Friday, April 29, 2011

short and sweet

I am currently nursing the sweetest, sickest little spider monkey.

She's almost got two new teeth in, canines this time. First ones were the bottom incisors, now fangs. I tell her that we should have named her Bella.

Teething wasn't so bad the first time around, but these new ones must hurt her more. She's also got her second-ever cold; I brought her in on Wednesday because I was worried it was RSV, but no dice. We've been dealing with fevers, fountains of drool, spit-up/vomiting, viral rashes, stuffy/runny nose, hacking thick two teeth coming in, so associated pain and symptoms with those.


There, I feel better. I wish there was more we could do for Lydia. Poor thing. She smiles through the sneezes, though, and has enjoyed getting out for walks in the sunshine with the weather being nicer this last week. Charlie and I are hanging by threads, but she's mostly happy (when she's not crabby and tired). Last night I got a cumulative two hours of sleep, the night before was four. No naps during the day, I have stuff to do!

And oh my lord, she wiggles. wigglewigglewiggle. She doesn't have an off switch. Breastfeeding has become WWE at our house, with kicking, flailing, perfectly-landed right hooks...she is always moving. Her energy never ceases to amaze me, one of the reasons summer can't get here fast enough. I laid claim to our community garden plot last night, a 5'x30' strip of soil out by the pool, along with many others. Pretty sure I'm wicked excited to load up the wagon with Lydia and garden stuff for an afternoon of tending veggies and flowers.

Oh, I'm sleepy and I need to stop writing. Tonight she went down without a hitch, and Ima gonna go change our sheets and crawl into bed myself. I hate seeing my baby so sick :( but this too shall pass. Any ideas to make this tough time any easier for all of us?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

the ins and outs of organic

Buying organic can be tough these days, I'll admit. There are days where I look at my grocery receipt and try to come up with ways I would have rather spent the $15-20 I'd have had I not bought organic. On average I'd say we spend $30 more on organic than conventionally raised produce per month, but we also know what products are most important to buy organic and ones we can let slide.

There are many reasons to buy organic foods. The USDA Organic label tells you that fruits and veggies weren't raised using manmade chemical pesticides, fossil fuel- or sewage-based fertilizers or genetically modified seeds. On meat, the label indicates that the feeds provided met those same standards, and that the animals weren't administered hormones and antibiotics. Bottom line: "Organic" is more sustainable and healthier -- for the environment and farm workers, certainly, and often for you and your family. How is organic healthier? It's healthier because some studies suggest that organic produce has more nutrients than its conventional counterparts, probably because the soil is left in better condition after repeated plantings, and healthier because you avoid ingesting any harmful pesticide residues left on conventional produce.

I'm sure you've heard of the "dirty dozen" and the "clean fifteen." Both adjectives, clean and dirty, refer to the amount of pesticide residues on the fruits and vegetables we buy. Not all of us can afford to buy organic 100% of the time, but we can focus on avoiding foods with the heaviest amounts of pesticides, additives, and hormones. People tend to think of organics as mostly associated with produce, when in reality we can choose organic name it, it's been made or produced organically--meats, eggs, seafood, processed foods such as frozen meals and tator tots. 

Here's a list of foods you really should try to buy organic if possible (
there's more than a dozen on the dirty list, apparently it got revised!):
1. Meat. Organic meats should be purchased because of many reasons. Pesticides show up in beef and pork fat. Animals are fed cheaply processed foods laced with additives, antibiotics, and hormones for faster growth. To meet USDA organic standards, the animal must have been fed organic feed, and have not received any hormones or antibiotics.

2. Milk. Pesticides are showing up in milk too. Organic dairies can't let their cows eat non-organic grains, nor can they treat cows with rGBH or rbST.

3. Coffee. Many countries don't regulate the amount/type of chemicals they use to ensure a successful crop in a steadily inflating market.

4. Celery. It doesn't have a skin or peel to protect it from the chemicals used to keep it beautiful for stores.

5. Peaches. They're treated with pesticides and insecticides multiple times before harvest.

6. Strawberries. If purchased out of season, they may come from a country with less regulation than the United States.

7. Apples. They're typically grown with the help of toxins to prevent fungus and disease in the trees. The chemicals are hard to wash off of an apple's skin.

8. Blueberries, the dirtiest berry on the market. 59 pesticides have been documented on them.

9. Nectarines. 33 different chemicals have been found on their skins.

10. Bell peppers. They're usually sprayed multiple times with insecticides to protect their thin skins.

11. Spinach. It can be laced with over 30 different chemicals by the time it reaches the store.

12. Kale. Like spinach, it can have over 30 different chemicals on it.

13. Cherries. Apparently the US-grown cherries may have over 3x the amount of "cides" on their skins than imported. Check the label to see where they were grown, and wash them well!

14. Potatoes. They can be treated by up to 37 different pesticides before reaching the market.

15. Grapes (this includes wine, dammit!). Imported grapes are at the highest risk of being treated by pesticides at varied stages of growth. The residues sink into the grapes' thin skins and can't be washed out in any way. Wine should also be purchased organically, or, at the very least, domestically. Support the USA in your evening glass of red!

16. Leafy greens (salad greens, bagged or not). They can be contaminated by some of the more potent pesticides used on foods because of their vulnerabilities to so many pests.

Now for the good news. There are foods you can buy without having to worry too much about what's on their skins or in the product itself:
1. Onions aren't very threatened by pests.

2. Avocados have thick skins that protect the fruit inside from pesticides.

3. Sweet corn. Buy organic if you're worried about the types of fertilizers used to grow it, but don't worry about insecticides or pesticides on the kernels.

4. Pineapples also have thick, inedible skins that protect the fruit.

5. Mangoes are protected by a thick skin, but you'll still want to wash them first.

6. Asparagus, like onions, isn't too high on the insect delicacy list. Eat away!

7. Sweet peas are the vegetable least likely to have "cide" residue on them. Sweet!

8. Kiwi peels provide protection; wash them first, though!

9. Cabbage doesn't require lots of spraying to grow, so there isn't too much residue on the leaves.

10. Eggplants are among the least likely to be contaminated.

11. Papaya, like mangoes, have thick skins; wash first.

12. Watermelon. Thick rind. Enough said.

13. Broccoli doesn't have too many pest threats, so it's sprayed less.

14. Sweet potatoes. Yay!

So there you have it. The ins and outs of organic. The USDA website has a ton of info about organics; get on Google and check out other websites too!

