Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Have You Heard About Kindara?

You guys.  I'm still here, I swear.  I had a baby.  Things got crazy.  But I've been thinking about you all, and amassing quite a pile of things I'm dying to tell you.  I'll tell you all about the baby thing later, but suffice it to say it was awesome, he is awesome, we are awesome.  He's sleeping right now, and Lamb is at preschool, so I've got about seven minutes in heaven of writing time to ask you about this:



Have you heard about Kindara?  My lady-friends have been telling me all about it, and how amazing it is.  It's an app designed to help you use the fertility awareness method (FAM) of family planning to either conceive or avoid pregnancy, depending on your goal.  Kindara, paired with a fancy basal body temperature thermometer (called Wink) synced to the app, essentially give you a roadmap of your menstrual cycle.  You can use this info to determine when you're most likely to get pregnant (so you can get busy those days or avoid getting busy, depending on what you're after) or to help you better understand your body to deal with hormone-related issues.  FAM has always seemed like a non-option to me because it was such in inexact science; Kindara takes out the guesswork and offers what seems like a sound, non-hormonal birth control option based on your own body data.  They say when used correctly, FAM is 99.4% effective for avoiding pregnancy.  Hunh! 

Ladies, have you heard of Kindara?  Have you used it?  What say ye?  Any thoughts on FAM?


Monday, June 9, 2014

I Let My Kid Do Dangerous Things (To Keep Him Safe)

 
A few weeks ago, Tom, Lamb and I went to visit some friends who were camping at a lake near our house.  The guys were determined to go out fishing despite the frigid weather, but the girls all stayed back to drink coffee and catch up in the warmth of the camper.  Lamb was bundled, life-jacketed and thrilled to be going fishing, so I turned my attention to my friends and their news.  About twenty minutes after they left, my friend Sabrey noticed Tom back on shore, half-jogging toward the camper.  In his arms was a naked, sobbing Lamb.  I ran out into the cold to see what on earth had happened. 

"Moooooom!  I fall off back a booooooat!" Lamb bawled to me when I reached them.  My heart dropped into my boots.  My hands started sweating. 

"What?!!" I asked.  Tom told me later my eyes were as big as plates.

"He fell in the water," Tom said, observing my heartstruck reaction and smiling to reassure me.  "He's fine, but he's pretty chilly, aren't you, Buddy?"  He handed the sopping bundle to me and I raced Lamb to the camper.  Tom said they had the motor cut so Lamb had been standing next to him on the back of the boat, "helping" Tom fish;  in the span of three seconds Lamb had stumbled, tripped, and fallen over the edge, head first.  Tom had immediately yanked him out by his life jacket and stripped off his sodden clothes and wrapped him in a coat to keep him warm.  And although my breakfast was lurching in my stomach, I observed that Lamb did seem fine, if a little wide-eyed and chilly.  I held him in my lap in front of the heater and squeezed his clammy feet.  Soon he was recounting his mishap with horrifying delight.  "I fall off back a boat, Mom!" he'd said proudly, beaming. 

It took me a while to let my reaction to the accident fully form.  For the next few hours I kept thinking, "Maybe Tom should have been paying better attention.  They should have been sitting down.  Next time I'll keep Lamb with me."  But... really?  I can't insist that Lamb is only ever under my supervision.  Tom is a careful and conscientious dad, and even though it would be easy to blame him because he was in charge of Lamb on the boat, he wouldn't put Lamb in harm's way any more than I would. 

Any more than I do.  If I'm honest, I'll admit I do.  Every day.
  
That feels a bit weird, admitting that I let my kid do dangerous things.  It feels weird admitting it to myself, even.  I'm not saying I let the poor thing play in traffic or keep knives in his toybox or jump off the roof.  But I do let him do things that aren't "toddler-safety approved," things that I know make other parents cringe.  I let him push his chair up the counter while I'm cooking, for example, knowing full well that he might fall off the chair, or burn his hand on the stove, or poke his finger with my knife.  But he doesn't.  And I'm convinced that he doesn't get hurt doing those things because I don't protect him from being hurt.  I warn him: "This pan is hot.  Don't touch it, or you'll burn your fingers, and it will hurt."  But those words mean nothing to him until he reaches out a finger to poke the hot pan and it does burn his finger.  Now he understands my warning.  And the next time he's playing sous chef, he asks me, "Is this pan hot, Mom?  Is the stove on?" before he goes near it.  And when Tom tells him, "Don't touch the woodstove, it's hot," he pulls his hand back, because he understands hot and burn.  Now he has experience from which to form a judgement.  The same goes for the boat, now: he has a respect for the edge of the boat that he couldn't have had before, and he knows that if he's not careful, he could fall in.    

