Sunday, December 16, 2012

My Two issues with The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings

1. Gandalf is either useless as a wizard or has some kind of code about limiting his powers.  Sometimes he comes through and other times it's like, "A little help here!"

2. CAN WE JUST START WITH THE EAGLES?  It would save a lot of time, injury and entanglement with orcs.  In both stories, they could have just flown over to the Lonely Mountain or Modor and saved themselves TONS of hassle and a few lives, like Boromir.  Just saying.


Friday, December 14, 2012

What to say about things like this

One of the biggest challenges as a parent is to have to explain this chaotic world to an unspoiled mind.  To find a way to put words to things that defy reason but are important to understand.  Sidney is too young to know about what happened today in Connecticut but this is the world she inhabits and the world she will need to be able to navigate.  I think about what I would say to her if she were a few years older.

Any normal human would feel empathy for the victims' families and as a fellow parent even more so.  But to have an intimate understanding of how piercing the loss those bereaved parents are suffering--it is crippling to wander too far in.  So I retreat back into fury over how this kind of thing keeps happening.  How guns and mental health and violence pervade the profiles of these cowardly shooters.  And how thus far the American government has been literally held hostage by an Amendment and a Lobby that don't serve us in their current form.   Perhaps this incident will turn the tide and maybe there will be a chance for policy change and attention to issues otherwise ignored.  But I have very little ability to affect that.  

There is so much that goes into making the powder keg of a troubled mind capable of inflicting such pain, suffering and death.  In the early hours when this story was unfolding, I began to read the comments section on the Seattle Times article about the shooting.  Usually the forum devolves into bile-fueled shouting matches.  But one comment stood out to me and profoundly resonated.  It was submitted by "SeamusSmith":
Americans are losing all sense of compassion, of empathy, of community, of being One Nation, of being kind for kindness sake and good for goodness sake and loving for loving sake.  Stop. Just stop and think about what kind of world we are handing off to the children who survived this hideous act of a madman. 
Think and resolve to do better. To make more eye contact. To say "hello" to people who seem isolated and distraught. To listen more. To be more kind. To be helpful to those who are floundering. To bark less and wag more. 
Swear it on the bodies of these American children, these innocent, lost members of our human race: I will be more compassionate for the rest of my time on earth. 
In the end, only kindness matters.
Especially in Seattle where we are known for standoffish behavior, I know he is right.  I do this.  I am suspicious of all people until they prove me wrong and am less friendly than I could be.  And yet I see how this way of being is not helpful to the greater good.  Amplified and replicated it is not protective but isolating and when people are truly isolated they lose a part of their humanity.  So as Seamus (or whatever his real name is) pledges to be more compassionate,  I will too.  If nothing else but to repair and strengthen the connection to and faith in fellow humans.  Of course this will not undo what has happened and it may seem small.  But otherwise there is just sadness and fury.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Decorating the Outdoor Christmas Tree

No music video of the it this year but here are pictures from the outdoor tree decorating party.








Ken did most of the work and Sidney was supervising.  Calvin and I watched from the living room.  The crooked star is my favorite thing.


This year we added colored electric lights.



Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Last Minute Gift Ideas


For all of you who wait to the last minute...this is my gift to you: a holiday gift list of discerning taste.  I wouldn't steer you wrong.


For a Wee Baby or Expectant Parent "Nice to Haves that become Must Haves"
Bibs: for feeding
Miracle Blanket: for swaddling
Giraffe Sound Soother: for sleeping
Sophie Teether & Winkel: for playing

For Tots 1-4 yrs "Mr. Buckles"
Buster Buckle Toy: best travel toy EVER

For Kids 3-7 yrs "Craft Service"
Kiwi Crate: a monthly subscription of a craft sent to your house. 

For the Woman in your life "Tea for One"
Adagio Tea Kettle: a slice of heaven in a cup.
Fancy tea: my favorite is Chamomile & Lavender

For the Health Conscious & Outdoorsy types "Super snacks"
Naturebox: a monthly subscription of Healthy snacky food delivered to your door.

For the Chef "Hot enough for ya?"
ThermoWorks Cooking Thermometer & Timer: know the temperature of the food without opening the oven.  F**king Brilliant.

For the Foodie "Life is a Box of Chocolates"
Frans Chocolates: Anything from these people is amazing.

For the Tech Guy "Geek Chic"
Wifi Cufflinks: Never be without the Internet.  Never.

For a current/former Pacific North-westerner "Blame it on the Rain"
RainGlobe: So you never forget.

For the Star Wars Fan "Smelling good inside and out"
Taun-Taun Sleeping Bag: Pretend you're Luke without the entrails.

For your Pet "Cat's got your remote?"
Video CatNip DVD: nonstop squirrel and bird action

Friday, November 30, 2012

November Rain

I am so glad this is the last day of the month.  November has been absolutely awful.  The entire month lost to a virus.  Never before have we experienced such a sickness that could take down the entire family for so long.  

This all started on Halloween when Kristina and I took the girls to the Mall for Spooky Storytime and playtime in the germ harbor indoor play area.  In replaying the day, I realized I forgot to wash Sidney's hands before eating.  Then Halloween that night with a visit to Google and trick-or-treating and candy eating. 

