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. AndrĂ© 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:

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