Wednesday, August 29, 2012

DYRN: Teething Tablets

Do you really need teething tablets? Yes because at some point your baby will cut teeth and be miserable which will make you feel miserable and helpless.  The best piece of advice I have ever gotten came from a total stranger. I don’t remember where I was, maybe I was in line for something and she just happened by. Orion wasn't being fussy and was really quite small at the time. This woman told me about Hyland’s teething tablets and spelled out the name. Orion wasn't teething at the time but I made a mental note and filed that advice away for later.

When Orion did start teething, I went to CVS, bought the teething tablets and a razberry teething pacifier.  Both turned out to be good investments but I would be lost without Hyland’s.  These teething tablets have helped to soothe my baby when he has a mouthful of ouch.  When I first started giving him the tablets, he would fight me and not open his mouth.  After the first few days of giving him the tablets, he would happily open his mouth for me.  Now, I can put 3 tablets in the palm of my hand and he will pick them up and put them in his mouth all by himself.  He knows what they are for and he knows they help.

I really wish babies would get their teeth all at once or in the span of a week or month.  It is an ongoing process and whenever Orion has on his tightest fussy pants, I wash my hands and check his gums with my finger. This has become more dangerous with each new tooth but it is the best way to check for swollen gums and new teeth.  When we have new teeth on the way, I give him 3 Hyland’s tablets and try to cut him some slack.  Extra cuddles, even more nursing, and a bit more of his favorite TV show.

In October 2010 there was a voluntary recall of these teething tables.  The original concern was the amount of Belladonna in the tablets.  What is the risk of overdosing?

"From Dr. Iris Bell, Hyland’s Medical Director: We have added child- resistant caps to Hyland’s Baby Teething Tablets to make it harder for children to accidentally dose themselves. Additionally, with the prior formula, a 10-pound child would need to have ingested at least six bottles of 125 Teething Tablets at once before experiencing the first mild side effect of dry mouth. Today, a child would have to ingest, at the same time, more than a dozen bottles of 135 Teething Tablets before experiencing dry mouth from the product. The body clears Belladonna alkaloids from any dose in a matter of hours (it is unlikely to build up in the system when taken as directed on the package label)."

The tablets came back on the market in 2011 and there was much rejoicing among moms.  Hyland’s are homeopathic which is something my husband is very distrustful of but he loves Hyland’s teething tablets and believes in the effect they have.  I am so glad we are able to use these tablets to provide some relief when Orion is teething.   I really think Hyland's teething tablets are the only option when it comes to taking care of a teething baby.  Thank you random stranger for that bit of advice which i have shared every chance I get!   

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Was the Great Nurse-In a total bust?

This was the site of the Nurse-In as we left just before 2pm. 

The First Annual Great Nurse-In was held on August 4th in Washington DC.  The event took place on the west lawn of the Capital Building.  No, it was not a total bust but how could I resist that cheesy headline! I did find the event a little disappointing but that was mostly because I did not educate myself on the event before I went.  I just saw this was happening and went.  In typical Charlotte fashion, I did not read the details. 

We were there from noon until 2 and the place was pretty empty.  The event started at 9am and was scheduled till 4pm. People came and went throughout the day but it was pretty empty when we were there.  It was in the upper 90’s which may have kept some people away.  Since it wasn’t crowded, we were able to find a nice spot in the shade.  Their facebook page listed  an unofficial attendance of 600 people.  We did not register because we never thought to (more on that later).

The area on the west lawn was difficult to access with a stroller because the lower part of the lawn was closed for turf restoration.  There were metal steps set up over the small wall for people to walk over.  I was very glad to be there with a friend because we could work together to hoist our strollers over the wall without too much difficulty.  Of course, Orion became obsessed with the dirty old rusty stairs and they were all he wanted to play with during the event.  There were baby pools set up which I had thought belonged to an individual but were actually apart of the event.  Had I realized this before we were about to leave, Orion would have enjoyed splashing and I could have chased him less.

When we got there we took a stroll past all the tables. The first table we visited had a display of nursing bras and tops. The woman working the table was very engaging and explained where they were from and that they can’t sell anything on the National mall.  The next few tables had face painting, crafts for kids, and bubbles for the kids to play with.  Orion is a bit young for face painting and crafts but I am glad they had activities for the kids.  Both sides of the lawn had water stations set up with a couple of cisterns and cups.  I made sure to bring extra water but was happy to see a spot to refill my bottles.  I also witnessed a cyclist who just happened to be in the area take advantage of the water.  Ti was such a hot day that staying hydrated was vital especially when you are breastfeeding.   

There was a first aid table set up which I am glad we did not need.  The next table had samples of Milkmakers cookies and Happy Baby snacks.  We picked up the sunny buddies and mixed fruit yogis.  Orion likes them both and I only wish we had grabbed more! The cookies were decent but I make pretty great lactation boosting cookies.  So far pretty awesome and off to a good start!

There was a nice wind blowing which was good for us but not so good for the tables they had set up.  The blue plastic table cloths would blow away from the table and whatever was on them would fly off.  We were camped out near two tables with laminated maps and no one sitting there.  One map you could put a sticker to note where you were from and the other where you had breastfed.  They had sharpie markers and stickers which kept blowing away and being destroyed by toddlers, mine included.

A few of the tables were not engaging.  I saw a sign on one table about letters to a nursing mom but I wasn’t drawn in to investigate it further.  It is hard to take the time to write something when chasing or holding a toddler.  No one asked us to register our attendance at any of the tables so we never thought to register.  I did end up talking with a few of the event organizers at the water station who thanked me for coming out which was very nice to hear.  I thanked them for having the event and think it will get better every year. 

We saw people walking around with buttons and temporary tattoos and wanted to know where we could get some.  I asked the mom next to us who told me she got her’s at last night’s latch party but I could ask at the volunteer table.  I went to the volunteer table and asked for a button.  I was given one by someone who did not have very much to say, I felt like I was getting away with something. I was very happy to score a button and what can I say, I like free stuff.  i would have bought a T-shirt or bumper sticker if they had any for sale.

There was a stage set up and speakers playing music.  The music stopped for a while and I was afraid they were packing up early.  I guess it was just a lunch break and shorty the music resumed.  We saw Marsha Goodman preform and enjoyed her fun songs like Why Can’t you Dance on Jupiter, Sheep Don’t Wear Shoes, and Ninja School.  If I was a performer I would have been shitting my pants.  It was like playing for no one or a bunch of vampires because very few ventured out of the shade.  She did not let that stop her and put on a nice show.

I did not know about the BigLatch-On which took place at 10:30am.  This was a public breast feeding record attempt which takes place every year.  I missed it last year but the chances are pretty good that Orion will still be nursing next year so I will defiantly want to participate.  The record to beat was last year's world record of 5,867 woman breastfeeding children.  This year the record has been set at 8,862 breastfeeders in 626 locations over 23 different countries around the world.     That is pretty awesome!

