Sunday, August 31, 2008

Breast Crawl

On this last day of National Breastfeeding Month I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share this amazing video. It's called the "Breast Crawl." It's difficult to understand the narrator at times, but at about TWO minutes into the clip, you'll get to the start of the breast crawl and understand what's happening. It shows a newborn baby being placed on mommy's tummy immediately after delivery. Unaided, the baby crawls to the breast. The narrator explains how and why this can happen, how long it takes most newborn babies (on average) to get to the breast, and how this process helps both mommy and baby. I sure wish we had done this with my babies! However, I can't believe how many people are standing in the room with them. I could do without THAT!

If you're uncomfortable seeing a bare breast, then this video probably isn't for you (as if I need to say this, right?). Enjoy!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Full Week

It was an exciting week even aside from birthday celebrations. Not only was it (1) the first week of school for my second graduate degree in education, but (2) a summary of our birth story was published in the Nebraska Friends of Midwives quarterly newsletter (page 3 for those who care to check it out), (3) We (meaning Lee) majorly overhauled our back and side yard AND (4) I was interviewed by a major national baby magazine about our home birth after two cesareans (more on that later, for those who want to know when that will hit the news stands).

On the college front, I'll never cease to be amazed at the cost of college textbooks. My entire stash of new textbooks for just three classes was supposed to amount to $460.03 if bought new (mostly from the college book store). But I took a few days to shop around on, amazon used books,, on ebay and I even called two friends who recently took, or taught, graduate education classes. It took several days, but I whittled down my total cost, including the additional shipping, to $211.07. Do I even need to tell you how good it feels to save almost $250.00?!?! Actually, I take that back. It was more like $285 in savings because I forgot that the bookstore charges tax. Whew!

Furthermore, as many of you know, my laptop died about 8 months ago. I've been plugging it into an external monitor to get to everything, but in the last two months, that stopped working, too. This laptop was really top-of-the-line when we purchased it from HP. But within 6 months, the LCD stopped working so we used our warranty to get it fixed for free. Within another 6 months it stopped working again. But wouldn't you know it, my warranty ran out. :BIG sigh: So we've been talking with people about fixing it. To get a new LCD, a new keyboard, and the work to install it we're looking at, oh, about $300 or more (not to mention the time to hunt down the used parts we'd need). We looked at many other options. MANY! But it all came down to several hundred dollars to fix a laptop that is already outdated.

In the past we've usually bought what were considered very nice, new computers--from Dell, HP and even Gateway. All were huge disappointments even with the extra software packages, the 24/7 tech support and 48 hour on-site service calls. So this time we threw all that out the window. No more name brand, no more pricey warranties, we went straight to a very simple laptop with just the basics (no big software package--I don't even have Word, yet), with plenty of memory, ROM, etc. We got a separate warranty through Walmart for $59 which covers a lot--even electric surge protection as well as shipping to and from the repair site. No more trying to buy the biggest and best only to be disappointed on performance within months. We're going to assume that in two years this computer will be obsolete like every other one we've poured thousands in to. This time for a new computer INCLUDING warranty we still spent about 1/3 of what we have in the past. YAY!

About our yard work done during this FULL week, I'm going to attach a few pictures of the slow progress. Our spare lot next door had become covered by weeds. Some were threatening to become bushes. Lee killed off everything 3 or more times this summer and the last time finally did it. After that he raked up everything and filled 25-30 yard trashbags full of dead weeds to take to the trash/recycle center. Then he fertilized and planted, raked to mix the seed into the dirt, used a neighbor's roller to flatted it, and now we're religiously watering it daily waiting to see little green blades make their way to the surface. Our hope is that the roots will get going strong before our first snow (which we believe is coming very soon based on the few leaves beginning to fall from our trees). Below are three pictures of the lot about a week or two ago:

Then below is our lot today--raked, seeded, fertilized, rolled, and continually watered.

So there's our week in a nutshell: published articles, textbooks, magazine interview, laptop purchase, and massive yard work. Wish us luck on ALL outcomes!!!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Must Bake Cakes

August through October is an ongoing birthday fest at the Miller's home. Everyone, except for Brighton, was born in those months (along with much of our extended family). So we've been busily preparing for each celebration, receiving cards in the mail, and fixing up hand-me-down bikes for the kids to call their own.

I've discovered it's not really a young child's cake unless they are a big part of making (and especially decorating) the cake. That means our Miller birthday cakes aren't usually beautiful or cutsie. Nope, the icing is usually thicker on one side and the top part of the cake gets mixed in with the icing. But there's a sense of ownership, with a lump of pride, when that yummy cake is placed on the table for all to see.

For Brighton's one or two month birthday, we found this lovely "moist white cake" recipe. Additionally, we found a yummy buttercreme icing recipe. Since they turned out so great, we'll keep them on file. I'll give them out at the bottom of this post for anyone feeling and urge to make a homemade cake any time soon. Anyway, I thought I'd do a fun post showing our baking process. Here we go...

We're getting started on our cake.

Or, shall I say, some of us are getting started.
(others are just dancing)

Next, we start mixing the wet ingredients.

Separately, we mix the dry ingredients.

Oh, our little dancing king decides to join us.

