Thursday, October 30, 2008

An ELC first 1st

First, we have a talker! I'll post another video at the end, essentially the exact same Miles Monologue, but from a different night. (Apologies for showing the mobile twice...I was trying to get a good shot for a future post.)

I really don't have time tonight to compose something of merit for the blog, but needed to check one thing off of my blog topic "to do" list or I will go nutty.

I cannot say enough good things about Miles's ELC experience (Early Learning Center). I really struggled with the idea of childcare for such a young baby, and when I confront sentiments like this recent Newsweek article or this Mem Fox bit, I am still quite defensive, and then always feel pangs of guilt. To be fair, I love Mem Fox's books (10 Little Fingers and 10 Little Toes is a Miles favorite), and she has responded to the comment in an agreeable way. I do, in fairness, understand where she is coming from, and think she has some valid points. Yet, as someone who is not really in a position to stay at home at this point, I will always struggle with the thought that I could be doing the whole motherhood thing better. Enter Mommy guilt.

(Let me break here, and address a question someone had--when you see words underlined and in blue/purple, you can click on the word, and it will take you to a related link/story/picture, etc.)

I tried to find a Mommy group around the new area that we moved to, and all of them are for Stay At Home Moms (SAHMs). They meet during the week in the mornings, and that just doesn't work with my schedule. Now that I am trying to keep off of the Internet, there are days that I do feel lonely and like I am missing the connection of other moms. I do keep in regular contact with a handful of new moms via e-mail (and Facebook!) Additionally, I really struggle with not having family around-especially my 3 sisters-in-law and mother, mother-in-law, and also my California/WI "surrogate sisters" (Studs, Becs and Schlotty). Time to break, or I'll start tearing up.

Miles is at the ELC 5 days a week, and both Eric and I work more than 40 hours a week (plus, we are both full time parents!), and I'll be the first to say, it is not easy. But, we are fortunate enough to have had Eric's work decide that it was time to establish a childcare center for faculty families. Miles is in the inaugural class of the ELC with 3 other boys, and I just love the arrangement. What is nice is that the center is 1 mile from our home, and on days that I work from home, I can go see him at lunch, feed him, play with all of the boys, and just escape the working world. (Also, I usually coordinate my visits with Eric's schedule so I can see him as well.) Even on days when I am in the office, it feels so good to talk with Eric and know that he visited Miles for a few minutes a couple times a day. When I pick Miles up, he is usually being held by one of Ms J's sons, or like today, being passed around by the girls volleyball team. He is just so loved, and he has no idea what sort of celebrity status he has on that campus.

Earlier this week, there was the ELC's first 1st birthday party! It was for the oldest boy...let's call him The Mayor. He walks around the joint, talking gibberish, like he owns the place. He likes to pat all the other boys and I really think believes that he is in charge. Then, at just about 8 months old, there is The Baby. We call him this because he looks like a picture perfect baby. And then, at a little over 6 months is Bruiser. He just reminds me of a football player--like he could kick Miles's diaper any day. And then quirky Miles (they call him GQ because they think it is funny that we typically don't dress him in traditional baby boy clothes). So, the 4 of them together is like this stinky little fraternity (that will soon be disrupted when Princess joins in December!).

The Mayor's birthday was a hoot, and I laughed so hard as they dressed the boys up in hats and put them together in little chairs and Miles in the bumbo for pictures. I am not going to share pictures as I don't have the permission of the other families, but I will attach a link to a few of the pictures Ms J sent to me from earlier in the day. (Can you tell Miles is "posed" in the rocking chair? The kid looks so uncomfortable).

Hang tight for the last of the Green-itudes...I'll try to post them tomorrow with our Halloween update!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Urgent Care

My mind is buzzing with things to blog about: my "diet" stage 2, Shlotty's couture footwear, Mem Fox and the perils of childcare, milk banking, premature baby expenses (monthly synagis shots for RSV)...but there was a slight hiccup in our schedule as Miles took his first trip to urgent care.

