Wednesday, November 30, 2011

He's growing up so fast!

When I found we were expecting, I had three goals for Marko: to be weaned, potty-trained, and sleeping through the night again by the time the new baby was born. John thought I was being a little ambitious, and I agreed - but still wanted to try.

Well, here we are, about five months out, and we're making real progress. I'm pretty sure he's weaned. (I did nurse him one time since my post about it, for a few minutes to settle him for a nap, but he hasn't asked since. And I've been able to put him to sleep lately all by myself, just by rocking and singing.) Sleeping through the night is kind of a crapshoot - he wakes up for many, many reasons, and we're clueless what most of them are. But cutting out gluten seems to have helped. Sadly, cutting out naptime seems to help too. This one I'm not keen on, but it seems to have eliminated waking at 4 a.m. demanding breakfast or wanting to party at midnight. I guess we can't have a decent bedtime, a decent wake time, uninterrupted sleep, AND a nap. But ohhhhhh would I ever like that.

And, for the first time in a long time, we've actually made progress on potty training. John talked me into letting Marko have an M&M when he goes, and so now he's way motivated. We still have to remind him to go sit on the potty when it's time to go (about every hour) but he is very willing to try, and he does finally seem to know what to do when he gets there. We've been working on it since the weekend, and he's going in the potty about half the time. I put him in a diaper at bedtime and when we go out. Let me tell you, it's nice to clean pee off the floor only occasionally instead of constantly.

In addition to these HUGE milestones, he's also tackling a million tiny things. He now will put things in the trash when asked, or follow other instructions. He knows the names of dozens of his favorite songs, and often many of the lyrics too. He can identify them whenever we hum a few bars. The same is true for his favorite books - if we pause, he'll finish the line. His vocabulary and sentence length are increasing all the time. He knows the names of his favorite people and can tell you what happened last time he saw them. When Daddy comes home from work, he tries to tell all about his day (which sounds like, "Library! Books! Ride the bus! Bus driver! Play with Gilbert!") He knows what his bedtime routine and getting up routine are supposed to look like, and will freak out if you skip a step.

He will often give you the wrong answer when you ask a question, and then laugh hysterically. He plays pretend by sitting in a box and saying he's the bus driver, or sitting on a box and saying he's riding a bike.

There's so much going on in his head lately, it's staggering. Because of this, 18 to 24 months is supposed to be a peak in tantrums, but I haven't found this to be so. Sure, he's a little particular. He has to have everything in the proper order. He likes to play in the dirt, but he has to come to me every minute or two and have me wipe off his hands. If he walks through a door, he has to shut it behind him. And if Daddy takes off his glasses or puts on his jester hat, there are tears. We could refuse to humor him and let him scream about it. Or we could adapt, knowing this is just a stage- which for the most part is what we do. He's learning the universe has rules, and it comforts him to have them be predictable. I think that's okay.

The one frustrating thing is choices. Turns out, contrary to what I've always heard, it's better not to give him any. If I ask, "Do you want ham?" the answer is "Ham!" But if I ask, "Do you want ham or turkey?" there's silence. So I ask, "Do you want ham?" "No, turkey!" "All right, here's some turkey." "No, haaaaaaam!!" Tears. I try to give him both but he throws them at me and flings himself down crying, whereupon he hurts himself and requires comforting. Not. Worth. It. If he doesn't want the first choice, I offer other things ... but it can't be an either-or.

I never thought I'd say this, but lately I'm more excited than regretful with each new breakthrough. I'm sure it helps to know there will be someone else to be cute and helpless soon. But the main thing is just that he gets more fun and hilarious every day. Like at dinner tonight, he was playing with a piece of a turkey wing. First he said it looked like someone dancing. Then he said it looked like a plane. Then he said he was going to go to the library on a turkey plane. Where does he come up with this stuff?

Anyway, it's been great. I know I've said this about at least five ages before, but THIS is the best age. Definitely.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I think we're weaned!

Marko last nursed on Sunday night.

I was not thinking, "Aw, this could be the last time. I had better savor the moment." I was thinking, as I do every time, "Ow ow ow, please God, let him never do this again." So I haven't been feeling any regret or nostalgia. Instead I'm really enjoying snuggling with no nursing, and often no kicking or hair-pulling either! It's just been a really bumpy road, so that my feelings are of relief rather than regret.

It's been a slow process, which has been going on for a long time. Since he was a year old, I stopped offering very often. I would nurse him when he asked and at naptime. A month or two later, I started giving him cow's milk in a cup, because he seemed unsatisfied with nursing and wasn't nursing enough to get all I felt he should. A month or two after that, I started offering milk in a cup sometimes when he asked to nurse ... and three out of four times, he'd pick the cup.

For awhile we weren't nursing to sleep at night, and once I got pregnant we rarely were at naptime either. So he went down to an average of twice a day, and then an average of once a day -- twice some days, none some days. If he persistently asked to nurse and wouldn't be distracted, I nursed him. Or if he cried and couldn't be easily comforted otherwise, I nursed him.

Night-weaning him was relatively easy because he was sleeping through the night for awhile there. When he started waking again, he had no particular expectations, and didn't mind a spell in the rocking chair or me lying beside him in bed instead of nursing. On some nights I got frustrated and nursed him, but by the time I was about two months pregnant, he was basically night-weaned.

Then, when we stopped stroller-walking to sleep and started nursing to sleep, I decided sleep time was the only nursing time. So that was when the real work of weaning happened -- I no longer nursed him on request. Mostly it was pretty easy because he wasn't nursing much anyway and I was nursing him twice a day without him having to ask. But sometimes he did ask. I would generally not say no. No is an ultimatum, and it's like waving a red flag in front of my toddler. Instead I'd say, "Oh, is this naptime then? We only nurse at naptime. Let me change your diaper and get you ready for nap. Then we'll go in the dark bedroom and nurse in the rocking chair." That apparently sounded like too much of a production for him, because he'd usually change his mind. Sometimes he'd go along with it, only to get distracted by the change of room or the new diaper.

One hard-and-fast rule I had at this time was never to nurse anywhere but in the rocking chair in his room. I had heard that kids are often reminded of nursing by mom sitting in a place where she usually nurses, and I didn't want to give up the couch or the office chair. I would happily snuggle and read with him on the couch, but if he asked to nurse, we had to move into the bedroom. Not only did that discourage him from following through on his request, he started asking less because there was nothing to remind him of nursing.

The big challenge was getting him to sleep without nursing, especially because John's help isn't always available. He is there for bedtimes, but two nights a week he has class, and he's only there for naptime on weekends. I think that one was just a matter of being ready to go to sleep without nursing. Going to sleep with Daddy whenever available was a big help, but for a long time, if I was there, he'd want to nurse. This was made worse by my sitting in the rocking chair -- John would stand up and bounce him, but my back is no longer up to that because of my PGP. So I would sit in the rocking chair while we sang songs and snuggled, but when he wanted to go to sleep, he'd ask to nurse.

