Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What do Ted Danson, Jude Law and I have in common?

Besides famous careers, paparazzi at our doorsteps and loads of money, that is?

We light a few (them more than me!) candles each year on December 29th.

And here's a little insight into us late December folks (from How Stuff Works):

A Capricorn born on December 29 has the ability to be transformed by spiritual significance, but only after experiencing a profound and transfiguring reality. Often attractive and charming, they have a devastating effect upon those who come under their spell. Unlike most Capricorns, they enjoy taking risks.

Indeed. Indeed.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

my first letter to santa

Dear Mr. Claus,

Your mission, if you choose to accept it (and I think you have to, since you're Santa and all), is to find playthings that Uli will enjoy more than:

  • the tub of petroleum jelly that has a lid which makes a delightful "pop" sound every time she takes it off and puts it back on and takes it off and puts it back on and takes it off and puts it back on and takes it off and puts it back on and takes it off and puts it back on and takes it off and puts it back on...
  • Lula & Ruby's shiny stainless steel dog food dishes that clang and ring when you smack them together and are stackable and smell of kibble.

Santa, we have been hard-pressed to find other equally exciting toys that are covered in less dog-slobber and aren't called for in make-your-own-Nix recipes. So we're leaving it up to you.

We will understand if all you can think of are new dog bowls and a larger tub of Vasaline.  


Uli's Mommy

Monday, December 21, 2009



incoherent whispered secrets

Perfectly Merry.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tree Time!

Here are a few of the facts:
  1. We actually set-up the tree weeks ago, but since Hanukkah was first it didn't seem right to flaunt Christmas all over the internet.
  2. I don't like artificial trees (I usually say, "fake" but I know that's rude) because they don't smell right.
  3. Justin doesn't like real trees because they shed their needles.
  4. We have an artificial tree this year (but next year...)
  5. Cats climb trees. They don't care if it's a real tree or a plastic tree.
  6. Between the dogs, the cats, and the toddler, the bottom half of the tree is nearly always ornament-free. 
  7. IT'S CHRISTMAS THIS WEEK!!!!!  (How did that happen?)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Words, words, words

I've been reading a book that Justin gave me on the second night of Hanukkah, and, basically, I have been obsessed by it this entire week. I would find myself at work, staring out the window, wondering what Julia and Valentina were up to at that very moment, and then I'd sheepishly remember they were fictional characters and weren't doing much of anything other than being words on a page...  My intense concentration on the novel didn't leave me much time to do, well, anything else, which is why I haven't posted in a week.

But I'm back now and New-Book-less (though both Christmas & my birthday are coming up! *hint*  *hint*)

In bigger and more exciting than I-Love-Books news:  Uli spoke her first official word this week. It was a Hanukkah miracle! 

She's had "Ma-ma-ma" and "Da-da-da" going on for a while now, but they need a bit more polishing (and the loss of a syllable each) to really count as actual, fully-composed words.  

She's been signing "milk" and "more" for some time (using them interchangeably) to tell us, "I want [what's in your hand]/[what's over there somewhere]/[what I just dropped]/[mommy to nurse me]/[something not in view; please guess what it is and then make it appear before me]!"

But last Saturday she without a doubt and clear as a bell said, "More!" aloud, correctly and enthusiastically. And in front of witnesses (I was there, she was speaking to Justin, and my sister Emily was visiting).

The item so desired that it prompted her to break her 14-month code of silence?
A ride on Daddy's shoulders.

He'd put her down after romping around with her for ten minutes (he was exhausted) but scooped her right back up and danced around with her again after her request, so very very proud that he was the one she wanted more of.

Adorable. It was a wonderful beginning to the holiday.

*Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (of The Time Traveler's Wife fame).

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Remember how I said Uli's favorite story was Christmas for 10?  Last night I overheard this gem:

Justin (reading to Uli): "Five draw near,"
[picture of five children sitting at their grandma's feet]

Justin (reading to Uli): "Six stories to hear."
[grandma is reading one book, and there are five others stacked-up, waiting their turn]
Justin (aside, sweetly): "Aren't they lucky. I sure wish we had six stories to read instead of this same damn story over and over, again and again."

Hah! Made me giggle.

And yes, he read it to her several more times (and I've already read it to her twice this morning)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

snow day: how to keep warm

Unaware of the final accumulation (estimations were between 12"-16"), there is simply the acceptance that it has been blizzardy here. And when going out in the after-blizzard, one should bundle-up. Especially if this is one's first time playing in the snow, as it was for Uli.

How to dress warmly for snow when you don't have a snowsuit, or a jacket, or boots: 

Wear your pajamas like longjohns (don't even change out of the ones you were wearing overnight:  they're nice and warm).

Put on socks and shoes.

Put on a shirt with a hood and wear the hood.

Slip some plastic bags over your feet and legs (that's right, right over your shoes).

Put on a pair of your father's tube socks (they'll be thigh-highs).

Slide your legwarmers (thank you, Auntie Emily!) over your legs to hold the giant man socks and slippery plastic bags in place.

Now it's time for acrylic sweatpants and a big bulky sweater.

Winter hat.


And outside you go!!

Try to avoid face-plants into the snow. But if they cannot be avoided, turn your sopping noggin and look directly into the camera and appear pitiful and adorable.

You will rule the world. And the rest of you, the parts other than your snow-covered face, will be toasty warm.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What fun it is to laugh and sing...

...a sleighing slaying song tonight!

Vampire slaying songs, that is.

I am often struck dumb when I take a moment to think about how much my husband loves me. He's such an amazing person, I have so much fun with him, and he not only loves me, he likes me! (I'm sure many of us grownups have come to realize that the one does not necessarily mean the other.)

Lately I've been particularly grateful that he, after some initial hesitation, has taken wholeheartedly to watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer seasons on DVD with me. We made it through the sketchy Season 1 quickly (with much apologizing and assuring him that it'd get better--though I don't think he really minded), Season 2 with some eye rolling but with more enjoyment, and then on through Seasons 3-5 with a lot of interesting discussions about the Buffyverse, character development, and where the story is going.

We finished-up Season 6 last night. Willow/Tara, Xander/Anya, the whole dramatic, lovely arch. Loved it. We'll be starting Season 7, the last season, tonight. Assuming it's available at the library. And I'm excited to be sharing it with my best friend.

Just had to dork-out on you and share my happiness! 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Whose fault is it, anyways?

Taking a break from my family chit-chat, I just wanted to post this.

