Weekend and Father’s Day

We got a brief respite from the heat today with temps only in the 70s (if that) and even got some very much needed rain! Yay! I took advantage of the cooler temps to do some baking for the party – banana bread and apple cinnamon bread. Both smelled sooooo good coming out of the oven, that it was a serious chore not to eat them right then and there. ;)
Tomorrow, it’s back up to 89 degrees and then into the 90s again, so I’m going to try to get a bit more baking done in the morning to (hopefully) get it all out of the way.

In other news, I cut Ava’s hair yesterday. It was getting so stringy at the bottom, I’d been thinking of taking her somewhere to have it cut but then I broke down and did it on a whim myself. I took about two inches off. It looks pretty cute and the ends are much healthier now.

And in yet other news, Jody felt the baby move two nights ago. :) I was one day shy of 18 weeks. It seems kind of early for feeling such movement on the outside, but I can feel definite kicks with my hands. He/she is a little mover!

Sunday is Father’s day and we really haven’t planned anything special yet. Perhaps a picnic down by the creek or something. I have a gift for Jody (from Ava) but will have to wait until he gets it to tell you about it.

We do have plans to see some friends (baby Trajan’s family) on Sunday and drop off a meal I’ll be making for them tomorrow as part of our “meals for new families” program that our Attachment Parenting group does. Also will be dropping off some banana muffins to another friend for part of the same deal.

Wonder how Father’s Day came about?
“Father’s Day, contrary to popular misconception, was not established as a holiday in order to help greeting card manufacturers sell more cards. In fact when a “father’s day” was first proposed there were no Father’s Day cards!

Mrs. John B. Dodd, of Washington, first proposed the idea of a “father’s day” in 1909. Mrs. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart. William Smart, a Civil War veteran, was widowed when his wife (Mrs. Dodd’s mother) died in childbirth with their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise the newborn and his other five children by himself on a rural farm in eastern Washington state. It was after Mrs. Dodd became an adult that she realized the strength and selflessness her father had shown in raising his children as a single parent.

The first Father’s Day was observed on June 19, 1910 in Spokane Washington. At about the same time in various towns and cities across American other people were beginning to celebrate a “father’s day.” In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father’s Day. Finally in 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father’s Day.

Father’s Day has become a day to not only honor your father, but all men who act as a father figure. Stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers, and adult male friends are all be honored on Father’s Day.”

Happy Father’s Day to all the daddies out there. Enjoy your day! :)

And Happy Father’s Day to my dad. I know he doesn’t read my blog and we don’t have the closest relationship, but he’s been making a lot of positive changes in his life lately and I’m very proud of him for his perseverance.

(The picture above – of Jody and Ava – was taken in February 2006.)

So dang hot

Good Lord! It’s HOT! I just checked weather.com to get an official reading and it says it’s 101, but feels like 95. Sheesh!! The themometer in our livingroom says it’s 80 in the house, but I know it’s at least 5 degrees warmer here upstairs where the computer is.

Thankfully the high is being forecasted as *only* 89 tomorrow and then 80 and 86 the following two days. Ahhh, a reprieve! :)

I need to go buy a little kiddie pool and put it in the yard for me and Ava. She wanted to play outside earlier today (of course – when does she not want to play outside?) and, while it’s not as bad in the shade and with the breeze, it’s still just so dang hot. I let her play with her watering can and soak herself so she wouldn’t get too warm. She decided to periodically wipe water on my arms and legs to “clean mommy” and I didn’t protest one bit. ;)

We got out of the heat for a little bit today to go buy party supplies for next weekend and we also hit Vitamin Cottage for some groceries. The cashier at the party supply store asked Ava what her name was and she answered “Ava” (ever so quietly) for the first time to a “stranger!” We’ve been working on the answers to “What’s your name?”, “How old are you?” and “How are you doing?” lately since those seem to get asked most frequently. Anyway, I was so proud. :) Then there’s a woman named Aruna who works at Vitamin Cottage and seems to know all of the kids by name who’s parents shop there regularly. At first I thought Ava was singled out because Aruna fawns on her every time we go in, but then I heard her call at least four other kids by name today. Anyway, today she asked Ava how old she’s going to be (because we were talking about her upcoming birthday) and Ava answered her as well. Though what she said sounded more like “two months old” instead of “two years old,” but at least she’s got the two part down. :)

