Weekend links and our spring time carrots

Weekend links and harvested carrots
If that carrot doesn’t look mighty huge and impressive… it’s because it’s not. The carrots measured a mere four or five inches before the roots eventually tailed off, probably looking for more ground that my itty bitty pot couldn’t offer.

I’m still not deterred from gardening! In fact, we already pulled a few from the soil and cooked a shrimp stir-fry as well as baked a dozen carrot cupcakes—my first time baking with LO, believe it or not. More importantly, LO was able to witness carrots being pulled from the ground, so hopefully he understands the process of seed-to-vegetable and that food doesn’t just appear magically at the table.

In fact, I’m so undeterred, I’m on to my next experiment: zucchini. Ambitious? Yes. But according to the lady at the garden center (who I hope wasn’t just trying to sell me a packet of seeds), zucchini should be able to grow in my pot.

This time I’ll make sure to add a ton of soil. Hopefully the zucchini will have better luck than the carrots. And hey, I can always hide my mistakes in zucchini bread.

In the meantime, check out some links I’ve found throughout the web:

  • Ted Talks features Jeffrey Kluger who discusses The sibling bond. According to the site, Kluger “…explores the profound life-long bond between brothers and sisters, and the influence of birth order, favoritism and sibling rivalry.”
  • Finally, The New York Times describes a scene with A child, a gadget, a guest and a question of etiquette. The author asks what you would do if a child’s friend was absorbed with a gadget—an iPad, for instance—the entire time the families were together. Are they interacting with one another? How do you encourage turn-taking? [Edit: I just fixed the link to this article.]

Any tips you can share with yours truly for growing zucchini? What’s growing in your garden right now?

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Are you sharing too much of your kids online?

Are you sharing too much of your kids online?
I came across an article from The Wall Street Journal titled The Facebook-Free Baby—Are you a mom or dad who’s guilty of ‘oversharenting’? The cure may be to not share at all. Author Steven Leckart discusses the circumstances leading to parents sharing everything about their kids online, as well as potential repercussions for doing so.

We post about our kids for several reasons:

  • We like to update our friends and families about our kids, from first baby pictures to a recording of their Christmas recital. Particularly for parents who live far from families, social networking sites like Facebook are the primary means relatives can catch a glimpse of the little ones.
  • Parenthood can be lonely. Taking photos, writing blogs and posting on mom boards offer parents a chance to fill the day. Parents with no close physical ties to other parents can also turn to the online community for support and camaraderie.
  • Kids are just so darn cute. We’re proud of them. We love their jokes. And we want our friends and family to know how ridiculously amazing they are.
  • We actually want a digital record online. With technology at our fingertips, sharing on Facebook or blogs actually serves an easy way to record and retrieve memories and milestones.

Amidst all these reasons, the author isn’t as concerned with why we share, but the consequences of doing so. He writes:

[…] the more of our lives we put online from the beginning, the more there is to contend with later on.

Publicizing our kids has been done in the past, but the internet age poses something new: a chronological order of everything you post, so much so that children born these days will have a public, digital record of their lives.

While most of our posts and pictures are harmless, there may be some instances that could present a problem for kids in their future. Photos are public, available for anyone to use for whatever purposes they want. The public record of our kids may be used against them as adults. I also worry about safety, and wonder whether providing too much information will invite unwanted attention.

I try to find a balance. On Facebook, I post a few photos and blurbs about my toddler and adjusted my settings accordingly. Even though I don’t have many friends on Facebook to begin with, I still set my privacy setting to narrow down the “circle of friends” who can view the pictures. I’ve also posted funny blurbs about my toddler, but each time I do, I ask myself whether doing so can embarrass, harm or cause problems for him in the future. If it could, then I don’t share.

However, all this may seem ridiculously hypocritical coming from a blogger whose entire site stars my supposedly private toddler. This blog highlights many aspects of his life and includes details of normally private scenarios (ahem: anything to do with bowel movements). How do I meld my desire to minimize his online presence with posts about him on the internet for all to read?

These were the questions I grappled with when I initially launched Sleeping Should Be Easy. For nearly two years, I wrote the blog for family and friends and kept the settings private so that only a few people could access the site. Even with the privacy settings turned on and names and photos omitted, I wondered whether I was still sharing too much and why I was turning to the internet to share his stories to begin with. Would my toddler come back as a 25-year-old and regret that his mom had posted XY and Z about him for all to read?

Clearly, I have since publicized the site to extend beyond family and friends. I wanted to create a balance that allowed me the privacy I sought while creating a site that could help other parents and offer me a way to document my own growth as a parent. I decided not to post too many photos of him on the blog, and for the few that exist, all are obscured or show only a hand or the back of his head. I’ve also omitted his name and rely on the ever-so-original pseudonym of “LO” instead. And while I provide general information about him, I make sure they remain vague enough as well.

I’ve also been more mindful of how I present my toddler. I’m comfortable sharing less-than-pleasant behavior such as tantrums and potty training because these topics seem typical enough for any toddler to share and wouldn’t necessarily vilify him in his later years. On the other hand, you may recall a post I wrote describing how I had written an amazing, thought-provoking post but ended up deleting the entire thing for fear that I would stigmatize my toddler by labeling him too much.  The label itself wasn’t negative, but I was afraid that blasting it out to the world might unfairly categorize him too early and limit his potential.