It's not really a funny subject, but I had a chuckle over this post from one of my favorite blogs, I Blame the Patriarchy.

Surely, the very best rape prevention suggestions ever (putting responsibility where it's due, rather than on the victim/potiential victim).

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work
  1. Don’t put drugs in women’s drinks.
  2. When you see a woman walking by herself, leave her alone.
  3. If you pull over to help a woman whose car has broken down, remember not to assault her.
  4. If you are in a lift and a woman gets in, don’t assault her. You know what? Don’t even ogle her.
  5. When you encounter a woman who is asleep, the safest course of action is to not assault her.
  6. Never creep into a woman’s home through an unlocked door or window, or spring out at her from between parked cars, or assault her.
  7. When you lurk in bushes and doorways with criminal intentions, always wear bright clothing, wave a flashlight, or play “Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed)” by the Raveonettes on a boombox really loud, so women in the vicinity will know where to aim their flamethrowers.
  8. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If it is inconvenient for you to stop yourself from assaulting women, ask a trusted friend to accompany you when in public.
  9. Carry a rape whistle. If you find that you are about to assault a woman, you can hand the whistle to your buddy, so s/he can blow it to call for help.
  10. Give your buddy a revolver, so that when indifferent passers-by either ignore the rape whistle, or gather round to enjoy the spectacle, s/he can pistol-whip you.
Don’t forget: Honesty is the best policy. When asking a woman out on a date, don’t pretend that you are interested in her as a person; tell her straight up that you expect to be assaulting her later. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the woman may take it as a sign that you do not plan to rape her.

Monday, December 7, 2009

In my house, heeling is an issue

But this post isn't about the kind of "heel" my dogs are so bad at. This is what's in store for me as the mom of a baby girl in today's society. 

I thought this photo of Suri Cruise, from last week's People magazine, was rather shocking.  The girl is THREE for goodness' sake.

High heels?!

Well, consider me stupefied when I did a quick Google search to get a copy of that pic and I came upon this article with a photo of another pair of high heeled shoes on little Suri's tootsies!

The commenters of that article seemed split between
"Aw, so cute and fashionable. And girls will be girls..."  

"Heels are harmful to feet and should be worn by no one," and

"Call child services, her parents have lost their minds."

Katie Holmes is quoted as saying that Suri likes the shoes and people should just back off.

Okay, that at least makes sense to me. I have no say in how Homes and Cruise raise their daughter and I shouldn't.

But will I allow Uli to wear high heels at age 3? I don't know for certain (imagining my baby girl batting her eyes and begging to wear them--though, who gave them to us in the first place?), but I think not. Knowing that they're ball room dance shoes makes me feel a little better about a child wearing them. But only just kind of. I mean, I've pretty much given up wearing heels myself because they are so bad for my feet, and to think about putting my baby's feet into them...

On another note, this website is far creepier than any one or two instances of a three year old wearing high heels. I cannot imagine living a life in which my baby daughter has strangers watching her and a creepy fashion fan blog about her clothes. I mean, I admit, I find myself hoping that people think my daughter is as cute as I think she is (mama vanity). But a blog about what she's wearing from day to day created and maintained by a stranger? No thank you.The occasional "What a darling!" from the grandmas at the grocery store is sufficient for me. Anything else would be icky.

So, really, I kind of feel guilty writing this post. Suri's parents have enough to think about without being criticized for their daughter's footwear.

Nevertheless, since I don't have the paparazzi on my doorsteep, stalking my child, I have the time to consider whether or not I want to risk her having bunions by age six. Just wanted to put it out there:  high heels on a three year old?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Holiday Book List

Anyone have favorite book titles appropriate for the Hanukkah and Christmas (and winter solstice) season they'd like to share? I'm starting to actively try and grow our children's book collection and could use some seasonally appropriate ideas. Here are the titles we own so far:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Classic, obviously, and one I look forward to reading aloud annually once Uli gets a bit older.

Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffman and illustrated by Maurice Sendak
Another classic must-read with intriguing (somewhat creepy) illustrations in Sendak's signature style. Again, for reading aloud to older children.

Christmas for 10 by Cathryn Falwell
A counting book. A family decorates, bakes, sings, and reads together in celebration of Christmas. (So far, this is Uli's favorite holiday book.)

The Bells of Christmas by Virginia Hamilton
I haven't finished reading this yet, but it's another one for older children.

A Year of Beasts by Ashley Wolff
Not a holiday book, per se, though does show the family preparing to cut down their Christmas tree in the December section. One of my favorites to read and re-read to Uli (few words but lots of story in the pictures).

My Home is the Polar Regions: Who Am I? by Valerie Tracqui
Again, not a holiday book but shows pictures of animals, like reindeer, who are part of many holiday stories/traditions.

Circle of Seasons by Gerda Muller
A beautifully illustrated book that is actually a compilation of four different books (one for each season) by Muller. The 'winter' section is particularly lovely and includes scenes of both Hanukkah and Christmas celebrations.

And that's really all we have so far. Not nearly enough (says the bibliophile)! So tell me, which must-have books am I missing?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Product Review: GT's Multi-Green Kombucha

I will preface this review by stating that I adore and gulp down and love GT's organic raw "Gingerade" kombucha. It might cost $4, but it is divine: spicy, tingly & yummy (what more could you want in a drink?).

However. This "Multi-Green" kombucha is an entirely different story.

Here's a product that does not spread holiday cheer.

It is the dregs from the murkiest swap.

It is the slimy stuff from the bottom of the refrigerator.

It is the crud you need to wipe off your shoes after you walk through the forest in the rain.

It is the weird goo hanging from the tip of your dog's nose after she dives into the lagoon and comes back panting excitedly reeking of frog and fish.

Yes. It's that bad.

Skip the Multi-Green and march straight over to the Gingerade. Mmmmm, good.

To read more about the fermented tea called kombucha (kom BOO cha) you can check out the Wikipedia info. The bravest of us might even try to make some ourselves.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pretty in PJs

Today I took Uli to daycare in her pajamas.

It was one of those mornings.

