Category Archives: I love the internet

Q&A: babies seeing ghosts?

And now for something *completely* different. Brenda writes:

"I have a question that used to bother me but not that muchanymore. (At least not for now until my younger kid gets a little

My question is: Do you believe that babies and toddlers can see
entities of another realm (as in spirits, ghosts etc.) that we can't?

My son is now 3 years old. He used to look at, point to and make
"eh eh" sounds at two particular corners of our bedroom. I have never
seen anything there that may interest him – no interesting patterns or
intriguing colours. Now he no longer does that but would sometimes walk
over to those two areas to take a look and briskly walk away. (I'm
getting goosebumps as I type this.) I know there's a school of thought
that says that some kids have the ability to see things that we adults
can't, and as they get older and start expressing themselves, they lose
that ability. This is how the "other realm" keeps itself separate from
ours. I have horrific thoughts sometimes and keep picturing scenes from
the trailers of the movie "The Messengers". I'm now just hoping my
7-month-old doesn't start doing the same thing as well.

Do you or your readers have any thoughts that you would like to
share on this? I know this is a rather sensitive and disturbing topic,
but I'm curious about other parents' experiences and what they have
done about it."

<Insert your own "I see dead people" joke here.>

You know, I don't think it matters if *I* believe they see anything.

So much truly strange, unexplainable stuff has happened to me in the last several years that I don't discount anything. But at the same time I completely understand how other people don't think strange stuff can happen. It's all your own personal experience. In my experience.

Is there a way for you to switch rooms in your living space so your kids don't have to be in that room as much? That might make you feel better about things.

Anyone want to debate whether or not kids can see stuff like that? Or talk about personal experiences with it?

Changing tone

To Suki and anon and anyone else who hasn't commented but feels a changing tone:

I'm sorry you feel sad and/or marginalized.

I've felt the same changing tone, too. In the beginning, I think people were just so happy to be at a site where they weren't being kicked in the gut for making little decisions that seemed huge at the time but are so minimal (the angst over pacifiers, for instance) that everyone was so nice to each other.

But over the past few years, I think Ask Moxie has gotten a reputation for being a place where anything goes. And, to some degree it is, in that I really do think people are trying to do the best thing for their own kids and it seems all the commenters do, too.

So when I step in, and make what sound like mean posts, or like everyone has to agree with what I say, I do it on two very specific occasions:

1) Advocating spanking and physical abuse as a valid disciplinary method. I do believe it's wrong, and my stance on that is not going to change. I do not look down on any person who spanks. But spanking itself as a valid choice I do not agree with, and I'd hope that people who use spanking specifically could look at other methods. This is never going to be a site that OKs violence against kids.

2) Comments that denigrate other people. And that's what the comment that started this yesterday did. The commenter basically said that moms who fed formula had no right to complain because they should have breastfed. A few months ago there was another comment that came out blazing against a huge segment of the moms who read this blog, and I responded the same way.

The very reason I started this site was so that people wouldn't be denigrated for making the decisions they do. And yet when I patrol the comments it's too mean.

I see a huge difference between being a safe space to confess weaknesses or talk through a process, and being a safe place to judge other people. Remember that this site gets around 40,000 hits a week. That's a lot of people coming to read and comment. Maybe it's just suffering the same fate as the rest of the internet–more posts = judgment.

I really wish we could get back to the days when no one dared to sayanything mean about someone else. They expressed opinions, but not in
an inflammatory or offensive way.

What's the solution? Should I just let commenters duke it out among themselves? Would that make things feel comfortable like they used to? I'm not sure it would. I feel like I need to step in when someone says something hurtful, or else I'm complicit in the hurt.



It's Thanksgiving today in the US, so I thought we could all share things we're thankful for. I'll start:

  • I'm extremely thankful that I have my health and my two sons.
  • I'm thankful that the worst of the divorce is over, and now we're just waiting for the final decree from the court system.
  • I'm thankful that I live in a time and place in which I could get a divorce, and not be walking through life merely surviving as so many women have (had) to.
  • I'm thankful that I'm safe, and will be able to pay my rent and food next month, and have some left over to buy coffee and popcorn.
  • I'm thankful for all of you! And I wish you all enough sleep and enough money to pay your rent/mortgages, and safety, physically and emotionally.
  • I'm thankful that as you read this I'm probably eating a cupcake with my brother and his amazing fiancee who I can't wait to be sisters with.
  • I'm thankful that my mom and dad (and two grandmothers!) are alive and mostly healthy and are getting to know my sons.
  • I'm thankful that we're all still here. This year has been a doozy, both personally and on a world scale.

