Saturday, December 24, 2011

Twas the Night Before Christmas (complete with apology)

Sorry, folks, I know it's been forever since I updated - I just haven't been in the mood for writing.  But I am back, at least for now, and to start off my New Regime, I wrote you a poem. =)

Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
Mom's patience was wanning
With a high-pitched Disney mouse.

The stocking were packed
In the closet with care
So no little children
Would know they were there.

The children were never
All snug in their beds
Because the idea of sleep
Never came into their heads.

With mommy wearing ear plugs
And daddy wanting a nap
It was already obvious
The kids would sleep like crap.

When out on the lawn
There was a terrible clatter
The dogs sprang from their spots
To see what was the matter.

Away to the window
Flew Po like a flash
With Carlisle on his tail
And Avalon last.

The porch light was on
And there sat the cat
The object of disdain
That made me long for a bat.

What with my half-open eyes
Did I see
But a stray terrier there
Looking at me.

He chased off the cat
And the dogs settled down
Mommy and daddy went back to bed
With a frown.

More rapid than vampires
The children, they came.
And used parents like trampolines
Until Mom called them by name:

Luke, Lauren, and Heidi
Get off of my head!!
Santa can't come until
You're all in your beds.

To your crib and your mattress
And your play pen so small
Now go away go away, go away all!

As antelopes that stampede
Before lions who growl
The children ran off
With a pitiful howl

And into their room
The three monsters they flew
To await Christmas day
And all the gifts, too.

And then in an instant
I heard through the door
The sound of three giggles
And stomps on the floor.

We let them have at it
Since they were out of our hair
They will never fall asleep
We thought with dispair.

Then what should we hear
When they were finally out of sight?
"Merry Christmas Sis and Heidi.
Good night."


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Mommy Forums

It's about time I made this post.  I've been procrastinating, always coming up with reasons to post something else, for fear of offending people.  But I've had a crappy couple of days, and I'm just gonna go ahead and be potentially offensive.

Without further adu, the pros and cons of mommy forums.

1) Adult conversation and interaction

2) Knowledge is power, and mommies are full of knowledge on every subject a la parenting that you could ever imagine.  From eating lunch meat during pregnancy to writing college essays for your teenagers, mommies know it ALL.

3) The ability to commune with adults who share your parenting beliefs and ideals.  A whole forum of people who are obsessed with baby names, love to breast feed, or had a baby born in or around April 2006.

4) The chance to show off how cute your kid is, and how advanced he or she is for his or her age.  This is also where you lament their delays, discuss their health issues, and (pretend to) celebrate the accomplishments of other babies, and lament with their mothers over whatever.

5) The opportunity to declare that you know the most about _____.

1) Is it really adult interaction if all you talk about is how your breasts are sore, and what color your baby's poop is? Shouldn't you be aiming for adult conversation about.. adults? Or at least adult situations and topics?

2) Does it count as conversation even when there is none?
Example A:
Mom 1: I am so mad.  This is why.
Mom 2: OMG that stinks, sorry.
Mom 3: OMG.  Here's what happened to me.

Mom 4: OMG.  Here's what happened to me.
Mom 5: Hey, mom 3, what did you about _____ in the situation you described?
Mom 3: Never checks the thread again, because she already read it once and responded and has no interest in what anyone else has to say on the topic.

Example B:
Mom 1: Can you please suggest baby names that fit these criteria?
Mom 2: Sure.  I like these names, and these.  And here's some random ones.

Mom 3: List of names.
Mom 4: List of names (a few of which are on the same list that mom 2 or 3 provided)
Mom 5: List of names that was mostly already suggested by the first three moms.
Mom 6: I didn't read the other responses, sorry for repeats! List of names that's already been 98% covered by other posts.
Mom 7: Has no original suggestions whatsoever.  Hope that helps!
Example C:
Mom 1: Who's baby is already ____?

Mom 2: Mine
Mom 3: Not mine
Mom 4: Long elaborate story about why her baby is or is not already ____.
Mom 5: Mine.
Mom 6: Mine
Mom 7: Not mine.
*Moves to a second page, and not one person comments on what another person has said.  Each person leaves an individual comment and moves on.

3) Bad Info. Mommies are full of knowledge, but unfortunately a lot of them are also full of crap, whether they know it or not.  Crap they pulled off Dr. Yahoo Answers, crap their parents and in-laws told them, crap their doctors told them.  They like to pretend they know what you're talking about, and when you tell me they are wrong.. well, see number 8.

4) Tunnel Vision. When you only talk to people who share your beliefs/values, you miss out on valuable insight into "the other side" and sometimes even become blinded to it.  You lose the ability to "think like the enemy" and understand their point of view.  Ever seen lemmings (start the video at 1:40)?

5) You have to put up with all the other show-off moms.
Example: Ichachekni (pronounced Ike) is already crawling!  I'm posting this to show off that my four month old is crawling, but I'm gonna end it with "who else is crawling?!" just so I don't look like a totally self centered braggart, even though I'm pretty sure my kid's the first to crawl, otherwise I wouldn't be posting.  How embarrassing if he was the SECOND!  Also, I will only be reading this thread to read the validation I'll get for my kid being the best already.

6) The Better Mom's Brigade.  You know exactly what I'm talking about.  The moms who only comment on forum threads where they can swoop in and show how much better they are at nutrition, discipline, being green, whatever the topic is.  They never admit they are wrong, and the only time they start posts is so they can prove how awesome they are by cleverly displaying how they balance their busy schedule or successfully discipline their practically perfect children.

7) Majority rules, and cliques prevail.  Mommy forums are JUST like high school.  Heaven forbid that you don't agree with the majority, are able to see the other side of a topic, or aren't a complete judgmental Nazi about your passion of choice.  You will be ostracized.

8) No confrontation without drama.  Mommies don't go to mommy forums to be told they are wrong.  They do not want to hear it.  They want to be validated in their choices, no matter how foolish.  They want someone to tell them that what they did is okay, because they lack the confidence in themselves and their parenting abilities to just KNOW it's fine.  Or, more likely, they know it's actually not fine, and just want to be lied to or reassured by other people who screwed up, too.  But if you ever DARE to tell them the truth, even nicely, all heck breaks loose.  Suddenly they are the victim, and you are the heartless be-yotch who judges everyone needlessly.  It's pretty much impossible to tell someone you disagree with them without people immediately complaining about the levels of drama.

