Tuesday, June 30, 2009

C'mon Barbie Let's Go Potty (a somewhat true story)

My maternal ancestors came to the United States on the Mayflower (seriously - me and most other people, actually... It's not that uncommon). In the late 1700s the patriarch, who was probably named Jedediah or Ezekiel or something (actual names from my geneology - Freelove and Prentice Eagles, but I digress), decided to load up a Conestoga wagon and head west to seek his fortune.

And now I know why Jedediah and clan didn't get farther than Iowa - he had kids.

We loaded up the family truckster on Monday and drove from northern Indiana to Huntsville. A trip that should have taken approximately 7 hours.

Ha. Hahahahaha.

In our modern day Conestoga wagon we had the following gear:
  • Two laptops
  • Two smartphones
  • Two Amazon Kindles (we don't share well)
  • One GPS (thanks to Pierre!)
  • One in-ceiling DVD player
  • Three iPods (his, mine, and kids!)
  • One iPod speaker
  • One digital camera
  • Assorted cables, chargers, and other gear
I am not kidding or being at all facetious when I tell you that we had more computing power on board our Conestoga minivan than they have on the Space Shuttle.

We hadn't been in the car ten minutes, we weren't even out of our own town, when the kids got bored. Let me tell you something, though, something important. You have not lived until you've heard a 3 year old sing along with music on headphones. Oh my God it was funny. I put Barbie Girl on her iPod because she loves Barbies, but she doesn't know the lyrics. We laughed ourselves silly listening to her sing, "C'mon Barbie, let's go potty!" (it's supposed to be party).

One of the most awesome features of my van is the in-ceiling DVD thing. I resisted, at first, but I am so glad we have a DVD player. They may not see anything when we travel, but as I recently read in Reader's Digest, the interstate highway system has ensured that you can drive from coast to coast in this country without seeing anything. Personally, I think kids looking out windows is highly overrated. So, we had the kids watching their movies in the back, and we were listening to music or talk radio in the front, and everyone was happy...

Until we got to Kentucky.

Back to Jedediah, though, what in the hell did he do for weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks on the trip between Massachusettes and Iowa? What did his kids do? They did not have on-board DVDs or GPS or iPods. I tell you, we never would've made it. I think that we'd find, if we studied it, that most children walked behind the wagon to the west. If it had been me and my kids? They would've walked WAAAAAAY behind the wagon. Like, in Massachusettes. Can you imagine how many times you'd hear "Are we there yet?" if you were on the Oregon Trail? Losing a kid to a bear here and there is the price that parents paid to not have to listen to them bitch for 1000 miles. "I'm thirsty. I'm hot. I want a snack. Are we there yet? She's touching me. She's touching meeeee. That's mine! Are we there yet?" Yeah, suddenly bears are looking like my best friends.

Thank God for technology.

In Kentucky, they were doing construction on a bridge, and there was an accident on top of that, so the traffic was backed up for miles and miles and miles. It added over two hours to our trip. I finally got bored with sitting on the freeway, so we turned around and tried to take a state highway. That was backed up, too, with all the other people who had given up on the freeway. Eventually I got tired of sitting in that, too, so we went seriously off the map.

The thing about Indiana is that everything is pretty much on a big grid. If you go west you'll eventually find another highway that's going south.

You know what? You can't count on that logic in the mountains.

At least Jedediah never got stuck in wagon gridlock. He may have broken an axle or a wheel here and there, and he didn't have an iPod, but by golly, if he wanted to go south, he went south, and if there was something in his way, he could just go around it.

We wound around a mountain, and eventually ended up on the same highway we'd been on before, but about 5 miles south of where we'd been. Things were moving by that point, so we gassed up, got some snacks, and got back on the freeway. I have never been so glad to see a four lane, 70 mph freeway in my life.

We kept the kids happy by promising them that they could swim when we arrived at the hotel. Because of the extra time, I was really worried that the pool at the hotel would be closed by the time we arrived. Fortunately, we made it in time and were able to take a quick dip before bed. Do you think that Jedediah promised the kids a dip in the Mississippi if they made it by nightfall? Maybe he didn't know the names of the rivers beyond there, because he didn't get much farther...

"Daaaad! I'm not going to South Dakota! There's no swimmin'!"

"All right, fine, we'll stay here in Cedar Rapids! At least there's a river..."

Today we went to the NASA museum, where they host Space Camp. The kids enjoyed that, but it was a lot of walking around outside in 90 degree heat. We spent the morning looking at "Daddy's rockets," then we went to a drive-thru "safari" this afternoon.

We learned that Claire does not like emus.

They tell you it's ok to let the kids out of the car seats (you're only going 2 mph!), and that it's ok to let your windows down about 8 inches. What they don't tell you is that all the animals have been fed from car windows so many times in their lives, that if they hear you roll down a window, they'll come right up and help themselves. Claire was sitting in the front passenger seat when a really large emu came up to meet her. I've never seen her move so fast. "Big scare-y bird! I don't like it, Mommy! Bird scared me!"

I'm a bad Mommy - I was taking pictures while she was scrambling to get away from the emu.

I think Jedediah would've done the same thing, if he'd had a digital camera.

Hey, at least it wasn't a bear.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Taking a Break

I'm going offline for a while. I didn't want anyone to worry. This is a planned absence which I will make up next month by offering a list of things to do in Chicago outside of BlogHer. Having grown up nearby, and having spent a considerable amount of time there, I think I can offer some hints and tips that you won't find in the guidebooks.

So stay tuned for that... I'll talk to all of you later.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Like a Good Neighbor

This morning, I was still trying to wake up when I heard Mary Grace say, "Claire, it's important to protect the things that matter."

"Awww..." I thought. "That's awfully mature for a 3 year old."

Then she continued, "State Farm is always there...." and I was laughing too hard to hear the rest.

I think we need to go DO something today. All of this sitting in the house being fearful is going to turn my kids into zombies. I think I'd rather confront our mystery caller than have that happen.

And if you don't know what I'm talking about, it's because I took down the post I wrote about our mystery caller after our criminally-minded friend John e-mailed me with a list of the things he could ascertain about our home security situation from what I'd written. I had planned to remove it after about 24 hours, anyway, but his e-mail convinced me to step up that time frame.

Basically, the same guy has called us three times over 5 years, and from the things he says I get the feeling that he's trying to determine whether or not I'm home alone. It really creeps me out. These calls pre-date the blog, Facebook, and Twitter, so I have no reason to believe this is an online creep. Probably just a creep with a phone book...

So, anyway, we need to get out today. What are you going to do?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Mimi!!!

I haven't had a chance to call and sing yet, but today is Mimi's birthday! Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you!