Am I calling other parents bad parents for being more cautious with their kids?  Of course not.  Keeping out kids safe is our job as parents.  And the thought of our kids getting hurt, or worse, is the stuff of our nightmares from the day our babes are conceived.  I'll be the first to admit that it feels terribly wrong sometimes to let my own son get hurt in these small ways, or to let him experience fear I know I could save him from.  It goes against everything I feel as his mom.  But I'll also be the first to admit that I can't keep him safe from every danger, I can't control every outcome.  Heck, I can't even watch him every second to be sure he isn't taking a risk.  (Even as transcendent as our love for our children is, we are still human, still so infuriatingly limited in our power.)  But I can help him develop trust in my warnings, and I can help him develop his judgement through experience.  

A good friend once complained to me that her inlaws were so worried about her baby falling that they refused to let her play near the single step on their patio.  They lifted Kaitlyn up and down the steps each time so she wouldn't fall.  Her husband followed suit, proud to be keeping their baby so safe, and even going so far as to suggest that my friend was being a negligent mom because she didn't ferry Kaitlyn up and down the stair.  That single step isn't the only step in the house; there is also a steep flight of stairs off the entry.  To Kaitlyn, both stairs are the same: a place where someone will hold her or catch her if she ventures there.  She'll walk off the one step onto their concrete patio without hesitation, unprepared for the drop or to stop herself from falling, and someone will have to swoop across the patio to catch her before she lands on her beautiful face.  And she'll walk off the top of the full flight of stairs with the same disregard for the consequences because she knows that she will be protected.  She can't understand the danger until she's experienced danger, and isn't falling off one step and learning to navigate it far better than a full-story tumble?  Whether or not her inlaws or DFS agree, I say let her fall off a stair, so she can protect herself from the rest of the stairs.   

I still feel a little funny telling you all of this, especially since modern parenting information seems to be all about how to prevent the "experiences" I'm advocating.  But if we bought every safety device, every table bumper or baby gate or yard mat, if we kept our kids in a squishy bubble of harmless toys and equipment, if we made sure they never injured themselves... we would be relieved of our own nightmares as parents (they would be safe!!!), and we would be failing them.  We can't protect them, not entirely.  We can only teach them.

So, I let Lamb climb a short ladder in the yard, so he can be scared when he feels wobbly at the top.  I let him "wash dishes" with me even when there are poky forks and sharp cheese graters under the suds, so he knows to handle them with caution.  I let go of his hands in the shallow end of the pool so he knows what it means if he falls in the water without me.  I let him stand on a chair to help me in the kitchen.  I let him stir hot food on the stove while I hold the handle of the pan.  And when he backs down the steps to the tallest slide in the park because he feels like he is going to fall, I'm reassured that these "unsafe" experiences are keeping him safer than any warning I could ever give or boundary I could ever impose. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The End of an Era



 





 
And the beginning of a new one...


7 Things I've Been Meaning to Tell You

I've been having trouble blogging lately.  Part of the trouble is that squeezing intelligible words IN SENTENCES from a pregnancy-addled brain is like trying to squeeze water from a rock.  I've actually had plenty of time for writing; I've been having loads of Braxton Hicks contractions so I've been making a point to rest during every naptime.  "Rest" meaning "pin tons of cool stuff on Pinterest and reread a novel about the Black Plague."  But when I sit down in front of my Blogger screen and actually try to tell you guys something, zippo comes out.  So, if you're following me on Pinterest, sorry.  :)  The other part of the trouble is that writing comes easier for me when I'm working out a problem, and right now I'm trying to stay very zen about a few things because those problems don't have solutions and ruminating over them might make what's left of my hair fall right out (see #5).  So here's what's been on my mind lately, rumination-free, and occasionally in intelligible sentences.