With skilled dexterity, Miles scratched his left eyeball with his nails. If his hands aren't in his mouth, then they are making the bloody marks of Zorro on his face. Eric is in charge of the "Baby-cures" and I have to say that he does an excellent job cutting and filing. I think we just have a skilled masochist.

I have never been confronted with a shredded eyeball before. Miles didn't appear to be in significant pain, but I kept thinking, is this an emergency? Do I page the pediatrician? When in doubt call mommy. I called my mom and we both decided it would be best to address his eye issue sooner than later. I spoke with an advice line nurse at Children Healthcare of Atlanta and she suggested we go to urgent care in case he did any damage to the cornea.

Good News!
  1. Miles weighs 14lbs 15oz (So close! I wanted to spit on his tummy or something to push it to an even 15lbs)
  2. Miles's cornea seemed to escape the wrath of his fingernail, but the poor white of his eye did not fair so well. He took the whole dye in the eye and prodding by the doctor like a champ, and was actually worse during the time we waited to get care. Apparently 5 month olds don't understand words like "triage." There was some talk of an eye patch, but I told the Doc that "pirate" was not on our short list of Halloween costumes, and that there aren't many one-eyed jack-o-lanterns.

I just got home a bit ago from standing in line 2 hours for advanced voting, and am heading to bed for what I hope is at least 3 hours before the nugget cries for milk. Therefore, I am not pulling up my Green calendar, but will post my green-itudes on the next post.

But I do have the nursing balls recipe for those interested: (I usually double this)

1/2 cup peanut butter (honey flavored is good)
3 1/2 Tbsp nonfat powdered dry milk
A few Tbsp of honey to taste
1 cup raisins or dark chocolate bits or M&Ms
Handful of flax meal
** Here is where you can experiment--for a binder, you can mix in any of the following, or all of the following to the consistency of cookie dough: crushed graham crackers, Kashi Go Lean crunch remnants, grape nuts...anything else you like!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Yo-yo dieting

First, I must come clean and admit that I cheated on my diet. I was so good for a few days, and then sleep deprivation got the best of me and I Google searched "five month old" and "sleep through the night." It was 3am, and I was desperate. Earlier that day I had a surprise message from a charming blog follower (not sure how she ended up at my blog) who gave me some encouraging perspective on having a premature baby. They are notoriously awful sleepers, and this last week of 3+ night wakings is not unusual I guess. Of course, it is certainly not preferable! It was a welcome correspondence, and I started thinking about this "midnight" society of women that are all up with me across the globe (well, eastern standard time) every night. And it is in the shadows of a 3:45am moon that I felt like I could cheat on my diet and not get caught (until Eric found the Berkeley Parents Network website up the next morning).

So, yes, I found myself at the Berkeley Parents network and read a good smattering of of posts regarding 5-8 month breastfed babies and sleep (or lack thereof). My exhaustion hasn't been tamed, but I do recognize that a) we are not incapable parents for not being able to schedule our baby to sleep through the night, and b) there are, in fact, advantages to night feedings. It's that part "b" that I find myself harking back to frequently in an attempt to stave off a breakdown.
  • Night feedings will continue to encourage my milk supply, which needs all the help it can get;
  • Night feedings help confer anovulation (i.e. birth control--controversial topic, here is a good overview--Miles does not need a sibling quite yet);
  • Night feedings give me the luxury of "Goldilocksing" through beds all night. I start in the Papa Bear bed with Eric, and then after the first failed attempt at a full night of uninterrupted sleep, usually end up on the couch for the next segment of sleep. It is probably 6.5 fewer steps from the couch to the nursery than from the bedroom to the nursery, and in the middle of the night, 6.5 steps is a lot of ground to cover! The next, and hopefully final stretch of "sleep" (let's use that term lightly, shall we?) usually has me curled up in an adapted fetal position in the nursery chair. En route to my different beds, I do pass by the fridge and knock back a nursing ball or two.
What are these nursing balls I keep speaking of? A 32+ year old recipe for a "healthy" kids' snack (adapted from a book called Feed Me I'm Yours). I find myself hungry in the middle of the night, but have been struggling to find a quick snack. I remembered these "balls" my mom used to make that highlighted peanut butter and honey. Good thing MomA was visiting last weekend. We made a batch of what I call nursing balls, and since, I have made 2 additional batches. Basically, my modernized version has you mix up the following into what look like cookie dough balls (contact me if you want more specific measurements. I am in Papa Bear bed right now, and don't want to get up until Miles calls for me):
  • Peanut butter
  • Honey
  • Crushed graham crackers
  • Non-fat powdered milk
  • Flax meal (you could use wheat germ, too)
  • Chocolate bits
  • Kashi Go Lean Crunch remnants (you know, the part of the bag with the crumbs that you always throw away)
Yummy! Eric even likes them, and they are great post long run fuel. Just roll up a batch, and store them in the fridge.

