Today we skipped church and took Suzi up to Stump House Tunnel and Issaqueena Falls in Walhalla. Jordan has to work tomorrow (Labor Day) so we decided to spend time together today. The tunnel was intended for a railroad, but when the Civil War began funds ran out. Ever since then it's been a long tunnel with no light at one end. However, it hasn't been useless; Clemson University once used it to age their famous blue cheese, and now it's a popular South Carolina park. Suzi had a good time playing outside in the stream.
We didn't think it would be safe to take Suzi to the bottom of the falls, as you have to climb a bit on the way, so we just looked instead.
The air inside the tunnel is cold and damp--much cooler than our air-conditioned house. The further you go into the tunnel the darker it gets, and it goes a long way. After a few yards you come to a metal doorway. At first we assumed the door would be locked, but when we reached it it was open. Not far past the doorway is a large opening in the ceiling, and it rains into it even when there's not a cloud in the sky.
If you walk a couple more minutes there is anotherdoor in a brick wall, and the tunnel goes back further than you'd expect.
Flashlights are a must if you want to go more than a few yards in. The ground is uneven and water pools on the sides. Near the middle, you must balance on railroad ties if you don't want your feet to get soaked. Where they stopped construction, there's a stairlike structure. We walked all the way back and Jordan climbed it, but I am not inclined to show those pictures because of all the ugly graffiti on the walls.
But, no matter how far you've gone, if you just turn around you can always see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Before we left the hospital with Suzi I was required to attend a "class" on how to care for my newborn. One of the points covered was that we must administer Poly-Vi-Sol drops every day. Our generous hospital had provided our first bottle, compliments of their philanthropic buddies at Enfamil. In the first day or two home from the hospital, I dutifully squirted this disgusting liquid into Suzi's mouth, only to have her throw it back up, along with the milk I'd just breastfed her. This was disconcerting, especially since she was gaining slowly anyway.
The next time we took Suzi to the doctor, I asked if it was really necessary to give her those vitamins. The doctor gave a knowing chuckle and said, with a sideways look, that yes, it was necessary because the vitamin D deficiency in some children's diets could leave them prone to rickets. She seemed skeptical herself of what she was saying, but at the time I knew no better than to do whatever the doctor said. My mom kept trying to give them to Suzi since it was hard for me, and Suzi spit them out and stained her clothes.
After a few weeks we decided to discontinue the supplements. My maternal instincts were telling me the stuff was noxious, so I took Suzi out for a little extra sunshine to get vitamin D instead. It was the first time I vetoed the Baby Police in favor of common sense.
Today as I was browsing my favorite blogs, I came across this article on Mama Knows Breast, which was sparked by an article in the New York Times. The AAP insists that it is necessary to supplement all babies except those who are fed formula, because the formula is fortified with everything baby needs. Sunlight, they say, is not sufficient because no one is sure how much sunlight is enough for any given child (darker skin pigments need more sunlight to generate vitamin D). Furthermore, we shouldn't be taking our infants out in the sun anyway, because it increases their risk for skin cancer.
According to KellyMom, a site I love and trust, babies are usually only at risk for deficiency if 1) they don't have enough exposure to sunlight, 2) mother and baby have darker skin, or 3) the mother is deficient in vitamin D.
Suzi and I, as you may have noticed, are light-skinned. We both get a fair amount of sunlight and Suzi has had no problems so far with her bones. The claim that sun causes skin cancer so we should keep our babies out of it at all times is just ludicrous. Most people who end up with skin damage from UV rays have spent whole summers lying out on a beach blanket trying to get a tan, or repeatedly work outdoors without wearing sunscreen. Some experts suggest that sunlight is the safest way to get vitamin D because it allows the body to synthesize it, which takes away the risk of overdosing on supplements.
If adequate sunlight exposure is for some reason unfeasible, why not supplement the mother? She can take vitamins, or if that's not appealing vitamin D can be found in eggs, fortified milk, and many other foods.
