Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Incubus' song "Dig" is one of my favorite. When my husband and I met we were both dealing with many issues from the past. Sometimes it felt as if the whole world was against me but no matter what I was going through he was there. In much the same manner I became his home, a place where it was okay to be himself and receive unconditional love.

After we were married things were great. Then the external stressors once again came back down on us harder than ever. We were now living on a single income and the single income was coming from self-employment in a failing economy. We also had a new baby. Our love for each other never changed but certainly the hardships drained us. Before long we were both cranky and tired.

Now when we are tired, stressed, or even angry I can put on "Dig" and know that we are both imperfect people who love each other very much and we need to continue to be best friends regardless of what is happening in our lives. It's a reminder of our promises and our need to be rescued from time to time. Here are the lyrics to "Dig:"

We all have a weakness,

but some of ours are easy to identify,
look me in the eye,
and ask for forgiveness,
we'll make a pact to never speak that word again,
yes, you are my friend.

We all have something that digs at us,
at least we dig each other.
So when weakness turns my ego up
I know you'll count on the me from yesterday.
If I turn into another
dig me up from under what is covering
the better part of me.
Sing this song
remind me that we'll always have each other
when everything else is gone.

We all have a sickness that cleverly attaches and multiplies

no matter how we try.
We all have someone that digs at us,
at least we dig each other.
So when sickness turns my ego up
I know you'll act as a clever medicine.

If I turn into another,

dig me up from under what is covering
The better part of me.
Sing this song!
Remind me that we'll always have each other
when everything else is gone.
Oh, each other when everything else is gone.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Our Christmas Blessing!

This Christmas was very special to our family.

We started it off by going to my mom's house for a Christmas feast. I really appreciate that my family has been considerate of the vegetarians in the family and specially prepared each dish (with the exception of the meat dishes) without chicken broth or gelatin. So the bacon was left off the broccoli salad and the potato dishes were made with vegetable broth. It was great!
Before we started opening gifts Bear came up to me wiggling his loose tooth. I could see it was about ready to come out but he wasn't going to make it happen on his own. I offered to pull it out for him and he agreed to let me. I took some floss and looped it around his tooth. Nervously, I yanked down firmly knowing that if I failed to extract the tooth with the first pull any other attempts would be refused. Luckily the tooth came right out with the first tug, looking a bit like a white lassoed marshmallow. Bear was thrilled and proudly showed off the new window in his smile.

Ever try to get six children to sit for a picture? Well...

Five out of six ain't bad.  Right to left: Bear, Midge, Jules, Nay, Boo, and Nee-Nee.
Then it was time to open presents and all heck usually breaks loose as the gift wrap goes flying and the kids get amped up on new toys.

Midge didn't know what to do with the wrapping paper so Stephen helped him.

On the way home Nee-Nee and I had a talk about Jesus and the meaning of Christmas.  She told me that she was ready to accept Jesus into her heart. For those won't aren't familiar with Christianity, this is a major step in our faith affirming that we believe we have salvation through Jesus and his death. So last night she prayed for Jesus to come into her heart and be her savior.  Bear also prayed, but I don't know if he fully understands it yet.
It was truly the best Christmas ever!

Happy Birthday Jesus....errr....Stephen

My husband's birthday falls on December 23rd and is often overshadowed by Christmas.  Luckily he has a sense of humor and has always told people of the story of his birthday cake's inscription saying "Happy Birthday Jesus & Stephen."  Now this story has always been joke...until this year when I got him the fabled cake:

His reaction when I placed the cake in front of him was priceless.  He was really amused:

We had planned to go to a local pizza shop that ended up being closed the week of Christmas so we invited our friends and family to our place for pizza, cake, and a game of Texas Hold 'Em.  It was a great night.  I bought my hubby Nutty Bars, Mac and Cheese, and Nutter Butters for his special day.  The junk food he has to miss out on all year because I don't buy it is a special treat on his birthday.  He said that food made him feel right at home, which is good for an Iowa boy who is now stuck in California.  Happy 33rd Birthday Baby!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Where's Your Black Vortex?

During the winter months I never travel without my trusty lip balm within my reach.  This year I bought the Earth Mama, Angel Baby brand, which is organic and works well with my crunchy lifestyle.  :-)  I used it liberally on myself and the kids until one day I went to get it out of the side pocket of my purse and it was gone.  I was upset but went ahead and purchased another one.  Within two days I had also lost that one.  I searched my entire purse including the pocket I normally kept it in, the car, and the diaper bag.  Now I was peeved!  I bought yet another one and put it in the same outside pocket.  Within a week it was also gone.  It was only then that it occured to me to check the side pocket for holes that might lead to a space between the purse and the a little purse vortex.  Sure enough I squeezed two fingers through a tiny hole in the side pocket and pulled out three Mint Herbal Lip Balms!  I was a bit embarassed to think I was putting the lip balm in the same pocket the third time even when I knew that the first two times the lip balm had disappeared when I stored it there.

That really got me to thinking about the things we do over and over and even after getting undesirable results still continue to do.  I can list many times over the years of life lessons where it took me making the same mistake over and over to learn a valuable lesson.  At think sometimes it's because we have always done something a certain way and don't really consider changing it because it's our "norm."  Other times I think it's because we are too busy to realize that there is a problem that can be fixed.  For me the problem tends to exist when I have expectations of something or someone other than myself that don't get met.  In this case, I expected that the purse would not have a hole because it was fairly new.  That expectation cost me about $8.  
So today's reflection is not a critique or a criticism, but rather an encouragement towards self-reflection.  It could be that you struggle with being late, financially strapped, yelling at your kids, or your weight.  Perhaps you feel like others are letting you down.  Rather than getting upset, take charge of your issues.  Set up boundaries, take charge, and find solutions.  Change your habits or simply the way you word things.  Ask yourself if you are causing your own issues.  Seek advice from others who have been there.
Most importantly, remember that attitude is everything.  Accept that you can't change everything and you shouldn't try to change anybody, but you can change how people and situations affect you.  
Have a wonderful week! 

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Barefoot Writing

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I was recently asked to be one of the co-leaders for the Barefoot Mamas Network. I will be doing the writing for the blog and helping run things when the founders are too busy. I am very excited and I feel like this is going to be a great opportunity for me.