I think as long as I'M not the one leaving the house in my jammies we're doing okay. Right?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A poem that makes me laugh (& English students cry)

a poem by G. Nolst Trenité

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation's OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!
ien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Things Uli Likes: 13 months old

molasses cookies
hot milk & molasses

pulling the drain during her bath
pulling all the tissues from the Kleenex box

pushing buttons on the DVD player and on the radio
remote controls (DVD, TiVo, TV)


balancing on her rocking-cow
flipping backwards onto the couch

sparkling apple cider
roasted beets

the dogs’ water dish
her daddy’s The Simpsons coffee mug

throwing toys into the toilet 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rousing chorus of "Kumbaya" not required

We’ve all seen the bumper stickers, the shirts, the mugs. But it’s only recently come to my attention that some of us hate them.


How can any rational person actually hate a call for peace? A plea for tolerance that might develop into brother- and sister-hood? For the end of persecution based on cultural and religious beliefs? I find it sad and I totally disagree with mindsets like that, and thus, I banish you all from my sight and hope you never find a safe job that you enjoy and that you go hungry and cold in the winter and that your children are ridiculed in school (if I even let them matriculate with my daughter)!!  Oh, no wait, let me see...

coexist  \ˌkō-ig-ˈzist\
co·ex·ist·ed, co·ex·ist·ing, co·ex·ists
1. To exist together, at the same time, or in the same place.
2. To live in peace with another or others despite differences, especially as a matter of policy

Ah, okay. Everyone can stay. But that doesn’t mean I approve.

And that’s okay! I can coexist with you without agreeing with you. Coexisting means neither that we must completely reconcile our differences nor does it mean that we must ignore our differences--the practice of coexistence is essentially a platform from which we start out agreeing that we all have the same basic human rights to food, shelter, education, and medical care. That’s it. We can disagree on how we get the food to our plates and what’s appropriate to eat. We can argue about how tall the houses are allowed to be in our neighborhoods. We can petition the school council about adding or taking out certain parts of curriculum. We can vote our hearts on what we think is the best way to ensure that everyone receives the preventative care and/or prescription drugs that they need. But we start out from the place and we continually remind ourselves of that, lest we forget that those we consider The Others are really just part of a larger group called We.

Coexistence doesn’t mean we all run through the fields of wildflowers hand-in-hand with never a roll of an eye, a strongly worded letter, or the raising of a voice. Our differences aren’t swept under a rug but neither do we burn effigies of our neighbors to threaten them. Coexistance is neither a movement toward homogenizing nor is it a request to turn a blind eye. Instead, it’s a call to practice discussion over violence, patience in the face of frustration, and a willingness to get to know someone as a person rather than as The Other (and there are always infinite reasons to label someone as one of Them). It’s a commitment to remain peaceful when we want to strike out. It’s a belief that we’re all important and valuable regardless of (and, indeed, because of) our varied social status, religious affiliation, or cultural heritage.

It means we’re not seeking to eradicate each other (which is important since there are those out there who’d like nothing better than snuffing some of us out--either just our voices or sometimes our actual breath itself). Certainly, we can share our personal beliefs with others and we’re happy if/when they adopt our views. But it’s okay if/when they don’t. Because we will make it work. Our children will attend school together regardless of the languages we speak at home. We’ll wave at each other when we walk by each other’s yards even if we don’t attend the same church, synagogue, or mosque.  We’ll welcome a new family to the neighborhood with a smile and a basket of cookies even if their skin, eye, or hair color doesn’t match our own. But most of all, we’ll allow The Others a place in the We group. We’ll remember that we’re all here together, trying to make a good life. And when our definitions of the “good life” differ, we’ll know that it’s okay to disagree and to discuss those differences without intimidation or attacks.

It’s okay to throw out the old “melting pot” idea in favor of the new “garden salad” approach--we don’t each lose our individuality when we come together into one community or nation--we keep our own essence and each new separate flavor helps add something special to the mix. With coexistence we end up with a fabulous spicy dish instead of bland mush.

I am not the most eloquent, but those are some of the basic thoughts I had running through my head today.


And, just as a side note, I do NOT condone letting someone walk all over you with their  “fake” commitment to  coexistence like the kind the evil space earwigs proffered in Star Trek:TNG

Lt. Cmdr. Dexter Remmick: You don't understand... We mean you no harm. We seek peaceful coexistence! [Riker and Picard open fire, blasting Remmick and the creatures to bits]      (Click to see the YouTube video)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Uli, Halloween 2009  (& what Mommy feels like today but knows she’s not as cute)

Dog hair
Dog hair
Dog hair
Dog hair

Broken vacuum

Wet piles of cat puke
Dried remnants of cat puke

Sink of dirty dishes
Teetering pile of clean dishes to put away

Poopy diapers
Poopy diapers

Sick baby
Crying baby
Manic baby

Manic mommy
Tired mommy
Super duper grouchy mommy

Momma said there’d be days like this.
I wish this weren’t one of them.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My favorite things: 1

Uli, 11 months--sweeter than honey

Yes, I did recently post about distressful commercialism and our nation’s unfortunate and exponentially growing desire for new/better “stuff.”  But I figure that even those living off grid find an occasion when they want/need something that they cannot feasibly make, grow, or gather themselves.  There’s no shame in needing others’ help, skills and ideas to outfit your house and home.

In the spirit of sharing and growing, I enjoy hearing about others’ favorite purchases (for example, CapitolMommy’s recent post), even if I don’t intend or cannot afford to buy the items they’ve purchased. Sometimes you can make something similar for yourself. Other times it’s just interesting to hear how others go about meeting their needs and solving household problems, and it starts a conversation in which you can share your own innovations. Similarly, I also like to hear about items that are flops, especially if I were considering trying those items myself.

So, I don’t ask that you run right out and buy the thing that work for me, but if you were already thinking about purchasing it’s like, I think it’s helpful to hear a review. Thus, here begins the first of what I plan to be a series (I’ll just say that the wool diaper covers review was a prequel).

One of my favorite things:

Really Raw Honey from Baltimore, MD

I buy mine at Woodman’s here in Madison, but wherever you are, if you’re having trouble finding good raw honey locally, you can purchase jars directly from the company via their website—they have free shipping!.

What I like about RRH:

  •  It’s packaged in glass jars, which is much nicer than the plastic that the majority of honey comes in. Glass is not only easy to recycle with most cities recycling programs, but it’s also easy to re-use at home (for example: I use a glass honey jar to mix lanolin with hot water—shake, shake, shake!—before adding the mixture to my woolens-wash). Also, if your household is one that takes months to get through a jar, honey can become hardened and difficult to scoop. When honey is packaged in glass jars I can happily heat the jar in some hot water to re-liquefy the honey without worrying about the glass leaching harmful chemicals into the honey—I can’t say the same of plastic containers. 
  • When you first open a jar of RRH you’ll see it’s sealed with “cappings” of honeycomb, pollen and propolis. You can scoop off the cappings and chew them like gum (they’re supposedly nutrient rich—not to mention tasty sweet!). 
  • The honey itself is creamy and opaque and full of goodness, not transparent like the refined honey you usually see in the grocery store. It’s easy to spoon. 
  • It tastes amazing!

