Losing the joy of childhood too soon

After being so sure I wanted to bring up our kids in New York City, I’m now wondering whether it’s such a good idea. I don’t think my concerns are the usual ones that drive people to the ‘burbs when they have a family, and I certainly can’t bear the thought of moving to some suburbs. It’s just lately I’ve seen a lot of kids around, kids 7, 8 or 9 years old, and they appear so jaded. They’re so stylish, girls especially, and they seem to have a very distinct look on their face. A very adult look. And when I’ve seen them my heart breaks to think that could be Minna in seven years, over it all already, childlike joy beneath her.

Moving away of course is not the answer. There’s no guarantee children are more joyful and less jaded elsewhere. I know I’ve read lots of things about tweens being all grown up already, cultural pressures, TVs influence, etc. etc. etc. If there’s any solution — and there may not be — it’s in the parenting I hope. In our ability to keep the experiences special and meaningful, to steer clear of brands and designer clothes and pressure to buy the next thing, and to focus on time outside the city as a family. Nights collecting fireflies in Vermont and learning the constellations. Hiking in the White Mountains and spending the nights bunked in a hut. Skiing at Mad River with friends and family. And finding great experiences to share right here in Manhattan as well.

I want to say that as long as I show enthusiasm for things, my children will join me. But sadly, I can almost hear them already, saying dismissively, “Mom, that’s so lame.” Hopefully that won’t be until 2020 at least.

Baby food cooking inspiration

100_baby_pureesI got this book, Top 100 Baby Purees: 100 Quick and Easy Meals for a Healthy and Happy Baby, when Ollie was little and used it a ton. Now with Minna I think I’m using it even more. Partially because she seems more open to eating everything earlier than Ollie was, but also because with two kids I’m busier and stupider than I was with one. It’s nice to have a freezer full of healthy stuff that Minna can eat at a moment’s notice.

It’s pretty easy to make your own baby food but what’s great about this book is it just gives me a couple different ideas for flavor combinations I wouldn’t have come up with on my own. Funny as I was writing this I had a feeling I already posted about this book, so I poked into the archives. I don’t seem to have mentioned it, but I stumbled across this post about The Everpresent Kids’ Menu from 2007, before Ollie was born. The comments (and original New York Times article) are much more interesting now that I actually have kids and have dealt with the kids’ menu. Makes me think I’m due for an update post about kids’ menus!

Out of the Loop in New York City

A pretty long article in today’s New York Times, Out of the Loop in Silicon Valley, looks at the dearth of women in tech, both in leadership roles at large companies and as entrepreneurs with their own start-ups. There’s no new information about why women aren’t present in any significant amounts, or about why less women study comp sci or engineering in college. And after various interviews and mentions of “women like jobs with more interaction with people”, it closes on this optimistic note:

Silicon Valley shows signs of changing, albeit slowly. New organizations are sprouting up for young women in tech, like Girls in Tech and Women 2.0. One-quarter of the partners at Kleiner Perkins, the venture capital firm, are women, and some of the hottest start-ups — including Gilt, Hunch, Ning, Eventbrite and Meebo — were founded or co-founded by women.

They could change things for the next generation of girls aspiring to engineering careers and women already entering the field, Ms. Fleming hopes. “If their success becomes visible, so girls can identify with it, they will think, ‘Oh yeah, anyone can do this,'” she says.

But why would this be true? Three of the most successful start-ups from Web 1.0, Blogger, Flickr, and Six Apart (and I define successful as millions of users, transformed how people do things on the Web, two acquired for large sums of money by the biggest companies in the Valley) were co-founded by women. Not one of these companies or women was mentioned in the article, though all companies have existed for nearly a decade or more.

If an article asks “In the wide-open world of tech, why so few women?” and can’t even acknowledge some of the early female leaders, how can we expect anyone else to know that there are women entrepreneurs. In the quote above, a woman says “if their success becomes visible.” Key word here apparently is if.

Cooking for Minna

I've been really getting into cooking again, which is a good thing for Minna because it means I've been making lots of yummy things for her to eat. As I type a big batch of Chicken, Sweet Potatoes and Apple is bubbling on the stove. This was one of my favorites for Ollie because it just tasted so yummy! I've also made roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli — just puree them together with butter and a little milk.

But I think the best I've made yet is my "New England Special" as I call it: baked squash and apples. I cut an acorn squash in half and put on a baking sheet. I took an apple, cored it, and filled the hole with raisins, cinnamon, and butter. Roasted both in oven until soft and tender, then ran through food mill. Very tasty!

At dinner she usually eats some of what we're having, but these foods, frozen in little cubes, are handy for lunch when she's out and about, or if we're not eating an easy dinner for sharing.

Sex and the Sneakers

Strawberry_sneaker Here's a weird thing I'm struggling with: the "sexing" of shoes and getting Ollie to pick ones that are for boys. Nearly since he's been old enough to wander around the local shoe store, he's gravitated towards some sparkly Mary Janes. They seem to be coated in glitter or something, and he really likes the brown ones. Today he even tried one on (he fit the floor model), but I told him we couldn't get them.

Which got me thinking about kinda how unfair it is for kids, especially boys, that somehow lots of fun stuff's been associated with girls, even though there's no reason it should be. Why are brown sparkles more "girly"? Why don't they make a non-Mary Jane in brown sparkles? I can see why Ollie would want sparkles on his shoes, it's fun, they SPARKLE and SHIMMER. That's neat for a 2.5 year old, boy or girl. Instead he's supposed to wear some plain old navy blue things with streaks of silver.

We gave up at the shoe store and I set about looking online at Zappos for him where I spied sneakers with strawberries. I thought, "Ollie loves strawberries!" but then realized, no, these too were for girls. Somehow girls get strawberries, as if a fruit belongs more to one sex or another. What fruit could go on a boy's sneaker? Banana?

This isn't the first time I've struggled with clothing options for Ollie, nor will it be the last. It seems boys, at least in the US, are supposed to dress like mini-men instead of kids. Whoever designs their clothes and shoes seems to have lost touch with what was fun and neat when they were little: bright colors and shiny things and shapes and objects recognized from "real life". No one even seems to make sneakers with little dump trucks or fire engines on them. Surely that's something "right" for a boy.

Making crab cookies

Ollie making his very own crab cookiesOllie and I have been making cookies a lot lately, ever since I got the awesome Williams-Sonoma Message-In-A-Cookie Cutters. The other day at the supermarket we got a small rolling pin, just the right size for him. So while I rolled out the dough to make “Happy Bday Phoebe” cookies for a birthday party we’re headed to, Ollie rolled out his own dough and used his little crab cookie cutter to make his very own orange crabs! I couldn’t believe he did it, even going so far as using the spatula to lift the cookies off the counter and place them on the cookie sheet.

Pretty soon look for us to open “Kottke’s Kitchen” in the Village, a fancy cookie store where you can get decorated bright-colored cookies for $5 a pop!