Saturday, October 9, 2010

Infant/Toddler Creativity

Cottonbabies (makers of bumgenius diapers) ask:

How do you encourage a creative, artistic spirit in your baby, toddler or young child?

We have a 7 month old, so getting his creativity flowing might seem to be a bigger challenge than for a toddler or older child, but not necessarily. We just try to appeal to all his senses. See examples below of how to get your baby to explore his or her creative side:

Taste: We practice baby-led solids, so we try to get lots of different flavors and textures of food. Just this week Aengus has tried onion, hummus, sushi (cooked-not raw), cheese, BBQ, and ravioli for the first time.

Smell: different foods, letting him smell unlit candles or air fresheners while shopping, coffee beans or vanilla

Sound: Aengus loves music-so we try to vary the types. Anything from AC/DC (obviously), to Pavarotti, to They Might Be Giants!

Sight: Babies' developing brains love patterns and colors, depending on age. We love books, pictures, and even an occasional video.

Touch: This is the fun one in my opinion. Having a time to touch textures-sand, water, fur (from our dog), silk, wood, wool, etc.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Shakesville: Stay Classy, Catholic Church

"You just can't make this stuff up:
The Vatican today made the "attempted ordination" of women one of the gravest crimes under church law, putting it in the same category as clerical sex abuse of minors, heresy and schism.

So, just to be clear: According to the Catholic Church, ordaining a woman is just as bad as raping a child. Or, if you prefer, raping a child is only as a bad as attempting to ordain a woman.

You got your virulent misogyny in my diminishment of sexual assault!

All I can do is laugh bitterly at this point.

Does that mean that just like in the case of child abuse, priests ordaining women will just get reassigned and have it covered up?

Looks like everyone who criticized Sinead O'Connor in 1992 over her SNL appearance owes her a big apology.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Reading Day

Yes, I am a terrible blogger. I feel terrible, other than the fact that no one reads this but my hubby anyway.

So, we've reached the stage where Aengus likes to have a book read to him. We only have a few books, but his favorite so far is the Lorax.

Although, I have the sneaking suspicion he prefers eating books to reading them.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Will and I had moderate success growing tomatoes and peppers in a potted garden on our patio last year. We continued the tradition Monday with what we learned about this crazy bayou climate. It was pretty mosquito-ridden, but Aengus didn't get any bites. I was covered and had to coat my legs in castor oil--fun stuff...

Aengus enjoyed playing in the bouncer while we planted. He was so proud that he could hit the little dangling animals.

Baxter wanted to be in the picture. Hopefully we'll get a better yield this time. The Thai peppers are already budding.

Tuckered out after a big day of playing. We all slept pretty well that night.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Recipe: Chana Masala


2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large clove of garlic, minced

1 tbsp curry paste (can substitute 1 tbsp curry + 1 tbsp tomato paste)

15 oz can chick peas, drained, reserving 3 tablespoon liquid

1/2 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp salt

fresh black pepper

crushed red pepper, optional to taste

1 tbsp vegan margarine


Heat oil on medium high heat. Fry onions until slightly browned. Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic and curry paste. Stir and simmer about 2 minutes. Add chick peas, liquid, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. Simmer 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add red pepper to taste. Add margarine, stirring through to melt it. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes more or until peas are softened and dish is hot. Serve over rice.

This was so delicious! Not to mention simple to make. I recommend some delicious organic jasmine rice.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Family Bed

Will, Aengus, and I (and sometimes, despite my best efforts, the dog) have a Family Bed. This was natural for us, and has worked brilliantly for the past 2 months. In fact, it has worked for millions of years for us mammals. Sleeping with your children is an evolutionary imperative.

I love this comic. It is almost exactly how our bed looks, minus Will wearing a mask.

If you love cloth diapers as much as I do and want to support mom-owned business, check out the Happy Baby Company, aka Pittsburgh Cloth Diapers. On Facebook, enter the discussion contest!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spare the rod?

Time magazine just released an article on a study showing how spanking leads to more aggression in children.


