Getting the kids off to school in the morning used to be the most stressful task of my day. There was always one child missing a shoe, one that overslept, or a fight among siblings over clothes. Getting to school on time was a monumental effort. Today I was reminded of a particularly stressful morning when my very active toddler got his hands into the tray where we keep car and house keys. As we were running out the door I reached for the car keys and discovered that my toddler had emptied the entire tray! Not a single key in sight! I started frantically searching the house. Like many schools, my kids' school had a policy that required parents to exit their vehicles in the morning and sign their children in if they were tardy. I was desperately trying to avoid the walk of shame.
I searched the toy area, the couch cushions, inside shoes. Nothing! I looked in the laundry baskets, trash cans, and even the closets. By now, I was sweating and my heart was racing. Finally, as I was beginning to panic, I saw the spare key on the floor under the dining room table. I screamed the for the children to pile into the van and we took off. Somehow we managed to get to school on time. When I returned home, I continued looking for the missing keys. It took over an hour, but I finally found my set of keys hidden inside the fireplace. Well played, Toddler.
There is no right time to have another baby. Some experts recommend a 2-4 year age gap between siblings. Sometimes life catches you by surprise and the gap is smaller than you had planned! I have a set of daughters who are less than 2 years apart. Having two babies at once presented many challenges. I remember trying to take two babies to use porta-potties. It’s too traumatizing to remember the details but I do know that most of the urine landed on my shoes, and one child got scared and ran out without pulling her pants up. While two babies presented many challenges, there were many positive experiences. Watching the bond between the two sisters while they tandem nursed was special. They often held hands while nursing and were extremely close. Each of my children have their own bed, but the two closest siblings preferred to share a bed and snuggle with each other every night. They enjoyed dressing alike and got a kick out of strangers asking if they were twins. Yes, having two babies is challenging, but the tender moments make it worth it. It is my hope that my girls remain close and grow up to be best friends.
I'm starting to hear the first complaints of sore throats this season. I thought I would share some tips for getting through cold/flu season with kids.
For infants with stuffy noses, I find sitting in the bathroom with the doors closed and a hot, steamy shower running works wonders. You can nurse your baby, read a story, offer a bottle, or sit quietly and listen to the water run.
For kids over 1, I use Aviva Romm's recipe for garlic lemonade. It's is an effective tool for sore throats, ear issues, and general cold/flu symptoms. You pour one quart of boiling water over 2 cloves of minced garlic and let steep for 30 minutes. Then strain out the garlic and add the juice of 1 lemon. Serve warm with local honey for sweetness. For kids between 6-12 months, maple syrup can be substituted for honey.
Speaking of garlic, I love to use a blend of garlic, labelia and mullein oils. A few drops in each ear usually keeps ear infections at bay.
For adults, my go-to treatment when I feel like I may be coming down with something is a recipe from one of my favorite books, Herbal Antibiotics. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2tsp of sage or oregano. Steep for 10 minutes. Strain out herbs and the add the juice of 1 lemon, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and 1T honey. Sage and oregano may reduce your milk supply if you're lactating. This tea is not recommended if you're breastfeeding. Instead you can add lemon, cayenne, and honey to your favorite tea and enjoy!
Finally, I love to give my my family 1/2 tsp of elderberry syrup each morning during cold/flu season to help strengthen our immune systems during the fall/winter months.
As always... practice good hand washing!
*This is shared for informational purposes. It is not intended to be medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider.
A couple of weeks ago, my children began a new school year. The first day of school is uneventful for us now, but when they first started school, we had some JACK’d Up experiences. I remember the first day my oldest child started kindergarten. I made sure to get my daughter to bed early, prepared her work bag, and carefully selected a dress for her to wear. I remember going through her closet and selecting the perfect dress from her new back-to-school wardrobe. It had frogs wearing little pink bows, a perfect blend of my daughter’s personality.
The next day, I anxiously waited to hear about how her day went. When she climbed in the car, I asked how it was. She said, “It was great!”
“Did anyone like your dress?” I asked.
“Yeah! Elloree said she had the same dress at home, but hers is a nightgown,” my daughter said matter-of-factly.
My eyes widened. I casually looked at the back panel of her dress. Printed inside the dress were the words, “Flame resistant SLEEPWEAR.”
Yes, my daughter wore a nightgown on her very first day of school. In my defense, nightgowns should not be sold on hangers.
