Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's not that I haven't been blogging...

Forgive me, dear blogger. I have been absent...and cheating on you.

My blogging continues, but on wordpress. I didn't mean to cut our relationship short and run out on you, unannounced.

Believe's not you. It's me.

My Choosing to Grow blog can be found at:

and my For the Sport of It blog address is:

Information about my current book project can be found at my website:

I do hope we can still be friends!

Yours truly,

Meagan Frank

Friday, January 21, 2011

Killing Cookie Monster...A Necessary Murder

"Cookie Monster is going to be called Veggie Monster from now on."

"No!" I protest.  "They can't change my beloved childhood memory.  Those letter cookies are like comfort food to me."

I guess that's the point though.  Those cookies are too much anymore.  We've all held on to those cookies, devouring them because we can, sharing the sugary sweetness with smiles and laughter. Things need to change because the scales have tipped...literally.

So, I had accepted Cookie Monster's fate, and headed to Sesame Street Live yesterday with Little Sprout curious about how they'd change things. 

The title of the show:  Elmo's Healthy Heroes and in true Sesame Street fashion, the writing was witty, the songs were entertaining, and the message was positive. Eat well, rest often, exercise regularly and stay up on hygiene.  Cookie Monster even conceded that having an occasional cookie is okay, but that eating the colors of the vegetables and fruits was even better.  Balance, discipline and good choices. 

"Awesome message!" I thought.

And happened.

The intermission that changed everything for me.

Fifteen minutes before the end of the show, the lights came up, the curtains closed and an announcement was made that there would be a short break.

Bunches of helium-filled Elmo heads made their way to the floor of the arena and the food carts emerged.  Children were heard begging their parents for something, and that is exactly what the producers intended.  What I could not believe was the rate with which the parents shelled out money for food and snacks, hungry to consume, but oblivious to the fact that they were discounting everything that had just been said.

The snacks offered:  blue and pink cotton candy, bags of greasy mini-donuts, colored slushies and enormous glasses of sugary lemonade.  Had I gone up to the concourse I could have gotten a large bag of salty popcorn, or processed nachos or a concession pretzel. Candy and cookies were up there too.

I was dumbfounded.  My pissed off five-year-old didn't understand why I stood there in personal protest refusing to buy any treat.  I eventually broke down because my daughter reminded me I had promised her something. I got an $8 lemonade and was immediately relieved it was more watered down than sugary.

I'm still fired up, and unsure about what to do.  I am fired up to eat better, to move more, to rest often, but I think the overall options need to change.  People will continue to eat what's in front of them, so what's presented to them needs to be different. 

Who is going to step up to make the message meaningful?  When is cutting down the size of people's bottoms going to mean more than the bottom line?

Just like everyone else, I want to resist changing Cookie Monster to Veggie Monster, because change is uncomfortable.  But a nationwide epidemic of obesity is terrifying, and we should all start making celery stick at a time.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Paper Words

It starts with the words. When people say them and then how they cutely misuse them. I’ve tried to write many of them down: the words my kids claimed when they could first form the letters with their mouths. This week has been about paper words. Those book words. The power behind them, the strength within them, and access to as many of them as we can handle.

Book words for our five year old are still the mysterious cryptic combinations of letters on a page. She sees us reading them, hears us creating story and intrigue from them, and she has decided she wants in. She is done with being satisfied with the pictures. Maybe she knows the picture clues are not the whole story. Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words, but the story that can form around that picture starts and ends with the words.

Something happened in her brain this week. The neurons responsible for connecting letters to sounds to words began firing at a ridiculous pace. She fought me for more access, and wore herself out in the process.

“Now I can read like everyone else!” she ecstatically proclaimed.

I am thrilled for her. She has been left out for, well, as long as she can remember. Big Sprout and Middle Sprout have been reading for as long as she has memory. They sit and tell us the stories that have unfolded while they turned pages of their books. Little Sprout: a quiet audience member. She wants to tell those stories too, and I can hardly wait to hear how those words change her.

That’s what reading is, you know. If we let the words pore over us and in us and then we open ourselves up to their transformative power, they shape us. After words, we are something different than we were before we started.

Little Sprout is not the only one being shaped by words this week.

“This is Middle Sprouts’ teacher,” the message started on my phone. “I just wanted to let you know that she has checked out the book Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret. The librarian was not sure you knew she was taking this book home, and we just wanted to make sure you were aware of it.”

Thankfully, I was the one who had encouraged her to get the book…after she explained to me she had heard it was an interesting title. She knows it is a collection of words that is going to open up her awareness about some of those taboo topics

Big Sprout has battled this week with the information that someone wants to change the words in a book he is reading…and loving. He is confused about the movement to change the language in Huckleberry Finn, and I can’t blame him.

“I know not to use the “n” word mom, and I know that it is really disrespectful. But it was a part of life then.”