There are more scientific studies showing a correlation between childhood corporal punishment and violence than I could read (and I am adept at reading journal articles by now). But, what bothers me more about this Time article is the comment section. With people becoming so angry over the idea of NOT hitting a child, is it any wonder that our nation has so much violence?

"Children are the only people in this society anybody is allowed to hit. All the rest of us are legally protected."
**from the article "Physical Punishment in the Home" by Penelope Leach.

If questioned, I could go on and on about why hitting should not be used as a form of discipline for anyone (it doesn't work, it leads to resentment and mistrust of parents, aggression, it's not logical) but I don't want to be questioned. Because all those questions are really asking is "why don't you make the right decision and hit your kid?" Anecdotal evidence stating "I was spanked and I turned out fine" does not convince me that hitting is an effective form of discipline. I could just as easily say "John Smith was spanked and he is a serial killer, or Susie Q wasn't spanked and now she runs a fortune 500 company". Anecdotal evidence is nothing. Not to mention, I like to include in my anecdotal response "I was spanked and turned out amazing despite the hitting. And I still work through it emotionally every day".
Really, what I find interesting is that people assume that spanking is the only discipline. Hitting is easy discipline; discipline for those who did not have time to build skills in conflict resolution, who don't believe children are beings with whom you can be rational or reasonable, or who are exhausted and don't have enough support. Or maybe they feel their religion compels them to spank.***

Well, I am not raising a dog here, I want Aengus to be his own person. I'm just here to help him along the way, not to be Augusto Pinochet. If sometimes he disagrees with me, so what? I disagree with Will sometimes--does that mean I have disrespected him? Not necessarily. It's all about respecting each other. Which led us to: Gentle Discipline.

"Parents who choose "gentle discipline" or "positive discipline", do not spank, but instead will use things like distraction (for toddlers) and natural and logical consequences (for older children). If they do use "time-outs", they tend to use them in a nonpunitive way--a break, away from a situation where the child has lost control of themselves and need to take a couple minutes to get control again. Generally the parent will participate in this "positive time-out" with the child, as opposed to sending them away to "think about what they did" or to punish them."

***By the way, if you are part of a certain mainstream U.S. religion (evangelicals, I'm looking at you) and you feel hitting is wrong, please check out this website for other parents from your religion who will support you in parenting gently. (They can also provide you with resources including verses from the bible and other religious texts to help with explaining to family members, etc).

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Back in Black

In honor of Angus Young's birthday today, (who incidentally we did NOT name our child after, but don't take offense if you think we did) I thought I'd include our Aengus's favorite lullaby.

Yes, that's right. With all the jokes Will and I made about Aengus and AC/DC after going to see them in concert in October, it turns out our son loves Acca Dacca. If he's crying, the sure-fire way to make him calm down (other than letting him have naked time) is to put on Back in Black. As soon as he hears that guitar, he'll let out a little sigh and start looking around. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap is a close second.

I suppose it was destined to happen. After all, he was born on the 30th anniversary of Bon Scott's death...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The "Vaccination Backlash"?

Who knew that vaccination would turn into a such a hot button issue? When I was a kid, I remember lamenting the one or two booster "shots" I had to get at the doctor's office. I also remember at least one family at my school who chose not to get those "shots". Whatever, it wasn't a big deal to my parents or any of the other parents at the school. It only came up when we all lined up in middle school to get the Hepatitis B and Tetanus vaccines. I was jealous that those girls didn't have the sore spot, but that was the end of it.

Today, the tables have turned. It has turned into an "us vs them" of vaccinators and non-vaccinators. Pediatricians have suddenly started fighting against alternative vaccination schedules the same way OB/GYNs have been fighting against midwifery in the past few years. It seems they think parents are deciding to delay or forego vaccines because Jenny McCarthy says they might cause autism. (Yeah, and we all had homebirths because Ricki Lake told us to *sarcasm*.)

In the latest issue of The Lancet, Paul Offit proposes re-education for anyone who dare question the CDC schedule. (Re-education camps...yeah...that's not treading on my civil liberties or bodily autonomy.)

