Monday, May 16, 2011


About once a week, I head to the dollar store to pick up a coloring book for Ellie.  She loves to color and I love that this activity usually keeps her occupied and out of my hair for a little while.  This past week, Ellie decided she wanted a blank pad of paper, instead of a coloring book.  I tried to persuade her towards the care bare and disney princess books, fearing that her choice would not entertain her for long, but she was insistent on having to have the blank pad of paper.  To my surprise, this blank canvas has opened up her imagination and creativity more than any of the other coloring books I have purchased for her.

She started by drawing pictures of her friends and family members and then asked for help in learning how to write theirs names above their pictures.  Then she moved out of the world she knew and started creating elaborate scenes from her imagination while narrating to me what it was that she was drawing. (Extremely helpful since, as it turns out, a duck looks almost identical to a killer shark chasing down a swarm of jelly fish) I found myself engaged in watching the creativity flow from my child's mind through her crayons.

Watching my daughter, I have learned that kids need so little to let their imagination's take flight.  In a world where everyone is trying to have the biggest and the best of everything, I think we all should take the time to simply enjoy a blank piece of paper and a box of crayons.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Science Experiment

My parents send Ellie and Evangeline a big box filled with easter presents in the mail.  Ellie spent about half of the day playing with the toys that came in the box and the other half of the day testing out the hypothesis that if she walks around the house with the box on her head, I cannot see her and she can do whatever she wants.  I probably did not help the scientific process along by completely ignoring her while she was in the box, so I could get some work done around the house.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Red Dye #40

You know those moms who are absolutely psychotic about what there kids eat and touch and do?  Well, I am not sure how, but I became one of them.  Go ahead and roll your eyes, it will be fitting for all the times that I have rolled mine at others who tried to sell me on this stuff.  And I am not trying to sell anyone on anything, I am just so excited about the results I saw on this experiment I did on my kid that I had to share them.  Yes, that's right, I experiment on my kid.

I will start by giving some background information first.  My mom has a photographic memory.  It is straight up freaky the random bits of information she can recall at the drop of the hat.  Anyway, when Ellie was about 1 1/2 we realized that after reading her a new book, she could read the book back to us because she had memorized what words went with what pictures.  Not long after that, we realized that she could memorize all of the words to really long songs and she would try to sing them in the same tone and pitch as the singer.  (See my youtube page if you need some concrete evidence)  Naturally, my husband and I were pretty excited because it looked like Ellie had inherited my mom's photographic memory.  But as she grew older, this ability to memorize things started to fade and while she still loved books, she could no longer recite the words on the pages.  I thought it was weird that she "grew out of it" but eventually I just forgot about it and moved on.

Around age 2 1/2, I began to be pretty concerned about Ellie.  I joked about her behavior a lot, but was secretly worried about some behavioral traits I saw in her.  She was pretty violent with her peers and was constantly getting into trouble for fighting and biting other kids.  I used to keep her pretty much secluded from other children because I was too afraid of what she would do to them.  Also, she was an absolute space cadet.  I could ask her to do something and by the time she walked three steps away from me, she would have no idea what it was that I had asked her to do.  She could not follow directions to save herself and had absolutely no ability to concentrate on a task.  At 3 1/2 I asked her doctor if he thought she might have ADD, since it runs in my family.  He told me not to worry and that she was too young to be concerned about anything.  Before I had a chance to sigh in relief, the doctor started asking Ellie a few questions and she replied by looking out the window and saying, "mom. look at all these cars out here."  What can I say, her actions spoke louder than the doctor's words.

While discussing this with a friend of mine, she mentioned that her brother used to have a lot of the same problems.  She told me about red dye #40 and the damaging effects it has on children.  When red dye #40 was taken out of her brother's diet, he was a completely different person.  Now that he is an adult, he can articulate how he would feel when he ate something with the dye in it.  He said things would go fuzzy and he would feel frustrated and confused.  To be honest, I still was not a believer at this point, but I thought I would give it a try.  Besides, putting Ellie on a healthier, more natural diet would not have any negative effects, so it was worth a shot.

So I went about purging our pantry of anything with food dyes in it.  My husband thought I was crazy, but I felt I needed to give it a sincere shot.  The first week, I noticed she was more calm, but I did not notice much else.  I was about to abandon ship, when I realized that I was still giving her some foods with dye in them.  I had neglected to check them because they were not red, so I just assumed they did not contain red dye.  Honestly, almost every snack food out there for a kid has dye in it.  Oatmeal cream pies, white cake mix, crescent rolls, chips, EVERYTHING!  So I once again went about purging my pantry and I checked every single ingredient before I purchased anything at the store.  After another week, I notice some major changes in Ellie.

Ellie began to be involved in conversations, as opposed to before where she would just randomly shout out whatever happened to pop into her head.  She could recall things that she did and she could tell my husband when he got home from work what she had done that day.  This was a big deal for me, because I always tried to have Ellie tell my husband what we did that day when he came home from work and she could never remember.  Even if we had done something really fun, like go to the aquarium, she would not be able to remember just a few hours later that we had gone there.  Now she is telling us little details about things that happened to her days and even weeks before.  Most importantly, she was able to control herself.  She is still an active child, but I do not feel like she is bouncing of the walls all day long.  She plays, but when it is time for her to calm down she can. Before I felt like there was a wall separating me from her and no matter how many times I asked her to get herself under control, it never made it past that wall.

The turning point for my husband was when her memory started to come back.  I noticed almost immediately that she started memorizing books and songs again.  Then she started doing these puzzles all the time.  We started with 24 piece puzzles, then 36, then 45 and now she is up to doing 100 piece puzzles with no problem.  She simply memorizes the picture and then can put the puzzle together without even having to thing about it because she knows where each piece goes.  Now my husband is 100% sold on the no food dye diet.

I feel really guilty that for a good chunk of my daughter's life, I was feeding her foods that were limiting her ability that drastically.  I cannot promise you that eliminating these foods from your child's diet will produce such drastic results, I can only tell you what I have seen in my child.  I can tell you that there are a lot of studies out there about the damaging effects of food dyes and they are actually banned in Denmark, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Sweden.  In the United States, the CSPI called for a ban on Red Dye 40.  Executive Director Michael Jacobson said, "These synthetic chemicals do absolutely nothing to improve the nutritional quality or safety of foods, but trigger behavioral problems in children and, cancer in anybody. (Wikipedia)

There is a great deal of information out there if you are interested in looking it up, but for me the results I have seen in my home is research enough for me.  

Friday, April 8, 2011

Morning Rush Hour

between the hours of 12am and 7am, I have: fed Evangeline twice, dealt with a kid having a coughing fit, stripped our sheets and put them in the wash because Eva threw up all over them and herself, calmed down a crying 3 year old who smacked herself in the face with a belt she was playing with, calmed down a grumpy husband who got smacked in the face with a wand that same child was playing with, protected the baby from getting her head jumped on while laying innocently on the bed, and got into an argument with a three year old as to why she cannot have popcorn for breakfast. I need a vacation from my life.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sisterly Love

I left Ellie and Evangeline sitting on my bed with the parting words of "El, I'll be right back. Please don't hurt the baby." Came back a few seconds later to find El sitting on top of the Evangeline. Clearly I need to be more specific as to what "please don't hurt the baby" means.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Should I be at all concerned that my three year old can look at a living creature and talk about wanting to eat it?


I bought Ellie a soccer ball, since she is going to be playing on a team this fall, and we went outside this afternoon so I could check out her skills.  It took her about thirty seconds to master the playing with a stick in the dirt maneuver.