Monday, July 16, 2012

An All-Inclusive Birthplan for Expectant Mothers

In a divergence from my heretofore usual material, here is a birth plan outline that I wrote to share with clients (I offer doula and childbirth education services).  Feel free to alter it however suits you and share with whoever wants to use it.

Birth Plan Outline

Overview:  The basic concept behind this birth plan is (EXAMPLE: to allow for as natural a birth as possible etc)

During labor: 
How would you like to be hydrated (through IV or otherwise)?
How often do you want vaginal exams performed (all exams are optional, you may refuse to be examined at any time)?
What are your wishes for pain management?
What are your wishes for mobility?
How do you want your baby monitored (continuously with the belly straps, intermittently with the belly straps, intermittently with a handheld doppler)?

During birth:
Do you want to be directed to a birthing position or choose one for your own comfort?
Do you want to push with your body's urges or with direction from your care provider or nurse?

After birth:
Do you want your placenta delivered by cord traction (pulling on the cord)?  Do you want Pitocin used in its delivery?
What do you wish for pain control after delivery?
When do you want the umbilical cord clamped and cut?
Where do you want your baby to go immediately after birth (onto your belly, into the warmer etc).
Do you want your baby to sleep in your room with you?
Do you want your baby to be given bottles or pacifiers?.
Do you want a circumcision performed?

The Unexpected
Should a C-section become necessary, how do you want it handled?  Who do you want in the room with you?  How soon do you want breastfeeding to be established?  Where do you want your baby to go?  If you wear glasses, do you wish to have them with you?
Should your baby be born premature or sick, how do you want it handled?  When do you want to see your baby?  When will you want to initiate breastfeeding?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ghost Story in July

This might make a better October post, but it's a strange story I feel like sharing today. 

I'll start by saying I'm a skeptic.  I love Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures for their entertainment value, but I rarely see anything on there that I can't explain logically, and I recognize that the things I *do* see that I can't explain logically are probably still explainable by someone of greater mental capacities.  The guys on Mythbusters could probably do it.  Up until the incident I'm about to share with you, I have never experienced any paranormal stuff that wasn't caused by my trickster little brother trying to make me pee myself, nor have I experienced anything after.

But I have a story that I cannot for the life of me figure out logically.

This happened in the winter of 2008, while I was pregnant with my daughter.  I was house/babysitting for a friend/mentor.  She lived in a mid-sized old Victorian brick house with gorgeous original hardwood floors that creaked and groaned in real charm that nothing but time can produce.  I stayed in the house with my husband and we looked out for her 13 year old grandson, made sure he got to school and did his homework, and kept the plants watered and chickens fed while she was away in Mexico.  One day Max decided he wanted to sleep in his own bed.  The bed we were given was to comfort what Saw IV is to the feel good movie of the summer.  It was a remarkably thin pallet on a plywood board on the bottom of a bunk bed.  I was pregnant and already uncomfortable, but I didn't blame him (to his face).  I had a responsibility, so I stayed.

That night I turned in early.  I heard the kid go to bed shortly after I did.  Maybe 10 minutes later I heard what sounded like a hard rubber ball roll across the hardwood floor.  I had been sleeping there for a week at this point and I had never heard anything like it.  I figured that a ball had rolled out of the kid's room and assuaged my "OMG THIS HOUSE IS HAUNTED RUN" instinct with that.  But then a few minutes later without any footsteps sounding on those loud hardwood floors, whatever it was rolled *back* down the hallway.  If a ball could roll out of the room and down the hall, how could it also roll back?  That would mean it was rolling uphill, one way or another, and what accounts for the pause of MINUTES between rolling down the hall and rolling back up?

