Dear Future Darwin Award Winner

While gassing up my van last week, I had a run-in with a future Darwin Award winner.  Since my exasperated reprimand had no effect, I’ll just have to get my frustrations out by writing her a letter.

Dear Future Darwin Award Winner,Dear Future Darwin Award Winner (Cloth Diaper Addicts)

I don’t know you.  I don’t know your name.  I don’t know anything about your struggles as a human being.  Honestly, I have to tell you that I really don’t care.  You see, Future Darwin Award Winner, you did something unforgivable: you put my children in danger with your stupidity that could have removed you from the gene pool.

It was a nice day.  I was happy to be filling up my van with gas for the month.  My kids were quiet.  Norton had just had a great first day at preschool.  Other folks were quietly filling their vehicles and going about life as a member of civilized society.

Then you came along.  Yes, you.  With your red shorts, your big red sun glasses, your white tube socks with red stripes above your knee, and your red peep-toed slingbacks.  You came crossing the busy road with such oblivion that I’m amazed your status as a Future Darwin Award Winner wasn’t achieved right then.  All the while, you were puffing away on your cigarette.

As a reformed smoker, I don’t enjoy the smell of cigarettes at all.  I hate the smell.  But I understand that you may not have found the way for you to quit yet.  My understanding, however, was destroyed when you mindlessly staggered through the gas station pumping area.  My good will for your incognizant stumbling became anger at your stupidity when you strode right between the pumps, puffing away on your noxious cancer stick.  You see, at that moment, Future Darwin Award Winner, you could have blown up the gas station while my sweet, innocent children were safely strapped inside my Grand Caravan.  I yelled at you to pay attention and not smoke near the gas station… but you were too dazed, to engrossed in whatever  thoughts rattled through that brain of yours, to let my words sink in.  You must have heard me ask you what the blazes you were thinking.  You looked right at me.

Yet you still stumbled on.

If you want to remove yourself from the gene pool through your own stupidity, that’s fine.  In fact, civilization might be better for it.  But you do not have the right to take my children through your idiocy as well.


A mother who would like to see her children grow up to be amazing

Image courtesy of Dan/Free Digital

My Baby Has a Milk Intolerance – Now what?

My baby has a milk intolerance.  Yuck.  Like most people who have a child with a food allergy or intolerance, I have to say that I’m doing a lot of things differently already.  That Eudora has a milk intolerance has been a bit of a hiccup.  You see, the husband loves cheese.  So does Norton.  If I’d allow it, Norton would easily consume a gallon of milk a day.  He’s also a fan of yogurt.  I don’t think I’ve ever run into a dairy product that Norton doesn’t like.

Eudora, obviously, can’t repeat some of our practices.  By this time in Norton’s life, he was having yogurt for breakfast and was snacking on string cheese.  I made the mistake of giving Eudora yogurt once.  I wasn’t sure if yogurt would be an issue for her since it’s not for a lot of lactose intolerant people.  I asked the husband what he thought since it was Saturday morning and our next pediatrician appointment was a month away.  At that point in time, we knew that Eudora had issues with milk products, but we didn’t know anything about a milk intolerance beyond “we have to give her Nutramigen formula so she doesn’t barf.”  He shrugged and said “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Eudora ate that yogurt with great relish.  She was a happy baby.  However, about an hour later, she was gassy and the husband bounced her a bit to burp her.  She puked.  More to the point, she threw up everywhere.  The husband was calling for assistance while Eudora gurgled happily in his arms.  His entire shirt was covered in vomit.  And so was the carpet for about four feet around him.

So what are we doing?  Now that she’s bottle weaned and no longer on formula, she’s drinking almond milk.  She’s not getting the fats that she would get out of whole cow’s milk and she’s not really a fan of meat.  We’re feeding her peanut butter quite frequently.  We’re also experimenting with goat’s milk products.  We’ve tried goat’s milk cheese.  She wasn’t a fan of that.  The next on our agenda to try is goat’s milk and goat’s milk yogurt.  Fortunately, those are actually available at our local supermarkets.  Additionally, we’re trying to convince her to like avocado.