9) Trolls.  Do I even have to go into this one? You get sucked into the tragic personal life of someone, your "heart breaks for them" and you "spend hours thinking about them all the time" because you're such a super awesome person to invest in complete strangers that you really know nothing about, and SURPRISE! They were lying.  Now you're heart broken, ruined, and can never trust a complete stranger with a keyboard ever again.  The shock. The horror. The repetition.

10) Other attention seekers (that aren't trolls).
Example A: We've decided to name our baby the most popular name from 2010, and we simply CAN'T think of a good middle name!  You guys should suggest popular and generic names for us to consider, because for some reason browsing the internet, the SSA top 1000 names, or investing in a $10 book of 100,000 baby names would just be too much work.

Example B: Does anyone know anything at all about this somewhat mundane topic I'm asking about? I don't want to Google because I'd rather interact with these people on a forum, so please tell me about this stupidly obviously topic.

Example C: OMGosh, guys.  I had sex, and now my period is late, and my boobs are sore.  Am I pregnant? I know I could just go to the dollar store and get a stick and pee on it, and that would answer my question, but I'd rather ask a bunch of other women to tell my fortune over the internet and decide whether or not I'm pregnant! Respond to my post so that I know you care, even though I'm being ridiculous.

Example D: I am such a bad mom because my kid managed to do something that every child does at some point (roll off a bad, trip and hit their head on a coffee table, eat yellow snow, etc etc).  Please respond to my thread and tell me that I'm not a bad mom for letting something perfectly normal happen to my child, even though I know that other people on this forum have also let this happen.  They aren't bad moms though, just me, because I'm bad.  Please tell me I'm not!

And there you have it, friends.  Why I hate mommy forums.  Maybe I'm just too cynical, past my mommy forum prime. Maybe I've been doing it wrong (hey, I'm not afraid to admit that might be the case).  Maybe I just never managed to get so invested in strangers that I was appropriately devastated by their sudden but inevitable betrayal, or maybe I'm just too fond of looking stuff up on the internet before asking obvious questions that I could find the answer to in 30 seconds.

My confessions:
I am ashamed to admit that I did some of the things above - I have succumbed to number 4, and I have pleaded for my fair share of attention.  And I'm not gonna lie: I learned a lot from mommy forums, and I met some super nice people that are still my friends on Facebook.  I said they have their uses in the Pros column, after all. ;)

Friday, October 21, 2011

I Am a Perfect Mother

I raise my voice too often.
I hate cleaning, and therefore
My house is not spotlessly clean.
I loathe soccer games.

I raise my voice too much.
I don't have enough patience.
I long for date nights, and
Laundromat nights.

I reach the end of my rope too often.
I hate it when my kids try to help with chores.
My kids always need a bath,
Even if I just bathed them.

I feed them processed food sometimes,
And don't always cook elaborate meals.
I let them watch TV
and climb trees.

I recognize their needs and
Meet them when I can.
I recognize their wants
And try to fulfill them.

I love them unconditionally
Always, forever, and beyond.
I play with them.
I teach them things.

They are the reason I breathe
The reason I get out of bed.
I will never hurt them.
I will always try to keep them safe.

I will always do the best I can,
And I will take care of myself so
I can always be here for them.
I teach them skills and manners.

I respect them, cherish them,
Adore them, live for them.
I am their mom and that means
I am a perfect mother.

This is pretty poorly written poem (it doesn't even rhyme, Kes!), but that's not the point.  I've said it myself, and I hear it all the time - "the perfect mother."  But I think we have a skewed idea of perfection in the mothering department.  You don't have to do everything right all the time, and you don't have to do everything the best.  Love your children, and do right by them.  That's perfection.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Gender Neutral Kids

Most of us probably remember the story of Storm, the kid with no gender.  If you don't, here it is.  I know it's old news, but this idea has come up a lot in my personal life, so I figured it was finally time to talk about it.

These Canadian parents are raising their child to be "gender neutral."  This is of course semi-ridiculous, as a child MUST have anatomical parts pointing to them being either male, female, or both, but never neither.  But the point of their "experiment" has nothing to do with biology and everything to do with society and it's effect on impressionable young children.

I have to admit, in most ways I agree with these parents.  The whole thing is not about dressing your son in dresses and seeing what happens.  It's not about teaching your kids that dressing "the wrong gender" is better, or that it's worse.  It's about letting your children choose, for themselves, what they want.  Yes, children need to know who they are.  They need a strong sense of identity, and a strong sense of self.  Doesn't it make more sense to let them form these senses on their own, rather than showing them how society thinks they should see themselves, and that's it?  Isn't it counter intuitive to make sure that their "sense of self" is what society wants, regardless of what they want?

These parents aren't keeping their child's gender from their child, or even from the child's siblings.  They are keeping the gender secret from people who don't NEED to know, because honestly, why does it matter?  And the answer is almost always "so I know what to buy."

Well, that's the point these parents are trying to make.  Why does the child's gender have to effect what you buy?  While they are infants they have no idea what boys and girls are, and don't give a flip what you dress them in as long as it's comfortable.  Babies are pretty androgynous to begin with, and no matter what you dress them in someone, somewhere, will always guess wrong.  So these parents buy what THEY like until their child is old enough to choose for him/herself.  This is the same thing parents of babies with a declared gender do as well.  No difference there.

Once the child is old enough to choose their own clothes, again their gender makes no difference.  As a friend, aunt, grandparent, you should buy what the child obviously enjoys wearing.  You've seen pictures of the child in clothing, and it shouldn't be too hard to figure out if the kid prefers jeans or frilly dresses.  Buy what the kid likes, not what you THINK the kid should like.

And toys.. ugh.  The idea of gender specific toys irks me so much I won't even rant about it, because it would take forever.  Seriously, buy it if it looks fun.  Who freakin cares if it's pink or blue?!

