Anyone in Sandy's path, please check in if you can.

What do you need to say or ask about the storm? Say it here in the comments.

(If you're concerned about explaining the storm to your kids, it shouldn't be complicated. Tell them there was–and still is–a big storm that knocked down trees and caused flooding and made the power go out, and today a lot of people are out working to clean up and bring back power and keep people safe. Look for the helpers.)

There’s a lot going on

1. Stay safe, people. For anyone who wants to watch Sandy to see what's going on and who's affected right now, the Weather Underground site is great. Also search #sandy on Twitter for posts from all over.

2. Time change: It's this Saturday night in the US and Canada. (I apologize, UK–I thought you switched the same weekend we do here.) We're falling back, so that means 8 pm yesterday will be 7 pm next Sunday. If you want to transition your kids over this week, move bedtime 10 minutes ahead every day. So if normal bedtime is 8 pm, tonight put your child to bed at 8:10, Tuesday at 8:20, Wednesday at 8:30, etc. On Saturday you'll put your kid to bed at 9, which the next night will be 8 again. (It's like an Escher drawing, isn't it?)

3. Halloween. I wrote a jokey post about what not to hand out instead of candy (the last one's my favorite because my dad actually did it). But seriously, watch yourself. Sugar lowers your immune system, and you can feel all hungover and crappy from too much candy at one time, so pace yourself, especially if you have a kid in a sleep regression. Lack of sleep plus candy rebound hangover will make you feel like Sid Vicious. And drink a lot of water.

4.Candletime starts Thursday, November 1 and runs through Wednesday, November 21. Remember, to celebrate, just light a candle or five or six when you come home in the evening and it's dark out, enjoy the flames, and have a calming beverage of your choice. The whole point of the holiday is to be festive and cozy as the weather gets colder without having any ideological overlay or obligations.

5. Ask Moxie Meetup: I'll sort through everything posted on this post and do some kind of roundup of locations on Thursday.


Why the half-years are so hard, 2 1/2 year-old version

I got an anguished plea for some kind of help, or maybe just a free pass, from a friend the other day. She's been working a lot lately (on a project that will end but can't be put off now), and her son has been very verbal about not wanting her to be gone. But when she's there he pays no attention to her. And when he does he tells her she's doing it wrong (whatever the job of the moment is) and no matter what she does she can't seem to win with him. It's hurting her heart and making her feel like a failure.

"Well, he IS 2 1/2, right?" I asked, in an attempt to point out that it had nothing to do with her.

"Wait, that's an actual thing? It's not just me???" she replied.

She'd been thinking she was a horrible parent because of the way he was responding to her.

No, no, no, no, no.

The half years (for most kids–yours may be on a different cycle) are times of disequilibrium. (We learned this from the fantastic series of books by Louise Bates Ames and Frances Ilg of the Gesell Institute of Child Development. They're a little dated on parental roles, but the info about what kids do at any given age is rock solid and so redemptive.) Full years tend to be times of equilibrium. So that's why often 2-year-olds are happy, chirpy little talkers who can run and jump and twirl, but then by the time they get to 2 1/2 they're defiant, snarling, tantruming, unhappy kids who trip and stutter. It's all the forward-then-back of the spiral of development.

And it will pass. Even if you feel like you can't take anymore of this jerky person who took over your little sweetheart's body (seemingly overnight), this developmental phase will pass and your child will go into equilibrium again.

My suggestions to deal are:

1. Keep reminding yourself that it's not you, it's your kid. And that it's appropriate and normal for your kid, but still hurtful for you.

2. If you like to read about things, read the Ames and Ilg book on two-year-olds as a description of what's happening, and then get Sharon Silver's excellent book with strategies about how to parent 2- and 3-year-olds.

3. Breathe in. Breathe out.


Who's got a story about a 2 1/2-year-old who made you feel horrible then but is delightful now?

Stories of getting back to having sex post-baby

We in the US (and you bystanders watching this trainwreck from Canada) have yet another Presidential debate tonight, so in the interest of some levity and non-political talk, let's share stories on the topic of:

Strange things that have happened when you first tried to get back to having sex post-baby.

(Yes, to the person who tweeted me on this topic, this is for you.)

I'll start:

(Let me just mention how strange it is to be talking about having sex with someone I haven't considered having sex with in years.)