Okay, so our oven isn't exactly level.

We decide to make purple icing by mixing red and blue.

Brayla Jane begins icing the cake.
(Yes, it's more of a pink than purple.)

Fully iced.

Adding a few final touches.

At the end of the day, I look at my kitchen and audibly sigh. It's a MESS in here! At least birthday fest time is only once per year, right?

Here's the yummy recipe, if anyone wants to test it out:

Moist White Cake

2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/4 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 c. shortening

Mix shortening, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and milk. Then mix flour, baking powder and salt in another bowl. Then add dry ingredients to other mixture. Pour into a greased 9 X 12 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Buttercream Icing (we half this recipe and it's been plenty for one cake)

1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. shortening
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
5 c. confectioners' sugar
1/4 c. and 1 tbsp. milk

Cream butter and shortening in large bowl with electric mixer. Add vanilla and salt. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time. Blend well. Add milk. Beat at high speed until light and fluffy.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Teach Me To Mommy

I LOVE this picture of my mommy (Mimi) nursing my little brother with me snuggled by her side. I have no doubt that experiencing this throughout my childhood had a tremendous impact on my mothering days. What she was teaching me, at the time, has come to be one of my favorite parts of motherhood. With that in mind, I'll share a recent experience...

Last weekend we were in Rapid City, SD celebrating the kids' birthdays. While we were eating, an adorable little girl joined our table (with no noticeable family in sight). She told us she was 7 years old and then she spent the next 15 minutes glued to our sides, watching our every interaction. I stepped away from the table to make my salad and when I came back I overheard Lee attempting to explain to the little girl why Brighton didn't have a bottle. She had been very concerned that he might be hungry and need his bottle. Lee told her that he didn't have a bottle and that babies can feed straight from their mommies. The little girl was dumbfounded--this explanation made absolutely no sense to her. And without pulling out my breast and showing her how it's done, she probably still doesn't believe he was telling her the truth.

It brings tears to my eyes to know there are so many little girls and boys who never get to witness or experience this loving act of nurturing. And while the law protects my baby's right to eat in public, I am becoming more aware of a secondary benefit of this breastfeeding law: another child may see, for the first time, a mother feeding her child with human milk. It may be their only opportunity to consider breastfeeding as normal and natural (rather than as an offensive practice too often exploited by our media and misunderstood by our idiotic, sex-crazed society).

During these last few days of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, I want to send out high-fives to all you moms who breastfeed your babies whenever they are hungry, regardless of where you are. You don't fiddle or fret, worry or withhold. You, simply, "mommy" your babies. Thank you for being an example, a leader, and a teacher to all who witness you "mommying" your children.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Happy FIVE Months

Today, at the exact minute this post publishes, Brighton turns five months old. This month he's really begun grabbing for our cups and food. He has a better tan than all of us combined and he still laughs hysterically whenever something strikes him as humorous (which is often). He plays games like popping on and off the nipple while nursing and when he's sitting in my lap watching a movie or working at the computer, he flips his head upside down, looking at me at a funny angle, and begins laughing. He's still babbling like crazy, chewing on anything he can get his hands on, pulling his knees up while attempting to crawl, rolling any time left on the floor, and he does this very sweet singing when he's bored. Imagine us in bed, trying to fall asleep, and just as everyone is just almost konked out we hear this sweet tune: "Eeeee ahhhhh Oooooeeeeeeeeh. Ahhhhhhh ooooeeeeeh..." and on and on it goes while we attempt to suppress our giggles.

I love babyhood and all the learning that goes with it (on both ends). Brayla and Brandon adore their little brother--Brandon often sings and dances for him and he also asks to push him in the stroller. Brayla loves to hold Brighton and sing sweet made-up songs to him all the time. She said today, "Mommy, I hope Brighton and I fall in love one day." Yeah, we had to talk about that one. Heehee!

In many ways, I feel like we're still on our babymoon. Everything is still so much fun. Every day is full of many wonderful surprises.

Happy five months, Brighton! And now for pictures taken over the last month (click on the collage to see the pictures much larger).

Below is a video of me waking Brighton up yesterday morning. Poor babe is still swaddled tightly, but I thought you all might enjoy seeing how smiley and happy he is in the mornings and after each naptime.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Happy Birthday to BRAYLA JANE!!!!

Dear baby doll,

I just cannot believe my eyes. You are so grown-up and beautiful on the inside and out. Oh how I love your full red lips, your soft curls, your sweet high-pitched voice. Brayla, you are everything this mother could hope for in a daughter and more. You're strong, curious, creative, independent and brave. Your love is powerful and your forgiveness neverending. Joyous song flows so easily from you. I SO wish I could bottle your youth and energy.

What an amazing helper you've been to mommy as you've learned to do so many jobs around the house. And what an outstanding big sister you are to Brandon and Brighton as you often help keep them safe and content as mommy sometimes juggles more than she can handle each day. It's so nice to be able to depend on you--to trust you.

Some day you will understand how breathtaking (and yet heartbreaking) it is to see your own child's transformation happen so quickly. I am astounded to think just how quickly 5 years have come and gone. It seems only yesterday that you slept peacefully at my breast. But LOOK AT YOU--in all ways you are so lovely, my child.

