Saturday, September 25

Dog woes

Alright friends, I'm going to try to work this dilemma out before unburdening myself on my tired husband. To get to the point, this is the sob story about me n' our dog. "Our dog." I wish I could claim no responsibility for him, but that can't be the case. So here is the deal. My gut feeling is that we need to not own this dog anymore. He is a 3 year old, German Shepherd and black Lab mix, weighs about 90 pounds and has more energy than the atomic bomb.

Now, because I am trying to gather my addled and emotion-ridden wits together and prepare a cogent argument for Josh, rather than simply crying and screaming that either the dog or I are going, let's do this methodically. Why do people, most people, own dogs? Simple. For companionship, protection, or work. Most people keep dogs as companions. A companion dog, I imagine, implies that it spends time with you and you with it. You may even like the dog. I would assume that the dog would like you. So "time" is essential if the dog is a companion. Next, you have dogs for protection. Most dogs today function as an alarm and a deterrent. A thief in your backyard might think twice if you have a reasonably sized, barking dog making its presence known. I think it safe to assume that most people do not expect to keep dogs that would actually be capable of killing the said thief. So bigger isn't necessarily better. I don't know anyone who keeps a dog for work purposes, but I've seen enough Scottish movies to guess that in some places in the world, dogs herd sheep and other such critters.

Our dog falls under the category of protection. He isn't a companion sort of dog. He is too big, too strong, and too rough to do anything with. Literally, we do nothing with this creature except feed him. Josh pets him, maybe and lets him run around. But that's it. I'm not strong enough to handle him. I can just see it... me, my stroller, my pregnant belly and that asinine dog traipsing down the street. Not going to happen. However, he is a good watch dog, to his credit. Our house in Michigan was never robbed because of him. Two weeks after we left, the new tenants had their electronics stolen. He's a scary dog, I will say that for him.

Today the dog got out under our fence and tangled himself in our neighbor's fence. Our neighbor came over to tell me and I had to leave Greta, and untangle this stupid beast. He, of course, is not sitting politely and waiting. Oh no, he is running circles around me, jumping, pulling and tangling me. I can't even bend over easily to pick up a fork of the floor. Imagine trying to extricate a greased pig of a dog with a 7 month large belly in the way? Oh, it was a sight. By the time I was done and the beast was returned to his prison, I was ready to kill something. My husband came first to mind. We still have this dog due to his insistence that we need a guard dog.

So here's my fun predicament. How do I convince my husband that we do not need this dog, that it is unsafe for me to be handling this dog, and that a smaller, obedient, normal dog would do just as well, maybe even better for our family? If we had 100 acres, that is one thing. If we still lived near Detroit, that is another. If I wasn't always going to be relatively pregnant and carrying kids around, that might be another story. If Josh actually wanted to do things with this dog, that's yet another. However, none of these criteria are going to happen in the near future. So what's a nice way to tell Josh we need a different dog or no dog at all for awhile? Help, folks!

My list of favorite supplements

Wow, you might be saying to yourself, that is a 'knock your socks off' title for a blog post. Isn't it, though? Completely indicative of my mental alertness at the moment. We had a busy Saturday morning, and I'm winding down on the computer before taking that precious afternoon nap. For some time, I've been intending to write a post on vitamins and supplements that have really worked or not worked for me. There are so many options out there that sometimes it's helpful to be pointed in the right direction. Not all vitamins and supplements are equal, and just because the bottle says "natural" does not mean that it's made from "natural" sources. Of course, the issue is money. Your synthetic supplements and vitamins will be much cheaper, but they will also be less effective because your body won't be able to absorb them as easily. Without further ado....
Raw Source Organics. Here is a great overall supplement made from whole foods that are cold processed and therefore, retain more of their natural potency. Raw Source Organics is an awesome company that currently sells three lines of supplements. Daily Immune helps to ward off the nasties - colds, allergies - while boosting your immune system. When I weaned Greta and was worried about her compromised immunity, I started mixing one capsule of Daily Immune in her food. It has a not unpleasant, woody taste to it, and if you put it with yoghurt or applesauce, it goes down easily. We're in the middle of fall cold and allergy season here in Gallup and neither she nor I have any complaints yet. The Daily Multiple is a great source of easily absorbed vitamins. I'm currently using it as my pre-natal because it contains folate, which triggers your body to produce folic acid. The only thing I would add is that you may need to take supplemental minerals if your doctor/midwife suggests it because these primary contain vitamin sources. One of my favorite things about the Daily Multiple is that they come in veggie capsules, which are SO MUCH EASIER to swallow and digest when compared to the horse pills I used to take (and promptly throw up). They also carry a Daily C Vitamin for all of you Vitamin C takers.