“Breast-Feed or Else” – new article

The article below “Breast-Feed or Else” appeared in The New York Times today. I’m sure many will find it a tad bit, if not a great deal, controversial. I found myself wondering if warning labels on formula (as the article suggests) are really necessary. But then I am reminded of how many doctors offices (even the “good” ones) often don’t fully support breast-feeding mothers and put out information that suggests breast-feeding moms should follow a schedule and not their infant’s cues, that babies only need to nurse x-number of times per day, that babies should sleep through the night by x-number of months, etc. I’m also reminded how the media bombards us with formula ads – on TV, in parenting magazines, at doctors’ offices, over the loud speaker at stores, etc.

I think the warning labels would be good to educate those who really are unaware that breastmilk is the perfect nutrition, but might such labels also make those moms who are truly unable to breast-feed feel more guilt than they already do? It’s a slippery slope.

And then there are the moms who *have* to go back to work and, due to busy schedules or whatever, can’t commit to pumping at work.

What we really need is longer maternity leave in the U.S. (like a year paid as they get in Canada) so that we truly can support mothers AND support breast-feeding.

There’s so much room for change in the system as it currently stands. I think that until broader changes – such as longer maternity leave, better education, information and support for moms – are implemented, we can’t expect there to be a big shift towards breast-feeding. Although I’d love to be proven wrong. ;)

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NY Times article – “Breast-Feed or Else”

The New York Times
June 13, 2006
Breast-Feed or Else
By RONI RABIN

Warning: Public health officials have determined that not breast-feeding may be hazardous to your baby’s health.

There is no black-box label like that affixed to cans of infant formula or tucked into the corner of magazine advertisements, at least not yet. But that is the unambiguous message of a controversial government public health campaign encouraging new mothers to breast-feed for six months to protect their babies from colds, flu, ear infections, diarrhea and even obesity. In April, the World Health Organization, setting new international bench marks for children’s growth, for the first time referred to breast-feeding as the biological norm.

“Just like it’s risky to smoke during pregnancy, it’s risky not to breast-feed after,” said Suzanne Haynes, senior scientific adviser to the Office on Women’s Health in the Department of Health and Human Services. “The whole notion of talking about risk is new in this field, but it’s the only field of public health, except perhaps physical activity, where there is never talk about the risk.”

A two-year national breast-feeding awareness campaign that culminated this spring ran television announcements showing a pregnant woman clutching her belly as she was thrown off a mechanical bull during ladies’ night at a bar — and compared the behavior to failing to breast-feed.

“You wouldn’t take risks before your baby’s born,” the advertisement says. “Why start after?”

Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, has proposed requiring warning labels, on cans of infant formula and in advertisements, similar to the those on cigarettes. They would say that the Department of Health and Human services has determined that “breast-feeding is the ideal method of feeding and nurturing infants” or that “breast milk is more beneficial to infants than infant formula.”

Child-rearing experts have long pointed to the benefits of breast-feeding. But critics say the new campaign has taken things too far and will make mothers who cannot breast-feed, or choose not to, feel guilty and inadequate.

“I desperately wanted to breast-feed,” said Karen Petrone, an associate professor of history at University of Kentucky in Lexington.

When her two babies failed to gain weight and her pediatrician insisted that she supplement her breast milk with formula, Ms. Petrone said, “I felt so guilty.”

“I thought I was doing something wrong,” she added. “Nobody ever told me that some women just can’t produce enough milk.”

Moreover, urging women to breast-feed exclusively is a tall order in a country where more than 60 percent of mothers of very young children work, federal law requires large companies to provide only 12 weeks’ unpaid maternity leave and lactation leave is unheard of. Only a third of large companies provide a private, secure area where women can express breast milk during the workday, and only 7 percent offer on-site or near-site child care, according to a 2005 national study of employers by the nonprofit Families and Work Institute.

