Archive for February, 2010

In which I spend a week on the Health Project and mostly FAIL

But at least I’ve learned. Let me begin.


1. Taking Lactase before I drink milk or eat milk-based foods. No-brainer, right? It helps. I take it every morning, before I eat the remainder of the kids’ breakfast — a little oatmeal, a bite of Cheerios, a banana. My own breakfast is usually yogurt with a banana and some dry oatmeal, all mixed together.

2. Going to bed at 9PM. Not as bad as I thought and the bonus is I spend time with My Chemical Romance who generally goes to bed pretty early.

3. Jumping on the tramp once a week. I would be a sucktastic mom if I couldn’t find one day per week to spend bouncing around with my kids.  
1. No sugar-based foods. 
Are you surprised? Not only that, I totally coveted sugar and actually made brownies from scratch last night — and I’m a cook, not a baker. However, I will note that I felt better when I didn’t eat sugar. I felt less bloated and my stomach felt better than usual. Sigh. Life is a series of trade-offs, no? 
2. Walking 5x per week. I’m kind of bummed that I failed this, because it made me realize that I do enjoy moving, that I am woefully out of shape, and that I would like to firm up a bit. 
3. If we’re going to be technical, I did not go to bed at exactly 9:00PM every night. Tuesday night I went to bed at 11:00PM and this picture describes me on Wednesday 
What I’ve learned from this:
1. With regards to eating, less is definitely more. Again, another no-brainer. Michael Pollan sums up his book Food Rules in six words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. I’m not sure how he feels about brownies. Calorie restriction has its benefits in the general population — mostly that it is linked to reversing the aging process in primates and mice — but for me, not over-eating reverses any stomach problems. And that makes life much more enjoyable!  
2. I can make myself go to bed early, and the world will not stop spinning on its axis, and if I get that “important” email at 8am instead of 1am, that’s okay too. And I’ll get to sleep next to the non-snoring My Chemical Romance! (Not snoring is one of his best qualities.)
3. Walking is boring, but I do want to exercise. I want to join the Fort Mill YMCA, which has an awesome outdoor pool area for kids with tons of slides and water fun. It also has step aerobics on Tuesday evenings, a kids’ fitness class on Wednesdays, homeschool PE on Thursdays — basically, I think I can make it work with the kids where they wouldn’t hate going. 
I’m going to work on my Health Project for next week. I may change it to Weekly Health Goals. 

February 26, 2010 at 10:38 am 1 comment

In which I survive my first weekend on the Health Project

By the way, did I mention for how long I intend to keep it up? Three weeks, as that’s how long it takes to make or break a habit — although that “fact” is probably just some kind of mythic conjecture.

I’m on day four. I’ve learned a few things already.

1. Going to bed at 9:00PM is not as bad as I thought.

I imagined I’d lay there for hours, tossing and turning, feeling anxious. Nope. I go to sleep. Extremely surprising.
2. Walking is more work than I thought!

I thought walking for 20 minutes, five times a week, would be nothing. And yet, after four days, I have shin/ankle pain. Just like when I was in college, I’d have pain for the first few weeks every September as I walked all over campus. Then it would go away as my legs got accustomed to Ann Arbor.

However, I am thinking about getting a pair of MBT shoes.

I am selling my Dansko clogs — which were my Christmas gift from Dustin after pining for months. I even tried them on at a Nordstrom. Apparently 12 minutes in a Nordstrom wasn’t enough to tell that my feet are too fat for them. Yeah, my feet are thinner than they were 130lbs ago, but still wider than average. Sigh. So now I’m thinking about MBT shoes, but I want to make sure they don’t also run narrow.

BTW, I walk barefoot when I use the treadmill because barefoot exercise has health benefits!

3. I can’t compensate for the lack of sugar. I’ve tried to compensate by eating every non-sugar item in my house that isn’t nailed to the ground — and it only gives me stomach pain.

For a minute I thought honey was the answer to my sugar-free prayers, but it’s just not that good. We have a vat of honey from Costco that I’m working on, slowly; I’m sure fresh local honey would be a different story.