You will always be my baby, sweet Brayla. Mommy loves you longer and longer...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Controversies in Childbirth

There's a Controversies in Childbirth conference I REALLY want to attend this coming Spring. I mean really, really, really. I've been thinking about it for the last few months--ever since I heard about it. Get this...the conference is (1) in the same city that my two unnecesarean births were performed and (2) it begins right on my VBAC baby's 1st birthday (March 27th). I think that's what most people refer to as providence. Am I right?

We have family around that area who would LOVE to play with grand babies for three days (I'm sure), so now I just have to figure out how to get there (with three young children in tow) and pay the $500+ fee to attend this event (while I'm also taking 9 graduate hours for my 2nd Master's Degree). The longer I wait, the more expensive it gets. Any willing sponsors out there???

Again, the conference is Controversies in Childbirth and it's totally gonna ROCK! Here's an excerpt from the conference website:

The Only Conference Bringing Together: Obstetricians, Pediatricians, Family Physicians, Certified Nurse Midwives, Certified Professional Midwives, Certified Midwives, Nurses, Doulas, Educators, Lactation Professionals, Hospital Administrators, Health Insurers, Regulators, Advocates, Legislators and Insurers to address the major contemporary controversies in childbirth.

This Birth Conference is Neutral Territory! No predetermined outcomes or agenda. This birth conference is not produced by any organization beholden to its membership or other group. Many seminars will be debate format or panels with opposing viewpoints. We will examine, debate and discuss: Evidence, Economics, Perception and Politics.

I sincerely believe this would be an excellent experience for processing my two very traumatic births and yet also a way to simultaneously celebrate our recent perfect, beautiful, gentle, all-natural home birth. I've felt an odd calling to this field and would love to stretch my legs a little and rub shoulders with others who are just as enthusiastic about the subject of birth.

Anyone else interested? Wanna split gas and hotel costs? I'm serious.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Happy Birthday to BRANDON SCOTT!!!!

My son. My beautiful little red head. It's hard to believe you are already three years old. Where does the time go?

Some day I hope to share with you how elated Mommy and Daddy were when God brought you into our lives after our previous miscarriage. BOY were you an active one--kicking and moving in my tummy like nothing I had known before. But you gave mommy plenty of sleep time and allowed me the endurance to finish my first master's degree just weeks before your birth.

When you were born, dear angel, we were in the midst of so many changes. We moved TWICE during your pregnancy and lived with several family members while awaiting your arrival. Your birth, a cesarean section, didn't go as well as we anticipated. Both you and I weren't in the best of health for those first few months. So you lived, breathed, ate, and slept right against mommy's chest all day and all night. It was the only way we could make it--together.

Brandon, I am so happy that you are my son. You have been appropriately nicknamed "Samson" for your strength and determination. You bring laughter, mischief and silliness to my every day. I enjoy snuggling with you under the blankets, making forts under the dining table, and playing "baby" with you during those times that I need reminding that you're not all that much bigger and older than Brighton. Thank you for teaching me that motherhood is a journey, not a single destination.

I love you, sweet one. Happy 3rd birthday!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"The Doctors" and Dr. Phil's
Home Birth Show...

It's been a while since I've posted anything on the natural birthing front, but I have come across another couple doctor/OB letters against ACOG's decision on home birth. It's becoming not so surprising to hear of more OBs, Labor & Delivery nurses, and general doctors choosing home birth for their own children. I'll have to post those letters later, but for today I'm going to post some information about the upcoming show on home birth vs. hospital birth. Just a couple weeks ago, I came across several posts from various birthing groups I'm a member of. Dr. Phil's show was advertising that they are doing a show on home births and that they needed both sides: people opposing home birth and people who loved home birth. Part of the advertisement said:

[Do you] ...feel that home birth is the most natural, beautiful way to bring a child into the world? Do you think that birth has become something that society treats as a medical condition rather than a natural part of life that a woman's body is built to handle? Do you feel that many people out there have wrong information about what a home birth is, and you'd like to share the truth about it?

The Doctors are working on a show where we will explore birthing options, and are looking for those that are passionate about their opinions and can offer good, solid information, and why they their method is the best possible choice. Please share your opinions with us, and you could be a guest on our show!

Do I need to even say that my various birthing communities went buzzing excitedly? Everyone began writing in, telling their stories, and sharing their willingness to appear on the show. Dr. Phil's bookers began contacting people as we all waited with bated breath...

Sadly, and not too surprisingly, we quickly discovered that they aren't at all interested in displaying a balanced view of the topic. Quite the opposite. "The Doctors" appear to only looking for a controversy--this show might be ugly for those fighting for a woman's right to birth where she pleases--using fear tactics or placing husband against wife, family against daughter, etc. Here's just one of the stories that has been circulated on three birthing discussion lists:

"Just to let everyone know... I got a phone call from the producer 2
days ago to see if I'd be willing to fly out to LA for the taping next
Thursday. We chatted, and it sounded really good, honestly so I
thought "SURE. I'll go!" She needed to interview my husband as well
and he called me from work a few minutes later saying he guessed he'd
blown it (for going) because she was disappointed that there was no
"conflict" between us regarding the planned homebirth and that was
what she was looking for. By asking HIM this question she was trying
to find a fracture in our plans to homebirth. Apparently (and failing
to mention this to me) she/they are looking for a homebirth couple who
is either conflicted between themselves (mom wants to, dad doesn't,
etc.) or are experiencing hard family pressure NOT to homebirth.