The Nurse-In’s mission is to normalize breastfeeding.  This topic has been all over the news since the attachment parenting article graced the cover of Time magazine with a mom nursing her 4 year old.  That image had very little to do with the article but it was a sure way to increase dwindling magazine sales.  I think it is funny that in the US we have to normalize breastfeeding.  This was the norm before the invention of formula in 1867 and its increase in popularity in 1907.  I am amazed by how prudish Americans are when it comes to flashing a bit of female nipple.   

I do believe that breast is best.  Mothers need to know that there is support for them if they want to breastfeed and the laws supporting breastfeeding in public.  Not every mother chooses or is able to breastfeed and it is their personal choice.  (I read this post today and it totally made me cry) Babies can be raised happily and healthily on formula.    Each individual mother needs to assess their situation, their body, and their child to decide what is best for them.  I think they will always chose to do what is best for their family.  Breastfeeding can seem like a daunting task.  There are pumps, special bras and tops, nursing pads, and creams.  WIC will pay for formula but not for supplies that assist in breastfeeding. 

If you want to breastfeed exclusively, do not keep formula in the house as it will make it so easy to cave in and use it when you are having a rough day.  You could choose keep it in your attic, basement, or garage but not in the kitchen staring you in the face taunting you.  You could even ask a friend to hold it for you in case of an emergency.  Formula companies market heavily towards mothers who choose to breastfeed.  If you want more coupons for formula, tell Motherhood Maternity that you plan to breastfed when checking out and you will get more coupons than you would if you were to tell them your plans to use formula.  This post by the Feminist Breeder on this topic is awesome!  Breastfeeding is not easy but it helps to have a great lactation consultant or support group to reach out to when you are having a hard time or have questions. 

I look forward to the Great Nurse-In and the Big Latch On next year and hope to be more involved and informed about these events.  I think they will get bigger and better every year!  I also expect it will educate many women on their rights as a breastfeeding mom and the resources that are available to them.

You can read more about this event here, here, and here.   

Saturday, August 11, 2012

10 reasons why I no longer use a nursing cover

I have a beautiful nursing cover that was a shower gift from my amazing Aunt Mary.  I used this cover frequently when Orion was little.  Early in our breast feeding relationship, I was very nervous about nursing in public.  This cover provided me with some modesty and privacy.  Now, I no longer use this lovely cover and here’s why:

1.      Orion no longer likes it when I use the cover.
2.      It can get hot under that cover.
3.      Orion likes to use it as a flag.
4.      If hairy men with man boobs can walk around topless why can’t I whip out a nipple to feed my baby?
5.      I think it draws more attention, why is that lady wearing a tent and why is it wiggling, instead of just a mom holding her baby.
6.      I don’t want to always have to carry around one more thing.
7.      If we are out, at say the indoor playground, and my baby falls, hurts himself, cries, and wants to nurse I don’t want to have to make him wait while I go get my nursing cover or have to carry it on my person at all times.
8.      They are just boobs!
9.      A flash of nipple for 10 seconds before my baby latches on and obscures everything and the 10 seconds it takes me to cover up after won’t traumatize anyone.
10.   Because I do not have to.

Know your rights and don't let anyone stop you from feeding your baby in whatever why YOU are comfortable with and if they don't like it they can look away, close their eyes, or move along! The following information came from here 

"Forty-five states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location. (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.)

Twenty-eight states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws. (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.)

Twenty-four states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have laws related to breastfeeding in the workplace. (Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.)

Twelve states and Puerto Rico exempt breastfeeding mothers from jury duty. (California, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon and Virginia.)

Five states and Puerto Rico have implemented or encouraged the development of a breastfeeding awareness education campaign. (California, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and Vermont.)

Several states have unique laws related to breastfeeding. For instance,

Virginia allows women to breastfeed on any land or property owned by the state. Puerto Rico requires shopping malls, airports, public service government centers and other select locations to have accessible areas designed for breastfeeding and diaper changing that are not bathrooms.

At least two states have laws related to child care facilities and breastfeeding. Louisiana prohibits any child care facility from discriminating against breastfed babies. Mississippi requires licensed child care facilities to provide breastfeeding mothers with a sanitary place that is not a toilet stall to breastfeed their children or express milk, to provide a refrigerator to store expressed milk, to train staff in the safe and proper storage and handling of human milk, and to display breastfeeding promotion information to the clients of the facility.

California requires the Department of Public Health to develop a training course of hospital policies and recommendations that promote exclusive breastfeeding and specify staff for whom this model training is appropriate. The recommendation is targeted at hospitals with patients who ranked in the lowest 25 percent of the state for exclusive breastfeeding rates.

Maryland exempts the sale of tangible personal property that is manufactured for the purpose of initiating, supporting or sustaining breastfeeding from the sales and use tax.

California, New York and Texas have laws related to the procurement, processing, distribution or use of human milk.

New York created a Breastfeeding Mothers Bill of Rights, which is required to be posted in maternal health care facilities. New York also created a law that allows a child under one year of age to accompany the mother to a correctional facility if the mother is breastfeeding at the time she is committed.”

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Benefits of Meal Planning

I have been hearing for years now how helpful it is to plan your meals.  Not sure why I waited so long to give it a try.  Most days, I would call Patrick at work and ask if there was anything in particular he was in the mood for dinner.  Then I would stare into our refrigerator waiting for dinner inspiration to jump out at me.  Patrick is better at cooking on the fly then me, I prefer to work from a recipe. Most nights we would be able to pull off a tasty meal, some nights were not so delicious, and other nights we picked up a Peruvian chicken. 
Grocery shopping is something that seems to take place a few times a week.  We would go to super market or farmer’s market and buy what looked good or what was on sale. After the big shopping trip, we would run out a few times a week to pick up things we forgot, ran out of, or needed for a recipe.  I like to shop local and seasonal which is still possible with meal planning.  I think meal planning will help me to shop local more often because I will be better prepared and organized.

When my father passed away I inherited a treasure trove of recipes.  He really enjoyed cooking as did my mother and her mother. Many of their recipes were included in his gigantic recipe box.  I went through the box and picked some out that sounded good and made a mini recipe book.  This past Monday I went through that collection and picked a few to make this week.

I am proud to say that I have cooked or baked every day this week and have been excited to do so.  I was happy to eat my leftovers even though not everything turned put perfectly.  It was nice to attempt my mother’s spinach pie recipe even though the recipe left out what to do with the butter and the eggs.  It also mentioned baking powder in the ingredients and baking soda in the instructions.  I still love this recipe card because it is typed in my father’s words. He talks about being my mother’s “scullery maid, learning from the master, apprenticed under my favorite mother-in-law”.