They are studying the Civil War and reading period pieces as part of the unit. Even he, our ten-year-old, understands why people would want to change the words, but he feels more strongly about defending those words.

“Just because I read them, doesn’t mean I am going to use them,” he argues.

I have to think he feels that way because of the other words that have worked to shape him so far. If it were the only book he ever read, he wouldn’t read it the same way. Thankfully there are hundreds of thousands of words that have found their way into his brain, via books, and the pathways to awareness are as varied as the phrases he has read.

It has been a week about words for my kids…and when I woke up this morning, I had so many of those words swimming in my own head. If I leave them in there, I can hardly function, so I had to get them down on paper…and that changes ME too.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Thrill...of Defeat

It was like watching an emotionally charged movie....the kind that brings out the elation of laughter and then later the belly-aching sadness of tears.  The thing about our happened in less than five seconds.  It should have been accompanied by dramatic piano instead of the cha-chinging clang and bell- ringing of the surrounding games.

As the ridiculously large claw dragged the pink dolphin out of its resting place, then moved it, in slow motion, across the clear box, I was completely unsure how to feel about it.  One of my children, the birthday girl, was willing the dolphin to the hole, standing on the stool with unbridled joy in her eyes.  Her little sister, the one who had been trying longer, stood dumb-founded and increasingly slumped with the movement of the claw.  Then it fell right into the hole.  From my left...enthusiastic jubilation.  From my right...agonizing disappointment.
So there we were.  Ecstatic birthday girl hugs heroic daddy and traumatized sister finds little consolation from mom.  We tried the big claw again...and then it stopped working.  Ingenuity took over and I took the happy one, and my husband took the sad one.  I talked with my mature middle kid and we discussed how she would have felt if they had stood on opposite sides of that moving claw.  She agreed to work with us to support her sister overcome the sadness. Dad took Little Sprout to a smaller claw game.

We found them, just as Little Sprout found her cheering legs.  I could not be happier that I married a talented claw-driver.  The small claw latched  too, and out came the newest member of our stuffed animal family.

Delayed gratification did its work, and both girls were generally pleased with how events unfolded.  We don't go to places like this much, and I am glad our kids are not desensitized.  I'm glad they felt joy and angst.  I am glad they are not among the mindless game-players who sit for hours in the same place acquiring a pile of tickets that gets to be shin high.  I am glad that while watching each other, they feel something still.  The littlest will learn to cheer for the success of those around her, but what happened to her yesterday was part of the learning process.  I hope someday I'll capture her in a photo like the one below...genuinely excited for the achievements... that are not her own.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thank You Summer!!

For the festival and fairies and time enough outside. For dirt that covers Little Sprout and siblings side by side.

For four generations together... at church and on a hill
Tranquil, peaceful setting... except for Little Sprout's will.
 For Colorado swimming...some time spent on the side
It is what I remember from my summers spent outside.
For hail storms to run through... and helmets for the boys
For girls who need for store-bought toys.
For slip n' slide and barbecue, for playing in the sun
There is nothing quite as joyful as simple, summer fun.

For random fruit to climb upon, and walls too steep for some
For swings that are the joy of youth... for never-ending sun.

For all of this I'm grateful... for all of this I smile
Summer... I am glad you're here, and I hope you'll stay a while.

Friday, July 23, 2010

No Soup For You!

I realized I was in for a fight, right about the time the bright orange stuffed animal flew past my head and collided with the inside of the passenger-side windshield.

"I know you need to eat, but you'll have to put your seat-belt back on before I drive you anywhere," I calmly explained to my irate four-year-old.

"I WANT TO EAT IN OLIVE GARDEN!!!" She screamed at me.

In annoyingly calm mommy voice, "I'm sorry sweetheart.  You are screaming too loudly to be able to go in the restaurant today."

The hysterical crying started to wane and she sat herself down on the floor in front of her booster seat.  In silent protest to my parenting, she crossed her arms and hid down beneath the seat in front of her.  We were in a stand-off.

It all started in church a few hours before.  Wriggling with frustration, Little Sprout and I made one exit to get her calmed down, but it was a struggle for her to contain the welling emotions.  I knew they were coming, I just wished she hadn't needed to blow her cork that day.

We had gone with my mom and my grandma to the Mother Cabrini Shrine, just west of Denver.  It was a trip my grandmother had been hoping to take to celebrate the 60th anniversary of her engagement.  Perfect time for Little Sprout's emotional release!

We made it through mass.  With some of her pent up energy, she sprinted up the 375 steps to the statue of Jesus.  I am sure she reflectively pondered the stations of the cross and prayed appropriately at the places for meditation.  I just didn't see her because she was miles ahead of me.

We slowed to a jog on the way down, and I did catch her following her brother's lead to kneel at one of the crosses.
They all dipped their hands in the natural spring, and you would think with all the peace and tranquility, at least some of it would rub off on Little Sprout.