The next day Sidney's began to act a little funny.  She wasn't sleeping well and occasionally she'd cough.  By the weekend, just in time for my Mother & Cindy to visit for the King Tut exhibit, Sidney was actually sick.  She had a chesty cough and a slight temperature.  

Cindy returned to Portland while Mom stayed in Seattle for few days since Ken went to California for work.  Cindy caught the bug and suddenly I'm wasn't feeling very well either.  Later we would learn Mom also caught this nasty bug too.  


There was so much coughing.  The rare times Sidney gets sick don't involve coughing so I was unprepared for this.  I felt so bad at night when I could hear her down the hall.  It kept her awake a few nights and there's nothing to do at this age except provide warm water with honey & lemon (if they'll drink it) and a vaporizer.  Activities were wiped off our schedule: all playdates, preschool and evening commitments cancelled.  So we were going stir-crazy. Soon, Calvin was not his normally chipper self and coughing with a very congested nose.  This was scary because it shook his whole body and if he had been eating, he spat up--sometimes projectile.  We tried to keep him comfortable with a vaporizer and sleeping upright in his bouncy seat. 

I called the advice nurse just to make sure we were doing everything we could for Calvin.  While on the phone with her, she could hear him coughing and the frequency he was doing it.  She became concerned and encouraged me to go to Children's ER.  I took him by myself and the only thing they did was industrial suction his nose & sinuses.  He did not like it but finally he could breathe so feeding from a bottle wasn't a problem.  He took close to 5 ounces as we were sitting there waiting to be discharged and I was so thrilled he was eating.  Just as I was readjusting and going to burp him, he coughed and spit up EVERYWHERE.  In epic proportions.  I had a spare outfit for him but not for me.  The doctor acted like no big deal and kept talking to me all the while I'm giving him a look like "a little help here?"  Anyway.  Bulb suction and vaporizer with sleeping in an inclined position was the advice. 



You know what's worse than having 2 sick children?  Having 2 children who insisted on coughing directly into my face so I became sick as well.  You know what's worse than that? Having to get up in the dead of night and do multiple feedings in that condition.  Mary Poppins and Winnie the Pooh were on heavy rotation so that I could keep Sidney occupied downstairs and I could eek through the day.  

Things rebounded a little by mid-month and we started to feel more like our old selves.  We had guests over and outings which improved our spirits.  But we teetered on the brink again (except for Calvin who was notably improving.)  Sidney still had the cough.  Ken, who had avoided getting sick when the kids & I had it worst, began to feel a tickle in his throat.  I also felt a tickle in the throat again.  I brought in the big guns of Dayquil and high-dose Ibuprofen for my very, very painful sore throat.  (A 3 am run to the ER one night when it was at it's worst confirmed it was NOT strep.)  Misery.

And a healthy holiday was not to be: "have sickness, will travel."  Two nights before we left for Thanksgiving, a massive storm hit Seattle and dumped so much rain.  One of our clean outs backed up and our basement took on water.  It affected the corner of our carpeted family room.  We discovered this within an hour of a WSU dinner I organized at a restaurant downtown, but I had to run out to Aurora Rents before it closed to get industrial blowers, a dehumidifier and wet vac.   All while still being sick, delirious and hopped up on Dayquil.  I did make it to the dinner though--late. (We had to leave all of that equipment running with the heat up high while we were out of town and have the neighbor check in on it.)

 Days later, we journeyed to Portland for Thanksgiving and enroute to my cousin's house (where we were going to stay) she called me to let us know their water supply had tested positive for E.coli so we'd have to buy or boil all the water we used.  She was even on the local NEWS for it.  But at that point, I was thinking of course this would be our luck.  Might as well add one more thing.  The water tested fine the next day and the boil notice was lifted. 

In just these last one or two days, we are finally feeling normal and not "sickly."  Because Novembers, as a rule, suck.

Monday, November 26, 2012

If it's Christmas, that means one thing: Pizzelles!

Behold: Mom, Angela and I in our yearly tradition of making the Italian Christmas cookie.  Thank you Ken for taking such artful pics.
Pizzelle Making

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Baby Care Products and Baby Massage


Several years ago, I began to shift my lifestyle to include more organic foods & products and stop buying things made with or covered in harmful chemicals.  With food, it has become pretty easy to figure out what is what.  With cleaning and body care products, it's a lot more difficult and the list of ingredients with exotic names is intimidating.  Come to find out, some of the standard ingredients in store-bought body care products (preservatives, fragrances, cleaning agents) are known to disrupt the endocrine (hormone) system, cause allergies, affect fertility or even cause cancer.   So now when I'm evaluating products that I use on my kids, I go to even greater lengths to make sure what I use on them is safe, bio-based and chemical free.

The brand Seventh Generation has been around for awhile and we use their household products like laundry soap, toilet paper, paper towels, bathroom cleaner, dish soap as well as diapers.  Now they've come out with a line of baby care products that is non-toxic and composed of plant-based ingredients including olive oil, known to be good for moisture retention.  This is the first complete line of USDA-certified bio-based baby care products.  It's gluten-free, tear-free, non-toxic and has no synthetic fragrances, phthalates or parabens.