Food has always been a big part of my family as well as my life with Patrick.  The taste and smell of food can transport you to a time and place and trigger a memory long buried.  On a few occasions, Patrick has come home and remarked that something I was cooking smelled just like something his grandmother Kate had made.  This always makes me feel good about my cooking even before we take our first bite.  I want my son to have an appreciation for food and the recipes of my parents and grandmother.  We have a lot of cookbooks in our house that my husband would read cover to cover.  There are also countless recipes on the internet but there is nothing like a recipe from your childhood or one written in your mother’s handwriting.

When Patrick and I first got together his culinary skills really impressed me.  I had been of the mind set for years that food was fuel and on a few occasions I can remember remarking that I wished I could eat my food in capsule form because it would be quick, easy, and brainless.  I could make a mean grilled cheese but cooking did not interest me.  I am glad that I am no longer that person and I now take great pleasure in cooking.  It really wasn’t until we moved to Virginia over 4 years ago that I started actively cooking.  Patrick was working, I was looking for a job, and I was tasked with getting dinner on the table.  When it comes to meals, I am my harshest critic and can be really disappointed when something does not turn out well.  But I don’t let that stop me from trying new recipes and cooking even if I think Patrick is the better cook.

I want to get in the habit of sitting down with my vast collection of recipes and plan out our meals for the upcoming week.  This will let me get in touch with my parents and my past as well as feed and nurture my family.  I think it will make me more excited to cook dinner and save me time and money.  I won’t have to wonder 5 times a week what too cook and I won’t be tempted to waste money going to the grocery store 5 times in a week.  I also won’t be as tempter to give up and go out to eat or grab a chicken.  I will also be able to plan my shopping and coordinate when the farmer’s market takes place.

Last week, I meal planned on Monday and this is what week one looked like.   

Monday - Pasta with cannellini beans, roasted eggplant, and sautéed yellow squash.
Tuesday – Provencal chicken with tomatoes, olives, and basil, before bed I made steel cut oatmeal in the crock pot.
Wednesday – Lentil and vegetable ragout (Korma) with rice and I made spinach pie.
Thursday - We were supposed to go out to dinner with friends because it is Farm to Fork week but Orion was sick so we ate leftovers and I made banana walnut brownies (my recipe here).
Friday – Tomato and avocado gazpacho and spiced beef cobbler. 

We had a busy weekend with a friend coming to visit and the Great Nurse-In on Saturday.  I have started to keep a food diary to record what we are eating and liking.  I am being very careful to note what Orion seems to enjoy so I know to make it for him in the future.  I am looking forward to sitting down on Monday to find some new recipes for the week ahead.  I hope that this will solidify me as a great and adventurous cook in my son’s mind while putting him in touch with my parents.

What are you cooking this week?  What are your favorite recipes?  What are some of your favorite meals from your childhood?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Someone replaced my baby with a land shark

I think most breastfeeding moms get a little worried once their baby starts cutting teeth.  Those little baby teeth are so sharp!  We have all heard that a baby won’t bite if they are latched correctly on the nipple.  The truth is that a baby will bite if they want to bite.  He would bite and laugh at my pain with a devilish smile.  Orion has bitten my nipples here and there and we just went through a very bitey stage which I thought would never end.  He liked to conclude our nursing sessions by dragging his teeth along my nipple.

Getting your nipples chewed on hurts!  I have a pretty high tolerance for pain but the biting would often come as asuch a surprise.  La, La, La, La, happy, happy nursing, oxytocin for me, la, la, happy, CHOMP, OUCH!  He would bite and I would scream and fight my knee jerk reaction to hit back. (There is never any reason to hit a child or anyone for that matter!)   I found that I would brace myself during every nursing session and hope to catch him so I could pull him off before the chomp.  It became so frequent that I would scream and put him down at which point he would start to cry.  If my husband was home, I would tell him that I needed some time and go into the office and close the door.

I have heard that you should NOT react when your baby bites you which is easier said than done.  I know my baby loves cause and effect like I press this button and the TV goes on.  I bite mommy and she makes a sound, awesome!  Maybe it was a new game he wanted to play with me.  I tired to stifle my scream but sometimes I would just have to let it out.  i would not exaggerated my pain but at times my frustration may have made it a wee bit louder.

I have also heard that you should make a noise, then put them down and tell them no biting mommy.

“A mother's natural response to pain may discourage further biting. Many babies startle at their mother's loud exclamation and immediately release the nipple. Some may even cry. This negative reinforcement seems to make many babies stop completely. In MOTHERING YOUR NURSING TODDLER, Norma Jane Bumgarner observes,

Perhaps the reason that the vast majority of children learn not to bite so quickly is that we invariably react immediately and firmly to biting at the breast. There is probably no instance in which we apply behavior modification so immediately, decisively, and consistently. Besides, our children love us and respond to the urgency and sincerity with which we insist that they must not bite.

Such prompt and direct responses occasionally backfire with sensitive babies, who may react by refusing the breast altogether. This sudden disinterest in nursing or outright rejection of the breast is called a nursing strike. A nursing strike can be distinguished from actual weaning by its sudden onset and the fact that the baby seems miserable. It may take lots of coaxing to persuade a baby who has been "on strike" that it's okay to resume nursing. Therefore, it is wise not to exaggerate your response to biting beyond what is natural for you.”

I know he won’t nurse forever and I hope he is fully weaned by the time he is 2 years old.  I would like to get pregnet again after his 2nd birthday but I would also like to spend some time neither breastfeeding or pregnant.  My body has not been my own since August 2010 and i would like a break before I do it all again.  Now that Orion is 15 months old but still nursing like a 4 month old and the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” method of weaning has gotten me nowhere, I realize that I do need to actively start to wean him.  I am not a water fountain or squeaky toy. I am available for comfort which doesn’t need to involve my breasts.  I want him to separate food from comfort. 

When I nurse Orion, I promise to focus my attention on him.  Maybe he was biting to get my attention because I was reading on my phone.  We no longer nurse for hours, maybe a half hour at most.  I can take the time we spend nursing to look at his happy face, enjoy our time together, and watch my milk pool in his mouth (I am surprised I still have milk! I thought maybe he was biting because I had dried up but nope.) 

I will also try to keep him as busy as possible during the day.  We will have playdates, run errands, go on adventures.  If he is happy and active he will not think about nursing because he is bored.

I will also keep his belly filled with food!  In the morning I usually get him up and bring him into bed to nurse in the hopes of getting more sleep which never happens.  I need to get him up, changed, and then feed him something very yummy for breakfast like yogurt or zucchini bread.  I can’t just put him in the highchair and give him cheerios because he never fills up on them.  I need to offer him food every couple of hours.  He never took to the bottle and has not been too happy with a sippy cup of milk but I will keep offering it and using his leftover milk in my coffee or cereal.  I will also offer him a sippy cup of water which he really does enjoy.

