Friday, November 9, 2012

Officially Moved

Friends and Readers -
It's been quite a process, and involved the Thanksgiving Baby showing up for Halloween instead! - but I have moved my home on the Internet.

You can find me, my family, and some excellent baby photos, at

Another Day - Another Mom's new blog site.

Don't forget to update your bookmarks!

Thank you for moving with me.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Link to Halloween Decorations

I'm still around and still writing, but I'm pretty much moved over to my new blog address at WordPress.

You, faithful blogspot reader, can see the wonderful Halloween Decorations we made here:

Halloween Spookies!

And take this link and opportunity to update your bookmarks...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mitt's Binders

Just at the moment I am dual-posting while I complete my blog migration. You can also read this post here (and change your bookmarks for the future!).
I don't write about politics often. I want this blog to be a politically neutral place. Sometimes, though, the political touches my life in a way that I do want to share. After all, you know we must be a political family, what with our debate jelly beans and all.

 A couple months ago I wrote about Mitt Romney's quote regarding the "dignity of work", which I found deeply offensive. Today the Internet is on fire with binders full of women. But if we dig beyond the hilarity of women, three-hole punchers, and binders, the content of Romney's answers regarding women were deeply disturbing.

 First let's consider the simple fact that a longtime CEO and elected official didn't seem to have any idea where he might find a qualified woman so he had to "ask" special interest groups; women's special interest groups. Even though women are disproportionately under represented in the upper echelons of business and government, I find it hard to believe that Romney hadn't found one or two qualified women in or near his circle in 25 years. I'm a stay-at-home parent and I know that men are disproportionately under represented in my field and I certainly spend more time chatting with moms than dads, but after a mere six years I have run across a handful of stay-at-home dads... Thank goodness Romney had those binders full of women. seems like he didn't ask for the binders. They were offered to him.

 More subtly, I found Romney's tone with Candy Crowly (the moderator), was less respectful than his tone with President Obama or Jim Lehrer. He was more likely to interrupt her and to continue interrupting her. He was more dismissive of the things she said. Also, when i scanned the transcript, it seemed to me that he gave less direct answers to the women's questions. He was more likely to ignore what they said, slide around it, and do the classic debate pivot to what he wanted to talk about when being questioned by a woman.

  Amanda Marcotte has a wonderful short piece about Mitt and women here.

 But let's look at the section on pay-equity. Mitt Romney said:
My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said, I can't be here until 7 or 8 o'clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o'clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said fine. Let's have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.
That looks good right? Nice and supportive. Except... Between the lines. Of course she should go home early and cook for her husband and kids because that is what women do. It's where they truly belong and everything should be done to help them be there. I believe in flexible schedules and I certainly think that the American workplace puts too much stress on getting the job done and ever increasing hours and not enough focus on balanced work and family time. I just wonder how Romney would have responded to a male chief of staff with the same request... So that's not so great, in my eyes. It looks okay, but if you contemplate both his binders of women and his slippery non-answer on pay equity you can see easily extrapolate that Romney doesn't see women as qualified as men in the work place. Better to get them home so they can cook dinner...and if they have those flexible benefits they don't deserve to make as much as a male counterpart, right? There's one more here that I think deserves attention: the economy I'm going to bring to play, that are going to be so anxious to get good workers they're going to be anxious to hire women.
Why women specifically? Because the magical Mitt economy will be just so darn good that all the men will be employed and employers will be so desperate for more employees that they will be willing to settle on women? Even though we are, apparently, only 72% as qualified as men? I missed this statement on my first run through the debate. It was last night, re-watching it with the kids, that this part of the answer leapt out at me. Watching I noticed that even the way Romney's body language seems to show how little he regards women as truly valid members of his society. What about his answer on gun violence and banning assault weapons? Romney said:
We need moms and dads, helping to raise kids. Wherever possible the -- the benefit of having two parents in the home, and that's not always possible. A lot of great single moms, single dads. But gosh to tell our kids that before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone, that's a great idea.
And again, this looks good at the initial overview. I do think we need better supports in place to get parents good, quality time with their kids, and we know that kids with involved parents tend to do better in the long run. But to lay the burden of gun violence at the feet of single parents is insane - especially since several notable shooters (Aurora for a recent example) are from homes with married parents. Where all these disgruntled children of single parents slinging their assault weapons through the mall?

