Saturday, May 22, 2010

How sweet it is!

Since becoming a parent, I've had a lot of practice in thinking for myself, doing my own research, and coming to my own conclusions. The truth is, though, that I am an approval-junkie. Even when the rational side of me is convinced that I have made the correct choice, if anyone in a position of authority disapproves, I get a little stressed.

I was under the care of an OB/GYN for my first three pregnancies, and had a wonderful doctor. There was mutual respect between us, and he treated me like an adult. I was also pleased as I did my own learning to see that we matched up pretty well. He encouraged me to keep breastfeeding through pregnancy as long as my children and I wanted. When I failed the one-hour glucose test all three times, he didn't panic. His nurse, however, was a different story.

Her expression when she found out I was still nursing was priceless, and provided me with a great deal of inner amusement. Her response to the glucose test was a lot stronger, though, and not nearly as much fun for me. The first time around, I took the three hour test and passed, but she warned me strongly that since I had failed the one-hour, I still needed to do everything that a mom with gestational diabetes would do, except take insulin. I diligently followed all the advice, and stressed out constantly about every bite I took. I dreamed about food every night, and battled cravings every day.

Ariana was born weighing 7lbs even, with no sugar issues whatsoever. When I became pregnant with Joel, and failed the one hour test again, I asked my doc if I could just go straight to the diet, etc, and skip the three hour test. It had taken more than nine needle-pokes to get blood the first time and I had felt sick all day from the nasty syrup. I really didn't want to go through all that in a three hour test (What? 27 tries with the needle???) *with* a toddler! He said that it would be perfectly fine. The nurse gave me a long list of all the possible complications and some dire warnings again, and once again I went through the tension and cravings, feeling hungry every minute. Joel was 6 lbs 12 oz, and no sugar issues, either.

When I failed the one hour test with Elena, I asked again to bypass the three hour test. Again, my OB was unconcerned, the nurse was not. I got regular A1C checks, which were always normal. I had done enough reading at this point to have a better idea of the true value (or lack thereof) of the typical US version of the tolerance tests, and I knew I had the support of my doctor. Still, all the warnings would echo in my head. If you have taken a lot of pictures, you probably are well aware that whatever object you are looking at most closely is usually in the center of the frame. Constantly focusing on carbs kept them prominently in my mind, and the nagging worry that the nurse might be right didn't help.

This time around, I was a little nervous about the sugar issue, knowing what an ordeal it has been in the past. The hospital midwife that we had considered in the beginning made it clear that she sided with the former nurse and that this time around there would be no option on the three hour test. I knew my homebirth midwife was more up-to-date on current research and thought she would take a different approach, but nervous habits are hard to break.

What a difference the right midwife makes! She moniters our measurements at each appointment, but there was none of the stress or dire warnings from previous pregnancies. Rather than drinking the horrible sugar concoction on an empty stomach, she gave me a glucometer and had me take my readings following my normal routine. There was competence and security, but no anxiety-provoking, stern lecture on endangering my baby.

Guess what? The glucose levels were perfectly normal! No problems at all. I can't explain what a relief it is. Even though I knew I had research on my side before, there was always that niggling doubt in the back of my mind that maybe my sugar levels were out of whack. It is so nice to know that I have "proof" this time around that doing what I normally do is OK. And I suspect that the peace and lack of stress about my glucose levels can only be good for both me and the baby. Of course, I don't plan to go crazy with junk food and sugar snacks--that certainly wouldn't be good for us, either!--it is so much more peaceful not to try to make calculations over every single bite I take.

Blessings on you, Heather! You have made this pregnancy very sweet, indeed!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A DREAM or a nightmare?

I think that regardless of where you stand on immigration, you probably agree with me that the current situation is a mess. It is a very intense, personal topic for many of us. There is an area where I hope that we can find common ground: the DREAM Act.

Did your parents ever move when you were a child? Mine did. They left Mexico and came to the USA. I didn't get a vote in that decision. Nor did I have anything to do with our legal status or citizenship. Once we were here, I began to forget Spanish and adjust to English. I went to school and was excited about the prospect of college. I obeyed the laws of the US and tried to be a good citizen. Thankfully, my family is here legally. However, there are many, many children who had the exact same choices and opportunities that I did whose parents are not here legally, and they are caught in a never-ending nightmare.

Even though they had no choice in coming here or their legal status, even though they may not even speak the language of their country of birth, even though they may have worked hard academically and have done everything in their power to respect the United States, they must live in constant fear of deportation. There is nothing whatsoever that they can do to fix the situation, no way for them to become legal. Instead, they must abandon their dreams of further education and living their full potential as members of our society and hide in the shadows.

That doesn't benefit our country. It is a squandering of one of our greatest national resources. There is no moral justification for it--these kids were innocent bystanders. Imagine if your parents were from another country and you were in this situation. It could easily have been me. It could easily have been you.

We can do something about this. We can vote. We can encourage our legislators to pass the DREAM act now! Every day that goes by is too late for some. Will you please speak out so that others can get out of the nightmare and live the American Dream?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Out and About

We've experienced the perfect storm lately--three high-energy kidlets (ages 6, 4, and almost 2), nice weather, and the knowledge that soon a new baby will change our abilities to spend much of our day in whatever excursion takes our fancy. So, for the last few months, we've been going places almost daily. It has been so much fun! We love the chance to get out.