So why is this topic near and dear to me right now? Because my oldest kid, a boy, loves pink.  I asked him what color car seat he wanted, and he said pink.  Unfortunately, the pink was a lot more expensive than all the other colors, or I would have bought it for him.  We went to the store to pick out some new shirts, and he was drawn to the pink Dora shirts.  They didn't have any in his size, but I would have bought him a pink Dora shirt otherwise (we went with Red Cars, because red is close to pink).

Why would I do this? Because ultimately, my child's happiness is more important to me that society-pressured gender roles.  Who decided that pink was only for girls, anyways? Why does it even matter? The answer is simple.  It doesn't.  It NEVER matters.  And we should stop teaching our children that it does.

And maybe this seems petty to you, to be making a huge deal out of clothes.  But it's not just clothes.  Gender roles are constant in our lives and those of our children.  It starts with refusing to dress our boys in pink, then we're refusing to let them take ballet or musical theatre, then we're teaching them that those careers are only for women, and they should strive for more.  More? So women are only worthy of LESS? Yeah, it goes there.  And that's the problem.

I am against the idea of teaching my children they can't do things - any things besides child birth and peeing standing up - because of their anatomical parts.  It's a totally arbitrary system, and I refuse to support it any longer.  There was a time when I only bought boy clothes for my son, and girl clothes for my daughter.  And that time is over.  No longer will I teach my children that their gender is what defines what they can and cannot wear, do, and become.  Who's with me?!

*fist pump*

Monday, October 3, 2011

Car Seats Expire!

I know I touched on this briefly in my Car Seat 101 Post ages ago, but I feel like it needs to be revisited.


Plastic degrades over time, especially when exposed to the elements.  Imagine that plastic play set you probably have in your back yard.  Left in the son for six years, it starts to get brittle, and it starts to break.  Car seats aren't much different.  We leave them in our cars where they end up baking in the 130 degree heat, or freezing in the -40 degree cold.  They are designed to withstand this abuse, for sure, but not forever.  The plastic deteriorates, cracks, and breaks.  The foam padding, after being compressed for ages, does the same thing.  I'll be honest and say that I have a hard time with the idea that the nylon harness also expires, but if you're buying a new seat anyways, why would you reuse the harness?

Most seats expire six years after the date they were made, NOT six years after you bought them.  While normally you will get a new car seat close to when it was made, it doesn't always happen.  If you bought it on sale, for instance, it may have been marked down due to an early manufacture date. You have to check the seat for a date of expiration or a date of manufacture.  Generally speaking, both are on the seat somewhere, usually on the bottom, or one of the side stickers. Sometimes you find a month, a day, and a year, and sometimes you'll only find month year. Graco is the only company where the seats expire at the end of the sixth year.  All other seats expire in the month they were manufactures (so my kid's Evenflo Tribute - pictures here - will expire in July 2014).

Sure, it's highly unlikely that your seat is going to magically disintegrate on the first day of the sixth year.  Here's a video showing what happens when a ten year old car seat is used during a crash.  The shell has degraded so much that the harness, while securely holding the child, rips through the plastic shell.  It doesn't state the injuries sustained by the "child" in this case, but I think it's pretty obvious that this is not a good outcome:

Yeah, this was ten years after, not one year after.  But without knowing exactly when the car seat went from a safe condition to this condition, it's just a better choice all around to believe the manufacturer.  I, too, wish they would publish this kind of information, or do more tests, or at least give us a CLEAR reason why the seats expire except "they might be broken."  but alas, this is all we have to work with right now.

Not all seats expire after six years, so here's a useful list.

Baby Trend: 6 years

Britax classic generation: 6 years
Britac new generation: 7 yearsYears for most
Britax Frontier specifically: 9 years

Chicco: 6 years

Clek: 7 years
Clek Foonf specifically: 9 years

Compass: 7 years

Cosco: 6 years

Combi: 7 years

Evenflo: 6 years

Graco: 6 years (December of the 6th year) for most
Graco Nautilus specifically: 10 years

Harmony: 6 years

Maxi Cosi: 6-8 years

Orbit: 7 years

Peg-Perego: 5 years
Seats manufactured starting 2011: 7 years

Recaro: 6 years

Safety First: 6 years for most
Safety First Complete Air specifically: 8 years
Safety First Alpha Omega Elite specifically: 8 years

Sunshine Kids: 6 years for most
Sunshine Kids Monteray: 8 years
Diono seats: 10 years

The First Years: 7 years

If your brand of seat isn't on this list, and you can't find an expiration date or a date of manufacture, please don't hesitate to post a comment asking, and I will find the information for you. =)

Keep your kids safe!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mommy Martyrs

We've all met them - the Mommy Martyrs.  Those mom's who not only sacrifice constantly for their children, and fight conventions, but make sure that everyone knows about it.

I make sacrifices for my children - most mother's do.  We give up a lot of more mundane things, like time with our friends and husbands, or our bodies.  We let our brains turn to mush because the only conversations we have all day long are about Dora, the color and shape of poop, and what flavor jelly to use.

Many of us also fight popular conventions.  We refuse to turn our car seats around at 1 year, breastfeed, delay solids until past six months.  Maybe we didn't circ, or had a natural birth.  Awesome work!  Keep it up!  Buuut...


Okay, so that's a bit of a stretch - no one actually says all that at once. But I have actually seen someone say "I read up on this topic while breast feeding my toddler.  I find it really interesting."

.... Transparent much?  Kudos to you for breast feeding your toddler.  It's good for him, and it fights conventions (I'm generally ALL FOR fighting conventions).  But asking for a pat on the back in random places is too self serving for my taste.  That's not our job as mothers.  We're supposed to do what's best for our kids, not to get attention, but because it's best for them.

Don't get me wrong.  I love attention.  And I love when someone notices that I'm still nursing, or that I have two rear facing car seats.  Similarly, I would loathe it when someone comments negatively on these things (not that anyone ever has so far).  But I see no reason to mention that I breast feed in a Facebook group about car seats, or mention that my kid is uncirc'd on a JustMommies board about breast feeding.

And (here it comes) I roll my eyes at people who do.  Not all the people that do.  Just that ones that seem to need validation for every choice they ever make regarding their children.  Stand up for them, stand up for yourself, do your research, and make informed decisions.  You don't need people to constantly notice and tell you "great job!" for doing something you should be doing anyways.