***One final addition to part "b" of Nightfeeding: bonding. Every night, after my eyes have adjusted to the dark in Miles's room, I look down and see the most perfect boy. (It helps that the dark masks his cradle "crap" and scratched face). Miles does this funny "movement mantra" as I call it--it's not words he repeats over and over, but this repetitive nursing movement--like booby tai kwan do. Whichever arm is not smashed up against my belly, he holds it above his head and gently paints imaginary crescent moons across the top of my chest, brushing my collar bone. Over and over and over...his paper thin nails (the same ones that gash his face) tickle my skin with his movement mantra. It is when I close my eyes and just sit "present" with Miles while he composes his invisible Monet, that I want to bottle up the moment to save for the day when I am wondering how I am to survive the coming night.

(You thought you were getting away with no pictures? Fools!)

For all of those who still think we actually comb our sons hair into a toupee, here is what the poor child looks like when you try to "normalize" his hair: And then this is what he looks like upon waking up. (Thanks to Great Aunt Dilys for the sea turtle kimono outfit, and to Aunty Shirley and Grunkle Seth for Egypt, Miles's organic monkey pal).

Green-atude: October 14
Unplug unused chargers and electronics.

October 15
Ban the can. Buy foods that are fresh, frozen or dried.

October 16
Make smoothies using organic yogurt, berries, juice and a bit of flax seed (Ali's addition: make nursing balls!!!)

October 17
Keep keys from kids. They sometimes contain lead.

October 18
Get rid of household hazardous waste:

October 19
Set up a yogurt buffet for your kids. (Miles is just fine with his milk buffet for now.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Going on a diet: stage 1

(This will be in classic Ali style: long and convoluted. To keep the reading audience happy, I am peppering the post with pictures of Miles from this past weekend when MomA visited.
Totally gratuitous photo shoot of the same photo over and over. We miss you MomA!!!)

Full photo shoot here

Diet: stage 1

Now now, it's not as you think; I am incredibly happy and satisfied with my daily quota of dark chocolate M&Ms and nursing balls (more on that treat in another post), and feel incredibly fortunate to be in that percentage of pregnant women who got back into her pre-pregnancy clothes with speed. The "diet" I speak of is related to expunging toxic influences in my life. In this perilous time of "golden parachutes," decaying retirement funds (45% reduction in our own retirement account in 1 week!), political mud slinging on TV, insidious dry weather that leads to infernos in the west and drought in the southeast, melamine and BPA ravaging baby products/food worldwide, polar bears stranded on melting ice islands, unemployment lurking around every is pretty easy to convince yourself that crawling under the covers for a good decade is the only solution. (For those of us all-nighter mommies who don't fraternize with our covers on a regular basis, this certainly isn't the solution.)