From your favorite sister and your two favorite nieces.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Cough, part deux

So we just got back from the doctor's office. As predicted, Claire didn't cough once. I tried, but I couldn't get a video of her coughing before we left. The kids were super good. Claire didn't cry once. MG played with the germ toys and let me talk to the doctor. I even remembered to Purell their hands twice, so hopefully we won't get any creepin' crud from all the germy toys.

He thinks it's reflux, which she also had and took medicine for when she was 6 weeks old, and gave us a prescription for liquid Pepcid (I think... see below) that is not covered by insurance and is going to be $60. There's no generic alternative, either. Here's hoping it doesn't work, because giving her a $60 prescription every night until she outgrows this is going to get spendy.

I'd do it, of course. And I'd be thankful that we could afford it. But I reserve the right to hope that something cheaper works, instead. She'd totally chew up a Tums and think it was candy. Not sure why I can't do that. Hmmmm...

I said, "I think," because our pharmacy didn't have any, so they're calling around to the other pharmacies in town to see if anyone has it, and they're going to call me if/when they find some. It could've been Mylanta or some other form of antacid.

Phone rings, time passes.

Oh hey - they just called, it is Pepcid and no one in town has it. Lovely. Called the doc back to see if there's an alternative, preferably something that's 1) available and 2) covered by my insurance. It's five minutes until 5 pm. I'm not going to bet the farm that I'll hear from them tonight. Anyone know what the pediatric dose is for Tums? She weighs about 25 pounds.

Someone explain to me why we spend $14,000 a year on health insurance, plus co-pays, that doesn't cover anything! We spend more on health insurance than we spend on our mortgage, insurance, and property taxes combined. We spend more on health insurance than we spend on both of our cars, including insurance.

Oh, but national health insurance is a horrible idea.

Grumble, grumble...

I'll keep you posted, but the good news is that it doesn't seem to be anything scary like asthma.

The Thing About the Mommyblogosphere

When you blog about something you are bound to get comments. Especially if you're a blogger who gets upward of 100 comments on every post. And of those 100+ comments, some people are bound to disagree with you... Especially when you're wrong.

I'm not going to give links or particulars, but I find myself crossways with a "big" Mommyblogger. She let her kid do something dangerous, and posted, "Hey, don't judge me! It's bad when you do it, but when I do it it's peachy!!" Well, guess what. If you're going to put your mistakes out there, in a public space, and allow comments, you are going to get criticism.

You can post about it a second time so all your butt-kissers will comment and tell you how very, very right you are, and how the world - if it doesn't already - really should revolve around you and your precious little snowflakes. You can allow all the comments in the world that are going to tell you what a big awful meanyhead I am, how I have too much time on my hands to criticize others, how I think my own kids' diapers don't stink, how I wouldn't have had the guts to say anything if I had been there in person (ask anyone who knows me in real life - I would've totally said every word I wrote to your face).

You can refuse to acknowledge the fact that I have a different set of experiences than you do, and how I might have simply been trying to point out the dangers of the situation that you didn't think of at the time, and point out helpful alternatives to what you did, so that you can do better next time.

If you blog simply to give your adoring fans an opportunity to tell you how you can do no wrong, you're bound to eventually find that your expectations of the internet are unrealistic. Lord knows I've taken my fair share of flack for decisions I've made (just this week I was "that mom" who was paged overhead at Kohl's for losing her kid! I was also "that mom" whose kid hit her head on the edge of the pool as she was jumping into my arms). It just goes with the territory. It's part of being in public with small, loud, clumsy, uncivilized little people. I would hope that if I posted about something flagrantly stupid that I'd done, my readers would say, "Um, foul!" so that I could do better next time (I've already learned to keep a closer eye on her at Kohl's, and not to let her jump into the pool, folks, so we can skip those!). After all, what's the point if we're not constantly trying to improve ourselves? Without self-reflection and self-improvement blogging - particularly mommyblogging - is simply an excercise in naval gazing and narcissism.

But, I have to say, blocking my comments, unfriending me on Facebook, and unfollowing me on Twitter says more about you, Toots, than it says about me.

The Cough

Claire has a cough. I haven't taken her to the doctor, over the month that it's been going on, because it gets worse at night. Every night for the past month I've said, "If she's still sick in the morning, I'm taking her to the doctor," but then she's fine and I forget all about it.

Last night she coughed so hard she woke herself up. It's a dry cough. I haven't wiped her nose in months. She isn't coughing anything up, or at least, nothing I've seen. It isn't croup - it doesn't have that characteristic sound. It's more like vomiting, in that it's spastic and sounds uncontrollable. She coughs until she has nothing left in her lungs, then she just stops and is silent for a second, before she breathes. Sometimes she coughs again, until she's out of breath. Sometimes it's just once. Sometimes she takes a drink of water, and that helps.

Whatever it is, it's not normal, and it's been going on long enough that it set off my, "Ok, it's time to go to the doctor," alarm over the weekend. I called yesterday, but the Dr. MWMH didn't have any open appointments this week. (That's what I get for referring most of our town to him over the past 4 years). I could either make an appointment to see the nurse practitioner (who I've never met) or I could try to get a same-day-sick appointment today. So, this morning BJ called at 7:30 am, and we have an appointment this afternoon.

The thing is, right now she's fine. And I'm considering canceling the appointment so that someone who is more acutely sick can have it. I would, too, except we're going out of town next week, so the soonest I'd be able to get her in to see Dr. MWMH is a week from Friday, and that seems too long when she's coughing so hard every single night.

Ok, she just coughed, so now I feel better about taking her.

I'm worried that she might have a milk allergy. She also has dark circles under her eyes all the time, and I guess that can be a symptom of a food allergy. She doesn't have any skin rashes that I've noticed. She gets diaper rash easily, though, which probably counts as a skin rash, now that I think about it.

She probably won't cough once at the doctor's. I wonder if he'll be able to hear anything if she doesn't.

I'm also worried that it's asthma. Can they even diagnose asthma in a 2 year old? Doesn't it have another name when they're that little? I have asthma, and my brother had it as a child and grew out of it. I grew into it. It was nice of me to take over having asthma for him, wasn't it?

I wish she could tell me what's going on. I can't ask her if her throat itches, or if she feels badly anywhere, because she'll just repeat the question. "Do you itch here?" pointing to my throat, "Itch here?" she'll say, pointing at her throat. "Do you itch inside?" "Inside?"

It's a lot easier when they're bigger and they can tell you what's going on.

Our neighbors' daughter also has a cough - hers has been going on for a long time, maybe a year? I wonder if there's something in our neighborhood - maybe a flower or a tree - that's causing the kids to cough. Or then I go all Erin Brokovich and start wondering about the corn processing plant nearby. They make sweeteners out of corn. I wonder if there's something they're putting in the air that's affecting the kids. Sometimes, when the wind is blowing wrong, we can smell it. It's about a mile away, and we're uphill from it. Still... It makes me wonder.