Orion and I made it through our recent shark phase but I am not sure how or why.  Maybe it was seeing his mother cry from frustration.  Maybe he got the message that it hurts and he shouldn't make mommy scream.  Maybe that game got old.  Whatever it was, I am glad it is over.  I hope being more present during our nursing sessions and offering him more to eat and more activity during the day will prevent the shark from resurfacing.

Will i see you at the Great Nurse-In at the National Mall on Saturday?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mom's night out

Woot, mom’s night out! I was really excited to stick my husband with a super fussy baby but as luck would have it I was able to get Orion to bed by 6:30.  I have a very lucky husband.  I had a night out and he had a night off.  For the first time, I wasn’t even worried about the baby or my husband or my husband dealing with the baby.  I was totally like “I am out and I will be back when I get back, peace!” 

I threw on some lipstick, a real bra and footwear other than flip flops, so fancy!  I drive our little Fiat 500 thumping M.I.A. but wishing I had Santogold.  I felt so liberated, I wanted to go dancing but settled for dancing in the car.  I get to the theater and meet up with 3 other moms to see Magic Mike.  It was a super nice theater with huge seats and you didn’t need to fight for a piece of the arm rest.  The floor was wood and not nasty sticky carpet, I wouldn’t feel bad about letting my baby crawl around on those floors.

The movie was fun.  My favorite was Big Dick Richie and not because the obvious or because he is an enormous muscled man, which does help.  But because the first time we see him he is behind a sewing machine working on a gold thong, wearing thick black glasses.  The movie also made me feel old because (SPOLIER) once drugs came into play I knew it would be the downfall.  We enjoy the movie with abandon, hooting and hollering but director StevenSoderbergh  (yeah, right, I was surprised before I saw this movie that he was the director this was far from Ocean's 11 or Erin Brockovich) was really great at cutting just when things started to heat up.   
After the movie, we walked up the street to grab some drinks.  I enjoy 2 (2!) cucumber/cilantro gimlets which were very yummy.  I am sure we would have sat there longer chatting, dishing, and getting to know each other if last call hadn’t been at 11.  We are planning to get crazy at a real strip club one of these nights. I am going to start saving my dollar bills in a jar label thong money.

I got home around 11:15 (big night!) and my husband was in bed and the baby (I know he is no longer a baby but a 15 month old toddler, he will always be my baby much like every dog to me is a puppy, until it is too embarrassing for him) was still asleep.  The house did not fall apart without me for 4 ½ hours! Orion woke up around 4am for about 45 minutes and we both slept till about 8am.

You hear it said that it is important for moms to make time for themselves. But it is more important for moms to allow themselves to enjoy that time.  There have been a few other occasions when I got out of the house for a few hours for me time but spent so much of that time stressing and worrying about the baby and that the baby was driving my husband crazy.  It is so seldom that I get me time, that when I do, I will never again let worry spoil it for me.

I only wish the weekends were longer so I could have a day and my husband could have a day and we could still take care of all the other things which usually fill up a weekend.  I do think that weeknights will start to get easier with Orion going to bed earlier and sleeping through the night.  I can have a mom night out on a week night and Patrick has his dad’s night out.  It really is important for us to get out, talk with other moms/dads and have fun.  I am really thankful that we have found such a great group of people to enjoy these times with.

It took me 9 months to get out of the house and go to a mom group and I am so glad I did.  Every Friday we get together for a playdate, it keeps Orion busy and me.  We have both made some good friends and Patrick is now getting to know some of the dads.  How cool would it be if Orion was making friends in this group that he will have for years!  And I get to watch all these other little babies grow up which is really special.

I encourage all you mom’s out there to join a mom group!  Find one you like and that fits your schedule. You and your baby can make friends, get out of the house, and your baby will sleep so well after he is all tuckered out from playtime.  Then you can have a mom’s night out and hopefully the dads can get it together for a dad’s night out.  It really is good for the whole family!

Break it down

I have over 50 blog post ideas typed up and 3 other topics that I have started to write waiting for me to finish and post them.  Honestly, I just have not been inspired to write. Which is weird because for a while there it was all I was thinking about.  Some of those 50 ideas don’t even make sense to me anymore.  What did I mean when I wrote “contacts and crewcuts”?  I have also had a few ideas lately that roll around in my mind grapes then disappear. 

What have I been doing these past silent weeks? I wish I could say that I was at the beach on a nice, fun, and easy family vacation.  But that is not going to happen this summer.  We had money saved for a vacation and have decided to use most of it to pay off a credit card bill.  That makes me feel like a real grown up.  Not raising a baby but working on the house hold budget makes me feel adult.  I have a hard time feeling like an adult as we rent our house and are very far from buying a home.
This past week was exceptionally difficult. Orion has been walking around crying and fussing and dramatically throwing himself against the furniture.  He was also biting my nipples at the end of almost every nursing session.  It took me a few days before I realized he was teething, cutting molars.  I spent most of a morning crying my eyes out feeling like everything I'm doing is wrong.  I don’t feed him the right food, I don’t talk to him enough (15 months old and hasn’t said a real word yet and I’m trying to not freak out), and that he watches too much TV. 

Mostly, I wanted my mom and dad.  I was missing them so much and wanted to talk with them to get their advice.  Maybe my mom could tell me that I was bitey at that age and it would soon pass.  I knew I needed to talk with someone because I couldn’t stop crying (yes, I was a bit hormonal having finish my period a few days before).  So I got in touch with my aunt, my mother’s sister. 

Talking with her made me realize what I need to do.  I know that I need to actively start weaning this toddler and get him to nap without me or a car ride.  For the past 15 months I have nursed him whenever and wherever.  I have let him nap on me, fall asleep on me, or taken him for a car ride to nap. She also reminded me that I have been raising a great baby even though right now things are difficult.  I do need more time to myself (which is part of the reason I have not been writing).  If he could nap without me I might get an hour or two to do what I want like write or sew. (I have been a bit obsessed with sewing lately as I am just learning and it has been what I want to do with any second of free time as I cannot use my sewing machine when Orion is awake because he loves to grab the foot peddle or pull out the plug) 

It was also nice to hear that she had just been thinking of my mom and missing her like crazy along with their other sister.  Where we live, we have no family and no one down here ever met my mother.  They have no clue how awesome she was not to mention that most parents in their early 30’s still have living parents (yes, i do get jealous).  But who can you call when you are crying? I have a hard time talking when I get upset or talking about why i am upset.  I didn’t want to call my husband at the start of his work day and often I don’t want to bother anyone.  So I took the easy route and sent a text message to my aunt asking her to call me when she had time.