I know honey is a controversial subject for those who are trying to reduce their use of animal products and live sustainably. I have cut honey out of my diet in the past (avoiding all honey-topped breads, etc.), but I’ve finally decided that I’m comfortable using honey if I buy it from a reputable company. And Really Raw fits the bill. I’ve called the company and believe they have compassionate and sustainable bee-keeping practices:
      • they always winter-over their bees
      • they leave the bees enough honey for their own use
      • they don’t clip the wings of the queens
      • they never transport the bees to single plant factory-type farms

However, for those interesting in avoiding honey or those looking for a substitute (while you’re waiting for your Really Raw to arrive!) I am always a fan of substituting good organic maple syrup or agave nectar for honey in recipes—a quick homemade maple syrup-and-mustard dressing beats a store-bought honey-mustard any day.

Hope your day is a sweet one!


After enjoying a leisurely walk in the crisp autumn air, Thomasin and Justin return home and enter their living room.

THOMASIN (sniffing) Ew, I think I smell cat pee.
JUSTIN I don’t know. (sniffing) I definitely smell rutabaga.

A pause. More sniffing.

JUSTIN Yeah, it’s just rutabaga.
JUSTIN But, really, rutabaga is worse than cat pee.
THOMASIN No such thing. Rutabaga is roses compared to pee.
JUSTIN I don’t like our house to smell like rutabaga.
THOMASIN I don’t like our house to smell like cats.

Since they own 5 cats and eat roasted rutabagas, both realize there will be no happy resolution.

the end

Sunday, November 8, 2009

What happens...

...when you think the baby powder (which is hardly ever used) is out of Uli’s reach, and you leave her in her room to play? !

Silly Mommy. That baby isn’t a baby: she’s a climbing toddler!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Uli's Birth Story, Part 3: Escape from the Hospital

Here’s a spooky story for you...

(If you want to review Part 1 it’s HERE and Part 2 is HERE.)

So, calling it an “escape” sounds a tad dramatic, I know. But honestly, that’s just how it felt last Halloween and there’s a reason I haven’t written about it until now. It was a really difficult day to get through. But it’s time to get it out of my system:

A day or two after her birth Uli was jaundiced and the hospital staff were concerned. However, our family practitioner wasn’t so I wasn’t worried either.

We did wish she’d eat more, though. With the delay in my milk and her sucking/latch issues she wasn’t getting much at the breast and with each passing hour the hospital staff grew more insistent about giving her formula. I continued to turn it down and told them that we had access to human donor milk and preferred to use it versus formula. We were told the hospital’s policy red-tape wouldn’t allow us to bring in donor milk. Seriously? They were refusing to allow us to feed our baby a superior food because it wasn’t addressed in their guidelines? I found that extremely foolish on their part—they were following idiotic guidelines that weren’t in a baby’s best interest, encouraging the use of formula over breastmilk. Whatever. In the end it may have been a gift—they said we’d have to be discharged before we could feed her the milk, and they had thought about keeping us another night but for my refusal of the formula.

I was so excited to go home. Since we’d planned for the homebirth, I’d never really considered what staying in a hospital might be like. And I tell you what: I didn’t like it. Sure, being able to call-in my order of food whenever I felt like it was nice. But on-demand institutional food is not a good enough reason to be in the hospital with a newborn, IMO.

That hospital bed—up and down with the push of a button—was handy after a surgery that cuts your stomach open. That didn’t help me feel better about having an unnecessary surgery, of course. Plus, for all its wondrous mechanisms, the mattress itself was seriously lacking. A twin bed is not the best when you’re cuddling your newborn and trying to co-sleep (though we made it work nevertheless—it was a very rare minute indeed that she found herself placed in that clear bassinet roller carriage thing). And the mattress was covered in plastic, which, while perhaps a positive from a cleaning perspective, was absolutely dreadful to have against your skin (separated by just a thin sheet)—after four days of resting against that plastic I had developed painfully sore red blister-like spots on my back, behind, and legs. I don’t know if they could be considered bedsores or not, they were NOT fun.

Worst of all was the constant interruption. Every few hours for my pain meds. Every few hours to check my stats. Every few hours to check the baby. Bleh. I understand that after surgery you must be monitored, but if I’d had my homebirth there wouldn’t have been a surgery or a need to check on me and wake me up every other hour. I longed for the time when I was well enough to enjoy the peace of home.

Some of the nurses were great (in particular, the nursing student who’d been assigned to me was so full of enthusiasm, encouraging words, and interest in the more mundane jobs of tending to a new mother and baby) but some of the others… There was the nurse who gave me a nipple shield (which, it turned out, I didn’t really need) without instructions on how to use it (note: using it incorrectly causes tissue damage and HURTS). And there was the nurse who had asked the first night which names were trying to decide between and then, after we’d decided upon Uli, she made a face and said, “Oh, you picked that one.” I think it may have been the same nurse who told me that Justin wasn’t supposed to have the baby in bed with him (he was in the other twin in my room and was cuddling Uli while my vitals were being checked and I took a bathroom break).

The morning of our discharge from the hospital I was SO READY to get outta there. Feed my baby the way I believed was best. Shower in my own bathroom. Sleep in my own bed—with my baby and my husband. Rest when Uli was sleeping and get up when she woke up with no more interruptions by staff.

Unfortunately, there were hours and hours between the doctors telling us that we would be going home and us actually getting out the door, which really brought down my mood. My mother- and father-in-law arrived to say hello, and I was so grouchy that I didn’t appreciate the gesture and was instead quite unnecessarily rude to them.

