we were "expecting", that, in fact it would be mere days before we would be parents. It is one of those days that I will never forget. It is a day that while the rest of the country gorges itself on food, I sit and smile, remembering the best gift I've ever been given. Hope, joy, parenthood, my sweet kiddo.

Last year, I wrote this:
"So today, on Superbowl Sunday, I celebrate for a different reason. I could care less about some football game. Honestly, I have no idea who's even playing. I don't even care that much about the commercials. Today I chose to remember the way my life changed in the biggest way. And the people who made that possible. L and D, where ever you are, today I thank you and send you extra gratitude, love and prayers."

This year, things are a little different. We know where L and D are. We've seen them and they've seen the kid. But the sentiments are the same. I thank them and hope they know how much we love and appreciate them.

For the record, I still don't know who is playing. And I still could care less. Yes, even about the commercials.

Today's lesson I will repeat from last year's - some things are worth celebrating. The day you learned you were going to be a parent is one of them. To add to that, I'm so glad you and the rest of the country is also celebrating with us ;)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

School lunch

Warning: this is one of those topics that will lead me up on my soap box.I'm apt to be long-winded.  Just sayin'.

A few days ago, The Stirrup Queen (aka Mel) had a great post about school lunches. And it made me start thinking about them, too. Now, we send the kid with his lunch to school every day. He's a pretty good eater, and so generally his lunch (like mine, hubby's and baby E's) consists of leftovers from the previous evening's dinner. Some days he comes home with an empty lunchbox, others it seems as though he's eaten nothing. Most of the time when it's relatively full it's because he was talking too much and not eating enough.

The other day, however, his lunch obviously hadn't been touched at all. As in, it didn't even look like he'd opened it. And so I asked. His response? He'd gone through the lunch line and had a grilled cheese sandwich, french fries and some chocolate milk. I groaned. And then realized it was time to have the discussion about why we send him to school with lunch, instead of through the lunch line everyday.

And it went something like this. "Kid, we talk a lot about healthy foods right?" "Yes, momma." "Can you explain to me why it's important for us to put healthy foods in our bodies?" "Yeah, it's because our bodies use food for energy and healthy foods make more energy than not healthy foods. Maybe you really should not feed me such healthy foods then I would be a little bit calmer." "While you may have a valid point there, mister, healthy foods also make our moods better and make us healthier for a long time. Also, you might not have enough energy to play with your friends or do your gymnastics classes if you ate not healthy foods a lot, right?" "Yeah, that's probably right and that would make my friends really sad." He's a riot that one is.

We then continued to talk about how the foods he'd chosen to eat at lunch that day were not healthy choices. And though it was okay to have not healthy foods sometimes, it wasn't something we wanted to do frequently. He agreed and was able to point out the not healthy aspects of his lunch, primarily that his lunch was lacking in fruits and veggies, and the high sugar content in his chocolate milk, as compared to plain milk. That's right, y'all, he knew all that on his own.

This whole school lunch thing, is a hot button issue for me. I am horrified by the kids of foods we serve to kids in schools. I am horrified by the things that are considered acceptable. French fries counting as vegetables. Poptarts being okay for breakfast. Nearly everything being so very processed, high in sugar, salt and preservatives. I know there are families and kids who rely on schools to provide food, but we're lying to everyone by trying to tell them that it's healthy or balanced.

 Many teachers and assistant principals (who are often the one handling the discipline issues at their schools) will tell you that discipline problems and referrals peak mid-morning, likely coinciding with sugar levels plummeting. You know, when that poptart - that was served with no protein or fiber to balance it out - starts to wear off. I think about my kid, with his sensitivity to red dye, and wonder how many other behavior issues are related directly to the foods we're serving our kids under the guise of being "healthy".

People claim children simply throw away the healthy options offered by schools. And I don't deny that happens. But, really, most kids, when given the choice between pizza and a salad will, at least most of the time, go for the pizza. However, if the pizza isn't an option? They'll eventually eat - even a salad. Or, make the freaking pizza healthier! I mean, I love school pizza as much as the next girl (probably more), but make it with real cheese, and whole wheat crust, and throw a veggie or two on there, and you have a much healthier product that kids are still likely to eat.

I realize there are cost issues. Seems like these things always boil down to money. But, I also know that by feeding our kids healthier foods, we have healthier kids who have fewer behavior problems (which saves lots money), we have kids with healthier bodies (hello major savings to us all through lowered Medicaid costs!), we have improved test academic test scores. See it's a win-win.

It seems like an easy fix to me. I know it isn't. Which is why we will continue to send packed lunches with the kid to school. Even though school pizza is awesome. And I'll continue to talk about the importance of all kids and families having access to healthy foods.

Today's lesson: Systemic issues sometimes seem like they have a simple answer. And yet, there are so many hands in those pots, many of them kind of invisible, that change happens discouragingly slow. So slowly that we're apt to give up because it seems impossible. However, if we're not willing to continue to push for the changes we know are needed, no one will.