Standard Process. Unless you really know what you are doing, don't take these without a doctor, naturalist, or chiropractor's say-so and direction. I've found that when I have a specific ailment - unusual fatigue, digestive problems, dizziness, irregular periods, etc. - Standard Process is a great way to go. See a health care professional who will either do muscle testing or a detailed survey of your symptoms and prescribe based on their findings. Keep in mind that Standard Process products are very expensive for the most part, which is why I don't take them as my 'daily' supplement. However, if you have a specific health issue, think of SP as medicine. They really, really do work.

Additional minerals/vitamins. For pregnancy and really, for most period-related discomforts, I highly recommend a magnesium supplement. It really helps with water retention and bloating during both pregnancy and "that time of the month." Right now, I'm taking about 500 mg. a day and believe me, I know the difference when I don't take it. I like the Bluebonnet brand that our Co-op carries, but I've heard good things about the Calm brand as well. If you're pregnant, don't miss out on Calcium, or you could find yourself like me, with awful leg cramps. Baby needs it, too, for his development. I'm taking the Bluebonnet brand because it comes in capsule form and absorbs easily. One thing to keep in mind with Calcium is that you shouldn't take more than 500 mg at a time because your body can't absorb more than 500 mg or so at a time. So I take it with breakfast, lunch and dinner. For pregnancy-based fatigue, I discovered that a B-complex supplement is really helpful. I was pretty much dying after the home remodeling when my midwife suggested a B-complex supplement. Wow. What a difference that made in my energy levels. B-Complex is combination of all the B vitamins. I take the regular dosage of Bluebonnet's "Stress Complex" B Vitamins. If this doesn't help you with pregnancy fatigue, take a blood test to determine your iron levels. If you are iron deficient, you will be VERY tired.

I do not suggest that you go out right now and buy all of these without your doctor's approval, especially the additional supplements. However, in the interests of passing along helpful information, there you go. Feel free to post comments about what you're taking and why. If you have any questions about my post, feel free to ask.

Wednesday, September 22

In the market for nursing bras??

Nursing bras are a... beast. Plan on having at least two sets of different sizes. One size for when you first give birth and a smaller size for once you start loosing weight and getting back to your normal shape. This is relevant if you plan to nurse for a year or more. DO NOT waste your money on those things Motherhood Maternity sells called "maternity bras." They are marketed towards newly pregnant mothers, whose boobs are rapidly growing during pregnancy. They are simply glorified normal bras. Save your money and either buy a size or two up in your normal bra style, or buy nursing bras once you hit your third trimester. Also, keep in mind that every woman is a different size, so when you read the reviews, take into account the writer's size, if she mentions it. I used to be about C34 before pregnancy. I'm D36 in my third trimester and for a good 4-6 months postpartum. Then I go back to D34. I like padded bras and bras with back support. Underwire is very unforgiving when your size is changing so much. These are my biases, so keep that in mind if you read my suggestions.

Here are a few places to look for buying nursing bras -
A Pea in the Pod. Outrageously expensive, but worth it if you're going to be nursing for the rest of your life, as I am. I'm trying a few new ones, so when they come, I will let you know my thoughts.
La Leche League. Trying these out as well. These are more reasonably priced. Have to be good because, well, it's LLL, for crying aloud. For you moms who pump regularly, you might want to check out their special pumping bras.
Gap. Really can't recommend any of theirs because 1. they were ugly, 2. they had only one layer of lining and my nipples showed through, 3. didn't care for the fit. And they were ugly, did I mention that? Prices were good, though.
Motherhood Maternity. I have a love/hate thing for this place. I found their underwire and padded bras to be total shit. They were itchy, uncomfortable and didn't fit well. Their sleep bra looses its shape quickly. Their prices, however, are encouraging after shopping at APITP. I liked their quasi-sports bra. It is fully padded, the snaps work well, and I love the racer back feature in the back. But keep in mind that I'm a pretty big girl. I wear at 36D when I'm at my fattest and pregnant-est, so I like the extra support. I also like that the bra comes up higher on your chest and doesn't look like a bra when it shows under your shirt. I'm trying a few new ones in a week, so I'll update this later.
Victoria Secrets. Haven't bought these ones yet because I'm deterred by the price (around $50). They only have two and they weren't that pretty. If my recent purchases don't prove successful, I will probably buy from them.
Target. Some of my friends absolutely love them, but I wasn't a huge fan. For one, I think they work better for smaller girls (under a C cup normally). They didn't wear well for me. The elastic on the band tended to roll. The selection isn't large either. But the prices are good. If you like thinner bras and are smaller chested, they are worth trying.
Medela. Not a huge fan. I bought my normal size in a sleep bra and it fit very small. I'm fussy about sleep bras. They really need to be comfortable and these were just too tight.