Then there was the debacle over Uli’s outfit. Justin has packed it (he’d told me what he was doing and you’d think I’d have spoken-up if I’d had issue with it, but at the time the problems that might occur with his plan hadn’t occurred to me). She had a onesie (embellished with a “Squirt 2008” from Auntie Katie), but we hadn’t brought any pants to go with it. Instead, Justin had packed a pair of his tube socks, intending to slip them over her legs and thighs. And really, that would have kept her perfectly warm. But, and I don’t remember if it started with me being a crabby whiner or my MIL asking the nurse for baby pants or the nurses exclaiming that we didn’t have any pants for her, but however it came to happen I distinctly remember one of the staff saying, “We cannot discharge her unless she has some pants!” And that really raised my hackles. This was my baby. I can decide if she needs pants or not. It was a beautiful, sunny October day. The socks Justin had packed would have been fine. But no. Instead, the nurse(s) scrounged about and came back to me with an ugly Precious Moments long sleeved pajama outfit. (I admit to taking out some of my frustrations over the hospital stay upon the pjs at a later date).

But whatever, we put her in the outfit. And then it was time to go! Oh no, wait. The freakin’ carseat. We had one, of course. But saying that we had one wasn’t good enough for the hospital. They couldn’t trust us farther than they could throw us. They demanded we show them the seat to prove it’s existence. Now, our seat of choice was a convertible, which means that it wasn’t a baby-bucket that you carried around but one that was supposed to stay in the car at all times. No matter, the staff demanded that Justin go unbuckle it from the car and bring it up to my hospital room before they would allow us to leave with Uli. I had a problem with this for several reasons: first (and second and third), it’s MY BABY and who are you (police officers aside) to tell me that I must show you that I do, in fact, have a carseat? Also, Justin took extra care in the week before we left for the birth to put the seat into the car snuggly and properly. And now you just want him to rip it out of there? Boo. And lastly, I felt like their power had gone to their heads. They lorded over us new, tired parents and were acting as though their requirements must be met or we would not be allowed to take our baby—as though they were legally allowed to deny us our parenthood over a carseat. And though they were insistent about seeing the seat there was no discussion about why they needed to see it or of WI law requiring carseats nor did they care that we reinstalled it properly nor did they give us any encouragement about baby’s first car ride. Nope. Just boorish demands. Unnecessary.

As Justin went back down to the car to unhook and lug-up the carseat, I faced the official discharge paperwork alone. It was a bunch of complete and total nonsense that I found not only annoying and disrespectful but full of scare tactics that weren’t based on medical evidence. Essentially, I was asked to respond to child-rearing questions in a manner that the hospital had previously deemed correct and good for every single family in the whole of Dane County.

“And you know not to co-sleep because it’s extremely dangerous and your baby might be killed, right?”

“Don’t immerse the baby in the bath until the stub falls off, okay?”

“Douse the stub with alcohol twice daily, alright?.”

I answered “Yes” or “I understand” to each edict even though, knowing it is safe and may even reduce the chances of SIDS, I fully intended to co-sleep, and we’d learned from our childbirth classes that studies don’t warrant the avoidance of water nor the use of alcohol on the umbilical stub (unfortunately hospital policies aren’t always based on best evidence since it can take a lot to get updates through the bureaucracy).

Others items I was supposed to nod my head to were just so obvious and ridiculous that it was insulting that they felt the need to inform me of them. Things like “Remember, your baby will need to eat often,” “Don’t leave the baby in the bathtub alone,” and “Don’t put your baby in a plastic bag,” (okay, they didn’t really ask that last one…) And then the last few: “Do you feel able to care for your infant? Are you comfortable going home with your baby? Are you certain? Really, truly? Triple swear?” were just the icing on the cake. The cake flavored with “We assume that you do not have a brain.”

I understand that when you’re moving large numbers of patients through a system you need a checklist of some-sort and, for simplicity’s sake, the checklist is standardized. But that’s the issue: labor and birth and child-rearing cannot and should not be standardized. It is not appropriate to approach them as one-size-fits-all. When you put a time limit on labors, when you refuse to attend a breech birth, when you discriminate against a woman’s choice of pain management, when you presume to know what’s best for each infant’s transition home you’re taking very personal matters and decisions and boxing them up in an inapt package.

I suppose that’s what having midwifery care meant to me: the midwives took time, real time, to get to know me and to personalize my care. They treated me as if I were an intelligent woman who wants to make good, appropriate choices for myself and my infant. They recognized when I was worried and addressed my concerns. They felt their duty as care providers was to explain various options, listen to any proposals I may have of my own, and then let me choose how to move forward rather than assuming I wanted something done this way or that. With them I never felt as though they were telling me I “had” to do something. They were more than willing to give me advice if I asked for it, but they respected my personal authority over my body and my child. That respect was severely lacking from the staff at Meriter.

When I think back on it, no, it wasn’t “that bad.” Being ‘disrespected’ isn’t the worse thing in the world. And yes, I was full of hormones and more sensitive than normal, but doesn’t that mean that hospital staff should be more accommodating and more understanding rather than bossy and insistent? Does something really have to be worse than a hot poker in your eye to qualify as uncomfortable, unnecessary, stupid and bad?

When I think about how a midwife leaves her homebirth patients several hours after the birth (after starting a load of laundry and offering to pop something in the oven) and then returns to check on everyone daily, I know that a homebirth would have made me happier. At least the part after the baby arrives. ;-)

Maybe next time...

So, that’s my spooky story. Happy Halloween, everyone!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wool Diaper Covers: A Rave