Monday, April 25, 2011

new discoveries

Okay, so this isn't so much a green post (that's coming tomorrow morning) but rather a little picture post. I just figured out, in the last three minutes, how to connect my phone to my Macbook via Bluetooth in order to send over all my phone photos. I take more pictures with my cell than my regular POS, oh sorry PAS-point and shoot, because my cell's always at the ready and sometimes it takes better pictures. I downloaded all of them (over 200) in less than 30 seconds, testament to the technological advances in communications I never knew possible until tonight. I had turned on my Bluetooth to print some pictures over at the drugstore's photo kiosk, and my computer automatically connected to it when it read that my Bluetooth was still powered on. So cool.

All of the pictures were beautiful to me and fun to scroll through, but a few caught my eye. I don't do just photo blogs much...some blogs just do photo essays and family catch-ups and aren't so writing-oriented, and I love looking through their incredible pictures...but these little gems made me want to do a photo post :) so without further baby.
Grandma Nature and Lydia in deep conversation at Easter
5 months, helping in the kitchen

5 months, out like a light

:) bathtime

learning to crawl with Daddy

mmm blanket spaghetti

dancing with Daddy

bouncing in the sunshine

hoppy Easter, little bunny!

helping Mommy get dressed for Easter
Lydie and her buddy Collin

opening her Easter basket

going on a little walk before church

Gramma Gaylene's carrots and parsnips were the best!
cheesing for the camera

just born.  2nd night together

blahhhh. 2 months

:) 2 months

first ever smile...she did it for Grandma Paula!

sweet little grins :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

today is Earth Day!

In honor of Earth Day, I'll be doing a few Think Green posts, ranging from recycling-reusing-upcycling-reducing to green cleaning and green baby products.

I try to stick to being more than green here at our home. We eat lots of as local and organic food as we can get, and I yell at Charlie every time he spins out his tires :P The cool thing about starting to become more environmentally friendly is that there are tons of easy ways to incorporate green living into your everyday routine. Taking baby steps into green living is key to's easy to get overwhelmed with all the options regarding products, food, construction, home appliances/decor, clothing and more. I'll see if I can't break down at least a few of these options over the next few posts. We certainly could be doing more to be greener around here, but I'll highlight some options that really work for us and are easy to manage if you're thinking about being more environmentally conscious.

Way back in the day, when I was maybe a sophomore at SMSU (glory days!), I had a habit of making tea in my Nalgene water bottles. I'd sip on hot tea all through my classes, stopping at either Java City or the little convenience site in the middle of campus to add hot water to whatever tea I was drinking. One day my friend Kayleigh caught me as I was heading off with a full bottle of tea goodness, and she called me out on it, saying that the hot water would leach toxins from the #7 plastic into my tea. I was incredulous and interested, and went straight to the library to do some research.

She wasn't far off the mark, and from then on I went with a glass-lined travel mug or stainless steel. Actually, there are many, many ways that plastics give our bodies a hard time these days, depending on the plastic number and how you choose to use them. In light of what I have found in reading about plastics I've done a good job at getting rid of them in our house. Some things you really can't avoid, but the daily use plastics (tupperwares, Glad containers, most of Lydia's plastic toys, plastic bags) have gone away.

Across the board, plastics are energy-intensive to manufacture. Making them uses non-renewable resources such as petroleum, and CO2 (carbon dioxide) is emitted during processing. Interestingly enough, they are also difficult to recycle, even though plastics make up a major portion of total items recycled in the United States. Usually they're down-cycled into a less useful type. And if they're not recycled at all, they're sent to the landfills, oceans or incinerators where they can leach chemicals as well.

If you look closely at either the plastic product itself, or its packaging, it will have a number that tells you the type of plastic it is. Each type of plastic is made of mostly the same ingredients, namely petroleum and surfactants, but the ways in which plastics are processed differ depending on their designated use. The surfactants and chemicals used to produce plastics are toxic to human and animal health, but they vary in degree of severity according to the different numbers. I found a really useful break-down of the types of plastics and their associated concerns in a Natural Home magazine not too long ago:

#1: PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) Also known as polyester. Typical uses include water/pop bottles, salad containers. They're intended for one-time use. The plastic can break down and host bacteria, and they have the potential to interfere with reproductive hormones.

#2: HDPE (high-density polyethylene) Think milk and laundry soap jugs, shampoo bottles, and cereal box liners. These have a low risk of leaching.

#3: (
danger danger danger!) PVC (polyvinyl chloride) These guys are bad news, and unfortunately the most used. Plastic wrap, cooking oil bottles, toys, plumbing, insulation, window/door frames. Known as the toxic plastic; can cause endocrine disruption, reduced sperm count, testicular atrophy and liver cancer.

#4: LDPE: (low-density polyethylene) Not known to leach chemicals. Think plastic wrap (you'll have to look on the box to see which type, 3 or 4, it is), plastic bags, sandwich baggies.

#5: PP: (Polypropylene) Yogurt/butter tubs, microwavable meal trays, carpet fiber, vehicle upholstery. Hazardous during manufacture but not known to release chemicals.

#6: PS (polystyrene) Typical uses include styrofoam cups, clamshell containers, foam meat trays, plastic cutlery. Eye, nose and throat irritants, stored in body fat, can cause cancer in production workers, harmful to marine life.

#7: PC (polycarbonate), PLA (polylactide) or other plastics not mentioned above. Baby bottles, some reusable water bottles (yes, Nalgenes!) and stain-resistant food containers (Glad/Tupperware). The problem with #7's is mostly due to BPA, which has been greatly limited in plastic products these days. BPA causes (
not CAN cause, but CAUSES, wow!) endocrine and reproductive system disruption, impaired neurological functioning, cancer, cardiovascular system damage, obesity, early puberty and chemotherapy resistance.