  1. I took Lamb to the dentist last week for his first check-up.  And guess what?  Six cavities!!!  I was horrified.  We are so careful with what we feed him that I have a reputation as the Sugar Nazi in my family.  The dentist was like, "Oh, probably his diet caused these.  Does he eat a lot of fruit snacks?"  Nope.  "Strawberry or chocolate milk?"  Maybe three times his whole life.  "A lot of fruit juice, even diluted?"  Negative.  "What about Goldfish?"  Bingo.  He eats some type of cracker almost daily, and the dentist said that any carbohydrate-y snack like that can get stuck in baby teeth and breakdown into sugars that cause cavities.  (It occurred to me later that he eats raisins almost daily too.  I'm sure that doesn't help.)  She also said that the experts are recommending fluoride toothpaste for kids younger than two; we hadn't gotten the green light from our pediatrician, so Lamb was still using training toothpaste.  Jeez, have I been doing anything right for those poor chompers?!!  We had to schedule Lamb for "surgery" so he can be put under while she fills all of his cavities and spares him the trauma of being sedated and restrained if they were filled in-house.  So scary. 
  2. I loved these thoughts on how to deal with visitors after the baby.  They made me laugh, then made me realize that a whole lot of people are going to be up in my shit real soon.  (And yes, I meant "real" and not "really."  Because sometimes proper grammar just doesn't quite do it, you know?)  Last time around my tactic for dealing with visitors was just to pretend I wasn't home when they knocked on the door, or when they let themselves in (most people do) I had Tom strongarm them into washing their hands.  I think we opened our doors too soon; having visitors stressed me out so much those first few weeks.  This time around we're letting our friends and family know that we want two weeks of "just us four" before we have any big visits, that way we will be totally strung out and therefore totally grateful when help arrives.  :)  How did you deal with visitors right after the baby?  My friend Sabrey actually posted some rules on her fridge so her guests were 100% clear about what she needed.  Bold?  Perhaps.  But I bet it made for smoother, more peaceful visits for everyone.
  3. My friend Bryan, who is notorious around here for sharing horrifying and/or inappropriate information with, well, everyone, just introduced us to the Snapseed photoediting app.  Love it.  Love it way more than hearing my toddler ask me if I'm riding dirty.
  4. We got an offer on our house.  Yep, the one we juuuuuust moved back into (and just finished nesting, just tilled the garden...).  It was a stellar offer, and we would be idiots not to take it considering how the slow the market has been.  That said, I totally called Katie sobbing after I hung up with the realtor.  "I'm gonna be pregnant and homeless!!!"  She bolstered me up with the excellent observation that this sale is big progress on our future plans; we will be debt-free and able to pay for drilling a well and stringing power out on the land we'd like to build a house on someday.  It just turns out someday was sooner than we expected.  In the meantime, anybody have any leads on a rental here in town?  A camper?  A tent?  :)
  5. Two weeks ago, I got the worst haircut.  Ever.  Like, not just a haircut that doesn't suit me, but a terrible hackjob that will take months, even years to grow out.  I went to a different stylist to attempt to have it fixed, and she said it was the most schizophrenic haircut she'd ever seen, and that she could only do so much to help it.  And yeah, I cried like a girl when I left the salon.  Because, it's my hair.  So, ponytails for me for, like, ever.
  6. Thanks for all your advice about stocking the freezer before the baby arrives.  I've been so hard at work that Tom has actually forbidden me to cook and freeze anything else because our freezer is so jam-packed we barely have room for making ice.  He doesn't know yet that my friend just plugged in a chest freezer in her garage so I have some more storage space.  Bwahhahaahaha!!!  Cooking/stocking up has given something to constructively obsess about, since I can't nest for a while.  Although the microwave does need a good toothpick once-over...
  7. My kid pooped in the toilet this afternoon with very little prompting on my part, and a spontaneous fist-pump burst out of me.  It was that awesome.

Enough about me, what's new with you?





Friday, May 2, 2014

Stocking the Freezer: Is It Worth It?


Tom and I are having a debate.  I want to make next week Stock the Freezer Week at the Connor house and put up a few meals to have on-hand for after our baby is born.  Tom says I'm just nesting,  that I'm terrible at eating leftovers (just the word "leftovers" made me gag when I was pregnant with Lamb!) and that all my work will go to waste because I won't want to eat what I've made.  He's not wrong about me being terrible at eating leftovers; unless the food was really stunning the first time, I'm not very enthusiastic about having a second go at it.  But some leftovers fly out of the fridge so fast we actually argue about who gets them!  My plan is to make some of those things, along with a batch of muffins and some easy one-handed lunches.  I didn't do this last time and I regretted it; my family brought food when they came to visit, but between visits Tom had to do everything.  I'd like to be more prepared this time! 