Nursing Bra FAQs. You'll already know this if you've researched it, but here are a few things I've learned. Have several thin, stretchy bras on hand for when you first give birth and your milk comes in. Sleep bras are the marketing name for these. You can wear them by themselves, or you can line then with nursing pads. If you don't know yet, you might leak or squirt milk until your body adjusts. Don't feel like you need a full arsenal of nursing bras for just after delivery. Have your sleep bras ready and then within 2 to 3 weeks, or more, you'll better know your size and still have plenty of time to shop around for the style of bra you like. All of the places I mentioned have online shopping and allow returns.

Pumpkin Cake Cookies - Healthier version

I've been feeling an autumn-food-craving lately, so tonight I put together some pumpkin cookies. They are definitely better for you than the cake mix/pumpkin puree version you'll find if you google it. Super light and fluffy.

Mix together dry ingredients
2 1/2 c. flour (I used half whole wheat and half white)
1 c. oatmeal
1 c. sugar (raw or turbinado is best)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
cinnamon... all to taste

Next mix up wet ingredients
1 stick melted or softened butter
1 c. yoghurt (not the low fat kind)
1 small can pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Then put it all together. You may need to make adjustments, such as adding more flour or more yoghurt for normal altitude. We're at 6,500 ft. here.

Drop 1 tbsp. of batter on metal baking sheet, spacing each cookie about 2 inches apart as they expand in the oven. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes (again, altitude adjustment if necessary). They will come out with the same color, but slightly risen and expanded. Let cool on baking sheet for a few minutes and then move to a cooling rack. Makes several dozen super soft, spongey cookies that literally melt in your mouth

Sunday, September 19

When it rains, it pours

So during that same night I was feeling so miserably sorry for myself, guess what? Josh reminds me how lucky we are that Greta sleeps so well through the night and, to quote him, "She's never had one of those throwing up incidents!"

Never, never say this to yourself. In fact, never say that your child will never do something because he/she will most definitely do that thing. Just be thankful every day that nothing went wrong that was irreparable. When you think that your kid is a shining example of good behavior and infant virtue in the face of screaming toddlers, just remember that your time will come. When you are about to pass judgment on the sniffley-nosed kid and its mother sitting in front of you at church, keep in mind that 'but for the grace of God' go you and your baby. Some people have it worse, some better, but I think it's par for the course that inevitably, the miseries of childhood will visit you.

All that to say... you probably guessed it. I'm not very subtle. But that night, Greta woke us up at 4am, throwing up everywhere. It was the saddest thing. She was still sweet and cuddly, although cuddly is not exactly what you want to do with a baby who has puke all over her. But she was so sad. And pale! My goodness, I forgot how pale people get when they throw up. She had eaten a whole plate of beans at the picnic that day (smacks hand of parent who let her), but it isn't like she doesn't regularly eat beans. Well, those beans made their unwelcomed appearance last night in a very unaltered state. Josh was a trooper. He kept his head and changed the sheets while I held our sad, sad child and dealt with the remainder of the throw up. Soon she was clean and back to sleep. We all slept until about 8am, when we were awakened by another throw up incident, this time accompanied by diarrhea. Not just diarrhea, but explosive, get-all-over-the-sheets diarrhea. I will simply leave the rest to your imagination. The happy ending is that after that thorough purging, Greta was just fine and (knock on wood) has been fine all day. But her poor Daddy now isn't feeling well. I'm dreading the thought of getting sick like that. God knows pregnancy is bad enough. But I haven't been sick-sick so far and would like to keep it that way.

