Friday, February 27, 2009

RANT about my pediatrician's office

I apologize for the lengthy absence- I have been busy, we went out of town for a wedding, we've been spring cleaning, went to a puppet show, lost my wallet, had to drive a ways to retrieve it, had (*gasp!*) another fun date with Billy, and most recently, have been nursing Littleman through another vomiting spell.

Littleman will occasionally, out of the blue, get violently ill and empty his stomach completely. From there it's hours with waves of nausea, dry heaving and vomiting what little liquid his poor innards can muster. He can't keep anything down. I've developed a standard response that's a combination of rest, a homeopathic remedy and lots of diluted gatorade, allowed in tiny sips every 5 - 10 minutes to begin with, gradually increasing the amount by teaspoons until it seems safe to offer a saltine cracker. This usually does the trick, sometimes so well that he might get sick early in the morning and be completely better by dinnertime!

This time has been longer, and the nausea was NOT receding. I was starting to really worry about hydration- he got sick around 6 AM yesterday, and still couldn't keep any liquids down this morning. My gatorade trick wasn't working this time. He was asking for fruit smoothie and milk, which I knew weren't things he was "supposed" to have, but I finally decided it was worth a try at least. The smoothie stayed down long enough that he probably got some benefit before it reappeared, which was good- but still not great. When I told him just to sip milk and water, things improved. I still thought I should call the pediatrician's office though, just to consult and to be sure the episode was noted on his chart.

Warning: here follows a rant, which was unleashed when I started a comment on Foolery's Free-Association Friday post. I didn't realize it was in me, till I started free-associating. Perhaps I ought to purge my sub-conscious more often. ;)

That was one uber-annoying phone call, in which the phone nurse stopped just short of telling me that I am an INCOMPETENT mother because I have allowed my nauseous, vomiting son to drink a little MILK, since that's what he wanted, and thank heavens it's WORKING- get that, WORKING- when no amount of diluted gatorade has done the trick for the last 28 HOURS. . . but no, I should chuck my intuition and experience out the window because the all-holy bleeping PHONE NURSE says milk should NEVER be offered to a child whose been vomiting, no matter how much or how pitifully they beg for it, therefore I should immediately switch back to diluted gatorade and bring him to the office if he's not better by TOMORROW. (~pant, pant~) Never mind the fact that ignoring the condescending DEAR has resulted in a son who can now walk about and eat chicken soup and crackers without puking all over the place. (knock on wood) She also seemed nearly CERTAIN that this is all just another stomach bug (there's at least a couple of them making the rounds right now) and that I can't possibly know what I am talking about when I tell her I am nearly certain it is NOT. Because, what the hell do I know? She's had a whole five minutes to think about this, and I'M only his MOM!

I'm getting really sick of the phone nurses at this practice making me feel like they are the only people on the planet with the right answers, and any unconventional, traditional, natural or intuitive steps I take are nothing short of DANGEROUS. I love my pediatrician, but the phone nurses make me glad we're not having any more children. I am tired of dealing with them. You should have heard the nurses when I revealed that I use breast milk to treat a stuffy nose! (It WORKS.) They got the pediatrician to call me back, they were so very CONCERNED. She told me it couldn't hurt, and to go ahead and do it if I thought it was working for us. You'd think the nurses could give me SOME credit, considering we're almost never there except for good, healthy checkups. I am on my THIRD child, after all! I've figured out a thing or two by now. I'm sorely tempted to lie to them, omitting any natural tactics I use for my children's health and pretending that I only ever do what they say. I can tell my pediatrician- she might raise her eyebrows occasionally, or ask questions, but she uses her brain and never dismisses me out of hand. I suspect she thinks some of my methods are overzealous or strange but ultimately harmless, and she chooses not to pass judgment as long as it won't hurt anything. I like her. I'm glad I can be honest with her, because I WANT to know if there's a sound medical argument against something I want to try, or if her conventional treatment might be adversely impacted by a natural remedy. Open communication with healthcare providers is very important to me.

Oh and never mind the fact that, according to the nurse this morning, there are only TWO of Littleman's vomiting episodes noted in his chart. Excuse me, but DAMMIT! I made a point of calling every time and SPECIFICALLY asking them to note it on his chart. I can't believe I trusted them to do this and did not keep track of it myself somewhere. Live and learn. I'll be talking to my pediatrician about that.