My older son was some number of weeks old (7? 8? maybe) and I'd screwed up my courage and we were going to try it, and the baby was asleep but we were paranoid that he was going to wake up, so we ahd the baby monitor in the same room with us. And just as we were starting to attempt it, this loud male voice came over the monitor as clear as day, asking what we were doing!

Of course the explanation was that our monitor was picking up our neighbor's cordless phone conversation in which he called a friend and asked what the friend was doing. But. Mood lost, and I was so traumatized I'm amazed I had a second child.

Now you go.

Breast biting epidemic

It doesn't surprise me at all anymore when I get a bunch of emails and end up in a conversation in the checckout line about the same topic. This week's zeitgeist problem seems a little specific, though, even for my weird world: babies biting the breast while they nurse.

The basic details seem shockingly the same: Babies in the 6-12 month range, on and off teething, biting while they nurse. It doesn't seem to be a matter of trying to stop or encourage the flow, but of just biting while they're there. Sharp biting, not gnawing.

In all the cases the mom has tried the usual things to stop biting: crying out in pain, stopping the feeding session, talking to the baby, etc. multiple times. It isn't working.

One mother is, specifically, concerned that her baby doesn't have empathy because the baby is laughing when the mother cries after being bitten.

I'm at a loss here. The only thing I can say for sure is that I don't think anyone's raising a baby psychopath. Kids are still figuring out emotions and how to express them and read them in others, so a baby who laughs when her mother cries seems like a normal mismatch, an error of reading and responding, not a lack of empathy.

But yikes! I guess I had it easy, because both of mine only needed to have the nursing session end abruptly half a dozen times before they stopped biting me. I would think it might be the same kind of frustration that sometimes makes just-verbal toddlers bite because they can't express their feelings in words, but the setting doesn't make sense for that.

So here I've labored over this issue–which is affecting at least the four of you who wrote me about it, but I bet more people–and I can't find an end to start unraveling. That makes *me* feel like biting someone.

Help. Who went through any kind of long too-much biting thing? I cannot believe the only solution is to wean, because I cannot believe this is an infrequent problem. So who's got something?

Meetup, anyone?

I realized that I promised to hold a meetup and a year has passed and I haven't done it.

So I want to invite everyone reading this to come to an Ask Moxie Meetup on Sunday, November 4, at 3 pm local time, with kids or without.

Now we just need to figure out where people are going to meet locally.

If you are interested in coming, please respond in the comments with the name of your city or metro area, and a suggestion of a place to meet.

The place should be ok to have kids at and not worrying about losing them in a crowd, and a place that's free or self-serve. Parks, coffee shops, etc.

For Ann Arbor: The playground at Buhr Park, off Packard, between Platt and the splitoff to Eisenhower Pkwy.

Not really down for the count

2012-10-10_13-31-40_108I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and it feels like it might be helpful to someone, so I'm going to post it.

A friend of mine found this excellent icon to the left a few months ago at this store, and I knew I had to have it. The image is of Jonah and the Whale. If you don't know the story of Jonah and the Whale, it's a story from the book of Jonah (surprise) in the Bible. In the story God asks Jonah to do something for him, and Jonah doesn't, and instead runs away from God. He hides out on a boat, but God sends a crazy storm that overwhelms the boat, and the crew of the boat end up tossing Jonah into the water to try to save themselves. Jonah is swallowed by a whale, and sits in the whale's stomach for three days praying to be given a second chance. The whale vomits him up, and Jonah does what God asks him to.

I was never particularly interested in this story before (although I did have the lead role in the musical "Jonah-man Jazz" in fourth grade in Lutheran school), but when I saw this icon I was struck. First of all because of how scary the whale is. Look at those teeth! It looks more like a sea monster than a plain old whale to me. And look at the malice in its eye. I'm pretty sure that's a misrepresentation of Jonah's mood as he was swallowed by the creature.

What I was really struck by, though, is the idea that you can think everything is seriously over, and God (or the universe or whatever you envision is happening behind the scenes) will still bail you out of it. It wasn't that Jonah was afraid of being eaten by a sea monster–Jonah WAS EATEN by a sea monster. And God still got him out of it. When I think of the number of times I was actually IN the belly of the whale and still had my scared, sorry ass saved, it made me realize that I need to have a whole different perspective on worst-case scenarios.