  You can read a great piece about Romney and gun violence here.

 We know that single parents tend to be (again) disproportionally moms. I'm not negating the single dads out there, but I bet Romney was actually trying to evoke the image of single, teenage, "welfare" moms. Let's get those girls married! Let's slip around this issue of banning assault rifles and focus on getting those pesky, drive-by causing, single moms under control. Never mind that he wants to evisscerate Planned Parenthood and our rights to abortion - programs that prevent single parenthood - as well as the social programs that keep single moms able to give loving care to their families.

    Romney's position on birth control and abortion is scary.

 And every woman should make sure she knows what is really going on, not what he says. 

Mitt Romney has binders full of women, or so he claims. And I think that if we tweak that silly comment just a little bit, we arrive at the real truth. Mitt Romney has binders for women. He wants to limit my access to health care for my reproductive system. He wants me to find a magical balance between being a productive member of employed society (provided I can find someone anxious to hire me) and keeping that husband fed and children appropriately cared for.

 Romeny's positions on issues that directly affect women are hard to pin down. Should we have the dignity of work? Or aren't we qualified? Should we be staying home with our kids so they don't go shooting up the public or should we get our butts to the office (as long as we are home to cook dinner, of course)? I'm confused. What I'm not confused about is who will be the better President for the women who live, work, and love in this great country of ours. It's not Mitt Romney.


  Fact checking fun at Forbes Facts

  I used this transcript to make sure I was hearing Romney and quoting him correctly.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

In The Stock Pot

Just at the moment I am dual-posting while I complete my blog migration. You can also read this post here (and change your bookmarks for the future!).

In the autumn we make broth. And I don't mean we enjoy some brothy chicken soup. Nope. We have been saving bones for the past year and we make a lot of canned broth to compliment our soups in the coming year. We eat about one soup each week, so that means I need around 50 quarts of broth. That is 12 1/2 gallons of broth. And we are up to the challenge.

One of my favorite aspects of making broth is that it is almost free, made out of scrap and what would otherwise be trash or compost. This gives me an especially warm and thrifty feeling when I see the cans and boxes of broth in the store for dollars. I have to pay for jars...but less and less every year as I acquire more and more jars. I have to pay for the heat to can them and the water to make the broth, but these are negligible expenses. When we buy meat by the side, we often get soup bones or "dog bones not intended for consumption". Those cost a little.

These instructions are based on filling a 5 gallons stock pot. You can make adjustments for your own family if 5 gallons seems like a lot. From a 5 gallons pot, you will end up with between 2-3 1/2 gallons of actual broth.

Meat (Bone!) Broth:
Simple. Save all your bones. Beef in one bag, chicken in another, pork in a third (I usually add lamb or goat bones to the beef). Label your bags! If I have the slow cooker out I will cook my bones with a quart or two of water over night to pull out the really deep nutrition and make an almost jelly-like bone broth. Then I throw this broth and bones in a labeled bag for the next broth day. If the slow cooker is not easily available or I am in a rush, I just toss the bones in the current bag. I use about 3-4 bags of bones per 5 gallons stock pot.

Vegetable (Compost!) Broth:
This is so thrifty it almost hurts. Save your old veggie ends. Nothing moldy, manky, or rotten of course, but anything old (wilty carrots and celery, just past gone potatoes, etc...). Store them in a labeled gallon ziplock bag in the freezer. When you are cooking, throw your vegetable ends in the bag (mushroom stems, celery tops and bottoms, onion and garlic ends and peels, kale stems, whatever...). When you steam or boil veggies, cool the water and add that to the bag. To fill the 5 gallon stock pot, I use 3 bags of frozen veggie ends.

Broth Day!!
Make one batch in a day. It's a low, slow process for most of the day. At the end of the day your house will smell warmly of your broth of choice, which I find very comforting.

Put the contents of your broth bags into the stock pot. Add water to about 3 inches from the top. For veggie broth, do a quick check of the fridge for anything that could go in the broth instead of being wasted. For meat broth, add 4-6 firm potatoes (I prefer smallish red ones and I will explain why) to increase the potassium content. Bring the stock to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Leave it simmering for 2 or more hours. It really can't cook for too long; in the case of bone broth, the longer it cooks the more nutrients you get out of the bones.

I don't add any herbs or salt. I can always add those at a future time. What I want is plain broth that I can fix up later, depending on what I am cooking.