We've had the pleasure of getting to use some of the products already.  Pictured above is Sidney taking her first ever bubble bath using the Wee Generation Bubble Bath.  She loved it.  Also we tried the  Foaming Shampoo & Wash which is super convenient as anyone who bathes a child knows.  Ken used the Diaper Cream on Calvin which seems very effective and the Baby Lotion has a slight hint of citrus scent and is moisturizing without being greasy.  This lotion is a perfect product to use for baby massage. 

When Sidney was a wee babe, we practiced baby massage on her and are looking forward to practicing some on Calvin as well.  It has so many benefits for the baby like calming them and helping them feel more bonded to their care giver.  You can start doing it when baby is just 3 weeks old.   If you've never tried baby massage, it's a really nice way to bond and connect with baby that helps soothe and promote a positive well-being.

Here are five tips for Baby Massage from Tina Allen at the Liddle Kidz Foundation:

1. Choose the Best Time and Place
Creating the best environment for massage is an ideal way to give yourself, and baby time to relax. Choose a familiar place that is warm, quiet and with few distractions. The best time for massage is when baby is awake, healthy and happy. Some babies prefer the morning, while others prefer the afternoon or before bedtime.

2. Be comfortable
Relax, enjoy and have fun! Position yourself so that you are comfortable. Be sure baby is safe and placed on a soft area. Keep in mind, babies roll and become slippery when using oil. Be sure your hands are warm and clean before you begin.

3. Choosing Massage Oil/Lotion
While it is not required, using oil can help make massage more enjoyable for some babies and parents. Olive oil and Grapeseed oil are some of the best choices for infant massage. However if you choose to use lotions be sure to choose a non-toxic option, like Seventh Generation baby lotion - which contains olive oil as a main ingredient.

4. Ask Permission
Infant massage can be a wonderful tool for increasing your communication. Massage is not something that parents do to their baby, but rather with their little one. Listen to your baby. She will give you the signals to let you know she is enjoying massage, or when she is all done for now.

5. Know When Not to Massage
Never provide massage for your baby without permission (when sleeping, crying or fussy).  Avoid massage when he is ill, has a fever or infection. If he has broken skin, rash or bruising.  Wait at least 48 - 72 hours following immunizations. For tummy massage, wait 30 minutes after eating. If he has any special healthcare needs seek further guidance as to what would be the safest approach.

Check out http://www.liddlekidz.com for more resources and information on Baby Massage.

Here is a video on baby massage from them as well.

*********

SEVENTH GENERATION TWITTER PARTY--Tomorrow!

What: Join us for an informative party to discuss the importance of using truly pure and natural baby care products! We’ll tell you how to identify the safest product ingredients and those ingredients to watch out for. 

WhenThe party will be on Monday, Nov. 5, at 10am PT.

Where: Use the #7GenBabyFest hashtag on Twitter!

Hosts: Follow @theMotherhood, @SeventhGen, @CooperMunroe and @EmilyMcKhann

Prizes: There will be a giveaway of prize packs containing full sets of the Seventh Generation baby personal care line.  (Approximate retail value of $50 each)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Highlights of Evidently Blog, Year 6

Parenting & Family:

Pets:

Pregnancy Again:

Notable Media:

Ballard Basement Band: The grand experiment in being Rock Stars

Helpful info, should you need it:

Something you’re never likely to see yourself:

Friday, October 26, 2012

Getting Thy Body Back

Pregnancy is a state of being that requires sacrifice.  During both of my children's gestations, I wondered how women did this in earlier times and under harsher circumstances like wars, westward expansion, The Great Depression and before husbands participated in the daily parenting work.  Undeniably, I am thankful every day for living in the 21st century.

As the vessel for these new creatures and wholly responsible for their incubations, giving up control was a small price to pay for a healthy outcome.  Many women can function at high levels right up to delivery and enjoy pregnancy immensely.  But I was NOT one of those ladies.  It's probably because I'm on the small side so the physical discomfort and the loss of "control" over my body started quite early. Plus with fertility assistance, my body was not my own well before the pregnancy even started.  But once each kid was out and physically "untethered," the invisible cord of breastfeeding took over.  Though in our case, it was more like a tractor beam of pain and suffering until I weaned them at 6 weeks, so again, thank you 21st century options (i.e. formula).

The number one priority for my own sense of normalcy in the post-partum world was to restore my body as my own.  Maybe that sounds a little selfish but I would have these fantasies while pregnant that I was back in Zumba class, bringing my B+ game (since my A game left me when I turned 32ish).  The ability to dance, feel fit and be just...agile--I was really looking forward to it.  It could all be a product of my age and being an older mom.  Friends who are also older moms and I discuss how much easier it must be for a younger mom.  They have bodies that can bounce back faster, energy levels that have not been dampened by the world and less time to grow inflexible--a major roadblock to giving up control easily.

Time ends up being the biggest prerequisite for the things I do to earn my body back.  It's not something in abundance these days but a healthy/happy mom = healthy/happy family so making some time and space for myself is vital.  Like the wisdom of every airplane safety announcement you've ever heard: "secure your own oxygen mask before you help someone else with theirs."  Same is true for happiness and well being.

