Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top 10 Violet Pics From 2009

A Year End Wrap-Up of Cuteness

10. A hot day at the park.

9. February's swimsuit shoot...what a little girl!

8. I'm a sucker for swimwear!

7. She's an American Girl!

6. A personal favorite...

5. Autumn.

4. Cowgirl.

3. With her Grammy.

2. Our beauty.

1. My Loves.

Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Truth in Diapers

When we switched ten days ago from disposable to cloth diapers for Violet I felt good about making the earth a little less of a (literal) shithole. I felt bad about turning my own home into more of a shithole. It seems there is an unavoidable truth that is this: Babies shit. Someone deals with the shit. If you do not deal with your own baby's shit, someone else (or likely, several someone elses) will have to do it for you.

On the one hand, you have the baby who shits (or pees, but, let's talk about the deuce for comparison's sake) in a disposable diaper. Up until this month, that is where Violet was doing her business. She takes a couple of two-spots a day and probably wets 3-4 other diapers. Those size 4 Pampers or Huggies or Luvs--we've never been brand loyal, whatever was on sale she soiled--mostly got put into our Diaper Genie. Occasionally a wet one would be tossed into the regular trash, but typically, they got gobbled up by the Genie. Changing a baby in a disposable diaper is a cinch. Peel back the tabs, wipe the privates, fold the wipe(s) up in the dirty diaper and mush the whole rancid mess into the blue plastic liner of the Diaper Genie. It's a thirty second procedure from start to finish and after the diaper had been used, I'd toss it and never ever think of it again. Except when it was time to change the Diaper Genie.

The day I, or, more frequently, Shawn, empties the Diaper Genie is a cold, scary, time when you come face to face with the enormous sack o shit you and your tot will be sending to the landfill (or here in Indy, the incinerator). For those who haven't seen what comes out of the Genie here's the gist: it is like a sausage. The casing is made of the Diaper Genie bag and the meat made of poo and pee diapers. It is as thick as your thigh, as tall as your knees, weighs about 5-8 lbs, and smells like the zoo on a humid day. And Violet was making one of those A WEEK. So, sickened, saddened and embarrassed, I began losing sleep. Then, I started researching alternatives to the disposables. That brings us to cloth diapers.

The variety in cloth diaper styles is staggering. As I started asking around, I found out there are many more kinds of cloth diapers than there are kinds of disposable diapers. There are Chinese prefolds, Indian prefolds, pocket diapers, cloth diapers with disposable liners, cloth diapers with washable liners, and about a thousand variations within those categories, i.e. hemp, cotton, unbleached cotton, organic, etc... To say I was overwhelmed as I tried to decide which cloth diaper would work for Violet is an understatement. The thing moms who diaper using cloth kept telling me was that once you get the hang of it, cloth diapering is just as easy as using disposables. This is a lie.

Remember earlier when I mentioned that someone has to deal with your kid's poop? Well, with cloth diapers, that someone is YOU. You deal intimately with said poop. With disposables, the rest of the world deals with the poop. With disposables, it is out of sight, out of mind. The cloth diapers are never really out of sight.

I settled on a cloth diaper called Flip. I bought one of their day packs for forty bucks to see if we liked it before investing the hundred or more dollars it takes to really start using solely cloth. The Flip system has two parts: a pretty pink cloth pair of snap on pants and an absorbent cloth insert made of cotton and microfiber. The pink pants are can be reused without being washed unless there is poop on them; they just require a new insert. The inserts are absorbent enough that Violet hasn't leaked through one yet and they do a good job keeping her dry. If she's wet, I just wipe her, throw the wet insert into the diaper pail, and put a new one in her pink pants. That really is quite easy. It's the poop that presents a challenge.

On the first day of cloth diapering Violet let go a #2 that would have tested a disposable diaper. It was like the universe was asking me if I really wanted to do this by throwing out the gnarliest test immediately. The poop was like a peanut butter clay and it was EVERYWHERE. The instructions that come with the Flip diapers recommend "tossing solids right into your toilet." They did not have a recommendation for how to handle a dump that was neither solid nor liquid nor gas, but was actually a unique fourth stage of matter that has never before been seen on earth. I held it over the toilet and wiggled it gently, trying to get it to slide off of the insert. I knew that eventually this thing was supposed to go in my washing machine but I had no idea how to get enough of the crap off of it to get it to that point. Realizing the poo was not going to budge by the force of gravity alone, I dunked the whole mess into the toilet and let it soak while I called my mom. She cloth diapered 2 of her 3 kids so I thought she might know what I had done wrong.

"I've missed a step," I told her and explained how the poop was all over the insert, the pink pants, and now, all over my toilet bowl as well. "I mean, I don't see how this works without me having to touch the poop." And that's when she told me the secret cloth diaperers do not share: "Honey," she said, "You do have to touch the poop sometimes."

So I stood there, peering into the toilet and contemplating how I had gotten to this point. Any poop touching that has occurred in the last 18 months has been accidental. A wiggly baby, an occasional smear--gross?--hell yes, but nothing a quick hand washing can't solve. But to deliberately touch poop repeatedly...I just don't know about that. I considered throwing the whole thing away and closing the book on cloth right then and there. I mean, Violet will likely be potty trained in a year or so, that's not that many disposable diapers more, is it? But, I flashed back to the Diaper Genie Crap Sausage and I shuddered.

Either I deal with her shit or someone else deals with her shit.

So I reached my hands INTO THE TOILET, and I swished the diaper vigorously enough to remove some of the peanut butter clay. I flushed. I repeated.

I am proud to say, I am getting the hang of using cloth diapers and I feel pretty good about it. The peanut butter clay crap is not Violet's norm and I often can simply "toss solids right into my toilet." I purchased more diapers and we have enough to get through about 1/2 the week without washing with is fine with me. I even bought cloth wipes which I though were just for crazy hippie moms who don't eat buy paper towels or eat sweetened peanut butter or let their kids believe in Santa. Now I understand that using cloth wipes makes sense when you are using cloth diapers because you can throw them all in the same diaper pail rather than putting your diapers one place and finding a separate trash can in which to throw away your wipes. And, really, the thing that skeeved me out about re-usable wipes was the hygiene factor but after I see how clean the diapers are after washing, I realized that wipes will be the same way.

Al Gore is not coming to my house to give me a medal for making the choice to cut our consumption by repeatedly touching poop. Violet won't ever care what kind of diapers she used. But I'm saving money on diapers. And I'm cutting down on our carbon footprint. And I would probably be a stronger contestant on Fear Factor.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Evolution of a Christmas Card

I spent an embarrassing amount of time during the last 7 days trying to create the cutest Christmas card ever. It started with an idea, discussion, then, a photo shoot. The photo shoot covered two locations, but our model only wore one outfit. And unlike her counterparts that took to the Victoria's Secret runway this week, Violet had to have her mom there to scrape boogers off of her face and wipe her snot in between takes.

We had lunch after the photo shoot and then the hard work began: photo selection and card layout. I tried to use iphoto, but didn't like it. Then I went to Snapfish, the site we've used for several other photo cards, but I am just over their designs. They all look the same as last year. So I finally settled on a site we used to design an invite last year called Vistaprint. They have cute designs, the website is easily navigated, the uploading is simple and the prices are unbeatable.