So it is just about sensationalizing homebirth and I'm afraid the
motive is to put homebirth in a negative "fringe" light. I was hoping
to go, hoping I could do some good, etc. but I don't know now.
Obviously their motive is for a "show" not the truth. Big surprise

Haven't heard back from the producer either so I suppose they've found
a couple who "fit" what they are trying to portray. Please forward
this to other lists so everyone will know what's up with this."

Another similar experience was recently shared by a midwife attempting to be on this same show. The midwife was turned down only after they discovered that she had attended 2,623 home births over the last 36 years. Yeah, I suppose she's probably a little too experienced. :rolling eyes: Another home birth mom was actually invited to the show with a booking agreement and was set to go. This mom had experienced two home births and she later got an email back from them saying they decided not to take her after all. Weird.

Sorry natural birth advocates--it doesn't look good. Hopefully the show will at least make it clear that ACOG is only a trade union designed to protect the interests of its members (hospital obstetricians). Women everywhere should be able to make an educated decision on where and how they choose to birth without a trade union's opinion interfering (especially when its own members are coming out in opposition to their statement).

And now for some pure's an oldie, but a goodie. If you haven't already seen this Monty Python sketch, enjoy your next three minutes by pressing the "play" sign below:

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Harry Potter Bumped!

As a children's and young adult literature junkie, I've enjoyed following Harry Potter. The series has sold about 400 million copies and has been translated into more than 60 languages. Yes, I was one of the sillies waiting at the store until midnight for book seven's release (incidentally, that's the same night we found out we were pregnant with Brighton). During our last two visits to the movie theater, we were already seeing trailers for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. We excitedly booked our babysitter for November 21st because we understood that would be opening night. And boy did November seem to be a long way away.

However, did you hear that November is no longer the date? Warner Bros. decided to make a last minute change and opening night has been moved from November 2008 to July 17, 2009!!! Why? From what I've gathered, it's because summer movies do much better at the box office than November movies. President Alan Horn explains:

"We know the summer season is an ideal window for a family ... release, as proven by the success of our last Harry Potter film, which is the second-highest grossing film in the franchise, behind only the first installment."

Needless to say, millions of fans are totally bummed. Warner also went on to say:

“[L]ike every other studio, we are still feeling the repercussions of the writers’ strike, which impacted the readiness of scripts for other films—changing the competitive landscape for 2009 and offering new windows of opportunity that we wanted to take advantage of. We agreed the best strategy was to move Half-Blood Prince to July, where it perfectly fills the gap for a major tent pole release for mid-summer.

An exec from a rival studio says:

Turning a battleship that big isn’t easy. You’re not talking just about the movie, but all the merchandising, the toys and stuff. It’s huge. And it has a domino effect across the rest of the summer slate.

Oh, and I almost forgot the funny part. Entertainment Weekly just released their new fall preview issue -- Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is on the FRONT COVER. Although EW and Warner Bros. are under the same parent company, there was a mix-up in communicating the change.

***permission to use the above image granted by Warner Bros. 8-19-08***

View the latest theatrical preview below:
More reading on the date change:

Friday, August 15, 2008

Milk Sharing

To continue with the National Breastfeeding Month theme, I couldn't let August slip by without talking about milk sharing. Are you familiar with this practice? Back in the day it was called wet nursing. Both breastfeeding and wet nursing were extremely common before the western world began relying on cow's milk for infant nutrition.

For a variety of reasons, milk sharing is making a come back. Some mothers have extenuating circumstances preventing them from breastfeeding and yet they know how much greater benefit their babies will get from human milk (see the LIST from my previous post). (1) Some have cancer and due to chemotherapy or a double mastectomy, they simply cannot breastfeed their own children. (2) Some moms are adopting babies and while they work to lactate themselves, they request other human milk during those first few weeks of life until they have a good supply. (3) Some moms have diseases such as HIV that can be passed on to baby through their own breast milk. (4) Some moms are on unavoidable medication that is very dangerous for babies and comes through their milk. (5) A small percentage of moms are born with a congenital breast abnormality that may prevent them from breastfeeding their own babies or from producing enough milk for their own babies. (6) And on some occasions, some moms are completely unavailable due to an accident or tragedy. Whatever the reason, these moms now have a healthier alternative to cow's milk or man-made formula.

Even hospitals are now heavily relying on human breast milk donations for premature babies. One of the biggest concerns of neonatologists are babies who acquire necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). NEC is a disease that attacks the intestinal lining and eventually damages or destroys it. Of the infants who get this disease, 62% will die from it. Of the premature babies who are fed formula, 10-17% will acquire NEC. Of the premature babies who are fed human breast milk, only 1.5% get NEC.