I weaned him off the left side when I was about two months pregnant because the pain was so bad on that side. It turned out to be a really good idea -- because I could hold him with his head on that side, and nursing wouldn't even occur to him unless he switched his head over to the right side. All the same, he just wouldn't settle down to sleep without nursing, so I was in the frustrating position of offering nursing to a child I really wanted to wean, just to get him to sleep. Our sleep problems were just a bigger issue than nursing was.

Every once in a blue moon, I'd get him to sleep without nursing. I did on Sunday, for nap. John went into the shower right when Marko decided he wanted to sleep, because he was going to have to leave right after that. Marko melted down in a big way. He just couldn't be consoled. I brought him into the bedroom and just rocked him and rocked him while he sobbed and screamed for Daddy. (Which, of course, broke my heart -- even though I knew most of his upset was because he was tired rather than because he would have actually been comforted by Daddy.) After what seemed like forever, he settled into my shoulder, stopped crying, and fell asleep.

Sunday night, John was gone again and I couldn't repeat the performance, so I nursed him. But on Monday, he again didn't get even a little sleepy until he suddenly had a huge meltdown -- this time two hours past his usual naptime. I took him into the bedroom, and he started crying for Daddy again. I offered to nurse him, and he refused. I offered to sing a song about Daddy, which he accepted. I sang "Bye Baby Bunting" probably a hundred times, never changing a word or a pitch. His eyes just zoned out and then fell shut.

Monday night, John put him to sleep. Tuesday nap, he slept in the car. Tuesday night, John put him to sleep, though I was thinking I might be able to on my own. Wednesday nap, he fell asleep easily, again two hours late, but without asking to nurse. Instead I sang the refrain to "Big Green Tractor" (a song he loves and I hate) about a million times, and he passed out. Wednesday night, I was rocking him to sleep when he asked to nurse, and I passed him over to Daddy, who easily put him to sleep. Thursday nap, he slept in the car. Thursday night, John put him to sleep. Friday nap, John put him to sleep. Friday night, John put him to sleep.

So, it's circumstances as much as anything else that have helped us here. Each time he's either been really sleepy and ready to go down, or else John's been there to help. But we now know it's possible. And John will be here every sleep-time till Monday, so we can solidify the whole no-nursing thing. By that time it will have been a week. And, though I'm sure we'll hit some bumps, I'm to the point where I'd rather see him skip a nap than nurse him again.

So maybe it's not Marko's readiness. Maybe it's mine. I've been continuing nursing him up to now because it was easier to nurse than to consider alternatives. Now, I've decided I'd rather try all the other possibilities rather than nurse. Marko himself doesn't care -- attention is attention, food is food, sleep is sleep, and he doesn't really care the form it comes in. So when he occasionally asks to nurse, I pick him up, read him a book, sing him a song, get him a cup of milk, and he's perfectly content.

I think I will mark this down as a win: weaned (I think), with no crying, no pacifier, no thumbsucking, and no other issues. In the end, it turned out not to be a huge deal. It is so reassuring to me to know that there is such a thing as gentle parent-led weaning. It didn't have to involve cold-turkey and screaming. We just both adjusted, bit by bit, until whether we nursed or not didn't really matter, and then we stopped.

I'm happy about it. We had a good run -- almost 20 months -- despite so many difficulties throughout. I believe I've given him what he needed. I would be quite willing to nurse the next baby longer, if I didn't get pregnant (I'm thinking nursing through pregnancy is just not something I can do ... though you never know if it might be different next time) and they wanted to. But for Marko, I think this was the right amount of time. I'm glad I nursed him this long, and I'm glad I'm not nursing him any more.

Friday, November 25, 2011

I don't care if you say "Happy Holidays"

It's funny that my opinion is even controversial.

I just keep hearing that people are upset because the store clerk wished them "happy holidays" instead of "merry Christmas." And I really don't see the big deal.

You see, if I bumped into an atheist or a Muslim or a Jew on Christmas, I wouldn't want to be rude and say "Merry Christmas." That's like saying, "Enjoy your dinner" to the waitress at a restaurant. She's not eating. You are. And if someone isn't celebrating Christmas, why wish them a happy one?

But most people celebrate some kind of holiday between late November and early January. There's Thanksgiving, St. Nicholas Day, St. Lucy's Day, Christmas, Hannukah, Eid (depending on the year -- not this one), Winter Solstice, Boxing Day, St. Stephen's Day, New Year's Day, and Epiphany. I don't know which particular grab-bag of days you choose to celebrate. But it's a safe bet that you celebrate at least some of them. So, happy holidays.

I say Merry Christmas, very happily, to people I know celebrate it. Sometimes I just say it to strangers because most of them are likely to celebrate Christmas. But if I ran a business, I'd probably just say happy holidays to my customers to make sure I hit on something they actually want me to say to them.

I mean, saying Merry Christmas is about spreading goodwill. It's not a political act. And if it is offensive to some people, if it makes them feel left out, if they just don't want to me say it, it's not exactly going to spread goodwill to them, is it? It's not actually going to make them have a merry Christmas. It's just going to make them have a grumpy Hannukah.

The same goes for Christmas trees, Santa, and "Christmas" carols (you know, the kind that doesn't mention Jesus?). These are secular symbols of a secular holiday, which happens (like the feast celebrating Christ's birth) to be called Christmas. If people want to call it a holiday tree rather than a Christmas tree, why should I object? There's nothing intrinsic to it that makes a tree a Christian symbol. If a Muslim wants to do Santa with her family, why should I care? So long as no one tells me I'm a hypocrite because I claim to be Catholic and yet hang mistletoe, which was adopted ages and ages ago from paganism. There's nothing intrinsically pagan about mistletoe.

I admit that I celebrate both a religious Christmas (nativity scene, midnight Mass, Advent, O Antiphons, Epiphany) and a secular Christmas (gifts, tree, lights, "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire," stockings, candy canes). It doesn't bother me if other people celebrate a secular-only Christmas, or no Christmas at all. If you're not crashing into my house, tearing down my lights and tree, I don't see how it's any skin off my nose. I don't like having to listen to "Grandma Ran Over By a Reindeer," though. So do us all a favor and keep that on your headphones.

I know a lot of people like to say we're really a Christian nation. But what does that even mean? We have no official religion. We CAN'T have an official religion -- it's in our founding documents, and for a good reason. The founding fathers wanted to make a place where people of all religions could come and interact as equals. Yes, many of them were Christian. Many of them were also Freemasons. But we're not a Masonic nation. We are, for better or worse, a pluralistic nation. We generally agree that we were made by a higher power and that it does us good to give thanks to that power (hence Thanksgiving, In God We Trust, and so forth), but not everyone here thinks that, and our tradition is to respect their belief (or lack thereof). Of course I would love for everyone to be Christians. But I don't want them converting just because they're tired of being snubbed for being something else ... if that even worked, which I've never heard of it doing. If we wanted to force this country to be Christian, we would have to rustle up a much more serious persecution than insisting people say "Merry Christmas."