Recently I was also asked to write for a website called I have been published twice already and I plan on doing more once time permits.

Read my articles here and here.

Happy Reading!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Think Of Me

Last night I took a sleepy Midge to his crib and prepared to have to coax him into sleeping.  He gave me a snuggle then looked me right in the eye and said "Tinka me."  I wasn't sure what he was trying to say at first but he continued to look me in the eye and say "Tinka me" so I knew he was trying to tell me something.  Finally it occured to me that he was saying "Think of Me" which is a song I have been singing to the kids at bedtime for years.  He had heard me sing it to Nee Nee and Bear every night and now he was ready to have his turn.  I started singing and he immediately laid down, snuggled his stuffed animal and closed his eyes. 
The song if from the cartoon Veggie Tales and the lyrics go:
"Think of me everyday.
Hold tight to what I say,
And I'll be close to you,
Even from far away.
Know that wherever you are,
it is never too far.
If you think of me,
I'll be with you."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Why Can't We Be Friends? Doulas vs The Medical Community

NBC's Today Show segment (I apologize for the poor quality, but thank the person who put this on youtube for others to see.):

What a horrible story!  First of all, why interview a doctor?  Shouldn't they be interviewing a doula or someone from DONA international?  From my experience most physicians do not like people who encourage their patients to question their recommendations.  And I can certainly understand why they would feel that way.  After all, doulas are not trained to deliver or provide medical care for babies.  However, most physicians are also not trained for normal birth, they are skilled surgeons trained to look for reasons to intervene with a normal process.  The common thread here is that they both work for the expectant mother and along with the nurse they are part of a team whose goal is to give the mother and baby the best outcome possible.  

A doula sister of mine recently attended a hospital birth at supposedly "baby-friendly" hospital with a new maternity wing.  The first thing the OB did was to point at the doula and tell the laboring mother that she shouldn't influence her decisions.  After laboring for only six hours and getting clear to seven cenimeters open the doula was asked to step out while the medical staff spoke to the parents.  She was allowed back in and a short time later asked to step out again so that the staff could discuss with the parents their options.  My friend waited outside the room and the nurse came out with her things and told her it would be best if she went home.  My friend was shocked.  She left only to find out later that her client had an epidural, the baby's heart rate dropped, and her client ended up with a c-section.  It was the doctor's third c-section that day.  Later she found out that the nurse lied to the parents, telling them the doula had errands to run and that was why she left.  The nurse had simply come back in to get her belongings and bring them to her.

I have heard of doula horror stories, of course, where doulas pressure unwilling clients into natural birth when perhaps that wasn't what the mother wanted or it was a detriment to the outcome of the labor.  In any profession there are going to be those who need to find another line of work.  This would be an example of someone who has crossed the lines of doula support.

So what can doulas do to help build a sense of teamwork in the maternity ward of a hospital?

Before I walk into a hospital birth I encourage clients to inform their doctors that they will be hiring a doula.  That way they aren't surprised by my presence.  I come in with the mindset that the staff might have had bad experiences with other doulas.  I do my best to put them at ease by greeting them with respect and appreciation for being there.  I try to avoid interjecting while the staff is speaking and if I feel something needs to be addressed I will ask the mom if she wants to ask her doctor about the procedures discussed by using the B.R.A.I.N. acronym.  That empowers her to ask about the benefits, risks, and alternatives to any procedure.  Then we talk about what her intuition is telling her and ask if the intervention has to be done now.  Then she has the power to make an informed consent.  With this technique I avoid the temptation to tell her what I think she should do, which keeps me from crossing the line from empowering to pushing.  I do my very best to be the gentle voice in a roomful of people and while I am not hiding in the corner I am also not dominating the room and drawing negative attention.  If I want to suggest a change in position with the nurse in the room I will ask "I have a birth ball that I brought, do you think we would be able to use it?"  In my head I know that it is probably okay but in this manner I am respecting their "turf."  If they seem hesitant I try to find out what they are worried about, and we can often compromise "How about we keep it right by the bed so she can still be monitored?"  That way both parties get what they want.  I offer to do all of the running for the mom instead of asking the nurse for things I can easily get.  I am also sure to use the nurse's first name and always use a positive tone.  At the end of a birth I am sure to thank everyone involved.  If you think the nurse was great, praise her up and down!  Nurses sometimes work under crappy conditions and they experience burn-out pretty easily.  If the OB has an office I send a card thanking him/her for being great to work with and add a few business cards. 
Now I realize there will be situations like the one I mentioned above where the nurse was really out of line.  This sort of behavior needs to be brought to the attention of her supervisors.  Lying, manipulating, or removing a patient's right is never okay and should not be tolerated.  Just as we are advocates for our patients through labor we also have a greater responsibility to address issues that affect the well being of our clients. 

While our first priority is to our client we also have to realize that serving our client also means being respectful and fostering good relationships with the medical staff.  If we all get along and keep a peaceful and positive energy around the laboring mother can you imagine how much better the outcomes could be?    

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Welcome Our Newest Family Member!

Daisy melted our hearts the moment we saw her.  Right after church we went outside to chat with our friends and Midge ran off to the grassy area to play.  Someone from our church had brought puppies and Daisy went right up to Midge and tried to hide under his legs.  Of course he is all of two feet tall so he was unable to keep his balance.  She was so sweet, curling up underneath us to keep cool. 
At our shop we have a watchdog named Dusty.  He has been a bit lonely lately so we figured this would be a good playmate for our Dusty Dog.  She's been such a great addition to our shop.  She keeps Dusty busy and they both seem happy.  At first I was wondering if we had made a mistake taking a puppy home on a whim but it's been wonderful.  She has a fantastic personality and we think she and Dusty will be lifelong friends.  

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Motrin Can Kiss My Crunchy Patootie

What on earth were the half brained people in the marketing department thinking when they decided to come out with this campaign?  Click the link below to see:

Here is the ad, in case it is removed, (which I suspect it will be very soon):

Wearing your baby seems to be in fashion.