Once it's cooked, I pressure can my broth in quarts. My freezer is usually packed, and I don't want to wait for broth to defrost anyway. I want to pour it into the soup pot and get it going right away. I use the reliable instructions from Ball Canning. You must use a pressure canner when canning meat or vegetable products. If you don't have a pressure canner, freeze your broth in freezer bags.

With bone broth, I cool the bones and pick them over for meat scraps. I always fill at least a quart freezer bag with "pulled meat" for later. I also pull out the potatoes that have been cooked full of brothy-goodness for frying up with dinner or breakfast...or just eating right there as I pick the bones over. This is an entirely optional procedure, but I hate to waste any part of our meat. Sister-Bug's favorite part is sorting the bones and she's getting pretty good at it for a 2-year old.

This all takes time, but it's mostly down time while I wait for the broth to cook down or the canner to vibrate at pressure, and having ready-to-pour broth of all kinds at hand is more than worth taking a couple of days to make our broth.

And it tastes SO much better than the broth from the store.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Migration: Early Notice

I've been debating and contemplating moving my blog from here to a WordPress blog. The writing app for iPad and iPhone is really...not very good, and the writing in my new (!thanks Mom!) iPad on a browser doesn't work either. There are a host of minor, very first-world-problems, that cause draft posts to pile up on my phone or iPad until I can get time on our laptop to do all the laptop/browser only details which make each post flow, have pictures, etc.

I don't have a new web address yet, and I will be migrating my content as well as dual posting for a while after the Big Move. But I know I have some loyal readers out there and I wanted to you know, first thing, to keep your eye out for the new address. I promise I will try to keep this move as simple for everyone as possible.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

First Encounters

It's hard to tell from this angle, but that's my boy.
I knew it would happen, and I've even assumed it would happen soon. Brother-Bug wears his skirts and dresses when and where he wants to, so of course it was only a matter of time before some other, more conforming kids, decided to give him a hard time.

Happy National Bullying Prevention Month, by the way.

Brother-Bug was playing on the near by elementary school playground and got a drink of water. Papa-Bug was watching Sister-Bug. Some older boys near the water fountain took issue with Brother-Bug's polka-dot skirt, telling him that boys don't wear skirts, and so on. Bless my son's beautiful heart - he first tried to educate these other kids, explaining that boys can wear whatever they want to. Naturally these kids ignored his attempts at explanation and reconciliation. They teased and shamed him. He fled to his Papa-Bug who confirmed that the boys were mean and wrong.

What does a parent do in this situation? Papa-Bug was not in hearing range, so was not able to help in the immediate. How to address this, without adding to the shame for Brother-Bug; without shaming the bullies? And in this culture of gender oppression, a little boy who wears skirts is going to need to learn how to handle all sorts of remarks, regardless of who is around to support him.

But my heart breaks for my wonderful Princess-Boy, with his long legs that are so beautiful in a skirt. His world has been so free of this kind of treatment and oppression up until now. He's not sure he wants to wear skirts to that playground anymore. We've explained that as a fine choice, but to think about if he wants to let these narrow minded kids change what he is comfortable wearing. We explained that we have to live in our way, and speak our truth courageously, and decide when and how we best can do that. That there is nothing we can do or say to those kids that will change their minds. That they are scared of someone being different; maybe they want to wear skirts but someone else shamed them.

Brother-Bug is a logical guy and I think he understood the message. Luckily we live in a pretty safe community where the majority of people Brother-Bug encounters love him for his unique self; a community where men in skirts is not outside the ordinary. After some inner contemplations he came up with the idea that Papa-Bug could wear his pink pants or a skirt with him to the playground. Papa-Bug is totally game. I volunteered to wear a tie.

But no matter how much we support and love the heck out of him, he's going to find other narrow-minded gender conformists who will do their best to shame him into his appropriate gender box. I believe that he will rise to the challenges presented to him with grace and resourcefulness, like he did yesterday. I hope he understands that it's not him; it's the rest of the damn world. But all the understanding is not going to fully heal the hurt and the small fissures those boys left in his innocence and self-confidence yesterday.

My boys - looking so fabulous. Who can resist loving this awesome fashion plate?


In the spirit of preventing bullying, how can we help kids like Brother-Bug?

Sport gender bending clothing for fun and with pride. Dress up is fun!

