Monday, June 4, 2012

Female Friendships

Dear Amber

Being long term friends with other women has always been tough for me.  I tend to place high expectations on those I surround myself with and am quick to drop people from my life when they don't meet those expectations.  As a human, I have failed to find the joy in having friends who have differing opinions than myself.  'Tis a shame considering I am a Social Worker and regularly encourage diversity amongst organizations and in various social circles.  I'm just not sure how it all works and am concerned I will upset people with my opinions, then I feel's a vicious cycle--I can just go along with you but then it's not really a friendship is it?  I also tend to be a jealous person, don't like when one of my friends likes someone else better than me (very 12 year old/middle school 'esque, I know) but I just can't get past it.  I prefer esclusivity, but it isn't healthy.  I know that I should have all types of friends who fill different roles in my life, but that's just too many people for me to stay connected.  I also know that at different times in our lives we need different types of friends and I hope that I have been that friend to those who've needed it.  I've never been a bridesmaid and that bothers me so...I've been a bride (twice to be exact) but never a bridesmaid.  Is this the "proof is in the pudding" that I suck at friendship? 

I've generally had better friendships with women who are at least 20 years older than me.  Younger women tend to get on my nerves, their lack of self sacrifice is often bothersome.  What's really annoying is that I was probably like that in my early 20's as well, I likely would've annoyed myself terribly!  So, I'm struggling.

1.  How do you make "friends?"  and how do you know they have your best interests at heart?  I always assume that people have my best interest, only to be bamboozled later that they were phoney.  :(

2.  How do you maintain these friendships so that both women are getting what they need from each other?

3.  How can you be friends with someone who has distinctly differing opinions on important issues as well as not so important issues?

4.  What is it about my friendship "style" that seems repulsive? 

Dear Sarah,

First, let me say that I can completely understand your issue.

As I'm sure you remember from when we were kids, I was quite the tomboy.  By the time I got to high school, I usually had one best girlfriend and the rest of my close friends were boys.  My best girlfriend and I would typically be inseparable.  So much so in fact that at one point my parents apparently even had suspicions that I was a lesbian!

Want to know what broke me of this cycle and helped me learn how to be friends with lots of other women:  sororities.

Yes, people make fun of sororities and sorority girls.  Sorority girls (or the degrading nickname...sorostitutes) are described as slutty, stuck up, snobby, spoiled, stupid, mean, catty....  But the truth was, yes, there were some slutty girls in my sorority, some snobby ones, some ditzy ones, some bitchy ones, and some spoiled rich girls (I'll leave it to your imagination which one I might have been. ;)  But there were also virgins (waiting for marriage), super sweet ones, friendly ones, hard working ones (who managed to work two jobs, go to school full time, and be active in the sorority), sporty ones, married ones, ones who were there on scholarship...we had it all!

I was one of those people who swore I'd never join a sorority because I didn't "need to buy my friends."  But once I got sucked in (in all began because I was recruited to play on their intramural softball team), my only regret is not joining sooner!  I can't explain exactly how being a Chi Omega taught me to have girlfriendships, except to say that you didn't have much choice.  You spent most of your non working, non class time with your "sisters" at events (social, educational, and charitable), so you had to learn to get a long with them.  And while I wasn't best friends with all of them, I genuinely liked 90% of them.  And ten years after graduation, two of my three best friends today are my sorority sisters.  They stood by my side when I got married and have been with me through the ups and downs of life, as I like to think they'd say I've been there for them.

My other best friend I've known since high school.  And we actually didn't speak for many years while I was in college.  In fact, you could say we "broke up" because we went from being inseparable to getting in a fight and not talking anymore (just like you would a boyfriend).  But years later, we thankfully put aside the past and rekindled our friendship, and I do feel I owe much of our relationship now to again, learning to have healthy female relationships in college.

But to answer your specific questions:

1. I feel like it is very difficult to make friends as an adult.  Firstly, many people already have their good/best friends from highschool/college, etc, so often they aren't really looking to add new friends to their busy lives.  Oh, and they usually have pretty busy lives between work, kids, etc.

As far as being bamboozled, I would give this advice: most people can't put up appearances long.  People who don't have your best interests at heart, generally show their true colors sooner rather than later.  I'd advice you to not open up too quickly or get too emotionally invest too soon.  I know this is a hard one, because I know I tend to do the same thing.  I'm constantly having to remind myself to slow it down.  (So like dating, isn't it!)