Sigh. Ranting over. Now if only I can get Littleman to eat some more soup.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Trip to the Farm

From The Farm- Winter 2008

Last December, we traveled to my maternal family's farm in Alabama for the yearly family gathering. This land was purchased sometime around 1900 by my great-great grandfather, a traveling preacher. He built a house there in 1903, and remarried (he was a widower) soon thereafter. That house is still in use, and it's where we stay whenever we go down to visit. (note: I'm afraid none of these photos are of the actual house- they are all of barns and other farm outbuildings.) Every December my maternal family gathers there for a little Christmas reunion, with good Southern food, good company and a fun "white elephant" gift exchange. It's a highlight of my holiday season.
From The Farm- Winter 2008

I've been going to "the farm" since I was a little girl, of course. I knew my great grandparents well, and miss them to this day. I distinctly recall a time when I was in middle school, when I developed an interest in genealogy. I carefully prepared a cassette recorder and a list of interview questions to ask my great grandparents during my next visit. They were mostly basic questions, such as "where were you born?". I was astonished when my great grandfather responded, "Right yonder." and pointed to the back bedroom!
"There?!?" I asked, "In that room?"
"Yup." he said, and that was that.
From The Farm- Winter 2008

My great-great grandfather and his second wife had only one child, a boy. My Poppy. When Poppy eventually married, his young wife came to live with him and her in-laws on their family farm. Their children, including my Grandmother, grew up in that house as well. And later, my Mother would spend some of her childhood right in that same family home. It is special to me that now, my own children get to be there, in that house, on that land, in that history.
From The Farm- Winter 2008

There are so many relics of our family's past there- even my great-great Grandfather's wagon survives, stored away in the barn. All of Poppy's tractors are still around- the barn is a little boy's dream. Babyman loved sitting in one of the old tractors.
From The Farm- Winter 2008

He was ready for some action!
From The Farm- Winter 2008

Babyman's middle name honors my great Grandparents. I think he's a natural.
From The Farm- Winter 2008

From The Farm- Winter 2008

Walking around the farm offers so many wonderful details, so many tiny bits of lore. Almost anything you stumble across probably has a story.
From The Farm- Winter 2008

The boys are mostly oblivious to all this nostalgia- they simply love being there! The dirt, the rocks, the tractors of course, the animal tracks and trails. . . but last trip, it was all about a ride in my Uncle's pickup truck.
From The Farm- Winter 2008

A normally forbidden treat, we climbed into the back of the pickup truck for an open-air ride down the lonely dirt road in the forest. There were no other cars, and it was a slow easy ride in the beautiful afternoon.
From The Farm- Winter 2008

With just one tiny stretch of asphalt road, we were back to the farm in no time.
From The Farm- Winter 2008

The boys talked about it for weeks!

I look forward to going back- maybe I'll take the boys down this summer for some serious vegetable harvesting.
From The Farm- Winter 2008

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!

Color me a sentimental chump, but I like Valentine's Day. I like hearts, and flowers, kisses and chocolate. I even liked it when I had no boyfriend- it was fun to give carnations or valentines to my friends. And while I know that Billy loves me deeply, sometimes he needs an external push to make him show me a little appreciation. Valentine's Day is one such nudge.

Last night we went to a movie (in a real, live movie theater!!) and dinner out. My beloved MIL watched all three boys. It was wonderful. (Incidentally, Slumdog Millionaire is an AMAZING movie. See it if you get the chance.) I got dressed up and felt pretty, which is a nice boost for my self esteem. :) And we had adult conversation, held hands and spent some time very simply enjoying each other's company. Wow. My cup runneth over!! (Actually, I mean that.)

You may have noticed the new music player at the top of the page, on the right. It's a song Billy wrote for me one Valentine's Day. Give it a listen, in honor of today. (And please let me know if it doesn't work- I'm new at those things.)

Also, check out this awesome little project a friend has begun:
I Love You Cards
Spread a little random enchantment!

And, to my readers: I love you. Thank you for visiting my blog!! You bring me a lot of joy.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Skywatch Friday

From assorted

See more Skywatch photos from all over the world! Visit

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My broken window

I have an ache, and it has nothing to do with the bruise on my knee, my ever-sore back or even my head. It's a chronic pain that gets worse the nicer the weather is. It's an ache deep in my soul, and I've been feeling it worse than usual lately.

I want to go riding.

I want to pull on my leather jacket, strap on my Arai helmet and hop up behind my beloved for a badass day on the K1200RS. I want to head for the mountain roads. I want to go motorcycle riding.

There is something indescribable about a really great ride- something so life-affirming for me, that it's absence is like a broken windowpane, a void where something should be. I feel this lack painfully.

