My little girl is 4

Today my little girl Ava turned 4. The past four years have passed in a blur. I can’t believe how quickly my little 8 lbs., 4 oz. baby has transformed into the smart, inquisitive, strong-willed, compassionate, beautiful little girl she is today.

We had an eco-friendly zero-waste birthday party (which I can’t wait to find the time to blog about!) on Saturday at a local farm. I didn’t get to take as many pictures as I would’ve liked, but I’m happy to say that everyone seemed to have a great time, the birthday girl included. (Notice the brother of the birthday girl – AKA Julian – hanging out off to the side there? Hehe)
Ava’s 4th birthday party - 6/21/08 Ava’s 4th birthday party - 6/21/08
(Felt birthday crown courtesy of Green Party Goods)

Today (Sunday) was Ava’s actual birthday and in addition to some books from us and her Aunt Carrie, lots of cute clothes from both sets of grandparents, and a butterfly pavilion from Grandma, she got a new bike. She was very excited about it, but not quite excited enough to give it a try outside just yet. ;)
Ava sees her new bike - 6/22/08 Trying out the bike - 6/22/08

My mom, sister and our family went out to dinner tonight to celebrate and then came back to our house for some birthday brownies and ice cream. Happy birthday, Ava!
Happy birthday to Ava - 6/22/08 Four years old! - 6/22/08

It was hard for me to choose just one best shot for the week, but I think if I had to choose only one, it would be the first picture I posted – of Ava smiling with her piggy birthday cupcakes (which Grandma did a great job on). :)

See more Best Shot Monday posts over at Mother May I?.

A very, very crunchy weekend

As if throwing my very first zero-waste party tomorrow (Ava’s 4th birthday party which I plan to blog about it in detail another time) wasn’t enough, Golden Showers Garden PartyI’ve also decided to participate in Crunchy Chicken’s latest challenge. You know what one I’m talking about? No? It involves um, ah, errrr, basically watering your garden with diluted urine. Yep, you read that right. Apparently it’s really good for the plants. Something about the nitrogen. Free organic fertilizer. You can’t beat that, right? I figured I couldn’t very well call myself crunchy if I couldn’t participate in this. (The urine has to be diluted – 1 part urine to 10 parts water.)

I joked that I could ask all of the party guests to pee in a bucket and I’d haul it back to my house (gives a whole new meaning to “zero-waste”, huh?), but um, NO. I’m NOT going there. ;oP So if you are coming to the party, don’t worry. I’m NOT going to ask you for your urine. LOL You can keep your pee for your own garden. ;)

Are you up for the challenge? You know you want to. ;) (I can picture several of you squirming in your seats right now at the very thought.) Well, if urine you’re in, there’s still time to sign up over at Crunchy Chicken’s place. And let me know urine you’re in too by leaving a comment here. I’d like to know I’ll be in good company. :)

Home birth is a choice that the AMA wants to outlaw



Whether or not you’ve had a home birth or would choose one for yourself in the future, I think most women would agree that they should have the right to choose where they give birth. Just as every woman is unique, every baby is unique and every birth experience is unique. What works best for one woman will not work best for the next. Some women feel the most comfortable giving birth in a hospital with an OB. Some feel comfortable birthing with a family practitioner or midwife in a birthing center. Others feel comfortable birthing with a midwife at home. All of these are options are safe choices, so why is the American Medical Association (AMA) trying to outlaw home birth?

Are they scared that Ricki Lake is raising awareness that women have options with her movie The Business of Being Born? They specifically cite Ricki’s and other celebrities’ home births in the media. “There has been much attention in the media by celebrities having home deliveries, with recent Today Show headings such as ‘Ricki Lake takes on baby birthing industry: Actress and former talk show host shares her at-home delivery in new film.'” Ricki responds to the AMA here, and, over on the Huffington Post, Ricki, Abby Epstein and Jennifer Block have posted Docs to Women: Pay No Attention to Ricki Lake’s Home Birth. Are they scared that women might question the establishment and demand better care for themselves and their babies? Are they scared that they might (gasp) lose money? Are they scared that women might take back birth?