/end rant

Thursday, September 22, 2011

10 Things My Kids Don't Know About Me

There are more than 10.  There will always be more than 10, at least until I've moved on from this life.  But I think these are the ten that will actually affect them someday (some sooner than later).

1. I have a tattoo.  By the time they figure out what a tattoo is, I may have more than one.

2. I hate Dora.

3. I've "done that" with my husband more than the three times required to produce the children.

4. Going to the bathroom is actually very routine and mundane, even for me.

5. There are moms out there who make mac and cheese even better than I do.
5b. There are moms out there who never make mac and cheese.  Ever.

6. I've done things in the past that I may have to lie about when they are teenagers.

7. I wanted to name all of them something other than what they are named, and, for the most part, wanted their genders to all be opposite (of course I love them for the anatomical parts they have, but I'm just sayin).

8. I'm actually terrible at drawing Mickey Mouse and Phineas Flynn, and even more terrible at cake decorating.

9. I never changed my last name.

10. I think their boogers, however interestingly shaped they may be, are gross.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Calm Down. Deep breaths!

I'm not trying to pick on my friend here, but I'm gonna use her an example.  Sorry, friend!

While driving down the road, she sees a truck with a rear facing carseat in the front seat, with a kid actively in it.  Carseats don't really belong in the front seat, and especially not if there's an airbag.  Everyone can easily know this, because the picture on the visor looks like this:

Even if you can't read, or don't want to, it's pretty clear just from the picture, what you shouldn't be doing here, right? Okay, we're clear on this.  But an airbag can be disabled, or sometimes simply turned off.

So my friend sees this truck with a baby in the front, and becomes outraged.  So outraged that she wants to call the police.  And this confuses me.  First of all, she doesn't know that there is an airbag.  She thinks she MIGHT know, because she knows someone with a truck that's the same make/model, so she assumes there's an airbag and it's not turned off.

It's weird for me to think of myself as an optimist, but I guess I am.  We all make assumptions, every day, based on what we see.  While my friend assumes this car has an airbag, I choose to assume it doesn't.  I choose to assume that someone who will put his kid in the car rear facing, even when the seat CAN forward face, probably realized (because of the above warning) that you shouldn't do it with the airbag active, and has taken further steps to ensure the safety of his child (beyond just rear facing her).  I almost always choose to assume the best case scenario, and it confuses me why other people don't.

Do you WANT to be upset with this person? What will that accomplish? Maybe if you knew him, or know where he lived, or even knew his name, then being upset and assuming the worst would matter.  But you will probably never know if the truck had an active airbag, and if that kid was safe or not, so why waste energy thinking she wasn't, when you can just as easily think she was?  All yous are general - I don't think this friend even reads Momland (but if you are reading, I'm not picking on you, I swear!  You're just my most recent example!)

And the same thing goes for so much.
I choose to assume that a kid turned forward facing on his birthday was turned that way for the same reason I turned Luke around - the parents were concerned their child would aspirate the vomit that accompanied every rear facing car ride, and die.

I choose to believe that the majority of people don't know, rather than don't care.

I choose to assume that someone selling a car seat that expires in three months legitimately believes that someone will buy it only intending to use it for three months.  There are plenty of reasons to buy a car seat for only three months - vacation, spontaneous visit from family, a family emergency - and I also choose to assume that anyone who buys a seat that expires in three months will only use it for three, maybe four months (because let's face it, they don't spontaneously combust on their expiration date, but I wouldn't push it too far).

I've seen this quoted at 80%, 90%, and 95%, so I'm gonna go with 80% (again, assuming the best).  80% of car seats are used incorrectly, in one way or another.  Some misuses are more dangerous than others, but still 80%.  That means that whenever I see an occupied car seat on the road or in pictures, there's an 80% chance I'm gonna have a reason to be steaming mad.  And that's not counting the "misuse" that occurs when kids aren't even IN car seats.  It seems like a huge waste of energy on my part to get mad every single time.

Maybe I'll carry around little notecard print outs to stick on windshields in parking lots, or put a bumper sticker on my car, but I can't possibly get upset at every single case.  I have three kids, I haven't slept "enough" in over four years, and I have several other health issues that sap all my energy from me before I even get out of bed in the morning.

Maybe I'm too apathetic, maybe I'm not dedicated enough to my cause, or maybe I'm just too freakin tired to care, but I can't fathom getting violently ill every time I see a car seat misused, or a child in Publix who's parent isn't staring directly at them at all times.  Either way, I choose to get upset at the worst cases:

Assuming they drive like this (I choose to assume they don't), THIS would make me ill.

When there is obvious, without a doubt misuse that could legitimately risk a child's life in even the basic of colisions, I will get Mommy Bear Killing Spree Raging Mad.  Otherwise, I will silently throw up a prayer for the child in question, and then try to put it from my mind.  I guess I just realize that you can't save them all, you can't help people who don't want to be helped, and when there's nothing you can do about it, it's best to not think about it.

I have been known to go out of my to create a scenario in which something would make sense, just so that I don't have to get upset about it.  Daddy has baby rear facing in the front seat of a two-seater truck.  Well, that's obvious - it's the only car he has because the car with an available (safer) back seat is in the shop, or was just stolen, or wrecked.  He has no choice where to put his kid, and is doing the best he can.  I have other examples, but this is just long enough already.

I have a hard time understanding why people don't always agree with me on everything, ;) but especially on this.  To me, energy is precious - it is not something to be squandered fretting about things outside my control.  I wish I had the energy to fight with Craigslist over expired seats, but I will e-mail first, THEN flag.  I will always give people a chance to correct their own mistakes before doing it for them.  But that's a whole other blog post for a whole other day.

I've used car seats as an example this whole time, because it's the cause I choose to champion (seriously, you have to have noticed that by now, yes?), but really it applies to everything.  I pick my battles with my husband, I pick my battles with my children, and I pick my battles with the world.  There are stupid parents everywhere, and even the best parents sometimes make errors in judgement.  Sometimes choices are limited because of finances or other factors.