Stage 1: the Internet. One of the sempiternal challenges for parents is manage the polyamorous marriage between fear, intuition, reality and ignorance. It starts in pregnancy--you rush to research every little twinge you experience, diagnosing yourself with any order of condition, from maple syrup urine disease to gangrene. The Internet is a total "frenemy." You find blogs, message boards, "scientific articles," anecdotal stories from great aunts, and at first, feel armed with all the information with which to tease out the truth. What I found was that over time I searched longer and more fervently for the "truth" than being present in my day. Information overload. I worried excessively, and sometimes with good reason, but I don't think I gave enough credence to being truly present each day, trusting my intuition, and relying on my health care professionals (well, there was Dr Evil who I still don't trust) and well seasoned family/friends.Now that I have a baby, I have been compelled and enticed into doing the same: Miles hasn't rolled over since his 5th week--what could be wrong? I will Google search "baby doesn't roll over" over and over. Or, I will research "baby does not sleep through the night," or "how to increase milk supply." As someone with a masters in public health research, I am primed to do my own community (i.e. the Heintz family community) needs assessment. The truth is that I have already identified the handful of good Internet sites that I trust, and I have a wonderful pediatrician who will e-mail me in response to any concern I have. Yet, I still get frantic about figuring it all out, and at times, will realize an hour of my life has been wasted on tippity tappity typing away. (FYI, I pretty much only refer to kellymom and the Stanford Med School for breastfeeding advice.) I prefer to be informed, but am trying to avoid being over-informed at the cost of my sanity and valuable time with family and friends.

I had my epiphany one afternoon a few weeks ago one early evening in September. Here's your visual: Ali with her work shirt completely open, Miles nursing on the right side, Medela pumping on the left, and a work computer on her lap with windows shifting between work e-mail and Google search ("how to get rid of cradle cap"). I had an almost out of body experience, and wondered what I must look like to an outsider. First, I laughed thinking about the visual, and then I thought, SLOW DOWN. I had almost instantaneous guilt; I was not present--not for Miles, not for my second child (the Medela breast pump), not for my work, and not for my research interest. I was syphoning off attention in different directions, attempting to convince myself that all of my efforts were valiant and that I was somehow channeling wonder woman.

For my job, I have an 8 hour tryst with a computer every day. When I am home, outside of posting pictures and blog entries and catching up on some edited personal computer use, I am trying to cut out the fat, as they say, and stop worrying and binging on the Internet and start experiencing. Diet step 1: cut out Internet obesity. I have a family and community outside of a 13 inch Mac screen that are far more fulfilling. I don't know everything, and I certainly won't learn everything on the Web, but I will learn a lot more about Miles by being with him than researching him. I cannot swear off the computer completely, but I have been reducing my consumption substantially.
In addition to the Internet, our family has instituted a no TV during any meals rule (NPR on the radio IS allowed for now--there are worse things than a baby catching up on Market Place). Okay, I do DVR Ellen and Project Runway to watch, and I have been known to follow America's Next Top Model. I "like me a good" presidential debate, but I can do without 24 hours of spin and bogus polls. Here is where the NY Times online comes in--I need to get my news somewhere!
We have begun daily dance parties in our house, where Miles looks on as his parents pop around the house doing their best middle school Red Devils dance running man (Westy-B people will understand). His response is generally luke warm--sometimes I think his face is saying "puh-leaze!" But we'll get the occasional flirty smile, and that keeps us dancing.

Green-atude: October 7
Make a whole grain pita pizza with your kids

October 8
Change the air filter in your furnace

October 9
Use baking soda and vinegar to clean your toilet

October 10
Join Mission Organic 2010 (

October 11
Invest in stainless steel water bottles (Eric and I have had Kleen Kanteens for months. Love them!)

October 12
Visit a farmer's market

October 13
Conduct a hand washing refresher: sing your ABCs while scrubbing.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Organic Blackberry?