Uli, 5 months, striking a pose in a Disana wool cover
Of all the different diaper combos we’ve tried with Uli so far, I’ve found myself reaching for prefolds and the wool covers most often. Not that I dislike our six Bum Genius pocket diapers (in fact, I regularly put her in them at night, with a hemp doubler). And I’m a true fan of the one organic Imse Vimse cover I ordered (cotton with PUL, and such nice, adjustable hook and loop closures!). And the Bummis covers are still the basic, hardworking covers of which we have the most. But there’s just something extra snazzy about the wool. Not for the strictly vegan household, obviously, but they work well for us as we’re trying to invest in long-lasting pieces that will eventually biodegrade when we are done with them and/or they wear out.
We have three wool covers:  an Imse Vimse wool wrap, a Disana pull-on, and an Aristocrats pull-on.  Uli’s starting to grown into them well (they were a bit big when we first started using them) and I’m reminded that at this rate she won’t fit into them for much longer--I need to get some bigger sizes. But do I buy more or... try and make my own? In a moment of extreme self-confidence I purchased a knitting pattern from Little Turtle Knits (check them out--there are so many cute patterns!), certain I could whip some right up;  I haven’t been brave enough to put the yarn on the needles yet. But I just found instructions on the etsy cloth diapers group about making my own ‘long’ wool covers from old sweaters--and I want to try it so badly! Uli and I will have to take a trip to the resale shops this fall and scope out the old wool sweater scene. Wasting skeins of spendy wool yarn by knitting ineptly is a fear of mine, but felting an old $3 sweater and running it through the sewing machine? Not so scary!
I think what worries many folks about wool covers is the different maintenance they require versus the diapers themselves and the other nylon/PUL covers. You can’t just toss the wool covers into the wash along with the prefolds and the BumGeniuses and Bummis--you’d end up with a warped, felted cover sized to fit a Barbie. Wool covers have to be hand washed, occasionally lanolized, and always dried flat. Most of us don’t even hand wash our dishes much less our laundry and to hear that something requires a swirl in the sink sounds like a supreme pain in the rear. I can tell you from experience, however, that the ten minutes it takes to wash the covers is completely worth it--the wools is that nice and soft and easy to use. They’re also naturally resistant to stink (the magic of wool) which means that not only does baby’s bum stay fresh when she wears them, but you just air them out in-between uses and you only have to wash them about every two weeks! I was skeptical of that claim when I first read it. PUL covers have to rinsed out or washed daily or they get gross-smelling. Turns out that wool is a completely different beast and those claims are true. A slightly damp wool cover, hung up to air out, will be fresh-smelling and ready to go in just a few hours. Use, air out, and keep on repeating for two weeks.
Once it’s time to wash the wool, it’s not difficult. As I said, it’s, at the most, ten minutes of activity--the rest is spent waiting for everything to dry.  Green Mountain Diapers had great instructions for washing the wool, and I bought my Eucalan wool wash and Lansinoh lanolin from them. What I do:  run a sink of tepid/warm water, add the wool wash, swish the covers around a bit and then soak them for a few minutes, rinse (optional step--the wash says it doesn’t need to be rinsed out, but I choose to do so anyway), and then lay flat to dry. Every other wash I re-lanolize the covers (since I only wash every other week unless they get poopy, so this extra step is just once a month). Re-lanolizing is nifty: I use a squirt of lanolin--the same kind they sell to put on your nipples when you’re first breastfeeding--and put it in an old glass jar;  add hot water to melt the lanolin, shake it up, and add to the wash water. Quick and easy, and keeps the wool soft and ensures it won’t leak.
You’ll see Uli sporting wool for the next couple of years, I’m sure. Just wanted to share how they’re working for us. And to encourage anyone considering cloth to look into the wool covers. 

Monday, July 20, 2009

Babies are like housecats

Two amusing (though terrible) quotes from Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier (the book I’ve been reading for the past month and a half. And yes, I’m near to finishing it).

[A woman] came into the parlor carrying a wailing baby bundled in little white blankets. All you could see was a face like a barn owl's, just as round and flat and pale and fierce. Like all babies. If they had the physical means, they'd kill you without conscience to fulfill their slightest immediate desire. Same as housecats, whch if they weighed two hundred pounds would not accede to our existence for a single day. 

And, the narrator, upon watching the infant’s mother begin to breastfeed:

How could one have the courage to take a thing so predatory to one's breast? God knew something fundamental about the nature of his own creation when he failed to give babies teeth and claws.

Hah! I love them, they’re so awful.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

St[roller] Rage

 It has recently come to my attention that some people are idiots; furthermore, being idiots, they are not even aware of their own status. Whether it is a simple lack of sophistication or just plain stupidity depends upon the person, I warrant.

In the hope that some good may come from it, even if it’s just my own release of pent-up feelings, I shall, when I am relatively certain that I do not belong to the particular group of idiots in question, take it upon myself to point out the group’s flaws and discuss why it is they irritate me so. If, on the other hand, I suspect or have already confirmed that I am one of the offending group, I shall either not write about them or will still share, but, instead of finding fault, will blog with the purpose of explaining why I/we are actually not idiots but rather misunderstood geniuses. I should probably create an “about me” page and include this in the description. So, to warn you, this is where I’m coming from in today’s post, fair enough? 

See how well I balance up here on this soapbox? You couldn't do this with a stroller!

The thorn in my side this weekend (and, if truth be told, for many many weeks and even years past) were those members of the stroller brigade. You know the ones. They flood the farmer’s markets. They glut up the art fair. They block the aisle at the grocery. They are the asinine stroller-users. The Sluggish and Huge Stroller People. (That would be the strollers which are slug-like and giant, not the people pushing them.)

These are not the jogging stroller users, whom you see from your window as they fly down the street, out for fresh air and exercise. These are not the double- , triple-, or quadruple-strollers on daycare outings, leisurely rolling along the sidewalk on their way to the park to allow the tots their daily dose of vitamin D. No, these are the folk who think their two-month-old needs a cartload of toys versus a parent’s touch on their Saturday trek to the booths of fruits and veggies. These are the citizens who believe that their baby would enjoy the sight of people’s calves and rear ends rather than the faces and bright colours in artwork that their parents are viewing. These are my irritating peers who seem not to notice that they are going slower than any 80-year-old with a cane. Slower because they are pushing a contraption build for moving through wide-open spaces rather than through crowds. Slower because there are lines of people built-up behind them, vying to pass them, engulfing them in a swarm of other pedestrians/shoppers/art-lovers who are intent on only one thing: getting the hell in front of the freakishly large and slow-moving stroller and its seemingly clueless driver(s).

Perhaps calling these strollers ‘idiots’ is inaccurate. I am using the term with some hyperbole and I apologize if it comes across too harshly. I am certain many stroller-users are brilliant scientist, excellent automobile drivers and well-read to boot. But, my fine friends, you are NOT good at baby carting. Your stroller is outdated and annoying. It takes up half the sidewalk. It bites us on our heels. It keeps us from moving beyond the particular booth in front of which you’ve decided to park.  You may be blissfully unaware of how irritating it is to follow you, but ignorance is simply no longer acceptable. Please move out of our way.

But—you say with incredulity—how on earth shall I bring along my chubby little mini-me if not in a stroller? How will I carry the twenty-five lbs of diapers and changes of clothes and toys that we must be certain to have on our persons at all times? Surely you, Ms Blogger, are being unreasonable!

Nay, I say. It is perfectly possible to bring your children and the necessary baby sundries along with you to fun venues without sending your fellows into fits. You WEAR your baby. That’s right. You carried your baby around for 9 months, and now you carry him some more. It’s what parents do. And this time it’s without swollen ankles and kicks to the ribs. This time you snuggle and get snuggled back. And you can share the load with your partner. You wear your baby in a wrap or a sling. And you pare down the week’s-worth of baby supplies you feel you ‘must’ have available and instead carry just what you need for that particular outing, either tucked into the sling or in a backpack. Your baby needs far fewer amusements when she’s up at eye-level and you’re able to interact with her and keep her calm with the sway of your movements and kisses on her head.  

