Next year when you do the toy review (December 2003), could you consider doing a "nontraditional" toy roundup, too? I do a lot of workshops for educators, and I am always amazed at how few of the professionals have ever seen a set of Waldorf-style silk play clothes. Kids turn these into everything from superhero capes to forts to blankies for dolls. And I have never met a little girl who can resist the charm of a no-worries doll made in the favelas of Brazil and available at www.rosiehippo.com. Boys like them too. Many parents have never experienced these classic, no-batteries-needed toys. Target and Toys 'R' Us don't sell them. Since you folks are such a great resource, and not just a mouthpiece for corporations with big ad budgets, it would be great if you could ferret out some off-the-beaten-path toy favorites. Keep up the good work. ANGELA ALLYN, Evanston Why bash a resolute Bush? It's a shame Susy Schultz had to use her editorial space (December 2003) to bash President Bush and his apparent "lack of worry." I, for one, am happy to have a confident president who is "firm," "resolute" and "committed." MICHELLE CANDOCIA, Vernon Hills Worrying is not Christian I disagree strongly with Susy Schultz' assertion that worry is "integral to any religion." I cannot speak for all religions, but I point you to the words of Jesus in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew: "Don't worry and don't keep saying, ‘what shall we eat, what shall we drink, or what shall we wear?'... Don't worry then about tomorrow. Tomorrow can take care of itself." Christians are not just discouraged from worrying; they are admonished not to worry by Christ himself, and are told instead to trust in God. Worry, of course, is a feeling that all Christians, and indeed all human beings, are subject to. But it is something that is antithetical to, rather than integral to, Christianity. DAVID KUNER, Evanston Where are the Christians? I admire the service your paper provides Chicago parents and enjoy reading it. However, your November 2003 edition introduced a cover photo of a Muslim child with a full story inside detailing the teachings of Ramadan and Islam. I am sure the paper's intentions were ones of tolerance and good nature toward Muslims. I assumed you might feature a cover story about Christmas and the birth of Jesus in December so other faiths can learn about the Christian religion practiced by 85 percent of the country. I was very disappointed when I saw the December issue featuring "Toys, toys, toys" on the front page. Is that the best your paper can come up with for the Christmas season—toys? Have we gotten so scared of mentioning Christmas that we now discriminate against ourselves and kiss up to other religions to the point of proselytizing on their behalf? VIC GRACE, Elk Grove Village Gifted article unbalanced I was surprised to see such an unbalanced article as Dan Weissmann's "Gifted education for all" (December 2003). Weissmann obviously feels the answer to that question is yes, and he devotes the majority of his article to the thoughts of people who agree with him. How about an analogy: Suppose we decided on a national level that it no longer makes sense to give grant money to our brightest scientists to conduct research. Split up all that money and let the average citizen come up with some good ideas. We could be a nation of tinkerers—with funding for every garage workshop. Or suppose we abolish all scholarship competitions. Is it unfair and discriminatory to give scholarship funds only to those who can write superior essays? Of course, the answer to that is no. It is wishful thinking to believe if we simply get rid of gifted education funding all children would benefit. Not to mention the disruptive and discipline problems caused by placing gifted children into classrooms where they are bored. When gifted children are not educated to become all that they can be, we all lose. GLENN KRELL, Chicago Watch your words I was pleased to see the December 2003 articles on chiropractic and osteopathic care of children and newborns. It was disappointing, however, to read the quote, "Every baby gets his head slammed against his mother's cervix for several hours," and to see a mother's pelvis described as "funky." These negative images do not promote a view of birth as a normal, healthy process. In fact, a cervix in labor is soft, pliable and stretchy, hardly something that is "slammed" into. It's more like a sweater neck being pulled over a baby's head. Birth does not need to be traumatic or violent. Babies can be born calm, alert and able to nurse right after birth. Anyone who has seen a gentle, midwife-attended birth knows this. Our culture has enough fears and misconceptions of birth. I hope that in the future Chicago Parent will choose to print words that create a positive image of birth and women's bodies. JEWEL MAEDA, Certified Nurse Midwife, Weiss Memorial Hospital, Chicago Watch your words, part 2 Since becoming a parent, I have found Chicago Parent to be helpful in finding opportunities for my kids. That is why I am writing to ask you to respect the diversity of your readers, particularly with regard to how we form our families. In "31 days of December" (December 2003) by Angela Schneider, the third item on the list asks readers to "Adopt a family." This is a demeaning statement for those of us who have formed our families through adoption. It is cavalier. The term should imply permanence, not a temporary "helping out." Adoption is a lifelong commitment of parents to children, to being there for them in good times and bad, through the triumphs and the defeats. Language is important. I would hope Chicago Parent could be a leader in sensitivity to families created in all ways. Next year, say "Sponsor a family." KAREN MULLER, Chicago Story stigmatizes C-section I normally love Chicago Parent, but I was extremely disappointed with "VBAC: A woman's right to vaginal birth" (November 2003). I would love to have given birth naturally, but that simply wasn't meant to be. I would love to be able to have a VBAC, too, but that is not in the cards. In April, my son was born prematurely. Because it was an emergency and he was so far up in the birth canal I had to have a classical cut. I was surprised that your article did not mention the difference between Caesarean section cuts. If a woman receives a classical C-section, then it is not safe for her to ever have a VBAC. Your headline said, "A woman's right to vaginal birth: What you should know before making a decision." By not presenting your readers with both kinds of C-sections you are misleading them into believing that vaginal birth is a right. That just isn't always the case. Because of the emergency C-section I received, my son's life was saved. If that means I never experience a vaginal birth as a result, it was worth it. KIMBERLY SCHRODE-LAWSON, Chicago No grief after C-section What do you mean by "grief after Caesarean?" You refer to it several times in your article on vaginal births after Caesarean (November 2003). If there is any grief, it's caused by similar articles and comments by VBAC and vaginal birth supporters. I felt pure elation after the C-section birth of each of my beautiful boys. I gave VBAC a real try and was glad I did, but the real reason many women don't try VBACs has little to do with the fear of uterine rupture. With a success rate of just 12.7 percent, why would you give hours of exhausting labor only to end up with an elongated recovery rate from surgery? My sisters had planned C-sections after their first, and their recovery from surgery was shorter. They knew what to expect and, unlike me, weren't sleep- and energy-deprived from the unsuccessful labor. If I had a third, there would be no grief after that planned C-section. SERENA BRIGGS, Bensenville Give VBAC a try My first child was born via C-section and my second was delivered vaginally. I believe that my C-section was a contributing factor to postpartum depression and the decision not to breastfeed my first daughter. To succeed in VBAC, women must assemble a team of people who support their decision and become an active participant in their pregnancy and labor. During my second pregnancy, I practiced yoga and focused on having an entirely different birth experience. My second daughter is now 10 weeks old. I do not have postpartum depression and am successfully breastfeeding. VBAC is possible and worth attempting despite the risk factors and low success rate, I believe that your attitude directly correlates to your outcome. BECKY ZOERNER, Aurora
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