Before I had children, I was an avid gym-goer. I went to the gym nearly every day. It was part of my identity. When I had children, I stopped going to the gym. I stopped going, but I did not stop exercising and fueling that part of who I am. I was recently reminded of that time of my life, when I was a busy mom to small children, yet still yearned to feel the exhilaration that followed an intense workout. I wrote this note to myself exactly eight years ago:
Since I can no longer get to the gym, I have taken over our neighborhood park. It's actually a great workout! I hold the baby between my legs while hanging from the monkey bars and move my legs in circles while doing leg lifts. I do walking lunges, squats, push-ups, dips and jump rope while my daughters are on the swings. When they need another push, I sprint over to them and then sprint back to my workout area. Yesterday, I actually climbed a wall! It's not as fun as the gym, but it will do for now. Have gotten over all the stares I get from the other parents and kids. For added fun, I chase the kids around the park while lugging my 20-pound baby with me. A fun time for all! I wonder what other workouts I can do there. If I could do unassisted pull-ups, that would be a great addition, but I can't yet. I'd like something to work the lats. Maybe I can take my [resistance] bands and hook something up. Hmmm...
Please note, at no time did I ever mention my intention for working out was to "get my body back" or to "drop the baby weight." That was never my goal. I enjoy physical activity and challenging myself. How do you refuel?
This morning, I was reminded of an epic #fail. It was my dad’s birthday and my older brother and I wanted to bake him a cake, on our own – without adult supervision. We followed the recipe, careful not to get any eggshells in the batter. I was little, about five years old, and my brother was probably ten. We had never made a cake without help before, but we had watched our mother do it many times. It was great! It was one of the few times we worked on a project together without fighting until… the recipe called for vanilla extract. I excitedly jumped down from the counter and ran over to the lazy susan to retrieve the pure vanilla extract. I moved quickly and confidently, prepared to add the ingredient myself. My brother knew that we only needed a little and tried the grab the bottle from me. I didn’t want him to help me so I quickly poured it myself… a lot of it… and it wasn’t vanilla. It was green food coloring! Why did they make those bottles look so much alike? Frustrated with me, my brother called my mother for help. Not wanting to hurt my feelings, she assured us that everything would be fine. We continued pouring the batter into the cake pan and waited. After dinner, my mother carefully brought the cake to the table, covered in icing and candles blazing. Everyone began singing Happy Birthday. My dad blew out his candles, and then my mother cut into the cake. Before she pulled his slice out, she reminded him about how hard his children had worked to bake it, how proud we were to have completed the project together, how it’s the thought that counts, etc. He took one look at that cake and lost his appetite. He couldn’t even fake it! My mother held in her laughter as she cut slices for the rest of the family. It tasted just fine to me!
Anyway, I was reminded of this event today because my own daughter took it upon herself to make pancakes for the family this morning – without help. Until her trial at making pancakes, I had never noticed the similarities between vanilla extract and malt vinegar.
Shopping with kids in tow can be an adventure, to say the least. There's the inevitable fight over who gets to push the cart, the tears that well up in your eyes after a child pushes said cart into the back of your heels. Don't forget the tricky public bathroom situation. One time I had to make a pit stop early in the morning at the local grocery store. My son tried to open the door on me, but being a veteran mommy, I was one step ahead of him and blocked him from opening the door. He gave me a sly look as he quickly dropped to the floor and army-crawled out of the stall. Peering through the door's crack, I tried to locate my son, but he was no where to be seen. Then I heard a woman's voice a few doors down say, "Why, hello there!"
Mortified I said, "Please tell me he's not in there with you."
The woman responded, "Yes, he is. Don't worry about it. I have three boys of my own."
Yes, excursions with children can be an adventure. Mad props to the parents that can pull if off gracefully. I'm not one of them. My children go especially berserk at a particular department store featuring a red bull's-eye. I remember running in to buy one item and this happened:
Yes, I do live a pretty JACK'd up life. My children can turn a mundane shopping trip into an event to remember.
I usually don’t write cryptic status updates on Facebook. I find them annoying. But Facebook has this feature that reminds you of status updates from years past, and I was reminded of a rare cryptic message I shared, "Found my dog alive. Now I want to kill him." It was five years ago today.
