Oink, Oink

I remember the first time I rode in a car with my little brother, after he got his driver's license. It was at least a decade ago. He had this PETA sticker on the glove box. It had a little cartoon image of a lobster and it read, "Being Boiled Hurts! Lobster Liberation." I think I was giving vegetarianism a try at the time. At any rate, the sticker left its imprint on my memory. And while I do eat a variety of animals these days, lobster is not one of them.

It's funny, until you have tried vegetarianism (or married a vegan) you can't possibly know how judgmental and rude meat-eaters can be about not eating meat. And when you tell someone your child is vegetarian... There is no shortage of unsolicited advice and judgmental suggestions, like "Vegetarians are not healthy because they don't get enough protein" or "God created animals for humans to eat." You don't have to be as brilliant as my 5-year-old to contradict such idiotic statements.

So, Janie Kathryn was born to a carnivorous mother and a vegan father. We agreed to raise her vegetarian until she chose otherwise. I have to admit that I thought "otherwise" would be creeping up on us right about now. However, she seems independently steadfast in her decision not to eat meat. 

"Mommy, do you know that chicken on your plate is from a farm- It was alive and now it's dead?"
I get questions like this quite a bit. I nod and agree and she is satisfied. I'm strangely proud of it, I think. I see her struggle with her conviction, but her decision to remain vegetarian always prevails. When she is invited to parties or play dates where meat is served, she sometimes tells me that she "ate chicken nuggets," but later confesses that she didn't even want to try it. 

Just yesterday, she asked me, "If a person cooks fish do they have to eat it? I mean,like if a vegetarian makes meat, they don't have to eat it just because they made it, right?" I knew exactly what evoked these thoughts- Experiments in the Kitchen Camp. I explained that most vegetarians do not cook meat and that she can choose not to cook or eat anything that bothers her at camp! So, by choice, her blankets were pig-less. We made up for it later, when we prepared her camp recipe with Smart dogs instead of hot dogs.



Camp Miki

So, Janie Kathryn and I had some friends tagging along on our summer adventures this past week. If asked in advance how I felt about being responsible for three kids, I would have said, "No problem, I'm happy to help." Meanwhile, the voice inside my head would be screaming, "ARE YOU CRAZY!?"

Surprisingly, our back to back play dates went off without a hitch. Yes, there were a few of the usual tattles and an occasional frustrated shove (among the children, of course). However, we spent nearly a collective week together without incident. There was swimming and bowling and playing and picnicking. It was a veritable Camp Miki, at the very least rejuvenating my dedication to a fun and educational summer. 

When things went back to normal and, once again, it was just me and my not-so lonely only, we had a renewed energy for summer vacation.

We enjoyed crafting a gift for Father's Day and preparing a delicious breakfast of French Toast with Gingered Applesauce for Daddy. We spent time with dear friends, picking blueberries at The Nesbit Blueberry Plantation (breakfasts for the coming week will include blueberry muffins and pancakes, for sure!).

We even brushed off the dust on the ol' library card and joined Summer Reading Club. I mean, how can you go wrong with rewards for reading? 

Ah, a renewed energy for the summer- an important component, when there are still SEVEN weeks of summer vacation remaining. Perhaps, I should further explore this "Camp Miki" idea. Maybe the challenge of summer fun for a small group is just what I need to prepare myself for a career in teaching. Of course, I may need to revisit the whole minivan issue again, if I'm going to be busing a half dozen half-pints from one spectacular place to another. 

Now enrolling, Camp Miki: Session II


Hello, My Name is Miki and I Have an Irrational Fear of Visiting the Dentist

The honeymoon phase of Summer Break officially ended. When did it end, you might ask- It ended on Week 3, Day 1, in the dentist chair of Dr. Pat Clark. 
I have an irrational fear of dentists. To make matters worse, my adoring husband convinced me that, since I was only going in for a consultation for sedation dentistry (yes, that's right- sedation), it would be okay if I took Janie Kathryn to her semiannual appointment. While I was being counseled on the meaning of conscious sedation, Janie Kathryn was having her teeth cleaned. That was all well and good until they persuaded me to do x-rays. 

Janie Kathryn finished first (because she is the picture-perfect patient) and got to watch my x-rays. There is nothing like dental anxiety, a mouth full of plastic, and a 5-year-old asking 20 questions. And then, when I thought my level of anxiety had peaked an appropriate level in the presence of my child, the dentist tried to use the pick to scrape my teeth (GASP).  When I contested with two uncontrollable tears, he relented and began calling out to the hygienist all the irregularities with my teeth. One, occlusion. Two, cavity. Three, occlusion... Nine, crown...

Meanwhile, Janie Kathryn is in my peripheral, with her picture-perfect patient attitude, chanting "Mommy has a cavity, Mommy has a cavity," in between questions like, "Mommy, why did you wipe your eyes with that tissue?"
It was my own little version of hell. 

I suppose it is good that this was the beginning of Week 3. It was all downhill from there. And I've had two additional children in my charge this week. Three kids...piece of cake compared to going to the dentist. In fact, I'm thinking about starting a summer camp.
To Be Continued...


Reward or Bribery?

Ahh, the second week of summer. Is the honeymoon over? Surprisingly, it’s not (yet).  

This past week included ballet recital portraits (photos forthcoming). We went to the movies to see Kung-Fu Panda II- Janie Kathryn has declared that she will become the Kung-Fu Master of the Skeen House by summer’s end. We took our maiden bike ride on the Greater Memphis Greenline (awesomeness). Janie Kathryn caught her very first firefly and was over the moon! We spent A LOT of time swimming (and reading) at the JCC and rounded out the week by shopping for a new bathing suit for me. Note: If you ever need an unsolicited, honest, straightforward opinion of what you look like in swimwear, look no further than my daughter. Five-year-old girls are very (very) direct. 

We’ve had a great time this week, even squeezing in work with math, sight words, and science. However, I have been pondering the parenting puzzle of reward v/s bribery, in regards to successful piano practice and lessons. Recently, I instituted a new house rule (effective the day school dismissed for summer). Janie Kathryn does not receive a reward if she asks for it. This new rule nullifies the age old question, "Mommy, if I am good at the grocery store, can I get a treat?" No, you cannot get a treat for something that I expect of you anyway!

I mean really, she is five, she has to learn at some point that the world is not going to reward her for being a well-adjusted human being. In fact,  Reality TV tells us opposite. This brings me back to the perplexing parenting of piano practice...

Janie Kathryn is very musically inclined (this comes from her piano teacher, not the bias of her parents). However, as of late, she is getting lazy about it. She doesn't want to focus at lessons and fights practice at home. So, I've resorted to rewards- rewards which she, of course, anticipates for doing something that is expected of her anyway. You can see the hitch. 

If this were ballet or karate or soccer, I'd let her quit. However, I cannot let her give up on a gift. For now, I guess I'll tread lightly with my contrasting principles and hope that she thanks me for it later.
Fudge Pop anyone?