I'd hate to know how much BPA I have stored in my system. I drank a LOT of tea in college and only recently Nalgene pulled all of its wide-mouth containers and started replacing their Nalgene water bottles with BPA-free plastics. But I feel better when I can remove plastics around here, even though they are doggedly pervasive and hard to get out of the house completely. In closing, here's a few easy ways to avoid using plastic:

1. Buy and store food in glass containers.

2. Try not to buy items in plastic packaging, and always use your reusable market bags.

3. Avoid PC drinking bottles with BPA. BPA-free is always mentioned on the packaging label.

4. Most canned food liners contain BPA. Support companies that go BPA free in their canned goods.

5. Don't give plastic teethers or toys to infants or young children (easier said than done, I know).

6. Avoid storing fatty foods such as meat and cheese in plastic.

7. Never heat food in plastic containers. The "safe to microwave" just means it won't fall apart, not that it's safe for human health.

8. If you do use plastic containers, don't put them in the dishwasher. Handwash them gently with nonabrasive soap.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Why I'm deleting my Facebook

Because I'm nauseous about the sheer idea that FB won't be a part of my life anymore.
Because I've spent way too much time on it since Lydia's arrival.
Because I've spent way too much time on it, period.

The mere thought that I'm deleting my FB page (or at least deactivating my account) raises a lump in my throat, a swelling in my chest, bubbles in my stomach. I dread it. I dread not being able to check it, read the news feed and comment on all the pictures I see and make snarky comments on links I like. I'm scared to lose friends by doing so (as if I didn't know how to keep in contact with loved ones BEFORE FACEBOOK). I'm freaked that I won't hear about major milestones, new loves, marriages, babies...all things I love reading about online.

I joined Facebook when it first came out. I remember watching my friend count rise with each new add, grinning when I topped 100, then 200, until I hit 1000 friends. Some were really, really amazing friends, some were new acquaintances, some were people that added me (or I added them) just because they looked cool or I'd seen them in school. Some were people from long ago. I used Facebook to check homework stats with fellow students, get some gossip, and as a self-esteem boost. I'm not afraid to say that at one point in my life I used my friend count like a self-worth meter.

And it's served its purposes well. I have to hand it to the creator of Facebook on that rampart. Aside from the constant barrage of new changes to the layout and endless applications in which I have no interest in participating, I have been happy with Facebook.

Addicted even, you might say.

So that's why I'm deleting it. I think that in doing so I'll create a more fulfilling life for myself and others by communicating via a medium that isn't so...easy, I guess. It's so easy to just creep on someone's profile and "like" a picture, or comment on a status update. But is that intentional, deliberate communication? Am I fulfilled by staying in touch through status updates? For me, I need something more. I love letter-writing, and I could have written millions of them with the time I've spent on Facebook. I love getting in the car and going to see friends; with the energy I've spent on Facebook, I could have driven around the world. My email works just fine, and yet the only emails I get these days are from Baby Center, the Sioux Falls Zoo, REI and a few other spams that hit my inbox.

I will miss it, probably even shed a few tears over it. It's hard to let go of something I've cherished for almost a decade (YIKES). I'll miss the constant interactions, the photos of loved ones at my finger-tips, and the ease of communicating online as we do on Facebook. Please, please, drop me a message with your phone number, your email, your snail mail address...any way that you want to keep in touch. I text and call, and have excellent penmanship when it comes to written notes. My emails are usually laden with emoticons :) but if you can get past that, I'll email you too.

And hey, I pay $75/month for my @*$@#$^$@) Verizon phone bill. The least I want out of this is to get my money's worth for the thing. :) :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

cleaning and nurturing

Now, I'm not much of a clean freak. We leave clothes on the floor, there's dust an inch thick on the top of our headboard, and for the love of God, don't look under my couches. However, with the advent of beautiful weather (until recently, anyway), I have gotten the most convincing wild hair up my butt to do some spring cleaning.

staying clean

Some moms I talk to have a system of doing the most cleaning they can, as fast as they can, leaving no holds barred as they scour their house spotless in a day. Yeah, that's certainly not me. I read articles in Good Housekeeping and Real Simple about both maintaining and quick-deep-cleaning one's house and get slightly jealous that people are actually able to pull it off. Take Real Simple's guide to a ten-minute cleaning of the bathroom (all numbers are the minutes from 1 to 10):

0-1: Take all materials off surfaces; spray all of them down with a green all-purpose cleaner (we LOVE Mrs. Meyer's basil-scented cleaner)
1-5: Put toilet cleaner in the toilet, let it soak; wipe down all surfaces and replace materials
5-6: Scrub out the toilet
6-7: Take out trash
7-8: Pull everything on the floor in the bathroom out; spot mop
8-10: Clean mirrors and replace the stuff you pulled out to mop.

What they fail to mention is obviously the interruptions you'll have while doing all of this:
0-1: Put baby in her bouncer and put some organic sweet-potato puffs in the little food tray
1-2: Take most materials off surfaces. Soothe crying baby because she inhaled all her puffs in 30 seconds and wants more. Distract her with her shiny toy.
2-5: Finish spraying surfaces and put the toilet cleaner in. Pick up baby that just threw up all her puffs, change her clothes, and put her back in the bouncy seat.
5-6: Somehow, by the grace of God, you manage to wipe down all surfaces.
6-9: Retrieve the shiny toy that got flung across the bathroom and rinse it off; do this 16 times as your little one brilliantly discovers the concept of cause and effect relationships. "I throw, Mommy gets it."
9-10: Scrub the toilet. Make funny noises for the baby while doing so.
10-11: Take the trash bag out of the can and rinse out the can. Let the baby look in the empty trash can.
11-16: Take trash and baby outside to put the bag in the dumpster. Stand outside with baby to watch the birds in the tree for a few minutes. Bring content baby inside.
16-19: Console formerly-content baby after you tried putting her back in the bouncy chair that she's now obviously bored with. Put her on the floor with toys instead.
19-22: Pull everything out of the bathroom to mop.
22-60: Nurse baby because you've taken way too long to clean the bathroom and she's gotten hungry in the last 20 minutes from all her bouncing.
60-61: Give up on mopping and make your husband drag everything back into the bathroom; you can spot-swiffer the floor later.