2. I really don't know this one.  With my good friends, I kind of depend on them to let me know if they aren't getting what they need from me.  And I try to kindly let them know what I need from them.  I'd say this just takes time and patience.  But first and foremost I try to lead by example.  I can't expect them to be the kind of friend I want unless I am first that friend to them.  But if they don't reciprocate or take advantage, I'm quick to reassess if the friendship is worth pursuing.

3. This is really hard.  As you know, I'm a pretty die-hard liberal (minus a few controversial issues, which we've discussed ;) and two of my best friends are firmly conservative.  My best way to deal with it: we really just don't discuss politics.  This has been mostly successful.

My big issue: I have trouble being friends with someone if I don't like their parenting skills.  I think my three best friends are wonderful moms!!  I would trust any single one of them to raise my kids if something should ever happen to me.  But I have literally stopped pursuing friendships with women whose parenting methods I severely objected to.  I

4. I think you are being too hard on yourself.  There is nothing wrong with your style, you just haven't found the right friend yet.  I KNOW.  I've been there!!  I've been living in back in Bloomington for three years now, and I have just within the last few months developed what I would call a close friendship with a woman.  Every other woman I've met and liked has not worked out for some reason or another (usually plain and simple lack of time, since they usually work and have kids!).  And I was taking it REALLY personally that the other women didn't like me, but I've decided that it's not that (and I'm sticking to it), but that it's that they don't have any energy or time left in their schedule to fit me in.

My good friend I've finally made after 3 my next door neighbor.  She literally lives right next door.  So neither one of us has to make much effort to see one another.  Our friendship started very easily be just bumping in to one another outside while our kids were playing together.  Before we knew it, we ended up talking for two hours.  Every time we'd both be outside, we'd talk a little more, slowly getting to know one another.  Then she found out I played softball as a teenager, and joined Superman and I to join the co-ed team she and her husband play on.  The next thing I knew our families were going out to dinner together, taking trips to the lake together, and spending our evening sitting in the front yard together gossiping about the neighborhood.  But would we have becomes such good friends if she didn't live right next door?  If I had to drive across town to her house to chat.  Probably not.

And that is the problem with making friends as adults.  In school we had plenty of time to get to know lots of other people, but as we get older, we meet less people.  And the people we do meet and like, we can go days or weeks or months in between seeing them again.  And they have lives and responsibilities that take precedence over being our friend...which makes it take even longer to get to know them, even if both people are really trying to put in effort.

My advice: join a co-ed softball team, join a church, join a book club...something where you will meet some new people with similar interests and you know you will see them on a regular basis.

Just be patient my dear Sarah, you will meet someone!  You are AWESOME!  And if I were back in Virginia Beach, I'd definitely want you as my friend! :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Community Supported Agriculture

Dear Amber,

The cost of feeding a family of four keeps climbing.  I refuse to feed my family junk just because it's cheaper.  To offset the cost of groceries we've taken several steps:

1. We garden, growing vegetables is a big help-I use our tomatoes to make enough spaghetti sauce and salsa to get us through the next year.
2.  I coupon, but sometimes this can be a total pain in butt and a lot of time there aren't coupons for the foods we buy most often.
3.  We eat at least 3 meatless dinners per week.  Not only does this save $, but it's also better for our health.  Some examples are: rice and beans, eggs, pasta with veggies, soups and sandwiches are favorites too!
4.  The biggest step we've taken to save $ and feed our family seasonally and more healthfully is join a CSA.  Community Supported Agriculture is gaining in popularity as local farmers and consumers alike are trying to keep business close to home. 

Because of the cost, we've split this year's CSA membership with my parents.  This year we applied to be a part of the New Earth Farm, located in Southeastern Virginia Beach. 

What is a CSA?
In a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, local residents become members by paying the current fee at the start of the season, normally in May, for produce that they will receive on a weekly basis over the course of the Spring, Summer and into early Fall. This allows the farmer to cover early costs such as seed and material procurement and to get a good estimate of how much to plant. For the members, it means fresh, organically grown produce each week, support of a local farmer / business, being a part of a community of like-minded people and a personal connection to the food they eat and the people who grow it. (

Being part of a CSA also encourages you to try new foods and recipes.  Isn't it fun to find a new favorite food?  Also available through most CSA's is a work share program.  You can volunteer to work on the farm and receive a discount on the CSA membership.  This is also a great opportunity for kids to see where food comes from and all the hard work it takes to put food on your plate!  The best food is organic, the best organic food is what's grown closest to you.

