Monday, April 26, 2010

Sunday, April 25, 2010


David Foster Wallace is my "meat and potatoes" reading. I've been trying to get through Infinite Jest now for a while, but his essays are a bit more easily consumed when you've got only a small amount of time. In any case, the words that he circled in his dictionary are illuminating.

Ten is an excellent reader and we rarely have to prod her away from the television toward the written word but the other day when I saw her checking out a stack of "trash" from the library (for the third time) I decided that it was time for an intervention. I used the "meat-and-potatoes" analogy and followed it up with the healthy food/exercise/dessert analogy. Fortunately, in the realm of reading she does enough exercise that a little candy is fine as long as she's also checking out some Newbery Award Winners.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Free Range Kids: Part IV - $2.02 in Change

So today Big, Ten and I were heading to the park via the local hardware store.

I was picking up some nuts and bolts for the climbing wall I'm building. As an aside, I was noticing Big climbing on everything and craving swing sets with parts that required climbing and pulling and all-things-arms which our swingset was lacking so I picked up a few ropes and a bar with rings etc. And now the climbing wall.

Anyway, so I was getting out of the car and heading into the store when I realized that I had a good Free Range Kid moment at hand. The little family-owned hardware store is adjacent to a little (same family-owned) grocery store that has very modest amounts of candy that Big and Ten have enjoyed before. I sent them in with what I thought was $2 but was in fact $3 with a request of my own type of candy (a Laffy-Taffy) and my desire that they keep their choices modest. Then I went in to get my nuts and bolts next door.

A few minutes later they found me at the back pondering size, shape and threading, happily opening their candies, delivering mine as well as $2.02 in change, a penny of which Big promptly pocketed for his collection.

They were absolutely fine and clearly LOVED the freedom and trust that they both earned and deserved.

An Early (and Often) Spring

This is the cherry tree I planted about five years ago. It blooms beautifully and produces delicious sour cherries in June (usually -- maybe this year they'll be early).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Field Trip With Big

My schedule is fairly flexible this semester, so I was able to go on a school field trip with Big to a little farm in St. Paul.

The gal who gave us the tour should not be working with kids. Despite their nearly perfect behavior, she was a crab, constantly telling them what not to do.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Next Best Thing to a Puppy

We spoiled Big this weekend.

If you don't already know this about me, I love biking. I love road biking, mountain biking, casual biking, any biking.

And Big's picked up this habit from me. He's loved wheels and been on some sort of self-propelled vehicle nearly since he was able to crawl. He's been riding a two-wheeler since last August and recently even went around Lake Harriet with Ten and I on the way home from school.

This is a true feat for a small child. First, it was a long distance. So far this spring he and I have gone on two or three several-mile rides. Second, the lake trail is busy and you need to stay on the right and are regularly passed.

He was fairly competitive each time someone tried to pass him, speeding up, but he eventually got the hang of it. Toward the end he got a bit tired and wobbly, but we made it.

So yesterday we were on our way to the Y with BioMom and she commented on how furiously fast he had to peddle in order to just keep up with us.

BioMom: No wonder he gets exhausted!

So we decided to let him pick out his own new bike the next size up. \

We rarely get new bikes for kids and had planned on him just getting Ten's hand-me-downs, but this particular size of Ten's (which we had gotten for her from a friend) we had passed on to a neighbor girl, so it was perfect.

I can't tell you how much fun it was to watch him pick out this bike (we got it on sale) and its accessories.

I think you only get a few moments like that with a kid.

The only thing that surprised me? That he didn't bring it to bed with him.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Big is still Big

We had his four-year-old check up today (four months late) and he is in the 95th percentile for height and the 97th for weight.


Sperm Bank Subject to Strict Liability

Check this out:
Law360, New York (April 06, 2010) -- A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court decision denying the strict products liability claims of a mother against a semen bank they accused of selling sperm with a genetic mutation that has caused her child's developmental disabilities.

In finding in favor of Daxor Corp. unit Idant Laboratories, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled Thursday that the mother's claims were barred by the statute of limitations and that those she brought on behalf of the child failed to state an actionable theory of harm or damages.

