Sunday, December 27, 2009

Adventures in Sewing Cloth Diapers

We're on the cloth diaper bandwagon already, but being hopeful and overly ambitious, I thought I could probably make some myself. I mean, fitted cloth diapers are as cute as a dog eating ice cream. But, they can be pricey. So I ordered a cheap sewing machine and Will and I headed to Michael's craft store for fabric remnants and thread.

After reading through this sewing machine's manual, and realizing what the heck a bobbin is, I began the adventure with some awesome fabric. I first made a little cover for those travel size baby wipes containers. After some troubleshooting and reloading the bobbin, it came out pretty good. So, I drew up a diaper pattern and jumped in with both feet. Here are the fruits of my labor:

Doubler (left) and inside of fitted cloth diaper (right)

Despite my misgivings, adding leg elastic was much easier than I expected. So, if you think that will be your downfall-no worries. If I can do it, anyone can!

Outside of fitted diaper

I need to add snaps or something to the wings so the diaper can close, I suppose. But, right now it would work just fine with a snappi. I do want to add an umbilical snap since it's a newborn size diaper so he'll have a little wiggle room until the umbilical cord stump falls off.

Ultimately, if you want to save some money, but still want cute fitted diapers instead of prefolds only, do it yourself! I couldn't (and hadn't ever) sew a stitch before yesterday, so it isn't as difficult as it looks. I'm actually looking forward to making more and seeing how they turn out!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Heathen Christmas: The Tree

Nothing smells as wonderful to me as a fresh Fraser fir tree in the living room. Many, or even most, Westerners are currently enjoying the same thing (unless of course, they have fallen to the plastic tree gods). The evergreen tree, decked out in lights and various ornaments is a very old tradition, despite such modernizations as multicolor LED lights. So, how old is this tradition?

The modern Christmas tree is actually derived from a few ancient traditions. However, most common traditions came from Scandinavia. In ancient Scandinavian cultures, people celebrated the winter solstice by decorating evergreen trees with apples. It's pretty cold and snowy in Scandinavian countries, particularly on the shortest day of the year, so seeing a tree that stays pretty and green all year was a ray of hope that the winter would end and spring would come again. Decorations such as fruit (for harvest), nuts (for fertility), and coins (for wealth) decorated both Germanic trees and Celtic druid trees during the winter. The cut wood was then burned (Yule log) as a promise and celebration that the sun would return again.

Eventually, with the spread of Christianity, the church adopted the evergreen tree and other winter greenery to more easily convert Germanic pagans. Though some Christian symbolism has been loosely attached to the modern tannenbaum, it is still a Pagan tradition. In fact, I found many articles arguing whether some Bible verses condemn the idea of decorating a tree in reference to all the ancient celebrations.

As you are aware, there are many different plants that are associated with the winter holidays other than the evergreen tree. I will go through them over the next few days.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Heathen Christmas: The Date

Everyone over the age of 2 knows Christmas is celebrated on December 25. Why? "Because it's Jesus' birthday!" squealed the kids during the children's sermons I used to see in church years ago. Well, that is the premise of the symbolism of Christmas for Christians, but let's check out why December 25 is really the day they celebrate the birth of Jesus.

There are many discrepancies as to when Jesus was supposedly born-however, they pretty much all agree it was not on December 25. Well, despite the popularity in modern times, Christianity was not the hot religion in its infancy. Paganism (an umbrella term for pretty much every region's pre-christian beliefs) was the religion of the day, and in Rome the early Christians were seriously outnumbered.

In December, the celebration of Saturnalia captivated the masses. The Roman poet Catullus, described Saturnalia as the best of days for the Roman people. Everyone, including slaves, participated in the celebrations, which included parties with friends, giving gifts of wax candles and statues, and particularly playing role reversals for fun and humor. The celebration started out as one day and eventually transformed into a week-long celebration because of the popularity. (Although, I'm certain the Christmas season starting in October would be too much for the Roman pagans as well!)

Needless to say, the Romans didn't want to give up this religious celebration to convert to Christianity. So, in the 4th century, the Christian leaders did the next best thing: declare Jesus' birthday as December 25 and encourage pagans to convert on the promise that they could still celebrate Saturnalia even after conversion. And so began the slow and steady conversion of Pagan holiday to Christian holiday.