Once I started to layout the card according to our original idea, it became clear that it just wasn't going to fly. We didn't have the right pictures, and even though Shawn offered to take more pictures later on in the week, I just knew if I didn't get them ordered over the weekend, they would not make a timely appearance in people's mailboxes. (Proving my point: I'll be putting our "We've Moved" cards in with the Christmas cards. We moved in JULY!) So, instead of waiting for another round of photos, I used some of the cute ones Shawn took and just re-imagined what the card would look like this year.

One thing I knew: Violet would be on the card, Shawn and I would not. I love getting photos from my friends and family at Christmas whether it is just their little ones or their whole family. Seeing how much their kids have grown (especially when you never see them in person) is wonderful. But, what if I've grown since last Christmas? I don't necessarily want anyone commenting on that over a glass of eggnog. I see myself everyday in the mirror so I barely notice those little lines around my eyes or the extra puff in my cheeks. But, if you only see me once a year in a Christmas card photo, you notice. I will leave this open, how ever, and won't say that I'll NEVER put a picture of myself on my greeting. After all, there is still hope I'll become a marathon runner and be one of those 40-year-olds that make everyone want to puke, so, if that happens, expect to see me plastered all over my own card. Wearing a candy-cane striped bikini.

We are not above pet portraiture on the holiday cards. I can't remember if Scout has graced any of our cards since we were married, but I'm pretty sure her image went around the country wishing people peace and joy at least once when I was single. She turns 14 this year so if we want to have her star on a Pierce family card, then we'll have to put it on the list for 2010. But then that brings up the question of the cat. If the dog is on the card, will the cat feel left out? She is sort of a junior family member this year. We are not sure whether or not she gets a stocking yet so I'm on the fence about adding her to a card so soon. Shawn had a good point when he said that Violet got a stocking and made the card on her very first time out; but she is our human child and that must be worth something.

It seems like a lot of work to put into a card that will likely find its way into every one's garbage by the 26th, if not before. But, I figure these are the glory days of Christmas cards for me. In 15 years, when my family is all pimples and bald heads and saddlebags, there will be no picture greeting card going out. Then we'll be on to family newsletters and that will be a whole other story...

Thursday, November 26, 2009


To say I am grateful doesn't even begin to cover it. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Law of Halves

Today was Violet's half birthday. She's been around the sun 547 (or 548, my math is very loose, mkay?) times. So in honor of reaching the mid-point of her second year on ye old planet Earf, here are some halves in the Pierce family these days...

My showers are approximately 1/2 as long as they used to be. It is hard to take a 12 minute shower when a tiny person occasionally walks in, flings the sliding shower door open, and throws in a whole roll of toilet paper.

On the topic of toilet paper, only 1/2 of the rolls we buy ever actually make it to any one's bum. The other 1/2 of the shit tickets are routinely unravelled and dipped in the toilet or thrown in the bathtub.

1/2 of the days I used to go to work I now stay home with my Violet. That's a happy 1/2!

Each night, Violet spends about 1/2 of her sleeping time in her own bed. The other 1/2? You guessed it, tucked snugly in between Mommy and Daddy. Who wants to sleep alone, after all?

Only 1/2 of what Vi can say today was a part of her vocabulary last week and the new words are coming all the time. Some new favorites include bubble, rainbow, Grammy, Jack, Charlie, Brrrr (in Indiana, it's a word), cheese, truck, ball, backpack, and blueberry. Most of it is still in Violetese so if you're not around her frequently, the words are hard to make out. I guarantee she says all of them, though.

We can make it through 1/2 of the grocery store aisles before she has to have a snack. Usually that is close to the Goldfish aisle so it works out well. She used to get impatient and want a sample when we were still in produce which led to some bites taken out of banana peels and heads of iceberg. Those were harder to explain to the cashiers.

It takes about 1/2 hour for Violet to warm up when meeting new people. Mainly she looks down to avoid eye contact and clings to my leg or neck until the stranger has proven themselves to her. I hope she gets over her fear of people. I was painfully shy as a child and it really was a drag.

My life had 1/2 the significance, 1/2 the purpose, and 1/2 the love before Violet came along. The world was missing a really awesome person 1 and 1/2 years ago. I'm glad we added her when we did. We made a really neat kid.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mullet Glow

With no formal cultivation on our part, Violet has grown a tremendous mullet.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What To Eat

For the majority of my life, I have given little thought to nutrition. I've given a ton of thought to food, but not a lot of thought to feeding my body. I've been a Weight Watcher half a dozen times, I've read diet books, I understand the concept of taking in fewer calories than you burn to lose weight. I've done the calorie counting for so long that I know what foods are "good foods;" nutrient-rich, low calorie, fiber dense, etc. And I know that there are A LOT of foods that are pretty much like crack; addictive but empty and, in time, lethal.

Since my pregnancy, I began to think differently about my diet specifically and our food culture in general. Eating to fit into a pair of jeans or lose a gut is different than eating well, I have learned. The former, dieting as I knew it pre-baby, involved eating lots of substitutes for bad foods. For example, in lieu of eating butter (high fat=bad food), I would spray I Can't Believe It's Not Butter on everything. That choice, while it facilitated weight loss (maybe), isn't what I'd call eating well.

It wasn't just pregnancy that got me thinking about nutrition. As a matter of fact, I clearly remember my first trip to the grocery store after I found out I was expecting. It involved a cart full of Oreos, chicken nuggets, and tater tots. I could suddenly eat anything I wanted without even a twinge of guilt. If I was spotted downing donuts by a fellow Weight Watcher I'd just whip out my grainy ultrasound picture and tell her to shove off, I was growing a human. A human whose cell walls were coated in high fructose corn syrup.

The day my diet began to change happened while I was pregnant, but whether it was pregnancy related is not clear to me. It was January, I was 5 months along and I had just fixed dinner. A pot of chili was simmering on the stove while I waited for Shawn to get home from work. I had been listening to the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric and I walked into the living room in time to see a story about abuse occurring in a California slaughterhouse. Shawn came home at that moment and I was crying. I did not eat the chili that night and haven't eaten beef since.

I thought long and hard, after seeing that story and reading more about the meat industry in the United States, about what I considered good food. I cannot get past the cruelty; a gut wrenching video on the treatment of veal calves just came to my inbox from the Humane Society. Then there are still issues of how safe is it to eat animals raised confined in cramped cages, pumped full of growth hormone to fatten them quickly, and fed a steady diet of antibiotics to counteract the diseases that flourish among livestock kept in such poor conditions.

Shawn prefers to take an "ignorance is bliss" stand on meat consumption. He loves his steak and doesn't want to hear about the conditions that created it. I think a lot of us feel that way. I know I did for a long time. The thought of making a drastic shift in my diet based on something as seemingly far removed from my life as factory farming did not appeal to me. Out of sight, out of mind. Then I realized that if I was too squeamish and bothered by watching a video of how the animals I eat are raised, I shouldn't eat them, plain and simple.

And for Violet, ignorance is bliss is not good enough. I do not want her eating crappy food day in and day out. I want her to be aware of what it takes to bring food to her table not an ignorant consumer of whatever tastes good at McDonald's. I think our generation is so far removed from where our food comes from we started to think some really sinister stuff (trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, MSG) was fine simply because it tastes good.

