Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Losing my SAHD?

Despite the financial disadvantages of living off one meager, maternity-leave lessened teacher's salary, I have really enjoyed having my husband at home the past few months.  It has been invaluable since my return to work last month--laundry is done mostly during the day, dinners are prepared with no stress and little to no night-before prep work.  There are only two people to get out the door each morning instead of four and I have the luxury of taking Zumba class at the gym on Mondays and Wednesdays after work.

Upon returning to work, I learned that there will be some pretty serious layoffs coming.  Given my measly four years seniority and my ever-popular teaching endorsements in secondary language arts, drama, and reading, I was advised to brace myself for the worst possible outcome.  Part of the preparation was finding a second source of income, hence losing my SAHD.  Initially, we decided it wasn't worth it for him to even look for work until the spring or early summer so that Li Li could spend his first year at home with a parent but given that we need at least some money to pay the mortgage each month and access to a health plan for our family, he has begun his quest for new employment over the past two weeks.

Yesterday, he had a phone interview.  The reality set in that we may soon be getting four individuals out of the house by 6:45 every day.  It also occurred to me that I will have to give up my workouts........that means I will remain fat indefinitely.  Ugh.  My dilemma is this: stay fat and get my kids from daycare by 4:30 (closing time), or get the kids by 3:20 on Mondays and Wednesdays and take them to the childcare at the gym until 5:30 (more childcare and less Mom/Dad time).

I know most, if not all, of my current readers are SAHMs, so while I ask for advice, I understand you all may not have any to give.  But perhaps you know someone who has managed to make it work.....with the exercise and all.

Suggestions are welcomed.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Ain't I a Mama?

As I read more of the natural parenting and "mama" blogs out there, I feel as if I am in the minority on many issues, however, in the real world of Portland, Oregon USA I think I'm pretty typical, and in other parts of the country, dare I say, "weird."

The quintessential Mama is an educated (usually with an advanced degree) woman who relinquished her career in order to funnel her intellect into parenting and writing about it while her husband works to pay the mortgage or a woman who works at home part-time either in her chosen profession or creating some kind of hand-made items to sell on etsy (how's that for a run-on sentence!).  She goes to playgroups, effortlessly whips her baby into that Moby wrap, has never given her child a bottle or let him cry while she pees or showers.  She also does not send her children to public school (unless it's a magnet or charter).  She never uses the word "no" with her child and somehow manages to keep her composure and always re-frame everything in the affirmative.  The Mama never makes mistakes.  She does everything right and agrees with all the other Mamas about all things parental.  She does not do TV, or Santa, or candy and her kids don't mind because none of their other playgroup peers have access to these evils either.  The Mama knows everything there is to know about attachment parenting....she can actually channel Dr. Sears...and she is more than willing to advise you on how to pee on an airplane while baby is in the Moby (yes, I have had this conversation with one of them).  The Mama is the ultimate PC-er (except when you're referring to computers, then it's Mac all the way).  She bends over backwards to accommodate those less enlightened because she prides herself on being tolerant of others.

The most important thing to know about a Mama is that.........................................................................


This is something I have to remind myself of every so often when I'm rolling through Bloggyland.  Because I do not fit the Mama mold in its entirety, my guilt snowballs as I click through page after page of like-minded woman spouting their reasons for doing elimination communication, not doing circumcision, not vaccinating and the plethora of other things that exclude me.  I find myself lamenting with a bag of Skittles and asking ain't I a Mama?  

The answer is a simple one: Yes, you are! 

The truth is The Mama is an illusion.  She is a composite of all things deemed "perfect" in modern parenting.  She is like a Barbie in that she has bits and pieces of us, but in totality is a physical impossibility.  Most of the Mamas in Bloggyland are writing about their successes, not their shortcomings.  They are writing about their topic......natural/attachment/whateveryouwanttocallit parenting, so in order to stay on-topic they do not write about the time when they bribed their child with a cookie so she would just hold off the temper tantrum until they left the grocery store.  They write about the aspects of perfection that they can attain and just don't talk about the ones that don't fit into their realistically imperfect lifestyle.

But guess what.......I will!  I will share with you my successes and my failures.  What works for me and what doesn't.  Because I would hate for any of you to sit on your couch at night crying into a sugary snack while sobbing, "ain't I a Mama?"

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thank You, David Brent

Okay, I'll be back to comment on this later, but just wanted to make sure I got it out there now.  I discovered the article on semi-crunchy mama's Facebook update and now I'm passing it along....

A Holiday Message from Ricky Gervais

I have finally returned for a very brief commentary on atheists vs Christians.  And that sentiment is precisely what bothers group "versus" the other.  Despite trying to remain respectful of the faithful, Ricky still turns to an "us against them" mentality.  I would never ask a believer to defend her's rude and disrespectful.  Likewise, I expect to be treated with the same level of respect and not be asked about why I lack faith in a specific doctrine or doctrines.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

One More Day!

As of yesterday, I have been back to work for one month and I'm already living for the two-week holiday break.  Teaching is hard work.  I like my job on most days, but I wish that I could work half time and spend the other half of the week with the kids doing playgroups.

As a result, I try to jam as much "mom" time into my breaks.  I have fun mommy-group stuff planned for much of the next 2 weeks.  I just need to survive one more day with my 6th, 7th and 8th grade students.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gluten free----not for me

I have not enjoyed doing this gluten-free trial during the holidays.  It's hard enough avoiding dairy and soy proteins, but throw gluten into the mix and eating out is truly impossible.  Yes, I could pack my own food when going to someone's home for a party, but bringing your own meal is definitely frowned upon at restaurants.  This year it just so happens that three holiday events are taking place at restaurants.

Yesterday after another exhausting day at work, I rushed to pick up Zozu, go home and nurse Li Li, and get to Laurelwood in less than an hour.  We arrived about 10 minutes late (not bad), but this did not allow me to eat beforehand so I was left with two choices: 1) starve, or 2) just eat and not worry about the gluten.  I chose option #2.

Honestly, I have not felt any change in my body since going gluten-free and while we have seen some improvement in Li Li's disposition, it has been very slight and most likely due to him just getting older and less fussy.  He still spits up and still does not have daily poops.  So I will consider last night's meal a test to confirm that gluten is in fact not an issue for us.  I plan to resume gluten-free eating until Christmas and if there are no ill effects from the burger bun and beer, I will be enjoying some gluten-filled foods on Christmas day!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Last night, Chris and I went out to dinner sans kids for the first time since August 2009 and to a movie for the first time in about a year.  We began our evening at Mio Sushi where I had a bowl of miso, spicy white tuna rolls and a rainbow roll.  I was stuffed.  We then headed over to Laurelhurst Theater for the movie.  The theater is right next to the building where my midwives are located so it reminds of being pregnant.  I was so full from the sushi that I kinda felt pregnant!

Now, back on topic.....dreaming.  The movie, if you haven't seen it, is about the layers of reality that our subconscious creates and how that gets tapped into when we dream.  In the film, there are a group of people who mess around in the subconscious of others in order to extract information from them while they are asleep.  This is typically to gain secret business info, access codes to money, etc.

I have always been a very vivid dreamer and really intrigued by how our minds work while we sleep to reorganize our emotions, anxieties, and relationships.  So I am asking for help from my handful of readers today....share a dream you have had.  It can be recurring, recent, once from childhood.  If you don't have clear memories of your dreams, please share how you experience dreams...what do you remember, how do you feel during and after?  Do you notice specific foods that trigger more vivid dreams?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Health Stalled

I have to make a confession........for the past week I have NOT tracked my meals and I have barely exercised.  My return to work is not as easy as I had hoped.  It is so stressful for many reasons.  In order to facilitate weight loss I decided to cut out wine except for on weekends, but that has not worked out so well.  I have also found gluten-free, dairy-free sweets in the house and am eating them.  Yesterday was my weigh-in and Weight Watchers meeting and I did not stay for the meeting (too many papers to grade) but I did weigh in and for the first time I didn't lose anything.