I know that I can call her when I need her.  She can tell me stories about my mother and give me parenting advice.  I know she loves me and thinks I am doing a great job raising my son.  That I have devoted the past 15 months to him but it will not always be that way.  One day he will be is school and before I know it he will be going off to college.  It can be hard when you are stuck in the difficult present to remind yourself that it won't always be this way.  Speaking with her reminded me of the strength she has, which my mother and my grandmother both possessed.  That strength is also inside me even when I feel tired and weak.

The night after my break down, I had a mom’s night out at the movies already planned.  I really needed that night out.  As I drove to the theater, thumping some good tunes, I felt like dancing.  The next day I felt so much better even though I was tired (out till after 11, oh shit!).  Orion hasn’t bitten my nipples since my crying jag.  I understand cutting molars is tough work so I am going a easy on him.  We are not going to try to change how he naps right now as he is dealing with enough change.  I am trying to keep him extra busy so that he will be too distracted to waltz over to nurse just because he is bored or knows that he can.   

Just writing this has made me think of a few more posts I want to write.  I need to make the time to write, I will make that time even if it means letting Orion watch Yo Gabba Gabba for a half hour or so.  I am also $700 closer to buying a laptop, I just need to find the one I want or keep saving for that Fujitsu lifebook.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Honk You!

In the past few months there have been a few occasions when I was putting Orion in his car seat and someone would be trying to park next me. The driver would honk at me as if to say "Hurry the fuck up because I do not care about the safety of your child and my time is way more important and I know there are other spots where I could park but I want this spot".  This makes me so angry!!! Do not honk at me! Maybe my baby was asleep and you just woke him up and made him cry, does that make you feel good about yourself?  

I think, for me, part of being from Philly is always being ready for a fight and these encounters really make me want to go off.  Now that I have a child, I do not want him to see his mommy going off on a person screaming and cursing.  Nowadays, you never know where a confrontation could lead to and I would not want to risk bodily injury to myself or my child.  I have such a clear memory of my mother getting mugged and punched in the ear when I was a kid and I would rather my child not witness such an act whether the violence is physical or verbal.  "I learned it from watching you" is one of the classic lines from a public service announcement and it is totally true about so many things.  If your child sees you being an ass then chances are they will also act like an ass.

If you see me strapping my baby into his car seat, or into his stroller, or on to my chest with our Becco carrier, do not honk at me! You can either:

a) Be patient because it will only take 2 minutes
b) If you wait, maybe I will notice you and step aside 
c) Fuck off and park somewhere else

Honking at a person is just down right rude! Go stand next to your car and have someone honk the horn and hear how loud it sounds. You should use your horn for safety, like when you need to warn someone that they are about to smash into your car.  You can also honk your horn if the light has turned green and the car in front of you has failed to notice just try to wait at least 30 seconds.

Maybe we all need to take into account more bumper sticker wisdom like "Mean People Suck", "Don't be a Jerk", and "Choose Civility".  Obviously, these honking encounters really piss me off and no one needs that kind of stress. I am sure the person who honked that horn has long forgotten about the encounter and maybe they didn't realize the effect it would have but stop and think if that is how you would want to be treated.  Parking just a little further away will not kill you and it will not take much more of your precious time.  And just a quick note, for the love of god do not park or idle in a handicapped parking space unless you have a handicap parking permit. Those spots actually exist for people who need them, not just because your girlfriend is only running into target to buy an EPT.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Irrational Fears

I have jumped out of bed, scared shitless, that something was wrong with my sleeping baby.  Why did I think something was wrong?  Because it was too quiet and I couldn't hear him breathing.  I lived in fear of SIDS for the first year or so of his life.  I am still afraid to have a pillow, blanket, or anything in his crib while he sleeps even though SIDS is no longer a risk.  I do allow his soothing seahorse in the crib with him but that is it and I am still afraid he will crack his head open on it.

When Orion was about 8 months old I watched Million Dollar Baby for the first time.  I would replay that climactic slow motion neck cracking scene over and over in my head starring Orion and every toy and surface in our house.  Once I get an idea in my head, it is really hard for me to shake it off.  Then I worry that if it were to actually happen it would be all my fault because the thought crossed my mind.

Last week we went for a boat ride and I saw my baby sinking like a stone to the bottom of the Potomac River.  This did not happen of course and I was sure to keep my hands on him whenever he got near the edge of the boat.  But the image, the thought, was so disturbing and I felt horrible for even thinking it that I felt sick to my stomach.

Every time I buckle Orion into his car seat I wonder if it is tight enough, am I doing this right, will he be safe.  I have become a very cautious driver and adhere to the speed limit (ok maybe I go 5 mph over) and leave plenty of room between me and the car in front.  This means I have become an extremely jumpy passenger and I don’t know how my husband puts up with me.

When I was pregnant I worried that something would be wrong with my baby.  Maybe it is my experiences coupled with the fact that I have a chronic health issue but I always brace myself for the worst.  I was also on a medication that was generally considered safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding but no one knew for sure.  I did know that I need my medication (Copaxone for treating MS) and would not do well without it and I need to be as healthy as possible in order to carry my baby to term and to take care of my baby.  So far, so good, but I still worry that down the line we will find out negative side effects of this medication.  Or any of the number of things Orion comes in to contact with on a daily basis could end up being harmful.  This is why I am very picky about what he eats and what I put on his skin.

I watched the film Temple Grandin during my pregnancy and had a big huge crying fest.  What if my baby is autistic and won’t let me hug him?  It was a severe breakdown and I knew I was getting worked up over a possibility.  Then I realized that whatever happens, we will deal with it.  Temple may not have hugged her mom but she did wonderfully amazing things including revolutionizing the cattle industry.  When you are pregnant people ask if you want to have a boy or a girl and usually the answer it that it doesn’t matter as long as the baby is healthy.  And what if it’s not?!  As long as Orion is alive I will love him and care for him and any and every way he needs.

Will my irrational fears every go away?  No, they won’t and I am sure they will get worse once Orion is driving or getting into the car of young drivers.  I do not let these fears stop me from letting Orion explore his surroundings and grow.  I allow the thought to cross my mind and then I try to move on even though it can take me awhile to shake the thought.  Now that he is learning to walk, we have had more boo boos than ever but this is something he needs to learn.

The first time Orion bled, I was more upset than he was.  We were at an indoor playground and he face planted on one of the few hard surfaces (inside a mirror cube) and split open his lip.  He cried, I almost cried, and we were both covered in blood.  The staff was really nice and gave me a cup of water and some paper towels and I cleaned him up and the bleeding stopped.  In no time he was ready to play some more.  When we came back the next week, he was happy to play in the same spot where the accident had occurred.  He spent a lot of time in that mirror cube and I was too afraid to touch him while he was in it that I just let him go in and out on his own.

The scene of the accident one week after he split his lip open.