So, we have the date: how about the rest? Stay tuned this week and next for more.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas is for us Heathens

So, it's started again. You know, the arguments and fighting over "Happy Holidays" vs. "Merry Christmas" being used in stores, anti- and pro-consumerism dreck, and evangelicals screeching that we should all keep in mind the "reason for the season". On the last point, I completely agree. We should remember the reason we celebrate winter holidays for the historical and cultural implications. Which is why I will be posting about the history of this awesome winter season, and why, despite what you hear, Jesus really isn't the reason behind pretty much any of it.

So, fellow heathens, enjoy your egg nog and get ready to hear to the real symbolism behind all the mainstream christmas traditions.

Meanwhile, on a side note about the Happy Holidays debate-is it really so offensive for someone to wish you Happy anything? I don't get offended when someone wishes me a Happy Christmas-I mean, they might be a bit presumptuous, but nonetheless are sending me good wishes. I'm just as pleased with a "Happy Wednesday".

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Activism: Breastfeeding Edition

It seems like every day I see another news story about a woman being discriminated against for breastfeeding in public. The latest happened in a Target store in Detroit to a mother breastfeeding her 4 week old while shopping. Last I checked a 4 week old baby isn't going to wait (and shouldn't have to) until a more "convenient" time to eat-especially if it's only inconveniencing strangers who are worried they might see some side boob.

Facebook got in on this at the beginning of this year when the website took down any photo that showed a woman breastfeeding. Now, I could see this possibly being totally justified if Facebook had a policy against showing areolas (despite the fact that Facebook took down pictures of women breastfeeding that showed no part of the nipple) or had nudity standards, but this is not the case. Take a peek at some of the photos on facebook as of Dec. 2, 2009 that are not deemed "obscene".
From one of the Jessica Alba fan-pages. Definitely has more pics of her in semi-nude poses.

From the Women in Photography page, which has at least 1 other photo of a partially nude model

From the PETA page-which has many other nude and partially nude women often in provocative poses. Don't get me started on the feminist issues I have with this.

The saddest part is that these are some of the pictures previously taken down. I don't know about you, but they don't look too "obscene" to me.

Now, I personally have no problem with female nudity (if not done as an objectification of women to serve an agenda--I'm looking at you, PETA) or male nudity, but if people are going to get all up in arms because a woman might have an inch of her breast exposed at the park, Toys-R-Us, or at an amusement park, then maybe they should be more concerned about the nudity on magazine covers, in the lingerie store advertisements, etc. However, I don't see these busybodies complaining about the lingerie ads in target--just the nursing mother.

Ok, so maybe you are offended by all this media nudity and still think breastfeeding is obscene. I'm sure you have some common comments and arguments that I would like to refute.

  • I don't want to see it. Simple: don't look. It takes 2 seconds to turn your face. I get grossed out by kids picking their noses in public, but I don't scream that they should be kicked out of the store, or wherever. I just turn my face and grimace. Feel free to do the same!
  • Cover the kid up with a blanket! First, do you like to have your face covered up while eating, drinking, or trying to breathe in general? It's hot under a blanket! Should a baby feeding from a bottle be forced to put his little head under a blanket? Meanwhile, I don't think you should put things over an infant's face that could possibly restrict air flow-especially while eating.
  • Go to the bathroom to do that. Again, would you want to eat, or even sit, in a public restroom for longer than the minute you have to when using the toilet? It's gross in there. I don't want to smell public restroom for 10 minutes while my kid eats, and I'm sure he won't either. Not to mention you shouldn't expose infants to e. coli in the restroom if possible.
  • Go out to your car. Why, so the people in the parking lot can complain? It's not always convenient. Women often do nurse out in their cars, but if it's 20 or 105 degrees F outside, I don't want to sit in the car. Or, if I'm in the middle of my shopping, I'm not going to abandon my cart and sit in the car only to start all over again just because you can't draw your eyes from trying to catch a glimpse of my nipple so you can complain to the store manager.
  • I don't pee/poop/insert bodily function out in the street! First of all, I'm glad to hear this. Next, it isn't at all the same thing. I promise women don't leave a snail trail of milk behind them wherever they go just because they're lactating. Not to mention that unless the woman has a blood borne illness (in which case she probably won't be breastfeeding anyway), you don't have the same element of disease involved. Breast milk might even heal a common illness you have if it gets on you.
  • I don't want my son/husband/boyfriend to see your breasts! To me, this is the most sad argument of all. It hurts me to hear of women being so influenced by the media and other outside influences to regard the breast as a purely sexual organ. I assure you, most men do not get aroused seeing a baby attached to an exposed breast. Besides, we as mothers should be teaching our sons that women and their breasts are not put on earth only for the sexual pleasure of men. If you teach him that breasts are not only sexual, but life giving and perfectly evolved to feed children, then he will gain a new level of respect for women as a whole.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Activism: Healthcare and Safety Edition