There's a song by one of my favorites, Fred Hammond*, that has the lyric "Late in the midnight hour/God's going to work in your favor" and that "late in the midnight hour" part means a lot to me. (It's here at 2:55 in this video.)  I don't usually want things to get as bad as they do, but God still pulls it out at the last minute.

It's not over 'til it's really over. And sometimes, even if it's over, there's another way out. Even when the sea monster has some scary teeth.




* Fred Hammond's album "Free to Worship" pulled me through my divorce. If you're a Christian or Christian-curious going through a divorce I highly, highly recommed the whole album for some perspective and grace. It was the only thing I could listen to some days, and a year later I found out that it was the album Hammond was working on while he went through a divorce himself.

Let’s talk Halloween

Things in the top of my mind right now:

1. The VP debate in the US tonight. This could be awesome or torturous or both.

2. The Alzheimer's storyline on "Days of Our Lives" right now with Caroline is breaking my heart.

3. I wrote a sponsored post about my grandfather for Werther's Originals, and now I can't stop eating Werther's Originals today.

4. I got a bunch of questions on the exact same topic, and I can't think of a good answer, so I'm stuck on that post. I hope it works itself out so I can put it up tomorrow.

5. Child #1's sprained ankle/foot is much better, but he's in that stage in which it's equally fatiguing to use the crutch or to not use the crutch.

Let's discuss:

Halloween costumes and rules for candy. Specifically these issues, but any others you'd like to bring up:

  • How old is too old to go trick-or-treating?
  • Does it make it ok if "too-old" kids are wearing actual costumes?
  • How do you decide what candy to give out? (Do you even give out candy?)
  • When do you buy your candy?
  • Do you have rules for how much/when your kids can eat candy?
  • Who chooses your kids' costumes?
  • What's the tradeoff between making and buying costumes?
  • Can your kids wear costumes to school, and is that good or bad?


I'll start: I'm feeling like my older one's in an in-between stage, and it's fine for him to trick-or-treat but he has to wear a real costume so people giving out candy don't resent him. I buy whatever hits my fancy when I'm at the candy display, and have learned my lesson on buying ahead so I'll buy on Halloween day. My rules are that once a kid eats a real meal the child can eat as much candy as they want to right then. And I only make if there isn't an easy one to buy out there. (Who remembers when I had to buy a new sewing machine to make a Kermit costume with no pattern for my younger one last year and I couldn't find affordable green long johns anywhere? And the headpiece came out so wrong I couldn't even find an entry point to start to fix it? I was tempted to make a rule that people could only be Power Rangers from now on…)

Now you. Halloween, go!


Sprains vs. breaks

Todays' topic (brought to you by my older son at recess two days ago):

1. Sprain vs. break

2. How growth plates in children make it difficult to read x-rays so you're very lucky if you live in a place with an awesome children's hospital

3. Ibuprofen for a sprain but acetaminophen for a break (medical research = fascinating)

4. Is it easier to get around your elementary school using one crutch or two?


(Diagnosis: Sprain. But if it doesn't feel better in two days they're re-x-raying.)


All comments on children's injuries and the process of dealing with them solicited.

Q&A: How do you tell a friend with fertility issues that you’re pregnant?

Sweet Stephanie writes:

"Here's the situation – I'm in my early thirties and we're expecting
our second baby in about 5 months.  Several close friends are
struggling with fertility issues of various sorts and I'm not sure how
to talk about my pregnancy.  I've been avoiding it as I'm not showing
much yet, but that will change soon.

With baby #1, these friends either weren't trying yet or were
highly optimistic and just starting treatment.  This time around (and 2
years into the process for some of them), if feels like our news
will just compound the frustration they're already dealing with. 
Obviously there are a million other pregnant women that these friends
encounter in other aspects of their daily lives, but I would imagine
it's harder with a good friend.  I almost feel disloyal because of this
pregnancy - a feeling that I never would have expected. I don't want to
insult them by conveying that I think they're too fragile to handle the
news, but I also don't want to come across as willfully ignorant of what
they're going through.  Do your readers have any advice on how to
handle this in a compassionate way?"

This is a great question. I had no idea how to tell my friends who were struggling with fertility difficulties when I was pregnant with my second, either. And you hit on the problems–you don't want to make them feel even more left behind, but you also don't want to hurt them even more by assuming they can't share your joy.

It's just an unfair situation.

Who's got ideas? Readers who experienced or are experiencing infertility? What would make it easier for you to hear about a friend's pregnancy?