Now you.

Service Projects for December 2008: Operation Holiday Card and Earth Birth

(Scroll down for today's Q&A.)

It seemed like a daunting task to pick service projects for us to do, until I read what hedra said–we get a holiday season every year. So I'm just picking two for this year, and will pick different ones next year.

If you do not want to participate in either of these projects, please don't feel bad. Just pick something else to support. These are the two projects that struck my fancy this year.

Operation Holiday Card
Operation Holiday Card collects holiday cards to send to American servicepeople at military bases in the Middle East. The cards can be purchased or homemade (please no glitter!) and you should write on the back if the card is for Christmas, Hanukkah, or a general Seasons Greetings card. Since you send the cards to the collection point in the US and the cards are all forwarded together in bunches, people from all over the world can send cards if they'd like to.

Cards must be received by December 3! So this is a project for today or tomorrow, to be in the mail by Wednesday. Send cards to:

Operation Holiday Card
226 Albany Ave
Shreveport, LA 71105

For more information on the project, go to the website.

Earth Birth
From the description on their Facebook group:
"Earth Birth Global Women's Health Collective is a project run by midwives and health care professionals to help mothers in war and trauma affected areas give birth safely and peacefully.

Our pilot program is based in Gulu, Uganda. We are setting up small on site birthing centers in Internally Displaced Person's camps where women can come for comprehensive services, counseling, education and care. We have linked with community organizations and hospitals in these areas to help "child mothers" gain access to jobs, school and childcare so that they can mother with every possible opportunity. Our goals include community sustainability, lowered maternal and infant mortality rates, lowered HIV/AIDS transmission rates from mother to child, access to supplies and local medicine, access to trauma therapy and counseling, the experience of a 'positive' birth to facilitate empowerment and mother/child bonding and the ability to articulate one's story.

The war in Northern Uganda has largely been reproductive. Women have been raped as tools of war and are now giving birth to babies which have historically been abducted as soldiers for the war. Often these women have a hard time bonding with or knowing how to care for their children with limited resources and trauma counseling. The ability to articulate one's story is an integral theme of the Earth Birth project. Women have always told stories as a form of information transmission and ownership of events. To have safe spaces for the sharing of taboo and traumatic events allows for understanding and processing of events in context, ownership of experience and networking among women- all of which are integral to a healthy women's movement and improved practice of motherhood. Our spaces function as a community centers for story circles, workshops in active listening and sharing.

Traditional birth attendants live throughout the IDP camps, most of them victims of war and mothers themselves.The TBA's are currently unemployed and do not have formal training. Our international group of midwives work with the TBAs to develop practices that are community centered, culturally competent and sustainable. These women are the cornerstone of the birthing center sites. The TBA's are offered professional development, training, counseling and jobs."

Earth Birth needs donations of money, and ridiculously small amounts make a huge difference: $10 buys a box of gloves, $50 funds the training of a Traditional Birth Attendant, $300 buys a midwife pack of supplies, and $3500 can supply an entire site.

Reading all this just made me start sobbing. Imagining being raped, and then having no help giving birth, no hope for my future, for the baby, for anything. And then thinking about how elemental and simple and yet deep birth assistance is, and how I can help give these women as good a birth as possible under the circumstances.

Please give, any amount you can:

The project is also looking for donations of maternity clothes and baby supplies, but they need to be shipped to Uganda. It's super-expensive for those of us in the US and canada to ship to Uganda, so we should donate to local groups. But if you live near Uganda and have items to donate, send them to:

Earth Birth
C/O St. Monica's Girls Centre
P.O Box 669

Gulu, Uganda

The clothing line LOVEMORE (organic onesies and baby clothes) is also donating 15% of all profits to Earth Birth.

I just donated to Earth Birth, and will be getting cards tomorrow to have my kids sign with me and send to Operation Holiday Card.