If someone's baby falls in a pool, I choose to think it was a freak accident until proven wrong.  I will not automatically assume this mother never supervised her child ever, and was a terrible, neglectful mother.

Someone's dog gets run over by a car, and rather than I assume this dog was always allowed to run loose, I choose to believe it was a one-time "oops, the kids left the door open" incident, until someone proves me wrong.

I don't get upset over parents who use leashes for their kids, or over parents who feed their kids solids at four months (I used to, but not so much anymore).  I don't get upset over parents who use walkers (I choose to assume they've taken precautions), and I don't get upset over someone getting an epidural, or even a repeat C-section as opposed to a VBAC.

There is so much REAL abuse and REAL neglect in the world, that these don't even register on my radar.  I hardly notice them, and make it a point to not get annoyed or upset by them.  I feel this keeps me sane.

If you're the type to get upset about these things whenever you see them, you should try it my way and see if you like it. ;)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Cars and Projectiles

Upon deciding that Thoughts from Momland needed a theme and some consistency, I decided to keep all my "advocacy and informed consent" babblings to another blog, which I've already created: Eclectic Advocacy.  The goal of Eclectic Advocacy is merely to inform and provide information on various parenting subjects, rather than advocating for a particular decision in most cases.  Topics already discussed there are Circumcision and Birth choices.  I'm advocating for informed consent on the part of parents.  Whichever action you choose, make sure it is an informed decision, and that's really all I care about.  If you want an epidural or if you think they're evil, that's cool.  Just make sure you know what an epidural is, the potential risks and side effects, so that you can weight those against the benefits and decide for yourself what chances you are willing to take.

All that said, I'm still a car seat Nazi, so I think car seat stuff will end up being posted on both blogs.  This isn't a carseat post, but it IS about car safety.  Car seats are all about keeping our kids safe from harm and death, and so is this blog post on unsecured projectiles.  So here goes.

I read this article today, and my desire to make sure there is nothing potentially harmful in my car was renewed.  I spend hours ensuring my children are properly restrained in car seats that are properly installed, and it makes little sense to not finish the job.  After all, they are safe in their seats this way, until something hits them in the face.

The gist of the article (which is Australian, by the way, so the numbers pertain only to Australia) is that unsecured items in the car can become lethal, and everything cargo related should be in the trunk or under a well-secured net.  I know it's considered a freak accident to be killed by a projectile rather than the crash forces, but it's a not a freak occurrence to be injured by one. I looked up Mythbusters to see if they've ever tried to bust a projectile myth (that have, for the record, with a box of tissues), and according to them 13,000 people were injured by unsecured projectiles in 2001.  They don't list a source, so I don't know for sure how accurate that is.  Either way, I can't help but think, "why risk it?"

The article I linked already details a few incidents of people being killed by their stuff: a tyre, holiday (vacation) luggage, and in a bizarre incident, 936 bricks (Yeah "WTF?" is what I thought, too).  But they also talk about pets.

We go through enormous effort to make sure our 50 pounds children are secured in the car.  We don't want them to become a projectile for their safety as well as our own.  But the family pet is often neglected in this aspect.  People somehow fail to realize that, just like your child needs to be restrained, so does your dog.  a 40 pound dog IS a deadly projectile, both for the dog and for a person that may be in it's path.

They make car restraints for pets, and they are cheaper than car seats.  If you wouldn't put your kid in the car without a car seat or a safety belt, you shouldn't do it to your pets either!

And finally, the very end of that article details the story of a Ford Laser, two small kids, and 26 kilos (57 pounds) of computer parts.
This is a Ford laser:

This is 57 pounds (give or take)

In the story, the computer parts actually forced the folding seat to unlatch, sending the items into the passenger area of the car (I'm not sure how this works with the kids in the seat.. maybe it makes more sense to someone else).  So even if your cargo is secured in the trunk, or behind the second or third row of seats, it may be best to invest in a net just the same.

What happened to these children?

One afternoon in April 1993, South Australian couple Paul and Michelle Wood buckled their three-year-old daughter, Sheena, into her booster seat and  five-year-old son, Tristan, into the car seat alongside in the rear of their Ford Laser hatchback. Second-hand computer equipment weighing 26 kilos was in the luggage compartment.
Just east of Millicent on the Princes Highway, they ran into the back of a tip-truck. Paul sustained a broken nose, Michelle a fractured hip. But the children, correctly seated and appropriately restrained, fared much worse. The computer equipment shot through the latched split back seat, knocking Sheena’s booster seat from under her, causing whiplash that fractured her spine and made her a mild quadriplegic.
Tristan cannoned forward against his seatbelt, causing abdominal injuries so severe that he died seven weeks later.
This is incredibly tragic, and probably a freak accident, but still on the realm of possibility.  Honestly, I'm not convinced the computer parts in the hatchback really had anything to do with the kids' injuries (maybe a little, but not the root cause of them).  I hate to take a scenario like this and apply what ifs, especially when it involves tragedy and grieving parents who are probably still beating themselves up with the what-ifs all on their own.

However, I would argue that if the children were PROPERLY restrained, they may have survived/had less severe injuries.  I know they were legally restrained, and restrained as per Australian recommendations, but the 3-year-old was in a low back booster, and the five year old was in nothing at all, when they both should have been harnessed (while I would harness my five year old if I could, I know it's okay to put some of them in booster seats.  This child was in neither).

Had either or both of them been in harnessed car seats, the little girl's restraint would not have been pushed out from under her, and the plastic shell of the seat would have absorbed a lot of the force from the cargo.

The little boy would have either been in a safety belt that fit across his hips or thighs, rather than his stomach, and the seatbelt would have hit his bones rather than his delicate belly.  He may have broken his hips or pelvis, but that's a whole lot better than what actually happened.  And had he been in a harness, the force of the crash / the weight hitting the back of his seat would have been distributed better.

Would either of these children have walked away unharmed? It's unlikely.  Would they have been LESS harmed? Would the little boy have lived? *I* think so, but of course I can't prove it.  It just goes to show how important it is to make sure our children are restrained in a way that fits their height, weight, and development.

What it really boils down to is, once again, probability.  I like to weigh the probability of something happening against the convenience of avoiding it.  Is it THAT inconvenient to stick stuff under a nylon net, JUST IN CASE you get in an accident where it matters? Guess that's up to you.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Sunshine, Rainbows, Perspective, and New Buttons!