4. There was a trampoline debacle, and I’m staying off until I fix it.

The ground near the entrance was getting muddy from so many kids (and adults) climbing in, as well as a lot of rain in early February. I thought about how to fix it — maybe straw? or hay? — but Dustin thought that sand was the answer. Sand + mud = thicker, grittier, more hearty mud that covers not only the surface of the tramp, but also the soles of shoes and therefore the floor of my house. UGH. I’m safe for today, because it’s raining outside (although this means even MORE mud), but tomorrow I’m getting some wood chips or cedar chips or straw — or a combination — to put down near the tramp entrance. Hopefully, problem solved. I’m not a huge fan of mud all over my house, and I also like to be barefoot on the tramp without jumping on nasty pieces of dirt.

February 22, 2010 at 5:06 pm Leave a comment

In which I do a "Six Word Saturday" for Feb 20 2010

Life without sugar hurts my brain.

February 20, 2010 at 8:40 am Leave a comment

In which I describe the Health Project

I’m reading The Happiness Project, which was written by a woman who decided to take a year to improve her happiness. She wasn’t depressed. Her life was good. But she wanted to be happier, so she thought about what would help her, and she read books and blogs and suggestions, and made a plan for herself. Then she wrote a book about it. She also keeps a blog.

I am not ready for a complete happiness project — I haven’t finished the book yet! — but I’m ready for a Health Project. To that end, I thought last night about things relating to my health that would make me happier, healthier, and more pleasant to those I love. Here’s what I’ve got

1. Take lactase enzyme before I drink milk. Seriously, I own it. It works. Why not take it before I drink milk? 

2. Go to bed at 9. Yes, this means PM. 

3. No sugar-based foods for 21 days. Supposedly it takes 21 days to break a habit. We’ll see. I’m not cutting out carbs, or flour, but I need to stop eating things where ‘sugar’ or some variant of it is in the top three ingredients.

4. Walk for 20 minutes, five times per week. I actually dusted off the treadmill. Goodbye, towel hanger!

5. Jump on the trampoline once per week. Because I have as much fun as the kids when I do it! 

February 19, 2010 at 11:22 am Leave a comment

In which I slack on the cooking posts!

Foolish me, I thought when I stopped apprenticing — and by the way, everyone, I did not quit; I am taking a break! — I’d have more free time. According to my weeknight schedule, the joke is on me:

MONDAY: Cub scouts. Early dinner then my three scouts rush off (Dustin’s a den leader).
TUESDAY: Erika’s parenting class. Yes, even the most perfect parents need help sometimes with their litter of children.
WEDNESDAY: Maizey’s Dog Class, then a late date with Leigh.
THURSDAY: I see Dustin and the kids for more than 4 minutes consecutively before bedtime. Hooray!
FRIDAY: Dustin’s Nerd Night/Erika’s night to put the kids to bed early and cuddle up in bed with People . (And, oh, when my People doesn’t arrive in Friday’s mail, there is hell to pay!)

This schedule does not take into account the postpartum work I’m doing for the next three weeks. Postpartum work involves going to someone’s house and helping them adjust to life with a new baby. My twist is that I cook and bring them food, including some freezer meals.

I love cooking. (Phrase #2241515 I thought I’d never say, along with #131241, Please stop licking the dog and #42546 Stop trying to pee on your brother in the shower.) Specifically I love casserole-type meals. This is a real issue for my children, who do not want their food touching anything else, and want to scrape the cheese off the lasagna noodles — or, alternately, want to scrape the noodles out of the meat/cheese sauce. But I love the idea that with a casserole you can get the perfect bite that includes protein, vegetables, starch, and carbs. Chicken pot pie. Spinach and beef lasagna. Enchiladas.

Sorry, kids, Cheerios with cut-up banana on top does not count. This does not count either, in case you were wondering. Because putting anything with Cheerios — other than whole milk — is sacrilege.

So, I’m at a new mom’s house, cooking and cleaning — I actually washed a few dishes by hand recently; like, hello, why have a dishwasher if you’re not going to use it?!?!? — and doing laundry and snuggling new babies. It’s fun, but I wish I were home, sticking everything in my dishwasher and ignoring my own piles of laundry and snuggling my own children for the ten seconds they’ll still let me snuggle. 
Since my break from apprenticing, I’ve let go of a bit of the whole SuperMom thing. For a while, I felt like because I was doing so much, I should be SuperWife and SuperMom. Kept house immaculate. Cooked homemade every night. Even stayed on top of laundry and linens. Then, for a week or two, I was totally off the wagon and barely looked at the washing machine or fridge. Now I’m finding a balance.
I seem to have a lot invested in what others think of me. I was really worried that my decision to take a break from apprenticing would come at the expense of my reputation in the birth world. Turns out (1) nobody really cares — and I mean that in a good way (2) everyone seems understanding (3) nobody ever figured out how or why I did it in the first place. It’s not like I needed more things to do. Even without doing postpartum work, my life is full. 