Maybe I'm too young to see it. I wasn't raised the 50's where everyone was Christian, or if they weren't, they kept their mouths shut about it. I was raised in a world that, from my point of view, is actively hostile to my beliefs. Pornography is forbidden by my religion, but it's everywhere. Church-going is mandated, but many people have no choice but to work Sundays. The culture, as a whole, is not at all Christian. And, though most people in this country do believe in God and the Bible, I have never found it safe to assume that a random person I meet shares a single opinion of mine. (Being raised Catholic in Seattle is good training for this, I suppose.)

I never thought of this country as a Christian nation. Medieval England? That was a Christian nation. Renaissance Italy? Ditto. But I always drew a lot more parallels between our time and the time of the ancient Romans. (Any of my Latin students will tell you so.) True, we are not actively persecuted, except perhaps here or there when we run for public office or quote Scripture in a public school. But we're not supported either. We are just trying to do our thing, while surrounded by people who are doing something else. We don't let it get to us more than we can help. We shut our eyes at the Coliseum (so to speak) and we don't burn incense to Jupiter. We live the best lives we can and hope that someone will ask us why we're so happy or what gives us the strength to love our neighbor. Then we can tell them. That's why St. Paul said that we should "always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you a reason for your hope." He didn't say "Build a society so Christian that everyone else will feel isolated and awkward because they're not."

If I can better show Christ to others by saying "happy holidays" by saying "Merry Christmas," then I will do so. And I am well aware that those who say "happy holidays" aren't doing it so that they will "stick it to the Christians" and "prove that Christianity is no longer relevant." They're doing it because they are trying to say something that will make people happy without making anyone feel left out. Is that such a terrible thing?

Happy Feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria/Thanksgiving Leftover Day! (I refuse to wish you a happy Black Friday. There is nothing remotely happy about that quasi-holiday. I do not celebrate it, and honestly can't understand why people do. But, if you are celebrating it today, be safe and remember no sale is worth endangering yourself or others.)

Monday, November 21, 2011

An exercise in futility

This morning I was feeling cranky. My to-do list was long, and every single item on it seemed like an exercise in futility. Such as the following:

1. Wash dark laundry. In three days, everything I washed will somehow be dirty again. Also, I'm almost certain to forget some crucial thing, like my pajama pants or the diaper covers.

2. Wash diapers ... ditto, except it takes longer to wash them and less time to get them all dirty again.

3. Wash dishes. I will not even be done with the dishes before I start making more dishes.

4. Put away clean dishes. Since I have just washed all the most commonly used dishes, I'm going to put them in the cupboard where they will stay for eight hours tops before being taken out and used again. Leaving them in the rack would save me a lot of time.

5. Fold laundry. This is just ridiculous. Why are we required to arrange our clothes into geometrical shapes before we pull them out again, unfold them, and put them on? Sorting I can sort of see the point of ... but folding? I'll be lucky if they stay folded long enough to get into the dresser drawers.

6. Make yogurt. I do like yogurt. But it takes so long to make that nobody's going to want it by the time it's done. Then it will be gone in no time flat. Whereas if I keep it as milk, it will be gone in about the same amount of time. It gets eaten either way.

7. Put on clothes. I happen to like my pajamas. I'm not going anywhere, and the baby doesn't care. And if I put on a sweater before John gets home, he's unlikely to notice that I'm wearing the same sweatpants as I wore to bed.

8. Pick up baby toys in living room. Seeing as he is running around yelling at the top of his lungs while pulling more and more toys out and throwing them around, this is the biggest exercise in futility of them all. Every minute I spend cleaning, the place will get messier. But if I wait for all the toys to be out, eventually it will reach a critical mass of messiness and I will only have to pick up the toys one time. A little tripping between now and then won't kill me.

I am happy to report that I overcame my feelings of futility and did everything on this list. Well, except #7. Couldn't quite work myself up to that one. Other than that, it's a relief to have clean laundry, clean diapers, a clean kitchen (cleaned once by me, and once by John), yogurt in the fridge for an instant snack tomorrow, a kind-of-tidy living room, and clothes in the drawers. At least, in John's drawers. My clothes aren't folded because I simply couldn't see a reason to do it. But at least I now can find my underwear without having to dig through a pile of John's shirts.

The downside is that I am achy and exhausted and my legs are cramping up. I tend to do all my achieving in one day to buy myself several days of comparative slacking off. It used to be great because the more I did, the more momentum I worked up and the more I wanted to do. Now that I'm pregnant and getting by on six non-continuous hours of sleep a night, I wear myself out with this plan. But everything always needs to get done on Mondays!

Surely I'm not the only one who feels this unmotivated about the housework from time to time?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Primal meatballs

I've been in the market lately for good gluten-free snacks. But since I'm not much into replacement foods -- gluten-free breads and gluten-free noodles are expensive and not really the same anyway -- it means I've been coming up with all new recipes.

Tonight I made meatballs, my second attempt at doing them without breadcrumbs, and they turned out great. The carrot stands in for the breadcrumbs, to lighten up the meatballs and stretch the meat out a bit. (Plus I don't believe that tomato sauce counts as a vegetable.) At the amount I've put in, you can't taste it, though you could add more.

Primal meatballs

1/2 onion, grated or very finely diced
1 clove garlic, grated
1 carrot, grated
(all three could just go in a food processor if you weren't too lazy to get it out ... plus it will give you the very fine texture you need so your meatballs aren't lumpy)
1 lb. ground beef

Mash everything together with your hands. Roll the meatballs together firmly, so they don't come apart -- any size is fine. Brown in a skillet, rolling them around to get all the sides. Then drop into your sauce, simmer for awhile, and serve.

Spaghetti sauce goes well, and Marko didn't miss the noodles. Or for Swedish meatballs, simmer meatballs 1/4-1/2 cup of beef broth, and add 1/4 cup sour cream when ready to serve.


Another "recipe" that I love to do is meat roll-ups. Simply spread a piece of deli meat with cream cheese and wrap around a piece of steamed asparagus. Delicious -- and the kiddo can run around the house with it. Win!

The one danger of gluten-free cooking is running out of food. I meant to go to the store yesterday, and the trip had to get put off till today. Marko and I were living off of applesauce and frozen berries! No dipping into the pantry for pasta and tomato sauce; almost all we've been eating is fresh stuff -- which is great, but requires some advance menu planning.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Having a dog is no picnic

I always had pets growing up. Fish, birds, hamsters, and cats. And I loved them all. You feed them, you give them water, you watch them, and if you want to ignore them a little, they will be fine. If you want to go on a long weekend trip, you can fill up an extra food bowl and your cat will be fine. If you are gone all day, your cat will still love you when you come back.

Dogs are not like that. Dogs are demanding.

