boycott infant formula

There are many reasons why breastfeeding matters, and one of them is that when you do not breastfeed, you have to buy infant formula. And when you buy infant formula, you are supporting formula manufacturers' increasingly successful campaign to decrease breastfeeding rates in the third world, and that's where breastfeeding-or-not is literally and immediately a life or death issue for babies and young children.


attachment parenting in japan

Check it out. Here is my book in its Japanese version.


henry's political evolution

Reading Andi's essay (below -- the one about her kids & politics) reminded me of this one, which I wrote in 2000.

I am happy to report that this year, Henry -- now age 12 -- is all about getting Bush out of office. He's still super interested in politics and now considers himself a Green, but he's practical enough to know the Democratic Party offers the art of the possible:

Playing Politics

by Katie Allison Granju

I grew up in a house full of liberal Democrats. One of my very first baby photos depicts me – at the tender age of two weeks – being carried on a labor picket line with my striking journalist father. At age ten or so, I became involved in my first political campaign when I wore a dancing potato costume at various election stops for Bob Clement, who was then campaigning to become Tennessee's governor. No one in my family can recall what the potato was supposed to signify, but we all remember the costume. As a high school and college student I spent several summers in D.C. working for two Democratic members of Tennessee’s congressional delegation.

The first time I remember seeing my future husband was as he was hanging around the anti-apartheid shanty town that graced the lawn of the University of Tennessee’s Humanities Building in the spring of 1989. He and I went on to involve ourselves jointly in a variety of progressive causes that mattered to us, and in fact, one of our first dates was captured on the front page of The Tennesseean; we were marching together at a peace rally near the Oak Ridge Y-12 plant.

And then we became parents. Our son Henry was born in the fall of 1991 and we brought him home to our shabby but well-loved Fort Sanders apartment, sure that we had together given life to a budding little activist. We played him Public Enemy and Fugazi and Arlo Guthrie. He appeared on the local news as we strolled him through downtown in Knoxville’s annual Gay Pride parade. From the time he could babble, we encouraged him to develop his own ideas and to take a stand for things he believes in.

So it shouldn’t have surprised us too much when, at the age of five, he announced that he had developed a strong preference in the 1996 presidential election.

“I’m for Bob Dole,” he proclaimed with unwavering authority.

My husband Chris and I both stared down at Henry, sure we had misunderstood.

“But Henry, why are you for Bob Dole?” we asked. I figured that in a Republican town like Knoxville, Bob Dole was getting all the playground buzz. Maybe Henry was just trying to fit in with his friends at Rocky Hill Elementary.

“I ‘m for Bob Dole because he’s a war hero and has a lot of experience. I like his ideas on lower taxes,” explained Henry.

Despite our calmly reasoned protestations, Henry stuck with Dole to the bitter end of the ’96 campaign. After it was over, Chris and I continued to talk politics with our little supply-sider in hopes that his support for Mr. Viagra had been a fluke, a childish whim. But as the 2000 election year rolled around, Henry again went for the Republican nominee. He became a vocal Bush supporter early in the primaries and hung with him until the last chad was (not) counted.

No amount of reasoning could sway my third grade son from his choice. In fact, to my daily annoyance, he took to proselytizing to his sister and brother, five-year-old Jane and three year old Elliot.

“Now Elliot,” he would start in whenever he wanted to get a rise out of me, “tell Mama who you want to be president.”

“George W. Bush!” Elliot would warble with gusto as I cringed.

I am happy to report that my daughter went for Nader (one of her kindergarten-age buddies told his parents that he too was for the candidate he thought was named “The Ralphinator”), but Jane ended up switching her allegiance to Gore when it came time for her to enter the “Kids Voting” booth on election day.

After the election was all over, Henry and I went out to dinner together in the Old City and I again tried to get to the heart of his political views. I talked to him about the values that matter to me, about my views on world events and social issues.

“I understand all that stuff Mom,” he responded with some frustration. “That’s why I was for Bush. Because he represents things that matter to me, like being against abortion. I’m against abortion. And it really bothered me when Gore said stuff during the campaign that wasn’t exactly true. You always told me that was wrong.”

Suddenly, I was speechless. I looked at my handsome, earnest son gazing back at me over his child’s plate of spaghetti, and I suddenly felt so incredibly proud of him. And I experienced one of those oh-so- fleeting moments as a parent when you know you’re doing OK.

Even though Henry may not agree with me on the details, he has absorbed the family values we are trying to impart: honesty, civic engagement, integrity, and personal responsibility for one’s decisions. I had been browbeating him with my opinions when in fact, he was carefully weighing his own.

As happy as I am that Henry is so interested in politics, I do hope he doesn’t go the Young Republican route in ‘04. After all, I love the kid a lot and I’d really hate to have to send him away to be a foreign exchange student until the election is over.

Copyright Katie Allison Granju 2000-2003. All rights reserved
Originally appeared in Metro Pulse

my neighborhood

I love my neighborhood. I bought a 1930 Craftsman bungalow here three months ago and have quickly come to feel at home. It's a walking neighborhood, with sidewalks and streetlights. People are always out walking and my kids zoom up and down the street on their scooters and bikes. All the houses have front porches, so I've already met most of my immediate neighbors. The folks living here are a nice mix of longtime residents (One couple on our street has lived in their house for SIXTY YEARS!) and younger people buying and fixing oold houses. Unlike most of very Republican Knoxville, my street is decorated with lots of John Kerry signs (we have one too). I can walk to work in only ten minutes on the days when the kids are with their father (most mornings I have to drive them to their schools on the other side of town). The neighborhood is truly a neighborhood, with small businesses, shops, churches, and restaurants. Tonight my kids and I walked to the Time Warp Tea Room for a nice supper of sandwiches, chili and iced chai. And we can walk downtown in about thirty minutes.

I should have moved to North Knoxville eons ago. And unless I move to the country, which I may do someday. I'll never live in a neighborhood without sidewalks again.


childishness & politics

Read my friend Andi Buchanan's terrific essay on her children's political views in The Christian Science Monitor.


great pyrenees

I have a new puppy! He's an 11 week old Great Pyrenees named Leo. He came from a farm where his parents guard Alpacas and goats.

I used to have another Great Pyrenees named Leo and he was much loved, but when my life became totally disrupted several years ago due to divorce, moving to a rental, new job, etc, I had to make the extremely difficult and still painful decision to find him a new home, which I did with the help of a reputable Great Pyrenees rescue group. I still miss him.

Now we are all settled again in a house we own with a yard and I felt ready for a puppy. We already have one dog: Fiat is a Jack Russell mix and I love him, but Great Pyrs are my favorite breed. I feel much better with a huge livestock guardian breed watching over my children and my house.

One interesting thing about Pyrs is how instinctive their behavior is. Leo is only three months old but he already walks our fence line, barking at strange animals and dogs. He already settles himself against the front door at night, staying alert to everything going on. He is a little more reserved than my previous Pyr, so I think he'll be an even better family guardian, although I will make sure he gets plenty of socialization.