Moms who are willing to build up their supply and donate to other moms can do so in a couple different ways:

First, there's your formal human milk banks. There are currently about a dozen different milk banks around the US. These banks will pay for the donor's blood testing, freezer bags, and all shipping supplies/costs to send your donation in each month. Some milk banks will even provide the donor with a free electric pump. Milk banks collect the milk, pasteurize it (unfortunately eliminating some of the immunological benefits), and rebottle and freeze it for hospitals and families in need. Hospitals purchase the milk for premature infants in NICU and doctors can write prescriptions for parents who need milk sent to their homes. Milk banks charge $3 to $5.00 per ounce which can get extremely expensive for babies who are drinking 30 plus ounces per day. Some insurance companies fit this bill, but many do not and the parents are left to find a way to afford it or to go to formula.

The second option for families seeking real human milk is a mother to mother donation. It's done through programs like Milk Share. Donors are still often asked for blood tests and recipients supply milk freezer bags and pay all shipping costs. I recently discovered that for about 700 oz (over 5 gallons) of frozen milk it costs roughly $150-170 to ship. That's still far better than paying $2,100.00 to $4,500.00 to a milk bank for one month of pasteurized human milk. Plus, through a mother to mother donation, the milk retains most of the immunological benefits since the milk isn't pasteurized (although freezing does also reduce some of the benefits). Keep in mind that most families seeking milk for their infant end up using more than two dozen milk donors. They have to be extremely diligent to acquire the required volume of milk needed for their baby.

I'll share more on this beautiful practice as I learn more, but be sure to read these couple blog posts written by moms who are currently milk sharing. The first is Milk and Love and the second is Donating Liquid Gold (just click on the titles to see the posts). UPDATE: I just came across this Milk Share blog post written by a mom who is a grateful recipient of donated milk. These are great inside stories for someone still curious about how it actually works.

And since I always seem to run out of time before I can finish a post, I'll leave you with links to articles and more information on milk sharing. Little bub is waking up and it's time for ME to go breastfeed. Cheers!

WebMD article:
ABC News - Baby Feeding By Mom's Friends
Austin American-Statesman - Austin Milk Bank Celebrates Breastfeeding Month
Video of a Breastfeeding Hero:
Breastfeeding Controversy: Milk Sharing
Breast-milk Donors Bottle a Little Love with Good Deed:

A Few Milk Banks (the ones I could find websites for):
Mothers' Milk Bank at Denver, CO:
Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin, TX:
Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas:
Indiana Mothers' Milk Bank:
Mothers' Milk Bank of New England (still developing):
Wakemed Mothers' Milk Bank, NC:
Mothers' Milk Bank of Iowa:
Mothers' Milk Bank at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, CA:
Mothers' Milk Bank: Christiana Care Health Systems, DE:
And don't forget MilkShare for moms whose insurance doesn't cover at-home milk for their babies:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cloth Diapers #2

I've learned so much about cloth diapering this summer. We are extremely content having finally made this much-needed change. My first day to cloth diaper was June 19th--approximately two months ago. For the week following that first diaper I was asked by friends and family how the diapering was going. My response at that time was inevitably, "Wet!" There was definitely a learning curve on folding, fitting, and watching for wetness. But since then we've been all over town, to special events, and even out camping with only cloth diapers. It's become the norm and I can now even diaper a bottom WHILE I'm nursing. And snappis have been awesome--no more diaper pins, no more pokes to baby, and it really makes fastening quick and easy.

If you'll recall, our first post on changing to cloth was shared with much enthusiasm (CLICK HERE to view that first post). I'm happy to say, we are just as excited about it today, if not more. We're still learning so much. And since we only bought 24 diapers originally, I'm now looking at either purchasing some more or making another dozen by myself (to help space out washes so I'm not doing them daily). I'll have to post on that adventure once I get there.

I recently was shopping and while passing down the diaper aisle, I happened to check the price-per-diaper of the various disposable diapers. I couldn't believe that I was seeing .50 cents and .60 cents PER DIAPER for many of the brands. Luckily there were some sets on sale that were as low as .20 per diaper. But still, I was surprised to realize just how much money we were throwing away (literally) on diapers. a summary update on our purchase and early experiences. The nice DSQ diapers we bought were roughly $1 each. I do one small load a day--sometimes I'll skip a day if I'm busy or out of the house. I set my washer to "small" (I'm usually only washing about 10-12 at a time) and use only cold water and a little vinegar (and occasionally I'll add some baking soda). I'll set the machine to soak overnight with the vinegar water and then I'll restart it the following morning (we later learned you're not supposed to soak pre-fold diapers). I like to put a few drops of lavender oil in the rinse cycle, too. Mmmm... Then I always line dry them so that the sun sterilizes them and naturally bleaches out any breast milk yellow poopy that might be lingering (no need for harsh soaps or bleach against baby's bottom). It's been cheap, cheap, cheap for us and saved us probably over $100 since starting a few weeks ago--not to mention all of the other health and environmental benefits.

I found this wonderful older post on The True Face of Birth where many moms offer up suggestions on cloth diapering. They cover just about anything from sewing to purchasing to cleaning to using that you could possibly want to know if you're considering going to cloth. CLICK HERE to read her post. She has another couple posts in April 2008 if you want to look those up, as well.