Charlie and I started Weight Watchers together in the last couple of weeks. I've been doing awesome with it, while Charlie uses the food points to see how far he can blow his limit out of the water. Men. Anyway, it's been cool, I've lost 5 pounds in the last two weeks, which is a good pace for both making sure I'm getting enough nursing calories and keeping the weight crash diets here! I've also eliminated most caffeine and alcohol, and I'm trying to get the added sugar out of my diet too. Just need to eat some whole foods, quinoa, bulgur, rice, lots of veggies, fruit, yogurt, etc. to get our systems spring cleaned too. It feels good to eat good food.
gotta keep those pretty blues healthy

I've been doing a lot of what I've thought of it as 'conscious nourishment' in all realms of life lately, physical, emotional and spiritual. I won't leave my family's health by the wayside, that won't get us anywhere. I wish the three of us could get more family time, which of course would make the nourishment thing a little more possible, but I 'll take what I can get, a few Sundays and evenings here and there. Lydia's so big and strong, pulling herself up while we hold her hands and all over our furniture; it feels so good to know that we are helping her with love, nursing, nutritious food, family time and boundaries. And in taking care of each other and our home together, we can really get down to the heart of the matter...which is of course our number one priority, our family. We won't have any other chances to lay on the rug playing airplane with Lydia, or lingering over way too many pancakes before heading out to the park for a walk or taking out the recycling. With Charlie and I working as much as we can, the time we have as a family is precious :) I know that many other families out there can relate.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Our noisy wallpaper

Lydia's got some toys. Most of them are plastic, a few require batteries, one is a wind-up caterpillar. She has played with each one for approximately five minutes and 32 seconds, except for her string of sea-green fake pearls...for some reason costume jewelry's her favorite. We spent $20 on an awesome Eric Carle inspired butterfly toy at the MN Arboretum on our family trip a couple weeks ago, and she'd much rather play with the $3.50 caterpillar. *headslap*  We've got a baby laptop, balls (baha), bells, whistles, stuffed animals, a little wagon with beach toys, plastic chains...and she's bored. I've tried rotating her toy buckets so she's not playing with the same toys every day, and she's totally onto me. Kitchen utensils are her new favorite, as are whatever objects happen to be in our hands at the time. Cell phones. MY laptop. The remote controls. Forks (yikes!). I don't think any of her toys are really above her developmental stage, yet she's totally disinterested and I can tell she gets exasperated with me when I set her down with a toy box so I can get a load of laundry done.

With the weather being so #*&@^$ gorgeous lately, playtime has been a breeze. We've been outside, in the stroller, in her bouncy thingy, on a soft blanket in the grass, or wrapped in fleece and laid next to me napping in the were totally unnecessary at the beginning of this week, and I relished it. Now with the less than favorable weather, we're cooped up inside with only so much patience. And so begins my discussion of noisy wallpaper, i.e....our TV.

We have a TV, and we use it. I'll shamelessly admit I like catching what happened on Top Chef, or anything on the Food Network or Animal Planet. And I like watching the news in the morning over a piece of toast and coffee. But here's the catch. Lydia's starting to watch it too. That's not something I like. With the American Academy of Pediatrics recommending that all children under the age of two "avoid" [that's their word] TV, and kids 2 to 6 years old watch only one or two hours a day, it's hard for me to condone Lydia's attention being focused on the blaring box. The percentages around TV and kids are staggering to me [all statistics can be found in Pediatrics, the AAP's medical journal]. 
  • 74% of children in the US have watched TV before the age of two. 
  • 43% of children under two watch TV every day.
  • 51% of homes have TV on most or all of the time during the day (EEK!). 
  • 33% of children under 6 have a TV in their bedroom. 
  • 63% of families in America that leave the TV on during meals. I'm stunned that families are that involved with their televisions.
I grew up mostly outside. I remember very little TV, except to play a video game once in a while or to watch Saturday morning cartoons, maybe a Little House on the Prairie with my mom. And Charlie grew up fairly similarly, but his bonding with his father took place while relaxing and watching fishing shows. He'll do the same with Lydia after a family breakfast...the two of them cuddle into the recliner and watch fishing. I get owley about it, but I have to remember that Lydia's not really focused on the TV, more so on Daddy's beard or the piece of lint on the chair, and that Charlie loves Lydia more than life itself. But I want Lydia to grow up a little differently.

There are many concerns I harbor over over-exposure to media at such a young age. Children can most certainly live, and dareIsay thrive, without television, yet we're plugging in more times throughout the day than I can count. We're surrounded by all kinds of media now, and it truly is noisy wallpaper. It distracts us from learning through observation, interactions face-to-face, and leaves little room for peace and reflection in a home. As viewers we may be more informed, but I think there is a toll on our physical, mental, and emotional health. Negative effects of exposure to media, namely TV in the study I was reading, include obesity, smoking, sexual risks, eating disorders, and substance abuse. A direct correlation between violence in media and feelings of anxiety, fear, aggressive behavior, academic and attention problems and poor sleep has also been proven.

But what about educational programming? It may be better for older children, but there's no such thing as positive education via the TV for children under two. Their brains simply aren't developed enough to learn from a screen. They may find something interesting while watching and try to imitate or get excited, but true learning, connection of the synapses, is not taking place. Interestingly enough, even baby videos may contribute to cognitive delays, take that Your Baby Can Read!