Our dog is kind of a pain. He always wants to be with you. And with you means on your lap. He is by no means lap-sized, but I can't sit on the floor without him sloooowly edging into my lap. If I put him in his kennel, he whines. If I put him outside, he digs 847 holes and tears my compost pile to shreds. And if I ignore him, something always ends up getting destroyed: Marko's toys, two spatulas, my underwear, diapers (usually dirty, nasty ones).

I suppose I should be thankful. He is now potty trained, so as long as I remember to take him out every six hours or so, he won't go in the house. And he will go to his kennel when told to do so ... and after a little complaining, does go to sleep. He's not a bad dog. He's pretty much an average dog.

But he takes a heck of a lot more attention than a cat! I try to keep anything chewable out of his reach ... but, hello, we have a toddler. With a long reach. Who likes to take toys and kitchen implements and clothes and present them to the dog for chewing.

A million times a day, I end up saying, "No, we do NOT ride the dog! No, we do NOT sit on the dog! No, we do NOT put our hands inside the dog's mouth! Oh, poor baby, he bit you." I can hardly blame the dog for biting when the kid put his hands inside his mouth. He can't exactly help it.

Then Marko dances around with a stick or toothbrush or spatula yelling, "Hit de dog! Hit de dog!" So that has to be stopped.

Then they both insist on sitting in the laundry basket, on top of all the clean clothes, where there is not even close to enough space for them. So they shove each other until the basket falls over.

Then the dog starts rolling around the floor biting himself (one of his favorite and most idiotic activities) and Marko has to be a part of that. So he shoves his head into the dog's belly. Which usually gets him pawed or scratched or bitten, and there are tears over that.

And then I separate them. The dog goes in the kennel (for his own protection!) and Marko stays outside. And oh, the tears! The drama! Want doggieeeeeeee!

Pretty soon, though, he is cheering himself up by taking all his foam puzzle pieces and dropping them into the kennel, where the dog is chewing them to shreds. Delightful.

Every morning, the first thing Marko wants is Gilbert. He sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night and demands Gilbert. If Gilbert is out, Marko wants him to be in. Or we all play outside and the two of them ignore the 97 million sticks in the yard and fight over the same stick.

No, having a dog is not at all like having a cat.

On the other hand, Marko is as thrilled to have a dog as it is possible for a little boy to be. So I guess I can't complain that much. I wanted our little boy to have a dog of his own, and he's got one. But it sure is a lot of trouble.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ooh, good stuff on the internet!

I was doing my usual meandering around the internet this morning when I found a series of really cool blog posts that I totally agree with. They're about the role of women and moms.

You know I'm a stay-at-home mom and I'm pretty vocal about my support for that choice. But it's really about the kids having a parent with them, not about "my role as a woman." So I'm okay with stay-at-home dads and working moms. I don't see that it makes a huge difference. We've had some debate on that topic in the combox recently, which has been fun.

This woman here agrees with me. Start with her post In which I am a working mother and proud of it. And then, if that piques your interest, try this: In which I wonder what it means to be "keeper of the home." And if you're not tired of the topic, read her conclusion here: In which I am a keeper of my home.

The summary is more or less this: God does not give us a commandment that women have to stay home. We do what we do because we feel it is God's will for us for that time, and it can change without changing our essence.

At some point I really should start writing about this issue more myself. When I was younger, I was only ever exposed to the "liberal" point of view, which seemed to consider stay-at-home moms poor, oppressed slaves to the housework, while working women were triumphant and happy in their freedom from having to be with their kids. So naturally I spent my time emphasizing the importance of women who stay home with their kids. But now I keep reading fundamentalist blog after fundamentalist blog (seriously, why do I read this stuff? it's a sickness) and seeing people lay down the law on everyone and insisting that not only do women not need a career, regardless of their season of life, but they don't need an education either, and while we're at it, they should be under the headship of a man from cradle to grave. And that gets my dander up even worse, so that I start sounding like quite the liberal feminist. I see it as a matter of balance, and I have to defend that balance from both extremes.

Speaking of extremes. Check out this list of questions a dad should ask a young man who shows interest in his daughter. The Spanish Inquisition has nothing on this guy.

I did have John call my dad before he escorted me to a dance in freshman year. In retrospect, it was kind of silly to make him do that, seeing as it wasn't even really meant as a date. But my dad's only real question was, "Are you a Knight of Columbus? No? Oh, too bad." He may have asked some other stuff. But the conversation took five minutes, because (as my dad told me later), "If a guy holds up to your standards, there's no chance of him falling short of mine."

Let me tell you, if I were a guy and knew an interview like that was in store for me, I'd probably flee the country. My goodness. Some favorites: "Describe your standards of dress for women." (Isn't that more a question you would ask a woman?) "Have you ever been exposed to pornography? If so, explain the extent and the circumstances." (Awkward.) "What has been your prior experience with dating and romance? Have you ever kissed or been physically intimate in any way with a girl/woman? If so, explain the circumstances." (I'm not sure it's a father-in-law's business if the guy has kissed someone before. I could see the girl herself wanting to ask. But since this blog says that the "first affectionate touch" should be within marriage, well ... I guess it seemed an acceptable thing to ask.)

Well, I guess I've given you plenty to read. Enjoy, and I'd love to hear your opinions when you get back.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A bit about pelvic girdle pain

When I was about five months pregnant with Marko, my back started to hurt. Right at the very lowest joint of my lower back, hovering around my right hip. It hurt when I was on my feet a lot (which I always was), when I drove a lot (which I always did), and when I carried any heavy weights (which I didn't do). It hurt at work and during choir practice. It hurt when I tried to roll over in bed. It got so John had to help me get out of bed in the morning. I couldn't stand on one foot to put my socks on or lie on my back, at all, ever. And the further along I got, the worse it got.

I asked my Ob/Gyn about it. I asked each new doctor (there were eight) at each visit. One said to ask my mom. One said it was sciatica. The nicest one said that I might try wearing different shoes and that she could write me a referral to a physical therapist. The shoes helped a little. I couldn't afford the therapist.

I asked Facebook about it. My aunt gave me a few stretches, which helped a tiny bit. Some suggested belly support girdles, which I never did try. Some suggested hot pads and hot water bottles and hot baths, which were all heaven. And everyone else told me to try to stay off my feet, which I did as best as I could.

I asked the internet about it. It said, "It's not sciatica, that's a misnomer. It's something else. 20% of women suffer from it. Suck it up."

When I was in labor, the most excruciating pain was in my pelvis. It hurt worse than the contractions, and of course got worse with the contractions. Then I had a baby, and no pain! At least, none that I noticed while staying off my feet recovering.

But when I got up again and started doing things, it started hurting again. Not a lot. Just a little twinge here and there. I adjusted the way I was wearing my Moby wrap, and it mostly went away. But if I walked too long or carried the baby too much, there it was again. Just a twinge. Nothing to worry about or even restrict what I was doing. Just enough to notice.

