Annie Fox's Blog...

Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

Help! I’m drowning in zucchini

July 27, 2009

Neighbors at Marin Open Garden Exchange

Neighbors at Marin Open Garden Exchange

Fruits and veggies rock. Especially this time of year. Even if peppers, tomatoes, blackberries, corn and the other delights of summer didn’t taste so incredible, they’d earn top grades for being outright gorgeous. That’s why not only do I eagerly eat my 5+ servings a day, I also photograph and draw produce, just for the fun of it. And of course, I grow stuff too.

But there are times in the life of the most enthusiastic gardener when exultation ripens into contempt. As in the sight of yet another 10 inch zucchini where yesterday no zucchini grew. Or when your entire family pledges to eat 4 tomatoes a day and still there’s no discernible dent in the red mountain that continues growing on your kitchen counter. And when out of necessity you start experimenting with banana-pesto smoothies to deal with the basil that’s taking over the back deck, well, something’s gotta give.

Enter a simply yet brilliant idea: Gardeners bring their surplus every week to a central location and swap with neighbors for stuff they’re not growing at home.

The result? Expand your friendships, expand your gardening knowledge by learning the secrets of the master gardeners among us, take home (different) yummy fruits and veggies, and make others happy with the stuff you’re so eager to unload. Which of course, restores the self-esteem of the zucchini you just dumped. Wow… win-win-win!

And it’s all FREE!

Here in San Anselmo, CA our Sustainable San Anselmo group began partnering with the  Marin Open Garden Exchange 4 weeks ago. This week’s bounty included mission figs, purple carrots, eggs, lavender, lemons, pears, onions, zucchini, basil. It happens every Saturday, 9-10 AM in Creek Park.

If you’re a gardener outside of Marin, consider organizing with your neighbors to create your own Open Garden Project. If gardening isn’t your thing but you know someone who loves it… Please share this to them! This is an idea with legs… and roots!




Figs (this variety is ripe when still green)

Basil, rosemary, apples

Crazy cucumber

Pears, tomatoes

Filed under: Parenting — Tags: , , , — Annie @ 3:44 pm

Life lessons from the berry patch

July 20, 2009

The fruits of my labor

The fruits of my labor

“What am I doing here?” I wondered, venturing deeper into the blackberry thicket. “This isn’t what I planned for today.”  I’d planned to finish the first draft of the chapter I’m writing for a future installment of Middle School Confidential. Actually, that was my plan for last Friday. Didn’t happen. Can’t even remember exactly why. Maybe I spent too much time in the garden inhaling the lavender. It’s possible. Anyway, Friday was a wash.

Saturday looked like a promising writing day, but with the Open Garden Project in the morning, making focaccia for a friend’s birthday and teleporting it and us to that fine celebration… well, scratch Saturday.

By Sunday morning I’d scrubbed and primed my work ethic. My desk was clear. My notes organized. But then we remembered that we hadn’t yet seen Harry Potter. So that was that.

Which brings me to today. Got an early start. Then I had to bake muffins. What else was I to do with those decomposing bananas? Twitter my fruit fly followers and invite them for lunch?

When David and I finished  breakfast I couldn’t believe it was 12:24! That’s late even by Fox standards. (No we are not sloths. We’re highly productive freelance telecommuters who just happen to keep odd hours, thank you very much.)

By 12:45 I  really was all set to resume work on my chapter. But we had a package that had to go out today. And since we missed the mailman we had to walk it down the hill to the mailbox.

After that I really should have gone home with David. But I wanted to snag some blackberries. I mean, really, the season is sooooo short and right now they’re pretty much at their peak of indigo lusciousness. Couldn’t resist… weak-willed mortal that I am. So that’s how I happened to be in the berry patch. And even though I haven’t officially started my “work day” (now it’s 4:27 and I’m blogging, which doesn’t actually count) recriminations aside, there is much wisdom to be gained by not following The Plan. For example:

1. You can’t hurry love or fruit.

2. Rewards require effort unless you hit the lottery.

3. Take what you need and leave the rest otherwise you piss people off.

4. Avoid thorns and thorny individuals.

5. Everyone reaches full potential in their own time.

6. Sometimes it’s nice to be where no one can reach you.

7. Go for the low-hanging fruit first, that’s why it’s there.

8. If you hide your gifts, you risk being underappreciated or overlooked.

9. Monday is just a word, not a sentence.

10. Blackberry juice stains. – Yep.

Filed under: Parenting,Tips — Tags: , , , — Annie @ 4:33 pm

But “I still love him…” Puh-leeze!

July 15, 2009

I know what love is. And I know what it sure as hell isn’t. No one’s born knowing. In my case, I only got it after many tedious attempts at misplaced affection. (Thankfully, my suffering yielded a few not too shabby souvenir poems and songs, so there’s that.)