So I am going to have to start being a better consumer. When I went off beef and pork, I started buying a lot of ground turkey products and using chicken more to fill in the gaps at dinnertime. I have been fooling myself into thinking that poultry production is better than any other kind of factory farming. Beginning now I want to know where all of my meat comes from. In France, consumers can actually trace a cut of meat from their butcher back to the farmer and even the actual animal from where it came. This creates an accountability that is unheard of in the US. I don't know that that level of accountability is possible, but I am going to start exclusively getting any meat we consume from the local farmers that raise their animals safely and ethically. (Our Thanksgiving turkey is coming from the same farmer where we get our pastured eggs, Gunthorp Farms in Northern Indiana). In the past, I've balked at the higher prices for these products until in occurred to me that I am willing to pay more for a better quality of food. And if that means we eat less meat to stay on our budget, so be it (sorry, Shawn!). We'll all be healthier for it!

Maybe eating better quality meat less often will justify the occasional (daily?) slice of apple pie!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Every time I take Violet to the doctor or even read's medical advice I get blog fodder. I am just baffled by how far off Western Medicine is from human nature. Or what freaks we all are at my house. Take your pick.

As I mentioned in my last post, we didn't see Violet's regular pediatrician last visit, but saw another doc in the practice. No biggie, they are all pretty nice. This doctor, a youngish woman, maybe my age plus or minus 10 years (I am a terrible judge of age and she had a really generic haircut that made it difficult to date her), asked all the normal well-visit questions. She wanted to know about Violet's development (words? understanding? fine motor skills?) and she wanted to know about her habits (sleeping? eating? crapping?).

The little gem of advice she handed out regarding night-nursing is what I keep rolling around in my brain. She asked where Violet sleeps and I told her the first half of the night she sleeps in her room and the second half of the night she sleeps in our bed. I don't know if I told her that I nurse her back to sleep when she wakes up, but the doctor (correctly) assumed that to be the case. Then she told me, "I realize it is easier said than done, but you may want to avoid breast feeding at night. At her age she isn't doing it out of hunger; she just is doing it for comfort. I know, though, that is easier said than done. Just, you know, it is a habit that will be harder and harder to break..."

Me: "Ok. Thank you."

Somehow, I don't think the doctor would have understood me when I told her that we dole out comfort to our 1 year old when she needs comforting. Day or night, we are those crazy parents who believe that if our baby is crying, we would like to help her stop crying. We are the fruitcakes who believe that when our daughter wants to nurse, whether it be out of hunger, thirst, or need of human touch, we'll cave in, putting her needs above ours. I just don't understand when it became a bad thing to nurse a baby to sleep and a good thing to let a baby cry herself to sleep. Who is that good for?

Sustenance comes in many forms and I can say with some degree of certainty that Violet needs more from me and Shawn than calories. She can walk now, too, so should we stop carrying her when she wants to be held? I mean, isn't she really just clamoring to be picked up out of her selfish, childish desire to be cuddled? That, too, may be a hard habit to break the longer we keep it up. I have to say, one of my worst fears is nursing her in the car right before I carry her in and drop her off at Prom. That shit happens. I can't say the doctor didn't warn me.

One last point on this and then I'll drop it. Calling nursing a toddler non-nutritive is really a mistake. Worldwide, the average age of weaning is 4.2 years. Studies point to around 6 years of age as being the point when a child's immune system fully matures. The maternal antibodies produced in breastmilk continue to provide protection to the nursling long after s/he begins to eat other foods. Look at it like the green tea of the toddler world. Only way better.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Violet is destined to be a model. A SUPERmodel. I just know it.

Just like every kid who loves cars will be a race car driver, and every baby who throws a ball is going to be a baseball player, and every toddler who loves dogs is going to be a vet; now mine has an early vocation, too.

See, Violet is tall and underweight with a huge melon which clearly qualifies her for the most prestigious of all chic jobs: SUPERmodel. How do I know that she's model material, you ask? Well, my friendly pediatrician told me so.

Every infant/toddler "Well Visit" begins with the all-important ranking of the babies. It looks a lot like the last 25 minutes of The Biggest Loser; there is a scale, there are fat rolls on legs and wrists, lots of white skin, and usually some crying. The peds nurse who plots your baby on the infant growth chart isn't really supposed to diagnose anything by these numbers, but you can tell when she finds a kid who is more than a standard deviation from the mean, she makes an asterisk by the number in the chart so the doc can grill you about what in god's name you are doing to your baby that has caused her to be so not-normal.

So, at 17 months Violet is a 19-30-20. It's kinda like the bust-waist-hip ratio that defines a woman's beauty except these numbers refer to a baby's head circumference, length, and weight. And instead of just delivering you the numbers, plain and simple, the pediatrician also goes the extra mile and tells you how your wee one stacks up against other babies in the country. Because that is a good thing to know.

"No two children are alike. They all grow at their own pace. Don't compare your child to your neighbor's, they're individuals."

But really, don't you wanna know how your baby compares? Should you be more winded at the playground toting around your baby than another mom or are you just out of shape? If your sister's baby picks a fight with yours, who will come out victorious? Are those leg rolls really just cute baby fat or did you give birth to a lardass?? These burning questions are why I go to the doctor, plain and simple.

And why do growth charts seemingly disappear from doctor's offices once we reach a certain age? Why don't 20 year old women get to hear where their weight falls on the chart? That would be an interesting tidbit of news for the nurse to deliver. "Well, let's see there, Jenny, you are 140 pounds and that is in the 70th percentile for 20 year-olds. That means you weigh more than 70% of your peers. Congratulations. I'll get the doctor."

Violet's percentages are 82-64-5. Like I said, bigger melon than most, taller than a lot, and skinnier than almost all. These percentages prompted the doctor to ask me what kind of milk Violet is drinking (whole and GASP, still breastmilk as well), how much she's eating, (a lot at times, virtually nothing at others), and what her poops look like (to varied to describe in this forum). The doctor (who isn't our normal pediatrician, I should add) told me she isn't concerned yet about Vi's weight, we'll just need to watch it. When I inquired about what we would do if it did become a concern her advise was to add extra butter to Violet's baked potato and give her Baby-Ensure. Sounds genius.

All of this is good information to know, however. For instance, I know to buy hats that are 18-24 months instead of trying to squeeze my giant-headed baby into a 12-18 month chapeau. Now that I realize that Violet is of fairly average height, I will know that other 18 month-olds who tower over her at playgrounds are freaks and probably have that Andre The Giant disease. And, maybe most importantly, I know my tot has a bumping bod that is made for a two-piece and I'll definitely make sure she rocks her bikini all weekend long when we get to the beach tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

No Stable Required

Violet is an animal lover. Thinking she'd like to watch the ponies at a recent festival, we walked over to take a look. Violet was done watching in about 30 seconds and wanted to RIDE! She spend the duration of the 3 minute ride making her horse noise and swatting at Shawn trying to get him to let go of her so she could ride her pony solo. And I thought she was too little!