So I went back to Google and found more things out. Google said I had SPD -- symphysis pubis dysfunction. All the symptoms sounded about right. The discouraging part was where it said, "DO NOT by any means give birth in stirrups! That could cause permanent damage!" Great. SO GLAD Dr. Pushy took the time to do a Google search, find out what I had, and take precautions. Not. It always makes me mad when I find out something from five minutes of Googling that the doctors don't know. But then again, it took me awhile to find it, too, so whatever.

So I went along my merry way until one day a few months ago when I was walking home from the park and my back started to hurt. It's only a two-block walk. I thought, "This shouldn't be hurting. I wonder if I'm pregnant?" And I was. Little sprout was two weeks old and I was already beginning to hurt.

I'm 15 weeks pregnant now and it hurts about as bad as it did at 30 weeks last time. This makes me really nervous, thinking about the possibility of it getting worse. Every time I rake the leaves, do more than a little housework at a time, or take a walk, I'm pretty much out of commission for the rest of the day. I yelp when I turn over in bed, and I spend my time trying to figure out ways to avoid picking Marko up. I can lift him into his high chair, or carry him to bed. But I can't really rock him standing up, or bring him places he doesn't want to go, or let him come "UP UP UP" every time he demands it, without hurting a lot afterward.

I asked one of the midwives about it, briefly, at our appointment, and she said, "Well, you're pregnant now. You can't expect to be able to cart around a 25-pound toddler everywhere you go anymore. It's time to practice letting him walk." Which was good advice. Sooner or later he's going to have to learn to hold my hand and not dart into the street. We may as well practice now. Then the midwife showed me a couple of stretches, suggested yoga, and told me that the patients she's had with back pain in the past all found chiropractic work helpful.

So there I am. I decided to do more research on SPD to see if there was anything I could do myself, or anything I could avoid doing, that would help. And there is a lot of advice out there. The only thing that isn't quite right is that SPD affects that symphysis pubis -- the joint at the front of the pelvis, where the pubic bone is. And that isn't where the pain is for me. My symphysis pubis has always felt fine. And as a result, the advice to keep my legs together all the time to avoid those twinges has never helped at all.

Finally I landed on a page about pelvic girdle pain, also known as pelvic girdle instability, which actually IS, I'm almost sure, what I have. See, the pelvis has three joints: the symphysis pubis in the front and the sacroiliac joints in the back, on either side of the spine. My sacroiliac joints are the ones that hurt. SPD is just one kind of pelvic girdle pain, and I have another.

PGP is caused loosening ligaments in the pelvis. Of course this is completely natural, because the pelvis needs to loosen up to let the baby out. But it gets too floppy and unstable, and so the muscles take over to keep it steady. Those muscles get really, really sore from doing the pelvis's job. That's why a muscle right over my sacroiliac joint, on one side or the other, is always hurting. Heat and massage help, like they would for any tight, sore muscle.

I found two support pages for women with PGP: the Pelvic Instability Network Support page, and Pelvic Partnership. They both had some good tips. And they both agreed on one thing: the main thing that will make me feel better is to go to a chiropractor or physical therapist and get an adjustment to restore the symmetry of my pelvis. If it's relaxing symmetrically, the muscles shouldn't be called upon to do too much of the work.

So, that's a goal for whenever we have the time and money to do it. Meanwhile, I skip my walks (hardly healthy of me), lead Marko by the hand, and demand a backrub every night.

Anyone else suffer from this? I really recommend following the links in this post; I learned a lot.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Lessons learned from my first garden

My garden is done ... almost. The cilantro went to seed. I pulled the basil. The tomatoes died. I picked the lettuce. The green beans finally died when they were covered in six inches of snow. The sugar snap peas are miraculously not only still alive, but still producing. I heard they were frost-resistant, but this is really impressive!

Anyway, it's time to look back and see what I learned this year. My goal for my 2011 garden was not to grow a lot of food, but to learn as much as I could. The bumper tomato and green bean crops were bonuses.

Lessons from 2011:

1. Cherokee Purple tomatoes are THE BEST for our climate. They grew like weeds, weren't touched by the blight that crippled the beefsteaks, and were still producing when the snow killed them. They also taste delicious.

2. Tomato cages are completely insufficient. Those tomatoes outgrew the cages in July. By November they were sprawled all over the ground looking sad and getting eaten by slugs. Next year I want to construct some kind of trellis -- basically just two two-by-fours at either end of the row, with a twine fence between them, so that I make an aisle where the plants can grow without toppling over. I think they will have to be at least seven feet high. These are some serious tomato plants.

3. I read that tomatoes will grow a taproot if they are direct-seeded in the ground. Considering our high winds and feast-and-famine rainstorms, I'm going to try it with a few next time.

4. You can plant green beans whenever. It really doesn't matter. I missed the ideal time, planted them two months later, and I still got too many. Next time I'll do it earlier so that when I'm sick of green beans, I can let the rest mature into dry beans. This time I didn't get many dry beans because they all wanted to rot off the vine in the fall rains.

5. Plant fewer green beans. I had eight plants, and they produced way too much.

6. Do better green bean trellises. The light string tied to a fence that I used was pretty pathetic. Because it was at an angle, the beans kept trying to go elsewhere. And then they started breaking and dumping my plants on the ground. And, since they were against the fence, I couldn't get behind the plants to pick the beans. Did you know beans like to produce on the non-sun side? I didn't, but now I do. I should leave room to go behind and pick, because bean leaves are pretty scratchy and irritating.

7. Pick beans every couple of days and process (can or freeze) right away. Otherwise you end up with nasty beans at the back of your fridge all the time.

8. The younger you pick beans, the better they are. I like them best when they're five or six inches long.

9. Peas are really a spring crop. They sprout and grow best when it's cold. Mine didn't survive August very well ... less than half sprouted, and then half of what sprouted died. It was after I'd written them off as a loss that five plants suddenly started growing like weeds -- right as the weather got cold. During the past month, the hardiest two plants have actually been producing pea pods for me! I get maybe two pods a week, so it's not exactly a success, but they are sure delicious.

10. Don't pick sugar snap peas too early. They're not like beans that way. I was picking tiny ones and complaining they were bitter, but today I picked a three-inch-long pod and it was like eating dessert!

11. Ditto on the pea trellises. They didn't grow up them at all, despite all my encouragement. They sprawled out of the bed and onto the lawn. Some grew up the bean vines.

12. I have no idea when the right time to plant lettuce is. I planted several times and most didn't turn out. I think the one that did was planted in early September. I only got five lettuces out of the whole bed, too. But I suspect they will grow better in the spring.

13. Plants planted in the spring may not need water in late summer and fall. But plants planted in the fall definitely do. They're weak and have small roots, and there's way less moisture than in spring. I had to water my lettuce daily, which was annoying because I'm used to watering once a week if at all.

14. Sow lettuce very shallowly. They really only need a sprinkling of dirt over the top of them. Once you've done that, TRY to keep the dog and toddler out.