I'll end here with a few tidbits about disposable diapers that you may not be aware of. (For example, I didn't know the APHA and AAP both require parents to remove all poop into the toilet before throwing a disposable diaper away.):

* A child needs 6,000-10,000 disposable diapers prior to toilet training. Soiled diapers are usually tossed into household, hospital or roadside garbage.

* In the US alone, 18 billion diapers end up in landfills every year, adding 5 million tons of untreated human waste to the soil.

* Each diaper can take up to 500 years to decompose. Almost 30 percent of each diaper consists of non-biodegradable products such as absorbent vinyl layers, elastics, Velcro, absorbent gelling material in addition to plastic packaging.

* As many as 100 viruses can survive in solid diapers for up to two weeks including live polio virus excreted by recent-vaccinated babies. The germs constitute a potential hazard to sanitation workers and garbage handlers.

* The American Public Health Association and American Academy of Pediatrics have advised parents that ‘fecal material and urine should not be allowed to be co-mingled and disposed of as regular trash and thereby contaminate ground water and spread disease.’

* There is no safe way to dispose of single-use diaper. Flushing them down the toilet causes 95 percent of clogged sewer lines in the US and create 43,000 tons of extra sludge per year.

* Each baby in single-use diapers consumes 4.5 trees (for making paper used in diapers) and puts two tons of solid waste into our environment (based on 2 years in diapers).

* Disposables pose safely concerns for babies, who can pull these diapers apart and choke on plastic and pieces of lining.

* A US environmental Protection Agency scientist concluded that rodents and vectors pose a health hazard if human waste is mixed with garbage.

* Many doctors claim there is a rise in infections, especially in baby girls, as parents tend to change single-use diapers much less often than cloth diapers.

* Studies by a leading US manufacturer of disposables show the incidence of diaper rash increases from 7.1 percent to 61 percent with the increased use of their products. The reasons for more rashes include infrequent changes, allergies to chemicals, bacteria and ammonium form accumulated urine and feces.

* Sodium polyacrylate is the chemical that makes disposables super-absorbent - it can absorb up to 100 times its weight in water. It can stick to baby’s genitals, cause allergic reactions, and when injected into rats caused hemorrhage, cardiovascular failure and death! In the US, this chemical was removed from tampons in 1985 when it was linked to toxic shock syndrome.

* Dioxin is a by-product of the paper-bleaching process used in manufacturing disposable diapers and is the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals. It causes effects like birth defects and liver disease in laboratory animals.

Quotes above from Green Diary at:
Green Dary's listed sources:
Healthy Child Healthy World
Journal of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics
Down to Earth: Science and Environment Magazine

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Back to School I Go

For many of you, this announcement is no big surprise--you probably expected it. I'm just so excited that it's finally happening. We recently discovered that when I was attending Tarleton State University in Texas I completed 24 graduate hours toward a Masters of Education specializing in Educational Administration. Administration, you ask? Yeah, it's kind of humorous because it's the last thing I would have guessed it was in, too. I always thought it was in Curriculum & Instruction. But, I was wrong. I was only a couple classes and a thesis/project away from graduation when we moved away. Do you have any idea how frustrating that is? I've always intended to finish, but I assumed I'd do it when I "got around to it." You know--later.

As happy as I've been with my Masters of Library Science, it's always bothered me that I didn't finish the MEd I started so long ago. So this summer I started looking at the program here, just out of curiosity. You won't BELIEVE what I discovered! If I'm ever going to finish this thing, I simply HAVE to finish the program through Chadron!

*First, because I am family of faculty, I practically get my tuition free. I'll be paying about 1/3 of the normal state tuition/fees cost which I can easily do. My class and school fees are completely covered--100%. Woah!

*After they received my transcripts, they decided that 12 hours will already apply toward this masters. I am TOTALLY shocked about this. I expected them to take maybe 6 hours. Woohoo!

*They have the specialization that I was most interested in: Educational Technology. This will certainly help, no matter WHERE I work on down the road.

*I can take all courses either face-to-face or online. How's that for convenience?!

*Because they are applying 12 hours from my previous schooling (and because they've laid out my remaining courses so well) I can finish in one year rather than the 2-2.5 years I was looking at.

I would say that I'm speechless, but since I've typed all this out that would kinda be a lie. LOL I'm beyond thrilled. I'm ecstatic. Lee and I are working out a schedule of when he'll be working/dissertating and when he'll be home so that I can go study. With a 4.5 year old, 2.5 year old, and 4 month old, we already have our hands quite full. But I've also been doing a couple volunteer activities that I can let go of so that I can work on finishing this year. Lord willing, the year will go very smoothly so that I can graduate by next August. I'm sure this will be a HUGE lesson in time management for our entire family.

Anyway, just wanted to share the good news. Anyone else headed back to school any time soon?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Can it REALLY be 13 Years?!

Surely not! 1995 seems like just yesterday. He's the hunk with his nose stuck in his Greek, German, Hebrew, and various philosophical books--discovering the power of thought and questioning ALL inconsistencies. She's the one traveling the world, dancing in the rain, and laughing at the moon (how dare any sky ornament suggest it's time for sleep). As friends, we witnessed one another's disastrous relationships for years before considering making a go of it together. But what we both wanted to know was: Can good long-term friends eventually really make good lovers?