Don't let anyone force a gender stereotype onto another person in your hearing.

Support groups that are working for equality - for all orientations, lifestyles, and gender expressions.

Speak up lovingly and respectfully about your support of equality, the people you know who genderbend, and other lifestyle differences.

Talk gently and complimentarily to kids who are expressing their clothing choices in a non-conforming way.

Talk to kids with rigid gender ideas (Sister-Bug is one - she won't ever play pirates unless she can be a Princess-Pirate!) about how other expressions are just fine.

Don't take color (pink vs. blue) so seriously or literally. Likewise with princesses, cars, horses, unicorns, trucks, superheroes, or whatever else. 

There are lots more ideas out there I am sure. This was just what I came up with on a brainstorm list. people. What can I add to it?

"I’m not ashamed to dress ‘like a woman’ because I don’t think it’s shameful to be a woman.” ~ Iggy Pop

After I posted this, I got a reminder on my Facebook wall that this weekend is the anniversary of Mathew Shepard's horrific murder. As a parent facing the challenges inherent in having a non-conforming child, this chills me to my very soul. For Matthew and for Brother-Bug, lets all be a little (or even a lot) more loving and tolerant of all people's differences. And let's stop tolerating bullying and intolerance.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Second Birth - Sister-Bug Joins the Family

On Brother-Bug's birthday last month I shared his birth story. I'm sharing Sister-Bug's story now, far before her March birthday. This is part of my preparation for sharing a third birth story sometime next month (or later...when I get around to it). Enjoy!


I was less impatient with the waiting time for Sister-Bug. I knew from experience that I would miss the fluttery baby kicks, even as I loved holding my newborn. My due date came and went and I barely noticed. We were looking for a house to buy, a nicely diverting task but one we were not having much luck with. Finally we found a house we could envision our kids growing up in. We decided to put in an offer and that evening some contractions kicked in. My sister and Brothers came over for a game of Apples-to-Apples. We played and laughed, but the contractions never changed to the real thing. We kept waiting.

Brother-Bug trying to convince the baby to come out and meet him.

Brother-Bug was impatient - with the house hunting, with waiting for the baby, with the increasingly snappish Mama... Our midwife assured us that everything was fine and the baby would come in its own time. However, somewhere in the back of my mind I could feel something holding me up. I was ready. The baby was ready. Something was in the way. I was up in the middle of the night, journaling. The offer we had put on the house had stalled - it was a reserve offer, second in line, and looked unlikely - so I was writing about that process. Finally it hit me

I am an introvert and a very home-oriented person. I love to simply be at home. The stress of looking for a new home was confusing my body. Here I was in the house we had lived in for 5 years, where I had given birth to Brother-Bug, but every other day I was looking for a new home. This key component of what makes me feel happy and safe was is flux. My brain didn't know where home was, so my body didn't want to give birth not know where we might end up. I woke Pap-Bug up, sobbing. We talked it out, I cried it out, and we emailed our realtor. Looking for a house was too much right now and we would be in touch when we felt it was a better time. We went back to bed and I slept the first night of truly deep sleep I had experienced in weeks. I slept the next night too.

At my last prenatal we found the baby face-out - a hard way to have a baby, so the midwife and I tried to move it into a face-in position. Nope. That baby flipped right back to sunny-side-up. We sighed and prepared for a posterior labor.

On the Spring Equinox, my sister came over to give me a massage. She hit the labor stimulating points on my legs. It was a gorgeous and warm day and I got my massage in the backyard under the apple tree. But no resultant labor. Baby stayed, happily kicking and hanging out face-out. We put ourselves to bed. I sat up reading. Twenty pages, or so, from the end of my book the first real contraction washed through me. I noted the time (10:45) and kept reading. As I finished and closed my book, another contraction. I gritted my teeth through it, not quite ready to wake Brother-Bug. I woke up Papa-Bug, we talked a little, another contraction. On the fourth contraction I couldn't grit my teeth any longer. Even though I tried to be a little quiet, my roar woke up Brother-Bug. He was confused at first, then wary, finally excited. The baby was finally coming!! He called his God-Mommies, who lived right across the street at the time, and they came over. We called my sister and our midwife. Papa-Bug got the birth sheets on the bed and people began to assemble.