The appellate panel decided New York law does not permit tort claims for “wrongful life,” citing earlier cases that similarly acknowledge the “thorny problems in the damages context” of asking the court to compare between the choice of life in an impaired state and not being born at all.

Because New York law does not provide children with a protected right to be born free of genetic defects, the daughter's genetic makeup cannot constitute an injury, the panel said.

The mother sued the sperm bank in 2008 after learning 10 years earlier that her daughter's developmental delays could be associated with the fragile X genetic mutation that she herself did not carry. At the time Idant Laboratories told the mother that the developmental delays were unrelated to fragile X.

In April 2009 Judge Thomas O'Neill of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed the mother's claims as time-barred, but ruled that the daughter could pursue products liability claims against the health care center.

Sperm, Judge O'Neill wrote, is different from blood and other human tissues which are exempt from products liability torts because of their necessary roles in public health.

Two months later O'Neill reversed himself, dismissing the entire complaint and ruling that New York courts would likely interpret the daughter's claim as one for wrongful life.

On appeal the plaintiffs asked the Third Circuit to certify the decision to the New York Supreme Court, because the state's limited blood shield law might indicate that the legislature wanted to have providers of tissue such as sperm be potentially responsible for defective products, attorney Daniel Thistle said Tuesday.

Because New York exempts only blood, a breach of warranty case could be brought regarding other human tissues, arguing not that the child shouldn't have been born, but that the sperm provider should bear some responsibility for the additional costs associated with raising a child with special needs, Thistle said.

“It was an interesting and challenging case. I'm disappointed that the court ruled against us,” he said.

Rory Lubin, an attorney for Idant Laboratories, said Tuesday that the appellate ruling was a correct interpretation of the law.

“The decision is just and well supported by precedent and as much as we can all be sympathetic to the [family] the decision was decided on the law and not sympathy,” he said.

Idant, which is based in New York, is in full compliance with regulatory standards in its screening process and even today there is no standard that would require the bank to screen for this type of genetic mutation, he said.

Lubin agreed with Thistle's contention that parents could have standing to bring a similar suit under New York law if they filed within the statute of limitations, though he maintained his doubt regarding the merits of the instant case.

“There are available genetic tests that can be requested at the parents cost, but the lesson to be drawn here is that there are thousands upon thousands of genetic mutations and it is simply impossible for the reproductive tissue banks to screen for every single one of those possibilities,” he said.

Fragile X syndrome, also known as Martin-Bell syndrome, causes intellectual impairment and emotional and behavioral problems and results in physical traits such as enlarged ears and a long face with a prominent chin.

Judges Maryanne Trump Barry, Theodore A. McKee and Morton I. Greenberg ruled on the appeal.

The mother and daughter were represented by the Law Offices of Daniel Thistle.

Idant Laboratories was represented by Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP.

The case is D.D. v. Idant Laboratories, case number 09-3460, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Becoming a Free Range Kid: Part III -- a coming out story

So I don't ever really come out anymore. Not in the classic sense. Frankly, I don't need to. I guess I'm sort of type-cast. People recognize me as a lesbian.

But this post isn't about coming out as a lesbian. This is another type of coming out that I don't normally do. I don't like to do it and I rarely do. And sometimes it gets me in trouble (as it might here) in the sense that sometimes I will know someone for years before they find this out about me, and, well, it is awkward.

But I will come out here because it is relevant.

This post is about coming out as a survivor of extreme violence.

In 1970, on July 23rd in Omaha Nebraska, someone (we are still not one-hundred percent sure who) entered our house and murdered my 18 year old sister by stabbing her eleven times in her back and twice in her stomach (or maybe it is the reverse, I'd have to look at the records again to be sure).

I was the only witness, if you can call it that. I was not yet one year old.

There are a bazillion things I could talk about with regard to this, but what is important and relevant is that I am still a proponent of free range kids. What happened to our family while horrible and infinitely destructive was a fluke. We are still not sure if she even knew the person, although stories abound. The most prominent one is that she was babysitting me, took me out for ice cream, met some guy at a park and he followed her home.

This is not to say that the story doesn't scare the cuss out of me. As does the notification of an attempted abduction near Ten's school.

Sure. It does. To quote the Fantastic Mr. Fox (again). I'm not scared. I have a phobia.