I am sure when she gets older she will show up at the front door with puppies who followed her home and kitties she "found" in the street. I know that to be true because that's the kind of kid I was. Any animal, whether he was truly homeless or just strayed to the edge of his driveway, became my pet for the day. I would work on luring the cat or dog home, usually with a Kraft Single as my bait of choice. I succeeded in getting quite a few of them back to the house, only to be denied entrance by my Mom or Dad at the door. "We already have two cats" they'd say, and reason that bringing in the newcomer in will throw off the tentative balance in the house. So I'd set up a creche in the garage and hold vigil with my new pet until it eventually tired of being a prisoner of love and escaped back to the mean streets of Indianapolis.

Many of Violet's first words are animal noises. Do those count? She can imitate a dog, (ruff, ruff), a chicken (bok, bok), an elephant, (bbbbbvvvvrrrrr), a lion, (roar), a snake, (ssssss), a horse, (pbpbpbpb), and an owl, (who, who). When she began walking this spring, Scout was often her first destination. Violet would muster all of her balance to toddle over to the dog who would snarl a hot-breathed growl in her direction when she arrived. Scout's out and out loathing of her new owner has only grown, and seems inversely proportional to Vi's love for her dog. The low grumble of Scout's growl served as a daily reminder for me and Shawn that this Lhasa we own is not a family friendly pet.

So, we did what any good parents would do. We got Violet a pet of her own. After we got settled in the new house, we spent the better part of the next month looking for a cat. We combed Craig's List and PetFinder, we visited the Humane Society, we even drove to Muncie to meet a potential adoptee. Our cat standards really aren't that high, we just kept hitting road blocks. The Indy Humane Society only had a handful of cats up for adoption because many of their animals were quarantined after being exposed to a virus. We'd find what looked like the perfect pet for Violet, make the call to the owner, and hear that he had just been adopted. All we wanted was an declawed adult that didn't have any history of mauling babies. And finally, we found her.

We adopted Sasha from a rescue group that operates out of a local pet store and we definitely found the perfect animal for us. She is litter trained and friendly and, most importantly, she will let Violet have her way with her. The cat is either extremely grateful for being rescued, really a fan of 1 and a half year old lovin, or stupid as hell. Violet makes sport of chasing her from bedroom to bedroom and still hasn't gotten that Sasha's tail is not a handle to be pulled. There is a certain shriek Violet reserves only for her kitty and, miraculously, the cat takes it and comes back for more. Ears splayed, tail flitting, she lays on the bed next to her toddler and begs for more. I can't help but think of a pledge at a fraternity who wants desperately to fit in. "Thank you, sir! May I have another!" It's Sasha's motto.

So, Sasha is the anti-Scout. Even after a day of Violet's special brand of love, she'll curl up right next to her at night.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Shawn told me tonight that one of his students has Swine Flu. Last week he got an automated phone call from Brownsburg School Corporation that Whooping Cough has been circulating. Recently, signs have been posted all over one of the homeless shelters where I work reminding residents to WASH YOUR HANDS, as there are 22 families living there at any given time and sickness runs rampant. Oh, yeah, and the bedbugs. One of our shelters has an outbreak of bedbugs.

Is it any wonder that I get home from work and refuse to touch my sweet child who is screaming for me until I have stripped down and scalded my hands as I scrub? Should I be surprised that I have dreams about getting lice? Am I a worry-wart when I won't let Shawn have a snack when he gets home from work until I see him wash his hands?

Violet has a routine doctor's visit coming up next week and I am still debating over the right choice for her vaccine-wise. Up until this point, we have had her on a delayed immunization schedule, so she's getting everything that the CDC prescribes, but at a much slower pace than they recommend. Instead of receiving 3,4, or even 5 different inoculations per visit, Violet only gets two. The idea is that she will be fully immunized by the time she begins Kindergarten, but she will not be at risk for any (real or perceived) interactions between vaccines. Also, if she does have a bad reaction after a round of shots, it will be much simpler to identify which vaccine was the culprit.

Besides spreading them out, I have put an out-and-out hold on a couple of the more controversial vaccines; the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and the flu shot. The MMR is the vaccine that is most frequently sited as having negative effects and often comes up in discussions regarding autism. This shot is usually given (per CDC guidelines) as early as the 12 month visit. We are going to wait until Violet is at least 24 months to give her the MMR. I would like for her to be speaking clearly so that she can articulate any problems to me.

That brings us to influenza. Until this year, I never gave the flu shot much thought. Some years I got one, some years I didn't, and I never noticed any correlation with my illnesses or lack thereof one way or another. When it comes to Violet, I figure why risk an extra vaccine when the severity of the illness didn't seem to warrant it? I know that people can and do die from the flu, but, the risk seems acceptable to me. The Swine Flu (I refuse to call it by any other name), seems a bit more ferocious. From the accounts I've heard, it sounds like a huge bitch. I don't doubt that most people who get it will live to see another day, but the severity and duration of this one sounds brutal. I heard a frightening story on NPR about a nurse working in D.C. who lost a pregnant patient to Swine Flu. The nurse was devastated and you could tell that encounter was enough to scare the bejesus out of her and make her respect the power of this strain of flu.

Am I scared of it? I guess, yeah, I am. I really don't want to be sick like that, I don't know how I'd take care of Violet. I don't want Shawn to get sick like that; I make a really poor nurse. Mostly, though, I don't want Violet to get sick like that. Even her sniffles break my heart and when she has a fever--forget it. I am a nervous wreck.

But, I don't think we're going to get her vaccinated for Swine Flu. The lack of testing on this vaccine does not sit well with me. No one knows how well it will work, either, and that also, seems asinine. Some of these shots have mercury (one of those red-light ingredients) and they all require the patient to receive 2 doses for "complete" coverage. That, in addition to all the other vaccines that Vi is still in line to get this winter, and it just becomes too many for me to feel comfortable with. I've done my homework, I'll hear what our pediatrician has to say, and then Shawn and I will weigh the pros and cons.

So, yes, germs freak me out. I'd like to have a safety bubble around our house so no outside germs could penetrate it (no lice either!) but I know that's not an option. So I'll keep washing every one's hands, try to keep my fingers off my face, and hope to God these decisions are never something I end up regretting.

Monday, September 28, 2009

My Number

Every female knows their number. Your number isn't necessarily how much you currently weigh, but it is the number you once weighed or the number you've never weighed but always wished you'd weigh, or the number you think your friend who is your height weighs so you figure you should weigh that, too. Maybe your number was your weight in high school or college or at your wedding. Whatever the significance, I think most of us are always on a quest to get to that number.

So my number for a long time was 130. I don't think I've ever weighed 130. I may have briefly weighed 130 on my way from 129 to 131, but I've never actually held my weight at 130. Why did 130 become my number? I'm not exactly sure. It seemed to be a healthy weight; not to fat but not unattainable. 130 was the weight my Mom was (maybe is right now) and she seemed slim and pretty, a good role model as I grew up. 130 is toward the bottom of my range as provided by Weight Watchers. 130 seems like a number you could have on your driver's license without fear that the bouncer carding you might think you're a fattie.

