The Price of Children

The Price of Children

I saw this today and thought I’d share.

The government recently calculated the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 and came up with $160,140.00 for a middle-income family. Talk about price shock! That doesn’t even touch college tuition. But $160,140.00 isn’t so bad if you break it down.

It translates into:

* $8,896.66 a year,

* $741.38 a month,

* $171.08 a week.

* A mere $24.24 a day!

* Just over a dollar an hour.

Still, you might think the best financial advice is; don’t have children if you want to be ‘rich.’ Actually, it is just the opposite. What do you get for your $160,140.00?

* Naming rights. First, middle, and last!

* Glimpses of God every day.

* Giggles under the covers every night.

* More love than your heart can hold.

* Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs.

* Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, and warm cookies.

* A hand to hold usually covered with jelly or chocolate.

* A partner for blowing bubbles and flying kites.

* Someone to laugh yourself silly with, no matter what the boss said or how your stocks performed that day.

For $160,140.00, you never have to grow up. You get to:

* finger-paint,

* carve pumpkins,

* play hide-and-seek,

* catch lightning bugs,

* never stop believing in Santa Claus.

You have an excuse to:

* keep reading the Adventures of Piglet and Pooh,

* watch Saturday morning cartoons,

* go to Disney movies, and

* wish on stars.

You get to frame rainbows, hearts, and flowers under refrigerator magnets and collect spray painted noodle wreaths for Christmas, hand prints set in clay for Mother’s Day, and cards with backward letters for Father’s Day.

For a mere $24.24 a day, there is no greater bang for your buck.

You get to be a hero just for:

* retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof,

* taking the training wheels off a bike,

* removing a splinter,

* filling a wading pool,

* coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and

* coaching a baseball team that never wins but always gets treated to ice cream regardless.

You get a front row seat in history to witness the:

* First step,

* First word,

* First bra and/or jock strap,

* First date,

* First time behind the wheel.

You get to be immortal. You get another branch added to your family tree, and if you’re lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary called grandchildren and great grandchildren. You get an education in psychology, nursing, criminal justice, communications, and human sexuality that no college can match. In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there under God. You have all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare away the monsters under the bed, patch a broken heart, police a slumber party, ground them forever, and love them without limits, so one day they will, like you, love without counting the cost.

That is quite a deal for the price!!!!!!!

Love and enjoy your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren! It’s the best investment you’ll ever make!

And think, that list is incomplete.  It doesn’t even begin to cover all the benefits and rewards that coming along with having/raising children!

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Welcome to the Wacky World of Food Allergies

Hannah Rose was recently diagnosed with milk and egg allergies. So we’ve embarked on quite the new journey.

We’ve replaced milk with Soy Milk. (Silk makes a very vanilla and a chocolate flavour that enriched for kids). In fact, we’re buying a number of soy “replacement” products: soy cheese, soy butter, soy yogurt–you get the idea. We’re also looking for alternative sources of calcium (like calcium enriched OJ, and the aforementioned enriched soy milk, along with foods naturally containing calcium).

We’re also reading labels like never before. Which is how we found the soy cheese that contains milk proteins. (No we didn’t buy that brand of soy cheese!) We’ve managed to find bread that doesn’t contain any milk or egg. (Thank you Whole Foods )

I’ve gotten a new cookbook:  Allergy-Free Cookbook by Alice Sherwood which contains recipes for avoiding eggs, dairy, nuts, and gluten.  (Although not always all 4 ingredients at once!)  I’ve also been researching on how to adjust current recipes with replacements for milk (and milk products) as well as egg.  It seems as if there are quite a number of options out there–it’s just a matter of trying out these “experiments” and finding the ones our family likes best!

We’ve been thinking, talking, and doing research into this whole thing.  Did I mention it’s still very new to us?  While Hannah Rose’s allergies are on the milder side, we still want to avoid them completely.

She likes to go to McDonald’s occasionally.  OK, so probably more often than occasionally–but like most of us, she doesn’t always get what she wants as often as she likes.  I decided to look up McDonald’s Nutritional Information.  I wasn’t too surprised to find out that the Chicken McNuggets have milk.  Most breaded items will have either milk or egg.  I was pleased to find out their hamburgers (including buns) have no milk or egg.  However, I found it oddly strange that their French Fries have milk.  Apparently hydrolyzed milk is a starting point for their beef flavouring.

I’m finding some good resources on-line in regards to food allergies–one being The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network

Like I said, this is the beginning of a new journey–and I’m sure I’ll have much more to write on this subject as we travel down this road!