But I'm also scared of cars. And bikes. And skateboards without helmets. And too much candy. And nutrasweet. And ACT scores that are less than 20. And airplanes. And drugs. And bad influences.

And lightning.

Let's face it. Life is scary. Now let your kids be free to grow up and maybe not harbor your same fears.

Becoming a Free Range Kid: Part II - so much for encouraging free-range-ness

So I just got this email:

"Fw: Attention Windom Residents-Attempted Kidnapping of 11 Year Old Female

On Monday, April 12, an attempted kidnapping occurred near 56 St W/Grand Av S at approximately 6:30 p.m. An eleven year old female was walking home from school when a black pick-up truck pulled up next to her and the driver yelled at her to come over to the truck. The driver's side window was rolled down adn the driver's side door was already partially open. The suspect then attempted to grab her arm and tried to pull her into the truck. The victim screamed and began punching and scratching the suspect. She was able to get free and ran home..."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Message from A Student in Cousin's Girl's Class

From Parent of Student in Cousin's Kindergarten-Girl's Class: "Hi [Kindergarten Teacher], I just wanted to share with you something [my boy] said the other night. He was talking about [Cousin's Daughter] (his best friend) and how much he likes her. [This is what he said:]

'I like her SO much that it's like I'm carrying a giant heart (demonstrates with arms) whenever I'm with her. And when I look at her face, there's a rainbow of hearts all around my head.'

Never expected that to come out of his mouth, and we thought it was just about the sweetest thing we had ever heard! Just thought you might get a kick out of it :)"

Friday, April 09, 2010

Becoming a Free Range Kid: Part I

So I have been reading the Free Range Kid blog and am becoming increasingly interested in encouraging my kids' independence as well as concerned about Ten and both her reluctance to be independent and what I perceive as her nearly absolute lack of skills to do so safely.

Since September, nearly every day at around 2:30 I have met her at the Starbucks across the street from her school.

It has been a fabulous arrangement. Our little private school (I can't believe we aren't public school people sometimes, let alone CATHOLIC school people) doesn't have a bussing system so we drop her off and pick her up.

Every day.

Along with everyone else at the school.

You can imagine the congestion.

So I thought to myself: why not have her meet me at the coffee shop, then if I get there early (or, more likely, if she is a little late) I can crank out a little work, or read a book AND I don't have to waste 20 minutes of my life in the car in line in the back of the school!

Neither BioMom nor I were concerned at all about Ten making the trek across and down the street. There are lights and even a "manned" crosswalk after school. For the first couple of days, I was a little panicked when she showed up ten minutes after school let out, but I relaxed into it and it has been a great arrangement for us. We hang out there and she does her homework before we grab Big whose preschool ends about and hour later. Plus she knows that there is no expectation of purchasing snacks there and the Starbucks people don't mind us hanging out without purchasing.

Recently though, I've been settled into an afternoon caffeine pick-me-up (ala Cousin) and a little computer work when she's sauntered in sans homework.

As I've mentioned before, there is nothing like a bored preteen when you've got some or other deadline, or even when you've got a nice cuppa hot coffee that you just want to relax into.

So, the other day she asked if she could go to the library.

My heart sank a bit. As said, I had my hour all laid out before me! What would I do with this "to-stay" cup of coffee? Did I really have to pack up my computer and head down the block to only re-set up in the library, hence losing 10 minutes of precious work time?

So I asked her if she was interested in going by herself.

The library is about 1.5 blocks away from Starbucks, down a street of businesses (a grocery store, a restaurant, Subway, a movie rental place and Caribou) then across a very busy street (with a light) and past a liquor store. These are all places that we have visited on numerous occasions and a little urban corner that we pass nearly twice a day on average to and from her school.

This is to say that she is certainly familiar with the area. Plus, if one were concerned, they could literally walk backwards from Starbucks to the library and keep the Starbucks in sight the entire time.

She showed no hesitancy so we made a plan for me to meet up with her a few minutes later.

All went swimmingly. I finished my coffee and my work and even made a quick stop for some Summit at the liquor store before heading over.

I found her curled up with a book at a library table in the children's section.

Wanna know who DID freak out?


Any thoughts, ideas or reactions?