The next morning on the way to school the kid started talking about how the house was haunted by my friend's uncle who had died and followed her.  He said that weird stuff was always happening.  Weird smells, weird sounds, and if they yelled at him to stop, the noises/happenings stopped.  I hadn't asked about the sounds I'd heard.  I asked the kid if he had any large rubber balls, or anything that could have rolled down the hall.  His response was that teenager stare... you know, the one that simultaneously says "You're stupid" and "I'm not a baby any more!" and "Bite me, old person" (even though I was only 7 years his senior) in the most annoying way possible.  I peeked in his room without going in and didn't see a ball.  Not to mention that his room was right at the top of the stairs.  The ball would have had to go around them to roll down the hall.

Nothing else happened while I was there.  I know it's not as exciting as seeing apparitions or blood dripping down a wall or creepy little girls singing off-key nursery rhymes, but this really happened, and I really don't have any way to explain it.  What rolled down the hall?  How did it roll back?  Where was the object in the morning? 

Feel free to tell me what you think it was!

Friday, July 6, 2012

On Mommy/Daddy Guilt

If you're a parent, and care a lick about how your kid turns out, chances are you are aware of the myriad schools of thought on raising children properly.  It goes way beyond spanking versus not spanking.

My firstborn as a 3 month old in a rare moment of not completely losing it

After I had my first child, I was introduced to the exciting world of mommy guilt.  This is a phenomenon born of the fact that no matter what you do for your child, it will never, ever, ever be enough.  They will always deserve better than your best because they are your child.  There is no task in the world more important than creating the next generation of people.  My guilt was perhaps enhanced because of the near-constant crying and 45 minute stretches between nursing sessions around the clock, demonstrating just how very inept I was at this whole motherhood thing, but I think every mother feels it.  And moms blame themselves for not being perfect.  You spent all day playing with your kid, teaching him his ABCs, attending to his every need, wish and whim... but you didn't make an all-organic, raw, Paleo dinner because you were So. Effing. Exhausted.  Shit.

I don't know about you guys, but I feel like I'm constantly being pulled in two directions (at least), as well.  All the moms on my Facebook page (excellent mothers, all) post stuff about completely doing away with all forms of punishment, or how not having a completely natural birth can cause learning impairments later in life or how feeding kids conventionally grown foods can cause them to grow a second head that will try to take over the world.  On the other hand, I have friends and family (and, to one extent or another, my own maternal instincts, since the following is how I myself was raised) telling me that sparing the rod spoils the child, that being too soft on them may inhibit the process of learning to deal with consequences.  My natural instinct is to get defensive.  Why?  Because my style of parenting falls squarely between the two branches I just mentioned and because I feel guilty.  Now don't get me wrong.  When I judge myself as a mother objectively, I think I'm doing pretty darn well.  The kids are alive, clean, fed, living in a house that isn't filthy, and they're usually pretty happy and well behaved.  But when I judge myself by their standards I'm crap, either way.

Recently I was watching my kids play and I realized that all this back and forth, all this "advice" offered with nothing but the best intentions (and much of it not even aimed specifically at me but just posted generally to everyone) had convinced me by turns that either I was doing something horribly wrong, or my kids weren't normal, terribly behaved or otherwise harder to handle than others, or perhaps both.  Probably both.

An example of either a mommy fail or a 3 year old win

And then I had an epiphany.  There are all kinds of mothers all over the world.  All kinds of parenting philosophies.  I've seen attachment parents tout French parenting practices (which are decidedly parent-centered, which is kind of the opposite of attachment parenting), parents who spank speak out aggressivly in favor of child-led weaning and read about mothers in the African bush let toddlers wander within inches of open flames.  And for the most part, humans are doing alright.  Most people grow up to function as members of their respective societies.  Good people come from bad families, bad people come from good families.  There are reams and reams of essays, papers, studies and evidence supporting every claim made about every parenting style.  Humans are complex beings, and I don't think we'll ever finish learning what makes us tick.  And while we're figuring that out, just love your kids.  Let them know that you love them.  Don't abuse them.  Do your best to meet their needs, teach them what they need to know, and let the guilt die a horrible death.  Because there is no way to guarantee a perfect product when it comes to raising kids. 