I have been pregnant and/or nursing nonstop for 6 years as of this month. 6 years solid. Now, that's not to say I haven't been on the bike in that long- oh no, in fact each of our three boys has enjoyed a motorcycle ride in-utero. (Yes, it was OK with my doctor- it was very early in the pregnancy.) But I've been lucky to get in just one ride per year, IF that. Even now that it's getting (slightly) easier for us to get away sans children once in awhile, it's hard to be totally comfortable on the bike anymore. What if something happened to us? It only takes one oncoming idiot to cross into our lane, or to turn in front of us in an intersection, and suddenly both our boys' parents could be gone. Billy is an experienced driver, and I have full confidence in him (or else I wouldn't ride at all), but let's face it- an accident on the bike is less forgiving than one in a car. It's a very scary thought, which hangs over us anytime we do manage to get away to ride the roads.

Of course, everything we do carries risks and benefits. If we never risked our lives, we'd never try anything- certainly we'd never have had most of the experiences that have enriched my life and shaped my being. Motorcycle riding brings me such joy and satisfaction, it seems illogical to shy away from it because we fear a remote possibility. But risk assessment takes on a whole new meaning when it's your children's future in the balance. Of course, we worry. And are less likely to arrange for a motorcycle day together.

I weep for riding. Driving the minivan to or from errands on a gorgeous day, the sight of a couple on a good fast bike can literally knock the breath out of me. My sudden longing is a physical pang. Ouch. I wish I were riding.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stuff I Like: Children's Books- the beautiful, set 1

It's been a long time since I did any product recommendations here. Which is funny, because I LOVE finding the perfect whatever-it-is-I'm-looking-for when I need to shop for whatever it is I'm looking for.

I have a particular love for children's books. Sometimes, I prefer reading children's literature, whether or not I have any children I am reading it to. And, OH!!! Picture books. I am such a sucker for a beautifully done picture book. Since I've already mentioned some of our favorite board books, I thought it was high time I spotlighted some of our favorite picture books (thus far, anyway). Today, I want to focus on a handful of the beautiful.

Giving Thanks by Jonathan London, illustrated by Gregory Manchess
This book is stunning. It's my favorite picture book right now. A boy goes on a hike with his father, and relates how his father gives thanks to the wonders and beauty of nature along the way.
(from the text:) "To me, it's a little embarrassing to say thanks to trees and things. But Dad says it becomes a habit; it makes you feel good."

The prose is inspiring, and the paintings are gorgeous. I am awestruck by the mastery of the brushstrokes, the perfect color, the familiar and beautiful landscapes. I love this book.

* * *

Ignis by Gina Wilson, illustrated by P.J. Lynch
Another gorgeously illustrated book. The story is longer, fitting (in my opinion) beautifully into classic fairy tale traditions. The images are beautiful, evocative and alive. Ignis is a young dragon who cannot yet make fire. He goes on a quest to find his fire, meeting new friends along the way.

I especially love his time with Cara, a little girl. It's my favorite part of the story.

A magical book about friendship, perseverance and triumph.

* * *

Grandfather Twilight
by Barbara Berger
Perhaps you can tell by my creased and dog-eared photo above, but our softcover copy of this book has seen much love. It actually belonged to myself and my siblings, and now it belongs to my children. It was always one of my favorites, for the simple sweet text and the quiet, lovely images.

Grandfather Twilight is shown as he goes on his nightly walk, bringing peaceful twilight colors to the forest and shore on his way to deliver the moon.

* * *

adapted and illustrated by K.Y. Craft
Let me preface this by pointing out that if the traditional fairy tale of Cinderella bothers you, then this is not your book. Cinderella is the meek, modest girl who is "rescued" by the prince, and they get married and live happily ever after. That hasn't changed here. However. This lushly illustrated book is an absolute joy to behold.

The images are like a treasure box of gold and shimmering jewels. And Cinderella does at least model a kind, forgiving nature that triumphs over spitefulness. Plus, did I mention the book is beautiful?

* * *

That's enough for today. More another time. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

New, Ageless

It's a gilded afternoon, timeless like air in amber. Unseasonably warm, bathed in clear winter sunlight. Distant shouts and laughter wander far on the soft breeze.

Yarn running through my fingers. Click, loop, slide, slip.

Grandpa seated to my right, eyes gazing at distant unseen horizons. He is reminiscing for me (for himself), relating long ago army days- a time for him of ceaseless activity, of purpose, the promise of his young family, the adventure, times of horror and of valor.