“Offit suggests one way to raise vaccination rates is to make it harder for people not to get themselves or their children vaccinated. This could mean, for example, attending educational classes that teach the public what the safety profiles of different vaccines are, before they are allowed to opt out of vaccination. “You have to convince people that a choice not to get a vaccine is not a risk-free choice; it’s just a choice to take a different risk.” ”

----Side issue to be discussed first: Before I'm allowed to opt out of vaccination? I can opt out of a blood transfusion if I don't want one, can request and receive antibiotics for minor infections, or even decide to never take myself or my child to the doctor. But, I can't make an educated decision based on risk-benefit analysis whether or not to inject my child without taking mandatory classes? I feel like George Orwell is rolling over in his grave right now. Meanwhile, Paul Offit most likely has a conflict of interest as a multi-millionaire who earned his money in the vaccine business. Okay, back on topic---

While it may be true that some parents fear the possible connection between vaccines/mercury/aluminum/etc and autism, it is foolish to assume that is the only reason someone would not vaccinate their child on the CDC schedule. If you talk to anti-vaxer's, you will see parents who understand that there are risks to not vaccinating, just as there are risks to immunizing your child on schedule. I would bet my right arm that parents who don't vaccinate have done 99% more research on the vaccines and diseases than your average vaccinating parent. So, Dr. Offit, if you are still under the impression that non-vaxer's are all uneducated idiots who you claim think "vaccines are the devil", here are just a few reasons parents may want to wait on vaccines for their children:

-Serotype replacement issues: if I vaccinate for one strain of bacteria, will another serotype replace it and become more deadly? will antibiotic resistance increase?
-Questions about efficacy: the mumps outbreak in vaccinated communities, for example
-Increased number of vaccines: when does a common childhood illness like chickenpox become a deadly disease requiring vaccination for ALL children? There are also no studies showing the safety of injecting multiple vaccines at one time.
-Vaccine injury: anything from a fever and uncontrolled crying (common) to the notably rare brain damage and death...leading to the next point
-The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act: should pharmaceutical companies be protected from being sued if a vaccine they produce isn't safe?
-Recalls: should new vaccines be put on the recommended/required schedule without sufficient testing? (most recently, Rotarix)
-Ingredients: mercury (thimerosal), aluminum, and formaldehyde are the most common complaints
-Allergies: vaccine ingredients such as antibiotics, eggs, and gelatin could cause life-threatening allergic reactions in children with allergies
-Religion: a variety of reasons, the most common from mainstream christians being the "human diploid cells" coming from aborted fetuses (while I am pro-choice, I understand this being problematic for pro-life people)

There are other reasons, I'm sure, as well as some that are just slipping my mind.

Will and I haven't decided exactly what we're doing for Aengus's vaccinations (other than no Hep B at the moment and no Rotarix), but whatever we decide will be just that: our decision.

If Paul Offit's suggestion seems like too much of an invasion on your health and bodily rights, take a look at webpage for The American Rally for Personal Rights.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Witching Hour

One of the things they don't tell you about when you become a new parent (I'm finding an increasing number of these things popping up in the last few weeks) is the Witching Hour. I take offense to the name by the way, or should I be able to handle this situation better? This so-called "Witching Hour" is basically a period of an hour or more where your baby will just cry as if they are hurt and there isn't much you can do about it.

Aengus's hits sometime between 3-5pm or so and goes until 6-7pm, unless you can trap him with a nap beforehand. Most of the time, Will conquers the Witching Hour with the Moby wrap and a trip outside. Aengus cannot resist the snuggle. I, however, tend to use what my son considers my greatest assets: the breasts--I basically keep him eating until he lulls off to sleep.

