Category Archives: Parenting

“On Bicycles” by Amy Walker

Check out Bellingham Village Books reading of Amy Walker’s On Bicycles: 50 Ways the New Bike Culture Can Change Your Life. I can’t attend so please let me know if you do, I’d love a report.

Bicycling has changed my life. When I was a kid, my bike rides were my solace, taking me “far” from home, connecting me with friends over the summer, building my confidence as a solo explorer of my own township. In college my bicycle was transportation and saved me hundreds of dollars per year on parking passes. In my 30’s, my bicycle was gave me the motivation to start a non-profit car share, to enable others to give up a car and take the bus and bike instead. When my twins were born, riding my bicycle with them in the trailer or on tag-alongs made me feel like a warrior, capable and strong. Now, my bicycle is rehab from knee surgery and part of the exercise I can just squeeze into my busy writer-mom life. I’m still dreaming of overnight bike camping trips with my family, and perhaps someday even more ambitious trips like those taken by my gal pal Laural Ringler and her family, from Bellingham to Mexico and in European cities, as she shares  on her Family Adventuring blog and in regular features in Adventures NW.

Bicycles have influenced my life more than any car ever could and I’ve loved each of them like a friend. If bicycles haven’t yet changed your life for the better, consider giving them a test ride. They’re so much more than transportation and exercise.

Dr. Seuss Must Be Rolling

I don’t usually watch TV commercials. I have a DVR and generally fast forward through them. I LOVE movies and I respect the artistry involved in film making, including an especially creative commercial, but I also think of most commercials as subliminal messages that whisper, “You’re not good enough unless you own this (look like this, etc.).”

Last night, when the kids made me stop fast forwarding so they could watch an ad for the new movie, The Lorax, but instead we discovered a car commercial, I was sure that Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) must be rolling over in his urn.

There he was, the modern cartoon Lorax, romping through a car commercial in an untouched Truffula forest, without a hint of irony. While searching for a clip of the commercial I discovered that several people had beaten me to my rant, including this article, Is the Lorax Really Just Hawking Big SUV’s? at The National Post.

The Lorax has been one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books since I was a budding environmental scientist, collecting frogs at the age of six from the corn field ditch in my back yard. For those of you that are not familiar, Seuss’ classic clearly refers to a bad guy, the Once-ler, in search of fortune, who cuts down every last Truffula tree in the forest to be made into a variety of unneccessary consumer goods, converting the land from fairytale to wasteland, forcing several dependent species to relocate or die. The Lorax has been accused over the years of being “anti-capitalist” and “blatant indoctrination of children,” and perhaps rightly so. But would Dr. Seuss approve of the Lorax appearing in a car commercial, even if that commercial mentions fuel economy?

We can’t ask him, but if you read The Lorax yourself, I think you’ll agree that this beloved author would be very disappointed. Why couldn’t the Lorax appear in commercials for taking the bus or riding bicycles, for energy conservation, or alternative energy like solar or wind power? The answer is $$. None of these environmental ventures spend (or can afford) that kind of bank on marketing the way car companies do, so the environmental movement is destined to be helmed by certainly less recognizable and dynamic cartoon characters.

A part of me is really torn on this issue. My grandfathers and my sister worked for car companies in Michigan before the jobs moved to Mexico and other countries. But if I’d written a book with as much staying power and clear message as The Lorax, leaving it behind among my greatest works for the world to appreciate some twenty years after my death, only to have its core message and ideals polluted (pun intentional) for financial gain, I think my ghost would haunt these folks who truly missed my point with Paranormal Activity proportions.

I will definitely watch the newest remake of The Lorax with my kids, at home on DVD, where we can fast forward through the commercials (for things other than movies that now grace even DVDs), and pause to discuss the global significance of Seuss’ story. Is it brainwashing? You betcha. Just like learning about Dr. Martin Luther King’s message. If we don’t learn from our past mistakes and make better choices in the future, we won’t have any natural resources left to fight over.

But please, don’t take my word for it. Reread The Lorax and decide for yourself.

Further reading:

NPR blog post The Lorax Speaks for the SUV’s

The Washington Post The Lorax Helps Market Mazda SUVs to Elementary School Children Nationwide

Letting Go

Check out my post over at Easy to Love But Hard to Raise today. I write about learning to let go of the dreams of “normal” and the grief that comes with lost dreams.

Gratitude

My family and I just returned from a trip to San Diego, which included a stop at Legoland (also known as 8-year-old boy heaven), the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, and the lovely beaches of Carlsbad, CA. We got some exercise, synthesized some Vitamin D, and spent a lot of time in the hotel hot tub.

Trips like this remind me to be thankful. Thankful that we have jobs and our health so that we’re able to go on these trips, thankful for my giving, loving hubby and precocious kidlets, thankful for the comfy home I get to come home to. My son Tristan tugged on my sleeve in the airport on the way home saying, “Mom, I love you because you take me to Legoland and Birch Bay Water Slides, but I love my own bed too.”

