Happy Thanksgiving! Are they growing up too fast?

Happy Thanksgiving to all the Canadians out there. And Happy Columbus Day to the Americans. (I hope you got the day off.)

Someone sent me a question that touched on something I've been thinking about for months now, ever since I went back to work. The question was in the middle of a bunch of other stuff, so I'm paraphrasing the relevant sentences:

"I worry that he grew up because he had to, not because he was ready to. And that no matter what I do, not having me during the day forced him to toughen up too soon."

I've wondered the same thing about my older son. When I went back to work, it was the end of his pre-K year. We had two different babysitters in four months, and I really did not have anything organized or running smoothly. (In addition, all my emotions were in upheaval because we were dealing actively with the divorce at that point, but the kids still didn't know.)

I stayed as connected as I possibly could, but he just didn't get the face time with me that he had had before. And then when he started Kindergarten, with that teacher that we both disliked so much, I just couldn't be there when he got out of school. That killed me. He grew up and toughened up so much in that year, and it's always going to haunt me.

But I also think that it might have happened the same way if I'd been there for him at home the whole time. He's very intense and feels things deeply, but is self-contained. He might have worked through all of it mostly in his own head in those four hours every day between when he got out of school and when I got home. And it's possible that being home might have made things worse for him somehow, too.

This may just be another one of those things that I feel guilty about for the rest of my life, but that may not have had a negative effect on my child at all.

Thoughts? About this specifically, or regrets and wonder in general?

Practical ways to tighten our belts

I am so glad I put up that post yesterday. It seems like a lot of us needed it! One of of my RL friends, inspired by yesterday's post, called her credit card companies and got one of her card's rate lowered by double digits!

So here's what I'm thinking about for today: Practical ways to tighten our belts. Remember when "Y2K" was about to happen (what dorks we all were with that Y2K business) and people seemed either to go way overboard and stockpile years' worth of supplies, or do nothing? I think we could be either psyching ourselves into all kinds of belt-tightening things that are going to seriously affect our emotional lives, or else go into denial and just keep spending as if there's no tomorrow.

So I'm looking for practical ways to save money, build a little safety in, DIY, that sort of thing.

Also, please think ahead about this, which we'll post next week: More people are going to be eating from food banks. Lots of times what they end up with are food that are not high in nutrition (boxed mac 'n' cheese, anyone?), and a consistent diet of that kind of stuff is going to depress mood and cause depression, sluggishness, and weight gain. Which is exactly what people struggling to hold things together financially do NOT need.

I'm wondering if we could think of some nutritionally-good, tasty, not-too-complicated recipes that could be made out of ingredients that can be kept at a food bank. That means nothing frozen, and no fresh meat or dairy (right? It's been years since I was actually at a food bank and saw the facilities.) We're talking mostly boxed and canned, with some fresh produce that has a longer shelf life.

If you're willing to put your recipe-developer hats on and take up the challenge, I'm hoping we can be ready to post next Friday. Then we can figure out how to make these recipes useful. (printing out the recipe and donating the set of ingredients together? making some sort of mini-cookbook for food banks to distribute? something totally obvious I'm not thinking of?)

In the meantime, we're looking for practical ways to cut some expenditures that won't affect emotional quality of life too much.

It’s the economy, smarties

Good news–but I can't share with the internets until the real-life players know. Maybe next week, so stay tuned.

As you all know, I live in NYC, where there's a whole lotta finance going on. And all the recent economic things are freaking people out here. I kind of don't know what to think. I don't anticipate that my kids and I will be out on the street, and I'm fairly certain that the economy will eventually recover.

But I know a lot of people are really worried about things. I thought maybe here would be a place where people could talk about it in a safe way, where we could share the "trivial" worries we have. If there are any economy wonk parents here maybe you could give us your predictions. I'd also be interested to hear from people who are not in the US about what's happening where you live. (And I know so many of us are waiting to see how things turn out with the US elections, but I'm hoping we can stay meta with any political analysis and not get too invested in ways that could be hurtful to others.)

I'll start with the first question: I was thinking now might be a good time to call my credit card company and ask them to lower my balance. (I'm a single mom stuck in a too-expensive apartment and a not-high-paying job–of course I carry a balance.) Do you think they'll be more willing to go lower right now?

Forgive my silence…

Some stuff is happening and I just can't seem to wrap my head around the normal questions right now. Nothing bad, and I'll tell you when I can.

In the meantime, how about an etiquette question that you can answer for me:

There are only four kids in my apartment building and two of them are mine. (There are around 45 units total, most of them one-bedrooms.) We've never had trick or treating in the building, even when we had a few more kids, so my kids have always just done one of the community kids' costume parades and trick-or-treated in friends' buildings.