Here's what I was thinking of making:

All of these things we would be happy to eat reheated.  I tried making chicken potpies for the freezer a few weeks ago, but they were so good that we ate them all before they made it that far.  :)  And now that I think about it, I probably won't want to turn on the oven for an hour on a July afternoon, so that's okay.

But before I get started, I'd like to hear from you.  Have you stocked a freezer to prepare for a new baby, and was it worth it?  Would you do it again?  What did you make? 


Image from: aggieskitchen.com

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What to Read During Pregnancy If You Still Want to Sleep at Night


If the question of "What stuff do I buy to prepare for Baby?" wasn't daunting enough, the question of "What stuff do I read to prepare for Baby?" is enough to eat anyone's lunch.  The pregnancy and childbirth section of any library or bookstore is overwhelming at best, tempting any over-achieving well-intentioned mom-to-be to tackle those tomes by the stack.  But here's a case where more information is not necessarily better.  The learning curve is incredibly steep, and while the abundance of information of the subjects of pregnancy and parenting should make the learning easier, the opposite is true.  There are conflicting opinions, lay knowledge versus scientific information, different schools of thought, and "information" that is just plain bullshit.  Even when you do find scientifically accurate information, there is the problem of relevancy.  Do you need to learn all the symptoms of HELLP Syndrome, or all the risk factors for Trisomy 21, or what will be done to help you if you have a placental abruption?  Only if you never want to sleep again.  There's the stuff you need to know, and the stuff that will only make you worry, and worry, and worry.  And if you're anything like me when you're pregnant, you're plenty worried without help.  So here's the help I'm offering: some positive, informative books, websites and blogs that are censored for their quality of information and their anxiety-inducing potential.  Get started with these and save the late-night Google searches for "Buffalo-Banana-Ice-Cream Nachos recipes" (hey, it happens). 
 
GENERAL:
  • Anything from the Dr. Sears Library, including The Healthy Pregnancy Book and The Baby Book.  Don't be scared away by Dr. Sears's reputation as an attachment parenting fanatic; he's also an M.D. and the father of a bazillion kids.  He and his wife write these books together and they are full of sensitive, experienced advice in an encouraging tone.  No fear mongering here!  See also their website, askdrsears.com.
PREGNANCY
  • Pregnant Chicken. I love this site. It's the perfect mix of information, encouragement, and irreverent humor. Start here. Sign up for the pregnancy calendar, and check the Is It Safe? list if you have questions. Feel free to get absolutely sucked into her blog (so easy!) and come away better for it. Just avoid the "Scary Shit Series" unless the scary shit actually applies to you, m'kay?
BREASTFEEDING:
  • KellyMom.  This site was a sanity-saver in our first two months of nursing.  Since there is a ton of information to sift through, I recommend you start here for basic info.  KellyMom also offers tons of helpful links if you run into problems later.
  • La Leche League International.  Start here for general breastfeeding topics.  La Leche League International also puts out a book, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding; I haven't read it, but I would trust their input.
CHILDBIRTH
  • Ina May's Guide to Childbirth.  If I could go back and change one thing about Lamb's birth, it would be that I read this book beforehand.  You can't ask for a more informative, supportive, and empowering book that this one.  I plan to reread it before the big day, and I'm having Tom read a few chapters to get him ready, too.  Even if the thought of natural childbirth makes you weak in the knees, you will gain something powerful from this book.
  • Husband-Coached Childbirth.  This is totally not a book I would have picked up on my own, but a friend recommended it so I gave a browse.  It ended up initiating a number of important conversations between Tom and me about Lamb's upcoming birth, and from it I learned the technique that helped me the most during labor.  It's quirky, but worth the read.
POSITIVE PREGNANCY VIBES
  • Great With Child and
  • Waiting for Birdy, both of which I praise up and down here
I'll come back later with my top picks for parenting books, but in the meantime: anything you'd add?  A book or website that you'd call a must-read during pregnancy? 

PS:  Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding is next on my reading list.  Love love love her.

PPS:  I feel funny about not including What to Expect When You're Expecting.  I also feel funny about recommending it.  I practically sprinted to Target to buy it when I found out I was pregnant the first time, and I consulted it multiple times a day until Lamb was born.  It was great for orienting my newly-pregnant self to the world of baby-building, but each chapter gave me something new to fret about.  I also made the mistake of reading it cover to cover, fueling (then exploding) my anxiety.  If you do choose to read it, make sure you remember that the authors are trying to cover their asses all the bases with each chapter; not every topic pertains to your pregnancy.  Also, before you read anything, gather up all the pages between Postpartum Care and the index and stick a giant paperclip over them.  Don't look at those pages unless an actual diagnosis compels you to.  Trust me.