I mean, in theory it’s a great idea.
There’s the front baby carrier, sling, schwing, wrap, pouch.
And who knows what else they’ve come up with. Wear your baby on your side, your front, go hands free.
Supposedly, it’s a real bonding experience.
They say that babies carried close to the bod tend to cry less than others.
But what about me? Do moms that wear their babies cry more than those who don’t?
I sure do!
These things put a ton of strain on your back, your neck, your shoulders. Did I mention your back?!
I mean, I’ll put up with the pain because it’s a good kind of pain; it’s for my kid.
Plus, it totally makes me look like an official mom.
And so if I look tired and crazy, people will understand why.

For those of you out of the babywearing loop let me bring you up to speed.  Babywearing is not a new trend, but a cultural practice where a mother, father, or others close to the baby "wear" the baby in a carrier, sling or wrap.  Babywearing has been long documented among other cultures and studies suggest babies who are worn cry less, which is good for both mom and baby.  One physician, Dr. William Sears, has written much about babywearing and it's benefits.  Overall it's a practice that makes sense when you think of how moms and babies bond and what makes babies happy.

I had never even heard of babywearing until after my Nee Nee was born seven years ago.  She was known as the Velcro baby because she never wanted to be put down.  Being a mommy to a high needs child like her was nothing less than draining.  One day another mom suggested I wear her in a sling.  Lo and behold...she was a happier baby and I was a happier mama.  This picture of us was taken when she was five months old.  You can see she is happy and I am smiling!  For me babywearing was the only way I could keep my sanity!  I wore all three of my kiddos and I still wear Noah when he has his cloth diapers in a bunch or when he won't sit in the cart at Trader Joe's.

So here's my response to Motrin:

Dear PR People At Motrin,

In theory your marketing campaign may have seemed like a great idea.  I mean, let's take something that millions of women have done for thousands of years, find the downside and add a plug for your pain reliever.  Viola!  The Motrin should be flying off the shelves, right? 

So if I am understanding you correctly I only wear my baby because I want to be fashionable and regardless of how much pain it puts me in I will suffer for supposed benefits that are good in theory?  Sounds like the fixings for a nice case of post-partum depression to me!   

First of all, babywearing's "supposed" benefits have been studied for years and have actually been proven and documented.  Secondly, I don't know what the heck a "schwing" is but if you are trying to sweeten your insult by using a Wayne's World  catchphrase I think all of those anti-inflammatories have clogged your brains.  Lastly, any carrier that is causing you pain is being worn incorrectly and it needs to be adjusted.  All those babywearing maytrs who have "suffered" for their children for years before Motrin was even invented must have been tired and crazy!  As long as I look like official mom, I should be okay though.  Because appearance is everything and nobody could ever tell you are a mom unless you have a baby strapped to you.  *eyeroll* 

Before I end this rant...errr...commentary I just want to add that the side effects of Motrin are as listed:

Abdominal cramps or pain, abdominal discomfort, bloating and gas, constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, fluid retention and swelling, headache, heartburn, indigestion, itching, loss of appetite, nausea, nervousness, rash, ringing in ears, stomach pain, vomiting.

So let me insulted me with your ignorant statements, you poke fun at my parenting style, then you offer me all these great side effects?  Where can I sign up?


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Funny Nunnies

Last night I was at my mom's house with Midge, enjoying some quality family time with my parents, sister, and my niece "Boo" who is almost three.  Midge and Boo worked at learning to play nicely with each other throughout the evening. 

Midge has finally gotten the hang of asking to nurse:  "Nunnies, pes."  It's really sweet to see how much he loves being next to his mommy getting his snack of choice.  Plus I get to sit down instead of chase him around and I always welcome that break.

So I am nursing little Midge on my mom's sofa chair and Boo comes up and asks if Midge can play with her.  I tell her after he is done drinking his milk.  She looks a bit confused and asks me where his milk is.  I tell her it is inside me and he is drinking it (pointing to my breast).  She is just mystified now.  "In your chi-chi?" she exclaims.  "Yes, I have leche (milk) in my chi-chis," I explain.  Now she is genuinely excited by this idea.  Her happiness was just peaking at this point.  What a miraculous discovery for Boo...milk inside your body that comes out when you want to drink it!  Her big brown eyes look right at me, her face all lit up and she smiles sweetly and asks, "Can I drink some?"  Her sweetness made it was hard to tell her no.  I gently explained that only babies drink milk from their mommies and that big girls like her get their milk from sippy cups.  She was disappointed but she went up to my sister and asked to drink her milk.  My sister explained she didn't have any for her.  Boo persisted a bit longer but finally accepted that mommies make milk for babies, and Boo's milk was stored in the fridge.

On the bright side of Boo graduating out of being a "baby" she earned herself a ice cream princess cake for going poop in the potty.  Personally, I would take the ice cream cake anyday!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Toddler With The Iron Fist

In Clarks Nutritional center I made an urgent call for direction to the homeopathic remedy drops that help calm a toddler that has been like a little raging bull for the last two days. Poor Midge has been completely out of control the last few days, and it has been a nightmare. He's not ill and not tired, but just trying to understand the way fairness and life works and it's not agreeing with him.

He learned the word "mine" and according to him everything should be stamped with his name. It's really hard to explain to a 17 month the laws of ownership. So to accompany this unwillingness to share is his right hand swinging at people about every minute or so. I have had to sit with him near other children because once I see that face scowl and those eyebrows furrow I know the hand of wrath will fly within about .2 seconds. To make matters worse he seems to enjoy hitting with toys in his hand. Most remarkably a steel car on the head of a child of someone I had just met. Oye! I was horrified.

Today I took it upon myself to write him a prescription for lots of Mei Tai carrier time and as needed doses of chamomilla tablets. Oh, and lots and lots of re-enforcement of the "no hitting" policy. So far he seems calmer and a bit more relaxed. I just hope we can turn Midge's frown upside down before he makes me crazy!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Three Bean Chili (my own recipe)

2-15oz cans dark kidney beans
1-15 oz can pinto beans
1-15 oz can black beans
1-15 oz can sweet corn (the crunchier the better!)
1 bottle vegetable juice (like V8, I use Trader Joe's Low sodium Garden Patch)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or eqivalent dried garlic
1 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp chili powder
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp dried oregano
salt and pepper

Add bottle of vegetable juice to crockpot. Drain beans and corn and add to crockpot. Add in onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder, brown sugar, dried oregano and stir. Salt and pepper to taste.Cook on low setting for 4-6 hours. Serves a large crowd or a family with some leftovers!