Reader call: Music for kids

Clare writes:

I'm hoping you can throw this out to the peanut gallery.  My one yearold loves to dance, and he got an iTunes gift card for his birthday.
 I'd love suggestions of good songs/albums/artists to download.  My
only criteria for kids' music is that I have to be able to listen to it
without the kids around (ie, not really kiddie-music a la Barney or
even Raffi, but music that appeals to kids).  So, right now, I've got
lots of folk (we love Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie), bluegrass, Zydeco
(for parents of the train-obsessed, Buckwheat Zydeco's Choo Choo
Bugaloo is fantastic), Irish/Scottish traditional.  I love the Putumayo
albums, but they don't appear to be available on iTunes.  Any and all
suggestions welcome.  Thanks!

Ideas? My kids are currently into AC/DC and Heart (from the 70s and 80s), but they're also 6 and 3 instead of 1.

We also listen to lots of Earth, Wind, and Fire, ABBA, Aaron Shust, and anything with either a beat or lots of guitar. Sometimes we just watch Jack's Big Music Show if we're looking for something new and silly.

What do you guys recommend?

Also, iTunes gift card as a present for a one-year-old: Excellent.

They say it’s my birthday

Happy Birthday to me! (And to Johnny Cash.)

Would you like to give me a present? Please post a link (the comments should do it automatically if you just cut and paste from the browser URL window) to something funny.

Thanks for sharing my birthday. Here’s my present to you:

Please note the hair, glasses, and beard, as well as the dancing, especially at 1:14.

Anyone up for a challenge?

Full disclosure: I’m typing this while licking peanut butter off the back of a spoon.

hope my post on the artificial sweeteners didn’t make anyone feel
judged. That certainly wasn’t my intention. It was more of a "first we
couldn’t drink regular soda because of the HFCS; now we can’t drink
diet; soon they won’t even let us drink water" grouse.

Did any of you guys see this article in The Onion this week (for those
of you not in the US, The Onion is a fake weekly newspaper): Study: Use
of Phrase ‘Don’t Skimp On The’ Linked to Heart Disease
Read it first, then read the rest of this post.

you read the whole Times article, the author of one of the studies did
bring up the idea that the study showed correlation, not causation.
(Which is why I didn’t specifically mention it–it was in the article).

But for me, at least, correlation or causation doesn’t make a difference in what I’m going to do with the information that there’s some kind of link, in terms of my own behavior.

I thought Catherine’s comment was brilliant. If artificial sweeteners cause metabolic changes, then obviously we should stop using them. But Catherine’s comment points out that it could just be a correlation, but that that still points to a problem, just a different one.

From a public health standpoint, I hope that it turns out that there isn’t a causal link, because it would mean that we’ve been effectively poisoning ourselves willingly for 20 years. But I actually think that a behavioral link (as Catherine put it) is more interesting to me, and I’m guessing to you.

Have you ever gone on a low-sugar or low-carb diet? You feel like
you are literally going to die of the cravings for the first week. And
sweet is such a cultural force. Witness the comments to my Valentine’s
Day rant, when people were outraged that I didn’t want my son to have
candy. (Which, again, I’m fine with candy, just not every week in
school. I’m all for Halloween and Easter as candy ground zeros, but
I resist candy just for the sake of candy, or as a boredom reliever.) It’s almost as if we’re
supposed to have something sweet and comforting in our mouths to help
us manage the stresses of daily life. And artificial sweet is so meaningless and disposable, so it doesn’t matter. Which is cool on one hand, but alienating on the other.

Did you guys read the Little House books? I’m thinking about the
scene in one of the middle books–Plum Creek, maybe–in which Ma gets
hold of some white sugar and makes some white cakes for Laura’s
birthday. And how special they were. I wonder what it would be like to
live without having sweet tastes at our disposal so easily.

So I was thinking about how useless all these musings were, and how they aren’t helping anyone, and then realized that we could actually all be helping each other. I believe, without a doubt, that the reason so many of us are so stressed and tired and stretched out and unhappy with ourselves is that we’re eating the typical Western diets and living the post-post-modern lifestyle.

So I’m going to propose a challenge. 60 days, starting next Wednesday, Feb 27 (so we have time to figure out what we’re going to do and to have a last hurrah) and running until April 26. Do three things to improve your health, whether that means giving something up (ahem, diet soda) or doing something new (ahem, T-Tapp Basic Workout Plus) and stick with it as well as you can during those 60 days.

Everyone who "finishes" will get some sort of prize, which I haven’t determined yet, and which will undoubtedly have no actual value. "Finishing" will mean that you’re still doing it on April 26 and haven’t given up, even if you slip up a bunch of times during those 60 days. Consistency, not perfection.