I plan on draping our TV with a pretty piece of fabric, and fully ignoring it this summer.  We already keep it off during meals, something I enacted in our home months before. I hope all of Charlie's bonding with Lydia over fishing can be done out at Lake Shetek, and that I can hold out on finding out what happened on Top Chef until it reaches the internet in the morning. I really hope that I can continue putting together days for Lydia that involve options for imaginary play, creativity and physical activity. That's what she needs, not a TV in her room, or to be plunked down in front of something as innocuous as Planet Earth, or to watch Dora until she's running around the house screaming Spanish.  I'll be blogging on something else I'm really interested in, free play vs. structured, later on

Monday, April 11, 2011

Lydie Lou's latest

at the Early Bird track meet at MCC
I thought I'd better write a little post myself on here instead of letting everyone else post for me :) It's been so nice having different voices on here, but I also love to write and talk about what's going on with our family, namely our darling daughter.  Lydia's got some teeth coming in, complete with the classic symptoms:
  • Fussier than normal 
  • Red, swollen and bubbly gums 
  • Red cheeks 
  • Stinky, stinky diapers 
  • Constant gnawing on anything she can get in her little mouth 
  • Straining, grunting and altogether different vocalizations that let me know she's working through something a little tougher than pooping 
Poor thing. She handles it like a trooper though, giving us lots of smiles and mischievous looks during the day. I've heard of babies going through teething a lot worse (and a lot better), so we just work through each day the best we can and hope that it's over sooner than later. I have a feeling the two top teeth will make their appearances next; her little bottom ones are so cute. Before she had teeth I couldn't imagine what she'd look like with them...we must just be getting used to seeing them in there. I go through all of her little baby pictures and see those big first smiles with no teeth and get a little always, I question where my tiny little one went.
so excited to be outside!

It occurred to me today as I was sitting and nursing Lydia that our rhythm/schedule has been getting much, much better. I think we did our best to combine both the attachment parenting and parent-led philosophies of raising children...we have a pretty good idea of how our days will go, but allow for some flexibilities when it comes to timing. For instance, Lydie wakes up once or twice in the night yet, but goes back to sleep after about nursing 5 minutes or so and some rocking. Then she'll get up around 7, 7:30, nurse, play, and nap till about 10. Then we play play play till I nurse her down for a nap at noon or one, and then it's my chance to get some things done around the house as she naps for about two hours. She'll eat supper with us, play some more, take a bath, get her jammies on, hear a lullabye or ten while nursing, and we'll finally rock her to sleep about 8:30 or 9:00. Depending on what we're up to that day the timing of said events is likely to change, but we pretty much have the sequence down to an art.

I hope that our scheduling and intentionality when it comes to her daily rhythm hasn't been in vain. I know that it's helped me keep up with how I want our days to flow, and it gives her stability and a routine she can depend on. I've heard of parents doing the extremes on either side: no rhythm and totally going with the flow on what baby needs at that particular moment, and others have their days scheduled down to the minute. Both are valid ways of raising children; I chose to branch between the two because I think that flexible routine approach is best for Lydia and is aligned with where she is developmentally. At her age she needs to know what's coming next; it gives her a sense of security in her day. And actually, it does for me too. I haven't been too good about keeping up my weekly rhythm that I blogged about earlier, but the days don't seem like they're frittered away either. :) 

out cold from all the fresh air

We have been able to get her outside for tons of playtime and walks this last week with the gorgeous weather. My stroller is finally being put to really good use! We've started taking more family walks if Charlie's home; after supper is a perfect time to stroll through Slayton as the sun goes down. And I can always find a buddy to walk with during the day...Lydia's so happy and content burrowed in all the blankets I put in her stroller seat, and away we go for hours of walking. Good for me, good for her! Here's hoping for continued outside time and teething success as we make our way into the summer months.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Meeting in the Middle: Now THAT is the best nourishment!

I couldn't have put it better myself when Lauren, a new mama friend of mine, wrote, "As long as we love our children and teach them well, THAT is the best nourishment we can provide!" I asked Lauren to write a post for this series because she has two children, Alaina and Aubrey, who both had challenges in breastfeeding. Alaina has Down Syndrome which, as my friend Whitney illustrated for us, can hinder breastfeeding in many ways. And Aubrey just had a tough time with nursing altogether after medical issues involving constipation, colic-like behavior and spitting up arose. I learned something from Lauren in reading this: switching from breastmilk to formula isn't as cut-and-dried as I thought it to be! I thought that once you made the decision to quit nursing, you just picked a formula and went with it. Out of all the varieties that are available to young ones, their family found an organic brand that worked well with Aubrey's sensitive system, and she's a healthy, beautiful little girl to show for it (as well as her sister!). Thank you, Lauren, for sharing your stories...and here's hoping that your next little one is able to nurse well without the challenges you've faced with your two daughters. You said it well; the nourishment of love, support, and dedication to our children is what we as mothers need to focus on, not solely nutrition alone.
Miss Alaina

Like many women, I knew that when I had kids I wanted to exclusively breastfeed them and my initial goal was to make it to a year. When I delivered my oldest daughter, it was later that day that we were told by the doctor that he suspected she had Down Syndrome. She was 3 1/2 weeks early and was having trouble with her oxygen levels to begin with. Nothing super serious, but still stressful none the less. Regardless, I, of course, wanted to still try breastfeeding. I tried with the help of the nurses and lactation consultant at almost every feeding. My daughter seemed to have quite good muscle tone, but her larger than normal tongue seemed to be hindering our success for the most part. She was always pulling her tongue up to the roof of her mouth and was extremely difficult for her to get a good latch, or latch on at all for that matter. 
She was in the hospital for 6 days before we got to take her home, but we were lucky enough to get to stay in the hospital with her even though I was discharged as they didn't have a need for the room we were in at the time. So we would try every feeding for at least 20 minutes and have a screaming baby who was hungry and who wasn't getting the satisfaction she was looking for. We did finger feed her what I had pumped so she wouldn't get too used to a bottle, but every time we tried, the same thing was happening. So I kept pumping to keep my milk up. I knew breastfeeding would be beneficial to any baby, but especially now to mine. So at the time no matter what I wanted to her to have breastmilk, no matter how she got it. 