Moral of the story? Never say never!

Saturday, September 18

A bad pregnancy day

Apropos to nothing, I am exhausted. I have nothing all day that merits this level of worn-out-ness. We woke up reasonably late (9am), made breakfast, and drove to the mountains in McGaffey for a work-related picnic. We were there for a mere 3 hours and I came home practically in tears. I slept for 2 and a half hours. And I'm sitting here feeling huge, bloated, tired, and absolutely sick of being pregnant.

People, pregnancy is no cake walk. Especially once you hit your third trimester. It just sucks in the life out of you. Maybe that's a cynical God's way of making you want to go through the peculiar form of torture that is child birth. I was feeling that way today. Anything, even pushing out a huge baby, to get this misery done and over with.

So what exactly is the problem? You would ask. Nothing, really. The baby, I'm sure, is large, fat and healthy. Nothing is diagnosably wrong with me other than the fact that I am 28 weeks pregnant. I just feel huge. Please don't mock me by telling me that I don't look it. You're right, imaginary reader, I probably don't, but that has very little to do with "feeling" huge. Who ever said anything about a 'mind-body' connection? It's just that my entire torso area is being taken over by this huge-ass baby who insists in lodging himself somewhere in the vicinity of just under my boobs. I swear to goodness, he kicked them from inside today! To think I ever complained about poor, sweet, little Greta, who grew to a pleasant 6.2 lbs., moved moderately, and stayed in a reasonable position... and came out nicely and easily. What's wrong with me? I can't freakin' breath, people! I wish I could just die quickly rather than by slow suffocation.

The unbearable part is that we have at least another 10 weeks. 10 WEEKS. That is a mini eternity, if you ask me. Just my luck, baby will decide he is too warm and comfortable to come out and will stay in the full 40 weeks or longer. AHHHHHHH!

So if you're the praying type, send some prayers my way. If not, wish me luck.

Wednesday, September 15

Recent Reading List - Conrad Richter

I've been looking back through my recent posts and noticed that they are primarily about babies. Surprise, surprise, right? I spend all day with a 1 year old and I'm expecting another in 3 months. But just so no one thinks I've totally succumbed to "baby brain," let me refresh my skills in non-baby talk.

I'm always reading some book (keeps me sane) and lately, I've been reading Conrad Richter's American pioneer trilogy (backwards) and The Mother Knot by Jane Lazarre. Two pretty different books, but similar in their featuring what Netflix calls a "strong female lead." Richter's books are The Trees, The Fields, and The Town. He traces the fictional settlement of Ohio from the point of view of his heroine, Sayward Luckett. In the first book, her family migrates from Pennsylvania to the dense woods of Ohio. Here they settle and in this book, she watches her siblings grow up, and she also marries her husband. The Fields is about Sayward's experience as a young mother of many children and the development of a town around her farm. The Town finds Sayward nurturing her youngest child and follows her life into old age, where she sees the end of the Ohio wilderness.

Of the three, The Town is the best. The character development and the conflict between Sayward and her youngest son is realistic and relevant to any generation. Unlike her older children, who witnessed their mother literally create a living for her family with her own hands, Sayward's youngest son, Chancey, grows up in a settled environment. He does not see or experience privation firsthand, which causes him to reject the "old fashioned" work ethos of his pioneer mother. His philosophy of life fights that of his mother's, who believes in the virtue of hard work, whether or not it is necessary. Chancey believes that work denigrates the human person and that less work for all creates freedom for all. I got a sniff of early socialist and communist ideas in this... which makes sense because the books were published in the 40's through 50's. My only qualm with the books, and the reason I'm not plowing through the first book (which just arrived in the mail) is because of the male/female relationships. Women, at least this one, were very stoic and appeared to expect a lot less from their men than we do today. There are many things I would have said to Sayward's husband that she does not. But oddly enough, the book helped me to appreciate, if not understand how men and women of my grandparents' generation stayed married .

Monday, September 13

Why I love being a stay-at-home mommy

I'm writing this post in the aftermath of a very good day (pregnancy included), which followed a very bad day (blame it on the hormones). As I was sitting on my counter, eating chocolate ice cream, reflecting on how I ought to do the dishes but would rather take a shower, enjoying the carefree quiet of my house with Greta asleep and Josh at basketball practice, the thought struck me: "I really love staying at home." Caveat - it is the furthest thing in my mind to in any way bash, denigrate or put down mothers who like to work, prefer to work, or have to work. Ladies, my hat is off to you. I honestly don't know how you do it, but I respect ya'll very much for it. Especially you single moms. You are going to be lined up at the Pearly Gates way before I even apply for admission.