Today, I was not so lucky. And, I was foolish enough to try to take him with me to the lab for some research. (Naive, I know.) He was not pleased. I left after I couldn't console him with bouncing, the Moby, or even the breast. The fussiness continued until just before 6, when he finally settled after eating for an hour and a half and I was able to put him next to me on the couch for a nap.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Arrival

I've been MIA for a while because the kid arrived! So, first, I'll share our story:

4 weeks old

On Valentine's day, I started having contractions at 9am. Will had gone to work early that morning, so I kept it to myself. I told Will at noon and he came home at 2pm. The contractions were irregular, but pretty strong and went all day. Finally at about 9pm (yep that's 12 hours) they were very strong and lasting 1-2 minutes, 3-5 mins apart. Kept going that way and we called the midwife at 11. She got here before midnight and checked me, but I wasn't really dilating yet. Meanwhile, the baby still hadn't dropped. I was so exhausted. She suggested taking a bath (I did) and trying to sleep. She thought it would be a few hours and I would be going strong. I slept poorly from 1-3 and woke up completely disheartened. I was exhausted, but the contractions were lessening. Labor stalled out at around 4 and I slept until 7. Completely gone. I had labored for 15 or so hours and it just went away. I was so upset.

On February 18, I woke up at 3am to use the bathroom and said "either I just peed myself or my water broke". Well, I was pretty sure it was the water, but I knew I needed sleep, so Will and I went back to bed....and stared at the ceiling. We finally got back to sleep by 6 or so and Will called into work. We were so excited, but I wasn't really having any contractions. At 9 I called my midwife and was only having random irregular contractions despite little gushes of fluid throughout the day, so she told me to maybe go on a walk to get things started. I stalled and stalled all day, so she came over to check the baby and me. Everything was good, and she wasn't really convinced my water had broken. She said it could still be urine due to the pressure on my bladder, but that she still thought it would be tonight. Meanwhile, the baby was perfectly poised and ready to come out-in the best position he had been in all 3rd trimester.

By 5:30pm I was having regular strong contractions every 5 minutes. They kept getting stronger, longer, closer together--you know the drill. Bouncing on the birth ball was awesome at this point. I was still feeling really upbeat and coping well. I called the midwife and asked her to come around 9 or 10. At that point, I was at 6cm and had a bulging bag of water! water before? Well, contractions continued about 2 mins apart all night. I took a bath to relax at 4am and slept between contractions.

Fetal heart tone check

Will, the midwife apprentice, and I went on a walk at 5am to hopefully get things going more. After that didn't do much, I asked her to check me again and we talked about maybe breaking the water bag if it looked favorable. I was at 7cm at 6:30am (and 13 hours or so) and the water bag was still bulgy. I said, just go ahead--I want my baby. The bag was so thick, the amnio hook just about couldn't get it open--no wonder I wasn't really getting anywhere!! Water broke and the pressure was relieved and it felt amazing until transition hit me like a freight train. It was really rough, but my labor support was amazing. Will was my rock-and the midwives (the apprentice also works as a doula and was amazing) were so wonderful.

By 7:30 I was pushing and it felt great. On all fours, the toilet, etc. The birth stool that I thought I wanted felt terrible and I still can't understand why I didn't like it. After 1 or so hours of pushing, I was getting so exhausted, they suggested I lie back on the bed and pull my legs back as I push--finally, some progress! I could see the top of his head peek out with a mirror and it was unbelievable. But, his head was having a terrible time getting out. My midwife was trying to help him along by doing some technique stretching around his head with his fingers and I really thought she was going to kill me. It hurt terribly, but I just kept pushing. They pulled my bottom off the bed after almost 3 hours, and that allowed just enough extra room to help things along better.

Suddenly, during a hard push I felt relief and they said "his head is out!". I immediately pushed again as hard as possible and his little body shot right out. His cord was short, but they put him on my belly so it wouldn't stretch too far. He had other plans. He started crawling up to my chest immediately, and raised is head up and looked over at Will. I cannot describe the feeling of seeing his face for the first time. He was really here-and he was beautiful!

Just born

Aengus Cade was born at 10:26am on February 19, 2010. He was 6lb 13oz and 19.5in at birth. He immediately started nursing perfectly and had already gained a pound by his 2 week appointment.

Monday, February 8, 2010

38 weeks, 3 days

We're hitting a standstill here in terms of labor progression. I slept really well last night, and didn't really have any contractions, so I feel bittersweet about that. A full night's rest was great. After waking up, I had some back and lower abdominal discomfort off and on for a few hours, but nothing really came of it. Even the long walk I took with Baxter seemed to only generate a few small contractions. However, the baby does feel lower than ever. He's been squirming around and kicking me as if to say, "ha, I'll come when I'm good and ready". Maybe tomorrow will have more progress.