I think we as a society have become too dependent on vitamins in general. When we should be planning our diet around our deficiencies, we've been popping pills to fix them. While vitamins are sometimes useful, no pill can replace a balanced diet. As for the vitamin D supplements, I will never give them again. To me, it's just something unnecessary which allows a formula company to make money even off women who are breastfeeding--which is exactly what they want.
A few days ago I received a comment from Jen at Posh Point of View saying I'd been given a blog award. Jen reviews fun baby products, does cool giveaways, and recently opened her own Etsy jewelry shop, Nola Meadows. Thanks so much for the award, Jen!
Now I get to pass it on to others...
To Kristin at Bits and Pieces From My Life, for her informative and practical posts on homeschooling and following our God-given parental instincts.
To Rissa at Mama Rissa's Corner for her philosophical posts on everything from diet to religion. Her posts make me think, and she saved me from trying a magazine which would've had me seeing red.
And finally, to Rubyellen at Memory Hunting. You won't find a bunch of drama on this blog--just beautiful pictures of her two little girls wearing vintage lovelies and the most creative handmade clothes she dreams up herself. She also makes these sweet little Cakies hair clips!
Here's another great contest for you. (Thanks for the heads-up, Beth.) Little Window Shoppe is giving away a ModMum sling! I have one of these and they are great. They are deeper than hotslings and are good for breastfeeding discreetly and carrying a baby from newborn to toddler. So go enter! You have until Wednesday the 27th. Extra entries if you post about it or email some friends! If I win, I want the Olivia pattern, pictured above.
1) I love winning things and I am lucky, although not quite as lucky as some people. (I really am happy for you, Vicky. And I'm serious about the lottery pool. Call me!) In the past month I've won at least four or five things on blogs, and it makes me happy. While we're on the subject, visit the Redheaded Lefty's blog and enter to win a pair of girly Robeez! They make the best baby shoes. I am always finding contests to enter, but I also like to give stuff away. I've been putting my own contest off, because I guess I'm afraid no one will enter?
2) I used to love shining shoes. It's rarely necessary anymore, though.
3) In college I wrote several short stories I liked, and I never tried to get them published. They were well-received by my fiction workshop classes, and those people don't generally sugar-coat their opinions. One day I'll get around to submitting them somewhere.
4) There are a few words and phrases I refuse to say, such as the name of this dish at IHOP, because they sound stupid. I can't remember them all right now, but I have to be careful to get around saying them when they come up in conversation. Jordan keeps nagging me to say them but I refuse.
5) I'm a grammatical error snob. It's especially bad when I'm reading an opinion piece and disagree with it. If there are typos or misspellings, they detract from the writer's credibility in my mind. I try to ignore them, but I just can't. I proofread my own writing obsessively and hate it when a mistake slips through the cracks.
6) I might have OCD. It would explain a lot.
I think I'll tag Vicky, Kelly, Emily, and Kathleen. If anyone else wants to do it, I'd love to see your answers! Just leave a link in the comments. (And if any of you ladies I tagged don't want to do it I'll understand!)
Recently, while browsing Hathor the Cowgoddess, I came across this little movie. What a creative way to help people understand the politics behind breastfeeding and the challenges nursing moms face! It reminds me of the baby fair several months ago, where a group of Squeemers set up their table and distributed piles of stinky zoopoopacoobs to unsuspecting mothers-to-be right under our noses!
I haven't been reading Hathor's comics very long. I stumbled upon her site a couple of months ago, and since then I've appreciated her unique take on mothers' issues. Recently, though, she's decided to unmask Hathor and just be Mama at her new site, Mama Is. I can't wait to see what she does with the new site. You should check it out, and then go back and see some of her old cartoons. There are plenty of them.
But seriously, watch the video. If you are a lactivist, you'll love it. Or if you like Dr. Seuss. Or if you're really into allegory.
Yay for the afternoon nap! (The reason you are seeing these pictures.)
The other night we took Suzi for a little walk up the street just after sunset, when it wasn't quite dark yet. We hoped she'd burn off a little energy and perhaps zonk out at 9:30 or so instead of after 11:00. And, you know, of course we wanted to spend some quality time together as a family and whatnot.
She enjoyed making her little shoes squeak.