We named her Bhrianna

My heart is heavy today.  Today is the day my daughter was to be born.  Ok, Ok–I know most babies aren’t born on their due date.  Heaven knows, I wasn’t!  But I’ll never know now if she should would have been born late or early. 

I’ve been watching this date on the calendar; its presence looming and growing.  I’ve wondered how it was I’d get through the day.  Don’t misunderstand me–I’m getting through the day.  Just as I’ve gotten through every single day since I lost her.  Just as I will get through every day after this one. 

I miss her so.  I never got to hold her in my arms, never even got to see her sweet little face–and I couldn’t grieve at losing her anymore than I do.  Isn’t that odd–I never really knew her, knew the person she’d be and the loss of her is no less than those I’ve known and loved all my life.

I’m not negating all the wonderful things that are in my life now.  I just have to stop for a minute.  Remember my sweet little baby.  Not let the significance of the day go by as if it mattered not a thing.  It matters.  She matters, she always has and always will.

She was always wanted.  From the first.  A surprise, yes.  But more than wanted.  Wanted still.

I miss you sweet baby mine.  I miss you my Bhrianna. 

Fostering Imagination

We want to foster imagination and creativity in Hannah Rose.  To further that aim, we’ve been doing some things differently of late.  We have drastically reduced her screen-time (all tv, movie, computer, video game time combined) to no more than 1 -2 hours a day.  That’s the max–there are days when she has zero screen-time.  We’ve also decided to curb some of the Disneyana that we were buying her.  We’re still buying her some Disney products–but we’ve decided that those products will be things that won’t necessarily help her re-create a Disney movie.  For instance, she’s getting a Disney Princess kite–it’s still Disney, but it’s a kite.  It doesn’t really matter what’s on a kite cause you run in a park with it and fly it.  (Or a beach…)

I can’t say this has been the easiest thing to do.  It hasn’t been.  It’s been a big adjustment for all of us.  I see Tinkerbell or Disney Princess whatever–and I’m wanting to buy it for her!  I know she’ll like it…but then I take a deep breath, and think about what’s best for her.  If that doesn’t work, Chris drags me away from whatever is calling to me at the moment.  We’re working on introducing new toys and new ways to play. 

Reducing screen-time hasn’t been the easiest either.  We’re getting more used to it and establishing new routines.  I think once it’s a bit warmer and we’re outside playing more, it’ll be even easier.  (Can you say swimming pool?  Yes! we have one and I plan for us to take great advantage of it!)  It’s just too easy first thing in the morning when neither Chris nor I are fully awake, and she is, to put on some cartoons for her to watch.  The television is easy entertainment. 

However, I do believe our efforts are beginning to pay off!  We had Hannah Rose for an extended weekend this past weekend due to her Easter break.  I’m noticing a difference in her play.  Wednesday I printed up some Easter colouring pages for her.  She had fun colouring and decorating them.  (She really enjoys art projects.)  Then, instead of going the easy route and turning on the tv while we waited for Chris to get home–I asked her to tell me a story about the little girl in the drawing.  I got a whole half hour of stories and songs for the asking!  The next morning she was telling me even more stories about the little girl she christened, “Wendy.”

To create her stories, she wove laces of reality, books, movies, songs, and things she pulled out of the air.  This is creativity.  Creativity is more than merely fashioning something out of nothing.  It also entails taking what is and combining it in ways that give rise to new forms.  This is the beginning of “thinking outside the box.”  She’s making her own songs; lyrics and melodies.  When she sits at our electronic piano, she hears the tune the demo plays–and then makes up her own songs and harmonies to go with it.  Granted, she’s no Mozart (who is these days?)–but I love the creativity! 

She even went on a camel hunt with Chris this past weekend.  At one point Chris was a camel–but then she also found two more camels that weren’t Chris.  Who knew camels lived in our house?! 

We can still see the effect of Disney and movies on her play, and that’s ok.  We don’t mind it having some effect–we just don’t want that to become a limiting box on her imagination and creativity.  So sometimes when we go down to the basement, we walk into Tir na nOg.  I become the fairy Rosetta, and she’s Tinkerbell.  At other times, we’re being chased by evil cheese and the Rock Monsters in the basement save us.  I can live with Tinkerbell and Rock Monsters in the basement.  After all, the greatest crime would be that the basement is only and always ever just a basement.

This video is from Wednesday night when she was telling me stories about “Wendy.” 

Beauty vs. Brains

I don’t remember how it first came up this weekend–but Hannah Rose got asked which was more important:  being beautiful or being smart.  She was certain, “Beautiful.” 

She’s four years old.  Only four. 