**I recommend using low sodium vegetable juice and organic ingredients whenever you can. Makes for a much healthier dish!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I Must Have Done Something Right!

So yesterday's breaskfast fiasco left me questioning my tactics. Of course the job description of "Mom" includes the occasional self-induced guilt trips, so I tried not to beat myself up over it. I stuck to my guns...meals are eaten in the high chair and I'm not running a diner. You eat what you are given when you are given it or you have to wait until snack time or the next meal.

Lunch yesterday was much better. He sat in the high chair and eagerly ate a slice of pizza. Dinner was met with equal success. As I was making lunch today I told him "Go sit in your highchair" and he walked over to it and waiting for me to scoop him up and sit him down. Dinner tonight was a huge success. Again he obeyed me and went to his highchair and sat down. I gave him a new meal, Three Bean Chili and a slice of cornbread and he started eating it! Not only that but he used a spoon and didn't toss the bowl over the side of the tray onto the floor. Not only that but he drank from a big boy cup and didn't spill! He ate really well and was good about not throwing food, a habit we have been trying to break forever.

But gets better!!

Today while I was at work he went into the diaper bag and grabbed me a clean diaper and handed it to me. Had had done a #2 and wanted changed! Oh my gosh! He's never done that before. He took off his diaper before bathtime again tonight and squatted down so I decided to see what would happen if...

Nothing came of it, but he thought it was funny that I tried to instruct him with grunts and gestures and the word "poo-poo." Ah well. He's still a bit young, but it was funny to see him up there hanging out like a big boy.
I'm glad there are days like this. It makes me feel like all of my hard work and endless hours of repeating myself do pay off.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It Sounds Easy

Feeding your child breakfast should be a fairly simple task involving making a meal, putting child in high chair, feeding your child, cleaning their hands and face and viola...mealtime is over!

That doesn't happen here.

Midge has decided that he doesn't want to sit and eat. He doesn't even really want to stand and eat. So I feed him two bites of yogurt standing up and he runs off to play. I am tempted to chase him but I am not about to teach him that mommy is not his portable feeding machine. We go to Jazzercise after breakfast and after an hour he bursts out of childcare clamoring at my feet with his hungry pant that sounds remarkably like Bill Cosby's imitation of lamaze breathing. We only live a couple blocks away so I opt to take him home and feed him what is left of his breakfast. The entire way home he is falling apart. When we get home I stick him in his high chair and go to get his yogurt. When I turn back he has wiggled out of the chair and is squatting on the tray. I try to place him back in the chair he throws a tantrum.

At this point I decide that he needs to learn that if he won't sit then he won't eat. I have to make one of those pivotal mommy calls where I either have to break down and try to feed him on the go or suck it up and allow him to experience the reprecussions of his actions. It was a tough call because he's still a young toddler but I decided that I had made every effort to feed him and I had to let it go and let him be unhappy. I offered him another bite, but he ran off so I left the room.

Within a minute he came back to me crying. I mean, he looks pathetic and all but by this point I just shake my head. By 11am he has taken two bites of yogurt. He is hungry and refuses to sit down and eat. The sheer ridiculousness of the whole breakfast ordeal has lasted until lunch now. Look at this face. I hope he can duplicate it's pathetic-ness for grandma or maybe even the CPS agents when they come out for a malnourished child report.
Gotta make lunch with a screaming toddler at my legs. Maybe I'll sprinkle some Valium on my pizza today.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

And Just When I Thought He Couldn't Get More Fabulous...

My very dear friend Jered managed to land himself a spot in history with his Halloween costume that was featured in the Associated Press. He was the Wicked Witch of Wasilla, aka Sarah Palin. This was taken at a party in West Hollywood.
Let me guess where his vote lies...

Halloween 2008!

Stephen and I, along with our sock puppet Midge, Gothic Countess Nee-Nee, and Ninja Bear were able to recover from the flu bug in time to get some trick-or-treating done.  It was great to see the kids feeling up to par again!  Especially Nee-Nee, who I had not seen smile in several days.  Midge was facinated by all of the costumes.  He even chased a little boy about his age who was dressed as a lion. 

All in all it was a good night.  I feel like things are normalizing again as far as being sick goes.  Hope everyone else had a great Halloween! 

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Barf-A-Thon 2008, Part 3...The Epic

Today my darling Nee-Nee would not get out of bed.  She was starting to show the early signs of dehydration and so I immediately got on the phone and started calling everyone who could give me medication and/or watch my other two so I could make an urgent care visit.  Luckily I managed to get some anti-emetic medication for her so she could start keeping things down again.  I watched her closely until the medication arrived...then I had to explain to her where it went.  Poor kid was like, "You're gonna stick that where?"  After some coaxing and explaining that taking it orally isn't a great idea she let me administer it (one of the greatest parts of parenthood I tell ya!).  Within the hour she was sleeping and not drinking.  I went in and told her that if she didn't start taking some sips of water that I was going to take her to the hospital for an IV.  Immediately she sat up and started drinking little sips of water.  She then napped and has since been improving.

Bear seemed perfect...24 hours vomit free.  So I allowed him to eat lunch, which I later learned came back up in the back of his step-mom's car.  Oops.

Midge has had his first day of no runs in a week!  Yay!  I am cautiously calling him 100% better.

I'm doing better, still have a tiny appetite right now.  Stephen is 100% better.

I hope tomorrow all is better so the kids can enjoy a memorable Halloween.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Barf-A-Thon 2008, Part 2...The Saga Continues.

Last night Bear joined the Barf-A-Thon by leaving a trail from the living room to the bathroom. What a great way to start off! Nee Nee and Bear both got sick during the night but this morning they are watching Cars and I am giving them a popscicle every hour.

Hopefully things will just keep getting better. I am doing everything I can to get this family back to normal before Halloween.