To say that that first week is stressful and exhausting for any new mother is an understatement. But coupled with the complete shock of her diagnosis with DS, failing at breastfeeding was too much at times. We were grieving for a daughter we thought we were going to have and all of the sudden walking a path that was difficult, painful and unexpected. At the time, making sure our daughter was healthy and loving her became our ultimate priority. Being successful at breastfeeding was honestly just too much to deal with on top of it when it really didn't seem to be working. It was too stressful on everyone. So I did continue to pump - and credit to any other mother out there that does that for any reason!! It was very difficult and time consuming to say the least. Pumping, then taking the time to feed your baby, always having to have your pump with you, always having to clean the parts plus wash bottles, it just never seemed to end! It was a job in itself on top of all the other things you have to do when you become a mother.

lil Aubrey
From what I pumped we were able to give her just breastmilk for around 5 months. Pumping just doesn't keep up your supply like nursing does and as she started to eat more, it was becoming obvious that I probably wasn't going to be able to completely keep up with her. So we actually made the decision to mix our bottles and finally found that soy formula worked absolutely wonderfully for her. She had been having a lot of trouble with reflux also and adding that formula in there, for whatever reason, cut down on her reflux and spitting considerably. So we mixed bottles and she was getting some breastmilk for her first 10 months as I weaned myself off of pumping. At first, I felt a little guilty giving her formula at all, but at the time, and definitely now looking back, it was 100% the right decision for us and our daughter. 

When our second daughter was born, I was more determined than ever to breastfeed after my first experience as I did NOT want to have to pump! Luckily, she was born perfectly healthy and took to breastfeeding well right away. It seemed so easy!! When we went somewhere all I needed was me and her! I felt like something was missing, but in a good way! Well, much to our dismay, when our second daughter was about 2 1/2 weeks old, she started what we thought was good ol' colic. Except it kept getting worse. And by the time she was about a month old, it wasn't just fussy times of the day, but was literally screaming and writhing until she completely wore herself out and went to sleep. Really, it was screaming or sleeping. And it was awful. She was spitting a lot so we went down the same reflux road as my first daughter, but really didn't much success with any of the meds. 

aw, sister love!
At this point we were still exclusively breastfeeding. I tried every diet modification under the sun to no avail. She kept getting worse, if that was even possible. We were getting nowhere with any doctor and we finally made the decision the day after she turned 3 months old to try formula. We went through 5 different formulas, from regular to soy to hypoallergenic to prescription amino acid formulas and still had no success - the screaming continued all day long. She was 5 months old before, by the grace of God, I happened upon an article online that led up to an organic formula to try. We were desperate and willing to try anything. Within the first 24 hours of giving her this formula, she was easily eating double what she had been and spitting up virtually none of it! Her cradle cap completely cleared up within 3 days of starting it also. From the time her symptoms started she also became very constipated - and was actually the most constipated while she was nursing - which seems to be the complete opposite of what you generally find to be true. She is now almost 16 months old and occassionally will struggle with some GI issues, but are very minor compared to what she was like those first 5 months.

 I realize I have just given two stories that highlight the fact that breastfeeding just did not work for our children, but I do think that is a reality for many families - for whatever reason. In both of our daughters cases, mixing bottles and quitting breastfeeding all together was again the 100% right decision for their health and happiness and our family's health and happiness too. Now expecting my third child this summer, I absoutely want to exclusively breastfeed and hope and pray it does work out for us this time - issue free!!!! But if it doesn't, I have two now very healthy, happy children to show me that it IS ok if it doesn't work. Too all those mothers out there who have no breastfeeding issues, or who work through your issues, count your blessings! To mothers who pump, huge kudos for the dedication to your babies that takes. And to mothers who give their kiddos formula, kudos to you too for doing what you feel and believe is best!! As long as we love our children and teach them well, THAT is the best nourishment we can provide!

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Happy Mom is Best for Baby!

hello sweetheart
This is a repost from a couple months ago (when Adam was just a little squirt!); Melanie wrote me a post about her horrible experience with mastitis, and I think it bears repeating. I've been reading breastfeeding vs. formula-feeding forums for the last couple of weeks, and more often than not formula feeding was NOT the first choice for the mothers, for many reasons. Medical issues, emotional sensitivities, post-partum name it, it's come in between moms and babies as they try to breastfeed. Hopefully we can work on encouragement, support and positive education for all moms; having healthy kids isn't solely based on breastfeeding or formula-feeding alone, and I think many judgments stem from people believing breastfeeding to be the "be-all, end-all" of motherhood.

I had the perfect pregnancy; no morning sickness, minimal weight gain and enough energy to stay active my whole pregnancy. I was also planning on having the perfect delivery, snuggling into the big double hospital bed with my husband and new baby and trying to breastfeed (although I must admit this was the part of motherhood I was most nervous about).

However, Adam arrived about three and half weeks early. After 30 hours of labor (I finally got IV pain meds at hour 27), I was able to have a normal delivery. When Adam was born he didn’t cry when they placed him in my arms and the doctor said to my husband, “Dad hurry up and cut the cord, we don’t have time. “

Soon after I was all put back together, my parents were able to come in the room and then we heard that Adam was making grunting sounds, was on oxygen and would need to be transferred to another hospital. Later (much later), I found out that my baby was quite critical. About three hours after birth I got to hold my boy before he received his very first ambulance ride to Omaha. My doctor told me I could be released in the morning so I could go be with Adam-thank goodness she is an anti-c-section doctor!

So my first night as a mom I was left alone with a breast pump instead of my baby and was told to start trying to get out some liquid gold. I pumped faithfully for the next few days because I knew it was the one thing I could do for Adam since I couldn’t hold him or cuddle him.
happy boy

About 5 days after birth the nurses came to me and said that Adam could try to nurse. Trying to feed Adam was very difficult. He wouldn’t latch on and eventually I had to use a shield. We tried hard for three or four days, seeing a number of lactation consultants, but Adam just wouldn’t stay awake to nurse. After trying for at least an hour and a half each time, I would usually ask the nurses to come and get him and then they would supplement him through his feeding tube. I then had to leave to pump because he didn’t eat enough to empty me out.

About a week after his birth, Adam nursed good three times while in the hospital so I didn’t pump that day. The next day, I felt my right breast becoming hot and hard. I showed the lactation consultant and she instructed me to try hot packs, pump every 2 hours even during the night and call my doctor for antibiotics. I did just that and the pain went away within 5 days. Trying to avoid putting antibiotics in Adam’s milk, I stopped the antibiotics-advice-don’t ever stop antibiotics!

Adam was able to come home at 2 weeks. We decided in the hospital that he would receive a bottle at night so he could get the feeding tube out of his nose. The plan was to bottle feed and pump and work on nursing when we got home. Adam did okay but was just seemed to be a much happier baby when he got his bottle.