The gluten-free experiment is not yielding clear results.  Li Li is pooping more regularly, but still spitting up a lot.  I feel no change in myself.

Another drive-by post today.....better luck tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Battling Exhaustion

As the recession continues, those of us left in the workplace are working 2-3 times as hard to cover the workloads of those laid off.  Add a new baby and a toddler into the mix and it makes for one constantly tired and crabby mom.  What's even worse for those of us in the education field is that our federally mandated "standards" and government determined "progress" toward those standards continue to increase as our staff decreases.  So we are left to do more with less.  There are definitely not enough hours in the day to accomplish all the data collection, analysis, and meetings on top of planning instructions, keeping gradebooks up to date, filling out daily behavior reports, calling parents.......ugh.....the list never ends.

So today my post is disgracefully short, but I need to fit in a shower, making and packing breakfast and lunch, cleaning and packing the breast pump, and getting ready to lead a meeting all in 1 hour.   Ha!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Breastfeeding and the Working Mother

As I continue to breastfeed my second child while teaching full time, I've come to realize how few teachers actually pump milk for their children once they return to work.  In the 3 1/2 years I've been teaching at my current location, five other women have had children and returned to teaching before their babies were 6 months old.  Only one of them breastfed and pumped after returning to work.  The truth is, it is hard to pump milk when teaching at our over-crowded school.  There is no opportunity to close the door and pump in the classroom while grading papers.  Every classroom is used every period.  In fact, every single room in the school is used for something: an office, a classroom, a meeting room.  There is only one place left.....the bathroom.

According to Oregon law (and federal mandates put into place by the new health care reform) an employer with more than 50 employees must provide a space other than a restroom for mothers to express milk and the breaks necessary to do so.  I do get the opportunity to pump every 4 hours, but that is my prep time which means I have to do the grading that would have happened during those breaks on my off-time.  Also, pumping every 4 hours is not enough to feed my 5 month old son pure expressed breast milk.  His daytime bottles are mixed half-and-half with formula.

As I browsed the list of employers who have been recognized by the state of Oregon for following, and pioneering, the mother-friendly workplace guidelines, I noticed not a single school district was listed.  Am I the only person that finds it appalling that public organizations devoted to the care and development of children do not support breastfeeding mothers?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

This month's "theme" is.....

The theme for December is ZEITGEIST. You have 31 days to try to capture the mood of your culture and your life as they exist right now. Use every tool in your blog box: words, photos, music...?

Currently, the "mood and culture" of my life is strongly influenced by my desire to restore my aging body to its former, pre-childbearing state.  The state of Oregon has offered all public employees the benefit of Weight Watchers as part of our preventative health plan.  Having recently given birth and gaining 40 pounds, I took advantage of this free service and have lost 12 pounds since starting the program two months ago.

I also hope to get in great physical shape...meaning my 40th birthday which is less than three years away.  My goal is to finally take the honeymoon I never got because we couldn't afford it.  We want to go to Hawaii for our 10th anniversary and I want to be able to wear a bikini.....yes, a bikini at 40 years old.  I haven't worn one since I was 25.

So a large part of my culture revolves around healthy eating and working out.  I run and do Zumba 2-3 times a week and I do weight-lifting/strength training and yoga each one hour per week.  I'm at the gym 5-6 days a week.  

My diet is made up of 95% non-processed, fresh, organic food.  I do not eat gluten, dairy products, or soy proteins.  I eat tons of meat, rice, and vegetables.  The dietary restrictions are most likely temporary.  The dairy is due to my baby's intolerance to it through my breast milk and the gluten is a "test" to see if it helps my (and the baby's) intestinal issues.  I plan to continue a limited dairy and soy diet since these products are difficult for the human body to digest in large quantities.  And if the gluten-free diet does not change how I feel, then obviously I will return to eating the full range of grains.  As a family, we are getting away from processed, pre-packaged foods.  My husband became a stay-at-home dad after getting laid off last June which allows us more time for healthy food preparation.  Luckily, he enjoys cooking.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Take Two

My efforts at posting every day in November were clearly insufficient.  I simply got too tired to blog in the evening after teaching, working out, getting kids bathed, fed and ready for bed.  I figured December might be easier since I will have my in-laws visiting to help with the kids and I will have half the month off work.

This afternoon is my post-Thanksgiving weigh-in at Weight watchers, so stay tuned to find out how much I gained.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mutiny in Homeroom

Yesterday was a horrific day at work.  I got very little accomplished and my day began with total mutiny.  I knew it would be challenging returning from a 5 month maternity leave in November when the students are exhibiting their "holiday behaviors," but my homeroom class truly won the award for most disrespectful.

In the weeks leading up to my return to teaching, I had nightmares pretty regularly: I would give the class a directive and they would just continue to talk and do whatever they wanted.  I would wake up freaked out and tell myself, "it's not really going to be that bad."  Needless to say, my nightmares are becoming my reality.

The kids were in a pissy mood yesterday because the rest of the region got a snow day and because of the geography of our district, we did not.  We got some ice and a light dusting, so we only had a 2-hour delay.  The first 20 minutes of the day is Homeroom and there is a school-wide expectation that students are engaged in silent sustained reading during that time once the teacher had done morning announcements.  Yesterday, we also had locker seals presentations.  My class is one of the largest 7/8 homerooms in the school ---25 kids.  Most homerooms are between 12 and 15.  It took forever for me to do the announcements because kids kept socializing with their neighbors and if they are talking, I stop, stare at them, and wait for them to figure it out before continuing.  I then explained that it was going to be difficult to award all the locker seals in one day, but I would try.  In order to do this, I needed their cooperation.  They should be reading silently and wait for their name to be called for locker seals.

They ignored me and continued to talk.  Only 2/3 of the kids even had a book to read!  This is a school-wide expectation.  They know they need a book every morning.  I restated the expectation.  I'm sure my voice sounded a bit irritated by that point.  I explained again that in order for me to do locker seals, I needed they to be silently reading.  One lovely little girl had the balls to look me directly in the eye and say, " that's ever going to happen" with her best 13 year old sarcasm.  It was at that moment that I snapped.  It is never okay to yell at students, but I did it.  I told her, in front of everyone, that it most certainly WAS going to happen even if I had to get the principal himself to come in.

This awful moment has made me physically sick ever since.  Honestly, I am not sure how I am going to repair the damage done.  I'm already known as a pretty "mean" and unpopular teacher.  I am okay with that to a certain extent, but yelling is something I am working hard on eliminating in my family interactions and I don't want it to bleed into my work as well.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Dairy Dilemma

The little guy's dairy issues have me totally stumped.  Upon going back to work, we had to begin supplementing breast milk with a little bit of formula.  Not much, maybe 8-12 ounces a day.  I was worried because of his dairy intolerance that he would not be able to handle the whey protein.  Luckily, he seemed okay.  He spit up more, but was comfortable.  I assumed he had outgrown his dairy issues.

So last Friday I decided to test Liam's intolerance by eating a yogurt (and some chocolate too).  BIG MISTAKE!  The next day, not only was there projectile vomiting, he was shrieking in pain as well.  It sucked.

The confusing part is why he tolerates the formula but not a yogurt filtered through my body.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Big Weigh-in

I got my 5% star on Thursday!  In 6 weeks, I've lost 5% of my total body weight.  Since I'm a small person to begin with, 5% was only 8 lbs.  I've actually lost 9.5 lbs since starting WW, so as long as I don't go overboard during Thanksgiving, I should be able to get my 10 pound star at my next weigh-in in two weeks.