In this edition, I'm bringing to light some hidden issues that aren't really being covered by the mainstream media as much as I think they should (an article on the Twilight book phenomenon is on the main page of CNN, for real).

First up is "The Loss of the Yearly Pap Smear", an article about new American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) guidelines recommending less frequent Pap smears for women. I am all for less medical intervention, but I see this as an unwise decision. I mean, with a 10-30% false negative rate for Pap smears as it is, wouldn't it be smart for us to increase rather than decrease the recommended frequency of these tests, if any change at all? I really worry that this will lead to an increase in undiagnosed cervical cancer rates. Perhaps the most troubling thing of all was one of the reasons the policy is being changed for younger women:

"earlier onset of screening may lead to increased anxiety and the emotional impact of labeling an adolescent with both a sexually transmitted infection … because adolescence is a time of heightened concern for self-esteem and emerging sexuality."

Yeah, because the best reason to discontinue testing that may help diagnose STIs and cervical cancer is because someone might be embarrassed to be diagnosed. I mean, there's a lot of reasons I go see a doctor, and most of them are embarrassing. If we start making medical recommendations based on embarrassment: men should never get their prostates checked, forget asking about that possible fungal infection, teens shouldn't get acne checked, and hell, I'll just skip the yearly date with the gynecologist all together! The sad part is, many women will skip the yearly visit to the doc-that-dare-not-speak-its-name because they aren't having a Pap smear and wonder what the point in going at all will be.

Come on, ACOG, get your act together. Then again, these are the same people who are now telling us not to worry about breast cancer until we hit 50 either-and NOT to do breast self exams. (Ok, maybe not the same people, but don't all those medical agencies run together?) As for me, I'll still be self-checking my breasts, and I hope everyone will do the same.

Next is the petition from CREDO action asking the FDA to ban the use of Bisophenol-A (BPA) in food packaging. If you have any question about whether we should tread lightly with the use of this chemical with as-of-yet unknown long term risks, check out the findings from the Environmental Working Group. I mean, with so many studies pointing to possible if not probable risks to humans, (and definitely the environment), why is BPA still found in infant formula, plastic baby bottles, and canned products? Do your kid a favor and use glass bottles, BPA-free bottles, or exclusively breastfeed.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Biologist Smack Talk?

I know the old "your mama's so fat" jokes were getting old and played out, but when I found this on one of the desks during seminar, it made my day:

What's a bioaccumulation factor-check it out.

Hey, at least the kid who wrote this will remember something important from his biology class.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Business of Being Born

Ok, this film has been around for a few years, but I can't stop promoting it. Of course, no one should get all their information about anything from a movie, but if it can get the ball rolling and women to start taking charge of their reproductive rights, I'm all for it.

A particular clip I think most women who have given birth in a hospital can relate to is the pitocin clip.

Will and I watched The Business of Being Born a few months after we were married, and decided that if we had a child, we would definitely look into options other than traditional hospital medicine. As a proponent of natural lifestyle, planning a birth at home seemed completely obvious. We read and researched for months just because of how interested we were in the home birth phenomenon, not even thinking of how useful the information would be to us this year.

Some helpful resources for anyone considering or curious about home birth:

Research Articles (for analytical minds like mine):
British Medical Journal article-study and comparison between home and in-hospital birth
Home birth reference site-lists many articles and studies

Pushed by Jennifer Block
Immaculate Deception by Suzanne Arms

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Why, Undergrads?

Courtesy of PhD Comics

I often wonder whether I'm making an impact as a grad student TA. I mean, I am teaching Anatomy & Physiology to Undergrads who will soon be responsible for the life and death of other human beings (95% or more of my students are nursing students). So, I am very disheartened when I hear the following statements from my students:

"Why do we need to know this? When am I going to need to know about _______(insert any body system here)?"