Image: http://date-a-girl-who-reads.tumblr.com/post/64906590718

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Building a Better Baby Registry


I have reached that age when it seems like everyone I know is either a new parent, expecting a baby, or trying to make a baby.  That's a lot of baby!  It seems like it's all we talk about, so I'm learning all sorts of awesome new mom stuff and answering lots of "What-did-you-do-when" questions (so flattering!).  With all that baby energy in the air, I thought I'd devote the next few DYM posts to all things new-moms: what to read (or not) during pregnancy, how to build a baby registry that doesn't make you want to punch your own kneecaps, recipes for stocking the freezer, etc.  M'kay? 

First up: baby registry business.  (Definitely not because it's the most important part of having a new baby, but because Internet shopping is soothing my hormone-addled brain this afternoon.)  We did ours the old school way, in Target with the scanny thingy and no gameplan and a look of complete bewilderment on both our faces.  MAN is there a lot of baby crap in Target.  And since we didn't really know what we were doing there, we ended up registering for several things we didn't use and we left out a bunch of stuff we really needed.  So, here is my very best registry advice, in hindsight:

  1. Make a list before you create the registry.  You can always add more stuff later, but picking out the things you really need from the endless sea of baby products out there is downright overwhelming.  Write down all the stuff you know you absolutely need: carseat, towels, crib, sheets, blankets, whatever. 
  2. To help refine your list, talk to someone who has recently had a baby.  Better yet, talk to someone who parents like you want to parent and whose budget/house size/lifestyle is similar to yours.  They will be able to give you the inside scoop on products that will work for you and quantities/styles/features that will work best for you.  (Why, WHY did I not think to do this?!!)  They will also be totally stoked to pass on their hard-won knowledge.
  3. Check the Amazon reviews for products before you add them.  The wisdom of crowds can help you narrow down your choices, and the comments can often weed out products that work/fail in special circumstances.
  4. Spend some couch time with your partner and a frosty bev while you check out myregistry.com.  It's a site that lets you build a registry for any occasion with items from any website.  So, IKEA, Amazon, Target, Etsy, yaddah yaddah yaddah, all in one spot.  Nifty, eh?  No travel, no long days in the baby aisle, no scanny thingy that never works right.  I built a quick registry of stuff I like (most of which we own and used for Lamb) so you can see what it's all about.  Check it out here
  5. Make sure your registry includes stuff from all price ranges.  If you're going to register for big-ticket stuff like a schmancy carseat or crib, add some inexpensive items like baby towels, washcloths, or books so that folks giving you gifts can spend where they're comfortable.  But don't be timid about adding the big stuff; people are looking at your registry to help you out with the stuff you really need. 
  6. Unless you are wanting something really specific, don't register for baby clothes.  There is something about teeny-tiny outfits that makes people go bug-eyed, and they absolutely cannot resist them.  They will buy them regardless.  Also, if the lovely people in your life are going to spend their dollars helping you out, those dollars are better spent on essential gear than fancy clothes that will either get covered in poop or barely used at all.
  7. Be practical about how much space you have.  We registered for a bulky swing, for example, that took up our entire living room.  We used it twice because it was such a pain to work around!  Think about where things will live day-to-day, and where you might store them when you're not using them. 
  8. Be sure to register for stuff for an older baby, too.  Our registry had strictly newborn items on it, so when Lamb reached six months we had to do some major shopping for him.  Things like highchairs, tableware, baby food paraphernalia, backpacks, etc, are totally appropriate on a registry even though you won't use them for a while.
  9. I've read on some parenting blogs that you shouldn't buy things like strollers, swings, play gyms, etc, before the baby arrives, because won't it be fun to take the baby shopping for this stuff later?  Fork, fork, fork.  Shopping with a baby is a lot of work and, for us, also a lot of travel time.  I preferred to risk needing to return something at my leisure than having to make an epic sojourn for something I needed right away.  Also, I was too strung out for the first few  months to be making bouncy-seat decisions, let alone operating a motor vehicle.  Just a thought.
  10. A super-helpful tip from my mom's coworker: most strollers are too short for tall mamas to comfortably push.  This includes most of the carseat/stroller combos that everyone goes nuts over.  Test drive a few before you buy, and make sure your carseat is compatible.

What else, mamas?  Any advice?

PS:  For help getting started building your list, here's my list of essential baby business.