“I’m concerned about the guilt that mothers will feel,” said Ellen Galinsky, president of the center. “It’s hard enough going back to work.”

Public health leaders say the weight of the scientific evidence for breast-feeding has grown so overwhelming that it is appropriate to recast their message to make clear that it is risky not to breast-feed.

Ample scientific evidence supports the contention that breast-fed babies are less vulnerable to acute infectious diseases, including respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, experts say. Some studies also suggest that breast-fed babies are at lower risk for sudden infant death syndrome and serious chronic diseases later in life, including asthma, diabetes, leukemia and some forms of lymphoma, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Research on premature babies has even found that those given breast milk scored higher on I.Q. tests than those who were bottle-fed.

The goal of a government health initiative called Healthy People 2010 is to get half of all mothers to continue at least some breast-feeding until a baby is 6 months old. Though about 70 percent of new mothers start breast-feeding right after childbirth, just over a third are breast-feeding at 6 months and fewer than 20 percent are exclusively breast-feeding by that time, according to the 2004 National Immunization Survey. Breast-feeding increases with education, income and age; black women are less likely to breast-feed, while Hispanics have higher breast-feeding rates.

For women, breast-feeding can be an emotionally charged issue, and a very personal one. Even its most ardent supporters acknowledge that they have made sacrifices.

“It’s a whole lifestyle,” said Kymberlie Stefanski, a 34-year-old mother of three from Villa Park, Ill., who has not been apart from her children except for one night when she gave birth. “My life revolves around my kids, basically.” Ms. Stefanski quit working when her first child was born almost six years ago, nursed that child until she was 4 years old, and is nursing an infant now.

She said she wanted to reduce the risk of breast cancer for herself and for her three daughters, referring to research indicating that extended breast-feeding may reduce the risk for both mother and daughters.

Scientists who study breast milk almost all speak of it in superlatives. Even the International Formula Council, a trade association, acknowledges that breast-feeding “offers specific child and maternal health benefits” and is the “preferred” method of infant feeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics states in its breast-feeding policy that human breast milk is “uniquely superior for infant feeding.”

Dr. Haynes, of the Health and Human Services Department, said, “Our message is that breast milk is the gold standard, and anything less than that is inferior.”

Formula “is not equivalent,” she went on, adding, “Formula is not the gold standard. It’s so far from it, it’s not even close.”

Formula manufacturers say infant formula is modeled on breast milk and emphasize that it is the only safe alternative recommended by pediatricians for mothers who cannot, or choose not to, breast-feed.

But while formula tastes the same way at every feeding, advocates of breast-feeding say, the smells and flavors of human breast milk change from day to day, from morning to evening, influenced by the mother’s diet. Many nutritionists believe that exposing an infant to this bouquet of flavors early on may make for less fussy eaters who are more flexible about trying new foods and more likely to eat a healthy, varied diet.

“I think of human milk not just as food, but as a sophisticated and intricate infant support system that has evolved over millions of years to provide the infant with nutrition, protection and components of information,” said Dr. E. Stephen Buescher, a professor of pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, who heads the inflammation section in the school’s Center for Pediatric Research.

“It isn’t just calories,” Dr. Buescher said.

The protection that breast-feeding provides against acute infectious diseases — including meningitis, upper and lower respiratory infections, pneumonia, bowel infections, diarrhea and ear infections — has been among the most extensively studied of its benefits and is well documented, said Dr. Lawrence M. Gartner, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ breast-feeding section.

Breast-fed babies have 50 percent to 95 percent fewer infections than other babies, Dr. Gartner said, adding, “It’s pretty dramatic.”

One reason for the reduction in the incidence and the severity of infections is the antibodies contained in the mother’s milk. “A lot of this has to do with the mother and baby interacting,” he explained. “Whatever the baby is exposed to, the mother is exposed to, and the mother will make antibodies within three to four days.” The baby absorbs them through breast milk.