"I'm not really worried about learning all this stuff. I just need to pass so I can take my clinicals."

"It's too hard to remember the medical (or scientific) terms. For the test, can't we just describe it?"

Le sigh. That's not to say that these aren't smart or capable students-because almost all of them are. They are just too overworked/lazy/busy/tired/disinterested to care about my piddly 1 credit lab. I'm sure I did the same thing to my TAs when I was in their position-I mean, when you're taking 18 hours and working 40, you try to cut corners wherever you can. However, I am still discouraged.

Of course, there is always that one student, that beacon of hope for the future of my sanity who says "this is a really interesting class-where can I get more info on what we did today?" or "Are you teaching ______(insert whatever they are taking next semester)? I really like you as a TA."

Ultimately, I think it is a worthwhile experience. And, probably karmic retribution for every time I said "Is this going to be on the test?"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

25 Weeks

Yesterday I had my 24/25 week appointment with my midwife. I am happy to report that the little boy is vertex-and will hopefully stay that way for the rest of his gestational period. I'm measuring just right and have gained 9 lbs total. He should be chunking up in the next few weeks, and so should I. The little boy had the hiccups, and was kicking back against the doppler, but he is too big to run from it so we could measure his heartbeat at a strong 148bpm.

So, as I quickly approach the 3rd trimester (26 or 27 weeks depending on the source), I need to increase my Omega Fatty Acids, DHA, all that good stuff. However, I had to stop taking the fish oil tablets a few weeks ago because they made me so sick. Well, I have found my saving grace: children's gummy omega-3s. Delicious! They taste like fruit and cause no upset stomach. Hey, at least they aren't Flintstone's vitamins.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Biologist of the Month: Dr. Eric Pianka

This week was our Graduate Student Symposium, and I had the great privilege to meet Dr. Eric Pianka, aka the Lizard Man. As a biologist, and specifically as a herpetologist, I was in awe of this man. He has been actively publishing in the biological community for 50 years. 

Image courtesy of U of Texas

Dr. Pianka worked with the famous Robert MacArthur, and with him wrote the citation classic on Optimal Foraging. Along with many other citation classics buried in countless important biological papers, he literally wrote the book on Evolutionary Ecology. He has spent his whole life studying lizards (particularly Varanids), and recently collaborated with Nova on an interesting documentary called "Lizard Kings". And, like any good biologist, he has been the object of misplaced controversy by some religious groups because of his concern about human over-population and its effect on the earth. (Ecologists have been concerned about this for many years, especially with the size of the carbon footprint left by modern humans-especially in the western world.)  

So, you see, I was a little intimidated to meet this great man. However, Dr. Pianka's friendly demeanor and sense of humor put us all at ease. In fact, I don't think he had a minute to himself without an eager grad student or professor begging his attention. All us folks in my lab were more than happy to cart him about town, to dinner, etc and have the opportunity to pick his brain. 

I encourage everyone to take a few minutes and google for a while about optimal foraging, evolutionary ecology, and even monitor lizards. And if you're feeling particularly academic, take a peek at Dr. Pianka's list of publications, many of which he has available for download as pdf. 

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Recipes: Day 5/Acca Dacca

So, Will and I went to New Orleans to see AC/DC in concert on Wednesday night. Our ears were still ringing until Thursday morning, but it was awesome! They still put on an amazing show. We were sitting close enough to throw something onstage (in fact a guy a few seats down threw his hat right beside Brian Johnson and made him laugh while he was singing). Unfortunately, my sucky camera phone wouldn't zoom in very well so all the pictures look tiny. 

Angus during amazing guitar solo. 

They pulled out all the stops: pyrotechnics, video, smoke, trap doors, and rising stage pieces. Angus Young was running around like he was still in his 20s (complete with signature duck walks, spasms, and his strip act). 

Brian Johnson swinging from giant bell during "Hells Bells"

We had an amazing time-the arena was packed with everyone from elementary school children to guys in their 60s. Plenty of devil horns and leather jackets filled the seats, along with one around 10 year old boy dressed in the Angus Young schoolboy uniform-he even had his shirt off after the strip act. It was really cool to hear thousands of people chanting "oi", "thunderstruck", "done dirt cheap!" on cue, and every single word to "You Shook Me All Night Long."