Thanks to everyone for their positive thoughts.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Barf-A-Thon 2008!!

A day planned full of fun, learning, and visiting family has been changed to a day of emptying barf buckets and soothing another sick child. Midge had the stomach flu all weekend and now Nee-Nee is really sick. She's set a new puking record for this household. Five times in six hours.

Let's just hope that this all ends very soon. I know that other families at my church had this stomach bug and it's a pretty nasty strain.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Breastfeeding On My Terms

I recall with fondness and a little wincing my early days of nursing Nee-Nee. The very first time I did it I was filled with this wonderous sense that I was a strong woman who could feed her baby. It was like I was fulfilling my feminine calling. As the weeks passed I became sore, dealing with blisters, cracks, and a boob addicted child who wouldn't settle for pacifier. I would get nervous when I knew I had to nurse her but I worked through those hard times and before long she and I were settled into a routine.

With the older two I got a lot of questions about when I was going to wean. That was often followed by much criticism about how they were too old to be nursing. To be honest I only planned to nurse Nee Nee for one year. When one year came and went I pushed the limit to 15 months, then to 18 months. I finally realized that I didn't want to wean...there was no reason to! So what if she could ask for it? It made us happy and it was beneficial for the both of us. I learned to let negative comments and opinions roll off my back. With Bear I made it to over two years and it was just perfect. I don't have any regrets in regards to how long we nursed. In fact, we even did some modeling for First 5 of California (see pic).

Now that I am still nursing Midge I don't get a single comment. He is 17 months old and still needs mommy's "nunnies" to get him through the tough toddler years. I think my family has learned that I nurse on my own terms and that their opinions about my choices will fall on deaf ears. In fact, my mom suggests I nurse my baby when he is fussy or tired. I don't get looks from people, or maybe I just don't care to notice. Now that I have been nursing for over five out of the last seven years it seems so normal and natural to me to just do what works and what feels right. I don't know when we will wean, and I am glad that we aren't restricting ourselves to a certain age or date. I just know that we are happy now and that is all that matters.

I would encourage all breastfeeding moms to take each day as it comes and not restrict your nursing relationship due to pressure or the baby's age. Do what feels right for both you and the baby. When it is time to wean, you will know. Don't let the opinions of others take away the beautiful bond between you and your little one if you aren't ready to give it up.

I can proudly say that all three of my kiddos are so sweet, loving, and still very close to me. I attribute much of that to breastfeeding them. I love my boobie babies!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bodily Functions...YAY!

I bought this awesome pair of Roxy slip on flat shoes several months ago and I love them.  They are so comfy and they go with nearly everything I have. 
One night I go to snuggle up on the couch across from my hubby and I sneakily put my feet in his lap so that he might indulge me in a foot rub.  Within moments I jumped up from the couch when the aroma of a sweaty gym sock permeated the area. 

"Your feet stink dude!"  I complained.  He looked at me innocently and replied, "No, your feet stink."  "No they don't!  I don't have stinky feet!" I objected back.  I had never ever had a problem with foot odor my entire life.  Even if I tried I doubt I could make my feet smell bad.  I leaned over and tried to smell my own feet, which I found difficult.  So I bent down and picked up the shoes.  Sure enough, they smelled horrible!  I had stinky feet!  Me!  For the very first time in my life!  It was a strange moment of triumph and embarrassment.  I actually got very excited at this new level of grossness I had achieved.  "I have stinky feet!" I exclaimed.  Poor Stephen just looked at me and smiled. 

Are my poor shoes doomed?  Can you wash smell out of canvas flat shoes?  Anyone know?

For the record, I also cannot burp.  The air bubbles come up, but no burp accompanies them.  It's the strangest thing.  I have never been able to participate in any burping contests or have anyone laugh at my cool loud bodily function.  It's made me an outcast in those bodily function humor circles.  If someday I ever do manage a good blech I will be sure to blog on that, too.

Monday, October 13, 2008

USA Today: Maternity-care failings can be remedied with cost-saving fixes!

Imagine my excitement to read this article in USA today paired right beside this article on the unneccesary high-tech interventions that do not benefit pregnant women or their babies.

My favorite quote has to be: "If a doula could be put in an IV drip, everyone would get it."

Happy reading!

Seven Year Olds On Thanksgiving Dinner

Yesterday I took the kiddos to the pumpkin patch after church.  The weather was perfect, it was in the low 70's and the air was crisp.  As we drove past holiday decorations Nee Nee seemed deep in thought.  As we neared our destination she broke the silence with this question:
"Mommy, why do people kill turkeys for Thanksgiving?"
Ah, the hard questions.  My sweet beautiful daughter wasn't thinking about carving pumpkins or trick or treating, she was concerned over other living creatures and their welfare.
I wasn't sure what emotional direction we would be headed with a detailed reponse so I tested the water and answered simply, "It's tradition."
She paused and then said, "That's not very good for the earth, killing living things."

I smiled and told her "Well, you can decide not to eat turkey if you don't want any.  There will be tofurkey at grandma's."  
She went back deep in thought and didn't say anything else. 

It's strange to think that my little girl is getting to be mature enough to decide what she thinks is right and wrong with the world.  My hope is to continually move her from "That's not fair" to "What can I do about it?"  

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Oh This Is So Cute!

I love this so much. It's just so sweet and innocent. Makes me smile everytime.

Mexican (Mex-eee-can)

While browsing the internet today I decided to check out some local take out menus from a small town in Missouri and was really amused by this one:

I realize it's very hard to read but basically it's got a list of the different Mexican dishes to the right with correct pronounciation and descriptions. They even have a description and pronounciation of nachos. Nachos? Really? Tortilla as well. And burrito.

I hate to chuckle at the idea that anyone needs a pronounciation key for meals I grew up eating, but I suppose I would be just as lost trying to decipher a menu with French cuisine.

What's truly classic is one day while we were dating my husband wanted to order a quesadilla and couldn't think of the word. He told me "You know the thing with the tortilla and the cheese? Where you fold it over?" The look on my face was priceless, it was one of sheer disbelief. Lucky him, he never gets to live that down. Just to think that 5 years ago he lived in Missouri. Guess he should have brought this menu with him...just in case.