15. Herbs are hard to sprout in the garden, but they grow great if you transplant them in.

16. A bit of nitrogen mid-season is a good boost if the leaves go yellow on any plant. There are lots of natural sources ... some of which may be in your own diaper pail. :P

17. Don't neglect going out to pick every day or two. It's easier than going to the store, you just have to remember to do it.

18. The backyard is probably the best place for the dog. And the toddler. It is just impossible to keep them both out of the garden beds.

19. A toddler will happily eat any vegetable if you pick it off the plant and hand it to him to munch on outside. But if you put it on a plate indoors? Not likely.

20. Turns out my backyard, which is "partial shade," will not grow anything. My green beans and raspberries back there died a pathetic death. The front yard is it for gardening.

21. Composting is great, but you have to remember to empty the bucket often! Otherwise you will dread doing it as the stuff within gets progressively nastier.

22. The veggies grown in your own garden will spoil you for storebought stuff forever. There is no comparison at all. Especially for tomatoes. I can't make myself spend $2.50 for a little plastic carton of tomatoes that taste like nothing.

22. Gardening doesn't actually take much work at all unless you want it to. The hardest part was digging the beds. Then planting or transplanting the plants takes a little time. For the rest of the season, you just check them for ten minutes a day or so, watering if you need to water and harvesting if you need to harvest. I didn't even have to weed much once the ground got all baked and hard ... nothing would grow there, but under the crust the soil was moist. Mulch would probably do a better job, though.

23. Green tomatoes that you pick at the end of the season will ripen indoors if you leave them long enough. Or make green enchilada sauce ... yum!

24. The parts of the tomato and green bean plants that were smothered by mulch or grass survived the snowstorm. In other words, you can protect plants from an early snow or frost by using mulch or other coverings. With our long growing season, I doubt I'll be too tempted, but you never know.

25. The veggies grown in your own garden will spoil you for storebought stuff forever. There is no comparison at all. Especially for tomatoes. I can't make myself spend $2.50 for a little plastic carton of tomatoes that taste like nothing.

What did you learn about gardening this year?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Are the Pearls responsible?

There's this parenting book out there that gets a lot of love from one side, and a lot of hate from the other. Really, there's no one who's indifferent to it. The book is called To Train Up a Child, by Michael and Debi Pearl. The New York Times has recently brought the book to public attention again in this article. (Unfortunately, you need an account to read past the first page, so I can't comment in depth on that particular article.)

Here's the controversy. The book is extremely popular, especially in Fundamentalist Protestant families. Over 600,000 copies have been sold. But at this time, three children have died from beatings and other abuse which may be related to the book. It was found in the parents' homes, and the parents said they were following what the book said.

Of course the Pearls say their book had nothing to do with the deaths. They say that, in order for a child to die, the parents must have not followed the instructions in the book. And they claim that the parents must have lost their temper, and that sort of thing is exactly what the book warns against and tries to prevent.

However, I've read the book. My mom got it from someone years ago, and was reading it. At first she was impressed: it taught calmness and consistency -- and what parent couldn't use more of those? But then she started making a face as she read it. "It says to spank babies who wiggle on the changing table with a switch!" So I went and read the whole book.

The philosophy is pretty simple. It's based on conditioning. You condition your child from a very early age (though there's no particular age limit for starting) to obey you instantly. When they don't obey instantly, they get spanked. It should never be the hand, but always a "rod" of some sort. The Pearls recommend willow wands, wooden spoons, or flexible plumbing line. There is no specific limit on the amount of time spent spanking the child or the number of licks, but instead it is to continue until the child "submits." You can tell a child has submitted because they are no longer screaming, struggling, or trying to shield themselves from the blows, but are lying quietly and maybe softly crying.

Children raised in this system from birth do learn how to make the spankings stop. Though it's contrary to their instincts, they learn to stifle their cries and hold still so they don't involuntarily resist. And they hop to obey their parents' slightest command, because they don't want to be hit.

But there are "stubborn" children who just don't seem to figure this out. The same goes for adopted children (all three of the children who died were adopted) who are subjected to this system at an older age. They simply CAN'T stop crying or struggling. So the beatings continue. That is exactly what Pearl recommends.

I simply can't see where in the book there is any warning against the sort of things that have been killing children. The Pearls assume that every child will submit eventually. Lydia Schatz didn't. Perhaps she didn't know how. They say right out that no child will starve himself to death rather than obey, so it's fine to withhold food from a child until he "submits." Hana Williams apparently hadn't read that part. I see no evidence that the parents were angry. They Linksimply continued on with a discipline system that wasn't working, and assumed they just needed to punish harder to achieve the goal (explicit in the Pearl book) of "breaking their child's will."

The Pearls presumably were not aware that numerous small bruises release dangerous toxins into the blood and can overload the kidneys, causing death. It is possible to kill a child without hitting hard enough to break a bone or injure an organ. But since they must be aware of this now, there's really no excuse for continuing to sell this book without some kind of warning.

In other words, yes, I believe they are morally responsible for teaching people to strike their children and not telling them that they have to stop. I've heard horrible stories of people raised under this system ... stories of being locked in dark closets for hours, deprived of food for days, all because they were believed to be "obstinate." Sometimes, they just didn't know how to correct their actions. But instead of teaching them how to do better, the parents believed, based on this book, that every misbehavior is a power struggle between them and their children -- and that they must win at all costs.

I don't for a second believe that these three cases are the only cases of child abuse by people following this book. In fact, I can't quite see how following this book could be anything but child abuse. Children are deliberately placed in situations where they will disobey (tempting a toddler with a forbidden object, for instance) and then punished when they do. They are required to maintain a cheerful disposition at all times -- yes, crying could be cause for a spanking! The goal is total, instant, unquestioning obedience. No acknowledgement is made of the child's intrinsic right to free will, or the reality that he will grow up and leave home, at which point he needs to know something other than just obedience.

But the worst of it is that this book, like others of its kind, pressures parents with the fear that if they don't follow these instructions, their children will end up rebellious teenagers who are impossible to restrict or control in any way. That's just scare tactics. Obviously there is a possible medium between beating your children several times a day and letting them walk all over you. You can teach, instruct, convince, and when necessary enact reasonable, harmless consequences.

But please, please, whatever you do, don't buy that awful book. You will not ever hear Dr. Sears, or Elizabeth Pantley, or Ray Guarendi, saying, "Well, it's true that many of our readers have killed their children, but we don't think it's related to their books." You can't accidentally kill your child by rocking them to sleep or explaining why we don't hit or making them write sentences. Why not stick with what is obviously safe?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Oh no, it worked

About two months ago, Marko started having ... issues. The main one was diarrhea. I figured it was all the grapes he was eating, but when we finished the box of grapes and didn't buy more, the diarrhea stuck around.