February 18, 2010 at 4:35 pm Leave a comment

In which I have a new camera and a hope for a new teacher.

I love my Maizer, but life with her has been nothing if not dramatic since I got her, on my 30th birthday last year.

First she got “strangles” which I put in quotes because there’s some discrepancy over whether or not it was actually strangles, a very serious condition. Next came demodectic mange which a few of her brothers and sisters also got. There was also the incidence of the Evil Vet Who Doesn’t Believe Dogs Should Be Raised With Children Or At Least Not My Particular Children — but still wanted me to continue at the vet practice. Thank you, but no. I’ll go to a vet that doesn’t accuse me of benign neglect when I bring in my puppy for hundreds of dollars worth of care. I switched to another vet who was comfortable with raw-feeding — which I had done with Deuce and Tex for years — but that didn’t last very long because I inadvertently got involved with some drama at the local kennel club over Maizey being skeleton-esque, and ended up seeing a vet an hour away who does performance with her dog (agility) and pronounced Maizey perfect and un-skeletal.

(Picture taken with my new camera! Thank you, Dustin! It was my Valentine’s Day Gift.)

But now, I’m concerned about her obedience class. After I got her, I took her to Puppy School at PetSmart, which was mostly just a chance for her to be around other dogs. Then I took her to Puppy K at my local kennel club, and I had an awesome teacher. Her name is Tina and she was so enthusiastic about teaching, and so helpful. You know the type — the teacher who loves what she’s doing and inspires you to learn. She was very down-to-earth and personable, she always gave the students a chance to ask questions and discuss specific concerns, she had a great sense of humor. She was awesome — okay she still is awesome, but she’s not my teacher since Maizey graduated from Puppy K to Dog Beginner, in January.

And right away, I realized that my new teacher was Debby Downer and would not inspire much — except a thorough evaluation of the class and her as a teacher, which I’ve been composing in my head since about week two, because I want to make sure it’s free of vitriol and full of suggestions.

Dear Class Evaluator,

I have taken both Puppy Beginner and Pet Beginner at this club. I noticed several areas of concern. First, the discrepancy between what is taught in Puppy Beginner and what is expected in Pet Beginner is enormous. I feel both classes would benefit from some curriculum coordination. I felt at a huge disadvantage when I began Pet Beginner, after just finishing Puppy Beginner. Further, I believe Pet Beginner is too stringent, and much closer to an Advance Beginner class. Not all who take the class plan to do performance with their dog, and I feel it is geared toward that instead of the average dog owner who simply wants a better-behaved dog. 

The instructor could use improvement in her teaching skills. Although her knowledge and experience with dogs is impressive, she seems ill-at-ease with their human companions. 

Specifically, she does not answer questions until after class. She seems to believe that whatever issues one person is experiencing with his or her dog is not indicative of the rest of the class  — despite the fact that everyone in the class has dogs approximately one year old and came from the same Puppy K class. She does not offer real-world suggestions for dealing with dog behavior, except to say what she would NOT do. 

She singles out the “best” two or three students in the class to use as examples, leaving everyone else ignored. She demands all attention on her for the entire class, getting angry if the students exchange pleasantries with each other. Again, this is a class full of adults who have been together weekly for four months. She does not inspire positive feelings about dog training or attending her class. She insists that everyone tell her we’ve practiced, even if we haven’t, rather than address why those who aren’t practicing are having problems finding the time. She again showed favoritism by announcing what students would pass CGC/TDI testing and who wouldn’t, which was somewhat embarrassing for those whose dogs wouldn’t pass. 

She suggested that my dog would not pass CGC/TDI testing, and that I should repeat Pet Beginner. Although I take responsibility for my dog, I will not be repeating the class with her as an instructor. 