Secretly Pleased

Yesterday Bear decided to help me with chores.  I handed him a rag and a bottle of Eco-Me's wood polish (olive oil, vinegar, water, essential oil mix) and told him to clean the entertainment center.  He promptly went over and gave the tv screen a few good sprays.  I stopped him and told him only to clean the wood and went into the bathroom to do my share of cleaning.  Bless Bear's heart, he worked very hard to help me get the house clean that day.

Fast forward to after the kids were all in bed.  Stephen went to turn on the tv and looked puzzled.  He tried a different remote but wasn't able to get the tv to turn on.  After fiddling with the remotes for a few minutes he walked over to the tv and pulled back the plastic tv button guard and drew his hand back.  "Someone spilled something in here."  I wrinkled my nose.  "Really?  How could they have done that?"  We had just had a house full of people for Bible study and I didn't remember that any child had been near the tv with their sippy cups or bottles.  He smelled it and all at once I realized what had happened.  "Does it smell like olive oil?" I asked.  "Yes," he said, looking very confused.  I looked at him and said slowly,  "It was Bear, he sprayed the tv with furniture polish and must not have wiped it off after I told him to only clean the wood.  The spray must have ran down into the plastic guard and over the buttons."  Stephen looked at me in disbelief and broke the bad news "The tv doesn't work anymore."  A final attempt to turn it on confirmed it.
I've had that tv for about 4 years and it's nothing fancy, but it is our only tv in the house.  So for now it's comatose with little hope for recovery. 

The truth is that the stupid thing has been sucking up couple time from Stephen and I and I am glad it's been silenced (at least temporarily).  I am not much of a tv watcher and now I can actually get "eyeball" time with my honey.  Maybe we'll go back to doing those things married people do at night. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hey Bushy, Bail Me Out Too!

So let me get this straight:

If you are in charge of one of the largest corporations in the United States and you make horrible financial decisions and loan money to people who will never be able to pay you back and your choices create a huge negative impact on the economy George W. Bush will hand you 700 billion dollar check courtesy of taxpayers to bail your butt out of trouble?? 

Hey G.W., how about us people who refused to take out a bad loan when the market was high and waited patiently for things to cool off so we could afford to buy a home?  What about those of us who were responsible with our money when banks were loaning hundreds of thousands of dollars to people who could only afford the interest payments?  Now the people who waited for housing prices to drop can't even get a loan because the lenders are refusing to give home loans to stated income/self-employed people. 

Guess being financially responsible really doesn't matter in this country does it?  America's greed has bitten itself in the butt and here comes Bushy to patch it up.  I guess I should have purchased a house back when interest-only loans were a dime a dozen, refinanced it, bought myself nice toys and fancy vacations and then forclosed on the home and filed for bankruptcy.
I am so embarrassed to be an American right now.  This country is full of self-indulgent people who want instant gratification regardless of the consequences.  It's no wonder other countries hate us.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Jazzercise Update.

I started Jazzercise about a month ago. When I first went I was not sure what to expect. I wanted to be challenged but I also wanted to be comfortable in my own skin, meaning I didn't want to be surrounded by teeny 19 year old girls complaining about cellulite. When I started out I told myself I would go 4 times a week and stick to it. I have done fairly well with that commitment. The moves come a lot more smoothly to me now. Although I still get lost at times or I can't perfect a move or a routine I still get my heart rate up there and I have a good time.

So now the report...does it work?

While I have lost only a couple of pounds my body has completely changed. My buns, thighs, hips, and waist have lost a lot of inches. I assume I am losing fat while at the same time gaining muscle, so my weight is balancing out. I am more toned and fit. I am feeling the addiction to the endorphines that exercise gives you. I honestly think it was one of the best choices I have made for myself. I feel better overall and I am drinking more water (another thing I was bad at) and I tend to watch what I eat the rest of the day so I do not "undo" my workout.

Big thumbs up for Jazzercise!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Readers Rock!

When I added the Live Traffic Feed to my blog I thought it would be fun to see if anyone actually reads my blog. Lo and behold, not only do people read it, but they share it with others! I have readers in Canada, Budapest, England, and even Sweden. And someone on a messageboard has posted a link to my Cloth Diapering 101 post because I keep getting traffic from a board full of "sexy mamas." They denied me access to snoop on their board though. Maybe I was not sexy enough?? ;-)

Anyways, I just want to thank everyone who takes the time to read my blog. Sometimes it's a big whiney, crunchy, long-winded, or opinionated but knowing that I have people who care about what I write means a lot to me. I have always loved writing and I think I missed my calling. It's very flattering to know I am worthy of a good read, or a good laugh at my expense. :-)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Homework...Oh How I Loathe Thee!

When I graduated high school I celebrated my freedom from the tyranny of classrooms, school lunches, tests, and best of all, homework! Or so I thought.

Fast forward 12 years and I am once again a slave to school bells, packing organic nutritious and yummy lunches, and worst of all...homework!

My afternoons are mostly spent helping both of the school aged kids to get through hours of homework. When they come home they are tired. I see it in their walk, in their faces, and in their eyes, mostly. I know that if they start homework right away they will be more productive then if I wait and they lose their steam. Then they tend to be more resistant.

I find myself questioning why it is necessary to give a 7 year old 7 pages of homework plus 20 minutes of reading in one night. She is sitting at her desk now plowing away at it like a dedicated learner. While I admire and praise her hard work ethic I also question if she would be better off taking the afternoon to learn at a museum or having an arts and crafts day with dear old mom. What benefit does homework truly have for children?

According to an article in Time Magazine students now have more homework than ever. Not only that, but homework has been shown to have an affect on the quality of home life and even on a student's health. However, with standards ever-increasing for our young scholars how are we to keep up if we don't push our children to go above and beyond? What is a reasonable amount of homework that a student should be expected to accomplish?

I recently learned of "unschooling." This is where a child is not placed in a set curriculum, but they are taught as they show interest in a subject. I find this facinating. Although I value the great teachers we have at our elementary school I have to wonder what my children are missing because we are limited on our free time. I would love to take my young ones on a field trip to watch a cow being born or to let them spend the day with dad and learn how engines work. I believe making a lesson out of a grocery store trip can be more memorable and educational than pouring over a math sheet. Involving a child in daily tasks, like budgeting, is a necessary life skill that isn't taught in a classroom setting.