Then the diarrhea caused a horrible bleeding diaper rash -- despite the fact that Marko wears a diaper less than half the time. Then the rash caused night waking, as he would wake up screaming for his diaper to be changed because it was hurting him. Then I also noticed a few odd welts on him, kind of like blisters -- one on his shoulder, one on his finger, one on his tummy. It was puzzling, and, to me, worrisome. I am not the type to shake off unexplained symptoms... I always want to be sure it's not a sign of anything horrible.

I thought, "Perhaps it's just because he's weaning." But at the time the problems started, his nursing had steadied out into twice per day. When he was down to once per day, he didn't have this problem.

Then I thought, "Perhaps it's all the cow's milk he's drinking. Maybe he's not really ready for it yet." So we switched to coconut milk (which he didn't like) and then almond milk. It didn't make a difference.

But I thought, "Maybe it's an actual food sensitivity." You might remember that we had that issue while he was still exclusively nursing. At least, I think we did. I went on a strict elimination diet, and every time I cheated, he had issues (screaming, diaper rash, refusing to eat). And while I was still on that diet -- down to just eliminating chicken and tomatoes -- we also went grain-free... more or less. Family meals were grain-free, but since it was for John's benefit and not mine, I did eat bread at lunchtime and the occasional cookie. Eventually I reintroduced chicken and tomatoes, and had no problem. Once he was eating solid food, I carefully tested him on those foods -- no reaction. I figured his gut had just matured and he no longer had any food sensitivities. I kept him grain-free till a year, though I've heard two years is better. I just couldn't think of what to feed him and caved to giving him crackers all the time.

But, of course, I hadn't introduced any new foods lately. He was eating what he always eats. So it wasn't a case of simply going back and cutting out things I'd lately introduced. Our diet has little variation, and there was definitely nothing new. My only recourse was to guess and check different sensitivities ... which would take awhile. Since it's him and not me, I can't cut him back to nothing but rice for a couple of days like I did with me. He demands variety, and it's hard enough to deny him even one thing he likes (which lately means a second or third banana). I had to cut out one thing a week.

First I tried to eliminate all dairy, not just his bedtime milk. But in our house, this is very hard to accomplish. I kept accidentally giving him things with butter in them, or sprinkling cheese on his noodles. I probably eat dairy 3-4 times a day -- it was hard to catch it all. But finally I did get a solid week of pretty nearly no dairy. It didn't make the slightest difference. (I did heal the diaper rash, mostly, by going almost entirely diaper-free [NOT recommended for a kid with diarrhea, but what can you do?] and slathering him with Desitin every night. But it would reappear at the slightest provocation.)

So I thought, maybe it's gluten. And then I accidentally gave him a ton of biscuits. I am so unaware of what we eat these days! And that's after all those months of elimination diets for the whole family, too. After several falls from the wagon, I finally managed to get 24 hours of giving him absolutely no gluten. (Since I am not into buying a ton of alternative flours or breads, the only grains he had were rice and a little corn.)

To my mixed relief and disappointment, the diarrhea instantly resolved. Relief, because I'm glad to know what the problem is and have fixed it. Disappointment, because I was really hoping it wouldn't be gluten. Gluten is really hard to eliminate. Couldn't it have been, I don't know, squash? I would like to believe that it just coincidentally resolved on its own, but it's been going on for more than a month. I don't think that would happen -- though I may do a gluten challenge down the road to be sure.

It's been four days, and the problems haven't returned. His diaper rash is just a pink scarified area (poor kid!) and the welts seem to be healing up, too.

He's still not sleeping worth a darn. A month and a half of trouble sleeping doesn't resolve overnight, and he has a cold, too. But his cold is getting better, and last night he only woke up twice, and for short times (though I was so exhausted I fell asleep on his bedroom floor before I found out they were going to be short times). And we have been getting him to bed before eight every night. So I guess we're making progress. I'm going to just assume his sleep problems are not gluten-related.

I've been eating less gluten, too, though still a little. Yesterday I had a PBJ ... and very quickly got a stomachache and headache. Huh. Today I had no gluten at all, and my usual gassy belly (which I thought was unavoidable in pregnancy) hasn't appeared ... despite eating plenty of chili for dinner. I do NOT want to go gluten-free. I love bread and pasta way too much. But perhaps it's just what we all need right now.

Maybe Marko will grow out of this. Many kids do grow out of their sensitivities. I sure hope so, because I hear gluten-free baking is no picnic, and I know gluten-free products are expensive. I don't want to have to plan around this forever!

And a part of me is tempted to cheat. Hey, so gluten gives him diarrhea. A little gluten should be fine, though, right? Because a little diarrhea never hurt anyone. But I'm trying to take the diarrhea (and other issues) as a sign that something is wrong. It's cluing me into something going on in his digestive system, something not good. If gluten causes a negative reaction that I can see, there may be more things I can't see, and the safe course is just not to give him any.

But so far, it's been okay. It's been pulling me out of my meal-planning rut and helping me try new things. This week we had minestrone (with rice instead of macaroni, sigh) and white bean chili. Tomorrow I'm going to make lasagna, with regular noodles for us and mushrooms for Marko. (I don't think he'll notice the difference -- he loves mushrooms.) I'm going to have to keep thinking, though, because I'm already tired of chicken-and-rice and fish-and-rice combos. I think I'd better break out the potatoes on Friday, for the sake of a change. Perhaps some oven fries?

Anyone else go gluten-free with their families? Did the kids ever grow out of it?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Evolution of an independent eater

Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids in the Kitchen

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how kids get involved in cooking and feeding. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

I had a lot of trouble nursing Marko (to be honest, I am still having trouble with it, even though he's almost weaned), so I guess it is only fair that I have never had any trouble getting him to eat solid food.

I had been planning on making all his baby food myself, until I found out about baby-led weaning. Let the baby feed himself the same stuff you're eating? I was sold. And I never had to suggest it to Marko .... he was trying to help himself out of my bowl for quite awhile before I gave in and let him eat little bits of carrot out of my stew.

I confess -- he was a little shy of six months when we started. And he hadn't developed the pincer grasp. But he was so eager to eat. I think he was still hungry from all our nursing difficulties. I let him at it, just a meal a day, and he took to it enthusiastically.

Since we'd had trouble already with food sensitivities, I was very, very careful about what I let him have. We'd try a new food every week or so. Some were huge hits: avocado, pumpkin, refried beans. (That last one was equal parts food and finger paint.) Others seemed to disagree with him: peas, sweet potato, cheese. I let him have a tiny bit of cheese at seven months, and he got a bleeding diaper rash. I felt so guilty. But by ten months, he was eating dairy of all kinds with no problem.

Meat was a HUGE hit. He would happily eat little crumbles of ground beef off his high chair tray as long as I kept handing them out. It's funny that doctors always tell you to give beef later, because it went down better than anything else he'd eaten. (Not to be too disgusting, but it was the only food that didn't show up later, unchanged, in his diaper.)

