Monday, January 24, 2005

Judah is sick. He's been running a fever of around 101.5 since Saturday. It dropped to 98.9 this morning, only to spike at 102.5 this afternoon. I work at home on Mondays & Wednesdays, and today had two very big deadlines to meet -- both have been put on hold as I got nothing done at all. I kept him home from daycare so he could relax a bit. He was extra-cuddly this morning, but by midday was a ball of energy and hasn't stopped moving since, despite fever and a deepening croupy cough.

Things that made parenting tough today:
  • Judah wouldn't eat or drink
  • He tossed his blocks, Weebles and coloring book pages all over the house. I would clean them up only to have him right behind me scattering everything out again
  • I walked out of the room for a few minutes only to come back to see he had colored on the walls with blue and yellow crayon
  • He stood up on the ottoman and nearly fell off it seconds later
  • He's been loose in the caboose for two days, so the minute I change a diaper, it's time to do it again
  • Micheal worked all day and has school until 10pm tonight

Judah started saying new words this weekend. "Jay Jay" (Jay Jay the Jet Plane), "Christy" (pronounces it "Shis-tee"), "No Judah", "Bob" (Bob the Builder) and "Fish". I've also been quizzing him on his sign language comprehension by having conversations with him where I am signing but not speaking the word. I signed "apple" and he said, "apple". Same for "ice cream."

Friday, January 21, 2005


And so it begins. Judah has been saying "no" for a couple months, but now it is being used constantly, and not always appropriately. He'll say "no" for any reason, such as the following:

  • I have five minutes to get to work in another city and I still have to get him dressed
  • It's time to eat vegetables (he also hands them back to us and says, "Thank You!")
  • His nose needs to be blown
  • We have to stop at a red light
  • We are all just sitting there, doing absolutely nothing and he just yells, "NO!!!!!"

Power struggles in toddlerhood revolve around food, clothing and toilet/diapering. You gotta grab whatever power you can get when everyone else is three feet taller than you are.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

This past Tuesday night, Micheal, Judah & I went to a lecture given by Craig and Marc Kielburger who founded Free the Children, which is according to their web site, " international network of children helping children at a local, national and international level through representation, leadership and action. It was founded by Craig Kielburger in 1995, when he was 12 years old. The primary goal of the organization is not only to free children from poverty and exploitation, but to also free children and young people from the idea that they are powerless to bring about positive social change and to improve the lives of their peers." I had seen Craig speak in London last year at an educational summit where other speakers were Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah, Sir Ken Robinson, Mary Robinson (former President of Ireland) and Taddy Blecher.

Craig and Marc, at such a young age, (Craig is 22!), have already been nominated for three Nobel Peace Prizes, have met and worked with the likes of Nelson Mandela and the Mother Teresa and now their foundation has been named as part of Oprah Winfrey's Angel Network and they are currently leading efforts in SE Asia for tsunami relief.

Monday, January 17, 2005

I teach three year olds on Sundays at church. Yesterday, our class topic was "I Can Taste". As Unitarian Universalists, we celebrate diversity and by exploring the differences and similarities in each person, the children learn to appreciate and respect all walks of life.

Usually, we begin our class by walking to the children's chapel (the adults are in the main sanctuary). There, the children - ages 3 to sixth grade - join for 15 minutes each Sunday to speak the affirmation of the church, hear a story and sing a song before returning to their classrooms for their religious education "RE".

Our Director of RE, Karen, who is about the same age as my parents, told the children a story about how, when she was a little girl, people called those with dark skin "Negroes", "Colored People" or sometimes very bad names. She asked the children if any of them had ever gone to the State Fair and after riding the rides and having food and drink felt they needed to go potty? She went on to ask, "Have you ever had to stand in a long line to go potty?" and "Can you imagine if the bathrooms were really far away, on the other side of the fairgrounds and you had to walk a long way to get there?" Many children nodded in agreement. She then held up two metal signs: "Colored Men" and "Colored Women" and explained that when she was little, people with dark skin had to use a different bathroom than white people. She told a story of how negroes cleaned her house and mowed her lawn, and though she thought they were very nice, she didn't really know them. She also didn't know of inequality as this was just the way things were back then.

She then told the children of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the many things he did to promote civil rights. She explained how it was such a frightening time for everyone and that some who were afraid of the many changes acted violently toward others and some people died. One day, her mother told her that they were going to march in the streets in support of civil rights. It was to be a peaceful and silent march. She said she had never been in that particular neighborhood before and as they were walking, she would look up at her mom and ask questions such as, "Hey mommy, what's that building over there?", etc. Finally, after several questions, which as with all children, were getting louder and louder, a black man somewhere in the mass of people called out to her, "Little girl. You must be quiet." This, she said, was the first time a black man had ever told her what to do. She knew at such a tender age, that this was different and meant something. She did not say a word for the rest of the march.

At the end of this story, Karen made a request of the children. "I would like to try an experiment. Can each group walk back to your classrooms, but this time, walk in silence?" Then, she along with other adults in the room who were old enough to remember those turbulent times, began singing "We Shall Overcome".

We shall overcome, we shall overcome,
We shall overcome some day,
Oh deep in my heart
I do believe
That we shall overcome some day.

We will walk in hand, we will walk in hand,
We will walk in hand some day,
Oh deep in my heart
I do believe
That we shall overcome some day.

Lyrics derived from Charles Tindley's gospel song "I'll Overcome Some Day" (1900).

Of course, by this time, I was a total wreck and thanking God that I had worn waterproof mascara. We teachers led the children back, hand-in-hand to the classrooms in silence. Our silent march back to the classrooms was symbolic of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the many people who tried, through non-violent means to promote the most basic of human be treated equally and with dignity.