I'm so grateful that our kids are mostly healthy and strong. There are plenty of parents and children dealing with more serious illnesses than this. But this is what's on my mind today. Any thoughts?

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Thing About Writer's Block

I've noticed a pattern with this blog. When someone compliments me on my writing, on a particular post or overall, I clam up. Particularly if that person is someone I didn't expect to be a reader of this blog. Sure, I knew they knew about it, but I just figured they didn't read regularly...

I have a mental image of my audience - my mom, my step-mom, my sister, my aunt Kathryn and cousin Kelly, Amanda, Barb, a few more friends... BJ, so he knows what I'm saying about him. I know that I average about 5000 page views a month, and I know that those dozen or so people can't be responsible for all of those hits, intellectually. But it's something I put out of my head, most of the time. I don't check my stats all that often.

Stats make me feel naked.

BJ's aunt Maria said something very kind and complimentary to me the other night when she was here, and since then? I've got nothin'.

It's almost as though I feel like I need to live up to the compliment, and that added pressure puts my self-criticism into overdrive. A healthy amount of self-criticism means that I maintain a high standard of writing (proper punctuation, spelling, etc.). Too much and I feel like I can't write anything interesting enough.

And of course, there's a difference between a relative who I respect and love and don't see very often, and a stranger. I'm much more concerned about how the relative interprets what she reads than the average stranger who passes through looking for the key to surviving "two under two."

Of course, like anyone, I love to receive compliments. I just need to find a way to keep them out of my mojo!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

It sucks that Father's day has come in the middle of my writer's block. I wish I could think of something touching and profound to say to BJ, to my dad, to my step-dad, and to my uncles.

I can't.

Today we spent most of the day having fun with the kids - out for breakfast, to the mall to get BJ some work shirts, to the park, then for a drive in the country while the kids napped to look at the wind farm north of here (boy do those windmills look alien - like they were dropped here by some very large, very advanced species! It's bizarre to see them next to 100 year old barns!).

Anyway, freakin' writers block, blah blah, I'll write something that will make you cry next year.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Spectacular Saturday

Galactic Center of Milky Way Rises over Texas Star Party from William Castleman on Vimeo.

I just stumbled upon this spectacular video and I had to share. Proper credits are in the video itself. It's amazing. Enjoy!

By the way - that Mars thing that is going around is a lie. However, smart people I know have fallen for it, so don't feel bad. With all the truly awesome things happening in space, why anyone feels the need to lie about Mars being as big as the Moon this fall is beyond me... There's plenty of Real stuff to see that's incredible (as in the above video).

(The above video which I am now doomed to find out is faked, somehow, because I've made fun of the Mars hoax thing... Oh well, mine is still pretty).

In which I whine about my aches and pains like and old woman

I have a serious problem.

Both of the kids are in the habit of coming into our bed at night. I wouldn't mind this, because they wait until we're asleep, except they sleep ON ME. One sticks her head on my left shoulder, one on my right, and I end up pinned to the bed, unable to move, for the rest of the night.

Somehow, they do this without waking me up.

It is giving me bursitis in my shoulders. It's doing something bad to my ring finger on my right hand. I bought Aspercream yesterday, people! I'm 33!!!

I woke up this morning, and I can't move my arm. I can't turn my head all the way to the right. I HURT.

I have got to get these kids out of my bed.

The thing is that we were really good for several weeks about waking up when MG came in, and escorting her back to her room. So she adapted and learned to sneak in without waking me up. Now, by the time I wake up, the damage is already done, I am already in pain, and I wake up cranky and yelling.

BJ suggests that we start shutting our door, hoping that the door opening will wake one of us up. I may put a bell on it or something, too. Or train Max to lay in front of the door and bark when the kids open it.

How do you get/keep your kids out of your bed?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

College Flashback

I couldn't think of anything to write about, today, so I did a search for writing prompts and came across this page. #12 is "Write about a brief but scary encounter with one of your old professors," and I realized when I read that, that I have never told you, teeming dozens, the story of Endangered Languages.

When I was a freshman at IU, I took a College of Arts and Sciences class called Endangered Languages. It fulfilled some requirement that all of my other classes (like yoga and beginning guitar) could not.

There was a really cute boy, who had kind of a studiously handsome thing going on, in my class. I actually followed him home one day, and lo and behold - he lived in my dorm! Fate!! I lived in Willkie - the girls lived in the north tower and the boys lived in the south tower. I had to go to the boys' tower to get my mail.

I spent a lot of time getting my mail and hanging out in the dining hall for the next week, hoping to run into him. FINALLY I did.

"Hey, aren't you in my Endangered Languages class?" I said smoothly.

"Yeah, hi, I'm Bryan," he said, I swooned.

"I'm Amy. Nice to meet you. Do you have a copy of the paper assignment? I can't find mine..." complete bull. It was in my backpack.

"Sure, come to my room, it's right over here, and I'll get it. You can make a copy." I was dying. This was going far better than I'd hoped. Maybe he'd noticed me too! Maybe he liked that witty but intelligent remark I'd made during our last class. Maybe we'd get married and have a half a dozen studiously attractive children!!!

"Ok!" I walked to his room with him. He opened the door and there was a girl, a really pretty girl, sitting on his floor.

"Oh. That's the girlfriend," I thought. "Bitch."

Turns out that she was looking at me, thinking, "Oh, that's the girlfriend. Bitch." But I didn't know that until much later.

Anyway, back to the class. It was really intereting... for the first two weeks. Then it got totally repetitive and lame. Bryan, who I was sitting next to, now, was still not in love with me. He and I would write notes back and forth to each other - including dirty limericks about the subject matter. "There once was an Injun named Ishi..." went one. The rest is unprintable.

It was one of those classes where they assign 6 papers, but only average your five highest grades into your final grade. I had As on all the papers, but if you skipped one it counted as a zero, even if you'd aced all the others. I had to turn in something order to get the A I had already earned.

Being the smart-alecked 18 year old that I was, I chose to write, "Why I Didn't Like This Class," as my final paper. I explained that the subject was really interesting at first, but it seemed like they had run out of material really early on, and the rest of the class had been really boring. I suggested that they either make it a half-semester course or make it part of a larger class, maybe on endangered cultures. I thought they could add a bunch in about the other aspects of humanity that were being lost along with these dying languages... I was as respectful as possible, while telling the professor that his class sucked.

I went on for five pages.

I honestly didn't think that the professor would ever see it. The TA, who was a tool, had graded all of our papers up to that point. If the prof did see it, it wouldn't be until the class had ended, and I wouldn't have to look him in the eye. Of course, Bryan read it and loved it, and egged me on to turn it in. Wanting to impress him, I did.

We turned our papers in the Wednesday before the last Friday of class. On Friday we had presentations to give. My group had been scheduled for that day. Immediately before class, the professor (the one who had stopped class a few weeks before to ask Bryan and I what was so funny, when we wrote the dirty limerick) came to me and said, "Are you Amy?"