I really don’t need any reminder that children don’t always outlive their parents.  In part because i can't handle them.  You think pregnant women are emotional?  I am way more emotional then I have ever been.  I cry during movies more than ever and for the smallest thing.  Any movie dealing with child loss I have to avoid entirely or I might flood my living room with tears.  I think about it daily and I am sure that I will on most days for the rest of my life.  Parents worry but I do not let my worry incapacitate me and hopefully I never will.  I buried both of my parents and I hope Orion buries me.

I do not think I could survive the loss of a child and I hope I will never have to find out.  But writing these words feels like tempting fate.  Then I think that I have already been through enough in my 32 years that there really can’t be any tragedy left.  My heart goes out to all those who have lost children.  Whether that loss was while the child was in utero or when that child was 60, a parent burying their children is always a sad sad shame.  These parents are the strongest people I know.  I read this great blog post recently, if you know someone who has lost a child you may find it helpful.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Caption This!

                                                         I am such a bad mommy!

Bloggers for Birth Kits

 I recently got together with a few local moms to assemble 125 birth kits.  These kits contain soap, a pair of gloves, 5 squares of sterile gauze, a razor blade, 3 pieces of string 10” long, and a 3 foot square of plastic sheeting.  All of this fits inside a sandwich sized bag.  I can’t believe that this is all a woman needs has to give birth in a third world country.  Something so small and so simple could save the life of a mom and the life of her baby.

In America it is really easy to take simple things for granted like clean water and access to soap.  We know that hand washing is the first step to prevent the spread of germs but something this simple can be really difficult if you can't afford soap.  We also assume that you will have some sort of professional help when it comes time to give birth whether that is an Obstetrician, a midwife, or an EMT.  Many women in third world countries have to rely on family members or friends to assist in the birth of their baby.  If my friend asked me to help deliver her baby I would think she was crazy!

I do feel lucky to have been born in America even with its problems*.  We cannot control where we are born and some women are not as lucky as me.  I want to help those women and this was something simple I could do for them.  I would love to teach everyone in the world how to use a condom but that would be meaningless if they did not have access to condoms.  I think that any woman who is about to give birth  should be given the chance to have a clean and safe labor for her and her baby.  The contents of this sandwich bag can help with that.

It feels good to know that 125 moms and babies will have a safe entry into this world because of something a small group of moms in Virginia did in a few hours.  In typical Charlotte fashion, I dove into this project head first and may not have read the fine print.  I hope this post will encourage others to assemble birth kits or donate to this cause.  If you are going to assemble kits, here are a few things I learned. 

I used sterile gauze but you do not have to I just want everything to be as clean as possible.  I also used razor blades that were wrapped in paper in the hopes that they would be cleaner and safer to handle when opening the kit.

You can cut a regular bar of soap into 8 pieces.  I wrapped the little pieces is plastic wrap but this step is not necessary.

I used painter's tape on my kitchen table to make a 10" section for cutting string and a 3' section for cutting the plastic sheet.  

I did not want to open up the plastic sheet to keep it as clean as possible so i wanted to buy sheeting that was already 3' on at least one side.  I was able to find sheeting that was 3' by 50' and 4 mil in thickness.  I also used sheeting that was only .31 mil thick and 9' by 400' which was way more cost effective.  I honestly cut this plastic down so it was 9' by 3' because it was so thin.

I mailed these to Austrailia and from there they will go to Papua New Guinea by ship.  The package was about 27 lbs and shipping cost $140!  After the transaction was completed, the helpful USPS employee said next time to pack them in multiple smaller boxes for less expensive shipping.  Now you tell me!

I definitely made this project more expensive than it needed to be but now I now know what to do for next time.  My husband also did not mind spending the money on such a worthy cause.  If you want to assemble kits at home, I hope you will learn my experience.  You could also make a donation here or here.  I want to thank The Feminist Breeder and Bloggers for Birth Kits for turning me on to this worthy cause.  Does anyone know of an organization doing this in America?   

*Infant mortality is still an issue in America.  We have a lot of issues but that is for a different post.  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Drive Thru is Not an Option

It seems that most of my day revolves around food, which is nothing new.  I come from a long line of people who talk about lunch at breakfast, dinner at lunch time, and what you ate for lunch at dinner time.  I was raised on family dinners, which I hated at the time but now I totally get and am thankful for that time together.  I remember doing silly things at the dinner table when I was little like stuffing my entire cloth napkin into my mouth.  Even though Orion isn’t even 14 months old yet, we sit down to a family dinner 99% of the time.  This usually means I am feeding Orion or breaking up his food while my food gets cold but not always. 

Sometimes it is hard to find the time to cook or even to eat.  Breakfast used to be a part of my daily routine but now I often forget all about it.  I always remember to make coffee as it is the first thing on my agenda once I am up and the baby is changed and has nursed up his fill.  Then a few hours will go by and I remember that I should eat breakfast.  I put the baby in his high chair and pour him out some toasted oat cereal (generic cherrios) and fix myself a bowl of Puffins.  I used to enjoy oatmeal or smoothies but often have waited too long for breakfast and must eat now and quick.

It is nice always having a lunch date even if they do poop their pants and don’t know how to hold a spoon.  Orion will usually eat whatever I am eating or I give him yogurt which I do not like at all.  I have tried to eat yogurt a million times and a hundred different ways but I just don’t like it.  I was shocked when Orion liked yogurt but not cheddar cheese.  I was all like how can we be related. 

I wanted to make a list of quick and easy foods that I enjoy and some that Orion usually enjoys too. 

Barbara’s Puffins – I get the cinnamon flavor in an 18 oz. box at Trader Joe’s for $3.99.  Side note, buy your coffee at Trader Joe’s because it is cheaper for the fair trade and organic good stuff.

Beef Tamales – They come in a pack of 2 for $2.29 also from Trader Joe’s.  Orion will eat these with such gusto employing both hands.

Shepherd’s Pie – Also from Trader Joe’s but I can’t remember the price.  These take 10 minutes in the microwave, take forever to cool to eating temperature, will make a mess of the microwave so nuke on a microwave safe plate, but are delicious and only 6 grams of fat in the whole thing.  Sometimes I share but am usually feeding Orion while waiting for this to cook.

Toasted Sliced Almonds – TJ’s $2.49, they can be added to salads, pancakes, green beans, or eaten by the handful.

Dried Montmorency Cherries – TJ’s $3.69 and are so nice and tart.  I like to make a quick and easy salad with almonds, cherries, and chèvre.  Then I whip up a dressing of olive oil, balsamic, Dijon, and bitters.  Making your own dressing seems so fancy but is so easy.

Organic steam in bag Peas – I pick these up at Wegman’s and sometimes spice them up with goat cheese and paprika.  It is safe to assume that I put cheese on everything. My husband puts Hungarian paprika on everything.  

Perogies - Delicious pockets filled with goodness the whole family can love.  Follow the directions on the box and soak them in warm water for 4 minutes then pat dry and pan fry.  Serve with meat in tube form, fish, or more perogies.    