Breast milk also protects the baby through other mechanisms. For example, it contains agents that prevent bacteria and viruses from attaching to cells in the baby’s body, so the foreign agents are expelled in the stool, Dr. Gartner said.

The protection is not ironclad, so breast-fed babies will often get a mild infection that does not make the baby sick but acts almost like a vaccine. “What we think is that human milk creates an environment where you get your immunity without the cost of an infection, the vomiting and the diarrhea,” Dr. Buescher said. “That’s a bargain.”

Neonatologists are urging the mothers of their tiniest patients to express breast milk because premature and low-birth-weight babies are particularly vulnerable to infections. Studies have found that premature babies who get breast milk are discharged earlier from the hospital and are less likely to develop necrotizing enterocolitis, a potentially deadly disease.

Breast milk has also been shown to lift the cognitive development of premature babies, presumably because it contains certain fatty acids that aid brain development.

Experts say it is possible that human breast milk produces permanent changes in the immune system, in a sense “educating” the baby’s immune system, Dr. Gartner suggested. That may explain why children who were breast-fed appear to be at lower risk for autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s, asthma and juvenile diabetes. Several studies also indicate that breast-fed children are at reduced risk for the cancers lymphoma and leukemia.

Officials with the International Formula Council say there is not enough evidence to prove a relationship between early feeding and serious chronic diseases.

Dr. Myron Peterson, director of medical affairs for Cato Research, a private independent research organization which reviewed the literature on breast-feeding for the council, said that studies have found a link between nursing and health benefits but that they do not prove a causal relationship. “It’s like the old statement about the rooster crowing making the sun come up,” he said. “If you did an observational study on that, what would you say?”

An unpublished report the council commissioned from Cato says “it is not scientifically correct to conclude the lack of exclusive breast-feeding plays a causative role in the development of these diseases.”

But scientists are so intrigued about the potential to protect children from juvenile diabetes that a large 10-year multinational study called Trigr (for Trial to Reduce Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in the Genetically at Risk) is under way to find out whether breast-feeding protects at-risk children from developing the disease.

And public health officials, excited about mounting evidence suggesting that children who were breast-fed are at lower risk of being obese, have been promoting breast-feeding as a strategy to combat alarming rates of childhood obesity.

The health benefits of breast-feeding may extend to mothers as well. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, extended breast-feeding reduces the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer. New studies have also found that women who breast-feed face a lower risk of adult-onset or Type 2 diabetes, and they seem to be at lower risk for osteoporosis later in life.

Immediately after childbirth, nursing accelerates healing by reducing the amount of bleeding and causing the uterus to contract more rapidly back to its normal size. Making milk burns up to 500 extra calories a day, so nursing mothers get help shedding extra pounds from pregnancy, experts say, especially if they nurse for an extended period.

Experts say lactation also seems to have a calming effect on the mother, which may be an adaptive mechanism to ease the transition to life with a new baby. Every time a mother nurses, she gets a spike in oxytocin, which may have an antianxiety effect and help promote bonding with the new baby, said Kathryn G. Dewey, a professor of nutrition at the University of California, Davis, and an expert on breast-feeding.

Nursing may even produce a euphoric feeling, she said.

Dr. Michael Kramer, a professor of pediatrics and of epidemiology and biostatistics at McGill University’s medical school in Montreal who has been studying the health effects of breast-feeding among infants in Belarus, found a strong protective effect against gastrointestinal illnesses and a lesser protective effect against respiratory infections. Dr. Kramer is still analyzing data on obesity, I.Q., behavior and blood pressure.

“It can’t do all of the things that are being claimed for it,” Dr. Kramer said, injecting a note of caution into the debate. “But it probably does some of them.”

Baby kicks, “Childbirth Revolution,” trucks, pics, and more

I felt the baby move from the outside this weekend and I think Ava felt it too! Unfortunately, Jody wasn’t home at the time, but I’m sure he will get to feel it soon enough himself as well. Exciting!