There are a zillion different types of carriers (including cloth types which you can fold up into nothingness and carry with you in the car or in your purse at all times) that, when in use, allow you to bring your baby and toddler (even two at once!) with you whilst still walking like a normal person, at a normal adult pace, without taking up more space than your own body’s girth and leaving both your hands free. It will be easier for you to move about in the crowd, and much much much easier for others to be near you, or move around and past you, letting everyone keep their sanity and allowing you to proceed without dagger-filled looks aimed to pierce your oblivious little head.

I realize this may be a classic case of What-I-Do-Is-Better-Than-What-You’re-Doing and, as a new and unweathered parent, I’m especially susceptible to the malady. I know there are people out there with bad backs who may not be medically allowed to carry more than ten lbs. (though how they carry their baby around the house...). I am certain there are those who’ve never heard of any other way of bringing baby along (though what they think I’m doing with my baby when I’m carrying her, or why they’re not reading current childcare lit...).

Yes, I may be a little too hateful of the playpens on wheels than is required. But surely I’m not the only one. (Surely?)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Community Supported Agriculture

This year we signed up for a CSA half-share with JenEhr Farm in Sun Prairie. The season was delayed two weeks due to weather but the time for produce has finally arrived! Fresh organic in-season veggies and fruit every other week until November.
Our first box contained two bunches of spinach, two white kohlrabi and two red/purple kohlrabi (with leaves attached), four different types of lettuce, two quarts of strawberries, some basil, scallions, and a bunch of chard.
The lettuces, scallions and spinach were easy ones for me, but what to do with kohlrabi? And I’d used chard before, but I wanted to try something different. And strawberries---mmmm! But was there something new and exciting I could use them for? I hit the internet and cookbooks.
I used the strawberries and basil to make several recipes of iced tea. JenEhr suggested Martha Stewart’s recipe in their CSA newsletter:
Makes 2 quarts; serves 6 to 8    
[I’d say serves 4, if you’re using large glasses]
    * 8 black-tea bags
    * 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved (quartered if large)
    * 1 cup water, plus more for steeping
    * 3/4 cup sugar
    * 1 cup fresh basil, plus more for serving
    * Ice, for serving
   1. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add tea bags, and let steep for 5 minutes.
   2. Place strawberries in a bowl. Bring water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, add basil, and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain over strawberries; discard basil. Toss to coat. Let stand until cool, about 25 minutes. Combine strawberries (with syrup) and tea in a pitcher. Refrigerate until chilled. Serve over ice, and garnish with basil.
Very very good. Felt very modern, to be drinking strawberries with basil. The M.S. recipe is quite sweet (even for someone who drinks 3 tsp of sugar in her coffee).
5 Star Foodie used strawberries and basil in a smoothie. If we get more of either ingredient, I’m going to try it (without the butter. I don’t need extra fat or dairy in my smoothies.)
Turns out (thank you, internet) you can slice kohlrabi and eat it raw (tastes like very mild radishes--refreshing). I added raw kohlrabi and the kohlrabi leaves to the lettuces, spinach and basil for wonderful, dark leafy green salads.
When it was time to cook the rest of the bulbs, I turned to the Joy of Cooking and found a recipe for
Kohlrabi with Parmesan Cheese
Serves 4
Peel and cut into matchsticks:
    2 small kohlrabi bulbs [I used three]
Cook in boiling water (for 1 lb use 8 cups water, 2 tsp. salt; bring to boil; add kohlrabi; return to boil; cook until tender but still crisp, 7 to 9 mins).
Drain, then toss with:
    1 to 2 tablespoons butter
Immediately sprinkle with:
    4 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    Grated black pepper to taste
Serve at once.
Mmmm. Butter and cheese on vegetables is not a new thing (nor especially healthy) but it’s a tasty side dish. Justin has suggested we make it a Thanksgiving tradition.
I still had the chard to use, so I mixed it with spinach and made, also from the Joy of Cooking,
Wilted Spinach or Chard
2 or 3 servings
Wash thoroughly but do not dry:
    12 well-packed cups spinach or chard leaves or a combination
Coarsely chop, then place in a large skillet. Season with:
    Salt to taste
Cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until completely wilted but still bright green, about 5 minutes.
Remove to a serving dish and toss with:
    Extra-virgin olive oil
    Dash of vinegar or lemon juice [I used vinegar]
    Ground black pepper to taste
Serve immediately.
Quick to cook, once the prep is finished. Thumbs up from Justin and Emily.
Here’s to supporting local farmers, eating organic produce,  actually using our cookbooks, and living well!

A New Hope

I’ve posted about it on Facebook, and most of you, if you’re plugged in to the natural birthing world, have already heard about this, but I wanted to go ahead and blog about it as well. About what it means to me and what it might mean for other mamas.
I’m talking, of course, about the new recommendation from the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada:
The evidence is clear that attempting a vaginal delivery is a legitimate option in some breech pregnancies,” said Dr. André Lalonde, Executive Vice-President of [SOGC]. “The onus is now on us as a profession to ensure that Canadian obstetricians have the necessary training to offer women the choice to deliver vaginally when possible.
What does this means? It means that having a breech baby at term in Canada shouldn’t automatically mean a woman is forced to attempt an external version. That she shouldn’t be forced into a cesarean.  Instead, providers should be trained in breech birth and offer it as the safer alternative to surgery, depending upon the breech presentation and the health of mom and babe.
I believe that if the USA had made a similar choice in recent years, to move away from c-sections and towards a more woman-friendly, evidence-based (vs. fear- and insurance-based) system, I wouldn’t have felt forced into a surgery I knew I didn’t need. Uli and I were healthy all through the pregnancy. And as a frank breech, her little butt pressing down on my cervix would have done a great job helping me to dilate. But of course, you all know my story. It was a no-go finding a provider in Madison who’d attend my vaginal breech birth.
And, while I’m thankful that women in Wisconsin currently have the option of going up north to deliver at the Morningstar Birthing Center, since it wasn’t a viable option for us, three hours away as it is, I’m sort of sad even to have known about it. It wasn’t a real choice. More than the distance, it was the cost. A practice of midwives, our insurance wouldn’t cover any of their fees, and we couldn’t have afforded paying a second non-insurance-covered provider fee beyond what we’d already paid at the Madison Birth Center.
Whether or not you have a few extra thousand saved in the bank shouldn’t determine whether  or not you receive compassionate, adequate health care in your town. At least THAT is being currently discussed by our government. Again. (Hopefully with some real solutions put into place this time.)
Check-out some of Rixa’s posts about SOGC’s recommendation:
And the link to the SOGC’s media site:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I'm doing the breast I can

Oh, come on. Compared to “My Brest Friend,” that’s nothing. ;-)


I was thrilled when Uli and I were finally beginning to connect, nursing-wise. After the delay in milk, endless and fruitless pumping,  L.C. consultations and latch issues, the elusive one-on-one connection with my baby seemed finally within reach. And we did make it, just around two months after she was born.