"Yes?" I said. Bryan was riveted. I could see him out of the corner of my eye, hanging on every word.

"I need to speak to you about your paper after class."

Bryan's jaw hit the desk. My palms were sweaty and my heart raced. I was a wreck for our whole presentation (it was a group thing - I hate group projects). 50 minutes ticked by like I was waiting for an execution.


Finally, class ended for the day and the semester - all I had to do was get through this conversation and I'd never have to see this prof, or Endangered Languages again.

Bryan dawdled getting his things together so he could eavesdrop. My face was crimson.

"Amy, I want you to know," said the professor without a hint of sarcasm, "that I really appreciate your paper."

"Excuse me?" I said. Bryan had given up all pretense of not listening, now, and was obviously hanging on the professor's every word.

"I mean it. This class was originally supposed to be about endangered cultures, just as you said. We were only going to spend about two weeks on languages. But the anthropology department said they had a class that was too similar, so at the last minute we had to cut out all the culture stuff and fill a whole semester with languages. You're 100% right. There wasn't enough material for a whole class."

"You've got to be kidding me," Bryan muttered.

"I am going to take your paper to my department head, and show him that a student cared enough to write her final paper on how to improve this class. I hope that I can make a lot of changes next semester, thanks to you. Of course, I can't give you a letter grade on it, but I checked and you already have an A in the class."

I was stunned into absolute silence. Those who know me know that is something that never happens to me.

"Thank you," the professor said, "It's been a pleasure having you in class."

"Ok," I said. I was so shocked, my neurons weren't even firing.

"Good luck with next semester. Enjoy your holidays!" he said.

"Ok," I said.

Bryan and I walked out together. We almost made it to the hall before we started cracking up.

The rest of the story:

I haven't seen Bryan since 1996. If you're Bryan E. Moore and you know this story, e-mail me, for crying out loud.

The bitch on the floor in his dorm room and I went on to become best friends - she was my maid of honor, and I was hers. She's in Louisiana, now, finishing her Ph.D. in anthropology.

The only time I've used anything I learned in that class was to write this post.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Great News!!!

Those kids I told you about have been FOUND! They got pulled over for speeding in Illinois, and are both back home safe!

Thanks to all of you who posted, re-tweeted, etc. Here's the news article that a friend sent me on Facebook:

Two runaway Plymouth teenagers have been found in Illinois.

Illinois State Police stopped Tyler Hauptli and his girlfriend, Sasha Jarvis, for speeding Tuesday night about 60 miles north of St. Louis. The 15-year-olds had been missing since Monday morning, when they stole cash from Hauptli's parents and took off in a family car.

Hauptli's mother, Tonya, told Fox 28 the teens are being held at the Porter County (IN) detention center until a hearing on Monday. No word on whether any charges have been filed.

Tonya Hauptli says she thinks the kids ran away because they were upset about how their parents were handling their relationship.

I don't have a source, but I'm assuming it was one of the NWI papers. I'll see if I can find it.

Updated - source here.


In other news, I can get a crapload of stuff done when I stay off the 'net all day.

Hope all your news is good.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Babysitting Visualized

Purple: Cost of snacks
Green: Videos watched

Blue: Time Outs Given

Red: Parental Need for Alcohol

Pink: Parental Chores Accomplished

Yellow: Diapers Changed

(In all seriousness, if you haven't read this post yet, please read it now and pass it on!)
With apologies to College Humor, from whom I stole the graph idea.

URGENT - Missing teens in NW Indiana!

My friend Aimee, who I've known since Kindergarten, just posted on Facebook that her daughter Sasha and her daughter's boyfriend Tyler (both 15 years old) have been missing for 36 hours. They stole $1200 and a car. If you have any information, please call the Plymouth, IN police at 547-936-2126.

Please repost this wherever you can - Facebook, Twitter, your blog... Especially if you're in Indiana or the Chicago area.

Sasha Jarvis (on left)

Tyler Hauptil

I will keep you posted with any developments.

3:09 pm - UPDATED to add: Teens may be headed to WASHINGTON STATE from Indiana. Please get the word out.

3:15 pm - UPDATED to add: Here is a news article about the kids - http://www.fox28.com/Global/story.asp?S=10537812

4:30 pm - UPDATED to add: Stolen car is
blue 1991 Geo Tracker with Indiana plates 318-TAE.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday Morning Bullet Points

We're going to (try to get our act together before 2 pm so we can) go to the library today, so instead of stringing all this together into some cohesive narrative for you, I'm going to put all the little odds and ends into a bulleted list for you, today. Next week? Powerpoint.
  • Did I tell you that our awesome neighbors split all their hostas and lillies and brought them down for our yard a few weeks ago? All the lillies are getting ready to bloom. My front walk is about to look fantastic, and when it does I'll post a picture. I can't believe how excited I am about flowers.
  • In other horticultural news, our grass is actually starting to grow where we put down 10 tons of dirt! Hopefully soon it will mean the end of mud and giant puddles in our back yard.
  • BJ took the kids to the park on the bike yesterday, and I stayed home to clean. I cleaned the downstairs bathroom, vacuumed, cleaned up the kitchen, and mopped the kitchen floor. I'm always astounded at how much I can accomplish without kids in the house.
  • While I was cleaning, I heard Max losing her mind in the yard. I went outside and had to go upside a neighborhood kid's head because she was walking her dog without a leash. The dog was standing on one side of the fence, and Max was on the other freaking out. I told her, "This isn't going to work. You need to have your dog on a leash." She replied that her parents don't want her to walk the dog on a leash because she isn't strong enough. I said, "Then how are you going to pull her off if she gets in a fight with another dog? If you're not strong enough, you shouldn't be walking the dog! Max can open the gate, I've seen her do it. You tell your mom I said this isn't safe, and if I see you again, I'm going to talk to your mom!" Unfortunately this is the second time we've seen this family walking their dog off leash (in town), and the first time? It was the mom.
  • I'm getting extremely nervous about BlogHer (look at the right hand sidebar - all those fabulous looking parties and stuff? Less than 40 days away. Terrifying!) I'm rooming with Amy Turn Sharp, Momo Fali, and Piper of Love. I've met the first two in real life, when Bossy came to town, and talked with Piper over the 'net. You'll know which room is ours because all the fabulous will be shining under the door.
  • Bumpa came over last night and got us pizza for dinner. Yay Bumpa! He also took the kids for a walk so BJ and I could have a little peace and quiet. YAY Bumpa!
  • I have no idea what to wear to BlogHer. I have four dresses, but I don't want to be overdressed. I'm tempted to just wear my usual jeans and t-shirt (or capris, anyway, because it'll be July in Chicago), but I don't want to be the only person in the entire place who looks sloppy and comfortable.
  • BJ and MG cleaned the toyroom while I was putting Claire to bed! The whole downstairs is clean. I can hardly stand it.
  • Claire was pretending to make soup the other day with the plastic food and kitchen toys, and she kept "tasting" it and saying, "Ohhh! Delicious!"
  • Mah Internetz are not workin' very well this morning.
  • BJ rode his bike to work today.
  • I'm afraid no one will like me at BlogHer. And here I thought I left all this angst behind when I left high school.
  • Mary Grace and I were pillow fighting last night, and started playing a word game. She said, "Oooooh boy!" and threw it at me, then I said, "Ooooohklahoma!" and threw it back. This went on for a minute. She won when she said "Oooohh Canada!" We all cracked up.
  • I got a quart of buttermilk to make a coffee cake last week, and since I'm cheap and I didn't want it to go to waste, I made biscuits and pancakes from scratch this weekend. That must be the secret to cooking inspiration - be too cheap to let the $1 worth of buttermilk go bad.
  • What is up with buttermilk, anyway? It smells AWFUL.
  • A bunch of people from high school saw a picture of me in the paper last week from that coupon class I took back in May. Way to be timely, local paper!
  • Mafia Wars is taking up way too much of my spare time.
If you're going to BlogHer, too, leave me a comment and introduce your fabulous self.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Unpopular with Parents