I believe that as parents we need to step up and become advocates for our children. If your family is suffering because of homework then speak to your childrens' teachers. There is a time and place for learning after the school bell has rung, but not at the expense of a happy family. Use your daily outings as a chance to teach. Show your children food labels at the grocery stores so they know how to spot junk food. Take them to a bank and explain how loans work. Plant seeds in your backyard and watch them grow.

Most importantly, lead by example. We are always teaching our children, even if we are not aware they are learning from us.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Blow It Out Your Ash-Hole!

This weekend we went to a huge car show.  As we lined the streets to watch the cruise route I noticed that all around me people were lighting up cigarettes.  They didn't seem to care that they were less than five feet away from my 17 month old son.  Many of them were smoking with their kids right next to them.  It was just disgusting.  While they might profess that it was their right to smoke I will argue that it is my right to not breathe their second hand carcinogens and it certainly isn't right for them to subject innocent children to poisons.  In fact during the burnout competition while we were in the grandstands there were two men behind us that were puffing away almost the entire time.  Stephen asked them if they were smoking and they lied to him and told him they weren't but I was sitting there watching them do it!  It was just infuriating!  To have them lie to us was one thing, but for them to continue to expose my child to smoke knowing that it bothered us was unacceptable. 

Most smokers I know of are considerate, and I do give them credit.  However, this weekend I must have just been surrounded with real winners.  Generally I am a very non-judgemental person and I try to see things from all points of view, but ignorance about the harmful effects of smoking is intentional.  From a very young age we see the anti-smoking commercials on tv and we are taught in elementary school to "just say no."  One thing that completely frustrates me is seeing panhandlers who smoke asking for money.  Did it ever occur to them that their habit need not be funded by the kindness of others and maybe if they quit they might have some extra money for food or clothing?

So without sounding too preachy I just have to voice my complete and utter disgust with smoking.  I have had enough of kids that come into the hospital with asthma whose parents reek of cigarettes.  I am tired of keeping my toddler from picking up cigarette butts and eating them as we take walks.  This last Wednesday I wanted to slap the parents at Disneyland who took their kids into the smoking section so they could have a cigarette.  Why does your habit come before the health and safety of your children? 

I have sugar coated a lot of things here.  But if you are a smoker I will not do that for you.  If you smoke expect that your life will be shortened.  Expect that it will affect those around you.  Expect that your children will imitate your behavior.  Expect that you will be disabled by your habit.  Expect that you will be socially outcast.  Expect that you will be throwing away money.  At the same time you need to realize that you can make the choice to stop. 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cloth Diapering 101: Getting Started

So you have written Pampers and Huggies their Dear John letters telling them that you will no longer be needing them.  Now you are moving onto a long term relationship with cloth diapers but have no idea where to start or how much to spend.  If you are still insist that Luvs is in love with your baby's bum wake up and smell the rash cream while reading this article.

Since I have started using cloth diapers a couple months ago I have had many friend and family ask me about how they can get started. 

First, you need to decide what kind of cloth diaper you need and which brand you would like.  There are four different kinds of cloth diapers.  I have listed them here along with their pros and cons:

1. All In Ones (AIOs)- A diaper that has the cover sewn on the fleece layer so it is all in one piece.  No diaper cover required. 

Pros: The most leak proof.  Thinner than other cloth diapers.  Fasten with a snap or velcro with the ease of use most like a disposable.

Cons: They take several dryer cycles to dry completely.  They tend to hold more odors (especially if they do not dry all the way).  I have heard some moms say that they don't feel like these get as clean as other diapers.

2. Fitted Cloth Diapers: Diapers that fasten with velcro or snaps that do require a diaper cover.

Pros: Dry faster than AIOs. Easier to fasten than pre-fold or flat diapers. 

Cons: Require a diaper cover. 
3. Flat or Pre-fold Diapers: The "old fashioned" diapers your grandma remembers.  (DO NOT BUY THE GERBER BRAND!  They are worthless!) 

Pros: Less expensive.  Multiple uses: burp cloth, cleaning, wiping up spills. 

Cons: Require a diaper cover.  Require pins or a Snappi (diaper faster pictured) to hold in place.  Can leak.

4. Pocket Diapers: A diaper that has three main parts: a waterproof outer barrier fabric is sewn to the second component, an inner moisture-wicking fabric that keeps the skin feeling dry. These two fabrics form a pocket for the third component, an absorbent insert, to be placed.

Pros: Wicks moisture away from baby's bottom.  Pieces are easier to clean and dry.  Best for diaper rash.

Cons: More pieces to keep track of.  Need to "assemble" and "disassemble."

So now that you know a little bit about the different types of cloth diapers you will need to decide on which brand you want.  There are so many brands to chose from that I cannot mention them all here.  However, I will touch on some things to consider when you are chosing a brand:
  • Does the diaper come as a one-size fits all or will you have to spend more money to buy each size?
  • Does the diaper come with it's own inserts or covers?
  • Is the diaper made of organic materials (this usually costs more)?
  • Does the diaper come in different colors/designs?
So now that you have purchased your diapers what do you do with them?

The first thing you should do is wash them.  There are many different methods of washing cloth diapers but I am going to give you the one that I use.  Do do not use baby detergent and never use fabric softener.  Dreft and other detergents that are advertised on tv are not good for cloth diapers.  In fact, commercial detergents aren't good for you or your clothes at all, but that is another blog for another time.  So what do you wash them in?  I have two favorites: Charlie Soap  or Maggie's Soap Nuts.  Both are great products.  They leave no residue on the diapers that can irritate your baby.  Fabric softener isn't needed because when fabric has no residue it will be naturally soft, plus fabric softer will make the diapers repel urine instead of absorbing it.  Before you wash the diapers be sure any velcro tabs are folded down so they do not snag on other fabrics.  Also be sure that all diaper parts are separated (take pocket inserts out) before washing.  You can put your cloth diapers in the dryer on warm but they will last longer if hung on a clothes line.  Most diapers can be washed warm (check your diaper's washing instructions) but any diaper that is soiled should be soaked for about 15 minutes first in cold to remove poop stains.  Soaking in hot water will "cook" the poop proteins onto the diaper.  Some people like to do an extra rinse cycle on their diapers.  I have not done this and it's never been a problem, but Midge isn't that sensitive.  A more sensitive baby or a newborn might benefit from the extra rinse cycle.