Papa-Bug was singing "You Turn Me Right Round" to convince the baby to shift from face up to face down. He ended up getting that song stuck in my head for most of the labor. I hated it at the time, but now it has made that song strangely special to me.

When the midwife checked the baby between contractions, we were relieved to find that it had turned itself face down and was ready to go. I'm pretty sure the turn happened long before Papa-Bug annoyed me with '80s dance music. Like my labor with Brother-Bug I roared through each contraction and tried to rest in the brief spells between.

The difference I noticed between my first labor and this second labor was that I wasn't scared. I knew what was coming and I knew that my body could do it. With Brother-Bug I had to work hard to trust that my body knew what it was doing and that I would be okay. This time I had that experience and could let go much deeper into each contraction, because I had come through this already. I knew it was hard.

Brother-Bug was unsure. He stayed close to his God-Mommies, even going across the street to play in a quieter space for much of the labor. Our midwife explained what was going on and everyone (apparently including me) was loving and supportive of his feelings and the space he needed to take. At one point he fulfilled his personal labor mission and brought me some juice with a bendy straw. He helped. He felt proud.

As with Brother-Bug's birth, I rocked on my hands and knees, roaring through contraction after contraction. It had been a hot night for the end of March and we had our window open. We woke the neighbors. And between each contaction I could hear the spring frogs singing out back. It was a very magical sound, and now every time we hear those frogs we know that Sister-Bug's birthday is near and we remember the night she was born. (I wrote a Cowbird Story about it...)

Finally things began to intensify - as though they weren't intense enough already. I stopped listening to the frogs, or paying attention to much of anything. The breaks between contractions were no longer lengthy enough to pull my focus away from the work I was doing. I could feel the baby coming, and coming fast. It was faster than I was comfortable with. My sister remembers seeing the baby moving downward, sending a slow wave down my spine. As that baby moved faster than my body could go, before I was ready to push, my sister saw me stretch during contractions from my hands and knees into a full and straight plank, holding the baby back just a little longer. I don't remember doing that action, but I do remember the feeling of "Not Yet BABY!" and doing what I could to slow down just a little bit.

Papa-Bug called across the street and asked Brother-Bug to come back, since we knew he wanted to be there right away when the baby came. His Godmommies hustled him home and they sat just outside our bedroom, watching.

My midwife watched me and leaned over me after a contraction. She said "I'm watching your body and it looks to me like you are being called to catch this baby yourself." I looked at her, probably with confusion. "I want to hold you up on your next contractions so you can deliver your baby." I nodded, and she and Papa-Bug helped me up into a squat, supporting me under my arms and around my back. Another contraction crashed through me and I just about knocked both of them over getting back to my hands and knees. They decided to leave me be and watch me do it my way.

Another contraction; maybe two or three more... I couldn't say. And the baby was crowning. I lurched up onto my knees and used my hands to help the head through my birth canal, creating muscle support where I needed it. In one mighty push this baby was born, into my own hands, from head to toe.

This was the most amazing, Godly, awe inspring moment of my life.

At that moment it was just me and this baby. Everyone else felt so distant. I said, "You are my baby and I caught you my own self." I was shaking with Exhaustion and Grace.

Focus returned around me, people slid back into view. We looked and found we had a girl. We brought Brother-Bug onto the bed to meet his sister. As with his birth, we were wrapped in blankets and left in candlelight for a while. We marveled at our new baby, her perfect fingers and tiny nose. As always, I was confused by the little fingernails - they are so tiny and perfect and complete on a newborn and they seems...out of place...somehow.

So perfect.

Eventually the midwife and my sister came back in. We delivered the placenta, and I nursed our new one. As I wrote in my post about tandem nursing, Brother-Bug curled up on my other side, nursing the right while his new sister nursed the left, and wrapped his arm around her tiny body. It was a perfect moment. After nursing, I handed the baby to Papa-Bug and my sister took me to the bathroom where she helped me into the shower and washed the birth mess off me. Looking back on two births and forward to another one, I think this is my favorite ritual I have with my sister. There is something deeply sacred about this, and I don't know if I would want anyone else's help. After my shower we tucked into bed with clean sheets and a fresh baby.

Sister-Bug arrived at 3:15 in the morning. Somewhere around 5:00, my sister took Brother-Bug off to cuddle with her and have a special "sleepover", while Papa-Bug and I settled down with Sister-Bug for a few hours of sleep.