That said, I am incredibly blessed with a husband who is supportive of my being at home full time with our children, and that the said husband has a job which allows us to get by with only one bread winner. But even for that, there are times when I wonder if I'd prefer to go back to work, just for the extra income (who doesn't need that?) or the opportunity to do something other than watch my kid/kids all day. For better or worse, I come back to the same mental answers when I have this discussion with myself. Without further ado, "Why I Like to Stay at Home."

1) I am my own boss. I can't tell you how much I disliked answering to other people about work, or taking instructions. Maybe I put a good face on it when I worked, but I work so much better when I self-initiate projects. Home-making is one big exercise in self-initiating. My special talent is bossing other people around, or, as one could say more politely, "managing." As the oldest of six kids, I am really, really good at seeing things that need to be done and telling people to do them, or doing them efficiently and quickly by myself. Again, all good reasons why I should stay home and have multiple children.

2) I really like my kid. No, seriously, I do. Yes, I love her, but she is also very likeable. She is one of the main reasons why I'd like a lot of children because if there's the off chance that any of them may turn out as she did, my life will be very interesting if not hilarious. I always tell Josh that if I have to stay at home all day with one person, Greta is the one I'd pick. Now that she is walking and trying to talk, every day seems like an endless adventure with her. We literally do everything together, from going potty to making meals (yes, she is good at scrambling eggs). What I love about her right now is that she loves to do everything that I do, which makes menial tasks like laundry an adventure of the greatest proportion.

3) I love 'keeping house.' I'm not sure how this happened, but one of my favorite things is to clean and tidy my house... or maybe it's the pleasure of enjoying a clean and tidy house. Or both. I'm not sure. I know this joy may be short lived after the multiple children make their appearance, but I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts. My back up plan is to (shhhh! don't tell the kids) make them clean the house regularly. My mom did this, but she wasn't always strict enough about it and we found ways to weasel out of tidying. But the thing is, 'tidying' and 'cleaning' are two different things. People can learn to put things back where they belong (tidying). If my kids prove too dense to learn this, I may send them all packing to Singapore, because I will not live in a sloppy house.

4) Last but not least, I enjoy the (current) freedom in my life. It may seem oxymoronic to tie staying at home with your children with freedom, but there you have it. But it was my experience that when I was working, I had a lot less time on my hands. Yes, you wise mothers of many children can shake your head and tell me this will all change once I have 2, 3, 4, 5 or how ever many kids, but for now, it's true. Maybe it's not so much that I have more free time now, but that I can do what I wish with the time that I have now. My baby is older now, I'm not terribly pregnant yet, and life has slowed down to the point where we find freedom in our simple, daily routine.

"What I miss about going to work."

1) Making money (my own!). It IS nice to have spending money and to have the ability to spend money without a guilty conscience. I guess that is part of the sacrifice of a single income because with student loans, home loans, home expenses, and all that, there isn't money to throw around. Still, I don't begrudge myself the occasional shopping spree at Old Navy because really, it makes for a better day when you know you look nice :)

2) Dressing up. If there is one thing you should know about me, it is that I love clothes. Not expensive clothes, name brands, or anything special, but rather, the art of putting things together and making them "work." Really, dressing is an art form. Having grown up in a family where dressing was considered a utilitarian exercise - necessary, but nothing to be indulged in - my 'revolt' as it were consisted in an intense appreciation of properly coordinated outfits. I'm not talking about "matchy-matchy." Rather, it's one of those things that you 'know it when you see it.' Now, going to work every day is an excellent opportunity to put those clothes-coordinating skills to good use. Dressing well serves both the functions of necessary and enjoyable. Also, it was much easier to justify to my long-suffering husband that my purchases were a "business expense." Alas, now that excuse is no longer water tight. I might get away with pleading that case for nursing bras, but it is hard to extend it to pencil skirts and heels, which I couldn't comfortably wear even on Sundays. I still make it a point to get dressed at home (as opposed to staying in pj's all day), but getting dressed so as to wake yourself up in the morning is not the same as getting dressed to look professional at work.