To find a CSA near you check out:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Professional Angst Part II

So, I had a job interview today.

I didn't mention it yesterday, because I'm superstitious and didn't want to jinx myself.

It was the third part of a four part interview process.

I thought things went well.

I was excited about the company.  Excited about the job.  Excited at the idea of putting in a two week's notice at my current job.

But about a hour after the one-on-one interview ended, I got a call letting me know that I didn't need to come back for the afternoon portion (a job shadowing).

I was so disappointed.  I really thought things had gone well.  I thought I'd be a good fit for them and them for me.

Job interviewing is so depressing.  The rejection is very hard to take.

F-You job hunting!

Dear Amber,

I'm sorry to hear the interview didn't go as you'd hoped.  Interviewing can certainly be defeating.  A four part interview process sounds unnecessary and expensive.  Where are you looking to take your career?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Professional Angst

Dear Amber,

I know you've struggled recently with issues in the workplace, I'm hoping you can give me some guidance.  The position I'm in at work is one that I am VERY good at, I love being a Social Worker!  But to be quite honest, I could do this job with my eyes closed and one hand tied behind my back.  This brings with it a level of comfort which is often confused with a lack of challenge.  I have to admit, I'm feeling a little bored.  I feel as though I am not living up to my own potential.  But, I'm just so damn comfortable. 
I interviewed for a Director of Discharge Planning position at another nursing facility earlier this week. 

Which would mean a lot of changes:

1.  I'd be once again managing staff-granted a small staff of 2.
2.  I'd be making a significantly higher salary.
3.  Health insurance is more affordable.
4.  It's a for profit corporation (which I have to admit has never worked out for me)
5.  It would be a more challenging population to work with, ie. sick, old people elders without financial resources.
6.  I'd need to learn a whole new set of office politics and make new friends-which I'm not sure I want to, I tend to over-share and there are plenty of people in this world who "know" me.
7.  It would mean that we'd be able to buy another home sooner rather than later.  (we currently live in a 2 bed room apartment)--we may even be able to buy my parents' home, the one where I was raised.
8.  I LOVE the people I currently work with, especially Laurie, my supervisor and Darden the dietician.  (however, co-workers come and go--we won't all be here together--forever)
9.  I've never been employed anywhere--in my entire life for more than two years...I think I get antsy and feel the need to move on (or my employer does).....Am I just getting antsy as I've been here a year and a half already?
10.  Should I want to be challenged?  Is it OK to be comfortable?  

Help, I need some guidance.

Dear Sarah,

Leaving a job is always a huge risk.  If you are currently happy, you could find yourself unhappy (which was the case with my most recent job change).  And if you are currently unhappy, you could find yourself even more unhappy (which is my greatest fear surrounding my current job search).

Generally though I am in favor of leaving a job you've grown too comfortable in and looking for a newer challenge.  I think most of us thrive more personally when we find ourselves comfortably and appropriately challenged at work.  However, if the new job is too challenging, you could end up overstressed and more unhappy personally.  Again, it's a gamble.

I don't think the frequent job changing in and of itself is a bad thing.  In fact, in today's work force, it actually seems more common for people to move around every 2-3 years than to stay with the same company for 20, like in the good ol' days.

But here is the advice I'll pass to you that my dad always gave to me: Apply for the job.  It can't hurt.  You might not even get an interview.  But if you do get one: go, do well, find out more about the company and it's atmosphere.  Wait until you've been made an official offer before you start worrying about whether or not you'd actually take it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Homeschooling (The Anti-Public?)

Dear Sarah,

Have you noticed an increase in people who homeschool lately?

The National Center for Education Statistics reports:

In 2007, the number of homeschooled students was about 1.5 million, an increase from 850,000 in 1999 and 1.1 million in 2003. The percentage of the school-age population that was homeschooled increased from 1.7 percent in 1999 to 2.9 percent in 2007. The increase in the percentage of homeschooled students from 1999 to 2007 represents a 74 percent relative increase over the 8-year period and a 36 percent relative increase since 2003.

Based on the number of people I personally know choosing to home school their children, I'd wager a bet that this number has increased even more so in 2011.