One thing I still find interesting today is the conversation Lee had with one of our mutual friends before asking me out on a real date. When he told him the he was interested in me, he was met with, "Nooooo. Not Shaye!" Our concerned friend warns him about me. Sure, I'm fun, but in a relationship I'm often ambivalent--it will likely be impossible to tie me down. I am untamed and cannot be broken. Good thing for me (and most definitely for him), Lee didn't intend to tame me, at all. He was looking for more of what we already had--friendship. We both wanted companionship and a partner that complimented each of our own strengths and weaknesses. And that, my friend, is something I believe we do quite well. So while I must say that our dear friend wasn't wrong about me--I was everything he confessed me to be--I'm so glad Lee took the chance on that first date, after all.

It's impossible to share with you how I've grown to love and admire this man. Part of me wants to break out into song or share some lengthy poem while another part wants to say something sweetly childish like, "He's the BOMB!" Through thirteen years, you do face a great many things in life. Some are painful. Some are delightfully pleasant. I'm so glad we've faced all of those thing together. I don't want to dwell on how very different my life would have been without his love and friendship. It's rescued me more often than I'd like to admit.

And for those who don't already know the answer to our early question above: Yes, long-term friends really DO make the best lovers. Try it. You'll like it.


Funny story for my children when they're older: Just weeks before our wedding, we went to Olan Mills to get some engagement pictures taken. In one of the poses, the photographer put me on the table on my back and had your daddy positioned over me, looking down at me longingly. We were both a bit uncomfortable, not even sure where to look, but we were laughing, nevertheless. As the photographer goes back to his camera to snap the picture, your daddy hollers out last minute, "WAIT! Is her father going to see this?!" Needless to say, we didn't purchase that picture, but I think I may have a proof of it somewhere in my boxes of pictures. I still giggle when I think about that moment. LOL

Saturday, August 9, 2008

National Breastfeeding Month

For those who weren't already aware: August is the official National Breastfeeding Month and this first week of August is World Breastfeeding Week. This is my 5th August to be a breastfeeding mommy. It's been a wonderful ride! Wheeeeee!

In the early 70s, breastfeeding was touted as old-fashioned, unclassy and downright "icky." Doctors, at that time, felt that formula was surely best. But some moms knew, deep in their hearts, that nature knew best. It was an uphill battle for this growing group of moms, but it wasn't long before the scientific studies began pouring in proving, without a doubt, that exclusive breastfeeding was far superior to any man-made substance created for infants.

I am so happy that my mom had the strength and courage to fight for her right to breastfeed us when we were babies. When it was suggested that she go to the bathroom to nurse (during church, no less) she would agree only if all of the bottle fed babies were also required to be fed by moms sitting on the toilet. To hear this and other stories make my heart swell with pride and my eyes well up with tears. Why, you ask? Because her determination paved the way for my rather easy and fulfilling breastfeeding days. Even when I had my first baby and hospital staff surrounded me pushing and pulling on my breasts, moving my baby this way and that, and even threatening to start us on formula if my milk didn't let down immediately--it was my mom who had the patience, the confidence, and the wisdom to reassure me that all would be well just as soon as we were home. was.

I've breastfed through engorgement as well as semi-dry periods (pregnancy). I've had newborn blisters, experienced the uncomfortable teething days, pumped bottles full of milk for days I had to be away and tandem nursed two at once. I've co-slept to continue feeding through the nights and during the days I've enjoyed baby-wearing my children in slings--allowing me to nurse anywhere in public without batting an eye. I've discreetly breastfed at the library, the swimming pool, the grocery store, in an elementary classroom...anywhere that my baby is hungry, (s)he will be fed.

I am extremely grateful to my parents and husband for taking so many lovely, intimate photos of my babies snuggling peacefully at my breast. I cherish these days immensely. I can't, for the life of me, imagine ever nourishing my babies any other way.

Dangers of not Breastfeeding (quoted from

1. Recent studies show that babies who are not exclusively breastfed for 6 months are more likely to develop a wide range of infectious diseases including ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory illnesses and have more hospitalizations. Also, infants who are not breastfed have a 21% higher postneonatal infant mortality rate in the U.S.
2. Some studies suggest that infants who are not breastfed have higher rates of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in the first year of life, and higher rates of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, lymphoma, leukemia, Hodgkin's disease, overweight and obesity, high cholesterol and asthma. More research in these areas is needed (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2005).
3. Babies who are not breastfed are sick more often and have more doctor's visits.
4. Also, when you breastfeed, there are no bottles and nipples to sterilize. Unlike human milk straight from the breast, infant formula has a chance of being contaminated.