By the time we got back to the gift shop, she had lost her ability to maintain composure.  The volcanic activity commenced.

Our sweet, precious Little Sprout has incredibly physical tantrums.  She was like a bull in a china shop as she gave way to the Tasmanian Devil tendencies.  Nothing seems quite as inappropriate as watching a path of destruction in the Mother Cabrini Shrine gift shop.  She started her second time-out on the bench just outside the shop and then came screaming and running into the store.

I carried her screaming, kicking and swinging at me to the car to get to lunch.  Our ride down the mountain was full of:


I explained to my grandmother that she was going to be going in to lunch with my older two and my mom, but that Little Sprout and I were going to have to stay in the car.  Trying to communicate that calmly, over the continuous screaming out of the back, was tricky.

Little Sprout had calmed a bit by the time we arrived at the restaurant, but the consequence had been set.  As everyone else climbed out to go in to the restaurant, I told her she was going with me to get something else to eat and we would be eating in the car.  She took off her seat-belt, made a beeline for the door, and I caught her by her arm just as my mom was able to get the door closed.

So there we were, in our stand-off in the Olive Garden parking lot.  My mom brought out my salad and breadsticks while I waited...twenty-five minutes...before Little Sprout finally climbed back into her booster and clicked her belt.

What I learned about Little Sprout that day:  She needs lots of sleep! She misses her dad.  She is angry she isn't able to see him as much as she had expected before we came.  She holds in emotion well, but eventually can no longer contain those ugly feelings.  She has patience and stamina (something I am sure will challenge me through the years) and, she's got a good arm (she threw that stuffed animal from the third row in my car).  Thank goodness she cannot aim all that well yet.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bra Blog

It has been months since my last girly-girl transformation update.  I have moved too little on the scale to report much.  That is...until now.

For my loyal and committed readers (mom) you may remember my conversion from tomboy to-do-list

Number two on the list was to buy more feminine clothes and number three on the list was to buy a fitted bra.  Just adopting an "I am not repulsed by a trip to the mall" attitude has been a challenge. I still get annoyed by some parts of shopping, like in-your-face marketing, and the feeling of inadequacy that overwhelms me when I realize I don't even look the part of a legitimate shopper.  I do enjoy time with my girls, though, and I am sure that mall trips will be a part of our time together as they get older. The quest to transform continues...

So, we did it.  I loaded up the girls for a day at the mall.  I knew in my head, the short list of items I needed for a feminine outfit, and it started with the acquisition of a good bra.  My girls are only seven and four, so I did what I could to prepare them.

"Now girls, I have some things I need to buy, and one of the stores we will go in, I am going to get a bra."

Cue giggles and twitters. 

"Are you guys going to be able to handle that?"

"Oh, mom, I'll be fine," my seven-year-old said calming herself.

"Yeah, me too!" Little Sprout followed suit.

We started the mall trip with a stop at the girls' favorite doll store.  If you have daughters, you know exactly which one I mean.  They spent some of their allowance on accessories and we moved to store two.  I bought an outfit, with expert and enthusiastic advice from the girls.  After lunch and some rambling through the cool parts of the mall, we had one stop left.  We all knew what I needed (it helped that the girls reminded me every other minute or two that I needed a bra)

The pleasant-smelling pink store was the destination.

Little Sprout kicked things off by saying, "This store is inappropriate mom!"

"Honey, it's not inappropriate.  All ladies need bras and underwear.  You'll need one someday too, and this is a nice store to get them."

"I like this store mom!" Middle Sprout encouraged.

The girls stayed relatively composed, that is, until the attendant had to measure me for my bra.  I spent all my energy trying to seem completely comfortable.  Their laughter could not be contained, and comfort was out the window for all of us.

I changed the subject (kindof).  "Hey, should I get an animal print bra or a fun pink one?"

"Leopard skin?  That's funny!"  As we filed through the exotic drawer.  If I was going to spend the money on a nice bra, I wanted it to be fun.  I tried on a few.  Some that changed my shape so much I thought I was going to poke holes in the wall, and the giddy laughter from my stall was entertaining in and of itself.  I moved past discomfort and relished the fun we were all having. It REALLY was fun.  I hope when it is time to take my girls shopping for their first bras they will be able to tap in to the sort of enjoyment we had that day.

I chose a light pink bra with black polka-dots.  It fits well and puts things back in the places they were before kids sucked the life out of them.  I have told Middle Sprout, the one who remains most interested in this fascinating womanly adventure, that we can have a code word, and she'll know I have it on.  She walks past me in the morning and simply says (with shifting eyes), "Polka dot?" and I confirm with a nod, if she's right.

Next stop on the list...make-up.  I am sure the girls will enjoy that too, but likely with much less laughter.