The morning after Thanksgiving, I woke up with terrible pain, was shaking and almost passed out. I knew my mastitis was back and I knew there was no way to take care of my baby. I called my family who just happened to be here to visit to come immediately. Thank goodness for them because I was so sick I could not take care of Adam. I continued to pump and started my antibiotic again and headed to the doctor.

This cycle continued. It seemed like every Thursday I would have a flare up, especially if my antibiotics were gone. I wanted to stop pumping so bad (by this time I had given up on nursing-he just wasn’t interested), but I didn’t know how because I was so afraid that giving Adam formula was the wrong decision and I was very afraid of how my body would react if I stopped pumping. I was full of guilt for hating pumping and for wanting to give formula. Everywhere I looked I saw the breast is best saying and the tears would come rolling down my face. This happened on one of my many trips to the doctor and she told me that I would not be a terrible person for giving Adam formula. She told me that what Adam needed most was a HAPPY mom.

Finally, I began to hear stories from moms who stopped nursing. I thought I was the only one who was not successful. This also helped me to realize that whatever decision I made would be okay.

It seemed that just as I would think about stopping pumping or pumping less often, I would heal up and life would be fine. However, on December 17, two days before I was to be a bridesmaid in a wedding, I got the worst bout of mastitis I had had. It was so bad I pumping out pus and was told to go straight to the ER to make sure I didn’t need to be admitted to the hospital, and of course to keep pumping every two hours. By this time I was really in tears because I knew this had to be it, I could not handle this pain anymore. If I kept pumping wouldn’t I keep producing? I was given a large does of antibiotics, so strong I had to start pumping and dumping. This had to be the end. I very slowly weaned myself off during Christmas while I was taking my antibiotics. That was my last bout and now I am finally happy to say I am done. The last time I pumped was probably one the happiest days I had since Adam was born. I may have done a little dance.

I don’t know why I had so many problems, but I can honestly say I have never been so sick in my life. Not feeling well physically, the stresses of being a new mom and being full of guilt did not make the first weeks of Adam’s life very enjoyable. All of us need to remember to take care of ourselves and remember my doctor’s advice…a happy mom is best for our babies!

By the way, my 5 pound 12 ounce boy now weighs in at 9 pounds 12 ounces at 2 months and is perfectly healthy. We never did figure out the cause of his breathing problems, but we’re happy that he is thriving now.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Exclusive Pumpers (not-so) Anonymous

sleepy sweetie

Whitney, the author of this next post in the Meeting in the Middle series, is a friend of mine from our college days at SMSU.  I creeped on her Facebook pictures of her son all the time and conversed with her about our babies.  At one point in time I found out that her son has Down Syndrome, and that she'd been pumping to feed him breastmilk since day one.  She is one of two moms that I've asked about breastfeeding their children with Down Syndrome; both have agreed to give their story to this blog, which I greatly appreciate.  Thank you , Whitney, for letting us into your life and giving us a look into what it's like to constantly pump for your son.  Lots of love :)

Breastfeeding is something I NEVER thought I would consider. And to be completely honest it was because I was afraid of what affects it would have on my body (mostly my boobs!). I, like every other woman, have heard the horror stories about what happens to "the girls" after nursing a baby for months on end. I was ignorant in assuming my mom had never breastfed me or any of my siblings. I thought, "Well, my mom never breastfed us and we were never sick or had any ear infections... and she still has amazing boobs!" When I was about five months pregnant with my son my mom totally surprised me by telling me she had nursed all of us. That is when I first thought, "Ok this is something I should really consider." This along with working for a woman who had just had a baby and would nurse her daughter at work or pump in the back room totally changed my perspective on breastfeeding. Talking about it and seeing it made it less of a taboo, perverse thing.

cutie pie!

Shortly after having the breastfeeding talk with my mom I found out my son, Daniel, tested positive for Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome). That is when my thoughts went from "this is something I should consider" to "Ok, I really need to give this a try. Darnit, I'm going to give this baby the best head start there is!" After getting Daniel's diagnosis I was crushed to learn that many babies with DS have a really hard time nursing because of poor muscle tone and other mouth problems or extended stays in the NICU.

Luckily for me Daniel didn't have to stay in the NICU for more than a few hours and we were able to give the breastfeeding thing a try. I am assuming the first few days of breastfeeding is frustrating for any new mom and baby. Nursing seems to be a learned trait. I was luckily able to nurse Daniel for about two months before I went on to exclusively pumping. It was a sad day when I realized it had to be that way. Unfortunately for this couple (Daniel and me), the little man was very lazy when it came to nursing. He would literally be attached for hours and drift to sleep from starvation. I started to get stir crazy... there were people to see and laundry to be done! After having a bottle the first few times he was hooked. I'm sure going from a bottle, which is more of an instant gratification when it comes to milk delivery, back to breast, where it takes a while to get warmed up, is not fun for any baby.

This began my journey of slavery to the breast pump. Even though I have had great success with exclusive pumping I tend to discourage it from mothers who say they want to start out doing that way. Having experienced both ways I feel the au natural way is so much better. It really strengthens the bond between mom and baby. Not only this, I felt I really didn’t get the same hormone release as I did when doing it the old fashioned way. It just feels really unnatural in comparison. I think this is why most women don’t have success when pumping exclusively.

However, if a woman decides to try only pumping I have a little advice…CONSISTANCY and DEDICATION!!! I think this is where most women go wrong. As far as consistency goes, to maintain your milk supply you have to pump every two to three hours every day, all day (I have gone four or five hours at times but I try really hard to avoid doing so). This includes getting up a couple of times a night. This is especially important because most mommas produce more milk from around 1 a.m. to 4 a.m… don’t ask me why it’s just something I read and found to be true.

To keep track of all of this pumping takes a ton of dedication! You have to drop everything, even if you’re out and about, to pump enough. I have pumped everywhere from cars, bars, grocery store bathrooms, target fitting rooms, you name it and I’ve probably done it. For moms who decided to give this pumping thing a go, a breast pump with a battery pack is a MUST! Also, choosing a pump that is portable and discreet is also important. Ryan and I bought the Medela pump-in-style. I like it because it has a battery pack and looks like a purse or diaper bag.