As for the work-outs, that has been challenging now that I'm back to work and completely exhausted at the end of the day.  I'm still doing them, but the running is not going very well. I have not been able to get past the 2 mile/25 min mark.  Some days even that isn't possible.  I did a 60 minute power lift class on Thursday and I am so sore.  My legs and butt are killing me, so Friday I got on the treadmill and couldn't run longer than 5 minute stretches.  Even walking hurt.  Then toward the end of my time on the treadmill (I think I was at 2.33 miles), this man got on the treadmill next to me and he smelled horrific.  Not like stinky pits, but like pure filthy funk. He smelled like he was homeless, which is doubtful given that if he were homeless he probably wouldn't have a gym membership.  The stink was so unbearable, I had to leave.

I am heading to a 30 minute step class this morning, still sore.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A change in plans

So I've been a bit nervous about the challenge placed before me by my principal last week: to develop and implement an individualized intervention program for the 10 lowest 8th grade readers in our school.  Obviously, I learned how the reading process develops and there are plenty of resources and information about working with pre-readers who are 6-8 years old, but for teenagers......not so much. My experience and most of my post-graduate study involves interventions for adolescents reading at a 4th grade level or above.

Today, the burden was lifted!  One of our Title 1 teachers who does have experience teaching older pre-readers agreed to take on the intervention class period in exchange for me teaching her 6th grade Title class.  That, I can do pretty confidently.  The curriculum is developed and I will have an assistant.  I haven't taught 6th grade in 4 years, so that will be a nice change.  It also means that I will get to know a group of 6th graders who will most likely be with me in 7th and/or 8th grade for top-tier when they exit Title.

So yay!

So the plan isn't going all that well

Keeping up with my blogging and my workouts while working full time is quite the challenge.  I'm not letting myself off the hook, just taking this first week to get adjusted to a much more compact schedule.

Pumping milk is also more difficult this time around as I am so much busier and have more responsibilities at work than I did 3 years ago.

All complaining aside, work is going well.  My top-tier classes are planned through winter break, so now I am focusing on my small-group intervention class.  It is definitely busy.  Fortunately, I know more than half my students from last year, so it was like I never left.

And that's all I have time for today!  Tomorrow is my Weight Watchers weigh-in and I'm scared.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Too old, too poor, but still want more (sort of)

Kids that is.  As much as I want to feel "done" having children, I don't.  I have the same feeling I had after Zozu....there will be another.  Logically, there are plenty of reasons why two children are enough for us.  I do not enjoy's super difficult on me physically.  It was hard to work, nearly impossible to sleep during the last few months.  All the nausea and "surprise" vomiting, the kind that gives about a 20 second warning.  The weight gain and subsequent work to take off the pounds.  All that is awful.

Then there's my age, which I think factors into the physical difficulty.  If I allow my body to fully recover from my  recent pregnancy and continue to protect Li Li's milk supply, it will be at least 7 months before even considering becoming pregnant.  That puts me at 38 during the pregnancy and almost 39 at the time of delivery and that is if we get pregnant right away.  Do I really want to be 60 at my child's graduation?

The biggest reason NOT to add to our family is money.  We are currently in a 1000 sf home with 3 small bedrooms (10 x 10) and only one full bath.  There is no real attic space and no basement.  Where would this third child sleep?  With his/her brother or sister I suppose.....a tight squeeze.  Selling the home is obviously not an option with the market the way it is and on my meager salary, there is little chance of getting approved for a loan large enough to cover a bigger house anyway.  Then there's the issue of child care.....if Dad works, then we pay for 2 kids in full-time daycare and 1 kid in before/after school care.  Estimated cost: $2300/month.  It just doesn't make sense.  That relegates Dad to the home for several years.  Will he even be able to get a job after that long away from the workforce?

So yeah, lots to consider.  And not a whole hell of a lot of time to decide.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Days 10 & 11 of 28 Ways

Idea #10: If you don't "need" it, don't buy it.  

Do not be drawn in by "sales" either.  There are always sales.  Seriously.  Set up an email address that you use specifically for shopping.  Subscribe to email alerts for all the stores you typically shop from.  You will soon discover that there are always sales going.  Check that account once or twice a week and clear it out.  When you really do "need" something, go to your special shopping email account and do it up.

Idea #11: Avoid commercials on TV.

These just suck you in and keep certain products (usually the worst ones) in the forefront of your mind.  Remember, these huge corporations have psychologists on staff whose sole job is to trick you into thinking their product is one you cannot live without.  So just avoid them.  How?  Limit TV watching in general.  This does not mean you have to avoid your favorite shows.  Utilize Netflix, OnDemand, or DVR and with the last two options, FF through the commercials.  If you are watching network TV with commercial breaks mute the commercials and get up and do something so you aren't looking at the screen either.  Think of all the crap you can get done in those commercial breaks.

Friday, November 12, 2010

What's wrong with my baby?

I am at a total loss as to what is going on with the little guy.  He began "spitting up" and gagging about 12 hours after birth.  I called the nurse in and she said he was just clearing extra fluid from his stomach.  Okay.

 He was a good eater from the start, nursing efficiently and often.......and doing a lot of spitting up.  At one of his earliest doctor appointments, I was told that he was just overeating and would soon outgrow it.  Okay.

At about 3 weeks old, he becomes "colicky" screaming for hours on end.  Pooping at least 5 times a day and constantly spitting up.  Another doctor appointment.  He *may* have colic.  Okay.  He will outgrow it.  Okay.  He is still gaining weight, so the puking is no big deal.  Okay.  We'll try some reflux medication. Okay.

The medicine did not help whatsoever.  I began asking other moms who suggested I cut dairy out of my diet and see if it helps him.  Okay.  He stops pooping frequently.  Still spitting up.  Another doctor appointment.  He *may* be experiencing difficulty digesting milk protein and if so, he probably would have trouble with soy too.  He has an immature digestive system.  He will outgrow it.  Okay.

I cut out all soy.  He begins seeing a chiropractor and taking probiotics. He improves.  Less vomiting.  Less screaming.  Not pooping very often.  Lots of gas.  We begin to phase out the chiro treatments--3 weeks between adjustments.  He gets worse.  No pooping at all.  Lots of pain, shrieking, increased vomiting.

He is now 4 1/2 months old.  I recently switched my primary care to a natural family clinic and explained to the naturopath what was going on with the baby, as well as my own life-long digestive problems for which there has been no real diagnosis.  She thought for sure gluten was the culprit.  I had my blood tested for problems with iron, thyroid and gluten.  All came back negative.  So still no definitive answers.  She suggested I go gluten-free for a couple weeks and see how Li Li reacts, mainly just to rule it out.  Then I need to bring him in for more testing.

I am considering taking him to a specialist at Children's Emmanuel.  I just want to know what is wrong with my baby and fix it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Days 8 & 9 of 28 Ways

Let's start with a funny.....

Idea # 8: Non-bathing.  Think of all the money you will save on bath products not to mention really sticking it to the man by "stinking it up" in capitalist paradises like shopping malls or even better, the workplace.  

I tried desperately to find a link to the article so you all could read for yourselves, but couldn't so I will try to summarize.  In the Oregonian the other day, there was an article about so-called "non-bathers."  Apparently it is a movement to return to the good old days when people reeked and had to slather themselves with perfumes to cover the nasty stench of sweat and filth.  The exception being that perfumes are toxic and pretty much taboo in the "natural" community (I personally decry perfume, but support bathing).  I do get that bathing daily is not always necessary in order to stay clean and it is a fact that daily hair-washing damages your hair and scalp.  But......the fact remains that we do live in a society that has certain social norms and expectations.  Yes, sometimes those norms have been discriminatory and in those cases it is important to fight the power and change the norm.  Non-bathing, however, can definitely go too far and I refuse to consider myself a hater because I would not want to spend the day working in a cubicle next to Stinky McStinker.  I can barely stand to ride in the car with myself after a workout....the smell of sweat is just plain icky.

Idea #9: Make your own cleaning products.  