When Shawn and I got engaged, I went back to Weight Watchers, hired a trainer, and set my sights on 130. If I didn't get to 130 for my wedding day, I figured, I would never get to 130. So I worked out, lifted weights, saw vast improvements in my fitness level, ate a very healthy, balanced diet, and never saw 130. I felt great on my wedding day, despite being many pounds heavier than I had planned. My dress fit beautifully, my arms didn't jiggle violently, and I was head-over-heels in love with my fiance. Had it been a different time in my life, had I not lost my Dad 3 months before my wedding, I probably would have obsessed over the number on the scale. But that spring, those awful weeks when we helped my Dad leave the world with all the dignity he could hold onto, really put the number in perspective. I was surrounded with all the people who loved me the most and people who gathered to celebrate a milestone for me and Shawn and 130 seemed irrelevant. So, that's how I gave up on 130. I guess after seeking it so long, there is still a part of me that believes at 40 I will become one of those late-blooming triathlon athletes and maybe then I'll see 130. But that's a pretty small part. Like maybe only a pound of me.

The bigger part of me, like the other 145.8 pounds of me, figures this weight is about where I shake out. (If you are a between the lines reader and also good at math, you may be able to figure out how much I weigh. When my number was 130 I NEVER would have released that info to ANYONE without MD following their name. And even the MD's usually got the -5 estimate.) I'm eating relatively healthily, lots of greens, leaves, and fruits, no red meat, and the breastfeeding allows me more sugar than I'd probably get without it so my sweet tooth is satisfied. I've felt compelled to offer Violet fresh food, including lots of veggies and fruits, and I think it has rubbed off on me. Wine is a regular part of my diet as is pasta, and I put butter on things that need butter. I feel happy after meals, though I still occasionally overeat, I feel more relaxed about it. Truly no guilt.

There are improvements I could make, must make, to be as healthy as I want to be. Mostly, I need to get back to exercising regularly. Around this time last year, when Violet was 5 months old, I found an elliptical trainer on Craig's List for 80 bucks and convinced Shawn we HAD to have it. This piece of equipment, I knew, would be the end of my puffy, jiggly, post-baby body and the only route to shedding the 25 pounds that stood between me and my pre-pregnancy weight. So, we bought it from a chubby lady, jury-rigged it in the CRV, and drove home with it sticking out of the back end.

Our tiny bungalow was filled to the brim with baby paraphernalia and had no space for the machine except for a corner in our leaky, 90-year-old, basement. So it wasn't exactly the most appealing place to spend 20-30 minutes sweating off baby weight. I had worked out on the machine 4 or 5 times the morning I saw a mouse in our kitchen and then never used it again. What is the mouse-elliptical connection? If that mouse ventured to the bright, cheery, kitchen to fuck with me, imagine all his creepy, skittering, mouse friends darting around the basement waiting to drop down from the ceiling onto my head and down my shirt while I was on the elliptical listening to my ipod so I couldn't hear them coming. See? Case closed, workouts over.

A year later, through no herculean efforts on my part, I've gotten back to where I was when Violet was conceived minus and extra 3 pounds (have I sung the praises of nursing frequently enough on this blog? If not consider me belting it out right now)! The oft-neglected elliptical made the move to the new place where it is waiting in the garage to find if and when it will be allowed in the house. I know I need to initiate and stick to a regular workout schedule; the things that are most important to me in life rely on it. I actually love working out once I establish a routine and I know that fitness will be key if I want to have a successful VBAC with our next baby. The lung disease that killed my Dad as well as his siblings is showing disturbing familial ties and I suspect cardio-vascular fitness won't hurt my chances of avoiding or surviving it should (God forbid) Pulmonary Fibrosis be in my genes. And, not as tragic, but definitely worth a mention, I have the beginnings of Mom-Ass and I would like to nip it in the bud before Lee is the only brand of denim that fits me.

So, I'm moving the elliptical in today. It will sit in one of the spare bedrooms and I have my fingers crossed that it will fit in a spare closet when we have guests or parties. If it doesn't fit and has to sit out, I suppose that there are worse things than having people know that Shawn and I own a piece of exercise equipment. Like, for instance, wearing Lee jeans.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Snot Nose

As if on cue, Violet and I both got our first colds of the season this week right as the official last day of summer cashed out. Shawn has, thus far, remained healthy. It's not the Swine Flu, thank Christ, but a mild runny-nose-itchy-throat-pain-in-the-ass-cold. Mine is only a figurative pain in the ass, but Vi's virus was accompanied by a diaper rash, too. As if having a raw nose isn't annoying enough...Poor Chicky!

Violet has been in beautiful spirits, though, just running a bit more slowly. The most heartbreaking thing is that she's too congested to nurse, so when she wants to snuggle in and just totally relax, she ends up unable to breath. Tonight as I put her to bed, we repeatedly tried to find a position where her nostrils might clear enough so she could get a breath while she nursed, but didn't have any luck. I sat up and cradled her, we tried to nurse side-lying, I laid down and laid her on her side on my belly but nothing worked. She's such a trooper, though, she didn't get mad or cry a bit. In fact, she let me give her face tickles (a Bill Schroeder specialty) while she got cozy on my lap and zoned out.

We even crawled into the rocking chair in her room, the chair we never use, and rocked off to sleep. This rocking chair is not the uber-cush one Grammy bought us before Vi was born. It is the wooden chair that I was rocked in as a stuffy-nosed kid after my Dad gave me a sip of a horrible hot lemon-whiskey concoction that probably would have gotten me to sleep if I could have choked it down. This is the chair that is pretty to look at, but not quite as great to sit in. But, you know what? It did the trick. In about 4 minutes, Little V was sound asleep and easy to lay down. She was sooo ready to sleep, just needed a little help getting there. What a pleasure as a parent to be that helper.

I am listening to her mouth-breathing on the monitor right now, bless her little snot-filled nose. Hopefully, this is our first and last cold of the season and this will be as bad as it gets. That would be fantastic. I know we can't have summer weather all year round in the Hoosier state, but is summer health for my kid too much to ask?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sing A New Song

It really is a wonder that there are not more love songs written about babies. The romantic love that everybody is always crooning about is awesome, but it is so overdone. I can only think of a handful of songs written for babies. And, really, that love is just as kick ass as the kind of love between man and woman (or, I assume, man and man or woman and woman).

Maybe it is just because young lovebirds have nothing but time on their hands to sit around and ruminate about their mates finer features. When you're 23, spending 4 hours laying in bed leafing through photos of your crushes seems like a legit way to spend an afternoon. And, if you're the creative type, maybe you jot down a verse or two when you feel inspired and-- Voila--Brown Eyed Girl is born.

Then, you knock up the Brown Eyed Girl and she spawns a Gray Eyed Girl and suddenly your love multiplies. But your time is divided. The four hours you used to spend with the photo album strumming a guitar in your room becomes 1 hour shoving baby snapshots in an drawer before the baby shreds them. You've probably had to hide the guitar in the closet because she keeps dragging it by the neck down the stairs. So, see, it isn't that the emotion for song isn't there, it's just that new parents are robbed of the creative process they need to create something memorable. The creation is the baby, and like a new song, she requires a lot of attention and tweaking in her infancy. So you have to ignore the rest of the catalogue to get this one right.

But, honestly, the emotion is there. It is a fierce love, more constant and certain than anything I've ever felt before. I wish I could do Violet justice in melody and verse, but the best I can do is hum You Are My Sunshine to her when she's falling asleep. I don't think that she's any kind of Baby Bono or anything, but the kid does love music. Unfortunately for her, the songs that usually come to mind for me to sing to her are from my 12 years of Catholic school. She hears a lot of Eagle's Wings and Were You There When They Crucified My Lord. Neither age nor season appropriate but I'll be damned if I can't sing all those diddies start to finish.