One other thing I found helpful is looking for other groups of moms who use this method. I personally found support in a group on This is great because you can talk to moms who have gone through the same things and see what has worked for them. Also, try not to get discouraged if your milk letdown is not the same every day. I had a hard time with this at first. Some days are just better than others.

I could probably write a whole book on the subject. Bottom line is… pumping exclusively is difficult at times but it is definitely worth the benefits if regular breastfeeding isn’t an option.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Meeting in the Middle Series: Post #1

So my request for posts was met with gusto from a few moms who had creative and heartfelt ways to put to words their breastfeeding experiences (some nightmares, some quick fixes). Our first post comes from my cousin Becca; her nightmare began on day one and failed to lessen for months, yet she remained steadfast and nursed her sons both for around a year. She's one of my favorite people to call with questions about nursing, health-related issues, and other facets of motherhood. I hope you enjoy reading through her broken boobs saga!

If you are wanting some breastfeeding stories, have I got a doozie for you! To all of those people out there whose baby came out of the womb with breastfeeding perfection, I kind of want to tell you to f**k off, but of course, I won't. I was bound and determined to nurse. I'm a RN and worked in the NICU after graduation for about 2 years. I saw differences in the health of babies who received breast milk that could not be denied. However, to be honest, I also wanted to nurse because, a- it's free, b- it burns 500 calories a day, and c- I wanted big boobs for once in my life. I couldn't find a negative in the bunch.

So, anyway, I had Simon at 10:30 pm and he latched on pretty much right off the bat, and he stayed that way until 7:00 am the next morning. Epidurals hindering breastfeeding? Not in my case! My nipples were already sore at this point, being fair and sensitive skinned didn't pave the way for an easy time. I had lactation consultant after lactation consultant tell me that he was latched on perfectly, so I just kept at it. By the time I left the hospital my nipples were bleeding, yes, bleeding. The words bleeding and nipples should never be in the same sentence together.

We got home and he nursed about every 1.5-2 hours and I used feel crazy anxiety when he'd start to show that he was hungry because I knew how painful it was going to be. It was knife stabbing directly in to my nipple pain, ear to the shoulder, toe point pain. I kept calling the lactation people and they just kept saying, "yes, breastfeeding is painful, but it will get better, blah, blah, blah." When Simon was one week old, the pain was still pretty bad but the wounds on my nipples seemed to be healing a little bit. My husband and I decided that we were going to show him off that day to all of our co-workers. I woke, feeling tired like any new mother, and took a shower. I noticed after I got out that I had a red streak going across my right boob but it wasn't tender or anything. The nipple still felt like it was going to fall off, but the boob itself felt fine so I didn't think much of it. 4 hours later, I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO DIE. My body felt like it had been hit by a truck, the truck reversed, and hit me again. My husband took me to the clinic where my temp registered at 102.5 and I was of course, diagnosed with mastitis. Mastitis is a systemic thing so the put you on heavy duty antibiotics for that. I felt better in a few days; my nipples, however went downward.

When Simon was about 3 weeks old, he had just finished nursing and I looked down at him and he looked like bozo the clown. There was blood all around his mouth from my broken nipple- I got sick to my stomach. The next day I called to set up an appointment with the lactation consultant. She took a look at my goods, grimaced and said, "you should have been seen a lot sooner." It turns out that I had intraductal yeast, probably from the antibiotics. Yeast is a little critter that tears your skin apart, hence, broken boobs. She wrote me a script for some diflucan and sent me on my way with an "I'm proud of you for sticking with it" hug.

The stuff seemed to work over the next couple of days and I had hopes, then it got painful again. I was getting so frustrated that I'm pretty sure I dropped my basket with my husband a few times. I kind of wanted to take sand paper to his nipples just so he knew how I felt every second of the day. I went back to the lactation consultant when Simon was a little over a month old and she said the problem was that Simon had thrush too so we just kept giving it to each other, back and forth. I guess a symptom of thrush is shiny cheeks because that's the only symptom Si had?....weird. Anyway, she gave us both scripts and gave me this FANTASTIC stuff called, "all-purpose nipple cream," which I filled over and over again to give to breastfeeding friends. It saved my world.

The holes, yes holes, in my nipples closed completely when Simon was about 3 months old. I have scars to show for the work and I can still shut my nipple in a dresser and not know it's happened until I try to walk away. So nursing was painful for 3 months. Whenever somebody tells me that they didn't nurse because it hurt too bad, I have to use all of my will-power not to roll my eyes and call them a pussy. I know, not nice.

You think I'm done with my story? Oh, no- I'm not. When I went back to work, I wasn't too worried about Simon taking a bottle because he'd been doing it for a few weeks in preparation and he took it like a champ. I had been using fresh pumped milk however. My sister and I watched each other's kids and she could not get him to take a bottle, he would buck and scream and basically tell her to go to hell. I noticed that when I would thaw out my milk, it had kind of a funk to it. It smelled metallic and soapy. I tasted it, yes, I know-gross, and it tasted exactly how it smelled, like soapy metal. So, I called my trusty lactation consultant and she said, "oh yes, you have too much lipase." Too much li-what? It turns out that my body creates too much of the enzyme lipase which is what breaks down fats. So after I'd pump and freeze the milk, the lipase would break down the fats in the milk at an increased rate and the bi-product produces a bad taste. The way to deactivate the lipase is by scalding the milk. So, I had to throw 20 bags of milk, which took months to store up because I am not a Holstein like some lucky women out there, I produce just enough if that, and I had to start from scratch scalding every ounce I pumped from then on. PAIN IN THE ASS!

So- in summary, my nursing experience went like this.
1.Bloody nipples
3.Bloody nipples
4.Intraductal yeast
5.Bloody nipples
6.lipase issue

Not easy! The good news is that I was able to give Simon strictly breast milk for a year and nursing my second son was much better! I only had holes in my nipples for 1 month! I still had the lipase issue but at least I knew how to handle it.

Good work to all you mommas out there!