Understanding this stuff is essential. I mean, really, if you don’t know how to love and how to get what you need from your partner, how are you ever going to create and maintain a healthy relationship? You’re not! Which brings me to this email from yesterday:

Hey Annie,

I have been with this guy for 2 years. We were engaged and living together. He left me  two months ago and I can’t figure out exactly why he won’t even say I love you anymore. I had caught him before on chat lines giving other women his number talking very very dirty. Even talking to his ex and well, I left him. After a couple months I went back because he proposed to me and swore it was me he wanted. He said he was gonna change and he wanted to make me  happy. That lasted about 5 months. I found out this time when we broke up he was still talking to his ex. He even told me he met a girl at a bar for a one night bj but swears that’s all that happened. Now he said he wanted to be “f__  friends” with me and that’s all or nothing. I don’t know what to do anymore. I love him still so much after all that’s happened and I can’t understand why. I just wish he loved me. I don’t think he ever has. Please help me I’m seriously depressed…

Lost and Confused

Dear L & C,

You say that you “still love him” and that you wish he would “just love” you. I’m not sure what kind of love you’re talking about, but it isn’t enough to make this work. What the guy did was flat-out wrong, disrespectful and low. But let’s be fair… you didn’t show the greatest judgment either.  Part of your current situation is a direct result of taking him back after he betrayed you. I’m guessing that you really didn’t trust him. You still don’t! Yet you allowed yourself to believe he’d get his act together. (Based on what? “LOVE”?) It also sounds like you two never addressed the hurt caused by the first betrayal. Never discussed why he thought it was OK to cheat on you. And because you never dealt with it, it came back to bite you… hard. The fact that now all he wants from you is to be one of his “f__ friends” really says it all, doesn’t it? And the reason you “still love” this self-centered disrespectful individual “so much” is… why?

What you need to move forward is more self-respect. When you develop that you won’t need me or anyone else to tell you that this isn’t love. If you need help sorting out your feelings and working on self-esteem, then I strongly suggest that you find a counselor or a therapist to talk with.

In friendship,

Most parents I talk with say they absolutely want their teen daughters and sons to grow up to be “a good partner in a healthy committed relationship.” If we’re going to walk the walk, we really need to be teaching our kids that love isn’t enough.

Filed under: Parenting,Tips — Tags: , , , , , — Annie @ 11:32 am

Podcast for Parents and Teens: My life sucks because I’m too fat!

July 13, 2009

"Over It"

"Over It: A Teen's Guide to Getting Beyond Obsessions with Food and Weight"

Several times a week I receive an email from a desperate 12-16 year old girl who’s having issues about her weight. No, let me rephrase that. Her issue isn’t with the number on the bathroom scale. The issue is how she feels about herself. Typically the girl who writes to me hates her body and the way she looks. Then the whole guilt by associate thing sets in and next thing you know… the girl hates herself!

Here are some recent examples:

I’m a junior in high school and let me just start by saying: being a junior sucks. It’s not just the year itself but me that seems to be the problem. Then there’s the whole body image thing. I know I should be happy with what I’ve got and blah blah blah but I still wish I could get out of the training bra section. It’s so awful having friends tell me that they wish they didn’t develop and I should be happy that I’m flat as a board at 16.

Or this one:

I know that I need to lose 10-15 pounds because I’m 5’3″ and weigh about 130. I think that is too high. All my family members say that I’m a little overweight and I am embarrassed every time they talk to me about it. Maybe I don’t need to lose that much but I still need to lose some.

Or this:

I’m very perplexed. I think I’m fat when everyone tells me I’m not. I’m bulimic but no one knows. How do I stop? Because every time I do try to stop I feel guilty and I become worse. I’m 12 years old and I weigh 75 pounds. I still think I’m fat.

Should we be surprised that these girls are so unhappy with themselves and so out of synch with reality? Considering that they’re growing up in a thin-obsessed culture, it would probably be way more surprising if they didn’tfeel this way! So what’s been going on with American girls and women since the early ‘60’s that causes this crippling dissatisfaction with our looks? What does the steady rise in eating disorders (which now includes boys and men) say about our society and our values? And how do we get over it already and help our daughters and sons do the same?

In this week’s podcast* I talk with Carol Normandi and Laurelee Roark co-authors of “Over It: A Teen’s Guide to Getting Beyond Obsessions with Food and Weight.” We talk about the effects of media and pop culture on the body image, healthy and well-being of our tweens and teens. And what parents can do to fight back.

Have a listen here:

If you have iTunes, you can subscribe to this podcast in the iTunes Store.

Or, you can download an MP3 version here.

Upcoming guests include:

Robert Rummel-Hudson, author of Schuyler’s Monster: A Father’s Journey With His Wordless Daughter

Wednesday Martin, author of Stepmonster: A New Look At Why Stepmothers Think, Feel And Act The Way We Do

Ayelet Waldman, author of Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, And Occasional Moments of Grace

Izzy Rose, author of The Package Deal: My (not-so) Glamorous Transition from Single Gal to Instant Mom

Diane E. Levin, co-author (with Jean Kilbourne) of So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood And What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids

Special thanks to our friend and musician/composer Curt Siffert who let us use his song, “Tie Down for the Storm” for the opening of this podcast.

*What’s a podcast? “A podcast is a series of digital media files, usually either digital audio or video, that is made available for download via web syndication.” — Wikipedia… So, in this case, there’s an audio file for you to listen to (in addition to reading the above).

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