While in Carlsbad, I also coerced my hubby to take a surfing lesson (Learn to Surf with Heather Pine) so I could experience it vicariously. He sliced it up, despite his numb toes and the 55 degree (F) air temperature. All he could say was, “Wow, that was more of a workout than I expected.”

I started a daily gratitude journal, and will soon help the boys start their own to remind us of all that we have. I also began reading When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron, who had these wise and very relevant words that felt just for me:

“Complete discipline means that at every opportunity, we’re willing to come back, just gently come back to the present moment….We’re willing to sit still, just be there, alone.”

When we were in San Diego I kept trying to pull myself into the present moment, not where we were headed next, not judging what we’d just finished, but where we were right there where we stood. Each time I came into the present moment, I found gratitude. I discovered a thankfulness for all the blessings in my life.

Now all I need to do is practice that some more right here at home. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

“Easy to Love…” Book Giveaway!

Have you been excited to read the anthology of parent essays I keep blogging about, Easy to Love But Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories, but you haven’t gotten around to buying it? Now’s your chance to win a free copy!

Co-editor Kay Marner is offering three free copies on her blog over at ADDitude Magazine, a publication for families touched by Attention Deficit (ADD) and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD).

Kay writes about a fictional Everyparent, Eve, who struggles to manage her child who suffers from ADHD. To enter to win a copy of Easy to Love… you only need to comment on her blog with which parts of Eve you most identify.

From her blog:

“Are You Eve? In other words, is your personal experience reflected in this fictional portrayal? What do you identify with, and what doesn’t match your own parenting experience? (Grandparents, teachers, and others are welcome to answer by relating their own perspectives.)

Contest Rules: Answer the above questions in a comment below by 5:00 pm EST on Friday, March 2, 2012 for a chance to win one of three free copies of Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories ($18.95 retail value).”

Don’t let me confuse you into posting your answer here on my blog, but be sure to go to Kay’s and post there. And hey, even if you don’t win a free copy, maybe you’ll find a little catharsis?

Religion and Assisted Reproduction

Although faith wasn’t a consideration for me when I chose to become an egg donor, nor when we chose to use a sperm donor, for some religion can be a major force when contemplating fertility options.

Check out Ellen Painter Dollar’s piece in yesterday’s Huffington Post offering tips to people of faith when they’re considering infertility and assisted reproduction.

Dollar expands on her discussion of tip #2, moral questions, in her blog post, and further in her new book No Easy Choice: A Story of Disability, Parenthood, and Faith in an Age of Advanced Reproduction.

Like many aspects of our lives, the decision on how we become parents can be complex and nuanced, where right and wrong are moving targets that depend on where you’re standing. Dollar is stimulating the discussion and brave to tackle it head on.

Photo courtesy of www.yourspiritualfaith.com.

Bicycling for Social Change

I haven’t spoken much about my love of bicycling here since I injured my knee last year, but today, thanks to bloggers Cathy Belben and Laural Ringler, I got to see this short documentary about How the Dutch Got Their Bike Paths. One might think they’ve always been there, as a part of their culture, but as this doc mentions, the lanes were fought for by the country’s citizens on behalf of their children’s safety.


I love to cycle, and vastly prefer it over car travel, but I don’t do it as often as I’d like because many of the places I need to go in my moderate-sized progressive town do not offer a safe route for me when my children are in tow.

I think we’re heading in the right direction with alternative transportation, however slowly. So even when that thoughtless cyclist cuts you off in traffic, crosses three lanes without signaling, or makes you late for your appointment, remember to support cyclists for what they do for our community. They conserve oil and protect our air quality, they improve the physical health of our community and decrease traffic, and they are safer for our children than vehicles. Lobby for safe biking. There are many ways to get there and cars are only one. Let’s think bigger, together.

More Online Support of Sensory Processing Disorder

Check out my most recent blog post over at Easy to Love But Hard to Raise about new Facebook pages dedicated to supporting individuals and families dealing with Sensory Processing Disorder.

The editors of Easy to Love… have also announced a call for submissions for their next book, Easy to Love But Hard to Teach. Do you have something to share?

Easy to Love…Transitions?

My blog post today over at Easy to Love But Hard to Raise is about a new resource I found that will hopefully help ease our transition next year into a different program at the boy’s school. Check it out and wish us luck!

“Easy to Love…” is Finally Here!

I’m so proud to announce the official release of the anthology that my essay, Finding My Way, appears in, Easy to Love But Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories, edited by Kay Marner and Adrienne Ehlert Bashista of DRT Press, and now available in paperback and Kindle. I’m proud to be part of a collection of essays by so many dedicated and wonderful parents who go the extra mile for their children, as well as a few world renowned parenting experts.

I hope to do a reading at Village Books in April and will post that info here first. As always, I also continue to post at the blog, Easy to Love, that accompanies the book, which is meant to support parents of children who need more. Thank you to all my friends, family, and supporters!