In most buildings in Manhattan, the tenants' association or co-op board puts up a sign-up sheet a week ahead of time for people to sign up if they want to hand out candy, and then tells them to put a sign on their door, so kids know which doors to knock on and which ones to leave alone.

In the past few years we've had a big influx of new people into our building. Last year, after Halloween, one of them expressed sadness that she hadn't gotten to see my kids' costumes or give them candy.

Is it going to seem totally rude and/or avaricious to put up a note on the building bulletin board (we have no tenants' association) asking if anyone wants to hand out candy? It wouldn't have occurred to me except that this woman wanted to last year.

Atlanta meetup this Thursday!

We're on for 6 pm at the Candler Park Flying Biscuit. First address here. We're under the name Moxie.

I'll be the one in the glasses. (Heh.)

There's a park down the street (Candler Park, go figure) that would be a good place to run kids around before dinner, I hear.

(I hope 6 pm is decent for people. I thought it would be before bedtime for people who are bringing kids, but that people coming from work could get there.)

Q&A: baby not eating during the day

Fran writes:

"This is kind of an odd question, but is it possible for a six-month-oldbaby to refuse food even if she's hungry? Lately I've been having a
horrible time with my daughter Lulu. She refuses a bottle constantly,
or else eats just a couple of ounces (she's bottlefed) and rejects the
rest in favor of playtime on the floor. That would all be fine with me,
she's in the 100th percentile for height and weight, so no health
worries, and I don't want to force her to eat, even if that were
possible. What drives me nuts is that 1) she's grumpy a lot of the time
because she's hungry and won't eat (and yes, she's definitely hungry,
because if I can somehow get her to eat, she cheers up immediately),
and 2) she's started waking up at 2 and 5 am demanding food again, I
think because she's not eating enough during the day. This is maddening
because she was one of those kids who slept through the night early on,
and we're having a hard time adjusting. I've tried giving her solids, tried watering down her formula for those middle of the
night feedings, tried giving her just a pacifier or water, but nothing
seems to work. She's just on the cusp of crawling, but I'm not sure
that's the reason for her not eating; she seems bored by the bottle,
and will only take it if I put her in weird places, like her
exersaucer, or lying flat on her back in the middle of the living room.
I'd like to think this is just a phase, but if it is, it's a very, very
long one.

The pediatrician recommended not giving her a bottle when she cries in
the middle of the night, lest she get used to it, but what can I do?
The girl's obviously hungry. At the same time I definitely don't want
her to get the idea that this is going to be a regular feature of
nighttime. We are so tired that I'm not even sure what I'm asking
here–but if you and the Moxites have any suggestions for any of this,
we would be so, so grateful!"

And here I thought this was a problem that mostly affects breastfed babies. It just goes to show that one of my primary theories may be correct: Everyone's got the same problems, they just manifest themselves differently depending on your circumstances.

At any rate, this does seem to be a problem of this age and stage of development of babies. They get to this age and are just so excited by everything that's happening during the day that they don't want to stop and take the time to eat. It mean, who wants to waste time on milk when you could be looking at cool stuff? Or trying to crawl or scoot or roll? Only suckers waste time eating.

I also think that sometimes at this age babies are teething (either pre-teething or active teething) and that make them not feel like eating. So combine those two factors, and the kids may not eat much at all during the day.

Of course then they need the calories, so they eat at night while nothing exciting's happening, and while they're relaxed enough that the teething might not hurt so much.

So I would NOT try to cut out food at night, since I think the mechanism works the other way around, and that won't entice them to eat more during the day but will make both of you miserable without fixing the problem. Instead, I'd try to help them want to eat more during the day. The classic trick that most breastfeeding moms have tried (notice how I word that–it may or may not work) is to go into a dark, quiet, super-boring room when it's time to eat. Minimize distractions as much as possible, and hope that that lets the baby focus on eating.

You can also try to feed the baby right as soon as she's coming out of a nap, since kids seem to be more likely to eat while drowsy, before they remember that there's all that exciting stuff going on. As many calories as you can sneak in during the day will help with nighttime.

You can also try to alleviate some of the teething symptoms by giving the homeopathic teething tablets (either Hyland's Teething Tablet–they contain lactose–or Humphrey's #3 formula–they contain sugar but not lactose). The pills  are small and will dissolve easily in a baby's mouth and have such teeny tiny concentrations of active ingredient that there's debate over whether they can do anything at all. I've been happy enough with them (even if it is a placebo affect) to use them for both my kids and give a bottle as a shower gift to my friends. A pill a few times a day should take the edge off just enough to help a teething baby more likely to eat.

The good news is that this is a time-specific problem. At a certain point the baby will become more interested in food again and less agog about the environment, and the days and nights will flip back in your favor.

Anyone remember this phase?