I'm taking some time out of my normal rambling awesomeness to give myself a bit of a plug.  I have a fan page on Facebook now, so you should click that nifty "like" button on the right.  And while you're at it, do me a favor and rate my blog for The Mom Blogs (but only if you like it - skip rating it if you hate it, obviously).

That said, let's move on.

I love my children, and they are my world.  When I suffered from depression for three years, they were the ONLY reason I dragged myself out of bed in the morning, and interacted with the world.  They kept me going when no one and nothing else was able to.  Obviously I love them.  Obviously I want what's best for them.  But even given all that.. my life is not sunshine and rainbows, and that's okay sometimes.  It's okay that sometimes my facebook status is "I want to crawl back into bed until tomorrow."  And when I post this, I don't need to be reminded of how 90% of the world is so much worse off than I am.

It really upsets me when people, especially women, suggest to other women that their feelings aren't valid because someone else is worse off somewhere.  Here are some example scenarios:

"Ugh, my kids are so frustrating today.  Is it nap time yet?"
"You know, there are alot of women in the world who would give anything to have frustrating children, if only they could have children at all."

"My baby was up all night crying for *insert reason here*.  I'm so exhausted I can barely think."
"You should be glad your baby CAN cry.  Lots of babies in the NICU have tubes in their throats and noses, and they can't cry."

"My son is being so annoying today, I just don't know what to do with him!"
"At least you have a son.  I lost my baby at 13 weeks."

Uhhh.. thanks? You're right, I guess, but was making her feel like crap for being frustrated really necessary?  I'll tell you: no, it wasn't.  If you know a parent that does nothing but complain about their children all day every day, then by all means - throw some perspective in their face.  But when a normally cheerful and happy mother complains once that she's frustrated with life or whatever, just let her have her freakin moment.

The concept that mothers must be perfect, that we must always be enjoying our children every moment, that we can never think about anything negative because it's just not proper.. this bugs me.  Life isn't perfect, and I hate the way we make each other feel inferior by suggesting it should be.  I hate the way we shove mothers into hiding their feelings, because of how "improper" it is to think negatively about your children.

I was once told that I must not love my children enough because I would pay someone to change all the blow out poopy diapers.  Instead of thinking about how gross the poop is as it seeps over the edge of the diaper and onto your fingers, you should just be thankful that you have a baby that can make such diapers, as opposed to having suffered a loss.  Uhhh.... no.  I mean, yeah - I'm thankful I have a baby that can poop, but the fact that I would pay someone to live in my basement and emerge only to change all these diapers in no way means that I don't love my children, or have compassion for people who don't have pooping babies in their lives.

We really need to stop attaching this "Sunshine and Rainbows" stigma to parenting.  All we're doing is hurting ourselves and each other in the process. Sure, there are some mothers who could use some perspective; that's obvious.  But I think the majority of us fully understand that our lives could be worse, but that doesn't mean we have to enjoy every second of them, just the same.

Friday, September 2, 2011

I Don't Like It Either!

I don't like screaming.  I don't like doing it myself, unless I'm on a roller coaster, and I certainly don't like it when my kids scream.  In fact, I probably like it a lot less than most parents.  To me, even my own children screaming is like nails on a chalkboard, and I will jump through hoops of fire just to silence the ear splitting shrieks emanating from their sweet, cherubic little faces.  So you can imagine that if my children are screaming someplace public, not only am I completely mortified and wishing I could disappear, I'm also thinking that if I shove this Q-tip far enough into my ear, I will never have to hear this sound again.  As if this isn't punishment enough, I'm also getting glares and rude looks from complete strangers who think I need to be schooled in parenting 101 - and some of them even try to school me themselves.

Of course, I am not everyone.  There are some people who are so numb to the horrific sounds of their own children (probably from hearing it all day every day for the last couple of years) that they fail to realize other people are NOT used to hearing their toddler freak out because he dropped a potato chip and still wants to eat it.  I firmly believe that these parents are merely sleep-deprived to the point of deafness or insanity, or so desperate for some peace and adult interaction that they are pretending their child is a product of June Cleaver rather than the subject of an Edvard Munch painting.      

There are certain things you can't go back and change even if you regret them.  If you are overwhelmed by the number of children you birthed, or regretting that you didn't space them all 18 years apart, it's a bit late to fix that, and you just have to make do.  And since you DO have to feed your children (at least according to DCF and law enforcement), this means that sometimes you will have to "make do" in public places, like the grocery store.  Here I've compiled a list of problems and suggestions for people who are adamant about never wanting to hear screaming children, ever.

Problem: Kids cry in the grocery store
Solution: Order your groceries on line, pay the store to deliver them, or hire the local neighbor kid to do it for you, and let HIM listen to the screaming.

Problem: Kids cry in restaurants
Solution: Take Out

Problem: kids cry in movie theaters
Solution: Wait for the DVD

I know, I know.  Other people have bratty children, and that doesn't mean you should skip out on things you would otherwise enjoy, or go out of your way to accommodate these children.  Well, I can assure you, the child doesn't care one bit if you're at the restaurant or movie theatre, so you don't have to worry about trying to accommodate them.

And there are lots of things in this world that you shouldn't HAVE to do.  You shouldn't have to die eventually, you shouldn't have to lock your doors at night, you shouldn't have to teach your children not to talk to strangers, and you shouldn't have to research every food on the market before you decide if it's edible.  But we adapt to these things easily enough, so why are screaming children any different?

Obviously, I have children.  Like I said before, I don't like hearing them scream.  If my children are crying at a restaurant, or crying in a movie theatre, or crying period, you can bet your rear end I'm not enjoying the experience any more than you are.  And I agree there are some places children shouldn't generally go.   
  • If you're staring at a $50 plate with four egg noddles, two tablespoons of sauce, and three peas, you shouldn't have to listen to a crying child.
  • If you sitting in a hotel room that you're paying $6000 a night for, you shouldn't have to hear a crying child.
  • If you're in a store that expressly says "no children" for one reason or another, you shouldn't have to hear a crying child.
  • If you're flying first class or business class, you shouldn't have to hear a crying child.
  • That's about it
Airplanes, grocery stores, and even regular, middle class restaurants mean you're going to encounter regular, middle-class people, and they will sometimes have children.  Suck it up.  You don't want to listen to a screaming baby, and I don't want to listen to racial slurs, profanity, and vulgarity, especially when my children are around.  I'm gonna call it a fair trade, okay?