When I think of the typical homeschooling family, I think extremely religious (like fundamental Christian or Mormon) or extreme hippies (living in a commune). But what surprises me the most about the current trend is that many of today's homeschooling parents are really busting apart these stereotypes.  In fact, one of my best friends homeschools her oldest son and has plans to continue with her youngest son when he "starts kindergarten" next year, and she WAS an elementary public school teacher before becoming a stay-at-home mom.  More and more, I know well educated parents (because they aren't all moms, in fact, I personally know one dad who homeschools his sons) who are choosing to homeschool their children rather than sending them to traditional schools.

But why?  Are the schools just that bad?  Too much focus on testing.  Too much sitting in seats and doing workbooks and not enough time playing and being explorative?

Are they afraid of the teachers?  The sensational news stories about teacher misconduct filling their minds with fear that the teachers will tease, taunt, or abuse their children.

Worried about the negative influence of the fellow students?  Afraid of their child being bullied, taught to cuss, smoke, or drink by their peers?

I know a couple who are experiencing a financial hardship.  He is a contractor who has had a difficult time in this down economy. They are living on one income and food stamps to take care of their 5 kids living at home.  Right now they are three months behind in rent and facing eviction.  Yet when I asked her if she would consider putting her kids in school so that she could get a job to help with their financial hardship, she looked like I had slapped her and replied "that (putting her kids in public school) would go against everything I stand for."

Look, Sarah, I WAS an elementary school teacher for a short while.  My husband is a high school teacher.  One of my best friends is a middle school teacher.  Are there some crap teachers?  Yes, but but for every bad one, I see 10 average ones and 5 great ones!  Do I think there are issues with the school system?  YES!  But I still think the benefits outweigh the negatives.  Kids learn more than just reading, writing, and arithmetic in school.  They learn how to navigate social webs.  They learn the ins and outs of dealing with people...both other students and teachers and staff.  They learn discipline (like taking turns and being quiet when necessary).

Sure, there is areas for improvement, but I certainly can't for the life of me think that things are so bad with public school that I'd rather be homeless than send my kids to public school.

What am I not getting?

Dear Amber,

Homeschooling is something I will never understand.  Unless the parent is an educator themselves, it seems arrogant to think that as a parent you can be as effective as a teacher with a lot of education and experience.

Here are my reasons:

1.  My kids need to interact on a regular basis with other adults in an authoritative role.
2.  I would be stressed to the max and likely pull my hair out.  This does not benefit my kids and I'm certain   I wouldn't like being bald.
3.  Going to public school is one of the ways that we learn the world does not revolve around us as individuals.
4.  We need to remember that we are NOT raising kids, we are raising adults who will be responsible to  contribute to our society. 
5.  I think homeschooling teaches too much flexibility.  Once again, the world does not and will not revolve around individuals.  Learning to operate within a schedule/routine set by school or an employer is an essential tool.  Unless you think that all of your children will be entrepreneurs who do not report to anyone or are responsible for any staff.
6.  Expecting that you can teach your kids at home, opting OUT of the public school experience... your children should NOT be allowed to participate in public school athletics or other extracurricular activities--HEY, you take the good with the bad!  If you want your kid to play school sports, send them to school.
7.  For those who argue that kids learn better in a "comfortable and loving" environment. I have news for you, there will never be any place like home....ever...not in school...not at need to be able to learn in different types of environments.
8.  I find that if you communicate often with your child's teacher and address issues as they arise then your child's school experience can be mostly positive.
9.  Peer pressure can be a good thing.  I like to think that our son has a positive effect on bullies and has been taught to stand up for those being bullied.  I'd also like to think that the bullying victims are thankful we send BTM to public school.

Though I disagree, I thought this was funny.

Choosing to home school your child/children is a perk in our country.  I don't understand why anyone would want to homeschool, but that doesn't mean it's wrong, just that it's wrong for our family.  Dik and I find public school a vital part of our community and being a part of our community is important.  I will admit that some things are better learned at home and that just because your child attends public school doesn't mean that he or she stops learning when they leave the building. 

Do I feel a twinge of jealousy that we cannot afford for me to stay at home and home school our children?  Maybe, but just for a moment.  Having the flexibility and financial stability to stay home is awesome, but I think even if we could afford for me to stay home, our kids would still attend public school.  I like being the mom, not sure I'd like being a teacher.

Any Pro-Homeschoolers out there, feel free to comment.  Educate Amber and I on why your kids don't attend public school? 


I love the points that you've made, especially those related to the importance of teaching your children that the world doesn't revolve around them and that they have to learn about societal norms and schedules and such.