Some of the things I've found to reclaim my body and sanity are:

  • Yoga for Moms: This program is just for moms who all understand the joys and grind of motherhood.  It's a safe space one night a week to recharge and go inward.  And in the 12 years I've been doing yoga, it is led by one the best teachers (Jen Keeler) I've ever seen. 
  • Stroller Strides: A cardio workout you can do with your kids in tow.  This is an empowering program that brings moms of all fitness levels together.  I participated quite a bit when I just had Sidney and now have made one return session since Calvin was born.  I endeavor to attend more often.  The moms in these classes are my heroes.
  • Zumba: I was a cheerleader in high school so I loves me some dance and precision.  This exercise doesn't feel like exercise at all...it's a literal dance party.  When I am doing Zumba, it takes all my focus so I don't think about anything else.  I simply can't.  This might not be everyone's cup of tea but when I hear "Gangnam Style" come over the speakers, I get so pumped.
  • Occasional massage & spa visit: You don't even need Mother's Day or your birthday as a reason.  

There are groups and opportunities everywhere for moms looking for a chance to create space for their physical selves.  I personally like exercising in groups because I don't get a lot of adult interaction on a daily basis and I need the peer motivation but everyone is different.

What kind of things have you done to "get thy body back"?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Getting used to being a "Mommy of Two"

Ken went back to work 5 weeks after Calvin was born.  That is more than most dads get and incredibly beneficial to the family but I was still feeling unprepared and a little freaked out as the deadline neared.  It's a major balancing act.  Sometimes one of them has to wait or cry while I'm attending some other urgent thing.  I struggle to find ways to optimize the fact that there is only one of me and two of them.  The other day, I had Sidney feed Calvin his bottle (for 60 seconds) as I darted into the kitchen to heat a pan of noodles and steam the vegetables.  Dinner needs to get made somehow and I guess that's how you do it, feed baby and keep a preschooler occupied.  Right?


Sometimes the baby gear thing can get out of hand but I am glad I picked up this swing a few weekends ago.  It's a total lifesaver.  When Calvin is having trouble staying asleep, this is the perfect substitute for me jiggling, patting and rocking him for 30-60 minutes to calm down.  Babies under 2 months don't have the neurological capacity to calm themselves which is why you need to hold, rock, shush, pacify and bounce them constantly.  Add to this scenario a 3-year-old needing her lunch or to be wiped or put down for a nap or played with--I definitely needed this.  Swaddle is also key because it mimics the tight, coziness of being in utero which also settles down babies this young.  That swaddle blanket is called a Miracle Blanket and it lives up to it's name.  Didn't know about this with Sidney but now it's one of my favorite baby products ever.

*******

Last night, Calvin graced us with a 6 hour interval between feedings followed by a 5 hour interval between feedings.  I don't know if I can capture the exact emotion in one word: relief, gratitude, ecstasy...  Getting that much sleep at one time makes me feel so normal and unencumbered.  It's this clawing my way back to normalcy which creates the most hope and grief in these early days.  I realize in my old age that I am a creature who needs some predictability and control in order to function best.  My waning tolerance for the sleep deprivation, disorder, uncertainty and tedium only last with the assurance that these conditions are temporary.  I notice with the presence of an older kid, I just want to get through this early period fast.  Some people love the newborn stage but I am not one of those people.  Mommy loves self-sufficiency.

*******

Shameless Self Promotion: I wrote an article for Seattle's Child about how to prepare your family of three to be a family of four in the now out Fall 2012 special edition of "Seattle's Child: A New Arrival."  Unlike their monthly issues, this seasonal edition focuses just on newborns and related topics.  The article is not available online yet (though I will post a link in the sidebar as soon as it is.)  But you can now pick up a copy at Seattle-area, kid-focused establishments.  Here is the cover:


I am very grateful to all the child development experts and moms who I got to interview for the article called "World of Two."  It gave me insight, reassurance and tools to make this transition a little easier.  I'm also glad to share with other parents too.  While people have been having children for millennia and doing a fine job of it, my daily thought is that it's not easy.  How did people do this with even less support, technology, resources and information?  Perhaps vodka, chocolate, coffee, soap operas and romance novels?  Or unconditional love.  Who knows?

Saturday, September 08, 2012

"Got Milk?"-- the sequel

So far in my short but eventful career as a mother, I have found proficiencies and strengths that I never knew I possessed: tolerance for other people's bodily fluids, patience to depths I'd never fathomed, the ability to cook with more than one pan, multi-tasking taken to an expert level and finding tremendous joy in simple moments.

But there are some things I am just not good at.  Things that I don't even WANT to be good at.  And it's hard when that thing is breastfeeding.  Because here in Seattle in this day and age, the prevailing sentiment is 'why wouldn't you do the best thing for your baby?'  Breastfeeding is nature's intended way and by all means if you are a "good mom" you will embrace it and do it for a year as the books advise.  But my first experience with Sidney was crash and burn all the way.  Though going into this pregnancy, I thought perhaps it might go better.  With a different baby who was closer to term and more robust than Sidney, there was a good chance.  But what didn't change from last time was my anatomy which wasn't able to "transfer" milk very well.

Shields up
The lactation specialists at the hospital gave me nipple shields to help Calvin have something longer to latch onto and but it hampered the simulation of milk production.  I believe it was partially, if not fully, responsible for my milk coming in so late (Day 7 after birth).  That's way too long as anyone who has had a baby knows.  Why nature doesn't have milk in the breasts at birth, I will never know.  Also, if you have a thrashing baby and they displace the shield, then you are back to fussing with a piece of silicon AND wrestling with a hungry, screaming baby.