I’ve done a lot of research over the past few years regarding home birth and, of course, came to the conclusion that it was a good choice for me and my family. I’ve also written extensively about my research regarding home birth and my own home birth story as well. I would never say that it is the right choice for every woman, but it do believe it’s a woman’s right to know what her options are, do her research and decide what is best for her and her baby. I do not believe it is the AMA’s right or the ACOG’s (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) right to tell a woman where she has to give birth. As Steff Hedenkamp from The Big Push for Midwives states, “a law dictating where a woman must give birth would be a clear violation of fundamental rights to privacy and other freedoms currently protected by the U.S. Constitution.”

So what now? What can we as women, or men who support women’s right to choose, do? You can sign the Keep Home Birth Legal petition and I also encourage you to spread the word about this. Feel free to grab the button (which links back to this post) and put it in your sidebar or blog about this on your own blog. Get the word out there that the AMA is trying to take away our rights. Home birth is a choice. Let’s keep it that way.

I’ve been trying to get the code for the ‘Home birth is a choice’ button to work, but to no avail. If you’d like to add the button to your sidebar please email me – amygeekgrl AT gmail DOT com – and I’ll send it to you directly.

And if you feel like a debate today, check out the lively discussion on this topic going on over at BlogHer.

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As my daughter turns 4, I’m thankful for health care

Cross-posted on BlogHer. If you haven’t been to BlogHer in the last couple of days, I hope you’ll stop by and check out the new look. :)

In less than a week, my firstborn child, my baby girl Ava will turn 4. While this isn’t often considered a major milestone, it is still very dear to my heart, being her mother and all. It got me thinking about how good we have it here in North America. I feel fortunate to live in a country where we have access to things such as clean water, nutritious food and medical care. Elsewhere in the world, however, in places like Darfur, Nepal and Afghanistan, where those basic essentials are lacking, a child living to see his or her fourth birthday truly is a major milestone.

Even if our health care system in the United States is not ideal, at least we have access to medical assistance when we need it. When Ava was 13 months old she came down with a nasty case of croup. “Croup is a viral infection that affects mostly younger children (under 5-6). It causes swelling in the child’s vocal cords, which is what causes the barky cough. The vocal cords are already the narrowest part of the air passages, and any swelling from infection may narrow the airway enough to obstruct breathing.”

We kept a close eye/ear on her breathing and did the recommended trips to the steamy bathroom, then out into the night air to help open her airways, but her condition continued to get worse. By 2:30 a.m., as I lay with her on my chest on the couch in our living room her breathing became very labored. Her sternum started to cave in as she inhaled, and that combined with the stridor (whooping sound) were enough for me to tell my husband Jody that we needed to get her to the Emergency Room NOW.

072905-1-s.jpgI feel so fortunate that the nearest hospital is less than three minutes from our house because by the time we pulled into the ER parking lot, the skin around Ava’s little mouth was turning blue. Jody dropped me off at the door and, with my little girl in my arms, I ran in. A nurse immediately heard Ava’s labored breathing and we were seen right away.

Ava ended up needing to be admitted to the pediatric unit for two nights. By the time we went home, our little girl was doing much, much better.

Ava and daddy in the hospital 7/29/05It’s easy for me to take the medical care Ava received for granted. After all, I’ve never been in a situation where we’ve been without it. But if I stop to think about what would’ve happened if we hadn’t had access to a hospital right then when we needed it most, it’s enough to bring me to tears. It’s a very frightening thought to imagine living without access to medical care for my children and I’m thankful that it’s not something I’ll (hopefully) never have to worry about.

Candace of Mamanista! and Mama Saga has blogged in the past about her daughter Baby Diva who was born with tetralogy of fallot, a congenital heart defect.

Heart defects are among the most common birth defects–approximately 40,000 babies (1-2%) in the United States are born each year with a heart defect–and they are the leading cause of defect-related infant death. And yet, there is comparatively little funding going into researching the causes of these defects and treatment options.

Without surgery, depending on the exact pathology, tetralogy of fallot has a mortality of 30% of patients by age 2 years to 50% by age 6 years, 80% by age 10 years, and 95% by age 20…and those statistics are for the more straightforward cases.