He wasn't much more than six months when he suddenly started using his pincer grasp to grab tiny pieces of food off his tray. The smaller it was, the happier he was to pick it up. Since I delayed grains till a year (having heard they are not very easy for babies to digest), we skipped the cheerios and gave him diced cooked carrots, shredded pickled carrots, diced avocado, and little bits of ground beef or beans.

Suddenly, around a year old, food was where it was at. He would refuse to nurse and reach eagerly for his high chair. I have to admit, it made me feel rejected. But he still did nurse several times a day, so I lived with it. The hard part was planning food for him to eat everywhere we went. Gone were the days of being able to leave the house with nothing but a couple of spare diapers! Now I needed a box of crackers or a banana in the diaper bag, too.

The only issue at this point was his longing for soupy foods -- yogurt, applesauce, soup -- and inability to use a spoon. I tried to show him how it worked, but he just couldn't manage it. The food would land in his hair or his lap every time. So I reluctantly fed him these with a spoon. My goodness, what a lot of trouble! The boy was absolutely willing to cooperate, but it was still tiresome to have to keep ladling the food into his mouth while I went hungry. I much preferred eating my food while he ate his.

A couple of months ago, it finally clicked. He grabbed a spoon, dunked it in the applesauce, and started shoveling it in. What a relief! He happily feeds himself pretty much anything now. Of course, whenever he uses a spoon, there are plenty of spills, to say nothing of what he dumps off the side of the high chair to share with the dog.

One problem that's surfaced lately is his reluctance to get in the high chair. No matter how hungry he is, sometimes he just won't get in there. So most of the food I've been giving him lately is fine to eat on the go. Right now he's roaming the living room with a peanut butter sandwich. I don't mind. It's much more important to me that he has good food to eat than that he spend his time buckled into a high chair. Sometimes we practice sitting in a big people chair at the table, but he's a little short for it yet.

He's also a lot pickier than he used to be. I used to be able to plop any food I wanted on his tray and watch it disappear. Now that he can express what he wants, he has a lot of demands. Sometimes it involves some negotiation: "Banana!" "Nope, out of bananas. Do you want a sandwich?" "Yogurt!" "Yes, yogurt is something you can have!" I don't worry too much about the balance of his diet, because I don't feed him unhealthy food at all (as a general rule) and because he always eats what we have for dinner.

In fact, as long as we grown-ups are eating something, he will try it and like it: kimchi, salad, fish, spinach -- anything. But lately, morning sickness has gotten me making things for myself that sound good and yet turn my stomach when I try them. So I put them in the fridge, and when Marko's hungry, I pull them out. He hasn't seen me eat them, so he can't know I find them disgusting, but he absolutely refuses to try a single bite. I think it's his instinct to watch me and to eat what I eat -- so unless I eat something and show that I enjoy it, he doesn't trust it. Conversely, I have to be careful not to eat candy or junk food in front of him, or he will beg for it, even though he doesn't know what it is.

Can I promise everyone will have an independent, adventurous eater if they practice baby-led weaning and show a good example of eating and enjoying various foods? Of course not. But at the same time, I don't think it could hurt, either. Certainly it's worked well for Marko, and I intend to try the same things with the new baby.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon November 8 with all the carnival links.)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Midwife success!

I found a midwife some time ago that I wanted to see. Actually, it's a practice with two midwives. Both are rather new on the job -- certified two years each -- but the amount of training they have each had before becoming certified is kind of staggering.

But there were issues. First was coming up with the money. While John was working at his old job, there was no way we could afford it. When he got the new job, we decided that we would surely be able to save up that amount by May, so I contacted the midwife again. But she wanted a deposit at the first visit -- more than we had lying around.

But when I told her I couldn't schedule a visit till we had the money, she wrote back saying not to worry about it, just to come on in and pay the money when I had it. Very nice of her! And in the end, we did have the money in time anyway.

So last Thursday, I finally had the long-awaited appointment. The office was a bit of a surprise. I guess I was expecting, you know, an office. In an office building. Or more likely a business park. Though I did wonder where there were any business parks in Linden, Virginia.

Well, the "business park" was more like a gravel road disappearing into the woods. Gorgeous woods, of course. It's November in Virginia. And the office itself was a very old-looking building in the middle of nowhere. But as soon as we walked inside, I could kind of get the feel of it. It had an atrium full of herbs (which made the whole place smell like incense) and overall felt ... like a hippie midwife office in the woods. Exactly what I should have expected.

Once we got upstairs and sat down with the midwives, though, it was as professional as anyone could hope. Plenty of toys for the kiddo. Plenty of books on birth and babies and even one on elimination communication. (I think I'll have to ask to borrow that one!) Jars of herbs and trays of equipment. The appointment took two hours, between the paperwork and the actual appointment stuff. Since I'm 14 weeks already, it was nice to get all the appropriate things tested and the heartbeat listened to (sounded great!) and my questions answered. Unfortunately they do not have a secret herb in their back closet that will cure my terrible back pain. But they did suggest a chiropractor, and pointed out that I am pregnant now and can't expect to haul my 25+ pound child with me on my hip all the time anymore. Which I guess isn't rocket science, but it sure is more attention than the OB/Gyns ever gave that problem last pregnancy.

Their views seemed to jive with me about everything. They wanted to hear Marko's birth story, and we discussed episiotomies (they've never done any) and the managed third stage of labor (another thing they don't do) and delayed cord cutting (which they are all about). I have no doubts whatever that they will do what I want.

Best of all, they gave me tons of information about my options. There were packets about glucose testing, ultrasounds, and vitamin K shots, informing me of all the risks and benefits of each test and what my risk factors might be. "You mean I have a ... choice?" Everything is optional here ... because, obviously, I am the patient and have the right to refuse anything I want. That's the law, but you don't see many doctors saying, "We encourage this test, here is a ton of information about the risks and benefits." Instead they say, "It's time for your glucose tolerance test. Sign up at the front desk on your way out." You're never told that you can refuse.

All in all, I could not have asked for a better first appointment. I really think I'm going to like these ladies.

The next hurdle: finding a back-up OB or GP who can do my bloodwork, Rhogam shot, and any additional drugs or testing I might need. CPMs (certified professional midwives) can't prescribe anything, so I need to visit a doctor for all of that stuff. It's a shame, because I really believe these ladies have sufficient training to administer a simple shot -- but the state disagrees. There are tons of restrictions on midwives. However, I think Virginia does a decent job of regulating midwives so that they are available for people who want them. Certainly we trump many states that don't allow CPMs at all!

(In other news, Marko is now regularly going to bed at eight and then not sleeping very well thereafter. Sigh. I can't believe that a month ago he was going to bed at ten and sleeping through till eight, and I thought that this was a problem. But perhaps when he recovers from his current cold, things will be a little better. All I know is, I spent four hours last night lying on the cold floor of his bedroom, trying to help him go to sleep, and I'm not a fan. At least he is going to bed at a reasonable hour, though, right?)
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