"Ooh, that's a good rock right there. Glad I found that one."
Unfortunately, Lady Di (a sweet neighborhood cat who has made friends with us) started following us home. Suzi squealed with glee and tried to grab the kitty with both arms. We were afraid one or both of them was going to go home crying, so we had to carry Suzi home. Kicking and screaming. For fun and to distract her, we each held one of Suzi's hands as we walked and swung her through the air between steps. Wheeeee! It was too hard to get a picture of that. Sorry.
Daddy loves to fry his own potatoes, and Suzi and I love it too. They make storebought potato chips taste like cardboard.
Remember that apron from my yard sale finds? Well, Suzi decided immediately that she liked to wear it. She's so short I have to tie it practically in her armpits (it slips down) and facing the wrong way so she won't trip on the tail. She wears it a lot. I haven't even gotten to use it!
Here she is playing in her toy box a week or two ago. It is now full of toys, but some of those are going to the consignment sale, at which time she will have use of it again.
Remember that butterfly costume I bought last fall? (You probably don't. I don't think I had more than three readers at that time.) Well anyway, I pulled it out and made her try it on to see if it'd fit this Halloween, since Suzi turned out to be petite and the costume runs big. Oh dear.
She hated it.
Really, really hated it.
So I had a little chuckle at her expense, took a couple of pictures, and then quit being a jerk and got her out of it. We'll be selling it at the consignment sale. Lesson learned: She's grown out of head-encasing, bodysuit-type costumes. I don't know what we'll dress her up as this year. Maybe a witch, because BabyLegs just came out with a cute pattern which would lend itself to that perfectly. I'd love to try and make at least part of her costume. We will definitely be dressing her up, though. It was just too much fun last year.
The semiannual Upstate Kids Consignment Sale is just around the corner, and I'm so excited I can barely contain myself. I'm as excited about de-junking my house as I am about getting new stuff! Last time we cleaned out and cleaned up, selling enough to more than pay for what we bought--which was Suzi's spring wardrobe, a bunch of like-new toys, and then some. This time I am hoping to do the same.
If you haven't been shopping here, you have been missing out. Thanks to some seriously picky organizers, you won't find a bunch of recalled toys and stained, holey clothes at this sale. The items are in excellent condition and, let me tell you, the gym is loaded to the hilt. It's almost too much stimulation for a bargain shopper like myself. Since I'm pretty sure I've regaled nearly everyone with my consignment sale adventures, I'm going to list my tips for buying and selling. Most of them are on the Upstate Kids website, but a few of them bear repeating.
1) Volunteer. You can sign up for this here after you register. Volunteers get to shop first! This is how I got Suzi's crib, cradle, and her dolphin swing for our backyard swing set. It is a four hour shift and it's honestly worth it. And don't worry, they won't work you too hard. (I volunteered when I was seven months pregnant. Kim gave me tasks I could perform sitting down, and even gave me granola bars to eat because I'd forgotten to bring a snack.) If you are selling, you get 70% of your sales instead of the usual 65%! I've met some cool people while volunteering, and if you volunteer for before the sale it's a good time to scope out the items you might want.
2) Package your sale items securely. Shoppers can get rowdy, and items with lots of pieces will probably be strewn everywhere if you don't pack them up safely. Save those clear plastic zipper bags (the kind sheet sets come in) and use them to package things. If you use a ziploc bag to package something, tape it shut. Don't count on things staying together just because you set them down together. Things get moved around a lot before the doors officially open.
3) Don't overprice your stuff. Ask yourself what you'd pay for it, and then go down a little from that. You don't want to haul the stuff home again, do you? We learned this the hard way. While we made a lot of money, we could have made more if we'd gone a little lower.
4) Get a babysitter for the presale. Unless you are nursing a little one you can carry in a sling, you will regret having your child in tow. He might even get stepped on in all the commotion, and this is why they ask shoppers not to bring children under eight to the presale. (It's okay to bring them to the public sale, I think.) But please, PLEASE don't bring a stroller to the presale. There is nothing more obnoxious than a woman blocking off a whole aisle with her own personal bus.