Blissful, birthed, and so content.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Recipe: Chick-Chickpea Stew

I was trying to follow a recipe, I swear. But it turned out that I was out of a couple of the items required and had to change it up at the last minute. I think the changes I made created a more interesting and tasty soup than the one I was trying to make. My partner in dinner swapping thought so too and requested the before I forget what I did, here it is.

Chick-Chickpea Stew

2 cups dried chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans)
4 chicken thighs
1 tsp. cumin
2 bay leaves
3-6 cloves of minced garlic
4 tbl. tomato paste
4-8 oz. pesto
1 cup coarsely chopped roasted red peppers

Soak the chickpeas for 3-4 hours (or plan for an extra hour or so of simmering time). Put the chickpeas in your large soup pot with the chicken thighs on top and just cover with water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the chicken is done through. Remove the thighs and set aside to cool.

Add the cumin, bay leaves, garlic, and tomato paste. Mix throughly and cover to continue cooking the chickpeas. Mine simmered for about 30 minutes before the chickpeas we close to ready.

Shortly before serving, pull the meat off the chicken thighs and add to the soup. Stir in the pesto (I used Nettle Pesto I made this spring, but I think any pesto flavor would be good...if you are using something highly flavored like basil or cilantro, add it slowly to adjust the flavor as you go) and the roasted red peppers. Simmer for a few more minutes to mingle the flavors.

Serve with crusty bread and salad.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Home Birthing

There are plenty of people in this world who wonder at my deep commitment to having my babies at home. They question the safety and comfort, and sometimes my sanity.

As I wrote in this post, I was privileged to attend my mom's two home births; the hospital as a 'normal' place to birth didn't really occur to me. Additionally, in my late teens I developed a close relationship with a woman who was, and is, an outstanding midwife. She has been my midwife through this pregnancy, both my other pregnancies and home births (you can read Brother-Bug's story here), a couple of early term miscarriages, and continues to be a force of love and support as my kids grow. But besides this early education, I have my own reasons I have my babies at home, and I thought I would share.

While birth can become a medical event, I believe that a healthy birth is pretty much non-medical and should be treated as a family event instead of a medical situation. I trust my body and my midwife to be aware of the situations that would lead us to seek hospital assistance, and much like my position on ultrasound, I would transport to the hospital if my midwife, my body, or the baby, told me that transport was the best plan.

I want to decide who is with me during each passage and who helps me welcome the baby to our family. This includes siblings (not allowed in hospital delivery rooms usually), my husband, my sister, and a close friend or two to help the kids - and our midwife. It does not include strange nurses, a doctor I've potentially never met, or any other hospital staff. This is the most amazing and intimate thing I am ever going to do with my body; this is the most vulnerable I will ever be. I don't want to share it with just anyone. And that's just during the birth! After the birth there are nurses that have to bathe my baby, test it, photograph it, and poke and prod me and my knitting body.

At home, the midwife and all other non-immediate family members leave the room once the baby is out and obviously well. We just sit in bliss with our baby from somewhere between a half-hour and eternity - time is irrelevant. Eventually the birth team returns to clean things up, help me deliver my placenta, see that the baby nurses well, and check its vitals. We don't bathe the babe for several days, letting its skin gradually sluff off vernix while loving that fresh-baby smell. Papa-Bug holds our baby skin-to-skin while my sister washes my aching and exhausted body in the shower. We sleep naked with baby on my chest, still a part of each others' breathing and heartbeats. Siblings cuddle parents and support people, we all marvel at the details of a newborn, everyone takes candid pictures. Soon after the birth - 2-3 hours maybe - everyone goes home and a magical post-birth stillness descends on our home. We have time and deep peace to get to know our new person; to watch our family structure stretch and change.

I believe that babies need the minimal amount of stimulation and interaction during their first days. Except for our midwife doing important baby-wellness checks, no one touches or holds our baby except for Mama, Papa, and Siblings for the first several days. We never pass a baby from stranger to stranger (because even if you are a grandparent or bestest friend, you are still a completely strange situation to a newborn), respecting a time of adjustment for both Baby and Mama.  We have no visitors besides the people who attended the birth for several days. It's just US, extending that post-birth time until we are ready to open up. We can't know a newborn's perspective on things, but I try to think about what each new experience might be like for this being, and we adjust our behaviors to encourage comfort for this new person. Slowly family begins to hold baby for short times, with us watching for its communications that it is looking for Mama/Papa/Boob.