Definitely NOT One of the Best Three Students 

February 18, 2010 at 12:57 am Leave a comment

In which I quote a midwife I know

Lots of midwives follow Navelgazing Midwife’s blog, which has a lot of information on it, and is extremely well-written. She has been a midwife for many years, and a writer for longer. I knew her when I lived on the Left Coast, and she has quite a presence in San Diego.

As you all know, recently I quit (although I hate calling it quitting; I’m not a quitter) apprenticing. I feel really good about the decision. Yes, I regret that I may not become a midwife until I’m 40 — or older! — but I’d rather spend the next ten years with my family, preparing for when I enter another apprenticeship or school, than drive us further apart by continuing.

My guilt mostly comes in that I chose to apprentice without really thinking about the details of how and when and WHY I was choosing to do it. It was a few months before I realized, Damn, I’m spending most of my time doing prenatals, and very little time on births. Also, when I did births, I realized, Damn, midwives have a LOT of responsibility.

Can you overestimate the responsibility in being a pregnant woman’s care provider? Midwives value autonomy, and they have it, but the other side of that is a huge amount of responsibility.

At this point I could also veer into midwife’s responsibilities versus client’s responsibilities, and walking that line, but instead I’ll delve further into the apprentice thing.

Many women want to do what I did; they want to become a midwife. They want to go to midwifery school and apprentice. Leigh will have no trouble finding another apprentice, if she wants one. However, most people don’t get the reality of what midwives do — and what apprentices do — and so I want to copy this post from Navelgazing midwife because I think she really gets it. All credit goes to her. I just want to spread this message because I think if I’d really really REALLY thought about it before I started with Leigh, I might not have started and might have saved some stress on myself and my family.

Sweet women come to me, starry-eyed and their heads tilted sideways, looking at me with respect and (sometimes) awe. It’s an honor to help women on their paths towards birthwork, but it is also a responsibility. I’ve listened to midwives wax poetic about being a midwife, pulling the potential apprentice along, muchly because the midwife needs some free help with her work. I think this is unfair and, as happens too often, the women end up leaving the “apprenticeship” once the realities of birthwork tarnish the dream. While I might be seen as a wet blanket with these dreamy women who come asking questions, I know it does no one any good if they begin and quit, one “apprentice” after another; it’s just easier to get the whole picture out in the open from the get go.

“I want to hold babies” is a common refrain from the women who sit across from me. I smile and say, “Listen, we only hold babies from here (the vagina/vulva) to here (the abdomen).” Taken aback, I’m assuming they just hadn’t thought of that since their faces goes blank. I then begin listing the things a midwife does hold: sweaty hair, the barf bowl as the woman throws up in it, the laboring woman as she dangles and the mother’s hand as she squeezes it white and bloodless. We hold placentas as we demonstrate their amazing beauty. We hold scrub brushes as we wash blood off our instruments. We hold needle holders as we suture vulvas. It’s important to me to make sure the woman knows the unglamorous parts of the “calling”/”job”, just as much as she knows about the good parts.

She needs to know – the most important thing we hold is two lives in our hands.

If, after telling her all those realities, she is still drooling and her eyes light up more with every description, then it is obvious the woman is pretty darned birth-obsessed and a good candidate for apprenticeship.

But there’s more. I let Donna (my apprentice) tell these parts of the apprentice story. She speaks about missing birthdays, telling them how many she missed in the first year along. She tells them about missing her kids’ school awards… how we’ve had births on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve (which requires us to make a home visit on Christmas Day) and wedding anniversaries. How we are called at all stages of the pregnancy, sitting with a woman with a UTI in the hospital at 30 weeks, going to a woman having a miscarriage at 13 weeks or driving 60 miles for a look-see if the woman’s membranes have ruptured (nope!). She tells the woman how she can be gone sometimes for 3 days at a time, pumping her breasts so she can keep nursing her one-year old.

We both share the reality of putting 60,000 miles on your car a year, not having an income, paying for gas and child care, food outside the house, buying birth clothes or shoes, all kinds of incedentals that are easy to forget about.
As I said, this might sound all dramatic and tragic, but really, really, women need to know the realities of being a midwife’s apprentice. And none of this includes the prenatals, the office work, the making of charts, the answering of emails, calling women back with lab results and all the other nuances in the life of a woman wanting to be a student midwife.