I also didn't forget the Recipe of the Day. I haven't tried this one yet, but it's so simple, and looks delicious.

Apple Sauce Loaf

1/2 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 c. applesauce
1/2 c. nuts

Cream together shortening and sugar. Add eggs and mix well. Sift together dry ingredients and gradually add to mixture. Stir until well mixed and add applesauce and nuts. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Mix together 1/2 cups powdered sugar and 1 tbsp. water and pour on cake while still warm.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween Recipes: Day 3 & 4

Ok, so I missed yesterday's post due to a concert (will talk about that later this week), so I'll give 2 recipes today. First, the salty/savory:

Rye Bread

1 packet yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 quart warm water
3 cups rye flour
2 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 tablespoon melted shortening
9 cups all purpose flour

Dissolve yeast and sugar in the 1/4 cup of warm water, set aside and let stand until frothy. Pour the quart of water in a large bowl, and add the rye flour, salt, caraway seeds, shortening, and yeast mixture. Mix well. Let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours, until bubbles start to form on dough's surface. Gradually mix in the all-purpose flour, until the mixture has become a firm dough. Knead on floured board for about 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and let rise until the dough doubles in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Knead again for 10 minutes. Form into 2 loaves and put in greased and floured loaf pans or on cookie sheets for a more natural look. Let them rise again until doubled in bulk, and then bake for 1 hour at 375 degrees.

And finally, something sweet to top it off:

Raspberry Butter

1 cup raspberries
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon blackberry liqueur
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

Boil raspberries, water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until syrupy, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Strain through sieve to remove seeds. Cool. Process with remaining ingredients until smooth and well mixed. Can be prepared one day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature and stir before serving.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween Recipes: Day 2

Day 2 and delicious. 

Golden Herb Rolls

2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
1/4 cup water
4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 package quick-rising yeast
2 teaspoons dried savory leaves, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed, crushed
1 cup canned pumpkin
4 eggs, divided
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 20 to 24 muffin cups. Combine milk, butter and water in small saucepan; heat until butter is melted. If necessary, cool to 120º F. to 130º F. Combine 3 cups flour, sugar, yeast, savory, salt, thyme and dill in large mixer bowl. Add milk mixture and pumpkin; beat for 2 minutes. Stir in 3 eggs and remaining flour. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place for 10 minutes or until doubled. Spoon into prepared muffin cups, filling 1/2 to 3/4 full. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place for 30 to 40 minutes or until doubled. Beat remaining egg and brush on top of rolls; sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until rolls are golden and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pans; serve warm or cool on wire rack.

I think I'm going to leave off the sesame seeds, but I am looking forward to biting into one of these. 

Now, enjoy this hilarious video of Garfunkel and Oats singing about pregnant women.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween Recipes: Day 1

This is Day 1 in the Week of Halloween Recipes. Today's recipe (which I started this evening) is: 

Pumpkin Pie Muffins

2 cups flour
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
3/4 cup chopped dates (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease twelve muffin cups. In a large bowl, stir together first 9 ingredients. In another bowl, stir together pumpkin, butter, buttermilk, eggs, molasses and vanilla until blended. Make a well in center of dry ingredients; add pumpkin mixture and stir just to combine. Stir in pecans and dates.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups; bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in center of one muffin comes out clean. Remove to wire rack. Cool 5 minutes before removing muffins from cups; finish cooling on rack.

Also, today I got 2 Organic Bamboo Velour Green Acres Designs diapers from Pittsburgh Cloth Diapers. Let me just plug PCD quickly-free shipping to the continental US, great prices, and quick service! I love this site. 

Friday, October 23, 2009

23 Weeks and Blasting Zeppelin

So, we've hit the 23 week mark (well, yesterday) and according to my Mothering newsletter, the little boy can hear pretty well now. Supposedly, he can tell when I'm dancing and will start to prefer types of music. So, naturally, Will has decided (and I completely agree) to get out the giant headphones and the ipod to pump plenty of Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and Flogging Molly into my uterus.

So, if you want to see what Plant and Page look like now,
click and think about the fact that they're as old as your parents/grandparents.

If the little boy's kicks and flips indicate any preference, it is for AC/DC, which is fitting. I may have to push him out to 'For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)' since he most definitely will be a badass little boy.