5) Arrive early for the presale. I'd recommend at least an hour, because there will be a line. If you don't need anything in particular (i.e., you're not making a mad dash for a crib you fell in love with while volunteering) you could probably just come 20-30 minutes early.
6) Things to bring: Alaundry basket, fold-up hamper, or other vessel for transporting your goods while you comb through the racks. The really smart ladies tie a rope or belt to their laundry basket so they can pull it along easily. When your arms are full, one of the volunteers will usually tag your pile so you can scamper off in pursuit of more good buys. Also bring cash and credit cards. They accept both (but no checks), and in case you run out of money you might need backup. It also might get you through the line faster. Bring patience too, especially to the presale. There will be a line at checkout because there are so many people, but it is worth the wait.
7) If you want to sell but don't know where to start, go here to sign up. After you gather your items and get them clean and pretty, you can sit at your computer and print price tags for them. It's easy and fun! The best part is you can log in each day during the sale to see how much of your stuff sold! Since there is a sale in Clemson and one in Anderson this year, your items have a much greater chance of selling. This is by far the best avenue I've found for making money off previously loved items--you should try it!
I know all this might sound a little crazy, but hey--it comes but twice a year. Let me know if you're volunteering and going to the presale. Maybe I'll see you there!
One less little girl to suffer the side effects of a largely untested and unnecessary vaccine.
I have had a bee in my bonnet over Gardasil since its debut. Why on earth would I want to have my daughter vaccinated for a few types of one disease, a teensy fraction of the horrors one can contract while having unprotected sex?
Merck itself admits: "GARDASIL may not fully protect everyone, and does not prevent all types of cervical cancer... GARDASIL will not protect against diseases caused by other HPV types or against diseases not caused by HPV."
To be exact, Gardasil does not protect against 30% of the types of HPV which cause cervical cancer. Armed with this knowledge, who would still want to get the vaccine and have unprotected sex with questionable partners? I am unable to find exact stats, but I would personally feel much safer using a condom. When used correctly, condoms are fairly reliable protection--although they still leave a woman partially susceptible, because HPV can be spread to and from peripheral areas which are left uncovered.
Then there are the other things for which you are at risk: gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, and herpes, to name a few. And don't forget about pregnancy. I know some of you are wondering what kind of an idiot would think this vaccine could serve as birth control. The answer is not an idiot, but a teenager. (These are some of the same kids who don't believe oral sex qualifies as sex.) My mother-in-law told me about a friend whose daughter had been told by one of her peers about the virtues of the vaccine--which in her warped perception included birth control. I hope this girl was an exception; however, perceived protection against pregnancy is not the only false sense of security encouraged by the vaccine.
As if all this weren't enough, this shot is hurting girls. They don't go over this in the saccharine-sweet commercial in which the mother-daughter pairs discuss their reasons for vaccinating while painting one another's toenails. One 18-year-old, Amanda, was a varsity athlete until she received her first dose. She developed pain at her injection site, which traveled to the rest of her body. She is now chronically ill and must take morphine just to get through the pain. There are others, although to be fair, it is not clear in all the cases that Gardasil caused the illness. The mere shadow of a chance is enough for me.
I cannot fathom taking my daughter to get a shot which will leave her 30% susceptible to cancer-causing HPV and will put her at risks the likes of which we may not even know yet. Furthermore, I think vaccinating a girl sends the message that we, as a society and as parents, expect her to be promiscuous. If we didn't, why would we vaccinate her at all? When I was a teenager my mother explained to me that she didn't want me to have sex before marriage, but if I thought I might I should come tell her so she could help me take necessary precautions. To me, there is a huge difference between that and vaccinating all our girls for an STD when some are barely old enough to know what sex is. My mom's approach sent the message that she didn't expect that kind of behavior from me in the first place.
So what are we trying to do here? Are they going to continue to develop vaccines until they have every imaginable STD covered (if not eradicated), at which point we all might as well go at it like rabbits? Have we become feminists to the point we believe a girl should be able to have as much sex as she wants without any fear of repercussions? On a spiritual level, that Brave New World vision doesn't work for me. Sex isn't something teenagers should be having for a myriad of reasons, and all the research in the world can't create a vaccine to protect them from the emotional damage it can cause.