Have you had to cope with a milk intolerance in your family?  What adjustments did you make?


Miscarriage Loss – Keep It To Yourself?

I’ve had a miscarriage.  Quite frankly, miscarriage sucks.  That being said, miscarriage loss is something not really talked about outside of mommy bloggers who will bare their soul.  Sometimes it’s part of a healing process; other times it’s to help others realize that they aren’t alone in the pain from their miscarriage loss.

Gwyneth Paltrow recently shared her own miscarriage loss.  She shared that the miscarriage pain wasn’t just emotional: it nearly killed her.  A commenter wrote:

“Sorry for her loss, but I can’t think a single reason why we need to know this.”

Ugh.  Seriously?  I can think of several reasons.  It’s not crucial to anyone’s well-being to know that Paltrow suffered a miscarriage loss.  That being said, her willingness to share can help far more than it hurts.

Sharing her miscarriage loss can help others feel less alone.

Miscarriage Loss - Keep It To Yourself? (Motherhood Looms)

Image courtesy of FrameAngel / 

Miscarriage is isolating.  It’s not something that many people understand unless they themselves have experienced it.  Sure, it’s not the same as losing a child who has walked and talked and breathed on her own… but it’s the loss of a baby that creates an emptiness of its own.  It’s solitary and lonely.  For women coping with miscarriage grief, knowing that they aren’t alone is helpful.

Talking About Miscarriage Can Destigmatize

Once upon a time, cancer was something not talked about.  A cancer diagnosis was a social death in the 1950’s.  With time and education, cancer hasn’t completely lost its stigma (particularly since some cancers are “the patient’s own fault” due to lifestyle choices such as smoking), but it’s better.  Talking about miscarriage can have the same impact.

Talking Can Heal

Anyone who says that miscarriages can be moved past and forgotten has clearly never experienced it.  Some people find that talking about their miscarriage grief and loss helps them cope with the pain.  For me, personally, it took months before I could even type the word “miscarriage,” let alone say it.  When I could finally type it instead of “the m word,” I was recovering.  When I was actually able to say the word instead of “it didn’t work out,” I was moving along even more.

For me, talking doesn’t make it better at all.  But I recognize that for someone who is still coping, knowing that she’s not alone can be absolutely helpful.  Maybe that’s what Ms. Paltrow was going for in sharing.

Either way, it’s a conversation worth having.

Have you experienced loss?  Did talking about it help you?

Anti-Smoking Teen Makes Me Proud

Anti-Smoking Teen Makes Me Proud (Motherhood Looms)

Image from stockxchange, used with permission.

I had a conversation about tobacco with my teenaged son not that long ago.  I was pleased to find that he is militantly anti-smoking.  When he credited me with his anti-smoking attitude, I was beyond thrilled.

Statistically, smoking parents are more likely to have smoking children.  I read a UK study that indicated that children of smokers are three times more likely to become smokers themselves.  That’s a pretty significant number.  I smoked when Andy was younger.  At times in my life, I smoked quite heavily.

So how did I, his dirty smoker mother, influence my boy to become militantly anti-smoking?

I treated it like something shameful.  I never smoked where he could see it.  There was no smoking in my car or in my house.  If he’d follow me outside when I was smoking, I’d “hide” my cigarette from view and then send him back inside.  It wasn’t “cute” to see a child imitating a smoking parent.  (Fortunately, Andy never did that, but I did have quite the freak out when I saw his little cousin imitating his dad and grandfather smoking on the back deck.)  The last thing that I ever wanted was for my boy to see me smoking and think that it was okay.  It wasn’t.*

When I did finally quit, he was my biggest cheerleader.  And now he’s encouraging his school aged friends to either quit smoking or never start in the first place.

Did you raise an anti-smoking teen?  How did you do it?