This idea is one that we follow somewhat at our house.  No only does it keep you from supporting corporations that wish to chemicalize your home and body, it also saves money and is eco-friendly.  We have not yet ventured into home-made soap, shampoo, etc.  I may just give that a try at some point.  If you are considering going the "non-bathing" route due to the harmful chemicals in soaps, why not make your own.  That way the stink factor is under control and you can still call yourself eco-cool.

Oh crap...I forgot a day!

I suppose we can add this to my list of many failures.  The looming return to work has me a bit preoccupied and it is taking its toll on my physical health as well so I'm not feeling the greatest.  Strangely, I am not unhappy about going back to work.  I do like my job and am looking forward to the new challenge I had placed before me yesterday: developing a small intervention program for 8-10 functionally illiterate students of average intelligence (meaning they are intellectually capable of full literacy).  I have never worked with adolescent non-readers before, so this will allow me to learn something and apply it immediately.  It's also nice that I will have a work period every other day to develop this before actually beginning the program.

I still intend to keep up with blogging as I venture into the world of middle school from 7:00 am --3:00 pm each day.  I'm sure I'll have lots of humorous stories to share (those kids really are hilarious).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Major Regret

It is difficult for me to even write about this because it means admitting to doing something I find morally reprehensible: circumcision.  My husband and I disagreed on this subject and he does not have this level of regret.  He is still living in "his" reality which was that almost all boys were circumcised in the U.S. in the 1970s.  Of course, I don't want my son to be the one with the "weird dick" in the locker room as a teen, especially when he has a genetic predisposition toward a slight build and a late-onset puberty.  The thing is, now that the damage is done, I have seen a lot of moms changing their sons' diapers and at least 50% of those boys are intact.

I can only hope he doesn't hate us for doing this to him.

Day 7 of 28 Ways

Idea #7: Less is more!

We've all heard "you get what you pay for" and this mostly holds true (not always).  It is far better to have 5 pair of $100 shoes than 50 pair of $10 shoes.  This idea compliments yesterday's idea in that it fights the "planned obsolescence" that cheap commodities thrive on.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Day 6 of 28 Ways

Idea #6: Repair rather than toss and re-purchase.

I am definitely guilty of this one.  Too often I will throw away something once it's broken or messed up mildly and go out and buy a new version of the same item.  How wasteful!  And it encourages planned obsolescence which drives the greedy corporations to make more cheap crap with sweatshop labor.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 5 of 28 Ways

Idea #5:  Consign, consign, consign.

If you just can't let go of your favorite brands despite their *ahem* less than favorable business practices, you can still stick it to the man by purchasing them used.  Consignment and previously owned products are not limited to clothing.  Furniture, bikes, toys, and baby gear can all be purchased via craigslist if consignment store shopping is too labor intensive for you.  Many children's consignment shops operate on a trade system, so you bring in the stuff your kids have outgrown and get store credit toward things they can use.

My two favorite shops are Bella Stella and Piccolina.  And while I'm at Piccolina, I can jump across the street to Mother Nature's.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Day 4 of 28 Ways

Idea #4: Sew something!  This challenge is for me specifically since I purchased a machine over a year ago for the sole purpose of providing myself and the kids with inexpensive, sweat-shop free clothing.  Unfortunately, I have yet to learn how to use it.
Below you will see a list of things I have every intention of making.

1. curtains
2. tablecloth
3. pjs
4. skirts
5. dresses

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day 3 of 28 Ways

I sincerely apologize for the lack of links in this post.  I promise to revisit Idea #3 and add links to worker-friendly companies as soon as possible.  For now, I only have time to post the idea itself.
Idea #3: Buy products from companies or manufacturers who employ fair trade policies and even better, those who do so while employing American workers in American factories.
I know that sometimes it's just not possible to find what you need at a locally owned business, but you can purchase products that were made outside of sweatshops or made in the USA by companies who treat their employees with dignity, respect, health care, and a living wage.
My aunt has been an employee of Costco for many years and I know they are one such company.  In fact, it's a good place to apply if you find yourself in need of a job.
I hear a baby crying, so more later...I promise.

The Weekly Weigh-in

Hanging my head in shame, I stand before you humbled once again by my own hunger.  I failed the challenge to avoid snacking after dinner for a full week.  I made it two days.

On the up-side, Thursday is my Weight Watchers weigh-in and despite using up all flex points and nearly all activity points for the week, I managed to lose another pound.  I appreciate that WW is not a "diet" but rather a way of ensuring that you eat the right amount and right balance of foods each day.

I am doing a great job of staying off processed foods and refined sugars.  I am also avoiding soy and dairy due to the little guy's digestive issues.

So that's that.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 2 of 28 Ways to Fight Global Capitalism

Idea #2: Reduce your oil consumption.  The recent BP disaster and the controversial pipeline through the Middle East keeps our attention focused on the big oil companies and their seemingly unapologetic greed.  Additionally, a reduction in gas emissions lessens air pollution so it's a double good deed.

I did a simple search for practical ideas on cutting oil use.  Stuff anyone can do without drastically changing one's lifestyle or shelling out a bunch of money.  Here's the link...

Confidence and Perception

While returning from Zumba class yesterday, a Rolling Stones song came on the radio and I had an epiphany.....ugly people CAN be perceived by others as beautiful.  Case in point: Mick Jagger.

Okay, take a good long look and tell me if this man is not totally hideous. Eeeeew doesn't even begin to describe the unappealing body, distorted face, and horrendous wardrobe.  Nonetheless, tons of women the world over have found him super hot.  I'll concede that Mick's "rock star" identity automatically makes him more appealing than the average man, but still........not hot.

Mick's appeal I believe lies in his confidence and his own self-perception.  Do you think that Mick Jagger gives a shit that I find him ugly?  Why should he?  He's rich, famous, and has more women than he can manage even in his old age.  He marketed himself as hot and people accepted that.  

I want to challenge others to embrace their inner Jagger and adopt a more positive perception of their appearance.  This takes some work (you don't see me committing to doing it).  It involves reprogramming our thought processes.  Personally, I have spent most of my life seeing a fat and kinda ugly person in the mirror even though that has rarely been the reality.  The saddest thing about a negative self-perception is that other people tend to see what you see.  If you are projecting a negative self-image, then that is what will shine through.  You also lower certain expectations and seek out less than you deserve.  This is especially dangerous in terms of relationships (both romantic and platonic).

Like I said, I am not taking on this particular challenge, but I am working on changing self-perception in other ways.  I've spent most of my life focused on the outside and now and focusing on more on the internal.  More on that another day.

Viva le Jagger!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

28 Days and 28 Ways to Fight the Global Capitalist Machine

As I mentioned the other day, one of the things I'd like to accomplish during National Blog Posting Month is commit to doing something every day that fights global capitalism.  With the recent election results hammering me, I feel that individual consumer habits must change in order to prevent the almighty dollar from taking complete control politically.  Our economy will continue to fall into the toilet until we are all flushed away.  Oh wait....not all....the wealthiest Amercians will be doing better than ever. 

So what can we do as struggling Americans?  How can we jump-start our own economy and preserve the American worker identity? 

Idea #1:  Shop at locally-owned businesses.  Here are some ideas for those living in the Portland area.

Groceries: New Seasons Market (beware...Fred Meyer is no longer locally owned)
Fast Food: Burgerville
Fatty Breakfast Food: Elmers
Outdoor Clothing and Gear: REI
Hardware: Parkrose Hardware
Appliances: Standard TV & Appliance

I'll spare you my disgust at the election results

Instead I will write about my dream home.  The one I won't get because I choose to teach in a high-poverty school where kids just don't pass their OAKS tests as frequently as Republicans would like so it must be all my fault and I should be fired or at least kept from cost of living pay increases.  Oooops......not supposed to be talking about the election result.  *sorry*

We are hoping to have a larger home by the time Zoe is in 5th grade.  That means either selling our current home or doing an overhaul and adding a second floor.  I thought it might be fun to list out all the things I hope for in our next house.

