Archive | September, 2018

Preschool, Peanut Butter and Other Errors I Made As a Mom This Week

25 Sep

FYI for all parents with kids, Nutella — has NUTS. You’d think I’d have realized this, but my mind heard chocolate. Thankfully, no one in Emilia’s preschool class went into anaphylactic shock, but I’m beyond embarrassed. This, on the heels of sending her in on the wrong day. I’m killing it for week one.

The worst part is that I’d sent it in as a clever alternative for peanut butter. So now, instead of scheduling a long overdue doctor’s appointment to confirm that I don’t have the beginnings of Cervical Cancer, I’m researching peanut butter alternatives to send to school in my toddler’s bento box. In my online peanut butter research travels, I came across this article, which suggests that the extensive pesticides used on peanuts may be responsible for the incredible growth of allergies in kids today.

In a study led by Dr. A. Lindsay Frazier of Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center in Boston, it was discovered that early allergen exposure increases the likelihood of tolerance and thereby lowered the risk of childhood food allergy.*

This hits especially close to home because for over a month, I’ve been battling some sort of rash or eczema or hives or SOMETHING plaguing first my kids.. then me… and finally, Brian. Is it a food allergy? Stress? Mites? Poison Ivy? Bed bugs? Fleas? Contact dermatitis is just not an answer for me and hearing “eczema” as a diagnosis makes me what to scream and hit things. Eczema is a symptom of something being wrong — so if I’m at a doctor’s office hearing that, I want to some guidance figuring out what that something might be! Duh!!

As if my stress levels are not high enough — now I need to worry about organic peanut butter? Is there any conventionally grown food that is “safe” to eat? I don’t have time to grow all my own food myself. This is absurd!! And just for clarity, the girls both respond beautifully to antibiotics, as anyone would expect, but again — I think it’s a complete disservice to my children to not make a great effort to figure out what the trigger/problem is than keep treating the symptoms.

In these situations, being a parent can feel maddening. Pesticides in peanut butter. It makes me want to tear my hair out because for all the advances we’ve made and all the conveniences we enjoy, I often feel like I need a PhD-level education simply to be certain I’m doing my best for my kids because of ALL THIS STUFF. A PhD in parenting, basically. More of this is another post though — I’ve been sitting on some thoughts about what my course load should have been in preparation for having kids but need more time to pull the post together thoughtfully. (Not that Early Renaissance Art and History of Cinema haven’t been totally useful in raising my children.)

Here’s hoping Week 2 is without incident.




Brody, Jane E. “As Peanut Allergies Rise, Trying to Determine a Cause.” February 3, 2014. New York Times. Accessed: September 14, 2018.

Digging Lately: Poetry + Kids

9 Sep

Fearless Flying hotdogs
For a few weeks now I’ve been casually searching for a poem to read with E before her first day of preschool. One of my favorites since I was in high school is a poem titled Good Timber, by Douglas Malloch. I recite it to myself whenever I’m experiencing anything particularly challenging, sort of like an anthem to remind myself that challenges make us stronger:

A tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.

Good timber does not grow with ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees.

Weirdly, just know when I Googled to double check that I’d remembered it correctly, I realized I must have memorized an abridged version because the above is actually just a re-arranged excerpt. As I read the poem in its entirety, I realized perhaps I was aiming a bit too high with the message of determination, resilience and strength that I hoped to impart on my daughter as she started her school career. After all, I had fallen in love with poetry as a kid via nursery rhymes like Wee Willy Winkie, and poets like Jack Prelutsky whose magical way with words and ideas had enchanted me as a young kid. Maybe I could give her that before I hit her with the John Donne.


And truthfully, Wee Willie Winkie remains a favorite. I love to act it out with my oldest daughter. I still vividly remember my mom reading nursery rhymes and poetry to my siblings and I growing up. We were always at the library refreshing our book collection. She recently gave me one of my most treasured tomes: The Humpty Dumpty Book, illustrated by Jean Chandler, which flooded me with memories. The illustrations in particular always struck me — I was obsessed with the faces of the little girls and boys.

But poetry in particular, paired with beautiful illustration, always really resonated with me as a kid. Maybe it hinted at my love of language and literature later on, but having so much exposure to it from a young age probably encouraged the affection along.

With my revised goal in mind, I continued my hunt for the right poem again earlier today as Brian flopped himself on our bed. I found myself looking up one of my favorite Jack Prelutsky poems so I could read it to him to see what he thought. Brian loves a good hot dog, so it was an easy choice since it’s one of my all-time favorite Prelutsky poems: Fearless Flying Hotdogs.

While I was Googling around trying to find it, I happened to see that today is his birthday — what are the odds? I feel like it’s a sign.

What do you think? Do we have a winner? I think Emilia will love it.



Creative Uses for Kid’s Artwork

6 Sep

My daughter produces a LOT of artwork and like most parents, I have a really hard time parting with most of it. I’ve seen a lot of cute ways to display or use children’s artwork, which we do, but the other day inspiration struck and I had an idea for the really awesome pieces — cut them out, scan them and then arrange the motifs using Photoshop to turn them into fabric!

I got the idea when I saw a hand print my daughter had traced, cut out, and then colored using a mix of marker and crayon all on her own. I was so impressed. But more than anything, I was struck by how graphic and pretty it was (not to mention sweet since it’s her little hand print and she left off her thumb). I’ve always been really drawn to bold color combinations and even keep a Pinterest board dedicated to “Pretty Patterns” so this was right up my alley. She’d colored each finger a different color and had traced in a way I wouldn’t have done if I’d assisted her. It really illustrated for me (no pun intended) how incredible kids’ imaginations are and how important it is to allow them independent time to create.

It’s not the most easy/breezy project since some knowledge of how to design in Photoshop is required, but if that’s not in your skill set, you could just cut out all the art you want to use, arrange on a large sheet of paper, using tape or glue to keep the arrangement, and then scan. I know online sources like Spoonflower offer the ability to upload your design for printing to fabric or even wallpaper which could be really cool.

Depending how this turns out, I may use the design to create some upholstery fabric to upholster a loveseat I’ve envisioned in the girls’ shared room since before I even had kids. But I also love the idea of a simple blanket too. Can you imagine the possibilities for grandparents gifts too? Maybe even wrapping paper.

Just like I’m always telling my photography clients to PRINT YOUR PHOTOS, this project gets the art out of the file folder (or pile, in my home), and into our lives so we can enjoy it now. Plus, what a huge boost for your child to see you proudly utilizing the art he or she has created in a unique way.