*Disclaimer: No judgment on those who still smoke.  It’s hard to quit.  I get that.  That doesn’t mean that I want kids to start, though, and sending them the message that smoking is not okay is a great way to do that.


Buying Baby Formula? Check Your Dates

Sometimes when we’re in the supermarket, our minds are going a million miles an hour.  For me, a typical shopping trip means at least one child with me (sometimes none or both, but usually one), an iPhone in my hand for a grocery list, stopping at three stores, and trying to keep my sanity.  It also means buying baby formula in a two week supply since I feel that there are some things for which one should never have to make an emergency trip to the store.

I usually try to check the dates of the stuff that I buy.

Buying Baby Formula?  Check Your Dates (Motherhood Looms)

Did you check the date before you bought?

I’ve worked in grocery stores.  That was how I paid my way through school.  I know that not all places are as amazing at rotating their stock as others.  And knowing that one of my local stores is really, really crappy about checking dates (I bought a bag of moldy shredded cheese once), I’ve had to become even more careful.  I’m not willing to load up my spawn to go back to the store over a bag of cheese.  It’s just not an effective use of my time.  That means that I need to be smart and check before I put it in the cart.

Apparently, this issue goes far beyond the dairy case.  In Vancouver, two out of six stores checked had expired formula.

Expired baby formula.  Look, while I’m fairly flexible with my dates (Canadian standards require a six month past “best by” dates on most foods), it’s not quite so easy with stuff for babies.  When buying baby formula, take a look at the can.  It’s not a “best by” date.  It’s a hard and fast expiration date.

While I’m not willing to go back to the store for a bag of cheese, I assure you, I’d most definitely be going back to the store over buying baby formula that’s not safe for my child.

Before you think that this is strictly a Canadian issue, it’s not.  Canadian laws just don’t allow for heavily fining stores that violate the laws.  In the States, they have fines.  Even those fines still don’t prevent it.  People were at risk for buying baby formula past its expiration date in New Jersey, too.

I’m not going to insist that it’s malicious or that the stores are trying to make a buck.  I’ve worked in grocery stores.  Rotating stock is something that does not happen on every grocery truck.  I cleared a ton of expired aspirin out of the health and beauty aids department that I worked in ages ago.  But when it comes to buying baby formula and other things for our children, we’re the last line of defense.  Take a look at your dates before you buy.

Have you ever bought anything past its expiration date at the store?  How did you handle it?

So, Uh, About that Postpartum Fitness Thing…

Postpartum Fitness

I’ve ignored these for too long…

I fell off the postpartum fitness wagon about three months ago.  I’ve gained back all of the weight that I lost, plus another two pounds.  Darn it.

I’m going to have to re-evaluate what I was doing as part of my weight loss plan.  After all, it wasn’t just about losing weight.  It was about getting fit and providing a good example for my children.  Okay, vanity had a lot to do with it, too.  I miss my old body.  My post-baby body after I’d had Andy was just smoking hot.  I look at pictures of me from back then and think… yeah, I’d date me.  Or at the very least, I’d hit on me.  Now that I’m older, though, I have to work harder at postpartum fitness.

I have all kinds of excuses.

I don’t sleep well.  I have insomnia that is a side effect of my migraine medication, which causes me to take copious amounts of sleeping aids (with medical advice).  Then I get up early.  It doesn’t matter when I go to bed.  I still wake up at 5:30.  I usually stay in bed as quiet as can be so that I don’t wake anyone up.

I can’t do my breakfast shakes.  I have to make my shake before Norton is up if I actually want to have it.  I can’t run the blender because it will wake up Eudora.  And I don’t have any of my precious sugar-free Jello Cheesecake pudding.  I really enjoyed the strawberry cheesecake shakes.

Norton doesn’t nap anymore, and it’s hard to get him to even go spend time in his room for quiet time anymore.

I can’t take the kids out for a run in the woods anymore because there’s a bucket load of snow.  No lie, there’s eight inches of snow on my picnic table in the back yard.  Without snowshoes, it’s probably not feasible to go out to Forest for the World, which was my favorite place to go with T’akaya.