Besides that, I know that home birth is safer for me. I'm an introvert. I dislike strange situations and interacting with strange people. I tend to shut down in these situations, going on a polite auto-pilot until I feel safe or return to my place. This is not a good thing to do if you are giving birth - nor a good thing to have to override during the intensity of helping a person into this world. I want to feel safe - physically, emotionally, spiritually - and I do that best at home. The very idea of getting in a car when contractions are rocking my body seems insane. There are lots of statistics and studies done on the safety of home birth, and you can look those up. It is statistically safer provided that you've made the decision to stay home, gotten good support from a knowledgeable person, and are prepared for the adventure.

Women birth in all positions, making all kinds of noises. Myself, I seem to like hands and knees and lots of lion-esque roars. I prefer my bedroom, but have found that I like to be in different areas early on in labor. I don't like people to touch me much, I don't want to be forced to eat or drink or rest (unless things are going on and on and its for my & baby's well-being), I don't want to be confined to a single room or position - especially one based on a monitor's best position. At home, I am free to find the most comfortable postions, make as much noise as I want, use whatever space I want, and generally go deeply into my experience with the level of interaction from other people that is right for me. The people with me know me very well, have known me for many years, and can be flexible with my needs in each moment.

These are my reasons for home birthing, and what works for me might not work for everyone or anyone else. I think the most essential aspect of home birth - or any other birth - is that it comes from a place of informed choice. I don't think everyone should default to hospital/doctor assisted birth OR home/midwife assisted birth. I fundamentally believe that babies will come best when the mama feels good about her situation and is able to labor and birth with support, as opposed to falling into a decision based on assumptions or pressure.

Birth is radical and wonderful. I wouldn't say I'm looking forward to the deep, aching pull of contractions that are coming in a couple months... But at the same time, I kind of am. It's an amazing experience and I feel so lucky to have had that experience twice, in my own time, way, and space.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Political Awareness & Jellybeans

Watching Obama, listening for jelly beans.
Papa-Bug majored in political science and has a special Stars & Stripes tie for election day, as well as a John Philip Sousa playlist. Naturally our family isn't going to let something like a National Election, with all it's educational possibilities pass through the edges if our awareness just because we are only in first-grade. Nope. Brother-Bug is learning all about The Election.

As I wrote here, he enjoys looking at the electoral maps over at 538. We are helping him understand a few of the simpler issues. His Godmommies live is Washington so a lot of our issue focus is on Marriage Equality, which has the benefit of being not scary (like global warming or gun control) and not very complicated (like taxes or social security).

So we have watched a couple of speeches...but...well, he is only six. They aren't very compelling speeches for a kid. How to engage a six-year old in the DNC?

Jelly Beans.

We took the concept of the drinking game, but decided that doing shots with our children was probably not the thing.

Papa-Bug made a list of words and phrases President Obama was likely to say during his acceptance speech. Each person got a copy, we got out some jelly beans, and settled down to watch. We didn't watch it live; we waited until it was on the Internet so we could pause for questions and clarification.

The list included words like:
*My Opponent
*Marriage or Married
*Democrat or Republican
*God Bless America
 and so on.

If Brother-Bug heard a word in his list he got one (or more jelly beans). Papa-Bug scored the words - "my opponent" was worth one bean "Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act" was worth five. We had to help him hear the actual words and occasionally prompt him to bring his attention back to the speech. I popped extra jelly beans in Sister-Bug's mouth to keep her quiet.

All in all, he watched the whole speech and earned about twenty jelly beans. A lot of the rhetoric went right over his head, but we expected it to. We weren't wanting him to understand every little thing, but for him to engage with the idea of a major speech. And he did.

The debates are coming up. Brother-Bug was already looking forward to them, but now that he knows there are jelly beans involved, he's really excited.

Because the debates have a different format and are somewhat less predictable than the DNC speech, we are going to change the game a little bit. We are creating just a few word groups - foreign, economy, or?? - and every time he catches something from one of those groups he will get a jelly bean.

To get ready for the debates we will watch President Bartlett in The West Wing (early season four is all about re-election) and discuss what is going on and why a debate?

And, as we have always done, we will have pizza, beer/root beer, declare November 6th a holiday, and watch the returns come in.