Formula, our old friend
Because we were determined to try breastfeeding again, Ken and I soldiered on and of course this poor kid was getting nothing, not even the sacred colostrum--the general existence of which I am still highly skeptical.  On Day 5 after Calvin was born, we staggered into the pediatricians' office for his checkup.  Ragged from nights spent not feeding the poor boy by rocking him to sleep after he exhausting himself crying, we found out he had lost over 10% of his birth weight, was severely dehydrated and a little jaundice.  Deja vu.  The doctor said to immediately give him as much formula as he would take to get his weight up and hydrate him.  We were more than happy to oblige and raced home to make him a 2-ounce bottle of formula that he wolfed down.  We have not stopped giving him formula since.  His latch further deteriorated and he made no effort to nurse after that so we gave up but decided to keep pumping.

Battlestar Galactagogue
Our post-partum doula was a big help in trying to stay positive and looking for ways to work with the pump only.  I consulted her about how to increase milk production without the baby nursing.  She thought perhaps a "galactagogue" (an herbal remedy to increase milk supply) might help.  Fenugreek is an example of this.  But I didn't need any of it because I realized that if no nursing was going on and the pump was the only way to get the milk out, there would be a huge problem when I was the lone adult in charge of the house and 2 kids.  In the first weeks, we had always had a visiting family member (Mom, Angela, Joyce or Dad) plus Ken to help but soon it would only be me and there was no way that I could do it all.  So just as a descent milk supply started to established itself, it was time to start thinking of weaning to coincide with Ken going back to work.

I'm a Bad Weaner
I had it in my head that ~6 weeks would be the goal because that was what Sidney ultimately received.  Having heard about this aggressive weaning method somewhere, I just decided in week 3 to go about 5 hours between pumpings to start the ramp down when I had originally established an every 3 hour schedule.   Of course, I became engorged because weaning like that is dumb.  It has to be done gradually and I know that because I've done it before but as a sleep-deprived and desperate individual I could not be trusted to always make sound, reasonable judgments.

Mastitis, anyone?
I advise anyone to avoid engorgement and mastitis at all costs.  I didn't cry or lose it for any other reason during this post-partum period but with this mastitis thing, oh I cried ugly.  I hated my boobs and wished I did not have them.  It hurt so bad but unless you've had the condition you can't possibly fathom how miserable one can become.  Just wearing a loose camisole was torture.  I also spiked a fever of 102.4 and felt achey all over.  After laying in bed for 24 hours going in and out of fever dreams, I called the OB who prescribed me some antibiotics.  This worked for a day and then I had another fever spike.  She then switched me to a different antibiotic and thankfully that one worked.

Antibiotic nightmare
Incidentally, we had also been giving Calvin the breast milk as I started the antibiotics and we had been told it was safe.  But usually women get mastitis and antibiotics when they are weaning an older child, not a newborn who's fragile digestive system is not fully set up.  Almost immediately Calvin came down with a screaming case of diarrhea.  We immediately stopped giving him the breast milk and double-checked with the pediatric clinic who agreed.  But pouring that hard earned breast milk down the sink every few hours was like being punished for the same thing twice.  To make matters worse, on day 8 of the day 10 of the regimen, I developed an allergic reaction to the antibiotics which expressed itself in an angry all-over body rash.  So I was told by the doctor to stop taking the medicine.  That was a few days ago.  Gradually the rash is going away thanks to Benedryl, Calamine lotion and time.


The whole time, I felt like something, karma or mother nature, was giving me the middle finger.  I realized despite trying to do the right thing, the best thing you can give your child is a sane parent who will make sure all their baby's and any other existing child's needs are met.  If all I was thinking about was my painful boobs or a pumping schedule or how much I hate breast feeding, I'm not seeing the big picture or getting the job done.

I do hear from a few moms who admit they supplimented or flipped over to formula after trying and failing/disliking breastfeeding but it's often said a little defensively or as a shameful aside.  Even I do that, but I should know after my first experience that it can go sideways very easily so why again would I beat myself up over it?  I even threw in the towel a bit earlier this time so I didn't suffer as long in trying to force nursing to work--and that's a good thing.  But still there is this self-imposed mental flogging moms do to themselves.  Maybe it can't be helped.  Despite that, I do have a walking, talking example of what a formula fed kid turns out like.  Studies say formula fed kids get sick more often, have higher chances of obesity and aren't as smart as their breastfed contemporaries, but I look at my almost 3-year-old daughter and I don't see that at all.  I would take another one just like her in a heartbeat.  And it looks like that is what I'm set up to receive.

I wrote about this experience not to necessarily malign breastfeeding or garner sympathy for myself but to commiserate with anyone who has a rough experience with breastfeeding or feels bad about cutting over to formula.  I would hope a new mom doesn't feel defeated so much by mother nature but rather empowered by modern chemistry and technology to do the best for herself and her baby.   At least we don't need wet nurses anymore.

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” ― Albert Einstein

Friday, August 31, 2012

In Loving Memory: Oliver Moore 2000-2012

Today we lost our furry family member. He was a sweet cat who terrorized house guests but always played nice with the children. We shall miss his vacant, disdainful stares and his regal presence.