Location: W/in the city limits and school boundaries so the kids will attend Franklin, Cleveland, Grant, or Douglas for HS.
Lot size: 7000sf is ideal
House size: 2000--2500 sf
BR: Master suite w/ plenty of closet space, large bathroom w/jetted tub and stall shower;  3 additional bedrooms--one for each kid and a guest room.
BA: master bath, 1 other full bath, additional 1/2 bath would be great, but not necessary
Floorplan: fairly open with living/dining/kitchen all w/in view
Family Room: either in a finished basement or above.  Must accommodate kids' video gaming area as well as movie-viewing.
Laundry: can be anywhere
Kitchen: large, lots of counter space and storage space; separate pantry for dry goods, double oven.
Green Features: lots of windows and skylights, rain barrels, bamboo, solar panels

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Writing Prompt 11/2

Tell us the story of a piece of jewelry you own. Where did it come from, and what does it mean to you?

When I was fifteen, I decided to leave the small theater school I had been a part of for four years.  I had never attended public school and, as an actor, was curious about "experiencing" the typical high school thing in order to use it later in my work.  I knew I probably wouldn't enjoy it, but nonetheless, I did it and looking back, I am glad.  I made several lifelong friends during the short time I attended FHS.

Now back to the prompt......the jade and silver ring.  As I was leaving the theater, one of my teachers and fellow performers was also leaving to take a job with a rep company in another state.  She always wore this ring on her pinky during performances.  I think it was a bit "much" for her everyday jewelry rotation.  While getting ready in the dressing room one evening, she gave me the ring.  She said it had been given to her in a similar way.  I still have the ring even though my fingers are too fat to wear it.  

A blog post a day....

probably doesn't do much of anything, but I've decided to join ~semi-crunchy mama~ in the NaBloPoMo challenge this month just for shiggles.  I am always at such a loss for things to write about when I actually sit down to do it, so please have no expectations of prolific ideas or witty platitudes.  I doubt there will be any.

So what will I be blogging about this month?  Perhaps the transition from maternity leave back into the working mommy camp.  Yes, I've done it before, but this time is sure to be a different kind of challenge.  My little guy eats a LOT more than Ms. Zozu did (yes, she's a "Ms." as you're never too young to be a feminist) and he has food intolerances even when filtered through my breastmilk, so that makes the whole thing much more complicated.

I also had this grand idea of giving myself and the 2 or 3 people who read this blog some simple ideas for fighting the big corporate giants (aka capitalist pigs) and doing each of them.  I know how to do it, yet I find myself often too lazy to DIY and instead running to Target.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Battle Wages On

It's been awhile since I posted on my war against fat and food.  In case you've wondered, the battle is still ongoing, however I am getting it under control and feel that I am slowly but surely winning.

I began Weight Watchers a month ago and have lost 7 lbs.  I am still working on eliminating snacking after dinner.  That is a difficult one to manage, but it's my goal for this week.  If I can make it a week with no evening snacking, I will treat myself to a 90 minute massage.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The battle rages on

Trying this post for the second time after Explorer shut down on me (I'm on the PC since I had to give my Macbook to my sub for work). 

I'm still fighting with the scale.  I took one day off my usual workout routine to have a family day (which included one off-plan meal) and I gained 2.5 lbs.  I know I shouldn't worry about weight especially while nursing a baby with intolerances to dairy and soy.  Weight Watchers begins at my work this week which means food journaling and point counting, so I'll probably do that here.  I'll post my food plan for the day in the morning and then report back with what I actually ate.

The positive side is that my running is going well.  I only burn 200 calories on each 30 min run/walk, but I'm building up to being able to actually do a real run in a few months.

Food Plan
B: oatmeal w/dried cherries & almond milk; coffee
L: spinach, banana, blueberry & flax seed smoothie
S: apple
D: spaghetti w/meatballs, 1 slice of french bread, small salad

Activity Plan
60 min Zumba class

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Girl vs Food: The final chapter

Weight: 154.5
It's been a week since I began this Girl vs Food series and in that time I have successfully broken the snacking habit.  My main focus was the elimination of nighttime snacks which I have done for 2 days in a row.  As part of a Biggest Loser weightloss team, I already post my food plans for the day, so I don't really need to journal everything I eat here as well.  I will continue to share new and interesting foods I discover in addition to writing about my journey to complete wellness. 
5:00: water w/psyllium capsule
5:15: coffee w/truvia & almond milk8:35: water w/fish oil, fenugreek, digestive enzymes

8:40: smoothie w/spinach, blueberries & banana

11:30: turkey, mushroom, cucumber, spinach sandwich w/tortilla chips; apple slices w/peanut butter

5:15: 1 BBQ chicken breast, steamed broccoli, corn w/smart balance spread, small salad, merlot x3

8:00: handful of skittles; 10 Ritz crackers w/pb

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Girl vs Food (day 6)

Weight: 154.5
I tried Connie's suggestion of eating a higher protein lunch and dinner to see if that curbed the desire to snack and it did!  I know I consumed more fat than usual, but not more calories and carbs.  I actually had a really low-carb day yesterday.  Today will be tricky since I will be gone at lunchtime.  Zoe has a playdate.  I will throw an apple and some nuts and raisins for both Zoe and me. 
6:40: 8 oz water w/psyllium capsule
6:45: coffee w/trivia & almond milk x2
7:15: 8 oz water w/fish oil, fenugreek, and digestive enzymes
7:20: flax and hemp seed granola w/almond milk
12:15: 1/2 cup peanuts & raisins
1: 45: apple3:00: spinach, peach & banana smoothie, ~15 whole grain crackers w/1/4 cup hummus6:00: 8 oz water w/digestive enzymes6:15: 2 small steak fajitas; 1/2 cup rice; Hansen's cane soda7:30: 2 prenatal mulitvitamins

Friday, September 17, 2010

Girl vs Food (day 5)

Weight: 154.5
I had some success yesterday with not binging at night.  Today I'm trying for the same thing--no snacking.  I'm beginning to detox and have been feeling sick so it should be easy to keep the eating under control.
6:45: 8 oz water w/psyllium capsule
7:00: coffee w/truvia & almond milk x 2
7:40: 8 oz water w/fish oil, fenugreek & digestive enzymes
7:45: 1 cup granola w/almond milk
11:30: 2 tbsp PB and 1 tbsp honey on 2 slices of powerseed bread; 1/2 cup peanuts & raisins2:45: green smoothie--spinach, 1 peach, 1 banana, 1 cup cantaloupe, 1/2 cup water
5:30: water w/digestive enzymes; 3 beef fajitas w/avocado; merlot x 2
6:30: 1 cinnamon jolly rancher

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Girl vs Food (day 4)

Weight: 156
Another attempt to avoid overeating.  I'm hoping to keep it under 2000 calories today.
7:45 am: 8 oz water w/psyllium capsule; 2 mugs coffee w/truvia & almond milk9:30 am: 10 oz water w/digestive enzymes, fenugreek, and fish oil9:40 am: double serving of oatmeal w/1.75 cups almond milk, honey, dried cherries & flax seeds1:15 pm: 8 oz water w/digestive enzymes; 2 slices of Dave's Killer Bread toasted w/half and avocado, 1 roma tomato, spinach, and 4 thin slices of deli turkey; 1 handful of Carmen's tortilla chips4:00 pm: 2 glasses merlot5:20 pm: 8 oz water w/digestive enzymes5:30 pm: 1 glass merlot; small spinach salad; 1.5 cup Barilla Plus penne w/sauteed veggies; 5 slices of whole grain baguette w/2 tbsp olive oil
6:00 pm: 1/2 glass merlot
8:00 pm: bowl of granola w/almond milk

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Journey to Wellness

My recent posts have been very weight-focused and while I do have 30 lbs to lose in order to be the size I was before the pregnancy, I have also longed to be a more athletic person.  Eleven years ago I decided to become healthier by doing 4 things: (1) high-protein mostly vegan diet, (2) quit smoking cigarettes, (3) 30 minutes of cardio at the gym daily, (4) give up car commuting and walk to work and walk to bus stop for longer trips.  At the time, I was 120 lbs and within a month, I dropped 8 lbs and felt great.  Unfortunately, this was short-lived and I was quickly back to my bad habits.