Of course, once I returned to work the pumping business was somewhat problematic, but some herbs and time and we had it figured out.

Or so I thought. Turns out the trials aren’t quite finished.

About a month ago I got a plugged duct. I’d thought I’d had plugged ducts before. But now I know that those were just blebs. A real plugged duct is FIERCELY painful.

Next day came mastitis. Oh, I felt so so sick. Fever, pain, nausea, exhaustion. I followed the LLL recommendation of nursing from the affected side, applying hot compresses and sleeping, and I started to feel better after just a day.

However. Possibly because I’d been twisting Uli all around to get her to nurse from my sore side, I got a cracked nipple. Holy cow. Ouch. But I managed to keep up the nursing and the crack closed.

But the pain didn’t completely go away. It continued to hurt when Uli’d latch-on. OMG, it was horrible. 8 or 9 on a pain scale of 10. I wasn’t liking the idea of taking antibiotics just in case it was a remnant of mastitis. (I don’t like antibiotics ‘just in case.’)  One of my midwives suggested that yeast may have crept in while I had the crack. We started some anti-fungal treatments for both me and Uli. (It wasn’t straight thrush, since she didn’t have any white spots in her mouth nor red diaper rash, but if it was yeast, we’d be passing it back and forth, symptoms or not.) And, hurrah! It was working! 

Except, now I’m done with the treatment and I’m still having some ‘pinching’. Kinda like a sunburn that’s rubbing on scratch material. I need to follow-up with the L.C. and see what’s going on. Very frustrating.

To top it all off, my thyroid is freaking out. I’m overproducing thyroid hormone, which typically makes a person really thin (hah! why can’t I have THAT horrible symptom?) and reduces breast milk production. My milk has been getting less and less and it’s SO sad and upsetting. So I’m on medication now that will hopefully reduce the hormones I don’t need and increase the milk that Uli needs.

SO. My goal is to continue nursing at least until her 1st birthday. Which is lame since what I really hope to do is nurse until she self-weans. I’d even be willing to tandem nurse. And maybe we’ll still be able to do that. But for now, let’s just work through the pain and get my supply back up. Keep that milk flowing! 

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Trip to the Zoo

I am conflicted over the zoo. I love animals. I love to see animals in person. But I worry about the whole zoo set-up.

Some zoos (from what I understand it’s probably most of them...) let many of their animals breed freely because baby animals draw crowds. When the babies grow up, the zoos sell them to other zoos or petting zoos or those traveling roadside ‘wildlife park’ things. And then the animals have more babies, the crowds come, the babies grow, the crowds wane, they sell the ‘surplus’ animals, the cycle begins anew. I just don’t think that’s responsible caretaking.

Many exhibits of mammals, if viewed carefully, house frustrated, cage-mad animals. Pacing, picking at themselves, bored out of their gourds. Not a life any of us would want to live, even if we talk about how nice it would be to not have to lift a finger.

I read a book when I was younger (the title of which I cannot  for the life of me remember, though I can still picture its cover) that suggested the only way to save endangered species was to take them from the wild, use zoos to shelter them and visitor fees to pay for their keep, and to selectively breed them, destroying all offspring but the most superior. The book’s author told the reader that to feel compassion for the individual animals was to doom the species--that you had to be ruthless in demanding the best bloodlines and allow only the healthiest babies to grow to adulthood and then be bred again. In his plan, there needn’t be great attention given to the happiness of individual animals. That wasn’t the point. The plan was to make sure that there still were elephants and rhinoceroses and manatees in 100 years, not that the animals’ mental needs were met nor their individualism expressed. What the plan was for, after 100 years, I don’t know if he addressed. Plenty of rare animals for zoo exhibits?

And I just don’t know about all that. I think it is not too much to strive for a peace between man and beast, where at the most powerful, most destructive and cruelest animal (man) backs-off and allows the wildlife to live in peace. But that would mean addressing other human rights issues, like the feeding the people who try to earn money by cutting down forests to meet demand for western materials (or the razing of the rain-forest so that cattle can graze which will later be slaughtered and gobbled by western bellies--or by those who admire the lifestyles of the western world).  It would mean working with people toward sustainable farming. It would mean ensuring that those who hunt gorillas for their flesh have other food to eat. It would mean not just fences and guards around animals, but education, hope, an understanding of our place in the world (note: I’m not talking Manifest Destiny), and ensuring people have real options while living in the midst of wildlife. We don’t have that now. At least, not  enough of it. Yet.

Anyway, that’s just some of my thoughts. Sorry if they’re jumbled. Where was I? Oh, yes. The zoo.

We went. The Henry Vilas Zoo has free admission. So whatever my worries over zoos, I have less of an issue with Vilas. I won’t be buying any $5 sodas nor $20 onesies for Uli;  we’re just there for the view (good or bad). If the zoo closed due to lack of financial support, I would watch more Nature and be okay with it. (Full disclosure: I consider myself complicit in zoos’ methods since I have and will probably again pay to visit, though I feel less guilt over Vilas.)
We went, we walked, we looked. And really, it was nice to spend a morning outdoors with my husband and little one. I tried not to think too much about the morality of zoos and managed to focus more on the baby girl, who enjoyed watching the people WAY more than the animals. In fact, the only time she had a freak-out (and honestly, there have been very few freaks of this magnitude ever before) was when we entered the aviary. I don’t know if it’s because it was humid in there, or because it was echoey or because she hates parrots, but she screamed and screamed and sobbed almost as soon as we entered and stopped immediately when we exited. We won’t be going back in there anytime soon, free or not.

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