I have a bit of a personality flaw, I'm afraid. I'm the kind of parent that kids love but parents hate.

Case in point - today we went to a birthday party for our little friend Miles, who turned one. We put on our cutest party dresses, and headed to Miles' house about 20 minutes from ours, only to discover that no one was there. I checked my e-mail on my phone, and the party was at a park about 2 minutes from our house. Whoops.

We weren't really dressed for a party in the park, but I'm fairly adept at laundry and they looked cute, so I thought, "oh well," and let them play. I could've brought them home to change them and then returned to the park, but by the time we got there, we were already running pretty late.

The girls managed to eat their birthday cake without getting any on their outfits, and I thought, "Hooray!! Maybe this won't be a test of my Spray 'N' Wash after all!" Then, it started to rain.

Did I mention that we were at a park?

No worries, there was a picnic shelter and we were dry inside, until I heard those six little words that I had been dreading, "Mommy, I have to go potty."

Through the storm I trekked with MG holding my hand and Claire on my hip. It wasn't far, but by the time we got to the bathrooms and back, we were soaked.

Then MG and C wanted to play in the rain. By that time, they were soaked, so I said, "Why not, go for it!" And - this is the part that I didn't think about when I told my own kids they could play in the rain - all the other parents had to let their kids play in the rain too! So, there we were, about a dozen damp grown ups and about 8 soggy kids, whooping it up in the rain at the park.

I told Miles' dad that I'd watch all the kids when they came down with pneumonia next week, because I was pretty sure that the rain-play was totally my fault. He replied that he was disappointed in me for thinking that being cold and wet caused pneumonia, so I guess he couldn't have been too mad, right? I mean, if he were mad, he would've started handing out my phone number to all the other parents.

It sure looked like everyone had fun. The little ones were a little bit shivery and blue lipped, but none the worse for wear.

For the ride home, I stripped my kids down to almost nothing and tossed them in the back seat with a blanket and the heat on full blast. It was a short ride home (for us) so it wasn't too bad. When we got back, their Dad tossed them in the bath while I made supper, and now (hopefully) they're sleeping in the next room.

The way I figure it, my kids are going to remember splashing in mud puddles more than they'll remember having beautiful outfits. They're going to remember that Mom got out in the rain (for a few minutes, anyway) and quacked like a duck with them more fondly than they'll remember a mom who looked on from the shelter in silent disapproval.

I've never heard anyone say, "Oh, yeah... I had a great childhood. I was always SO clean!"

So, let the kids play in the rain, already! Or just try not to hate me when my kids instigate it. After all, they don't know any better.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Little April Rose Scam Exposed

(click the title for the article)

I haven't posted anything about the "Little April Rose" fiasco, for a lot of reasons. If you followed her blog, you may remember that I was the person who suggested (in a comment) that a homebirth in her "situation" might be illegal, and she promptly wrote a vehement reply in my general direction. I told my sister weeks ago that I smelled a rat, but I was afraid to speak up because nay-saying, if her story had been true, would have been cruel.

When the "baby" was "born," I was hitting "refresh" along with everyone else who had followed her blog, waiting for updates. When the picture of "April" was posted - the one that turned out to be a doll - I thought it was awfully strange that a baby with not one but two facially disfiguring disorders (trisomy 13 and the holo-thing that I can't spell) would have such a perfect face. She also looked awfully chubby for a 4 pound baby. It wasn't long before the rest of the mommy-blogosphere was in an uproar. I sort of sat back and watched the whole thing unfold, rather than doing the research myself to discover Beccah's identity. But I was riveted for a couple of days as I watched the web of lies that Beccah had spun come undone.

I think there are several lessons here that we should all take away from the whole thing...

#1 - No matter how hard you try to protect your identity, it is stupid easy for anyone with half a clue how the internet works to figure out exactly who you are, where you live, what your phone number is, who lives in your house with you, how much your house is worth, and a whole bunch of other "private" information. There is no such thing as "private" anymore.

#2 - While I don't think that we bloggers should hesitate to reach out and support one another emotionally in times of need, we should really think very carefully before we support each other financially in times of need. This is not the first blog scam (while the article says that she didn't benefit financially, it goes on to say that some of the people involved gave her "hundreds" of dollars, and the ad revenue alone would've been HUGE with nearly a million hits...) for money, nor will it be the last.

While a lot of beautiful things have been done in the blogging community (like the support that Matt Logelin has received since the tragic death of his wife Liz, and the not-for-profit group he has set up in her memory), a lot of scams have been pulled just like Beccah's. We really need to be careful where we donate money and send gifts.

I wish I could think of a list of good guidelines for this, but I really can't. I think it's a red flag if a blog is too polished, as "April's Mom's" was. I think it's a warning sign if the blogger doesn't give her last name or location - but then again, I don't give my last name or location! Of course, I also don't ask for gifts. (If you want to send gifts, though, I'll accept them! Let me run right out and get a PO Box. Hahaha). It's a warning sign when people protest too much - Beccah said something directly once about people thinking that she was lying, and that it would be a pretty sick trick to pull on people (or something to that effect). If someone's always crowing about how "real" they are, it makes me think that they might not be all that real... Can anyone think of other red flags?

#3 - Honesty is the best policy. As bloggers, the only standards we're held to are our own. I can sit here all day and make up lies - about myself, about others, about politicians and public figures... It might even be fun to wait and see how long it takes the lies I make up to get on Fox News (rimshot). We bloggers really need to have a sense of journalistic integrity about the whole thing, because once you begin to lie, you have to tell another, then another, and before long you find yourself suffocating under a whole pack of lies, and then you screw up and get caught. I wonder, if she hadn't posted the picture of the doll, would she have gotten away with it?