This was a very emotional session for me. Several years ago, I visited Selma, Alabama with an African American colleague to assist a young, (also African American) entrepreneur who had organized a business expo where local high school children came to learn about business and future job opportunities. His dream was to show these kids that there was more to life beyond high school and to inspire them to break through any glass ceilings their environment may have imposed on them. These kids are all too young to remember what it was like in Selma in the 1960s, but there is a museum and a bridge that stand very close to each other that is an eternal reminder of how brave many people - both black and white - could be when firmly convicted that civil (and as part of this movement, voting) rights was an absolute necessity.

I visited the museum. It is the National Voting Rights Museum and within its walls lie old black and white photographs that forever changed me as a person. The images captured the faces of oppressed black men, women and children as they marched peacefully in the streets. Images of them being injured on Bloody Sunday as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. And the ones that really chilled my of black men hanging by nooses in trees, while white people (even young women!) were smiling and picnicking close by. It was like something from a nightmare to me. Most disturbing was seeing a display of a Ku Klux Klan uniform. Though a piece of cloth, it spoke of so much hatred and I stared at it for a long time thinking of what kind of person would don such a thing, believing their views to be justified. Beyond the horrors of those images, though, were things that made me feel closer to the souls of those who fought with their lives for the right to vote...the plaster footprints of the marchers.

So, once our three year old children had silently marched back to class (okay, a couple of them broke the silence to tell me little factoids that three year olds inevitably have to share), we quite easily incorporated the lesson, "I Can Taste" into a conversation about diversity and how boring it would be if everyone only ate the same food over and over again. We discussed how exciting it can be to try new things and how different flavors are interesting and worth exploring. We sliced up four different types of apples and had the children taste each one. They then voted on which was their favorite, which underscored a principle of Unitarian Universalism that every person's opinion is valued even if it differs from their own. We made food collages on Dixie plates with pictures of food cut from magazines. Then, we made Gorp. Chocolate chips, marshmallows, popcorn, chex, you name it, it was in this big silver bowl of yumminness. The children had a blast making it and taking it home to their brothers and sisters and parents.

So, today I am thankful for Karen's story, which made me very reflective about what this "Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday" means (instead of just being a day away from the office) and how I can pass on the message to my son, that if people are brave and stand up for injustice, change can happen.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

We have been teaching Judah American Sign Language for many months now. It is really paying off!

Words Judah can say now at 21 months old. Any deviation from true pronounciation is in parenthesis. An asterisk "*" indicates he only signs the word and doesn't yet verbalize it. A "++" indicates he verbalizes and signs the word.
  1. Apple++
  2. Ball
  3. Banana (bah)++
  4. Bath (bah)++
  5. Bird (burr)++
  6. Bubble (this is what he calls a balloon)
  7. Bye and Bye-bye++
  8. Car (cah, "brrrrr" - as in engine noise)
  9. Cat (cah, mee - as in "meow")
  10. Cheese (sheez)
  11. Chicken (gok gok gok)++
  12. Cold (coe)++
  13. Cookie (koo-kee)++
  14. Cow (cow, moo, sometimes says 'baa')
  15. Cracker (ka-koo, crackoo)++
  16. Cup
  17. Daddy (dada)
  18. Dog (dah, woof)
  19. Duck (quack quack)
  20. Eat (eee)++
  21. E-I-E-I-O (E-O-E-O)
  22. Go (go-go)
  23. Hello (heh-woe, ah-waoh, "hi")++
  24. Here, take (ah-bah)
  25. Hey you!/Hi you!++
  26. Horse (hor)
  27. Hot++
  28. Ice Cream (ice keem)++
  29. Juice (joo)
  30. Kitty (kee)
  31. Man (mah)
  32. Me, Mine (mee)
  33. Milk (mih)
  34. Mommy (mommy, mama)
  35. My turn*
  36. No (no, no-mee)
  37. OK
  38. Sheep (baa)
  39. Sleepy, Sleep++
  40. Thank You (tan goo)++
  41. Thirsty++
  42. Turtle (tur)
  43. Tractor (tack-toe)
  44. Train (tayn, choo choo)++
  45. Uh oh!
  46. Water (ah-wah)++
  47. Wee!
  48. Yeah (yes, affirmative)
  49. Yay!
  50. Your turn*

I have been really procrastinating about picking up this blog again, but when my son looked up at me with his big blue eyes and started spewing complex phrases and a slightly out of order rendition of "ABC", I realized I had better get back to capturing these momentous occasions before I wake up one morning to find him packing for college.

2005...I made a few resolutions that I know I will keep.

#1 - to not have another year like 2004. Just around Thanksgiving, Micheal got a job after one year of unemployment. Though it was really nice having that time to raise Judah, it was a heavy blow to our finances, his esteem, our relationship. The experience certainly showed us that our marriage is impenetrable and though we may have had more than our fair share of stress-related disputes, we feel good knowing that we can tough it out and come through things that make most marriages crumble.

#2 - to recycle. We don't have a curb-side recycling program in our neighborhood, so if anything is to be done, it is entirely up to us. We are only recycling aluminium cans, but may branch out a bit as the year progresses. We've been very good so far and I am proud of us.

#3 - be a better friend. I have become a professional flake this past year. I didn't take time (because of my over-volunteerism) to write to family members and friends. Some, I lost touch with completely. I think about each of them constantly, but when I have opportunity to actually write them, I get on to other things. I also haven't seen as many of my friends who live nearby as much as I'd like.

#4 - stop interrupting, be quiet more often and LISTEN. This is a big one for me. I just never know when to shut up. It's a bad habit and I am working on it.

So, Happy New Year to everyone. I hope 2005 is a year full of blessings.