I'm not arguing that parents should force other people to listen to their child scream.  I think parents should be doing what they can to make sure their children are well-behaved in a given situation, but still, as a parent, there's only so much you can do.  I'm not going to make excuses for my children when they misbehave, but I know they WILL misbehave, and I will deal with it in the way that works best for them, not for strangers.

I've seen it over and over, from parents and non parents alike: "and they were just standing there not doing ANYTHING to quiet their child that was screaming for a cookie."  What exactly would you like them to do? You can't REALLY force a child to stop crying.  You can try to soothe them, you can threaten punishment, you can actually punish them, you can try to bribe them, but short of smothering them with a pillow you CANNOT actually make them stop.  Oddly enough, this is true even in the grocery store.

So, in short:

Parents of screaming children: Do what you can to make sure your children aren't disrupting the people around them
Parents of other children: Try to have some sympathy, because chances are you have been or will be there at some point
Non-Parents: Stop being a cry baby yourself, and realize that most parents are doing what they can, and aren't trying to make your life miserable.

Everyone: Remember that the only Cry Baby that anyone likes is this one:

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Birth, Start to Finish

I'm not gonna talk about what's right or wrong, because I honestly feel like that's different for everyone.  Instead, I'm going to make a list on what *I* think a mother should be educated about and/or prepared for prior to labor onset.  Once educated on the various choices, informed consent comes in to play, and it is completely the mother's choice of which risks she wants to choose.  So here are the MAIN birth choices, that mothers should look into.

I tried to find useful and neutral links, but please forgive me if I misjudged somewhere.  And sometimes I linked to Wikipedia, which is not THE most valid source of information sometimes, but it's still a good place to start.  These links should not be the end-all to your research.  You've got at least 30 weeks in most cases to learn about all this stuff, and I've only provided you with a good place to start, rather than everything you need to know.

How to Identify a bad source of information:

  1. You want to try to stick with source websites that are .org, .gov, or .edu.  These domains have rules about what they can and cannot post, and in theory the information should be accurate.  .net and .com have no rules, and they can post whatever they want.  Try to avoid those.
  2. If the site is telling you to use a natural form of labor induction such as castor oil, spicy food, or pineapple, just walk away.  While they may have some valid information on their site, feeding you wive's tales and false information makes them more than a bit sketchy.
  3. Wikipedia is not always accurate, so make sure you double check it.
  4. Avoid biased sources of information (this will be a majority of websites when it comes to birth choices).  If they aren't talking about specific studies and citing sources, but promising catastrophic results for choosing ____, you should run away.  Fast.

Happy researching!

(WARNING: While these links are in no way pornographic, several of them do picture women in labor or immediately after birth, and therefore in various stages of undress, with various body parts exposed.  Don't click the link if your boss would object to you seeing real boobs, or if you're grossed out by birth in general.  Please and thanks!)

Prenatal Care
Birthing Location

Reasons your doctor may suggest an induction, or you may choose to request one

Various interventions

Reasons suggested for C-sections

Immediate postnatal and beyond choices

There are more things a mother can research.  If you try to read it all, it's possible your head my explode (but probably not).  These are just some of the main issues that may come up, the more common complications, and the things you should know about BEFORE your doctor mentions them.  Research your choices so that you may give legitimately informed consent.  Know what you are risking, know what chances you are taking with your life and that of your baby, know what choices you have, and make your decision from there.

Other links a mother or mother-to-be might enjoy:
The Unnecessarian (Avoiding a Cesarean, and VBAC support)
ICAN (VBAC support)
Birthcenters (find a birth center)
La Leche League (breast feeding resources)
Attachment Parenting (A Parenting Philosophy)
Car Seat Safety (Make sure your child is safe in the car)
Car Seat Usage, with pictures (Using a car seat in a nutshell)
Choosing a Car Seat (car seats options by brand, features/stats, and price)
Water Safety (Keep kids safe in the water)
Baby Names (My blog post on how to name a baby, you may or may not like it)
Baby names for real (a real link to a real baby names site)
Shape of a Mother (what postpartum bodies really looks like)

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Plea for Accuracy

We all have passions.  Sometimes these passions come in the form of a "cause" - something we want to educate people on, and help them learn about and put into practice.  There are MANY of these in the parenting community.  There's baby wearing, vaccinating (or not), delaying solids, breast feeding, car seat safety, water safety, birth choices galore (natural, epidural, VBAC, repeat C-Section, water, home, hospital).  I'm just gonna stop there.

Whatever it is that you are passionate about, if you're going to argue it with people, you MUST BE ACCURATE!  Otherwise you just invalidate yourself to whoever catches you, and possibly your entire cause.  It's kind of a sad reality that we are quick to judge groups of people based on small sample sizes, but it's human nature, I think.  We take what we know and we run with it until we're proven wrong.

Breast feeding advocates: If you tell people that your boobs will cure cancer or that formula is poison, you're going to illicit eye rolls and scowls, and whoever you say these things to is going to assume you're talking out your rear end.  They're not going to listen to you, and they may never listen to a breast feeding activist again, because "they're all crack pots." *

VBAC advocates: If you tell women that the only way they'll ever get a VBAC is using a midwife and birthing at home, that all OBs are just scapel-happy psychos wanting to slice women open at the drop of a hat, you're gonna scare some people off, or at best make them lose hope.  Rather than fighting for what they want, you've convinced them that they have no options, because they don't want a home birth, or there are no midwives in their area.