Like most of our friends, we have not been overly burdened with an excess of material wealth, so I'll let you in on some of our favorite activities.

* Rain dancing. There is nothing more fun than grabbing swimsuits and having the whole family go outside and dance in the backyard during a nice, warm rain. As long as there is no thunder or lightning, go for it! It is even better if you snuggle in soft towels and enjoy hot chocolate together when you come in.

* Sprinklers! If you can't get it for free from Nature, pick a good time to water the garden and turn on the sprinklers. A few old towels on the floor by the door make for quick clean up when you come in.

* Memberships to local attractions. We've been surprised at how often a year-long family pass for places like the zoo, children's museum or aquarium is comparable (or even less!) than the daily admission! Some offer discounts for local residents, or coupons or special deals online. They can be well worth the price!

* Parks, of course. We've found that mixing it up by going to different ones makes it fresh and keeps it exciting. Look up new ones in nearby communities--some might be closer than you expect.

* Picnics. Even if it is just in our backyard, everything tastes better outside!

I've also been asked a few times how we are able to enjoy it so much with three kids that age. Here are a few things that have helped it work for us:

* Timing is everything! You know your family's rhythms better than anyone else--pay attention to them. What time of day is the best for your family? Today, I took the kidlets for our weekly grocery shopping trip and received multiple comments on how happy and well-behaved they all were. We had gone right after breakfast, when everyone was rested and fed. If I had attempted the shopping in late afternoon, chances are that I would have heard a far different kind of comment!

Go with the flow. If you are doing pretty much anything with several little ones, it is easier for everyone if you remain flexible regarding time. Their legs aren't as long, and neither are their attention spans--unless, of course, they find something of particular interest, in which case your attention span may run out long before theirs. That is OK. If you have the choice of spending the same amount of time relaxed and happy or frustrated and angry (and trying to rush usually still takes the same amount of time), then you may as well have fun together, right?

* Think about your goals. Are you trying to win some sort of badge by thoroughly examining every exhibit or attraction, or are you there to have fun? My kids can spend hours at the zoo and not see all the animals. Yet, what would I gain by trying to "get our money's worth" by marching everyone through without regard for their interests or enjoyment?

* Pack well. It can be hard to balance bringing what you need and weighing yourself down with non-essentials. Our must-have list: food and drink (I get reaaaaally cranky if I need a snack, and so do the kidlets), a wrap for the smallest one, sunscreen, meds (Benedryl/Epi-pens/band-aids), and a change of clothes in the car.

Besides being over-priced and under-healthful, we deal with multiple food allergies and find it easier to bring our own snacks. Fruit like clementines, our own breakfast bars, cheese sticks or other easily portable snacks and our own water bottles keep everyone's energy levels where they should be.

I've found strollers to be more cumbersome than helpful in most places (YMMV), but a wrap is essential for when a little one gets tired or before they are able to walk everywhere. I've even carried my 3.5 year old around in one during some all-day excursions in Puerto Rico! They also make breastfeeding easy and discreet.

I also try to keep a change of clothes in the car for everyone (and a few old towels) so that if we decide on a spontaneous trip to the splash pad or pool, we are prepared. Besides, who hasn't had a time when you needed a quick change for a child?

Enjoy the moment. Attitude is everything, and most of the time, my children's behavior is a reflection of my own emotional undercurrents. It is amazing how much my mood sets the tone for our day. If things start to unravel a bit, often all it takes is resetting my own emotional thermostat. And, if it is time to come home, by all means do so! Being mindful of our own reserves and those of our children can help us to get the most out of our times our and about.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Gentle Discipline Links

Gentle Parent - art by Erika Hastings at

If you are my friend on Facebook, you are probably aware that we've been highlighting gentle discipline and celebrated National Spank Out day yesterday. I shared some of my favorite links there, and would like to repost them here, as well.

I am not a perfect parent. My kids are not perfect. But having experienced the joy and connection that result from gentle discipline has made me want to share it with others. Even if you consider spanking a valuable tool right now, I would encourage you to try some of these other tools and to consider the reasons that we have chosen not to parent punitively. You may find that some things that will work for your family, too!

One of my favorite authors, Pam Leo, has several articles here on a variety of topics. There is practical advice and thought-provoking ideas here:

Gentle discipline isn't about sighing and wringing your hands when your children need guidance--it is active and proactive. Joanne has incredibly valuable tips for effectively helping your children: GOYB

My favorite single post regarding Christians and spanking is here, but don't miss out on all the other great posts she has on discipline: Is Spanking Biblical?

A treasure trove of links on Grace-based discipline, development, and more, this was the site that helped lead me to GBD: Arms of Love

Many people have recommended Tedd Tripp's book, Shepherding a Child's Heart to us. While there are some good things in it, there are many poisonous things, too. This review explains some of them: SACH Review

This is the second in a series of posts explaining Laurie's journey into Grace-based discipline. Read the others, too! Choosing GBD

We are surrounded by parents who follow Gary Ezzo's materials--Babywise, Preparation for Parenting, Growing Kids God's Way, etc. I think many are drawn to the assurance he gives that if they do things his way, their kids will be perfect. The truth behind his foundation and credentials, and the effects his methods have, is eye-opening: Ezzo Info

Last but not least, many, many thanks to the Baby Dust Diaries for focusing on this important issue and for hosting the Carnival. There are many links here, and each of them encouraged me and added to my understanding and application of gentle discipline: Baby Dust Diaries