We took her to her first concert two weekends back. It was Old Crow Medicine Show and she was tapping her toe and doing her twirls all evening long. She even got to meet Ketch, OCMS's lead singer after the show. You can see, she (or at least her Daddy) was thrilled! Then, at Uncle Jeff and Aunt Steph's wedding last weekend, we had to pull her off the dance floor. And, I swear, she was clapping along in perfect rhythm to Play That Funky Music White Boy. Later Labor Day weekend, Violet took in the 54th Street Jazz Festival with Patrick as well as a televised Metallica concert late that evening and followed each with equal gusto. I'm glad that her musical taste is broad. I'm sure she'll find her own favorites soon enough and never believe she gave the crap we play for her the time of day.

Tomorrow she and Grams are hitting their first Kindermusik class of the new season taught by none other than Auntie Aly. If possible, Vi will probably fall more in love with Aly after she sees her singing all her kiddo friendly tunes tomorrow. Maybe Aly would even throw in a verse of Play That Funky Music White Boy or a tune from Glory and Praise Volume 1. Either would be a big hit with our girl!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Kool-Aid Mustache Required

Shawn's best friend and roommate for years, Pat, had these words of congratulations for me upon learning Shawn had proposed:

"Well, that's a mighty nice ring he got you. Just remember, you marry him and you are in for a bunch of kids running around wearing nothing but diapers, cowboy boots and Kool-Aid mustaches."

Once I mix up a pitcher of Purplesaurus Rex, the Prophesy will be complete.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Forking Peas

Violet has had considerably more success of late with using utensils during meals. She's moved on from the shoveling motion of the spoon to the more intricate stabbing of a fork. Not quite chopsticks, but still.

The dulled tines of her toddler fork were no match for the peas, however.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fool Me Once...

Almost every woman loves to tell her birth story. Whether her labor began during American Idol and ended before the evening news or lasted for days on end, it is a story worth telling. The end result--a precious, hopefully healthy, baby--makes it instant family lore and a tale that will be repeated as long as women gather and share their experiences. So having a birth that was a bummer, is, well, a bummer.

Before I get reprimanded, let me emphasize that I know the point of pregnancy and birth is a HEALTHY CHILD and god strike me down if I fail to be grateful for the soft, glorious, human that is Violet. I would have squeezed her out of my nostril if that was what was asked of me and would sleep in a box of live mice every night if it would keep her out of harm's way. She is my blood, my life, my sweet child, and she is far more of a blessing than I have ever earned.

That being said...

Violet's birth was, in hindsight, far from my ideal. My labor was induced at 40 weeks even and ended in a cesarean section. If I had had any idea what kind of parent I'd become prior to V's arrival, I might have done a little more planning, a little more reading, really brushed up on what kind of care and medical advice is being doled out in OBs offices and delivery rooms in the US these days. Had I known that my blind trust, my desire to meet my baby NOW, would have left a permanent mark on my body as well as severely limited my available choices for the rest of my childbearing years, perhaps I'd have thought more seriously about my decision.

And maybe that is why I feel cheated. It is not that I had some grand plan for natural childbirth when I went into this and maybe that is where I went wrong. I wanted an epidural if the pain became overwhelming. I got one long before the pain was too much; the nurse anethstitist must have been a GM dealer in a past life because he convinced me if I didn't have the epidural NOWNOWNOW he may be tied up with other patients and THEN WHAT?? It should have tipped me off when I got the feeling that the hospital was trying to sell me something. That's not why they're there, is it??? If I'd had that plan, if I'd researched my options independently, if I had felt that I'd given Violet's impending birth the study it deserved, maybe ending up with a C-section wouldn't have been such a kick in the ass.

The induction--yep--I wanted that, too. I was over 200 pounds, constipated, weepy, scared, eager, had hemorrhoids, couldn't breath, couldn't sleep, and had no realistic concept of time. The possibility of going 3, 7, 10 days beyond my "due" date was inconceivable. So when my OB offered to bring me in on May 12, the day that had been circled in red on the Pierce calendar for 40 weeks, I agreed and thanked her. And when she ducked out of the exam room leaving Shawn and I to schedule the induction for Monday morning, she even implored us, "If anyone tries to tell you anything bad about being induced, call me. It is perfectly safe."

And I trusted. And we induced. And I lay on my back or side for 15 hours, wearing a fetal monitor (external til noon, internal after doc broke my water), hooked to an IV releasing Pitocin into my bloodstream causing my uterus to contract, not that my cervix ever took note. So after a long day of fake labor, and a measly 3 cm of dilation, my Doc called the game on account of darkness, and wheeled me into the surgical delivery room, where I had the most miraculous experience of my life. Or at least Shawn did.

So, that's my story...and if it ended with that story, maybe it wouldn't be such a sore spot. But Violet's birth story is, I have every reason to believe, going to be only the beginning of my Cesarean saga. Since her birth, (I sure wish this sentence began "Before her birth"), I have read oodles more literature about birth in this country and seen how Violet and I were a part of that machine. ( I'll add some links to some of my favorite sites at the end of this post for those of you who are riveted.) I've realized that the medicalization of a wholly natural human process is taking us further away from our parenting instincts instead of empowering mothers to trust their bodies and listen to their babies. Since Violet was born I have realized how often I act on my instincts and her cues as I mother her and how that rhythm was disrupted when she was born. I've seen how far removed from natural human behavior so many of us are when it comes to our babies; whether it is the mother who lets her tiny baby "cry it out" despite her heart that aches at doing so; or the mother who had every intention of breast feeding her child but convinced herself that her body wasn't making enough milk because the babe wanted to nurse more frequently than the every 3 hours her pediatrician told her to expect.

I am so thankful that we do not live during a time when death was a common result of childbirth and I cannot say enough positive things about all the medical advances that have saved lives, both of mother and baby. But I do think that there is truth in getting too much of a good thing and that, while miraculous when necessary, medical intervention in the birthing process is detrimental when overused. And it is being overused.

Long story longer, I have been corresponding with my OBGYN (actually with her office manager), about the potential for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) when and if Shawn and I are lucky enough to get pregnant again. My OB is a young, hip, lovely, fashion forward, woman so, despite what I'd heard about most obstetrician's aversion to VBAC, somehow I thought she would be on board. Turns out, not so much. Below is her response to my inquiries:
Dear Jillian,

Office Manager passed your email on to me and I thought it would be easier to communicate directly with you about your desire to VBAC.

VBAC is becoming an increasingly difficult situation in my practice and I think for many Ob/Gyns in general. There is significant risk to the baby and the mother in the event that the uterine incision opens or ruptures during labor. Because of the poor outcomes in cases of uterine rupture, 50% mortality for mother and/or baby, many Ob/Gyn's do not do VBACs in their practice. In fact, of the seven physicians in my current call group, Dr. X and I are the only physicians who will do a VBAC in the right patient. For the other physicians, they are not willing to take on the increase risk of allowing VBACs to labor, or they have seen the dangers of uterine rupture firsthand and are apprehensive about the potential liability with such clearly documented risks. They have even refused to cover any patient that she or I believe are good candidates. While I understand the serious risks associated with VBAC, I do think that some patients are good candidates and I am willing to be available for those few patients 24 hours a day should they go into labor. Ultimately, I want to do what I feel is the best for the patient and her baby regardless of mode of delivery. I don't do C-sections out of convenience. I perform C-sections when I honestly think it is best and to do otherwise would compromise care. Furthermore, while having a C-section is not without risk, neither is a vaginal delivery (esp. VBAC). Patients who have significant pelvic floor dysfunction, injury to their infant secondary to a difficult vaginal delivery, or chronic pain following a vaginal delivery often feel that a C-section is a much better and safer option for subsequent pregnancies. Again, my focus, and I think your focus should be less on mode of delivery but what is the safest for you and your baby.