I agree with you that just because it's wrong for us, doesn't mean it's wrong.  And you are also right, the choice is a luxury only afforded to people who can afford to live on the one income.  I guess my main point (and I don't know if it was clearly stated) is that I'm amazed that it seems some people are so anti-public school that they would rather live on food stamps and face eviction than send their children to public school.  Obviously this is just a mentality that I cannot understand. 

Let me try this from another angle.  I will try now to put myself in an "anti-public school" frame of mind.  If I were anti public school, here are the reasons why:
1.  The schedule is too rigid.  Who is the public school system to tell me when I can take my family on vacation or to the doctor.
2.  It ain't cheap..of course there is not tuition cost; but the cost of participating in school activities and fund raisers is name a fairs (I love reading and am glad my son likes it too, but buying books new is pricey), school pictures are ridiculously overpriced and now they take them TWICE a year, school sports, graduation fees, these are just a few examples of the cost, I think what's most costly is the cost of lunch.
3.  I'm really trying here, but coming up blank.
Most of the research I've looked at rejects public schools because of the lack of Christianity or lack of God in schools.  I don't have a problem with this, but non-Christian children don't need to have it forced down their throats either.  I even found an article that accuses public schools of "encouraging homosexuality." Really?  That's just stupid.
Dear Sarah,
I just feel the need to point out that all of the costs you mentioned are optional.  No one has to buy books at the book fair.  No one has to buy their school pictures.  School sports are optional.  Even participating in graduation is optional.  You can still get your diploma without walking.  Oh, and school lunches are expensive, but you can easily pack your kids lunch.

One point that I think you left off, that I have heard, and kind of mentioned above, is that they think that teachers are unqualified/lazy/stupid.  Again, as a former teacher with a teacher husband and a teacher best friend, I am both offended and see their point.
I will admit that as a teacher I saw bad teachers.  I saw a few teachers where I just wanted to shake them and say "go into another profession."  But, those were the exception, not the rule.  Generally every school I worked at had one.  Mostly I saw loving, meaningful, hardworking teachers that took their students' educations very seriously.  People who worked very hard, and were often not rewarded for the long hours and hard work with extrinsic rewards (high salaries) but with intrinsic ones (the joys of knowing they are making a difference in children's lives.

Am I afraid my kids will get a "bad" teacher.  Sure.  But that is also why I pledge to be active in the PTA and a vigilant parent participator, so that I can get to know who they great ones are and who the bad ones are and lobby for my kids to get into the "good" classes. :)


Monday, April 16, 2012

NG tube weight loss

A recent news article features women who, in an attempt to "look thinner" in their wedding gowns are resorting to using a nasogastric tube as their only source of nutrition.  For 10 days these women are fed through a tube, totalling 800 calories per day...amounting to a 20 lb weight loss.

Would I love to lose 20 lbs in 10 days? You're damn right I would, but at what cost.  Never mind the $1,500 price tag, what about the health risks involved?  I started Weight Watchers 13 weeks ago and have lost exactly 13 lbs!  Painstakingly slow weight loss,but it's healthy weight loss and I'm earning every ounce.

Amber, before your wedding did you crash diet, hire a personal trainer?  I was 7 months pregnant, so no matter what, I would waddle my very pregnant butt down that aisle!

Dear Sarah,

I definitely understand the desire to lose weight before a wedding.  When I got engaged, I immediately busted out my Weight Watchers cookbook and started counting my points and focusing on nutrition.  I also ramped up my working out.  I knew my fiance loved me exactly how I was, but of course I wanted to look as good as possible for myself.

Then, about 6 weeks before the wedding, I found out I was pregnant...with twins.  My priorities shifted to taking care of my body that was growing these two lives.  In the end, I actually ended up having to buy a new wedding dress a size bigger to accommodate my swollen chest and thickening waist.  But you know what?  I look back at those pictures and think that I never looked more beautiful!  I don't notice my size...I notice my smile. I was glowing.  Not just because I was 12 weeks pregnant, but because I was so in love and so happy to be marrying Superman.