I’m fairly busy with two kids, two dogs, two websites, and I’ve started working with Cloth for a Cause, a cloth diapering charity.  I also enjoy doing those things and am not about to give up any of it.

Can’t, can’t, can’t.  All of these stupid excuses.  And really, that’s what they are: excuses for slacking off on postpartum fitness efforts.

So, that’s it.  It’s time.  Tomorrow, I start using the time that I’m up early to get a workout in.  Even if it’s only a twenty minute Turbo Jam workout, it’s still something.  Even if I have to have my shake in the bathroom so that I can actually have it, it’s still doable.  Really, there’s no reason in the world for slacking off as much as I have.

So it’s time to stop.  It’s time to look amazing for Christmas, and maybe figure out how to make my Christmas baking slightly less evil while keeping it still delicious.  I can do this.

Who’s with me?


The Irony of Child Safety Month

September is Child Safety Month.  I remember horrible things that have happened to other children around Norton’s age.  Children not protected in an accident because of a correctly installed car seat.  An unsecured dresser falling on a toddler and killing him.  A little boy who was around Norton’s age wandering out of his home while his mother napped, only to be found briefly after his passing two days later.  A huge part of the reasoning behind Child Safety Month is to educate ourselves on these dangers in our homes and keep our children safe.

I’m afraid of those things happening.  It’s why we’ve taken steps with toddler safety in childproofing our home.  Norton is a little engineer who likes to investigate and figure out how things work; while he can figure out things that are far outside of his age range, he has no mind for what’s safe and what isn’t.  And since Eudora is just on the cusp of becoming mobile, that makes our safety efforts even more important.

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A Summer Skin Protection PSA Follow Up

Last month, I posted about the importance of summer skin protection.  While, yes, summer skin protection can help avoid things like wrinkles and other signs of premature aging, I had little to no interest in the vanity aspects of keeping one’s skin safe.  I was focused on the potential lethality of excessive sun exposure in the form of skin cancer.

The cause of this focus was my own suspicious moles.  Those moles were suspicious enough that my doctor declined to do the biopsy himself (as he’d done previously).  Instead, he elected to refer me to a dermatologist.

I finally had my appointment with the specialist.  I got the verdict.

My moles are…

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Why Summer Skin Protection is Crucial – A PSA

A scar from a mole I’d had removed from the back of my neck. The penny is there for a sense of scale.

I’m not big on doing public service announcements, but in light of my most recent doctor’s appointment, it’s time.  It’s summer time in the northern hemisphere.  That means that we’re seeing print ads and commercials for summer skin protection.  That summer skin protection may be in the form of sun blocks or SPF clothing, but it’s all out there.

Unfortunately, there are people out there who don’t think much about skin protection, even when the sun’s harsh UV rays are beating down upon them on a regular basis.  These people may be parents who are passing along the same message to their children.  I was one of those children at one point.

Because I never got a sun burn (only a deep, dark tan that Snookie would be jealous of… without the orange), my parents never worried about me wearing sun block.  Even though I played outside all day long under the hot Florida sun, they remained unconcerned.  My father and my brother-in-law both worked outside in the sun; they never gave much thought to their own skin protection.

Now that lack of attention to sunscreen is catching up with me.

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Toddler Nutrition Victory!

Toddlers are notoriously picky and changeable little creatures.  It can be difficult to manage toddler nutrition, particularly if you’re fortunate enough to have a little tyrant who has decided that only one particular food is all that he’ll eat.  With that in mind, I just had to share what I consider to be a toddler nutrition victory with Norton.

While I was at the doctor with Eudora after Norton stepped on her, the husband was outside in our van with Norton.  It got hot, so they went to the nearby convenience store for a cool treat.  The husband got an ice cream, and he was prepared to deal with the mess from letting Norton also enjoy a sugary treat.  Norton, however, saw grapes in the cooler.

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