I think this blog is jinxed. First I write about my corporate pumping shower curtain, and it fails and breaks the next day. Then I post about forgetting to get the baby sitter's cell phone number, and my cell phone is on the fritz again. I have twice replaced the battery on this P.O.S. (sorry for the vulgarity, but technology brings out the worst in me), but it has, of late, been suffering from extended episodes of narcolepsy with fits of Tourette's syndrome. If it isn't turning off when I set it down on any surface, it is making strange electronic tics. This weekend the Motorolla's health declined precipitously, with yesterday almost resulting in me admitting the phone to ICU. Luckily, my 2-year contract is up and I am due a new phone. The question is, what kind of phone? I really dislike the flip phone, as I have had nothing but trouble with that feature, but I truly don't need a camera, Vcast (what is that anyway?), mobile web, juke box, blood glucose monitoring, or whatever else these crazy devices can do for you. Yet, the most attractive (and free) option is the, gulp, blackberry. I may just opt for the blackberry but not have it set up for Internet access. Stay tuned. (For those who want to reach me, call Eric's phone.)

This weekend marked my leap back into legitimate running. My long run was, well, long. Long for someone who hasn't run for an hour in just about a year. As I started the run, I visualized the cob webs sticking to the inner crevices of my patellas shaking loose and the rust in my hip sockets getting scraped off. I also visualized Schlotty as I knew she had just completed her FIFTH marathon that morning. (And I just found out she nailed a Boston marathon qualifying time again!) The girl is not only a natural talent, but a venerable domestic goddess who must hold the key to finding an extra 8 hours in every day to sew, renovate a house, run, read libraries of novels, keep abreast of all things celebrity, cook, and work a full time job. I bet you when a little nugget comes her way, she'll strap him/her on her back with a sling she just made with a book in one hand, spatula in the other while training for a half marathon.

When I am running, I always use visual techniques to keep my legs moving. I try focus on what it looks like when other women run. Deena Kastor looks too much like an alien to me (same with Flannigan), and Paula Radcliff has awfully awkward form. I usually think about Sara Hall, but she is still so inaccessible in terms of talent. Slightly more accessible (but not much), is Schlotty. So, I tried to imagine the strength and endurance in her legs as my weak and slightly unshaven (let's be honest, moms don't shave every day) chicken legs attempted to battle hilly terrain. Thanksgiving may seem like a long time away for you, but my training for the Thanksgiving half marathon is quickly dwindling. Sub 1:37 for the half is not even within the realm of possibility anymore, nor is running anything close to the other half times I have posted in the past 3 years. The goal at this point is to run the whole distance.

This was also the first run I have done without the company of Eric and Miles. Part of me felt like I was escaping, and part of me felt like I was clearing out my mind so that upon my return, I would be even more present and engaged with the family. I kept remembering how it felt to have Miles with me 24/7 while pregnant--on the commute to work, trips to the grocery store (when I could handle the stench), walks through Morningside--and now I was alone. I look at my stomach a lot, amazed that Miles ever held up residence there for 34 weeks. With the linea negra gone, and my body pretty much back to where it used to be, there really isn't much in the way of a visual archive, or pregnancy signature that can remind me of carrying a baby. It kind of makes me sad.

Green-atude: October 5
Eat a meal made with 100% local foods. (Eric and I dropped the ball here. But Miles is another story; breast milk is 100% local!)

October 5
Try living one day with using as little plastic as possible

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Comedy of Errors

We survived our 2nd high school babysitter night. Pappi and Milky White had a wonderful dinner date at Nava, followed by a rather delightful Marist performance of Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors. Our own error was realized as we were driving through Buckhead--we did not have the babysitter's number. Luckily, we had left both of our cell numbers posted for the sitter, but we didn't even think of getting her cell phone number (and Eric arranged the sitting at Marist, not via the phone). With a little faith, and a cold glass of sangria, we had a relaxing night. Crusted grouper, valet parking and high school theater never felt so good.