To answer your questions, induction can increase the risk of C-section in some patients remote from term or inductions done electively without a clear medical indication. I do not believe that your induction was the reason you needed a C-section. Many of my patients are induced, largely for medical reasons or postdates and the vast majority of my patients still deliver vaginally. You were induced at 40 weeks which would not have been considered elective or premature. In addition, despite adequate contractions and a significant amount of waiting for further cervical dilation your cervix stopped dilating. In my opinion, this suggests that Violet was too big for your pelvis or your pelvis was too small for her, depending on how you want to look at it. In general, subsequent babies are larger and the idea is if a patient either fails to progress in labor despite adequate contractions or is unable to push out a baby, odds are that the next baby will be larger and thus even less likely to deliver vaginally. Patients that have a C-section for breech presentation, fetal distress, placenta previa, and/or multiple gestation have not had an opportunity to labor and therefore are better VBAC candidates than a woman who had a trial of labor prior to their C-section.

Going into labor spontaneously does not guarantee a vaginal delivery, although certainly spontaneous labor in a patient without a medical indication for induction is optimal. I generally induce my patients between 40 and 41 weeks because after 41 weeks there is an increased risk of stillbirth, meconium stained fluid, large babies, and low amnionic fluid. In addition, of those patients who have not gone into labor at 41 weeks I do find that my C-section rate is higher because the increased incidence of large babies, fetal distress, and meconium fluid. I also think that if labor has not happened by 41 weeks that may also suggest that there is an underlying reason why labor did not occur spontaneously (i.e. large baby, inadequate pelvis, etc.) thus leading more often to C-section...this is based solely on my personal experience in practice.

I certainly value you as a patient and would hate to have to transfer your care with your next pregnancy. On the other hand, I do want you to have a positive experience and if that means pursuing a VBAC I respect that as well. After reviewing your labor course, I am not comfortable with the significant risk to you and your baby associated with managing you as a VBAC patient. Although I cannot say with 100% certainty that you would not deliver vaginally, as I have said before, I don't feel you are the best VBAC candidate. As such, I am uncomfortable with the associated risk of VBAC in your particular case. I am happy to discuss this further with you or meet with you in the office if you have any other questions.

Dr. NoChanceInHell

I forwarded this email to my mom, a fellow C-section survivor, looking for the wisdom only your mom can give. Her response?

"How does that make you feel?"

Well, Mom, it makes me feel like she is so entrenched in the medical establishment that she is blind to how birth works.

It makes me feel like a subversive for wanting to see if my body can deliver a baby.

It makes me feel scared that she may be right and I may end up with another cesarean, or worse, a death.

I feel grateful that she took the time to answer my questions herself but I feel belittled for asking: see the part where she says: "my focus, and I think your focus should be less on mode of delivery but what is the safest for you and your baby." As if I would be selfishly endangering my baby's life by attempting a normal birth. It makes me feel like a birth is a birth so what's my hang up?

It makes me feel like she believes she is on the cutting edge of medicine for attending any VBACs and there would be no way I would ever find an OB flippant enough to take me on. I worry that she may be right.

I feel that she is selective with her invocation of statistics. 50% mortality rate in the case of uterine rupture is a scary thought but what is the rate of uterine rupture during VBAC? I've read as little as 1%...Isn't that a tiny risk as far as risks go?

It makes me feel that my due date with Violet was miscalculated. Maybe only miscalculated by a week, but enough that it could have made a huge difference.

I feel that there must be a very real risk of a malpractice lawsuit for an OB who has a VBAC go wrong.

Most of all, I feel powerless. And that sucks.

Here are some of the links that I have been digging on this topic:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Panty Party

While I was rearranging my dresser drawers, Violet got into my underwear drawer and re-defined the panty raid...

Shawn and I counted 19 pairs of undies and one bra around her neck as we untangled the web!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sugar Cubes and Cupcake Batter

A few hours ago we rolled in from Chicago and Violet's first summertime trip to the Windy City. After getting off to a sloooow start, as in a 2.5 hour traffic jam south of Valpo, the rest of the weekend was a whirlwind.

Due to the time we spent parked, literally with the car turned off, on I-65, we arrived much later on Friday than we'd anticipated. Violet and I spent a little time playing with Jack and having a glass of wine with Aly (respectively), while Shawn and Andy hit the town with a friend and former co-worker to celebrate his bachelor party. I have no idea what time the men returned as everyone in our room was sawing logs by the time Shawn rolled in.

Our hotel was right downtown and we convenient to everything. A short cab ride (with babies on laps!!) got us to our first stop. The Shedd Aquarium was the #1 thing on our list for Saturday and we got there early enough to find the crowds only tedious and maddening but not quite at the suffocation level yet. The line forming outside as we left looked like a rowdy bunch, eager to see some fish and willing to body slam or trample any kid in the way. Probably best we left when we did. Two hours of aquarium is plenty for a 31 year old, so I think the three toddlers had probably gotten their fill as well.

After lunch, we schnarffed down hotdogs and cones in the park while we watched the pigeons and gulls fight for our crumbs. Then, we walked to Buckingham Fountain, in hopes of using it as the background for a family photo. The heat and the excitement of the "'Quarium" had overtaken the smaller members of our group by the time we got to the fountain so our family shot shows three crashed out babies and 4 sweaty adults in from of the gorgeous Chicago skyline.

We met a family friend for dinner at an Italian place near the hotel. The food was great and the kids were decent. A two+ hour dinner is hard to sit through and they did pretty well. Violet is such a night owl so she was hitting her stride around 9 p.m., right when Charlie was losing it because he was so tired. They are soo different already. Aly and Andy do a great job of respecting Charlie's need for zzz's and Aly headed back to the room before dessert so he could zonk out.

Before we left the city this morning, we headed to Wrigleyville to the Southport Grocery for brunch. A friend had mentioned their pancakes made out of CUPCAKE BATTER, so, obviously, I had to get some. There was a Cubs game this afternoon, so the area was busy and we had a 40 minute wait to be seated. Again, the kiddos were being asked to draw on their patience reserves as we waited and waited to eat. The wait was manageable (I really couldn't imagine NOT waiting in Chicago) but we definitely pulled out all the stops to keep everyone chillin' til the food came out. At one point, after sucking on a handful of Splenda packets, Violet joined Jack in eating the sugar cubes on the table. Jack kept saying things like, "Aunt Jilly, this sugar cube is actually delicious." Vi agreed and had downed two by the time our food came out.