Thursday, August 09, 2012

Welcome Baby Calvin

Over the weekend we added a long awaited family member. Calvin Ernest was born in Swedish Hospital on August 4th at 6:38pm. He weighed 7 pounds 2 ounces, 19 inches long. It was a medical induction since my blood pressure had been spiking, despite medication to keep it under control. We were originally supposed to go in Friday to the hospital but they were slammed with laboring mothers so we were pushed off until Saturday. (I'll recount the birth story in another post.)  

Here's Sidney and I on Saturday morning right before we headed into the hospital.






Sidney has been delighted by her little brother since the moment she met him.




Nana (my mom) has been an amazing help on so many fronts.  She has been a great Sidney ambassador and domestic superhero.  We are eating some great meals because of her and we can trust the household chores are just handled.  Bonus: She's also really good at calming cranky, hungry babies.


Welcome to home, Calvin!


Scenes from Calvin's First Days...




We have had a rough few days at home thanks to our old nemesis: breastfeeding drama. This also plagued us when Sidney was born.  We have come through it for the most part and seem to be on a course.  I'll talk about this more later.





Overall, we couldn't be more pleased and overjoyed by our new little guy.  We love you Calvie!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Careful not to step in that...

UPDATE: Whoa, things just got "real".  A woman-owned communications company just published an infographic asking Marissa to reconsider and take a full maternity leave (3 months).  They believe her example is important enough to set the tone for other women who are trying to balance work and motherhood, not to mention showing companies the value of maternity leave.  While I agree her choice is a unorthodox, I'm not sure if anyone should be making requests of her like this.  

Marissa Mayer made headlines in the last few days by leaving a Google VP post to assume the CEO mantle at their much-ailing rival Yahoo.  Descriptions of her expertise, ambition, success and iron will filled the columns of articles and blogs everywhere.  As did the fact that she is pregnant and will give birth in October.  Many analysts and observers were trying to not step in the "sexist dookie" by making comments about how her leadership might be diminished by the arrival of the baby by only making a mere footnote mention of the pregnancy.  But others didn't give a "dookie" and are outright questioning her ability to "do it all."  Still others are looking at this as a watershed moment for glass-ceiling breakers everywhere as a lesson on how the BIG girls couple motherhood and career.

It brings up thoughts for me about how women define themselves.  Some women can't imagine life without their careers.  Their primary purpose or identity comes from the work they do.  If they were to stop or change for motherhood, it would devastate them.  (I thought before I had children that I was this kind of woman.)  Others find Motherhood upon it's arrival to be an all-encompassing role that should have no distractions.  If the ability to be completely devoted to the children and the home is possible, then they feel it should most certainly be done.  (But this is actually what happened to me.)  And the rest tend do something in-between where they cut their hours down or take a less challenging job or make some other compromises to balance work and family.

In Marissa's case, she's said she will take just a few weeks for maternity and then go back to work.  This is a shock to some because America is not known for supporting leave (vacation, family or otherwise) compared to other countries but maternity leave is a sacred benefit.  A highly visible female executive refusing most of it could seem like a step backward.  However, if you have spent any time with a newborn, the first 3 months (in my opinion) are the most boring.  The child can't really do anything yet and gives little feedback to indicate that it matters if you or a random stranger is taking care of them.  It's at the late 3 month/4 month mark when things start to get awesome and of course most moms go back to work right at that point.  Cool things like: sleeping through the night, smiles, laughs, recognition, tracking, sounds.... it's a shame really.  You work so damn hard those first months to keep the kid alive and "bond" with them but it's not until this point when the connection really materializes.  So maybe she is maternally clairvoyant and knows what she's doing.  Who's to say that she wouldn't take more of a break later when Yahoo is on it's feet and the kid is more interesting.



For those of us who have lived through raising a newborn it's hard not to just write off Marissa's situation with a "good luck with all that."  Clearly she will have help.  Lots of hired help.  She's in another league where all that is concerned so she will not be burdened with the same day-to-day stuff that us commoners are.  But the idea of turning around Yahoo's fortunes whilst at the same time riding the roller coaster of post-natal hormones & new mother guilt--well that doesn't sound like a great time.  Talk about pressure.  It harkens me back to what I was told in high school and college: women could have it all if they just worked hard enough, were organized enough and chose the right spouse/partner.  However, I don't think it really meant "Having it all at the same time."  Realistically, for me, being spread too thin means doing nothing well.  To muddle through and feel crappy about all aspects of my life doesn't seem worth doing.  So putting my career aside to focus on my pre-kindergarten-aged kids & household, well it feels like I get to see and experience things no one else will.  I get to see their "firsts," plant the seeds of everyday life lessons and be with them when security and consistency matters the most.  (Though I have heard when they become teens that it's just as important to be around because they are just as if not more so in need of guidance.)  But I'll be honest, it's a leap of faith.  I have heard how stay-at-home types are treated when they want to merge back onto the workforce freeway.  Not well.

I think I was as surprised as anyone when we decided that my staying home with our children would be the direction I took after 12+ years in corporate hi-tech.  I do occasionally feel lonely and a tad intellectually under-stimulated but I take responsibility for that.  There is a whole host of parent groups & activities we can join or engage with during the day and the advent of Facebook/Linked In/Twitter/Google+ have made it inexcusably easy to stay connected to former colleagues, friends (Read: ADULTS) who can share laughs, breaking news or support at all hours.  With blogs, NPR, RSS readers and my husband, there is no reason I can't stay in the know on technology happenings or any other professional interests that I have.  And in writing a blog & articles for parenting publications, I get to synthesize news, ideas and opinion while keeping my analytical and writing skills sharp.  