#4 - Finally, it's really easy to forget that the internet is made up of actual people with actual feelings, lives and, often, psychiatric disorders. It's probably in everyone's best interests if we bear this in mind at all times.

So, who else was following the rise and fall of Little April Rose's Mom? You can read more about it here and here and here, and if you still want more, those links can take you to further links where you can get the whole sordid tale.


Mary Grace and Claire's Mom
Keepin' it 100% real since May, 2007

In Which I Suffer Fools

Note the first reader comment. Heee...

Link to Sun Times.


So I had to have a medical exam for life insurance today (worst needle stick EVER!) and we're going through the questions, and she asks me if I'm pregnant.

"Not that I'm aware of," I reply truthfully.

"But you could be?"

"I suppose it's possible."

"But you don't know whether you are or are not?"

"Maybe a little? I honestly don't know. At this time, I have no information regarding my natal status."

"I'll just write down," the nurse said, "that you've been exposed to pregnancy."

I LOL'd.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Is It Friday Yet?

The trouble with going anywhere with BJ is that I need a week to recover from a weekend away. The kids have finally calmed down, thankfully, and are back to mostly-normal (or as normal as we get around here, anyways). I posted on Facebook yesterday that Claire had colored herself with an orange marker, all over her face, and looked like an Oompa Loompa - sorry Facebook, but I didn't get a picture. I did get a picture of MG, though. She followed suit with stamps:

Maybe I need to start, oh, I don't know, paying attention to my kids?

I also got a picture of BJ's birthday cake, the recipe for which I will now share because I love you and I want you to be happy...

Cherry Cordial Cake

1 dark chocolate cake mix
2 eggs
1 can cherry pie filling1 tsp almond extract

1 brick of cream cheese
3 T powdered sugar

5 T butter
1 C sugar
1/3 C milk
1 C chocolate chips

Mix the cake ingredients together by hand (or you'll break all your cherries) and bake in two 8 or 9" springform-style pans until done (about 27 minutes for 9" at 350 - follow the instructions on your cake mix). Cool completely.

In a mixer, combine the filling ingredients and whip the heck out of them until fluffy.

Unmold the bottom layer of cake onto your cake plate (off center, if you want to be just like me!), then top it with the cream cheese mixture and spread flat (don't sweat the crumbs). Unmold the top layer of the cake onto the top of the filling.

Next, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the milk and sugar, and boil for a couple of minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved (I screwed this up, and our glaze was grainy). When the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and add the chocolate chips, stirring constantly to melt. Let it cool for a couple of minutes, otherwise your cake will be swimming in a puddle of glaze, like mine. Once it's cooler (so it's not completely runny), pour the glaze over the top of the cake. Chill until ready to serve.

Decorate poorly:

I suck at writing with icing. I wish I could type the tops of cakes. I started too low so I had to write his name above the "Happy Birthday" - duh!! And the whip cream was to hide the part where the glaze was too runny. *sigh* I probably could've left his name off - after all, it's not like we were going to forget whose birthday it was!!

The recipe was loosely based on the chocolate covered cherry cake recipe from The Cake Doctor, but I totally thought up the filling on my own. The tartness of the cream cheese was a nice contrast to the richness of the cake. I think I'd switch up the glaze next time, because I didn't love it. Maybe I need a ganash. Mimi's birthday is coming up - I'll experiment then. I can also practice my icingmanship.

So, the status here is Messy. How is it with you?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Happy Birthday BJ!

Did you know that BJ and I were born in the same hospital? It's true. I was born 6 weeks before him.

Living in the world without him was the hardest 6 weeks of my life. I cried a lot, refused to speak, had to be carried everywhere. Hahaha...

Of course, we didn't meet until later, at the ripe old age of 11. Then we started dating when we were 21, and have been together ever since. I'm sure I've told the story on here already. Oh, ha, I told it LAST year on his birthday.

Happy Birthday, honey! The kids and I love you so much!!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Aftermath

Our children have completely lost their tiny minds.

Since we picked them up from Mimi, they have been completely out of control. Out. Of. Control. Even BJ is at the end of his rope right now, and BJ has a LOOOONG rope (he's married to me, after all). We literally haven't gone 5 minutes without correcting one of them since he got home from work. "Don't kick her," "Stop that," "Give that back," "Sit down," "Take a time out," "Leave her alone," "Don't throw that," and my personal favorite, "For the love of God your voice does not have to constantly be moving, would you just be quiet?!!?!?!!?"

Please leave a comment and reassure me that ours are not the only children who lose their flipping minds after a weekend in Grammaland - where everything they do is cute, and there is no such thing as discipline, and chocolate and sugar flow like rain from the skies. Please tell me stories of when your kids have been spoiled for a few days, and how the first day and a half was miserable, but tomorrow is going to be fine because, otherwise, seriously... I'm getting out the wooden spoons.

Space cadets.

Please note - I am not blaming any of the good citizens of Grammaland for my kids' current behavior. You're just doing your jobs, as grandparents and aunts and uncles. They were good for you, which is awesome, but they saved up all their bad for us. And I am going to put them in a box and mail them back to you if they don't straighten up.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Totally Exhausted

Oh internet, I am so beat.

On Friday afternoon the girls and I headed up to Grammaland at about 11 am. We had lunch with my mom, then visited with Gramma Susan, then I took them over to Grandma Diana's (Grandma Three-Peat!) where they'd be staying the night. Since we planned to drive his car into Chicago, and since he needed to work, BJ drove up separately a couple hours later. He got stuck in major traffic, and finally got there around supper time. After visiting for a few minutes with his mom, we headed to Chicago!

When we got to the hotel, they didn't have any non-smoking rooms with king sized beds in them. She offered us an upgrade for $30 a night. Then she checked the computer and found that there weren't any non-smoking king sized bed rooms in that category, either, so we got a double upgrade. The room was cavernous. We had to yell to hear each other across the whole thing. There was a (largely empty and somewhat pointless) sitting room, a big bathroom, and a bedroom which was, thankfully, non-smoking and king sized.

After checking in, we changed clothes and walked to the Hancock Tower to have dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. Already my footwear choices were proving foolish, but we went for a walk along the lake after dinner, then headed back to the cavernous hotel room.

Saturday we woke up around our usual time (those pesky internal clocks of ours were unaware that we didn't have to wake up to take care of the kids, who were having a fabulous time with Grandma Diana!). We got dressed and walked across the street from the Wyndham, where we stayed, to the Corner Bakery. We got coffee and breakfast, then we walked to Water Tower Place to get a new pair of shoes for dopey-me - I always take inappropriate footwear when we go out of town, and I always end up crippled and bleeding. Seriously, right now there's more blister than skin on the bottom of my left foot. Anyway, after paying through the nose for some decent shoes, we walked in the other direction. We walked through the American Girl store (SCARY! Do not tell my kids about that place, under penalty of having to take them there yourself!). We checked out the Apple store. Then we headed toward the river.