When preparing to get pregnant for the first time 5 year ago, I made sure I had at least these 3 criteria for good health: (1) no cigarettes, (2) no drugs, (3) no drinking to excess.  These three healthy habits have remained in-tact ever since, but that isn't exactly difficult to do.  So at least I'm not a drug addicted, cigarette smoking drunk.  I guess that's something.

While trying to get pregnant, I also attempted to begin running.  I tried to run around the block and made it about 1/4 of the way and ended up coughing for hours.  I just assumed I was physically unable to run.  I now think it had more to do with going from zero activity to running.  Last March when I did the Shamrock Bridge Stride 6 months pregnant, I decided that next year I would do the 5K.  That gives me 6 months to get my lungs and heart ready. 

My long-term goal is to be in top physical condition by my 40th birthday.  That is 3 years away.  I'm taking steps to reach both the short-term and long term goals.  Here's my starting point...

Monday 60 minute Zumba class (cardio)
Tuesday C25K (cardio)
Wednesday 60 minute Step & Sculpt class (mixed cardio & strength training)
Thursday C25K (cardio)
Friday 60 minute Zumba class (cardio)
Saturday 30 minute Step class (cardio); 60 minute Power Sculpt class (strength training)
Sunday C25K (cardio); 60 minute yoga class (core balance & strength)

I plan to follow this regimen as closely as possible for 8 weeks.  At that time, I will be returning to work and will need to adjust my workout schedule. 

Girl vs Food (day 3)

Weight = 157 (+2)

After binging last night, I am now up two pounds.  Two pounds in one day!!!!!!  I'm trying not to let my constant failure break me completely.  Unlike previous efforts to lose weight, this time my health is in jeopardy given that I am medically overweight for the first time. 

7:00 am: psyllium supplement w/glass of water, 2 mugs coffee w/truvia & almond milk
8:00 am: 1 mug coffee w/truvia & almond milk
8:30 am: 10 oz water w/supplements (fenugreek, digestive enzymes, fish oil)
9:00 am: spinach, canteloupe, blueberry, banana smoothie (14 oz)
11:40 am: 1 slice of whole grain toast w/avocado
12:15 am: 10 oz water w/digestive enzymes
12:30 pm: 1 cup quinoa w/cooked spinach, mushrooms, onion, garilc, olive oil & balsamic vinegar
1:45 pm: 2 cups hemp seed granola
7:40 pm: 8 oz water w/digestive enzymes & fenugreek
7:45 pm: 1.5 cup Barilla Plus penne w/ homegrown tomatoes, onion, garlic, mushrooms & zucchini, 4 slices of whole grain baguette w/1 tbsp olive oil
8:30 pm: 2 glasses merlot

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Girl vs Food (day 2)

Today I will also include the supplements I am taking and my water comsumption.  My goal for today is to resist the temptation to snack after dinner.  I will be going to a brewery at dinner time so I will be eating my own dinner at home, then allow myself 1 beer and water while there.  I really need a replacement habit for nighttime snacking--maybe knitting?  I'm not the knitty type, but maybe I could just make blankets.  They take a long time, are simple, and very useful.

Weight: 155.5 (+.5)

6:20 am: 2 mugs of coffee w/truvia and organic unsweetened almond milk, psyllium capsule w/8 oz of water
7:30: 1 glass of water with supplements (fish oil, fenugreek, digestive enzymes)
8:08: 6 oz water, large bowl of hemp seed granola w/almond milk
9:00: 10 oz water
10:30: spinach, blueberries, canteloupe, banana blended into a smoothie
12:30: whole grain toast with 1/2 avocado, tomato, cucumber, spinach.  multigrain crackers w/hummus
5:00: glass of merlot, quinoa w/onions, garlic, mushrooms, and spinach
6:30: 2 Laurelwood porters
7:30: ~10 french fries
9:00: ~2-3 cups of hemp seed granola

Needless to say today was a major fail in my battle against food.  Feeling lots of self-loathing.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Girl vs Food

Rather than spending any more time whining over how and why I feel so unhappy with my body, I've decided to track everything I put in my mouth.  I'm not going to waste time searching how much fat and calories are in everything at first...I'm just going to admit to all the snacking in hopes of truly understanding why I am all of a sudden so overweight. 

In doing this, I hope to be able to figure out why I've been trying to lose weight for 2 months and have not lost a single pound.  Am I eating too much?  Am I not active enough? Is there some other reason?  Do I need to see a doctor?

So here is what I have consumed today....

Monday 9/13
Weight 155

8:00 am: large bowl of hemp seed granola w/almond milk, 2 large mugs of coffee w/almond milk & truvia
9:30: small banana
1:00: large salad w/spinach, dried cherries, apples, walnuts, raspberry vinagrette, 6 slices of baguette w/olive oil
1:45: ~15 whole grain crackers w/hummus, jolly rancher
7:00: grilled bone-in chicken breast, 1 ear of corn w/salt & pepper, large helping of green beans w/salt,  glasses of red wine
8:00: bowl of kashi 7 grain honey cereal w/almond milk
9:00: a ton of cereal (maybe 2 cups)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fear and Loathing

This marks the beginning of a series on body image.  Like most American women, I've been battling my body and my weight for as long as I can remember.  There is not one person or incident to blame; it is a combination of influences we are bombarded with on a dialy basis in addition to my early involvement with ballet and theater. 

I recall going on my first diet at age 9 when I began getting more serious about ballet.  I had upped my lessons to 3 x per week and my friend who danced at a different studio had been promoted to pointe.  My teacher was right not allowing this for us, as 9 is too young to be destroying your feet and toes, which is what pointe does.  But the more weight you have on your toes, the worse it is.  I was not a fat kid, but I was not skinny either and I did NOT have a ballet dancer's body.  I'm a pretty strong-willed person though and I was not going to give up without a fight, so I stopped eating.  Of course this didn't last long.  My parents were not about to let me starve.  They had to begin assuring me that certain foods were healthy and would not make me "fat."  They tried to get me to be "okay" with not having a dancer's body, but that was very ineffective and just made me angrier.  I HATE things that I cannot control!

As you can imagine, puberty was a total hell for me (I suppose it is for everyone).  I was dancing 5 days a week and in an intense performing arts program where weight was a constant issue.  I still was not fat, but I went through a semi-chubby (not really, but for a dancer, yes) stage during 8th grade and was told to lose weight fast or be cut from a show.  This was the start of the crash diet and my ongoing mantra, "food is poison" that I would repeat to myself when I felt hungry.  I should say I have only recently given up that mantra and noticed myself slipping into it the other day in the car.

At 19, I had this terrible boyfriend who would make me tell him everything I ate each day and then criticize me for my bad choices.  He was such an ass.  And it wasn't just my weight...he complained about my skin and my hair too.  Reality check--my hair was not in the best shape, but I weighed about 110 lbs and wore a size 7 in juniors.  NOT overweight in the least.  In fact, I looked pretty good.  Thankfully, that relationship was short-lived with little harm done. 

This brings me to the present.  I am heavier than I have ever been.  I am truly, medically overweight by 30 lbs for the first time ever.  Childbearing and age have taken a serious toll on my body, not just my weight.  I now need to lose weight for my health, but I also need to gain body strength.  I am now trying to shift my thinking away from the scale and focus on the appearance and feel of my body.  I no longer have the desire to be paper thin and am striving for a more athletic build with minimal body fat.  I have a long way to go.