However, just one surgery with a very high success rate (95% success in the absence of complicating factors) and Baby Diva now has a good chance to live a normal life.

My fellow BlogHers Act CE Her Bad Mother recently blogged about having to take her newborn baby back to the hospital for tests.

When they tell you that you need to bring your baby to the hospital for tests, that they need to check his spine, that he has some markers for spinal problems, for serious things but maybe nothing but still maybe serious, that it might not be anything but maybe it’s something so it must be checked, it must, your heart constricts and you hold your breath.

Jenny at Crash Test Mommy wrote about the time her daughter Emma was diagnosed with pneumonia and x-rays revealed that part of her right lung had collapsed.

WOW. The doctor and I agreed that it was amazing, seeing as how Emma wasn’t acting *that* sick and didn’t look *that* sick. And WOW. Just WOW.

So now, a week’s worth of Augmentin and back-pounding later, Emma’s doing well and still coughing up lungcrap.

Astacia AKA Mamikaze at Life on the Run writes about her 3 1/2 year old daughter “Bear” who has cerebral palsy.

Even when she’s sick, she is in a good mood. She knows what she wants out of life. I suspect she wants to rule the world. Go for it, I say. It may have taken her 3 years to learn how to walk, but she is no slouch.

A year ago, Anna of Hank & Willie reflected on the birth of her son Henry at 36 weeks and his battle with respiratory distress syndrome. She also has blogged about trying to raise money for the March of Dimes March for Babies.

We remain forever grateful for the excellent care, lifesaving procedures and sophisticated equipment that were available to Henry when he was born prematurely nearly two years ago.

I think it’s safe to say that like Anna, all of these mothers are thankful for the medical care their children have received and/or are continuing to receive. All of our children are alive and we are very fortunate.

At the time of this writing, the BlogHer Global Giving projects have received $6,140 in donations. In honor of Ava’s fourth birthday and in hopes of helping another child across the globe reach her fourth birthday, I am going to make a donation to one of the projects. It is my hope that other mothers will consider following suit on their children’s next birthday. We have a lot to be thankful for. Why not share the love and help out another mother and child?

Nature’s Avenger organic weed killer (review & giveaway)

UPDATE: This giveaway has concluded and is closed to new entries. 

Every spring I have the best of intentions of keeping my yard and patio well-weeded. And every spring I do my best to keep up with the little suckers, but because I can’t make weeding my full-time job (after all I do have two kiddos to watch after and a little thing called a blog to tend to), the weeds eventually declare victory and I hang my head in defeat.

This spring, however, I decided to get a headstart and try my hand at creating a natural weed killer. With two little kids and two dogs, I don’t do petro chemicals in my yard, so making something as non-toxic as possible was a requirement. I played mad scientist and concocted a mixture of vinegar, hot water and dish soap, sprayed it on the little buggers and waited. While it worked to some degree (they shriveled a bit), it was not the miracle herbicide I was hoping for.

spraypic.jpgThankfully, right about that time, I was contacted to review an organic weed killer called Nature’s Avenger. I was more than happy to give it a try. Nature’s Avenger is made with natural citrus oil which gives it a very pleasant scent, is EPA-certified, safe around children and pets, and, I’m pleased to report, it gets the job done! I tried it on a few rogue weeds in my yard and it killed them and quickly too (within a couple hours). While I wouldn’t use it all of the time (it’s still fun to get my hands dirty now and then), it is nice to have an organic weed-killing alternative for those occasions I don’t have hours to spend weeding the yard.

Find a store near you that sells Nature’s Avenger or you can buy it online.

If you’d like to try to win a bottle of Nature’s Avenger, just leave a comment here AND link to this post on your blog. If you don’t have a blog, that’s OK. You can still enter to win. The deadline to enter is Friday, June 27. The winner will be chosen using and notified via email the following day. Please make sure you include a valid email address.

If you are looking for another eco-friendly giveaway, head over to A Mama’s Blog for a Let’s Go Green giveaway.