I got in touch with my friend’s midwife and am scheduling an appointment to chat with her and learn more about homebirths so I feel like I’ve fully explored all of my options.

On a related note, I saw this article – about how England’s government is supporting women to have homebirths – posted on another person’s blog. Here’s a bit of what it said. “Pregnant women are to be advised to give birth at home as part of a revolution in childbirth policy that will reverse decades of medical convention.

Patricia Hewitt, the Secretary of State for Health, is to “challenge the assumption”, prevalent since the 1970s, that the safest place to give birth is in hospital and that home births can be dangerous.

In what is being billed as a historic shift in the politics of childbirth, doctors will be told to offer all pregnant women the chance to deliver their baby at home with the help of a midwife and their own choice of pain relief.

The Independent on Sunday can today reveal that the Government is planning a “strategic shift” in childbirth policy away from hospital delivery and towards births in the reassuring surroundings of home. It has commissioned research to support the case for home births and “challenge the assumption that births should take place in hospitals”.

The Secretary of State wants to “demedicalise” pregnancy and challenge the “presumption” that birth should take place under the supervision of a doctor.” … (http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/health_medical/article448999.ece)
I find it all absolutely fascinating and wonder if such a shift will ever be possible in the U.S.

I didn’t end up getting to take Ava’s 2 year pics this weekend, but we got our new bed delivered (which is nice, but going to take some getting used to) and went to a “Touch a Truck” event where kids get to see, climb into, play on and honk the horns in trucks, buses, construction equipment and emergency vehicles of all kinds. Ava thought the double-decker bus was pretty cool (and we went up on the top level), but I don’t think she was all that impressed with everything else. She’s been getting into construction equipment lately (always asking me “What is that?” when we are out and see something) so she got to see some things up close and personal. But the whole thing wasn’t as big a hit with her as it was with the kids of some of my friends (who are boys – go figure). I’m sure it didn’t help that someone honked a school bus horn right as she was standing in front of the bus (which scared the crap out of her and reduced her to tears). Poor pookah. The cool thing (IMO) about the event was that there was a plant nursery there giving away free flowers, so I got a whole flat of petunias. Score! :)

On Saturday, Jody got out bright and early to “window-shop” a few garage sales and came home with a Little Tikes kitchen, complete with a bag full of play food and dishes – all for $10. We’re saving the kitchen for Ava’s birthday, though she already got into all of the food/dishes since Jody had them out to wash them. We have to find a good way to store all of that. What a mess when it’s all out over the floor! Eep. ;)

Yesterday I photographed my friend Brandy’s newborn son. The shoot went really well and I’m happy with many of the pictures. After we got done with pics, Brandy and I sat around and talked a lot about homebirth and her experience with it. It was good to learn more from her while the experience is still very fresh in her mind.

Now that we are down to less than two weeks before my family gets into town and Ava’s birthday party, I’m starting to clean the house in earnest and make food to freeze for the party. :)

Here’s what I finally came up with for Ava’s party invitations:

And now for a few pics of my chickpea. :)
Here’s Ava playing outside (her favorite place to be) earlier this month:

And stopping to smell one of our flowers:

Catching up for the week

It’s been a couple of busy days around here. On Wednesday, Ava and I went to a play group for the morning. She had a blast playing with her friends and I enjoyed catching up with my friends. I learned about a great possible childcare option here in town that I might check into. I’ve been thinking about signing Ava up for a couple hours two days a week or so, so that I can work on my photography stuff during the day.

After playgroup we hit a few stores for some birthday party supply stuff.

Yesterday, despite the fact that I didn’t feel like it, Ava and I did our 3 mile walk to the lake and back. This time we went to a different park (also on the lake). The playground was deserted for a while and Ava enjoyed having free reign until some bigger kids showed up. Then she just wanted to watch them play. We started our walk for home when the clouds blew in over the mountains and it started sprinkling on us, but we never got any rain here at the house. Bummer! We could use it.