Here are some suggestions of things you could do to improve your health:

Switch out your coffee for green tea.
Stop drinking diet soda (or Crystal Light) and drink water instead.
Actually start drinking 64+ ounces of water a day.
Take Omega 3s every day.
Cut out refined sugar.
Switch from refined carbs to whole grains.
Start reading all labels and not using anything with high-fructose corn syrup.
Exercise for 15-25 minutes a day.
Start running (the 60-day Challenge will end just about the time all the summer 5Ks start). (Read’s DoctorMama’s post on how to start here.)
Take up T-Tapp (read Summer’s post on how to start here.)
Eat 5+ servings of vegetables every day.
Take the stairs every time.
Walk/bike to work.
Go to bed at a decent time.

Please suggest more in the comments. Next Wednesday on the official start, we can all post what our three things are going to be. (I know what mine will be already: Switch out my delicious, delicious coffee for green tea, eat 5+ servings of vegetables a day, and go to bed at 10 pm every night.)

Is anyone else interested in the challenge? Or is it going to be me doing it alone?

Vote here/ Vote aquĆ­

Let’s talk politics (we’ve already talked sex and religion).

If you’re an American living in one of the Super-Duper Tuesday states and registered as a donkey or elephant, please vote in the primary!

The boys and I went to vote this morning before school. At 7:45 I was the 46th person to vote for my party in my district (precinct? whatever the small partial neighborhood areas in NYC are called). My older one always helps me vote by pulling the lever at the beginning, helping me find the people so I can flick the little mini-levers for the people I’m voting for, and then pulling the lever to register the vote.

How do you guys get your kids involved in the political process? How do you vote where you live?

Here in the US, each state has different physical methods of voting. New York State still has the really old-school machines with the levers*. Other states have different methods, from electronic machines to paper ballots.

I’d explain our primary process, but I’m not exactly sure I understand it myself. (I thought I did, but was then trying to explain it to an Australian client last week and realized I had no idea how the primaries actually choose the candidates for each party. I don’t know how the delegates actually fit in. I fear I was supposed to learn this in a year in which I was more concerned with my stretch acid-wash denim miniskirt and silver flats.) If there’s someone who can give a concise explanation of the relationship between delegates, primaries, and states, I’d appreciate it.

Let’s talk about how we get our kids interested in the process and how we stay interested ourselves. Feel free to ask questions about other countries’ political processes, and we’ll try not to be offended and will answer to the best of our abilities.

* My friend’s husband used to get paid by a certain political party in a certain northeastern city to jimmy open the back of the machines and change the vote count with a screwdriver when he was 11. Ah, the wheels of democracy.


I’m sorry I’m not doing all the standard potty training and sleep questions this week. I think George’s death, some of my kids’ recent accomplishments, and my impending birthday are making me think a lot about who I am, where I am in my life, and where I’m going.

I’m turning 35 at the end of the month, and feel like in a lot of ways I’m starting a completely new phase. When I think about how much more I know about myself, my place in the world, and my potential than I did even two years ago, I’m astounded.

So I’m setting some goals and some wishes for myself for the next year:

* I took a Brazilian Portuguese class last summer, and got the basics, but need to start ramping up. I’m going to make an effort to spend at least a hour a week on Portuguese.

* I’ve just started taking a martial arts class (for the first time in my life) and am feeling completely out of my depth. I will remember that that feeling means growth is about to happen, and will press through.

* Streamline my Ask Moxie process so I can do some of the extra projects I want to do for you guys, actually answer all the emails I get (which I’m nowhere near right now), and maintain a more consistent posting schedule.

* Onward and upward with managing the process for getting everyone ready and out the door every morning.

* Spiritual development: Stop and listen, and move when asked to.

This list is personal, and I haven’t talked about relationships with anyone else or my work life or any of that on purpose, because I think so much energy goes into those things that the personal side often gets shorted. Maybe part of my aging process is realizing that I’m worth my own time and energy, too.

Does anyone else want to play along?

Wonder Weeks link

M sent me this link to really brief descriptions of what’s happening during the Wonder Weeks. Thank you! Bookmark it, everyone. It doesn’t tell you what to do, but it does tell you what they’re learning at which leap. I am planning on putting up something Wonder Weeks-related that’s more community-based, but it won’t happen for another few weeks. I hope this can tide you over for awhile.