Eggs – I love eggs and will eat them for any meal and am glad for the million ways you can cook them.  Scrambled, omelets, egg salad, hard boiled with salt, deviled, or toad in the hole are always a quick and easy meal option.  I was raised on the incredible edible egg campaign and think that they truly are.  And I love duck eggs in the spring with asparagus.  I used to buy crack and snacks from Wawa and call it lunch but I also used to eat tuna fish plain out of the can and call that lunch. 

Pasta – This is self-explanatory, open box, boil, open jar, heat, and sprinkle on cheese.  Great additions are chick peas, cannellini beans, steamed veggies, even raw spinach.  Patrick makes a great smoked trout with kale and cannellini beans.

Coconut milk – Add it to pancakes for wonderful flavor and healthy fat or add to mashed sweet potato with a bit of lime.  There is so much you can do with its delicious creamy goodness you should always have a can on hand.

Canned tuna and salmon – I make sure to buy them both sustainably fished and only buy wild salmon.  Orion loves fish and will enjoy salmon salad with me but I like to add a bit of extra fennel pollen to mine.

Couscous – We all enjoy it and it takes 5 minutes and has a bunch of delicious flavors.  And never underestimate the power of rice and beans, they are cheap and easy with endless possibilities.

Grilled Cheese – Orion really enjoyed his first grilled cheese a few weeks ago.  Any sandwich falls into this category, where would most American be without the sandwich, sub, hero, hoagie, wrap, or Panini.  I thought it was silly when my aunt gave us a Panini press for our wedding shower until I used it as it is awesome.  I do eat a lot of PB&J’s and hope Orion doesn’t end up in a peanut free school. 

Really, I know I should cut out gluten like I did before getting pregnant but glutinous things are so yummy and so easy.  I also do not like substitute foods.  If I want bread I would rather eat wheat bread than gluten free bread made from water, tapioca starch, brown rice flour, potato starch, canola oil, egg whites, sugar, yeast, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder (sodium bicarbonate, cornstarch, calcium sulfate, monocalcium phosphate), cultured dextrose, ascorbic acid (ascorbic acid, microcrystalline cellulose, corn starch), and enzymes*.

We try to make something big on Sunday to last the week but that doesn’t always happen.  We often have soup or stock in the freezer which we can thaw and enjoy or use to make risotto.  Risotto can be intimidating but it really isn’t hard and you can use almost any liquid, it just takes a lot of stirring.  (Learn from the mistakes of my father in law, coffee does not make yummy risotto)  We also have a bone garden in the freezer which we use to make stock once we have depleted our supply.

Sometimes, I don’t even know how I make dinner.  Patrick comes home, everyone is tired, I have been wrestling the baby all day and I just want to take a nap.  Yet, I am drawn to the kitchen whipping something together while Patrick plays with the boy.  Not every night is a dinner masterpiece but it beats the hell out of drive through.  I have successfully avoided the drive thru for years (ok I did get a coconut donut from the Dunkin Donuts drive through a few months ago with a dollar I found on the ground but does that really count).  How do I avoid fast food?  Do not let it be an option under any circumstance.  Think about what it is made of, who might be making it, and the conditions they are working under.  I worked at McDonalds and know way too much to eat there.  The only time we eat fast food is when we are on a road trip and stuck on a highway or turnpike.  If you are heading out, plan ahead and try to bring a snack for yourself like nuts, an apple, or a PB&J and always bring a bottle of water.  Sometimes I forgot to bring my own but always manage to fill one for Orion and he does not like to share his sippy with me.

Keep dinner simple.  You really do not need a recipe with 20 ingredients and a shopping list the size of a newborn baby.  I was not much of cook when Patrick and I got together (tuna out of the can for lunch!).  Patrick was a great cook and I was great at washing the dishes.  There were a few occasions where I wanted to cook for him like the time I made pasta with broccoli and lemon chicken after he rode the MS 150 75.  When we moved to Virginia, he had a job and I didn't which left me to get dinner on the table.  It isn't always a delicious success but it is always a learning experience.  But sometimes you do need to call out for pizza or we grab a Peruvian chicken from up the road with a few sides like plantains and yucca. 

When I do get caught out and need to eat I prefer to eat at independently owned restaurants or Chipotle.  I love places that are transparent about where their food, especially meat, comes from, how it was raised, and what is in it.  I only allow myself 60$ a month for eating out and we budget 200$ for us to eat dinner out together.  Since we only allow a certain amount of money to be spent eating out, I want to make sure that every meal and every dollar matters.  How much money do you spend eating out?   

Friday, June 22, 2012


Orion has officially outgrown his exersaucer.  It is a very sad day for me because it was the best place to put him so I could get work done.  We do have a pack and play that is mostly used for toy storage. I can put him in it but he doesn't like it very much.  He will tolerate it until he has succeeded in tossing every toy out onto the floor but then he wants out.  Unless Yo Gabba Gabba is on during which he will stare at the TV and nom on the side rails.  He doesn't seem to mind watching his favorite show while standing up, makes it easier for him to dance.

He has also discovered a new skill, he can climb up on the couch.  He isn't walking yet, but is climbing on everything or at least trying to get a leg up. This behavior reminds me of Bran from Game of Thrones.  If Orion does decided to climb the walls of our castle he will not have far to fall as we, luckily, only have one story.  For as long as we have crawling, wobbly babies, I want to live in a one floor home.  It is so nice to not have to worry about steps and how to block them off.

At first Orion was climbing on our low black couch.  He would climb up then play with the blinds or bang on the window.  When the window is left open, the dogs realize that people are outside and will go barking mad because the world belongs to them and they have no right to be in it unless they pay tribute in the form of treats.  This couch was our old guest bed from Ikea which has been replaced with a real bona fide bed.  It folds out like something you may have slept on in middle school (we did not like our guests very much).  Patrick being the genius he is, unfolded the couch and set it up like a baby obstacle course.  You can crawl through or go around, play hide and seek, or stomp on the hard part to make a cool sound.  So it now lives unfolded and mostly set up as a fort these days.

His climbing has gotten better and can now climb up on our higher leather couch.   He climbs up on this couch then wants to climb up on the arm of the couch and give high fives to my favorite painting.  Then he tries to climb up the book shelf.  This means he cannot be left to roam freely unattended.  Unless the aforementioned Yo Gabba Gabba is on because he will stop whatever he is doing to stare at the screen and become a zombie.  He likes to dance along and we enjoy watching his zombified TV face.  If Orion is ever doing something and you want to distract him, you can ask him if he wants to read a story (he will usually crawl right over) or put on Yo Gabba Gabba.