So far, this balance has been the happy medium that works for me. For the author of the WSJ article, complete anonymity and no photos of his kid online are preferred. For others, “oversharenting” may not even be an issue at all. We all do what works for us. Given the wide range of comfort levels, beliefs and parenting methods we all have, I’m not surprised that there remains no clear cut guideline as to how much is too much and which method is “right.”

How about you—how much of your kids do you share online? What swayed your decision whether or not to post photos, names or moments of your kids on social network sites or blogs?

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Weekend links and celebrating Earth Day

Weekend links and celebrating earth day-carrot seedlings
For someone who lives in a city (in an apartment, at that) and who has yet to go camping for fear of the bathroom “amenities,” I still consider myself a nature enthusiast. I love being outdoors, whether to go on a beautiful hike, lie on the beach or even visit our local park.

So it’s only fitting that I want my toddler to hold the same fondness for nature. The heart of everything environmental lies in the appreciation for our natural surroundings. Being outdoors and immersed in nature has been on our agenda since our little guy was born. But since we don’t live on acres of outdoors, we find other ways to introduce nature to our toddler. For instance:

  • We make sure he spends time outdoors, preferably at least an hour a day. Living in Southern California gives us plenty of reasons to be outdoors. And by outdoors, I’m talking simple things like walking around the block or hanging out on our patio.
  • We frequent our local park. I’m secretly glad that our park doesn’t have the fanciest playground, and instead has a wide expanse of greenery and even a little trail. We end up spending a ton of time picking flowers, finding acorns and pine cones and running on the grass.
  • We go hiking or to the beach. We recently discovered some hills nearby that lets us walk and hike outdoors. And we’re lucky enough to live ten minutes away from the beach; can’t hate that!
  • We planted carrots. And yes, they’re actually growing; I’m so excited! I can’t wait until we get to pull them out of the ground so our toddler can see where carrots come from, as well as witness how the tiny little seedlings grow into actual vegetables.
  • We let him get up close and personal with bugs. Well, my husband does. Somewhere between eight years old and thirty-something, I lost my ability to touch bugs. As a kid, I used to collect ants, handle snails and pick up ladybugs and spiders like it was nothing. Now, I either look away when my toddler picks up a bug (all the while hoping he doesn’t squish them, because gross—I really don’t want to clean up bug guts) or hand bug duty over to my husband.

I hope my toddler will grow up to be a steward of his natural environment and enjoy the outdoors as much as we do. Instilling an appreciation for nature will be foremost in ensuring that he takes care of this place. And who knows, maybe he’ll convince me to camping, bathroom amenities or not.

In the meantime, below are a few links to read:

  • First, The Minimalist Mom asks Are you raising your kids to be hoarders? Our home is pretty clutter-free, including children’s toys and books. Then again, he’s only two so who knows how much stockpile he’ll end up with in a few years.
  • Over at The New York Times, Jenny Anderson writes about Making education brain science. The author highlights a certain school where the kindergarten curriculum includes neurology and where academic and emotional education are integrated.
  • And finally, The Wall Street Journal features an article discussing How schools can teach innovation. The author suggests offering hands-on classes and—my favorite—not penalizing failure. Our failures are simply ways we can learn. If we offer kids an opportunity to evaluate their mistakes instead of treating failure as shameful or taboo, we can provide them an opportunity to grow and innovate.

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Weekend links and planting carrots

Planting carrots
I’m a wanna-be-green thumb. In our old apartment I grew a tomato plant and bought a slew of things that would help it thrive: a large pot, a wire pole to keep the stem upright, potting soil, and even an owl to keep the birds away. Once the little tomato bud started growing, I was so proud of myself—I grew a tomato! Except… it was literally just one tomato. After we plucked our single tomato from the plant and ate it, my husband joked, “That was the best-tasting $27 tomato I ever tasted!”

I tried a few more times, but again my rosemary dried up under the sun, the birds picked at the oregano to make their nests (clearly the owl wasn’t scary enough), and the bugs got to the green beans. And with the birth of my kiddo, I pretty much gave up all things gardening in lieu for more sleep.

Now I’m about to kick off spring with yet another gardening experiment. As if I hadn’t learned my lesson, here I am trying once again. This time it’s for my toddler: ideally I’d like him to see the process of vegetables growing from the ground and eventually get to eat them. Ideally. To help me along, I bought a long rectangular pot from the garden store along with potting soil, carrot seeds, a small hand shovel and a watering can. And let’s just say that this one is a bit more than the $27 tomato (I won’t even say how much). This time I’m aiming for two carrots.

And while the seeds are germinating, here are a few articles from around the web that caught my eye:

  • First up, The Huffington Post published an article The Global Search for Education: Is Your Child an Innovator? The author concludes that parents and teachers can strengthen innovation in children and young adults by “…emphasizing discovery-based play, limiting screen time, encouraging young people to find and pursue their passion, take risks and learn from mistakes, and instilling a sense of the importance of ‘giving back’…”
  • My sister posted a link to a TED talk video featuring Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts (our cousin also forwarded us an article in the The New York Times  The Rise of the New Groupthink, also by Susan Cain). Cain talks about the reasons why society promotes extroverts; schools in particular are more commonly set up in pods of desks for group learning and brainstorming. Extroverts thrive in this environment; introverts do not. Instead we should nurture introversion as well because that’s usually where our deep thought and innovative ideas come from.
  • And this last one isn’t exactly recent, but I still love Mom 101‘s post On working mothers and missed opportunities. The life of a working mom often involves trying to balance being there for the kids while battling a workforce that may not always be so supportive of working moms. She jokes (or not), “and by the way please don’t fire us for someone with more free time to work on the weekends.”