There was an art fair at one of the universities. We walked through that, and recognized several vendors from our local art fair. We thought about taking an architectural boat tour, but it was pretty cold and we knew we'd be colder on the water. There was also a Gospel Fest that we stopped at for a bit. Instead of the boat tour, we ended up taking a Segway tour, which was so much fun (and a little bit scary, but mostly fun). I've wanted to try a Segway ever since they came out. I had a little trouble keeping up with the group, though. I think because of the blisters that were starting to really hurt on my feet, I kept shifting forward, then it would think I wanted to go faster than I did, and it would slow me down. And the way it slows you down is by making the handlebars come back and hit you in the stomach, which makes the whole thing feel extremely off balance.

Even though a 14 year old kid who was in our group backed into BJ, and it started to rain mid-tour (and it was only about 45 degrees) we managed to get through it unscathed. Well, except for my feet, which are a mess. The US Men's Soccer Team was playing Honduras at Soldier Field, and there were about 25000 people wearing blue and white and carrying the flag of Honduras around the area where we were taking our tour. It was like Chicago was being invaded by Honduras. Very strange. I don't even know who won, but that whole stadium must have been blue and white. We saw thousands of people in blue and white, and only one group in red, white, and blue.

Why don't Americans like soccer?

Anyway, here's a picture I took before the tour:

I'm pretty sure I took that from the bridge that connects the Art Museum with Millenium Park. It annoys BJ that they call it Millenium Park, when it wasn't started or completed in 2000.

After the tour, we were cold and wet and tired, so we got a cup of cocoa at another Corner Bakery and found, through the bakery, a scale model of the entire city with a bunch of interesting facts about the city's development, plans for the Olympics, etc. That was pretty cool. Probably would've stayed longer if I hadn't been limping badly at that point.

I think this might have been at the Architectural Society? Anyway, instead of lingering, we cabbed back to the hotel to rest. BJ saw me safely to the room, then went out to find things to help my blisters. What really helped most, though, was popping them with a safety pin I had in my make up bag. It was probably the least sterile thing in there, but I was willing to risk a foot infection to take the pressure off. Once he got back from Walgreen's (proud sponsors of the aforementioned Gospel Fest) we went to dinner at the TGI Friday's across the street from the hotel (it was nearby and relatively quick, and that's what we wanted), then we took a cab to Second City. We had a blast at the show. We had super seats, and it was hilarious. We laughed and laughed. If you've never heard of it, Second City is the group that most of the people from Saturday Night Live have started out with. The show was called, "America, All Better!" and it was really funny.

We walked a bit through the neighborhood called Old Town, where the show was, after that, but I was pretty sleepy so we headed back to the hotel again. We thought about a movie, but it seemed silly to watch a movie on the tiny hotel TV when we can watch Big Movies at home. Plus, the fees are just stupid for the movies in hotels. $14? Seriously!?!?

This morning we slept in (!!!) got up and dressed, checked out, had breakfast, got our car, and returned to Grammaland to pick the kids up from Mimi (who got them from Grandma Diana after work on Saturday). We visited with them a bit before we headed back home. The kids must have had fun, because they've been really grumpy since we've been home. Diana and Mimi both said that they were really good. I guess they saved all of their grumpiness for us (as usual).

Why do kids do that? Can't they be nice for us, too?

So, that was BJ's big birthday trip to Chicago (his birthday's Tuesday). I'm going to go outside to find him, and the girls, and get the kids (and myself!) to bed.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Water Problems

The water in our downstairs is brown - not rusty - brown. And it was also brown at Noodles and at the library (which are both several miles from our house). The water upstairs is fine. I didn't see any hydrants being flushed.

1) What's up with flushing fire hydrants? Why?

2) Does anyone local know what's going on? I checked the water utility's web site and they had no information. I also checked the newspaper's website, but the only problem I found was from a couple of weeks ago.

3) The under-the-sink water purification system that we installed with the new sink and faucet is doing an outstanding job of filtering out the brownness. The kitchen tap water looks fine. It's the water in the bathroom that's most scary.

I'm going to be AFB (away from blog) this weekend... See you Monday!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

...and, we're back and talking about Breastfeeding

Wow, sorry about the blog break, folks. I was in a particularly hellish bad mood. I couldn't write (I actually wrote two posts and deleted them because they were so snarky). I couldn't speak without yelling. I couldn't think. I think I'm better, though. Hormones suck. A lot.

Anyway, that's not what I'm here to talk about. I was talking to a really good friend yesterday whose 3rd child is about 7 weeks old. She is concerned about her milk supply. It got me to thinking about how much of successful breastfeeding is about confidence.

Think about it. Your baby hits a growth spurt (generally around 6 weeks old, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months...) and he's nursing constantly. If you're confident in your supply, you think, "Awww... cute! A growth spurt!!" but if you're not confident you think, "OMG, he's not getting enough milk! I'd better supplement!" Then you give him a bottle of formula and he sleeps for 8 hours, and you think, "Oh God, I've been starving him! I'd better give him another bottle!" Meanwhile, your supply is diminishing (because he's getting those ounces of food from Nestle, not from you) and he's actually sleeping 8 hours because he's in a food coma (not unlike a grown person getting tired after a huge meal, say Thanksgiving). But your observation (he's sleeping! He must be full!) leads you to continue to supplement, which drives down your supply, which means he's going to need more formula... You see how it goes.

Of course, of course, the parent's instincts are natural and healthy. You want to give your child the best. You want him to be satisfied and full. You really want him to sleep. I am not suggesting that my friend, or any other mother in her situation, has done anything wrong - far from it!

I'm suggesting that the entire formula industry, and its advertising, is geared toward instilling in mothers a lack of confidence.

It's hard to be confident when you can't see how much the baby is getting. It's hard to trust your body (especially if, like me, you've had an adversarial relationship with your body on other levels for your entire life!!). It's hard to look at that pumped ounce of milk, and think, "If I can only pump an ounce, how can I be sure that he's getting enough??"

Babies are more efficient than pumps.

I breastfed my kids for 28 months and 22 months, respectively, and was NEVER able to pump more than a few drops. I would've been thrilled with an ounce. But my kids didn't starve. Far from it! Once things got going, we were fine, and now MG is the height of your average 5 year old, at 3. Claire's tiny, but I'm only 5'4". She's a healthy tiny. (Think about it - we give most kids in this country formula as infants, but when they're 8 or 10, how many of them have obesity problems? Maybe it's time to stop listening to the medical establishment and stop following the charts when it comes to our babies' weight gain!)

Pumps don't stimulate your breasts to produce more milk the way that babies do.