I finished proofing two photography sessions this week. Phew! I’m glad to have a little break for a few days now. One of these days I want to showcase some of my favorite pics from my recent sessions. Maybe I will do that next week. :)

Ava has been enjoying playing outside as much as possible lately, and she cries when she can’t go out. (Poor thing.) I’m not sure what Jody and I were thinking buying her something for her birthday (the sand/water activity table) that is exclusively for outside play since that will entice her to be outside even more, but oh well. Her latest thing to do outside is dump handfuls or shovelfuls of sand/dirt on the dogs’ backs. I’m not sure why she thinks they want dirt on them, but she does. She also likes to put rocks, dirt and leaves in their water bowls and says she’s making guacamole. I might have told that story here already before. I can’t remember and I’m not looking it up. ;) It cracks me up though whenever I ask her what she’s making – whether it be outside in the yard or inside with her play bowls/food, etc. – it’s always “guacamole.” Actually, I’m pretty sure I did tell that story before. Oh well. Enjoy it again. ;oP

I’ve been feeling baby move more and more lately. The little fluttery movements are turning into more noticable kicks now and I’ve even felt him/her kick my hand on the outside a few times. I think it will still be a few more weeks before Jody or Ava will be able to feel it, but it’s fun for me to enjoy in the meantime. :)

Father’s Day is coming up next weekend and I have a few creative ideas up my sleeve for presents for Jody from Ava. I just have to find the time to do them!

We’re having a new king-size pillow-top mattress and box spring set delivered to our house tomorrow. I’m so looking forward to it! I didn’t realize how uncomfortable our current bed was until we went shopping for a new one. Now my back hurts every morning when I get up. Our sleeping arrangement has consisted of two queen mattresses and box springs side by side on the floor for the past year or so, which makes up our “family bed.” We’re moving our old mattress/box spring into the basement extra bedroom (to replace the one that’s probably 30+ years old) so my parents will have a nicer bed to sleep on during their visit in a few weeks. The other mattress will go into Ava’s room for my sister to sleep on during her visit. We’re contemplating getting a twin mattress for Ava (to probably go alongside our bed) in the semi-near future, but haven’t made any decisions on that yet. I’m just trying to figure out what will work best once we have two lil kidlets in the house.

I’d like to take Ava to one of the local college campuses this weekend for a photoshoot for her 2 year pics. There are some beautiful spots on campus that I think would be great to use so we’ll see if we can fit that in our schedule. I was thinking I could do it by myself, but it’d be helpful to have Jody there with me to corral her, especially if I need to put any distance between her and the camera for some of the pictures.

On Sunday I’m taking newborn pictures of baby Trajan, which should be fun. He’ll be less than two weeks old so hopefully still good and sleepy and amenable to posing. ;)

Our temperatures continue to be unseasonably high around here – in the 90s. I just looked at the 10-day forecast and the every day is in the low to mid-90s except a couple days at high 80s. Oy. I’m hoping we can get this hot weather out of the way now, and then enjoy some cooler temps during my family’s visit and for Ava’s birthday party. Wishful thinking. :)

I’ve got a topic or two I’ve been thinking about writing on lately that I hope to tackle next week. One is natural skincare products (including soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, sunscreen and bug repellent) and the benefits of going natural. The other is what it’s like nursing an almost 2-year-old – while pregnant.

Hope everyone has a nice weekend. :)

Out of the mouths of babes


I’m a blogging fool today. OK, just a short, cute story here, then it’s off to the grocery stores.

Ava has a shirt from my Cafe Press store that says “I’m going to be a big sister” on it. She was wearing it yesterday and will tell you what it says when you ask her.

Well, today I put a shirt on her that says “I’m a cute chick” and has a pic of a baby chicken on it. So she was looking in the mirror and noticed the words on her shirt and said, “I’m going to be a big sister.” So I explained that her *other* shirt has those words on it, but this shirt says “I’m a cute chick” on it. So she repeated me, “I’m a cute chick.”

A few minutes later, I asked her what her shirt said (to see if she remembered) and she said, “I’m a cute chickpea.” :) Hee, hee. I’ve never met a cuter chickpea. :)