Benefits of Breastfeeding

1. Breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants. A mother's milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein that is needed for a baby's growth and development. Most babies find it easier to digest breast milk than they do formula.
2. As a result, breastfed infants grow exactly the way they should. They tend to gain less unnecessary weight and to be leaner. This may result in being less overweight later in life.
3. Premature babies do better when breastfed compared to premature babies who are fed formula.
4. Breastfed babies score slightly higher on IQ tests, especially babies who were born pre-maturely.
5. Nursing uses up extra calories, making it easier to lose the pounds of pregnancy. It also helps the uterus to get back to its original size and lessens any bleeding a woman may have after giving birth.
6. Breastfeeding, especially exclusive breastfeeding (no supplementing with formula), delays the return of normal ovulation and menstrual cycles. (However, you should still talk with your doctor or nurse about birth control choices.)
7. Breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancers, and possibly the risk of hip fractures and osteoporosis after menopause.
8. Breastfeeding makes your life easier. It saves time and money. You do not have to purchase, measure, and mix formula. There are no bottles to warm in the middle of the night!
9. A mother can give her baby immediate satisfaction by providing her breast milk when her baby is hungry.
10. Breastfeeding requires a mother to take some quiet relaxed time for herself and her baby.
11. Breastfeeding can help a mother to bond with her baby. Physical contact is important to newborns and can help them feel more secure, warm and comforted.
12. Breastfeeding mothers may have increased self-confidence and feelings of closeness and bonding with their infants.
13. Breastfeeding saves on health care costs. Total medical care costs for the nation are lower for fully breastfed infants than never-breastfed infants since breastfed infants typically need fewer sick care visits, prescriptions, and hospitalizations.
14. Breastfeeding contributes to a more productive workforce. Breastfeeding mothers miss less work, as their infants are sick less often. Employer medical costs also are lower and employee productivity is higher.
15. Breastfeeding is better for our environment because there is less trash and plastic waste compared to that produced by formula cans and bottle supplies.

Be looking for more breastfeeding information this month!

Other sources and websites for further reading:
La Leche League:
Kelly Mom Breastfeeding Site:
US Dept of Heath and Human Services

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Blogger Down

I just wanted all of my readers to know that Blogger is having some issues. It's an absolute miracle that I got this "create a new post" page to work. We'll see if it actually publishes.

Something happened in the last 24 hours--some of your comments have disappeared and I also can't get into the account. Many other users are reporting the same problem, so I imagine it'll get fixed soon. Just wanted you all to know just in case it takes a few days. Thanks y'all!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Chadron State Park

Just uploading a new slide show of pictures from our state park outing this week. We ate watermelon, fresh pineapple (Mmmm...we covered the chunks in cayenne pepper thanks to Laureen's suggestion), and we also roasted some s'mores. The scenery was breathtaking, as always.

Unfortunately, I think my camera is now experiencing the beginning of its end. This is the 4th camera I've bought of this kind (all off Ebay) and they always seem to die of the same issues, regardless of the care they receive. Pictures begin to get blurry, then the front cover suddenly stops closing properly, then the lens stops fully extending, and downhill it all goes. So...if anyone has a good point n' shoot camera they're ready to donate to a needy family, you know where to find us. :) Or better yet, if you know of a truly indestructible camera for a relatively low price, PLEASE let me know in the comments below. You all know we use it often--probably every single day. I've been considering investing in a real camera. You know, something that you keep in a special case and call by name. Just don't know if our growing family is ready for such a treasure. Oh well...I'll look forward to your emails or comments on this one.

To see the pictures full-sized, you can go HERE.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Becoming a Green Bagger

Those of you who have been following our journey this year know that we've been slowly transforming from (a) wasteful to (b) green dwellers. It's astonishing just how many changes can easily be made. It's been fun, actually.

Last weekend we went to the local rummage sale and I found this huge pile of very nice fabric for only .75. I mean to say this stuff is thick, bright, and very shiny. Anyone know what it is? Anyway, the guy must have seen me salivating over it because he said he'd take .50 for the whole pile. WOW, a .25 discount! Now all we had to do is decide what to do with it.

A couple weeks back, I published a post on "The Story of Stuff." Someone commented at the bottom about a website by the Green Bag Lady, whose real-life name is Teresa (I believe). She's has been accepting fabric donations and has been making bags for women all over the world who return their promise that they will use it in the place of plastic at the grocery story (or wherever they are usually using plastic or paper bags). When she sends someone a new bag, they send her a picture and she posts their picture and location on her website. She has a wonderful pattern HERE and a great demonstration video HERE.

I'm not much of a seamstress, but this morning I watched the video and looked at the pattern and thought, We can do THIS! I'll put the series of pictures below. The picture of the bag at the top is the final product. I still have a ton of fabric left so I think we'll easily have enough for all of our groceries once I finish. It's such cheerful, bright fabric and looks like it will hold up well for just transporting groceries from the store each week. I'm so excited!

Sewing the outsides.

Sewing up the corners.

Creating the handles.

Attaching the handles.

Modeling the final product.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Pregnancy Loss

Today, August 4th, is the four year anniversary of the loss of our 2nd baby. I am always saddened to remember this miscarriage and the weeks and months of grief that continued after it.

October 15th is the official Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, so I plan to share much more at that time. However, I'm providing a couple websites below that have been helpful in my healing as well as helping others through their own grief processing. Please feel free to share more books, websites, or online/in real life support groups that you've found to be especially helpful (I'll repost them during Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, as well).

If you have experienced a loss and need someone to talk to while you process the pain, please feel free to contact me at teachertools (at) gmail (dot) com (with the "@" and ".") or leave a comment below with PRIVATE written at the beginning so that I won't post it on this blog. I don't pretend to be an expert or counselor, but I am here nevertheless.

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