I imagine women’s spirits sagging by this point, those sitting in front of me and those reading this, but there are AMAZING parts of being a midwife, too. But if you don’t want… no, CRAVE… all that I said above, then reconsideration of this career is called for.

Being at a birth is glorious, but it is a blip in the life of a client’s pregnancy. We become part of the family’s life, we become part of the birth story forever, even if they can’t remember our names 30 years later. We are invited in to see the wondrous joy a new baby can bring, but we also become counselors as the pregnancy brings out the warts and hoptoads lurking beneath the marriage’s fascade or their relationship with the in-laws. As midwives (and students), we are privy to things most regular folks never hear from their neighbors, co-workers – and even closest friends. We become connections for women and their families to find food, help them see parts of themselves they’d hidden for decades and stand by them as their world is forever changed by the new soul coming to them.

Some clients become friends, but most slowly disappear over time, coming around again when the midwife holds an anniversary picnic or when they are again pregnant. It’s important to keep a boundary between friend and care provider because care providers sometimes have to make serious decisions a friend would never even think of. It doesn’t mean you can’t empathize with your client… heck, if I don’t cry with a client at least once during the pregnancy it’s because she’s changed care providers! Women become their own type of midwives, creating their style as they walk through their apprenticeship. A good mentor/preceptor doesn’t want a clone, but fosters her apprentice’s individuality. While I am a motherly type of midwife, other clients want a more business-like provider; there is a midwife for every type of client (in some areas like here in San Diego). Midwives are responsible for being perceptive as to how close or far her clients want to be. It can be a fine line and is crossed sometimes, but realizing it and correcting it quickly brings the relationship back into balance.

It’s pretty clear, without even saying it, that a midwife musthave worked through a great deal of her own issues… fear, abuse history, pregnancy, family dynamics, child-rearing and more. It’s crucial not to bring one’s own issues into the prenatal, laboring, birthing and postpartum periods. We talk about that with new doulas, to see each birth as an individual experience, not thinking, “Oh! My last lady had pitocin and a cesarean, so this woman will, too.” But allowing the birth the unfold in its own way. Sure, there are themes and generalizations, but when WITH a woman, BE with her, see her as herself and see her birth as her own. With midwifery, this admonition is even more important because there can be a tendency to think her clients’ births will be/should be just like her own midwifery birth. Midwives, too, must allow the woman to have her own walk, even if that walk includes a cesarean. We have to BE with her, not drag her along, but to stand by her side (or even a tiny step behind) as she feels her way through her birth experience.

Birthing women are extremely vulnerable. They (often) take advice literally. They(often) are easily swayed. I am not saying that they don’t have a mind of their own or that they can’t feel very strongly about certain things, but I have seen women bend to the will of her midwife simply because the midwife is The Expert. Midwives canNOT exploit this. Can NOT. When offering options and giving informed consent, it is imperative to keep one’s feelings about the coming choice out of the equation. It doesn’t mean you can’t share how you feel about a test or a procedure, but not being married to the outcome is vital. I really can’t stress enough how important it is to not exploit a client’s vulnerability. I believe it takes a great deal of self-discipline not to. Midwives, please don’t. Please.

This has gone on longer than I expected, but I felt led this morning to write this out. These are thoughts that come out in small spurts when I speak about what being a midwife is about. Of course, midwifery is different for every woman; these are MY experiences and they seem pretty universal, but others certainly have their own story to tell. I am honored… that word seems so small… so honored to be called to be a midwife. I hold the honor close to my heart and work so hard to do the blessing justice. I always have room to grow (who doesn’t?!) and I welcome the ways my midwifery practice will continue to change, evolve, as I learn more and more with every client (and inbetween).

I hope this resonates with some of you. I write this for those birth addicts who know in their very soul they are destined to be midwives. I’m waiting to bring you into the fold.

February 4, 2010 at 2:13 am Leave a comment

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About Mommy Soup

Wife and homeschooling mom of five, including my Christmas Day homebirth baby. Not Catholic, Amish, or quiverfull; we just like to... you know!

Writing about my interests: natural pregnancy and birth; attachment parenting; cooking; baking; homeschooling; green living; human rights; child passenger safety; dog training, and life after weight-loss surgery.

In my free time I try to figure out how I can promote world peace while wasting time on Facebook.

NaNoWriMo 2010

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