I am so glad that Jordan and I were able to give one another the gift of knowing without a doubt that our relationship would never be plagued with an STD (not to mention the emotional baggage that may have come from previous partners). It means even more to me now as a mother, because several venereal diseases can cause harm to a baby during pregnancy and childbirth. I wish every woman could have the peace of mind I have, but they aren't going to find it in a syringe.
Today my sweet husband called me from work to ask me out on a date. He'd already been in touch with a babysitter (my mom, who else?) so everything was set. We went to see Mamma Mia and I loved it, which is what I expected. I never met a musical I didn't like.
I was excited to go on a date, because the last movie we saw in a theater was Juno and it was February. I put on makeup and changed my outfit and everything, so it was reminiscent of college. Jordan and I have fond memories of the days when he'd come visit me in Manning Hall, the girls' high-rise. We'd talk on the phone and I'd ask him if he wanted to come over and watch a movie. He'd say sure! I'd say "great--just give me about an hour." After I'd showered, brushed my teeth, blow-dried my hair and put on makeup (plus probably made him wait in the lobby at least 15 minutes) I'd go down and get him. All to sit in a crummy dorm room and flirt. It's amazing the silly little things one can find to worry about before she has a baby.
The thing about post-baby dates is even when you drop the baby off you still have her with you. You look over your shoulder without thinking to see if she's sleeping in the car seat just to see it's empty. Your eyes tear up during "Slipping Through My Fingers" because you realize in 19 years that will be your daughter and even though you're on a date with your husband you wish she was in your arms. When you discuss it in the car later he admits he had a lump in his throat, too.
Suzi and I spent half the day out shopping. She was such a good helper and we got several compliments on our ring sling. We went to the mall to pick up a gift and while we were there we found this:
It's a Melissa & Doug Pound and Roll, and while it said it was for 2+, I'm pretty sure Suzi is gifted so I picked it up anyway. She's been pounding the fool out of those wooden balls! As a bonus, this toy makes no beep-beeps and plays no annoying songs. My heart swells with puerile joy as I watch her wield the hammer. It's stinkin' cute.
Another cute thing she's picked up? The concept of ownership. The other morning when we were sitting in bed she grabbed her Sleep Sheep, placed her hand on her chest, and said "Me. Mine." She keeps saying it about other things, which may or may not be hers. The other day while we were sitting on the couch together she flung herself on her daddy and declared that he was hers. I was highly insulted that she didn't claim me as well, but after a few minutes she indulged me.
She has been having a tough time with teething. I thought it was bad when those first four teeth came in, but now she is cutting several molars! Ow. Here she is hurling her Pound & Roll balls at us two at a time. She has been kind of testy lately.
While I am a regular at the Clemson-Central babywearing group, before last night I had never been to the Greenville meeting. It was an hour away, and since the same topics were covered I figured I wasn't missing enough to warrant a trek out to Greenville. But I was wrong.
I rode with Janet and we left our sweet babies at home. At the meeting I met Kawani, whom I'd already been blog-stalking only slightly. There was also a lady with six children from 19 years to 11 months, all homeschooled, and I got some great advice from her! (My idea of how I'd like to homeschool Suzi is taking shape, and soon I'm going to do a post on my tentative plan.) Several people tried my carriers on for size--especially the hotslings, which would be perfect for airport babywearing--so I'm glad I took them with me.
We had to be out of the library at precisely 8:15 (bummer) but Carey, Janet and I went to a bar in downtown Greenville and ordered black bean hummus and a pitcher of beer. Sitting in a bar drinking and talking without cigarette smoke was heaven. I may have gone downtown more often in college if that had been an option. Anyway, I still owed Carey $10 for some diapers she gave us for Suzi, so I paid for some of her beer and now I think we are just about square. Diapers for beer is a novel setup, I think. It was not the type of beer I would usually drink, but the emptier my glass became, the better it tasted. I might even try it again someday.