On a non-pregnancy note, Thursday it was 80F and practically monsooned-- we even had tornado warnings here in the swamp. And then today it was 65F and utterly beautiful. What is going on with the weather? Is mother earth just screwing with us?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Activism: Bodily Autonomy Edition

Today I thought I'd share some links about choice. We don't quite live in a libertarian society, but ultimately we each have control when it comes to our own lives: what to eat, where to live, what time to wake up in the morning. However, lately it seems that the choices we have surrounding bodily autonomy seem to be ignored for some reason-well, if those choices involve giving birth.

The first is a link about a Joy Szabo, a woman semi-famous in the news recently for her desire to deliver her child vaginally. Her first birth was a c-section and her second an uneventful VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) in her local hospital. Now, the hospital policy says no to VBACs and will seek a court order for her to have a c-section. Why

An interesting article from the Huffington Post from July asks "Is a Woman in Labor a 'Person'?". It examines the rights we women as patients have when it comes to making our medical decisions when in birth. We have the right to refuse treatment, but do we really?

Why I chose a midwife: The Unneceserean shares a woman's story of her OB's policies on labor and delivery. It is truly scary. My favorite quote is:

Your legs will be positioned in the standard delivery stirrups. This is the most comfortable position for you. It also provides maximum space in your pelvis, minimizing the risk of trauma to you and your baby during delivery.

Because nothing is more comfortable than your legs in stirrups....wait. As a physiologist, I am amazed that he really believes this creates the widest pelvic area. Isn't he forgetting about the sacrum? Giving Birth Naturally sums up the details for me.

Since the topic is Bodily Integrity/Autonomy, I feel compelled to share Intact America's 'An Open Letter to the American Academy of Pediatrics' regarding the AAP's policy on circumcision. Please take the time to sign the petition.

Intact America explains in the simplest and most concise way the reasons Will and I are not circumcising this little boy. For us, more than anything it came down to "Whose Body, Whose Choice?". We were also shocked at how horrifying the actual procedure is. 

A more humorous, while factual, take on the controversial topic is the Circumcision episode of Penn and Teller's BULLSH*T! (Be aware that the video contains expletive language and some nudity--I mean, it is Penn and Teller, people. Just a warning. Safe for anyone who doesn't mind HBO.)

This sums up our first edition of Activism. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I am by nature not very crafty, but for some unexplained reason I recently became obsessed with the idea of learning to crochet. I guess it's some kind of primal nesting instinct, and I bought a pack of hooks and some yarn and began hunting for baby bootie patterns. I succeeded in making a couple of cute hats and found a cute booty pattern. (I sent the prettiest hat and set of booties to another expecting mom.

The light in this pic was funny, but the yarn on the hat is very 
pretty-it goes from white to blue and blends nicely.

After the fall semester started, I got too busy to start any new projects, but I have recently picked up the crochet hook again. I started again this weekend (see pic above for the beginnings of some lovely white mittens for the little boy). What I am most excited about is crocheting my own wool soaker diaper covers, and I found some beautiful alpaca yarn to use with this pattern.

I will post pictures of pretty crocheted items over the next few months, and hopefully the little boy will have plenty of little items to wear when he gets here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

22 Weeks

Today, I hit the 22 week mark on this pregnancy journey. I am finally feeling energetic, and for some reason I can eat and drink as much dairy as I want (I am normally lactose intolerant). The little boy is kicking and squirming; he enjoys bouncing on my bladder frequently. As uncomfortable and sometimes painful as it can be, I am thrilled because it reassures me that he is growing strong. In that vein, I want to share a video of Kimya Dawson singing "The Smoothie Song."

She wrote this song while pregnant with her daughter, and it shows a pregnant woman's anxieties about the kiddo growing so perfectly. Any time I start singing this song, Will now takes it as a hint to get me something to eat! 

I love Kimya Dawson's music, and she actually recently came out with a children's album, Alphabutt, that I am thinking about buying.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ode to the Corn Dog

One of my favorite snacks of all time is the Morningstar Farms corn dogs and mini corn dogs. They're meat free, protein filled, and delicious. I was happy to find Morningstar products when we moved to Louisiana (along with other organic and veggie quick meals). However, for about 2 months, I have been unable to find my favorite treat. After checking Target, Albertson's, Wal-mart, Sandra's, and Drug Emporium (hell, I even checked Amazon grocery), I came to the conclusion that something was wrong! Where have you gone, corn dogs?