One more parenting lesson, which ties in to the general theme here: kids are the original masters of photobomb, learn to love those jacked up snapshots.

And that, if you listen to me (as everyone should) is the end of the Mommy Wars.  Because without guilt there isn't anything to defend vehemently, to judge others for or to get angry about.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Dumbest Thing About Fox News's Reaction to the Healthcare Decision

People have diverse political opinions, and most of them are good people.  I'm pretty much cool with whatever you think as long as you're not an asshole about it.  I don't dislike Fox News because they cover most things conservatively.  If they were just honest about doing that, it'd be fine.  I hate Fox News because their slogan is "Fair and Balanced" and they are neither.  Just be straight with us, alright?

But by far the stupidest thing they are saying about the healthcare bill is that they're pissed off that much of it was upheld because it was determined the penalty for not buying health insurance is a tax.  They didn't like it when it was said it wasn't a tax either, but do the semantics really matter to the masses?  No.  It doesn't matter to us if it's a tax or a penalty, it's something we have to pay.  The only difference is that one is constitutional and one is not, and because the language was ambiguous enough, it's being called a tax. 

If you don't like that it was upheld as constitutional, just say that.  Don't get all butthurt that it's not called what you want it to be called.  It's just a word, it means the same thing either way. 

Now.  Argue your points, minions.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Recipe time! Apple cranberry chicken salad

I created this recipe after I tried some similar chicken salad by accident at a potluck once.  It's really simple and really yummy.  I serve it wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla.


2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped (I use yellow because they're cheapest,  but any onion will do)`
1/2 cup dried, sweetened cranberries
1 crisp apple (granny smith, pink lady or fuji are good choices), chopped (leave the skin on, it's full of nutrients)
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 cup lite mayo (you can use regular, but I think it tastes gross if you do)


Boil the chicken just until done.  Don't overcook it or it will be dry and tough.  You can also pan fry, bake, broil... whatever you like, just make sure you can chop or shred it easily.  After it's cooked, chop or shred it.  Like I just said.  Pieces should be small enough that you don't get a huge bite of bland chicken.

Put the chicken into a large bowl and add the poultry seasoning,  Stir it up so that you don't have big chunks of spice without anything to season.  Add the rest of the ingredients and and stir until it comes together.  I don't like a super goopy chicken salad, but if you do, add more mayo.

Voila.  I'll add pictures when I can find my damn camera.

Monday, June 18, 2012

When Teenagers Wed

A close family friend of mine just got engaged, and hearing her story reminded me of my own engagement stories.  Yes.  Plural.  Prepare yourselves for a good laugh, because this is ridiculous.

I met my husband when I was 15, discussing books (and everything else teenagers are wont to discuss) on an online forum hosted by an author we both liked.  It's a good thing we met so young, because now that we're adults, we no longer enjoy reading Goodkind's work through the poor prose. 

Anyway, after a week-long visit, and some teenager-y family drama on his part, Max decided to move out of New York (where he lived) to Colorado (where I lived).  We had known each other for 6 months, spent 7 days together, and he came 2000 miles with a backpack, a rolling bag with "I PWN" written in duct tape on the back and an XBOX in the mail to himself.  It's funny that out of all of the possessions he had to his name, his gaming console was the most important, too important to leave behind when moving across the country.  That should have tipped me off as to how he would want to spend most of his time, but love is blind.  The plan was for him to find an apartment and stay with my family in the mean time.

Two whole days later (so a grand total of nine days together), I asked him to marry me at 6:00 in the morning while we were watching Winnie the Pooh.  I got up 30 minutes early for school so that I could watch with him and have a little bit of time without my mother or siblings being annoying and telling us to chill with the PDA.  I was only 16 and he was only 18, so we decided not to tell anyone we planned to get married until much later to avoid the freak-outs.