So I guess what I really miss is just the reinforcement of what I do being valued and recognized by the greater society (see comment about trying to get back in the workforce above).  I don't get a paycheck, an expense account, praise from clients, brushes with cutting-edge technology or the satisfaction of "closing deals."  My victories are counted in smaller, almost imperceptible ways and witnessed by very few.  And that adjustment has been the hardest for me because it requires a major restructuring of expectations embedded during years of schooling and work life.  Early in my stay-at-home tenure when Sidney was a newborn and I was just starting to venture out in the car, Ken asked me what I had done that day.  I said, "Bought Post-Its."  Months earlier I would have said something like, "Located the agent responsible for the Twilight license and started negotiations to make a mobile game out of it."  Luckily I have graduated from Post-It procurement to more challenging daily activities but when you have to reinvent your reality as I did going from a working professional to a stay-at-home domestic project manager, it can feel like a never-ending rerun of Groundhog's Day.  So I get why even if you had the option to stay home, some moms just can't make a go of it.


Nevertheless, Marissa's situation has sparked a renewed conversation about the meaning of "having it all." But if anyone knows of some cloning technology that could churn out a few more "me's" I'd be willing to try it her way...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

37 Weeks: Loading...Please Wait



The blood pressure drama got a little out of control over the weekend and I got to pay an early visit to the hospital.   I was seen in OB triage where they ran a few tests, did some monitoring and sent me home a few hours later.  Now I'm on blood pressure meds but no other preeclampsia signs which is awesome.  The meds make me a little rummy but overall I do feel better.  

37 weeks was the point at which Sidney was born so we're all poised and ready for something to happen.  The doctors are especially saying that they think this week or next week something will.  I've dilated to 3 cm now so clearly progress is being made.  I'm glad all these Braxton Hicks contractions are doing something because they sure are annoying.

Ken took these pics at the dinner table tonight.  

Monday, July 09, 2012

35 Weeks & Seahorse dreams

Never a dull moment.

So last pregnancy update I mentioned how I'm starting to dilate and efface a little.  I was also told not to lift anything or take long walks or exert myself.  Those would be easy instructions to follow if I did not spend most of my waking hours chasing a toddler and running a household--but I do.  In my infinite wisdom, I folded a basket full of laundry the other day and instead of picking it up and "exerting myself" I decided to scoot it across the floor.  I swept it sideways with my leg instead of pushing it straight forward and wouldn't you know it?  I pulled a groin muscle.  Kind of an important thing to have working properly when pushing a tiny human out of ones body.  Delightful.

When I went in to the OB last Thursday, they simply advised hot-cold-hot treatment with ice packs and heating pads.  I had not progressed any more in the dilation/effacing department but as a matter of routine they took my blood pressure.   It was high and then they took it again several minutes later: high.  When I was pregnant with Sidney, in the 37th week, I had a blood pressure spike at an OB visit which was eyebrow raising but anomalous, then 5 days later I went into labor.  This time as a precaution, they took a blood draw to see if I had any signs of pre-eclampsia.  Luckily it was normal.  But they wanted me to buy a cuff and take my blood pressure twice a day then report back at my visit this Thursday.  Still, I cannot help but wonder if this was a sign of the end.

Since that visit, the Braxton Hicks "practice" contractions have kicked in with a vengeance.  I've even had contractions I've felt in my back which are supposed to be the "real" ones.  But none of these contractions are close enough together to warrant a call or run to the hospital.  They are just annoying.  Early this morning I had sharp pain in my ribs and sternum too.  I don't know what to think of that unless I have a baby alien in chest also.  We're at 35 almost 36 weeks and that's still earlier than one would want but it's become extremely hard to function.  I feel like sleeping during the day yet have lots of energy at night which is totally unfair to Sidney.  She's rolling with it but has had to play on her own a lot in the house or backyard because I can't do much.

I've already had to come to terms with the fact that I won't be going to my reunion.  The doctor said that the very fact that I'm starting to dilate means I don't get to travel.  I accept this but I am not going to be pleased if I have to endure weeks of these practice contractions on top of it.  The heat in Seattle has also kicked in.  Luckily we are holding in the 70's which is merciful compared to the rest of the country.  Still to a pregnant lady who runs hot anyway, slightly cooler temps would be welcome and slightly invigorating.  However, this week we are having a heat pump installed which was originally chosen to get us off of burning oil as a heat source but does have another awesome auxiliary benefit: air conditioning.  

I really don't mean to sound all "complainy" since I know friends who have had much worse pregnancies and have endured so much more than me.  It just gets frustrating when things start to crop up like this while my energy plunges and my activity level become even more limited.  It becomes hard to keep perspective and not take it out on those closest to me, like my husband.  But it doesn't keep me from wishing sometimes that we were seahorses.



Sunday, July 01, 2012

Peevish Social Media

After writing a blog for over six years and being on Facebook for five, you start to consider yourself a connoisseur of user generated/social media--especially being able to distinguish between what is “within the norm” versus “cringe-worthy.”  I have learned from bloggers before me that obscurity is a protection from ridicule until the moment it’s not--in other words, once you are found to be interesting in either a good or bad way, you’re anonymity can be erased by one well-followed tweet or blog entry with a hyperlink.  Bolder bloggers than I have fallen upon their own words and found this to be true.