My dog Taz had been missing for three days. We had printed flyers, searched the neighborhood and checked the pound. Every day, I would load my toddlers into the car and search for our dog. It was heartbreaking. On the third day we found him! He was in a neighbor’s front yard “engaged” with a female dog. I was so happy to see him, I couldn’t even get mad. I threw the car in PARK and ran to him. It was raining and I was seven months pregnant. I just wanted to go home. I grabbed his collar and pulled with all my might, but he wouldn’t budge. The dogs were in a mangled mess, butt-to-butt with my dog’s hind leg on top. Another neighbor saw me pulling and came over to help. She took a look and said, “They’re stuck.”
“I know that. I’m trying to pull them apart!” I said.
“You can’t. They’re… STUCK,” she said unable to maintain a straight face.
“Well, how do I get them unstuck?” I asked, my irritation apparent in my voice.
“You can’t until he’s done,” my neighbor explained. “Unless you have a water hose.”
I was seven months pregnant, in the rain, involved in the most awkward ménage trois ever. I didn’t have a water hose on me. By now, other cars had started to drive by, including more neighbors, a police car, and our letter carrier. Everyone seemed to be laughing at me. My toddlers were watching everything from the car. My neighbor ran house to house asking for water, as if there was a fire. I saw more neighbors standing on porches to watch. Eventually, my neighbor returned with a bucket of water and threw it on the dogs. They finally separated, and I dragged Lover Boy to the car. My toddlers were thrilled that our dog was back. I was humiliated and fuming.
That evening my three-year-old called her grandparents to share the exciting news, “Pop-Pop, we found Taz! He got his foot stuck inside another dog’s butt, but he’s home now.”
3/11/2016 0 Comments
Birth by caesarean can have an adverse psychological impact on some women and may affect their ability to adjust to motherhood. Most women want to avoid the surgical scars, both mentally and physically. With the cesarean section rate in the United States reaching a historic high and the limitations and risks associated with dystocia, it is no wonder why many women seek the help of birth professionals to navigate their way through labor. Dystocia or failure to progress in labor is the primary reason for cesarean deliveries. Penny Simkin’s and Ruth Ancheta’s The Labor Progress Handbook: Early Interventions to Prevent and Treat Dystocia focuses on non-invasive interventions to aid women experiencing difficult labor. The 2nd edition handbook, published by Wiley-Blackwell in 2005, describes and illustrates positions, movements and techniques that can be used to avoid medical interventions. The information is based on the principles of psychology, anatomy and physiology and is compiled from published research findings and clinical experience of the authors, doctors, midwives, nurses, doulas, anthropologists, childbirth educators and others.
The handbook is organized by stage of labor for easy reference containing flowcharts and illustrations that enable the caregiver or birth partner to quickly identify appropriate interventions to effectively treat dystocia. Although the book is beyond the doula’s scope of practice, it offers practical advice to caregivers who wish to help to prevent and treat dysfunctional labor. The Labor Progress Handbook gives a holistic approach to treating dystocia considering the woman’s emotional state, the impact of her birthing environment, and the influence that hospital policies may have on the outcome of her birth. Maternal position is the primary focus of this book. Frequent changes in position can resolve issues of occiput posterior position, asynclitism and deflexion. It also points out the differences between standard care in The United States, Canada and The United Kingdom.
The authors acknowledge the mind-body connection in labor and how doulas can have an impact on that aspect of childbirth. The reader is reminded to remain cognizant of her influence and to be sensitive to the needs of women experiencing prolonged labor while providing suggestions on how to avoid exhaustion. There are methods for identifying possible causes of prolonged labor and how to address them. I especially liked the way the authors approached the difficult subject of emotional fears linked to prior abuse and the extra care and kindness required when dealing with those types of situations.
The information in The Labor Progress Handbook successfully presents clinical wisdom from experienced birth workers and provides practical advice about what helps and what does not help women in labor. It places an emphasis on simple and sensible care measures that can be used to maintain normal progress and to manage and correct minor complications before they become severe. The writing is clear and effective without losing the reader in technical jargon. I like the way the book is organized according to birth stage with easy to follow illustrations and flowcharts for quick reference. It was an interesting read and one that I would recommend to anyone involved in the childbirth field.
Living the JACK'd Life
I am a certified birth doula (BAI) in Charlotte, NC . I provide information and support to pregnant individuals and couples so they can have satisfying and empowering births. I am a married mother of 4 trying to navigate life, unafraid of sharing my truly JACK'd up missteps.