Making the engagement official was a little different.  A year and a few months later, on a really, really cold November morning while I was driving him to work, he asked me to marry him.  In a gas station parking lot.  He had bought a cheap ring at Walmart (which turned my finger black and has since been replaced), and I had said I wanted to be surprised.  The fact that he thought "least opportune moment" = "surprise!" should have tipped me off to how sweepingly romantic he could be.  But, alas, again, love is blind.

I said yes.  We announced it.  People still freaked out.  One of my uncles told me I needed to be with at least a dozen guys before I had any idea who I wanted to spend my life with.  My peers in high school told me we'd never last.  We got married when I was 18 (almost 19) and he was 21, 3 years after becoming a pair.

This kiss lasted so long (in retribution for me claiming that Max would be embarrassed to kiss me in public) the good Reverend Simmons told us to cut it out

And despite the hilarious ineptitude of the whole thing, 5 1/2 years after the hilariously disastrous wedding (where my mother got a speeding ticket in sight of the ceremony location and Max and I both had to suppress coughing to take our vows), I wouldn't take it back.  We are (read: he is) still romantically inept, still awkward, still learning to accommodate each other and live together peacefully.  There are ups and downs, but I think I speak for us both when I say we're not sorry, and we told you so, Uncle Bob.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday Split Topic: Music/My Daughter Hates Pants

(Readers, pretend there's a picture of me in concert dress with my trumpet here, please, thanks *wink*)

Most people don't know this about me, but I played the trumpet for 5 years.  Yep.  5th grade to 10th grade.  I got a standing ovation one year at the Christmas concert after pulling it out of the toilet with my solo (which I was required to write by myself).  That's not saying as much as you think, our band was 5 kids (no joke), myself (I played the trumpet, french horn and baritone, depending on the need of the song, but mostly trumpet), a clarinet/saxophone player, a clarinet/bass clarinet player, another trumpet/horn player and a drummer.  I was just having an on day when everyone else was having an off day.  I gave it up because when we moved to Colorado from Wyoming and I changed schools, I learned that not every school is as awesome as my old one was and provides instruments for free to musical kids.  I would have to either purchase my own (impossible, where does a 15 year old kid come up with $300-600?) or ask my mother to rent one for me (she worked at Walmart, I mean, need I say more?).  I have regretted not finding a way to continue with music ever since.

Lately, I've been very much feeling the pull to get back into it.  I don't know how, but I imagine some day I will find a way.  Classes, lessons, teaching myself another instrument (I've always wanted to learn a string...), I'll find a way.  Whatever happens, I must admit that I am impressed with the shift I've seen in popular music lately.  There are still the artists who are not really artists... or talent.  Other people write all their songs, and they then use autotune to both sound trendy and decent, because otherwise they blow, but there is also quite a bit of legitimate talent.  It's not as mainstream as Lady Gooballs and Keener (my pet name for Ke$ha, because I'm pretty sure keening is about the only sound she's capable of making with autotune), but it's there and it's being played on the radio, on VH1 (sometimes), and it's making it's rounds on YouTube, in the form of covers of pop songs.

Yesterday I heard one of my neighbors trying to perfect his version of this cover:

He screeched on the chorus several times and didn't even try to moderate it, but I was just so glad to hear someone singing a pop song covered by someone with actual talent instead of the crappy original.

So thank you, Gods of Music, whoever you are, for rescuing us from the generation that was Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, and the Backseat Girls (er... Backstreet Babes?  BACKSTREET BOYS!  That's it.)

Now.  Topic 2. 

Rhapsody takes after her mother, I think.  I remember once, my mother insisting I put on some pants my grandmother had gotten me in great condition from a yard sale.  I wanted to like them.  They were red, and I liked red.  I didn't want to put them on, though.  I was a dress girl and I was used to having my legs completely free, unhindered by anything.  Running was easier, jumping, climbing.  I got my knees scraped more often when I fell, but it was worth it.  I did as I was bid, and put on the pants.  They dug into my belly when I sat, I couldn't move my legs like I wanted.  I squatted down, my face hot with fury and screamed "LOOK WHAT THEY MAKE ME DO!"