That's why I'm so proud to be one of the guest bloggers while she is on vacation. I'm also a little nervous; this is my first guest post ever and there are probably a lot more eyes reading it right now than have read any of my other posts! Please go read it and tell me it's okay!
I am an anxious person. I worry that I might say something inappropriate (which has, in fact, happened before) or that I might offend someone. When I say or do the wrong thing I replay it in my head and wonder what the other people involved were thinking.
Usually it isn't so bad, but it peaked for me in the weeks following Suzi's birth. Aside from the usual anxiety, I worried that something bad would happen while Jordan was at work and I was home alone with the baby. The worst time was when we went to our new house one night while it was still empty to start prepping Suzi's room for painting. I felt an inexplicable feeling of impending doom (which I talked about earlier in this post). When I went to my six-week appointment I told my OB-GYN and asked if he thought I should see a psychiatrist. He basically told me it was probably nothing a few pills wouldn't cure and jotted out a prescription.
I have a psych degree and an opinion to go with it, especially as someone who has suffered PPD. Pills don't always magically cure depression; frequently something else (or something more) should probably be done. To me, it's akin to someone with sky-high cholesterol downing three bowls of ice cream a day and taking Lipitor to fix it! If the anxiety has been a lifelong habit caused by environment, how is a pill going to cure that?
I should have gone to a therapist for my PPD but decided not to; instead, I began stopping mid-thought and telling myself something along these lines: "This is ridiculous! (Fill in blank with horrible situation) is not going to happen; just stop thinking about it." Then I would find an activity, such as crocheting, to take my mind off the thought. It may sound silly, but I am not an expert and it was all I knew how to do.
I wish I had known about tapping. It was mentioned on a blog or message board I read a couple of weeks ago and I looked it up out of curiosity. There are dozens of YouTube videos on it, and after watching a couple of them I tried it briefly tonight. I had a nagging thought which is hardly worth mentioning, and when it started to bother me I began tapping through the routine Magnus of tapping.com demonstrates in this video. I only did it once (he has you run through it numerous times) but it seemed to help. Of course, it could have been because I was expecting it to work; also, the self-talk involved in the routine is helpful for many people by itself. It could just be that it's a distracting activity to perform with one's hands, similar to crocheting. Or it could be that tapping one's acupressure points truly is beneficial. When I was morning sick during pregnancy, I did find some relief with the use of Sea Bands, which are intended to press down on the Nei Kuan point on each wrist.
I do not believe that tapping is going to fix all my problems and make me a millionaire, as some fans of The Secretbelieve. I recognize that positive thinking has great value, but The Secret goes further than that and conflicts with my religious beliefs in several ways.
It does seem that tapping may be useful for reducing anxiety, anger and depression, among other things. Even if it doesn't work for everyone, it's free and seemingly harmless to try.
I even found a little treasure chest at our first yard sale--along with a bunch of clothes.
I added yards of fabric to my stash; this isn't even all of it:
This sale had a big table full of fabric, along with all the ribbon, lace and other notions you see here. I don't even know what some of it is, but my mom will. The box it's all in is a homemade wooden toy box on casters that we got for $4. I figured we could put Suzi in it, give her a wooden spoon and let her row around the kitchen.
I got this apron for 10 cents. The couple holding the sale were in their seventies (I think) and the woman asked the man "Wasn't this your mom's apron?" He sold me his mom's apron for a dime! It makes me sad but I'm glad I can give it a good home. It is stained but I kind of prefer it that way. It means I might actually use it, and when you hold it you can just feel all the hard work she did while wearing it.
Plate and cup sets for when you're having a drop-in; guests can securely hold the plate and cup with one hand. The bulk of our get-togethers involve pizza and beer instead of hors d'oeuvres and punch, but maybe these will come in handy someday.
And my idea for a monthly contest: I love finding cool stuff at yard sales, but sometimes I'll find something I love that I can't use personally. It'll be a beautiful ring that doesn't fit, for example--which is what I found yesterday. Anyway, I've decided to do a monthly Treasure Hunt Giveaway with these things and occasionally things I make. I'm not doing one right now because I just did one, but I plan to start in a week or two. Let me know if you have any thoughts on this.