Aunty Schlotty and Aunt Studs recently turned me on to wordles. In the words of Wordle, "[it] is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. " Basically, some individual with way too much time on her hands created some sort of algorithm or computer analysis program to entertain bloggers like me. Prior to the reveal of my first wordle I would almost bet my first born son (and I have one!) that "Miles" would be the most prominent word. Oh how wrong I was. I laughed at the wordle generated for me from my blog text. I don't think the analysis takes into account the entirety of the blog, but you can see where my mind has been over the past few days. Speaking of, I am off to my second hot date of the evening. It's me and Medela.

Green-atude: October 4
Calculate your carbon footprint

Friday, October 3, 2008

Check your shoes at the door

: October 3

Make your home a shoe free zone.

(How could you ever want to put shoes on little feet like that, anyway? I cannot believe they were so small at one point.)

Eric, Miles and I actually had a powwow the other week prior to me discovering the children's health calendar and decided to go ahead and have a shoe free house to avoid tracking in dirt, germs and lead (I recently read that you can track in a lot of lead with your shoes). We aren't going as far as Martha Stewart by putting a basket of cashmere slippers at the front door for everyone, but we are going to try to keep everyone's shoes confined to the front door mat. This will be interesting when we have guests...especially my father. I don't think I have seen him without shoes on for 28 years.

Just for giggles, Eric and I watched this video we posted many months ago; instead of laughing, we both cried. Be still our hearts.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Okay, I am cheating. It is Thursday, and here I am vomiting words. I just couldn't get on the computer last night for "Almost Wordless Wednesday." But I'll attempt to be brief.

October is upon us, and in Atlanta, the air is dry, cool and crisp and the gas pumps are starting to flow "overeth" again. It is also a big month: Breast Cancer Awareness month, Children's Health month, Ali's 1/2 marathon training amps up, and the race for the White House is in the final 800 meters. Plus, today is READ FOR THE RECORD day:
  • Adults and children are asked to support early education opportunities for all children by reading the official campaign book, Corduroy, together on October 2, 2008 to break the record for the largest shared reading experience ever, which was set by 258,000 people on September 20, 2007 during the 2nd year of Jumpstart’s Read for the Record campaign.
Miles is reading it with his ELC buddies today, and we will read it tonight instead of this week's book bedtime book, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. I hope everyone takes a moment to read Corduroy to your "youngins" if possible.

Eric has kindly adjusted his running speed to meet mine with the help of a jogging stroller and 12.7lb baby. I am gearing up for my first long run this weekend and have been out hitting the pavement with Pappi and Mee-layz. MomA (or Nana...I keep going back to calling her MomA--"Mom Anne") generously gifted Miles with a huge package from LL Bean, including a wonderful fleece suit with matching frog hat and thumbless mittens. The hat and mittens were perfect for our recent chilly run outside. More pictures at the post's conclusion. Notice the deer in the headlights visage. Classic Miles.
I also included pictures of the nursery as I took them for my original intention of doing "Almost Wordless Wednesday." And we also begun our wall of black and white photos. Our intention is to fill the whole wall with B&W family photos. We are still looking for 2 frames for 2 Miles photos. No real anecdotes, just random pictures.

For Children's Health month, a calendar has been developed of extremely do-able tips that still having the potential for big impact. They range from greening your house and improving nutrition to getting civically engaged and reducing energy use to prevent global warming. Instead of Gratitudes, for the month of October, I will do Green-atudes and post each day's tip.

Green-atude: October 1

Register to vote:

I cannot express how important it is to vote. I would love to be a bug in your ear, rather a huge elephant in your ear--that would be painful--and kindly "suggest" the candidate you should choose, and why the Barracuda instills the fear of God in me, but the focus should be on getting people to the polls, regardless of political leaning. Watch the debate tonight! Should be good theater.

October 2

Replace 3 incandescent light bulbs with 3 CFLs.

Full album of pictures here!