I am jealous of the moms who have baby's that will nap in their cribs allowing mom to get stuff done.  Orion still naps on the boob 95% of the time.  This morning a miracle occurred and Orion napped in his crib.  I hope that this is a new trend because momma would like to get shit done like fold the laundry I washed 2 days ago.  Not to mention write more often which I currently have to do in the office this is in the back of the house.  I need to get a laptop so I can actually write and be in the same room with him.  In the past year I have gotten 2 different laptops and did not like either one and ended up selling them.  I am waiting for Microsoft to come out with their new tablets or until a Fujitsu Lifebook falls into my lap because I had one for over 5 years and loved it, spoiling me for any other laptop.  

Another new trick Orion learned this week was how to remove his diaper.  I put him in the pack and play, turned on YGG and took a shower.  When I came out 20 minutes later he was standing there naked.  Yes, I did leave him wearing just a diaper, a velcro one no less, so what did I expect to find.  At least he didn't turn the pack and play into a bathroom during my absence.  Good thing he is just so friggin' cute!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sunday, June 17, 2012

When my father met Patrick for the first time

Bringing home a boyfriend to meet your father is always a big deal.  The first time Patrick met my father was Father’s Day 2004.  At the time, it never even crossed my mind that I would be married to Patrick within the next 16 months.  That day he was just a boyfriend, and not the first boyfriend I had introduced to my father but he was definitely the last.

This was their first Father's Day, taken right before Patrick had to head back home while we stayed in PA
That Father’s Day, we decided to go to the gun club and shoot pistols.  My dad was a decorated marksman and sharpshooter, a lifelong member of the NRA, and had tried out for the Olympics for shooting.  Did you know shooting is an Olympic sport?  I belonged to that gun club for the first 18 years of my life and was taught about gun safety from a very young age.  Patrick also grew up with a father who was a gun enthusiast.  I thought it would be perfect for them to meet over a shared interest.

My father was a very big man, about 6’6” with a good sized belly for most of his life.  He always had a beard except for that one time when he shaved his head and beard when I was in my 20’s and he looked really weird.  He could come off as intimidating but was really just a big teddy bear.  He was also armed which could have scared off any boyfriend but not Patrick.  Patrick hadn’t shot in a while so he was more nervous about that.  We set off for the club and shot some paper targets. Then Patrick and my dad got to talking about trap shooting.  We went back to my parent’s house and traded the pistols for rifles.

We both love to wear the baby.
If you do not know what trap shooting is, a clay disk is thrown into the air and you have to shot the moving target.  Think the Nintendo duck hunting game, duck hunt.  At the gun club, they have a metal box which houses a mechanical arm which will launch the disk into the air.  Dad went to take the lid off the box and the arm went off taking a big chunk of his finger with it.  I started screaming and freaking out, there was blood all over my dad’s nice button down dress shirt.  My dad told me to calm down and call 911.  I called them while scanning the surrounding grass for finger chunks.  My commotion drew the attention of a father with his young son who were at the nearby archery range.  They asked if there was anything they could do to help maybe get my dad something to drink.  Then they asked me if I needed something to drink.  

After my dad was injured he never cried and the strongest words he uttered were that it really “smarts”.  In no time the ambulance was there and they were checking out my dad’s finger.  I remember them asking my dad which hospital he wanted to go to and I was thinking that we did not call a taxi, we called an ambulance so take him to the nearest hospital for crying out loud.  I may have said something to that effect but it was 8 years ago so my memory is a bit blurry.

My dad told me to calm down and take the guns home.  My dad had priorities and his rifles sitting in his Lumina were not one of them.  So I drove that ridiculous minivan to my parent’s house crying most of the way with Patrick freaked out beside me.  I get home and put the guns away and the house phone was ringing and ringing.  I answered the phone, not sure why as I no longer lived there, but there was no answer.  I was full of attitude and screaming hello when a voice announced himself as so and so of the police.  They would not be taking my dad to a local hospital.  They would be air lifting him to the emergency room at the University of Pennsylvania.  He told us where we could meet the helicopter.

We got into Patrick’s car and set off for a golf course which used to have a pool where I spent some time in middle school.  They had since filled in the pool to make room for more golfing.  When we pulled up, there were police everywhere and they were trying to stop us from getting too close.  I jumped out of the car and started running for the helicopter yelling that my father was inside.  We were too late and watched as the helicopter took off.

The hospital was about a half hour away so we hit the highway and made great time.  When we arrived they said my father had not yet arrived.  I knew we made great time but how could we have out run a fucking helicopter.  Oh yes, I was so mad and freaking out and trying to get my mom on the phone.  My mother was a forced to be reckoned with and I really wanted to sic her on this stupid receptionist.  I remember there was a fish tank in the waiting room, my dad loved fish.  There also were a few gunshot wounds coming in and the place seemed jumping for Father’s Day.  

My mom and my aunt arrived and seeing them was a relief.  My mom being a nurse and having worked in the ER for years knew who to talk to and what questions to ask.  He had a heart attack and pace maker installed years before as well as being diabetic and suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.  As he was on blood thinners, I was concerned about him losing too much blood.  She got to see him before I did and he was fine, cool as a cucumber.  The entire finger had not been severed but a large chunk was missing.  He would have to stay the night and might need future operations to attach nerves or ligaments.

My dad was a grin and bear guy and never got any other operations on his hand.  It did bother him for the remaining years of his life especially compounded with his arthritis.  I felt so horrible that my dad had to spend Father’s Day in the hospital and that Patrick met him under such insane circumstances.  I remember Patrick called his dad while we were waiting at the hospital.  Such craziness and it would not be the last crazy experiences we would have on an occasion which should have been much happier.  Part of me would not have been surprised if Patrick had slowly backed away from me with a it was really nice to meet you but I got to go wash my hair (which he has none).  

Family Fun Time!
As insane as it was it really exemplified how strong my father was and how supportive Patrick was and is to this day.  Patrick is my rock and without him I would not have made it through a flooded wedding location, the death of my mother or my health issues and eventual diagnosis of MS.  Without Patrick I would not have gotten my son, Orion.  But it was Orion who really got me through the death of my father.  Having Orion to hug, kiss, and cuddle was such a comfort after my father’ death but he also gave me strength.  I had to be strong for Orion and could not fall apart because that 6 week old baby needed me.  I also knew how much my father wanted this grandchild and how happy he had been to see him and hold him.

I hope Orion has 1/10 of my father’s strength.  I also hope he has the patience, compassion, love of reading, thirst for knowledge, sense of humor, and the culinary adventurousness that both my father and Patrick share.  Now that my father is gone, his best dad in the world crown gets passed to Patrick.  I think it fits his head rather well.  I am a very lucky girl to have such a wonderful husband who is truly a partner in raising our son.  I love seeing Orion get excited when his dad comes home from work.  Or seeing him sit on his father’s lap and read a book or watch TV together.  I look forward to seeing Patrick teach Orion to ride a bike and do all the many things they will do together.

Happy Father’s Day!

This was on our 6th wedding anniversary.