More later...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Did It: The birth of baby Liam

On Wednesday 6/23, I woke up feeling nothing, but by about 9:00am, I had some very light bloody show and some stronger contractions. I was also extremely hungry all day. My doula left for vacation that morning and I was planning to meet her backup (Bria) at a café at 10:00 am. Everyone freaked out about me driving to the meeting, so I called Bria and explained. She agreed to come over to our house and we had a great meeting. I actually liked her more than my original doula. After discussing my symptoms, we agreed that I would probably go into labor sometime in the next 24 hours.

My contractions continued throughout the day. We took Zoe for a walk to the park and then I went for a chiropractic adjustment, listened to my Hypnobabies, and had an acupuncture treatment (Chris drove me to both). I was getting a little discouraged because things were not really picking up. Chris and Zoe went to his parents’ hotel for dinner and I got some quiet time at home alone. I made myself a big salad with avocado and grilled chicken then got to bouncing on the birthing ball.

After putting Zoe down for bed at 8:00, Chris and I watched a movie and by 9:30 my contractions began to intensify. They still weren’t too bad and were irregular, coming anywhere from 10—20 minutes apart. At 11:30, I went to bed and tried to fall asleep, but the contractions were slowly becoming more intense and I knew there was no way I was getting to sleep. I got back up and tried to distract myself by watching tv. By midnight, I was having to really breathe anesthesia into my lower pelvic area and repeat to myself “my face, my hands, and my pelvic floor are completely relaxed.” I was getting pretty excited and confident that I would soon have my baby. I used an online contraction timer for about 45 minutes and realized they were lasting 1-2 minutes and coming every 3-5 minutes. At 1:00 am, I woke up Chris and told him it was time to call his parents and get ready to go to the hospital. I called the midwife and doula and within 30 minutes we were loading up the car.

The 15 minute car ride was very uncomfortable—sitting was bad. By the time we got to the hospital, my contractions were about every 2 minutes. The concourse from the parking garage to the hospital was locked for the night, so we had to walk around the entire building to the emergency entrance. I kept having to stop for contractions and it took forever to get inside. I checked in at maternity around 2:00 am. There was another mom at about the same point in the birthing process as I was who had the same midwife. Becky (the on-call MW) asked me if it would be okay for her student nurse-midwife to be with me instead and I said okay. She was great. She checked me and I was only at 3 cm. My contractions also began to slow, she had me get up and walk the halls to get things going again. We did that for awhile and then I wanted to go back to the room. They had me get onto the bed and lean over the back, which was elevated. That was a pretty good position for me, but in time, things began to stall out again (just not progressing) so I got on my hands and knees on the floor holding onto the back of the rocking chair. I was checked again and had gone to a 4. Then I moved to the birthing ball, then standing and holding onto the side of the bed. I was checked again about an hour later and was at a 6-7. That was my final cervical check. They got the tub filled up for me and I sat in there for about 25 minutes. As much as I thought I would love the tub, it was not as comfortable for me. It was too slippery and I did not like the weightlessness. I was beginning to hit the “transformation” stage while in the tub and was getting very vocal with every contraction. It took some time for me to get out of the tub and get back to my room even through it was just a few doors down the same hall.

I stood on the side of the bed again, then spent a lot of time on the birthing ball. Things were picking up and I could feel Liam descending into my pelvis. It was pretty intense, but I still felt in control. Finally, the pressure in my bottom let me know it would not be long before I needed to push. I said I wanted to try kneeling on the bed holding onto the back again for pushing. Things continued to intensify. The pressure of Liam turning from posterior to anterior while in the birth canal was difficult to handle. I was getting scared about pushing and began to feel really sick. This was shift change time for the on-call midwives and my favorite one, Patti, was there. She was the one who did my initial intake appt when I transferred to the practice. She was very calm and supportive. I said I was scared and she said that was okay, but that my body was made to do this and it will do it. She kept her finger on my third eye chakra to help get my consciousness out of my pelvis. I guess it worked to a certain extent because I was really able to let go and relax between waves. She offered to break my water and I said no. About 5 minutes later, my water broke on its own and I felt a great deal of relief.

The relief was short-lived, however, because with the bag of waters out of the way, Liam was ready to come out. It was at this point that I began to feel true “pain.” I was thinking how stupid I was for not getting an epidural at that moment. I knew I would survive it, but it sucked. I began vomiting (really dry-heaving) and I guess it took my attention away from the pelvic pressure. I think Liam may have still been turning. Finally, it was time to push and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I wanted it over fast and gave a good hard push (despite Patti telling me to slow down) along with a blood-curdling scream—out came his head. Then my body decided to take a break. Patti told me I had to push again right away. I said I needed to take a break and she said, “you can’t; the baby needs to come out right now.” I knew something must be going on with him so I pushed without a contraction to help me out. I had to push hard but I was able to get his shoulders and body out with just one or two more pushes. What a relief to have him out!

They told me to reach down and grab him and it was hard to do because he was so slippery. I also had to turn around to sit down. I knew I tore and needed to get stitched up. Once I was holding him, I could tell why they needed me to push him out so quickly—he was blue and not crying. His initial Apgar was 6. We tried rubbing him all over, but still no change so they took him over to the baby table and gave him some oxygen which required cutting the cord a little sooner than planned. While he we getting oxygenated, I delivered the placenta and reminded the nurse that I was going to take it home. She asked if I was going to have it encapsulated and I was hesitant to answer. She said---it’s okay, my friend is a homebirth midwife and she does encapsulation.

Liam was returned to me quickly and he looked pink and was crying. I held him skin to skin and he found his own way to the breast and latched himself on. I couldn’t believe how big he looked compared to how Zoe looked at birth. While I nursed him, Patti stitched me up. I had a 2nd degree tear from pushing his head out in one hard push. I kept saying, “I can’t believe I did it.”

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Patience and a return to the SAHD

I am now 41 weeks pregnant (in other words, a week overdue).  I have employed every possible natural labor inducing technique: Evening Primrose Oil, Black Cohosh, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments.  And there has been a little bit of progress toward expelling this child from the womb.  The anxiety over giving birth naturally in the hospital is gone.  I have zero fears at this point.  One way or another the baby will be born within the next 9 days (by induction on July 1 or 2 if necessary).

Now for a return to my SAHD post from many months ago.  It seems that our decision was made for us when my husband became yet another casualty of the recession.  Fortunately, I still have my job (for now) and probably will at least make it through the next round of budget cuts and teacher layoffs.  With unemployment and no childcare payments, we will be able to maintain our lives as usual.  We are very fortunate and realize that many families do not have it so easy when a lay-off occurs.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Going Hardcore

It's been quite a while since I've had the time to write here.  My job and my pregnancy have both transformed in the months I've been away from the bloggy world.  This post will be about the pregnancy and my preparations for birth and I'll save the work stuff for another day.

I have never been a fan of modern medicine.  Not that I don't think it saves us from loads of things that would have killed most of us by age 30 in centuries past, but I think often we are over-medicated and over-diagnosed.  The unfortunate reality of living in a capitalist country that offers health care for a profit is certainly a major contributer to the medicalization of otherwise natural processes such as birth and death.  Despite knowing that birth is almost always safe and rarely needs any kind of intervention at all, I was terrified to give birth for the first time. 

I was so ashamed and disappointed that I chose to have my labor induced for financial reasons (long story--save for later), and gave birth in a hospital with an IV, constant monitoring, and an epidural.  It is not at all what I imagined my birthing experience would be like.  Prior to becoming pregnant, I assumed I would give birth at home or in a birthing center in a tub with no medical intervention at all. But once I began trying to get pregnant for the first time nearly 4 years ago, I also became debilitated by fear---fear of pregnancy, birth, weight gain, parenting.  This became all-comsuming anxiety, therefore I chose to eliminate as many fears as possible by getting all the tests, having an OB rather than a midwife, and giving birth in a hospital where any possible emergency could be attended to immediately.  I told myself that if my first birth went smoothly, I would do it differently the second time.