So now it's just the waiting...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

38 weeks, 2 days

I feel like I'm getting close. Last night, I had backaches and contractions all through the night. Will said I moaned and groaned all night, but I don't really remember that. He did rub my back when I had trouble falling asleep after waking up. The baby feels very very low, so I think he's dropping into the zone.

I took Baxter on another long walk this afternoon and did some curb walking. Drank 2 cups of the Red Raspberry leaf tea with nettles and black cohosh. I had contractions from 4:30-7ish every 3-20 minutes. They got very strong by the end, but also farther apart. By nine, they'd fizzled out, but my back still hurts. The acid reflux is also killer.

Hopefully, these are signs that I only need to wait a few more days. (Or maybe hours? Hours would be great!) I'm ready to meet this kid.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

38 weeks, 1 day

It's the final countdown....

I figured I should keep track of the days leading up for progeny's sake, or at least to allow myself some pretense of progress.

We woke up late today (seeing as it was Saturday) and had lunch at a mexican restaurant. After Will left for work at 3, I took Baxter on a long walk around the upcoming 'burbs being built behind our street. Sadly, that did not cause any contractions, but I did come home with a side stitch. Around 6 or so, I had a couple of contractions about 15 minutes apart, along with more crampy feelings for half an hour. I also had lower back pain for a few hours. I'm hoping something is going on with the kid--maybe he'll visit the outside world soon.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Meaning of Life

As I approach birth, I look on this video from Monty Python with fondness. Oh, maternity care decades ago...

And now for something completely different!

Or maybe not? Earlier this week, the Today Show aired a cesarean section live on national television. The reason given by the performing surgeon was macrosomia (aka big baby). Now, I am not one to criticize anyone's birth choices, as mine are pretty far outside the norm (for the US, at least) and I won't criticize hers. I will, however, express doubts in the wisdom of a surgeon who works at a hospital with a 42% cesarean rate. (The World Health Organization states that no region of the world is justified in having a cesarean rate over 10-15%.)

I find it hard to believe that women in the United have truly had time in the last few decades to evolve "too small" pelvises to deliver "too big" babies. True cephalopelvic disproportion is not able to be diagnosed before a woman labors. (See ICAN's explanation of Absolute vs. Relative CPD.)

Here are some responses around the internet birth community:
Amy Romano at Science and Sensibility commented to the CEO of the performing hospital.
ICAN's response to NBC.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Body Image

As the paper-thin skin of my belly stretches well beyond what I believed to be capacity, stretch marks zigzagging like purple roots under my belly button, I can't help but think about body image. Though weighing more than I have in my life, and knowing that I now have life-long markers of "mom", for some reason I don't seem as bothered by it as I was when growing in girth before I was pregnant. Maybe it's just the fact that I have so many other pregnancy-related ailments to complain about that I don't have time to worry about my itchy belly. Or, I could be idealistic and claim that I'm so filled with the glow of growing a life that I can't be bothered with such trite sentiments as vanity. (Though I doubt this is true. So far, I have had trouble getting that cloud nine baby-drunk feeling that so many women get while pregnant.)

So, when I came across an article about very thin models in Sao Paulo for fashion week, I paused with a sigh. Why, in 2010, are we as women doing this to ourselves?

Models changing backstage during Sao Paulo fashion week via NYmag

What was worse for me, is that I was not shocked or surprised at the skeletal-thinness of these women. But, I should be. We all should be. Is this the ideal form we want to convey to each other: how are we supposed to live up to this expectation of beauty? I, for one, say forget it, and move on. But, when I was 13, similar images had a much different effect on my body image. Is this what we want for our daughters? No.

It makes me glad that I am growing a son. He will be born into a privilege that I, and other women, do not have. Sure, he will face his own set of battles, his own set of body image issues. But, had he been female, I do not know what I would have attempted to say when seeing an image of paper doll fashion models. What would I have said when she walked up to me at age 5 and said, "Am I too fat, Mommy?". How do you answer more than "no"? By the time they ask, they've already been influenced more than we know.