But as a blogger and social media consumer, I would like to think I have grown with the medium.  At first, I wanted to pour my soul out and unleash heartfelt notions and confessions into the internet ether.  But my husband who was usually tangled up or mentioned in these passages objected to my rush to pull back the curtain.  It annoyed me at first, especially with us both being hi-tech professionals, that he could not embrace the power of this global community.  After all, shared ideas and experiences were the ultimate promise of the Internet.  But Ken was right to be prudent and thoughtful about what one posts.  After all, the Internet is forever and the Internet never forgets.

I feel a responsibility as someone who creates content.  When I was back in school taking things like Media Ethics, Media Law, Comm 101 and News Writing, it’s clear that you establish a bond of trustworthiness with your audience.  As a news writer, you are clearly obliged to write the truth and corroborate your facts--something that CNN and Fox unfortunately didn’t do very well when they tried to be first to air with the Supreme Court Healthcare Ruling last week.  As a blogger, I feel my responsibility exists somewhere between the realms of informing and entertaining.  I take it seriously enough that I don’t want people to feel they’ve wasted their time, but in this case “my facts” may only be corroborated with my opinion.  With status updates, I believe there is a fine line to balance between informing, entertaining and promoting.  One of my Facebook friends and former co-workers is a master at status updates.  He is amazingly witty and whip smart.  I tell him constantly he should compile his statuses in a book.  I am not that epic but I try to bring something to the table.  “Try” being the operative word.

So with Facebook, I have a tempestuous relationship. It is irresistible as a sharing forum and gives me insight to my friends that I would never have otherwise.  More often than not, I hear breaking news from status updates before I see it in any other medium.  Plus as a stay-at-home mom who has limited adult contact during the day, Facebook is a way I feel part of the larger world and can keep up on things/people I care about.  But on the other hand, Facebook gives everyone a narcissistic platform on which to promote and expose their most favorite topic: themselves.   Also, Facebook’s contempt for privacy, creating dossiers on its members to better advertise and creating a culture of exhibitionists, makes Facebook like cheese: I know it’s not the best thing for me with my high cholesterol but I have to have it everyday.  And so I do.

There is a whole website dedicated to nothing but exposing the truly ridiculous things people put on Facebook called Lamebook.  For Christmas, Ken got me their daily calendar so everyday I tear off a new page and feast on yet another example of someone’s blatant lack of judgement.  The biggest area of “lameness” I see over and over again on my calendar is forgetting that your parents are FB friends and then posting something very sexual or revealing upon which they comment.  In my own circle of Facebook friends, past and present, I see patterns of lameness that ebb and flow too (though I would never submit them to this website--I do have standards).  So I’ve carefully identified my Top 5 Biggest Facebook Pet Peeves because this could be informative, this could be entertaining but this is definitely something I want you to know about me and what I don’t like.

1. Setting your status to “<Your Name> is.”  
This used to happen more in the earlier days of Facebook but I see it every now and then.  How clever, edgy and original:  you simply “are” or “is”.  Why would you even waste my time with that?  Don’t have anything else to say?  How about wait until you do.  I’ll still be here.

2. Taking a picture of what you cooked or ordered for dinner.  
Yes, lots of people do this.  If I had to guess, I bet 25-35% of my overall news feed contains pictures of food.  I just can’t help but feel people are saying, “look at what I’m having/made that you’re not.”  I guess if we really boil it down, that sentiment is the true spirit of Facebook.  (But this aversion to food posts could stem a bit from my personal lack of interest in cooking or food preparation.  Just a bit.)

3.  Quoting song lyrics.  
I may have done this once or twice but I learned my lesson. You might be at work with headphones on listening to your favorite 80’s hair band or watching videos on YouTube but don’t expect the rest of us to understand how this song so describes your mood right now by typing out the lyrics.  It reminds me of coming in on a movie when it’s halfway over.  Context?

4. “Chain letter” type status updates.  
Any status update from a friend requiring me to repost as my own, gets an eyeroll and a “hide” click.   I’ve seen them ranging from caring about people who have had cancer, to whether I love my mom/daughter/dad/husband, to obscure, provocative statuses that practically beg people to comment to find out more.  I know, I’m a monster--how could I be so callous?  By posting this stuff, what you are really saying to your friends is “I mean well but I am a proverbial lemming.”  People who start those kinds of things just want to see how far the ripple will go--like a football stadium wave.  I cannot abide.  Sorry.

5. Game accomplishments or calls to join a game.  Full disclosure: at the very beginning of joining Facebook, I played Ninjas vs. Pirates.  I really got into it.  Then a few years later, I would blast my friends with Collapse Chaos scores.  But now I hide any game update and ban them from my news feed.  Yes, I used to work in the games industry and, yes, I worked on an early plan of how to bring Real Games to Facebook but I’ve got limited time to read all the statuses now and I can’t have the feed clogged with game stuff.  I don’t even get to play games anymore if it’s any condolence.

So what are your Facebook Pet Peeves (besides outspoken friends who make lists of things they don’t like about common Facebook behavior)?