I need these corn dogs. I cannot stress it enough. Pregnancy cravings added to late night snack desires have made me completely manic. So, I set out on an online mission: find Morningstar corn dogs at all costs. 
Don't they look delicious?

Upon using the Google god, I found news articles like this one from August that explained Morningstar had a corn dog shortage. They said the  distributor was having problems, but try our sausage instead. How dare you, Morningstar! Do not pretend that sausage is an adequate replacement for my precious corn dogs! (Sorry, excuse the outburst.)

I can handle a shortage. They will eventually come back, right?? Well, upon my last visit to the grocery, I noticed there wasn't even an empty spot on the shelf waiting for the corn dogs. This is a bad sign, I thought. Back to the interwebs.

Now I have found info about a recall earlier this year of the mini corn dogs due to packaging possibly not in an environment compliant with good manufacturing practices. I am here to say: I don't care! I will eat the recalled dogs--send them to my house. I need them. 

All this news I took in stride until this evening, when I see this post on VeggieBoards. It's official. They have stopped producing the corn dogs. No more corn dogs ever. There is no mention of them at all on the Morningstar website, like they never existed. I am depressed. By far, they were the best Morningstar product, and I am feeling resentful of the Morningstar chicken nuggets staring smugly at me from the freezer. 

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bullfrogs and Swine Flu

As I continue my second semester of graduate school, I am getting into the down and dirty of my research. Luckily the steady downpour of rain has continued for the last 40 days and 40 nights (wait, should I be looking for a big boat filled with animals?) has tempted many a Ranid frog out from the the deep swamp water. Makes for easy collecting!

Frog legs? Look at this cute face. How could anyone eat him?

Bullfrogs are ridiculously cute, especially at a young age, and that cuteness makes it all the more difficult when I have to euthanize them for the sake of science. However, my histology preparations are coming along nicely, and I am at the paraffin stage. 

One point of stress for me this afternoon was that I realized I had been exposed to low amounts of toluene for about 15 minutes. It can be harmful to your lungs, and a possible reproductive toxin, so I'm sure the little boy growing in my uterus is not pleased with me. However, after panicking and searching the internet, apparently I would have to huff it every day for a few hours for him to have any kind of damage, according to previous animal testing. 

Common uses of toluene: paint thinner, gasoline, nail polish, and TNT

Finally, on an unrelated note, if anyone is interested in good information on the swine flu vaccines available and whether you should get one or not, I recommend Dr. Sears' website. He lists the 4 different versions available, their ingredients, what ages they are approved for, and any possible risks. He also talks about H1N1 itself: the prevalence, risks, etc. 

I like Dr. Sears; he isn't anti-vaccination, but he also is rational when it comes to looking at what to get and what not to get for you and your kids. But most of all, I like that he gives you all the information you need to make an informed choice and leaves the decision up to you (though on some he does recommend for or against the vaccine). 

Being 5 months pregnant, swine flu is on my radar, but so are the possible effects on said unborn fetus. Dr. Sears lists the safer vaccines for preggos like me (ie no flumist or mercury containing vaccines) so when the vaccines arrive in my area, I can at least know which ones are safer for the kid. 

Sunday, October 11, 2009

It's already October?

Today, I am sitting on the couch and procrastinating. Though the laundry and my statistical ecology notes call to me to accomplish something, instead I am searching out recipes, crafts, and decorations for autumn. October snuck up on me, and though it's a bit too hot on the bayou to feel the seasons change, all I can think of is falling leaves and apple cider.

    Maybe this looks like a witchy place to spend Halloween,
     but there are definitely no falling leaves in the swamp...

Mrs. B's blog has some lovely kitchen witchery to check out, and if you start the hard apple cider now, it should be ready in plenty of time for Halloween. Plus, she has some fun contests for the 31 Days of Halloween that are worth entering.

If you're trying to figure out what to do with your extra pumpkin guts after carving some lovely jack-o-lanterns, hop over here for some yummy ideas. I also recommend roasting the seeds, which is my favorite thing to do after scooping all the orange goo.

I am in search of excellent (and simple) pregnant halloween costumes. So far, Will and I have considered dressing him like a devil and me like an angel or a nun. So, very played out. I may just get a black shirt and white paint and make a skeleton shirt (with added fetus, of course).