And the formula companies know all this. It's no coincidence that you get a "free" sample of formula when your baby is about 6 weeks old - that's a known time of major growth for infants, and the breastfed kid will ramp up the amount of nursing at that time, naturally. Naturally you'll think he's not getting enough, and you'll give him a bottle. He'll sleep for hours because he's over-full. It's very reinforcing. And that's how formula companies sabotage breastfeeding. Oh yes, I believe they do it completely on purpose. Think about how much money a single bottle-feeding family spends on formula in a year - thousands!! Think about how many babies are born in a year - thousands!! Think of the profits! If you believe that companies like Nestle aren't in business for the money, your faith is much stronger than mine.

I honestly believe that formula should only be available by prescription (and then maybe it would be covered by insurance!) for those who are truly having problems nursing (and they are out there - I had major supply problems with MG, and I had to take Reglan, which causes depression, and which I think caused my post-partum depression, to fix it). Perhaps if the insurance companies were looking at paying for a year of formula versus funding a course of medication, like Reglan or Domperidone (see below) they'd be more willing to help those of us who have trouble.

Domperidone is not FDA approved, although it's used widely in Canada and safer than Reglan. In order to get it here, you have to have a very cooperative doctor and a compounding pharmacy. It has fewer side-effects than Reglan, and is reported to work better.

But instead, my OB (who had never heard of Domperidone) said, "Just give her a bottle." I refused to give up, and sought help elsewhere (Jeni, the local LLL leader, is a goddess. If you're local and having trouble, go to her first. E-mail me if you need contact info).

Anyway, I think if the financials of the decision were reversed - if the burden of "just" giving a bottle would fall on the insurance companies instead of on families - the insurance companies might pressure doctors to change the advice that they give, and encourage women and their doctors to try every possible course of action (medication, oatmeal, dark beer, fenugreek, etc.) before resorting to formula - and I think that would be good for babies and for mothers (and for wallets!).

Please understand that I am not blaming mothers. I know that there are lots of healthy ways to feed babies, and I do understand that formula has its place. Many, many women are unable to stay home for a year and nurse their babies - they have to work. Many of those same women are unable to let down for a pump, like me. In those cases, of course, formula becomes necessary. And I do not believe for one minute that I'm a better mother than any formula feeding mother simply because I was fortunate enough to make it work. Far from it. The measure of a mother requires a lot more factors than simply what she chooses to feed, or not feed, her kids. There are breastfeeders who beat their kids, and there are formula feeders who could be Mother of the Year candidates. Breastfeeding is just one small aspect of who I am as a mother, and if you choose to feed your kid formula, I trust that you have made the best decision possible for your child and your family that you could, given the individual circumstances you found yourself in at the time. No one sets out to hurt her child or to give him sub-standard care. I know this. I am not a sanctimommy when it comes to breastfeeding (anymore!).

I simply want to encourage any mom who might find this post (via searches for "problems breastfeeding" or "low supply" or "not enough breastmilk" or anything else) to TRUST HERSELF. Have confindence! Count wet and dirty diapers - if you're getting at least 6 wets and at least 1 dirty a day, you're ok. Keep an eye on the baby's weight - if it drops, obviously, you have a problem, but if it slows (per the chart) or even stalls for a couple of weeks, chances are that you're ok.

To build your breastmilk supply - take fenugreek (capsules, liquid, or tea). You have to take enough to make your BO smell like pancake syrup - about 3 capsules 3 times a day, for me. I found both the liquid and the tea nauseating, so I took capsules. The liquid is more effective. Try dark beer, like Guinness, because the brewer's yeast helps milk supply (or buy capsules at the health food store to avoid the alcohol). Eat lots of oatmeal. Drink plenty of water and get lots of rest - the milk-making hormones are more active when you sleep. Talk to your doctor about Reglan and Domperidone (and be SO careful with Reglan). Nurse your baby in a variety of positions so that all of your milk making glands are being stimulated (try to get as much of the dark part of your breast in his mouth as you can. If, like me, it's impossible for you to get all of it in that tiny mouth, make sure that you're getting all of it in there at different times over the course of the day - nurse lying down, in the cradle position, in the football position, etc. so that those glands all get stimulated. They're all around the outside of the areola. The motion of the baby's chin stimulates them. If you can't get your baby's chin to a certain spot, massage it with your hand while you nurse).

And remember that formula, while it has its place, also comes with risks. There have been plenty of recalls of formula since my kids were born (when I started paying attention). I remember one, in particular, where there was ground glass in formula powder. YIKES! The book I'm currently reading, The Unhealthy Truth, which I'll talk about in more detail once I've finished it, suggests that soy formula can wreak havoc on your kids' hormones. It also suggests that the proteins in non-organic cow's milk formula could be the cause of the rise in allergies that any parent who isn't in a coma has noticed over the last 20 years.

(By the way, if your kid has allergies, asthma, ADD, or autism, don't wait for me to finish that book - go get it right now, because it has important stuff in it that you really need to know, and God knows when I'll actually finish it and sit down to write about it. No one's paying me to review it by the way, I just happened to pick it up, and I think it's important... See previous blogs about organic milk and beef, etc.)

Most of all, though, please don't allow anyone - whether it's another mother, or a blog post, or a doctor, or a formula company, or a combination of all those - to take away your confidence. Make your feeding decisions from a place of strength, confidence, and information - not from a position of fear and self-doubt.

As always, if I can be of any help with this (or any other parenting) issue, please e-mail me. Finally, KellyMom has a ton of breastfeeding resources. Every mother who intends to breastfeed should read it, preferably before the baby is born (because afterwards? You totally won't have time).

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday Night's Mixed Metaphors

MG: Mommy, I can't go to sleep because I am afraid of the thunder!
Mommy: Yes you can, the thunder is more afraid of you than you are of it.

I guess I'm tired, because that didn't make any sense at all. And she must be tired, too, because she bought it.

It's storming here. Did you know it's actually a bit risky to give your kids a bath (or take one yourself) during a thunder storm? Yeah. The water and the metal pipes are conductive. People actually get hurt/killed this way each year. So, we took a quick bath and put the kids to bed. They're actually quiet, now, which is shocking (*rim shot*).

I haven't got anything else tonight. This hormonal stuff is bullshit. I need to either get knocked up or get back on the Mirena like yesterday. I can't do this again next month. Yuck.

Speaking of knocked up, have I told you that my bonus sister, Jill, is expecting? Yep, there's going to be a pretty boy baby in the family this fall. She and Brian got married right after Claire was born... MG was their flower girl. I am very excited to be an aunt again.

We've got a birthday party at the gym for one of MG's good friends tomorrow afternoon, so there will be pictures. I got her a really cute leotard for her gymnastics classes at Target today during the middle of the storm. We were trapped there, wandering, for a while because it was too rainy and lightningy to attempt to leave. Of all the places to be trapped, Target is one of my favorites.