The drive home was fairly uneventful and we all are bedding down early. Shawn's first day back at school is tomorrow and I think we all have a case of the Sundays. Hopefully the sugar buzz will wear off slowly!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fair Time

Say what you want about how hillbilly Indiana is, the one time it is good to live in a hillbilly state is when it is time for your state fair. The Indiana State Fair is probably one of the top 2 state fairs (I hear Iowa's is pretty awesome) in the country and it really is worth a trip. For those of you who live in cool states, (you know if you live in a cool state if your state is worth visiting year round because there is always something to do, be it hike, swim, shop, eat, view art, go to museums, etc.) this is the one time a year you should be jealous of us Hoosiers. Because we are milking goats and eating deep fried oreos. We use hand sanitizer between the two activities.

Shawn and I took Violet over to the Fairgrounds tonight and met my Mom for dinner. We strolled though the crowds on what might have been the nicest evening of the summer and took in all the manurey goodness that the fair offers. We drank lemon shake-ups while we watched horses and ponies riding in the practice arena.

We looked at the beautiful cows that the 4-H kids from all over the state have been caring for so diligently. Violet got to pet a freshly shorn sheep. For a few hours tonight, we felt really proud of our state. It is hard to see all the livestock and the kids who are learning the art of farming and not get a little Charlotte's Web about it. It's hard to overlook the pride on the parent's faces as they watch their kids learning about agriculture and competition and not feel a little pride for them. I dare you to watch the looks on the city kid's faces the first time they see "The World's Largest Sow" and all her little piglets and not be a little bit amused.

Violet had a great time wiggling to the beat of the band and eating ice cream and learning a little about being born a Hoosier.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Baby Gloton: The Breast-Feeding Doll Who Will Scar Your Daughter For Life

So, last week I'm diddling around on Facebook, reading the updates from every person I've ever shared a zip code with, paying little attention to "Judy McCullen Walsh is ready for the pool!!!" and "Alex Sanchez can't believe it's August already," and checking to see if anyone has a baby that rivals mine in cuteness when I see a post that actually interests me. A girl I went to high school with wrote something about a new breast feeding doll and leaving motherhood to mommies while letting kids be kids. Well, y'all know I am pretty much a shoe-in for Breast Feeder of the Year (very prestigious) and couldn't believe more in this particular cause (is breast feeding even a cause?) so I have to check out the comments, and, naturally, put in my two cents. Well, all the women that have commented up to this point, probably 5 or so, are all in agreement that this doll is "disturbing" and "goes too far."

Since I haven't seen the doll, I Googled it to see why this particular toy is so creepy. This is what all the fuss is about:

Wow--scandalous, huh? I mean, the way that little girl is pretending to nourish that doll, what is the world coming to? A bunch of sickos, I tell you. What I'd really like Violet to have is yet another baby doll that comes with a bottle to shove in her mouth. I mean, that is wholesome pretend fun for a kid. Playing Mommy crosses the line from sweet and innocent to deviant when you bring nursing into it. Breasts are for sex, kiddies, don't you forget it!

Seriously, though, the reaction of the public to this doll makes me realize that breastfeeding is still a cause that needs to be supported because there is such an incredible slew of misinformation out there. Just look at what the DOCTOR (he's an MD for Crissakes!) who acts as managing health editor for Fox says about what trauma could be unleashed on a child who plays with this toy:

Dr. Manny Alvarez, said although he supports the idea of breast-feeding, he sees how his own daughter plays with dolls and wonders if Bebe Gloton might speed up maternal urges in the little girls who play it.

“Pregnancy has to entail maturity and understanding,” Alvarez said. “It’s like introducing sex education in first grade instead of seventh or eighth grade. Or, it could inadvertently lead little girls to become traumatized. You never know the effects this could have until she’s older.”

WTF? WTF? WTF? Pardon my eloquence, but did I mention WTF? Did Dr. Manny really use the word TRAUMATIZED? Oh, yes, this is a direct quote and he really did use the word TRAUMATIZED to describe what might happen to a child who PRETENDS TO NURSE A BABY DOLL. Now, I can't help but wonder if Manny's daughter has a dolly that came with a bottle, or a doll who has a diaper to change or maybe a doll who even has a lifelike cry? I certainly hope not because surely, these dolls, too, would "speed up her maternal urges" and lead to a knocked-up 3rd grader. I bet Manny buys his daughter dolls that serve as role models, like those sweet Bratz girls or, of course, all-American Barbie dolls. You know, the dolls that can show her what tits are really for!

The crying shame in all of this, though, is how far away we have gotten from what is natural human behavior. Teaching young girls that breast feeding is a shameful act, an act that they need neither knowledge of nor exposure to, is, I believe a grave mistake. All the lip service that the medical community gives to breast feeding is for naught if kids grow up believing that the nice way to give a baby milk is through a bottle and that nursing a child is somehow dirty.

Now, where do I go to order me a Baby Gloton? Violet's first Christmas gift is coming early this year!

So what do you think? Is Baby Gloton going to give kids the wrong sort of ideas or is she a good toy to promote breast feeding? This blog really upset Megan, my Facebook friend who started the thread that got me thinking about this, which was absolutely never my intention. (I'm sorry you felt attacked, Megan!!) But, it is obviously a controversial topic and I'd love to hear your comments!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Away I Go

After luxuriating at home for the last month, I am headed back to work this morning. It's funny how quickly I got used to having all 3 members of our little family unit at home everyday. I think we would have eventually gotten bored, but 30 some days was not enough to do it. Waking up at 9 or 9:30--yes, Violet sleeps that late!--eating breakfast together Leave-It-To-Beaver-style, and then tackling our house chores for the day--it was a pretty nice little bubble we were living in. We made some progress on the house, not as much as I'd hoped, but not totally worthless, either. We took some bike rides, got to the pool a few times, walked around the new 'hood and met some neighbors, visited with family, and generally enjoyed life. The rigorous exercise regimen that I was going to follow EVERYDAY never materialized, but fortunately I was able to stick to my Twice Daily Dessert program which I'm sure will offset any workouts I missed. Yum pie...

Shawn has another 2 weeks off before school begins again for him so my two partners in crime will be ending the summer the same way they began it, with some quality Daddy-Daughter time. Having this extended chunk of time off has done wonders for Violet's relationship with Shawn. She still has her moments when no one but Mommy will do, but she is becoming far less discriminating when it comes to whose leg she'll nuzzle into to hide from strangers. They have developed their own games to play together and Daddy is the only one thus far who has been able to elicit a certain high pitched shriek of pleasure from Violet during rumpus time. I'll miss them today!

Next weekend is going to bring about another Violet and Shawn milestone: their first solo overnight together. I'll be heading to Nashville, TN for my future sister in law Steph's bachelorette party so the other two Pierces will be holding down the fort. I am excited, but a bit apprehensive about leaving Vi overnight. She sleeps like a champ for us, but when she does wake up, she usually nurses for a minute or two to drift back off. The night nursing doesn't bother me a bit; quite the opposite actually. It's such a snugly time and has become so instinctual for both of us, I frequently don't even fully wake up to do it. I know that Daddy's loving arms are just as capable as mine, and I also know that if I never give them a chance, then Shawn won't ever be on call at night. I'm sure they'll be fine, they always are. And, after a few gin and tonics in Nashville, I'll be fine too! Who knows, maybe I'll even enjoy my ME time...