Rhapsody is just like that.  Pants are the bane of her existence.  Every time someone sends her clothes, they send 90% dresses.  The only time I can get her to wear pants without a huge fight is when it's freezing outside, and then I have to plead to her sense of compassion for me, telling her that I have to do my job, and my job is to keep her safe, healthy and warm. 

Every picture I have of her is in a dress.  For at least the last two years.

And now she's singing along to Walk Off the Earth's cover of "Somebody That I Used To Know" by Gotye (which is better than the original, like all the covers coming out these days).  Hell.  Yes.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Learning Not to Take Things so Flippin' Seriously

By now, if you haven't heard about the Florida bath salts zombie attack where a man high on a particularly potent form of LSD affectionately dubbed "bath salts" ate 80% of another man's face, you've probably been under a rock without WiFi.  It must have been hard to find a rock without WiFi signal, so good for you.

Anyway, I came across this graphic while surfing the web one afternoon during nap time and I haven't stopped laughing about it ever since.  It has everything.  Pop culture (that song is terrible, by the way), zombies, and inappropriate humor.

Why is it blog worthy?  Because it's absolutely, completely un-okay to be making fun of this.  Isn't the rule 22.3 years?  I'm pretty sure that's what the prophets Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman said.  But I laugh every time I think of this picture with those words canted to the rhythm of that awful song.

Obviously, I'm not alone in thinking this is hilarious, because it's been re-blogged about 40 million times by now.  But decent people everywhere are snickering behind their hands to hide the fact that they are amused.  Some pretend not to find any humor in it at all and even fewer truly don't find it funny, and think those of us who do are terrible people. 

Here's the thing, though.  In a life that's often peppered with absurdity (this story, for instance), pain, tribulation and difficulty, don't those of us who CAN find humor in situations like this deserve to have a laugh?  We're not laughing at the poor man who was attacked.  Just at the ludicrous circumstances.  I mean... right in the middle of the uptick in undead popularity with shows like Vampire Diaries, True Blood, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead (all of which I watch and love), this happens.  And some of us cope with awful stuff by laughing.

This brings to mind all the trials of being a parent for me.  I can't even tell you how many times something scary has happened to my family and my husband and I started cracking jokes about it on the way to the emergency room.  In the middle of a panic, sometimes that's all you can do.

So.  I'm going to stop feeling bad about thinking this is hilarious.

What are your thoughts on laughing at tragic, terrible things?

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Ethics of my Blog

Let's just get all the boring stuff out of the way, shall we?

Purpose.  Hmm.  Well, to enjoy writing, to give you something to laugh at and think about.  Hopefully, you'll decide to contribute with interesting, insightful and funny comments, and this site will find it's way onto your bookmark tab because you enjoyed it so much.  Or maybe you'll read something that will inspire you to do better in your life as a parent, as an employee, as a son or daughter, as a person in general.  That'd be good too.

This is not your average blog.  I will not ever review products for companies and blog about it.  Any reviews you see (if there ever are any) are being done without compensation of any kind.  Why?  Because when someone sends you their product to review on your blog, or pays you to do so, you are obliged to give them a glowing recommendation, whether or not you actually liked it.  So I won't be doing that.  I like to keep my writing honest and straightforward.  That's kind of the whole point of this blog.

So while reading Thoughtful Mother, you can rest assured that you will not be bombarded by product placement on my part.  Pretty sweet, right?

What else do you get?  Well, I invite comments.  I don't moderate them.  I'll delete spam and obvious troll comments that get too much attention.  So don't come here to advertise your crap or get your jollies stirring the pot or to feed the trolls.  There are places like CafeMom for that.

So welcome!  Enjoy, and feel free to contact me with questions or comments.