Click, loop, slide, slip.

Young boys running, flying, feet skimming the grassy field. The dogs race. Someone falls, laughing.

Click, loop, slide, slip.

I watch my husband emerge from the woods, pinestraw in his hair, smiling. Watching himself, reincarnated gleefully in these noisy, boisterous little beings we call our own. Boyhood anew.

Click, loop, slide, slip.

The wheel turns. Our time of ceaseless activity, of purpose, of the promise of our young family. Our adventure. New, and ageless. Grandpa sighs.

Click, loop, slide, slip. I set aside my knitting.

And the breeze sighs with him.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

quote: the last word

Today, I offer a quote:

"Your last recourse against randomness is how you act - if you can't control outcomes, you can control the elegance of your behaviour. You will always have the last word."

- Nassim Nicholas Taleb
From this article

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Have you heard about mercury in high fructose corn syrup?
This is something I heard about recently- there was an article in the Washington Post that was posted on a homeschool list I read. Apparently it's now being circulated in email as well, because my sister in law recently wrote me:

"Hey, Kit, I see that [name removed] forwarded this same article to you also. I wasn't able to read the whole thing because it trailed off into a ....................., and I could not find some link or something to open up to read the rest of it, but I assume you can, cuz yer a cumm-puter wizerd. But you always verify things on some sight, that I forgot the name of, so I have 2 questions. Are they full of sh*t? Does High fructose corn syrup have mercury? Also, I have heard opposing arguments about high fructose corn syrup being the reason all of america is getting fat as sh*t, basically, the other side is saying it's a lie, because it's made from corn, and corn can't be bad for you. But what about the "High fructose" part? What's that about? Is there some kind of sugar released when corn is processed a certain way that makes it fattening?"
* * *

(Disclaimer: I'm no computer wizard; I simply use them more than sis-in-law does, and have the patience to fiddle with them until I figure out what I need to know. So I've become a go-to source of computer information for some family members. Basically, I'm just a proficient googler.) :)

I spent a little time on my response, and thought some others might find it informative as well. It's a combination of quick online research and my own bias, so take it for what it's worth. Here's what I wrote:

* * *
Yes, it is true. The article was indeed published in the Washington Post, and in several other publications as well. Here's the Washington Post article:
US News and World Report:
FOX News:,2933,484088,00.html
And a article which lists the foods that were found to contain mercury:
From the webmd article:

"Overall, we found detectable mercury in 17 of 55 samples, or around 31%," write Wallinga and colleagues.

Here is the list of those products:

* Quaker Oatmeal to Go bars
* Jack Daniel's Barbecue Sauce
* Hershey's Chocolate Syrup
* Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce
* Nutri-Grain Strawberry Cereal Bars
* Manwich Gold Sloppy Joe
* Market Pantry Grape Jelly
* Smucker's Strawberry Jelly
* Pop-Tarts Frosted Blueberry
* Hunt's Tomato Ketchup
* Wish-Bone Western Sweet & Smooth Dressing
* Coca-Cola Classic: no mercury found on a second test
* Yoplait Strawberry Yogurt
* Minute Maid Berry Punch
* Yoo-hoo Chocolate Drink
* Nesquik Chocolate Milk
* Kemps Fat Free Chocolate Milk

Wallinga and colleagues caution that their list was "just a snapshot in time; we only tested one sample of each product. That clearly is not sufficient grounds to give definitive advice to consumers."

Apparently the reason (they think) that high fructose corn syrup can contain mercury is that some of the plants processing it use contaminated caustic soda. Caustic soda is needed to produce high fructose corn syrup, and some plants that produce caustic soda use "outdated" mercury cell technology to do so- which can produce caustic soda that's been contaminated with mercury.

Of course, high fructose corn syrup has been under fire for some time now, as many nutritionists and scientists have begun to point to it as a significant contribution to the high levels of obesity in the US. I learned more about it here:

To sum up, they're not sure precisely why there's a correlation, though there are some ideas. One theory is that due to the nature of the sugars in high fructose corn syrup, it's digestion is not regulated by the body as well as the digestion of natural sugars. Another idea links high fructose corn syrup to harmful carbonyl compounds (which are elevated in people with diabetes). Another study shows that large quantities of fructose can cause insulin resistance- another link to diabetes. Yet another study suggested that a diet rich in fat and high fructose corn syrup can suppress the sensation of fullness (leading to overeating), and cause leptin-resistance- which can lead to weight gain.