While we are talking about washing, let's go ahead and talk about poop.  Admit it, you dread having to change a poopy cloth diaper.  I was intimidated at first, too.  You can read about my first adventure in poopy cloth diapering here.  The good news is that there are extra products you can buy to help the process go a little smoother.  If your baby is breastfed his or her poop will be soft and you really won't need to do a lot of pre-care.  It's okay to put liquidy poop in the wash, but you will want to avoid putting anything solid in it as it will not break down and rinse away.  If your baby is formula fed or eats solids the poop will require a little more care.  You will shake the solid poop into the toilet carefully and flush away that waste.  From there you just place the soiled diaper in a dry diaper pail.  You can purchase a flushable liner to place inside of the diapers so the poop will not mash itself into the diaper's fabric.  You just lift it out of the diaper and place it right in the toilet.  Some pocket diapers come with a liner that releases poop pretty easily.  If not you can purchase them separately.  They are also great for heavy wetters or doubling up for overnight.  Another option for cleaning off the soiled diapers is to use a diaper sprayer.  These can hook to your bathroom sink or behind your toilet.  These are also great for rinsing down your sink, tub, and toilet.  You do not have to have all of these products, but chosing one or two would be good to make cleaning up poop less a little neater.

So eventually you will need to leave the house and when you do you will need to be prepared with a "wet bag" in your diaper bag.  These are neat because they come in dozens of different colors and designs that make you look ultra-cool to the ladies in the public restrooms.  I opted for one with a zipper and it has worked wonderfully.  I have also seen the available with a draw string top.  You just place your dirty diapers or any other wet clothing items in and dump them into your diaper pail or washer when you get home.  They are washable but so far I have not noticed a smell coming from mine.  You can opt to carry a small squirt bottle of water and wash cloths with you or use disposable packaged wipes.  After your cloth diapering days are over your wet bag can be used for wet bathing suits or potty accidents.  

What about diaper rashes?  If your child develops irritation using cloth diapers try using less soap in the wash and doing an extra rinse cycle.  If that doesn't help add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle.  Vinegar helps strip the diapers of alkaline irritants.  If you use a rash cream try one that does not contain fish oil, like A&D or Destitin.  Instead try Burts Bees, Angel Baby Bottom Balm, Weleda, or Lemongrass Spa's Baby Bottoms Up Balm.  If you do use a cream consider using a liner so that the diaper does not stain.  Try giving your baby lots of naked time.  Also, only use water to clean your baby's bottom. 

Diaper pails can be done in two different manners...a wet pail or a dry pail.  A wet pail is filled with water for diapers to soak in until wash day and a dry pail is just that...dry storage.  The drawbacks to a wet pail are the odor, the need to change the water daily, potential drowning hazard for children, and some diapers cannot be stored in a wet pail, such as the AIOs.  A dry pail is a safer and preferred option.  You can purchase a trash can with a lid for cheap from your local Target for about $10 and it does a fine job.  A sprinkle of baking soda helps reduce odors.  You don't want to go any longer than two days between diaper washings.  I generally wash mine with every poopy diaper but I have a toddler who poops once a day so it works out nicely.

One day you may go to smell your fresh clean diapers and realize that they aren't so fresh anymore.  If this happens you will need to strip your diapers of oils and detergent residues.  Before you start this process check your diapers for washing instructions to make sure you will not damage your diapers  First, turn up your water heater and let your water get very hot.  If you are going to do this please be so careful to make sure everyone in your home is aware of the change so they do not burn themselves.  Be especially careful if you have older siblings who may be forgetful when going to wash their hands or take a shower.  You may want to do this when they are in bed.  Start with clean diapers.  Run them through the very hot wash cycle without detergent.  You can add a drop or two of liquid dish soap to help remove oils.  Perform an extra rinse cycle where you will add 1/2-1 cup of white vinegar.  The vinegar smell will disappear once the diapers are dry.  Then you will want to rinse rinse rinse your diapers until all suds are gone (still not using soap).  This will remove all of the residue.  Be sure to turn your hot water heater back down.  If you find that your diapers have stains sunlight is a great stain remover.  Just place your stained articles in the sun for natural bleaching.  If your diapers are too stiff after air drying put them in the dryer for 15 minutes before hanging out to dry.    

Okay so now you are wondering what the costs are.  Well let's do a rough estimate:

Diapers: This depends on which diaper you chose and if the diaper is a one size fits all.  I highly recommend using BumGenius 3.0 pocket diapers.  They are easy to use, come with inserts (which eliminates the need for flushable liners or a sprayer), and they are one size fits all.  It also depends on how early or late you are beginning to cloth diaper.  A newborn can go through a diaper every hour whereas a toddler will go through one every 3-4 hours.  Let's say you want to buy an average of 12 diapers.  BumGenius 3.0 pocket diapers run an average of $17.  So a little over $200.  With tax, shipping, etc will say $250.  When you are buying diapers look for deals for buying them in larger quantities.  

Detergent: Let's say you use Charlie's Soap.  It runs $15 a bag that lasts 80 loads. White vinegar costs you a few bucks. 

Diaper Pail: You can easily use a lided trash can or diaper pail that you already own or you can spend $10 at Target for a pail.

Wet Bag: They average anywhere from $14-$24 but let's say $20. 

Cloth Wipes: I use regular wash cloths when I am not using disposable wipes.  You can purchase special fleece wipes but they are not necessary. 

So $250 for diapers+ $15 for Charlie's Soap + $3 for vinegar + $10 for a diaper pail + $20 for a wet bag. 

Grand total= $298. 

Now of course this is going to vary depending on your needs and extras but to start out that is basically what you need.  Compare this to the cost of disposable diapers and you are saving some significant money.  

Happy diapering!