Even so, she’s bought into one of the biggest myths out there.  We’ve talked about it several times with her since, and we tell her being smart is more important than being beautiful.  We’ve told her how being smart actually makes you more beautiful.  Still she insists that beauty is where it’s at.

I wonder how much of this message she’s gotten from the media and Disney.  I target Disney specifically because she’s so into Disney Princesses and Tinkerbell.  Disney heroines are always beautiful and usually it is their beauty, not their brains, that are highlighted.  Granted, in the movie Mulan you do see a heroine that is more than just beautiful. 

To be fair, I also have to ask: how much of this message has she somehow gotten from us?

In talking to her about this, at one point I started to say how her beauty would one day go away–but then I thought that’s not the message I want to send her.  I don’t want her getting worried about getting older because she would be “less” beautiful.  That and I saw faces of numerous beautiful older women pop in head.  (I think in images, not words….so my brain on that one was bypassing the translation process).  Furthermore, I know that no matter how old she is, she will always be beautiful to me.  Why?  She’s Hannah Rose and I love her.  So I told her I said that wrong.  I told her that her beauty would not go away, but that as she grew her beauty would change.  Which is definitely more than spin–it’s more of a truth that beauty changes than it goes away. 

Still, I’m concerned.  I know there are adults who believe beauty to be more important than brains.  I’m not concerned because Hannah Rose believes something different than I do.  I’m concerned because I know how much damage that particular belief can cause.  I don’t want her to grow up and pursue this illusive idea of beauty at the cost of everything–including and especially her health. 

I want her to know that she is beautiful, but also smart, funny, charming, generous, and loving.  I want her to know that being beautiful is something that truly comes from the inside.  I’ve seen the most gorgeous people on the planet turn into the most unattractive in a moment because of their personalities and what lies within.  I’ve seen it work the other way around, as well.

I want these things for her–and I’m unsure of how to give them to her.  We tell her she is pretty and beautiful, because every little girl needs to hear that growing up.  And she is.  We tell her she is smart, and she is.  I think it’s just going to take some time…time telling her about how being smart is more important than being beautiful and time to find examples of this that she can relate to.  Perhaps maybe even finding a book about it.  (And if I can’t find one-writing one!)

When Taking Your Kids to the Dentist

I told my friend, Lesley, that I was going to take a leaf out of her book and post about this!  We recently had a friend who took her daughter to the dentist; and her daughter was restrained without her knowledge or permission!!!

NEVER leave your child alone at the dentist’s office!!!  Always insist on being present with them.  If you’re not allowed to be with your child, then take your child and leave!

Here’s some links on the types of restraints that dentists are using–basically a straight-jacket for kids called a “papoose.”

Papoose Boards 1

Papoose Boards 2

Papoose Boards 3

Unplugged Play

Chris and I recently got the book “Unplugged Play” by Bobbi Conner.

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 I’ve read it through and think it’s a fantastic book!  I would recommend it to any parent with a child under the age of 10! 

We picked it up because it looked like it was something that would mirror the philosophy of the Waldorf school we’re applying to get Hannah Rose into for the fall.  Their early childhood curriculum is play-based. 

This book talks about the importance of play for kids…but it’s more than that!  It’s got ideas for parents who might be short on them, or who have forgotten some of their own favourite childhood play exploits!  There’s a section for toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary kids.  There are ideas for getting them to play with other kids, play alone, or play with mom and dad.  The great thing about a lot of these ideas is that they are educational in some fashion–but what matters most to a child is that they’re fun!  Truth be told, childhood is all about learning!  Play is how children work at learning!

I think part of the reason this book appeals to me so much (as does the Waldorf philosophy) is that it fosters creative and imaginative thought!  That’s the foundation for problem-solving later in life.  Instead of putting a child’s mind into a box with a finite number of possibilities (something t.v., video games, and the like do), this kind of play opens up an infinite amount of possibilities to a child.  Later in life, they’ll be that person who is able to think outside of the box to get the job done…  That, and they’ll have a much richer and more fulfilling life.

Chris and I are actively restructuring Hannah Rose’s play…from how we play with her, how we encourage her to play, the toys we buy (and don’t), and the amount and quality of her screen time (that’s all t.v., video, movies, etc.).  We’re going to limit her screen time to 1-2 hours a day MAX right now.  We’re not going to encourage her to use a computer, yet.  She can start doing that in a few years.  (Again, goes along with the Waldorf philosophy).  That’s kinda like teaching a child the basics of arithmetic before giving them a calculator!

If you’ve got small kids–I suggest you read this book!  If you’ve read it already–I would love to hear your take on it!