My second positive pregnancy test came in May 2009.  I didn't think about looking for a midwife at first, I automaticallly called to set up an appointment with my OB.  I went in at about 4-5 weeks pregnant and was told it was still probably too early to see anything.  A week later I began cramping badly and bleeding.  I returned to the doctor and she confirmed that there was no fetus there, but a lot of tissue and things were not right.  We tried just waiting for nature to take its course, but it didn't, so I ended up with a D & C  in July.  What followed was more anxiety, weekly doctor's appointments and blood draws until the first week in September.  After five long months, my body was finally back to normal. 

October 6, 2010.  My husband's 35th birthday.  I came home from an after-work baby shower with Zoe and decided that just for fun, I would take my last home pregnancy test.  I certainly did not think I was pregnant, but I figured if on the off-chance I was, it would make a great birthday gift wrapped up next to the others sitting on the dining table.  Three-five minutes later, I saw the "pregnant" appear on my digital test and was definitely surprised.  Zoe was the first to find out.  I was nervous and decided to wait until I reached 7 weeks before heading to the doctor.  Still too afraid to go to a midwife after the long drawn-out miscarriage experience.

Everything was progressing normally.  No problems with me or baby Liam.  My amnio results came back 100% normal, I tested negative for gestational diabetes.  There was no risk for me having a natural, non-hospital birth.  But by this time, I was 27 weeks along.  I found a naturopath/midwife at a birthing center down the street from my house that was willing to take me as a patient, but unfortunately, my insurance would not cover a birth outside of a no birthing center.  And no home birth (not that I wanted to give birth in a tiny crowded house full of people and pets). 

Despite these setbacks, I decided to go "hardcore" with this birth---no meds or interventions.  I ordered the Hypnobabies homestudy course, hired a doula, and made a plan to discuss my birth choices with my doctor at my next appointment in April.  I could tell after the appointment that I would not be able to trust that my desires would be honored in their entirety.  I was very disappointed and discouraged.  I had two options: pay out of pocket thousands of dollars to give birth outside of the hospital, or go to the one in-network CNM practice and beg them to take me at 31 weeks. 

The morning after my appointment I sat in the staff room at school and called Providence Maternal Care Clinic.  I learned that all of my birth preferences were standard practice for them and they had one remaining spot for a June birth.  I took it even though I would not be able to get my first appointment until May 4th---34 weeks pregnant.  So now I am in full preparation for a natural childbirth in the hospital with a midwife and doula.

It is not my ideal birth, but it will not cost me loads of money and I will be able to live knowing I did birthing hardcore by choice.

Monday, February 15, 2010

So I guess it's time to update this thing (rambly warning!)

It has been quite the busy month and no real time to write anything of any consequence.  This is not a journal, so I'll spare readers the boring details of what has kept me so busy.  I'll just say work and winter illness has consumed most of my time (and still is).

One thing I'll spend some time on today is the introspective nature of these winter months.  Luckily, I am in one of the only places in the United States that is not covered in snow, but it is cold, dark, and rainy so much of our time is spent inside.  And instead of cleaning or organizing the home, I prefer to sit around the think about stuff.  There has been much talk recently about "moving home."  In fact, my oldest friend is doing it which really surprised me.  Then a few other people have brought it up over the past month.  The idea of being in a cooler place where you have no roots or connections outside of a job vs a shitty place where you have a good network of old friends and/or family.  Of course, this becomes more of a concern once you have children. 

Now I despise where I grew up.  I hate the look of the place.  I hate the oppressive feeling that permeates the over-crowded suburbs and freeways.  I hate the filth and disparity of weath within the city.  I hate the conservatism and the money and status-driven culture.  Conformity truly is king there and all of the "hates" are what drove me out of the place for good 14 years ago.  Despite all those things and the fact that I vowed never to raise my own children in such a culture, the isolation I have experienced during my 7 years in Portland actually got me to briefly re-evaluate my decision to be here when my "network" of old friends (many of whom have young children as well), my aging grandmother, and my parents live elsewhere.

Of course, after an entire day evaluating the job opportunities for both Chris and myself, reading various school report cards (mainly AYP data), and searching home listings, I came to the conclusion that my children would go to slightly "better" schools, we would lose approximately $10K in combined earning potential, and get less home for our money.  So yeah......definitely not worth it.  This confirmation was nice in that I was able to pat myself on the back for doing the right thing, however the fact remains that here in Portland, we have yet to develop a good network of people to rely on who also share a common lifestyle.

So I re-committed myself to trying to cultivate this network, since it is truly the only thing missing in our life here.  I went (for the millionth time) to yahoo groups and meetup only to find that most groups are: religious, very niche-oriented (west-slope scrapbooking stay-at-home moms of multiples), or are closed to new members.  I think I have about 5 groups "pending" acceptance.  Three of those have been "pending" for nearly a year.  I have actually joined 3 groups since having a child: 2 of them fizzled out and the other one just didn't feel right.  No other regular working moms there.  They were all artists who married doctors, attorneys, etc and were now uber-progressive stay-at-homes who all came to the park in the same $400 strollers, wore the same designer eco-friendly clothes, blah blah get the picture.

So here I am back at square one with the whole isolation thing.  I'll make sure to update if there is a change.  I did "apply" to join an atheist families group that I hope works out.  This no religion thing is a big part of the isolation.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


A few months ago, I read an article (can't remember where) about the increasing number of stay-at-home dads.  The reason?  The mass amounts of lay-offs due to the recession.  Apparently, more men than women have found themselves unemployed and therefore, staying home with their young children. 

Now that we are faced with having two children not yet school-aged, the idea of spending $2000/month September--June for two years, getting a toddler, a baby and two adults ready to go by 6: 45 am, and spending the evening in a scramble to wash bottles, prepare dinners, nurse a baby, and do laundry, clean bathrooms, etc sounds like my version of hell.  Mind you, my paying job requires me to deal with large numbers of 12 and 13 year olds for 6 hours, so there is little patience or energy left to manage the juggling act required to keep the family running.

Before you ask yourself: What is the husband doing?  Sitting on his ass drinking beers, farting, and playing video games?  I will tell you the answer is: No!  He is scrambling to prepare dinners for the crockpot, do the dishes, clean the cat boxes, pick up the dog shit from the yard, do the laundry, etc.  Thing is, even with two of us flying around the house at break-neck speed, the place is still a wreck and we are left stressed and exhausted. 

One possible, albeit financially precarious, solution to the problem is for one of us to stay home for two years until Zoe is in school and Nameless is 2.  Traditionally, it is the mother who quits her job, but in our situation, that does not make sense.  I am a public employee which means I carry our health insurance with very little out of pocket,  I have PERS (public employee's retirement), and I build seniority on the union payscale, not to mention that I earn 34% more than my husband does.  Last night, we realized that during the school year, all but $300 of my husband's monthly salary will go to to daycare.  If he quit his job, it would be an annual loss of $10,000.  I could earn back at least half of that by teaching summer school and SUN school classes, we would save approximately $1000 annually by not buying a transit pass for him to go to work, and we could switch to cloth diapers and wipes, saving an additional $500+ yearly.  Of course, we would still need to cut some "luxuries" like eating out and buying fancy foods, but we would have more opportunity to expand our garden and grow and can/freeze more food.

We have decided to take a "wait and see" approach to making this decision.  Exactly how much more hectic will it be with the new baby?  Is it worth the risk of not being able to re-enter the work-force?  Fortunately, a huge male ego is not a factor.