Car seat safety advocates: If you're going to quote laws in an article you write, you should probably make sure you're right.  Double check your facts.  If you tell someone that a sippy cup is a lethal projectile in a crash, then that same someone may go to Google and search "death by sippy cup" and realize that you're full of crap.  Suddenly, everything you've told them, and everything they've read about car seat safety is seen as a racket, a bunch of bull, totally pointless.  "What else are you exaggerating or making up? Rear facing probably isn't 5 times safer, either." **

I think my point is obvious.  Advocating is awesome.  Advocate to your heart's content.  Shout from roof tops, spam your Facebook with facts and links and videos, write a blog that does or doesn't make money.  Do whatever you want to get the word out.  But whatever medium you choose, BE ACCURATE, otherwise you're hurting the cause for everyone else that actually knows what they're talking about.

* Breast milk is awesome stuff, and it's best for babies if it's available to you.  It has remarkable healing properties, and it's possible that maybe, possibly, theoretically, it can cure cancer. Maybe it has at some point in time.  It's cured pink eye and diaper rashes and eczema, anyways. But it's not the cure that scientists are looking for still.  Also, while formula has caused the death of babies in various circumstances, it's still a valid alternative when breast milk is not.

** Projectiles are a legitimate concern in a traffic collision.  A plastic, soft spout sippy cup CAN and HAS done extensive damage to the heads and faces of small children.  I encourage you to Google it if you're interested, or think I'm full of crap. ;)

Be Careful What You Say

We hear it over and over from everyone around us - how our children are little parrots, how they hear everything we say and are likely to repeat it at the worst of times.  And we ALL know it's true.

When my son was about 2, he picked up "the D-word" somewhere, and every time something would go wrong in his life, out it would come.  He failed at a video game? "D-word."  He dropped something? "D-word."  I hung my head in shape when he said it in the grocery store, or the church play group.  Eventually he learned to stop saying it, or it stopped being cool, or something along those lines.

Now that he's a 3-year-old, it's even more pronounced.  When he drops a toy on his foot and says "aw, fiddlesticks!" I laugh.  When a toy breaks into pieces in his hands and he says "aw, w-t-f?" (letters not words), I sort of frown at him.  Oops.  I should probably stop saying that one.

But what people don't usually mention is how kids will easily pick up on the GOOD things you say as well.  Like, the best way to teach a kid to say "please" and "thank you" is to say them yourself in the appropriate situation.  But we kind of all know this - it's obvious.  But I never REALLY realized until just this weekend, that this really pertains to EVERYTHING.

We showed up to soccer practice early on Saturday, and while waiting for the coach Luke and I started kicking the ball around.  A little girl from his team walked over and asked to play.  They started kicking it back and forth, and every time the little girl would kick it Luke would tell her "Good kick!  Great job!" "Kick it again!  Yay!"

And my little 2-year-old cheers for me when I do simple tasks, such as using the potty, putting a toy away, or drawing a circle.  "Good JOB, Mom!  Yay, Mom!"

I guess I always knew that positive reinforcement was the way to go, and that it's how we shape them into decent human beings, and teach them how to treat people.  It's how we start preparing them to become good parents when it's their time.

But I spend so much time specifically thinking about what I SHOULDN'T say to my children, that I rarely stop and make sure that I'm saying all the right things.  It feels pretty good to know that I have been, but it woke me up to the fact that what we SHOULD say is more important than what we SHOULDN'T, and I feel like lots of us (parents) have been concentrating on the wrong side of the spectrum.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Part of speech: Adverb
Definition: Almost certainly
Usage: I probably won't die today.

Probably is the word you use when you want to make an absolute statement, but know better than to ever make an absolute statement.  I say probably a lot.  Examples:
"Yes, that's probably who peed on the floor." - I know in my heart it was Vorenus, but I didn't see him do it so I won't make an absolute statement.  After all, Avalon has a generous bladder as well, and so does Lauren.
"My dog probably won't bite you."  He's never even growled at a human being, or shown his teeth.  He is the most submissive dog on the planet.  But he has teeth and a jaw, so I refuse to say he will never bite.
"The baby is probably yours."  It could be alien spawn.  But it's probably not.

You get the idea at this point I'm sure.  "Probably" is my way of interjecting reality into a situation without promising an absolute.  Here's what I mean.

One plane per year has crashed on a runway in the last 20 years (20 crashes total).  There are nearly 11 million flights scheduled yearly in the US.  Your chances of being involved in a runway collision - 2 in 11 million. .0000001%  I can't say that you won't be involved in a runway collision, but I can tell you that going out of your way to prepare for one by spending time or money is going to be a waste of time or money.

Better yet:
There have been 7 fatal runway collisions in the last 20 years.  Still 11 million flights per year.  So every 31,460,000 plane take offs result in one fatal crash. Odds of being in a fatal crash: 2 in 31,460,000. .00000006%  This makes it really tempting to say never, but I'm not gonna do it.

They PROBABLY weren't going to crash.

So let's apply this to parenting decisions.  I like to think in Probablys, and most other parents that I've encountered prefer to think in "Coulds."

Them: This COULD happen, so I'm going to do everything I can to prevent it.
Me: This PROBABLY won't happen, so whatever.

I do pick and choose my probablys based on convenience.  It's really inconvenient for me to bring all three of my children outside into the driveway at once for the purpose of loading them into the car.  Since my house is PROBABLY not going to erupt into screaming flames, and a kidnapper/murderer/rapist is PROBABLY not going to go through the back door and surprise me from inside, I think it's safe to bring out one child at a time.

I realize that the airbag sensor light on my passenger side is PROBABLY functional, and the airbag is PROBABLY off.  But since it's not especially inconvenient for me to store all of my children in the trunk, sardine style (that's safe right?), I won't take the risk with the airbag.  Maybe if I was being chased by someone with a chain saw, and all the back seats were full, then I would toss my rear facing infant carrier into the front seat and hope for the best.  I probably would, in fact.
Disclaimer: My kids are stored in the back seats of the car, all of them in car seats.  I don't even have a trunk.

So, the question to ask ourselves as parents? How willing are you to accept PROBABLY when it comes to your child's safety in the car?  In the bathtub? In the yard? It's always a personal decision that no one can make for you, but I do urge you to consider the consequences before using an expired car seat that's PROBABLY still good, or not reading a car seat manual because you can PROBABLY figure it out on your own.

Please watch this video if you don't think car seats expire - they do.

That's right.  This whole post was about car seats.  Bet you didn't see it coming.