I think there are multiple issues going on here:

1: People (Americans especially) seem obsessed with get-thin-quick type plans.  Whether it is going on an NG tube to lose weight, wiring your jaw shut, having your stomach stapled, or popping diet pills...  People seem to prefer to resort to these "short-cut" diet plans rather than good old fashioned counting calories and measuring quantities (much like Weight Watchers does) combined with actual exercise.  Because all of that is too hard and takes too long.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-weight loss surgery.  In fact, my dad lost around 200 lbs after having bariatric surgery.  And almost 4 years later, he's kept all but about 50 lbs of that off.  But, of the half dozen people I personally who have had some kind of stomach surgery, not one of them had given old fashioned dieting a real honest shot before turning to the surgery.  My dad included.  But my dad is one of the lucky ones, because he actually did take the opportunity to make a life change, and he has been able to keep off a good chunk of what he lost.  However, every other real-life person I know who's had the surgery has gained it all back within 3 years of the procedure.  It might be a quick fix...but it's not typically a permanent one.

2: Women are obsessed with having fairy tale weddings.  Most women I know have been so obsessed with planning the perfect weddings, that they don't stop and consider whether they are even marrying the right man.  They focus more on the wedding than the marriage. They want to be a "princess" for a day.

The theme of my wedding was "Hey y'all, I'm 27 years old and will be 12 weeks pregnant on my wedding day...I'm not a princess, I'm just a lady who is in love and looking forward to celebrating making a union and starting a family with this man.  Relax."  I banned anyone from my wedding from even saying the "p" word. I almost fired my wedding dress consultant because she kept trying to talk me into a tiara.

So in summary: people are obsessed with losing weight fast and over indulging in childhood fantasies about their weddings being "the best day of their lives"*, so I'm not one iota surprised that women are wasting their money on this stupid crap.

*P.S. My wedding was awesome, but it wasn't the best day of my life.  In fact, I'm pretty sure it doesn't even rank in the top 20 best days of my life.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Dear Amber,

It's been one heck of a week at our house.  Spring Break has allowed for a great deal more family time.  As I picked BTM up from Spring Break camp at the Rec Center, he sat down in his seat and proclaimed, "I don't like freckles!"  I was taken aback by this statement.  Clearly, I am a fair skinned, red headed chick with plenty of freckles to go around.  My response to BTM "But Mommy has lots of freckles."  BTM took a moment, sighed and then stated "I know, but I can see your mustache too."  I laughed so hard, I was brought to tears.  I didn't know how to respond.  BTM then added "sometimes the sunlight hits it just right and I can see your stache." 
Is this how he sees my mustache?

The honesty of youth is often discouraged and filtered in an effort to better "socialize" our children.  To keep them from hurting other people's feelings.  I chose not to scold BTM for his candid talk.  Rather, Dik and I decided to let it be, "it is what it is."  At this point I don't think that we need to tell BTM not to say things like that to strangers.  I think that it's because of our closeness that BTM felt comfortable enough to tell me.  If BTM believes he is close enough with another to have these types of candid conversations then it shouldn't be a problem.

So, Amber.  Should we have corrected BTM?  What would Amber do?

Dear Sarah,

First of all, why doesn't BTM love his freckles?  I LOVE mine.  My grandma used to tell me that they were the footprints of fairies that danced on my face while I was sleeping.

Funnily enough, that never creeped me out.

I'm actually a bit sad that neither Thing 1 or Thing 2 has freckles yet.  But then I remember that their time is coming...Superman and I both have freckles, so unless they were switched at birth with another set of identical twins, I'm pretty sure they'll have plenty soon enough.

As far as correcting BTM.  I'm with you.  I tend not to correct my boys for making observations.  For instance, when they say I have a big belly.  Or say that that person is in a wheel chair.  Or that person is wearing a hijab.  Instead of saying "oh honey, you shouldn't say that", I just try and say a fact about what they said.  "Yes, mommy's belly is big because she ate too much and didn't run around and play enough to keep it small."  "Yes, that person is in a wheel chair probably because their legs hurt too much to walk."  "Yes, some people wear scarves on their head as part of their religion."

To me, as long as the boys are just pointing things out things they have observed, it is just natural curiosity, and I choose not to discourage that.  Because I don't think it's our differences that are bad, I think it's our inability to accept other people's differences.

Now, if the boys get to a point where they are saying it negatively, or being mean, or name-calling, than different conversations need to be had.  For instance, if he had taunted "You have a mustache." (You know that tone..."You have a mustache...nah-nah-na-nah-na")  Then I think we would have had a discussion about calling names and hurting people's feelings.

But the way he said it, I would have laughed like you. And then gone home and shaved my 'stache.

Dear Amber,

I will defiantly say "I don't have a mustache!!"  I have tiny blonde hairs that highlight my lucious lips. ; )