Yes, the corn industry refutes all these studies for various reasons. High fructose corn syrup is simply a sweetener made of lots of fructose ("fruit sugar") and a little sucrose (like cane sugar). Sounds pretty benign, doesn't it? However it's not a naturally occurring sweetener, and studies do seem to indicate that for whatever reason, it's bad for us. We are apparently just not built to be consuming THAT much fructose. Besides, it's so highly processed (including using at least one GMO ingredient necessary for production) that I view it as highly suspect. (Just as I view artificial sweeteners like splenda.) I try to stick with honey or plain old sugar, and simply limit how much sweet stuff we eat. (I read lots of food labels.) Never trust an ingredient that sounds like a chemical compound.

So, does that answer your questions? :)


Monday, February 2, 2009

Eternity Mealtimes

I have a problem.
I have a problem, and it involves mealtimes with my children.
It's not that my children are overly picky eaters- I am blessed with kids who (for now, at least) will try a variety of foods without complaint, and who actually like many healthy things. I'm also not concerned about how much they are eating- while I loathe waste, I know that it is counter-productive to try to force children to "clean their plates". I try to serve small portions, and the rule is simply that they must try at least one bite of each thing on the plate. If they really do not like it, that's fine- they don't have to finish eating that item. They may have more of whatever they do like, if they want- since I try to only offer healthy choices, that's not a problem. If dessert is available (and it's definitely not an every-day thing), they must eat what I dictate if they want dessert. But choosing to forgo dessert is a perfectly viable option, and I'm not disappointed with them if that's what they decide. Let's face it- sometimes they're just not that hungry.

So, I'm not struggling with WHAT they eat. I'm not struggling with HOW MUCH they eat. My problem is HOW LONG IT TAKES them to eat.

Doesn't that sound silly? After all, it's healthy to take our time with our food, chewing well, savoring the flavors and having conversation with our family. A little friendly banter at mealtimes helps cement family relationships, keeps everyone relaxed and makes mealtime fun. After all, I don't want us all wolfing down our food and running off to resume our separate pursuits. So what's the problem?

My children can take an E-T-E-R-N-I-T-Y to eat a meal. If I left them to their own devices, they would still be sitting at the lunch table when dinnertime rolled around. (Yes, really.) They talk, goof off, make each other laugh, tell stories, sing songs, talk, laugh. . . they're having a great time but they're not eating. I have to police the whole meal, prodding, reminding, scolding, while my blood pressure no doubt gets higher and higher. How often I find myself saying in frustration, "JUST EAT!!!!!! PLEASE!!!".

I guess they come by this honestly- Billy and his siblings still laugh and reminisce about how long it took them to eat because they were having too much fun, and how it frustrated their poor mom to no end. Sometimes I resort to a timer- Billy's mother had to do that. I set the timer, and when it buzzes mealtime is over. Not finished? Sorry. Still hungry? Too bad. I need to clean up, you need to have a nap. That's a miserable way to eat together, though. It doesn't feel healthy. I'm so very frustrated- I feel like the food nazi! It's not at all pleasant. Often I find myself eating my meal with them, not hurrying, having a conversation, and when I am finished I excuse myself, get up and leave. I clean or take care of Babyman, and call out from time to time, "Take a bite!!". I just can't handle sitting there and being the policeman.

It's extra frustrating in a restaurant- usually I need them to eat, because we are out and about and they will be better behaved if their blood sugar is stable. Plus, let's be honest: it's harder to be laissez-faire about how much they eat if we're paying for their food in a restaurant. My boys are well-behaved in restaurants, but often I leave stressed out and frustrated anyway. It's ridiculous! But if I let go, if I relax and let them eat however much they eat, we invariably have a meltdown when it is time to go because they're STILL HUNGRY!

When I've asked others about this, I either get helpless sympathy (from parents of young children) or the all-knowing advice to "let them be hungry, then".

I understand the beautiful logic behind that approach. I bet it would eventually work. But, really? Have you ever tried that? I can be "mean" enough to do it. But it COMPLETELY derails the rest of the day. It absolutely ruins the child's behavior and the mood of anyone within a 2-mile radius. I've tried it. It's terrible. If I force them to pay attention to their food and eat until they say they are full, they will be their normal (mostly) well-behaved selves. And I spend mealtime being the stressed-out food nazi. If they miss their opportunity and end up hungry, everyone's day is totally shot.

Hence, I have a problem.
Thank you for letting me vent.
Any ideas?