Monthly Archives: January 2009

Steady Statues, Nipples & Sharks

Every now and then, I just have to use this space to report on the silly things our kids say.  Especially after this post.  And, when I think back to the process of writing A Dozen Invisible Pieces and Other Confessions of Motherhood, the writing of the funny things our kids say was one of the more joyful elements of writing the book.  (Believe me, there were plenty of not-so-joyful moments during the writing process…so I can still revel in the fun parts!)

So…here goes:

Yesterday, while driving to preschool, four-year-old Landon started asking me about sharks.  Mostly, he wanted to know whether or not sharks bite people and, if so, how big the bite would be and how much it would hurt.

I attempted to explain to Landon that even sharks, being wild animals, are typically afraid of people and would tend to swim away from a person, or at least, leave a person alone.  Except for the rare incident of an unlucky Florida beach-goer who has a run in with a Great White.  But, I digress.

Nonetheless, Landon persisted:

“But Mom!  How bad would it feel if a shark bit you?”
“Well, honey, pretty bad, I guess.”
“Mom?  If a shark bit a mommy’s nipples would that hurt really bad?”

Oh, good Lord.

Having breast fed all three of our children and suffered the occasional bite from each of them, the thought of a shark bite on that oh-so tender part of a woman’s body gave me the shudders.

“Yes, honey.  I think a shark bite on a mommy’s nipples would hurt.  It would hurt a whole lot.”

* * * * * * * *
This morning, while taking a bath and displaying the typical fascination with his own body parts (you know what I’m talking about.  If not, check this.)  Landon positioned himself into a full-on spread eagle position:  arms and legs open wide, propped up on the sides of the tub.

With genitals bobbing up and down, riding the currents of the bath water, he caught my attention:

“Mom?  Do I look like a steady statue?”

As I turned to look, he cocked his head to the side, silly smile plastered across his face.  Frozen.

“Yes, honey.  You do look like a steady statue!”

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Filed under family, From One Mother to Another, Kids

It’s a Man Thing

I recently responded to a HARO PR query entitled, “It’s A Man Thing.”

After responding with curiosity and intrigue to the query, I had a lovely thirty-minute telephone conversation with Lillian Caldwell--the author of the proposed book about mens’ quirks and laughable repetitive behaviors.

Caldwell, author of Sacred Honor and the forth-coming Anna Mae Mysteries is in the process of collecting stories and anecdotes from women about the humorously maddening things the men in our lives do.  As she put it in our conversation, “this book is about laughing with men…not laughing at them.”

She hopes to include stories about the male persona of all ages…how members of this half of the species exhibit gender-specific behaviors from the beginning to the very end.  I suppose it’d be easy for a woman to come up with a story about her spouse/partner (doesn’t put the lid down on the toilet…leaves bread crumbs and peanut butter & jelly smears on the counter after making a sandwich…leaves smelly socks and underwear lying around the house…) but I am personally motivated to submit a story to her about the “man things” I am already witnessing in our boys.

It has astounded me, as a mom of two young boys, how soon “men-like” behavior starts to develop in the youngest of males.  You know what I’m talking about:  fascination with ones’ own private parts, hilarity and pride over explosive farts and burps, burning through the house at mock speed while riding a stick horse or steering an over-sized Tonka truck.

I can’t wait to create my own submission for It’s a Man Thing.
What are your “It’s a Man Thing” stories?

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Filed under Writing and Publishing

Safe Motherhood Quilt Project

Andrew recently learned about the untimely death of one of his co-workers: the mother of four young girls, one of whom was born a week or two before the woman’s death.  While we are waiting to hear more about the cause of this mother’s death, I can only imagine that it may have been pregnancy or childbirth related.

In honor of this mother’s passing, I wanted to share with all of you information about midwife Ina May Gaskin’s Safe Motherhood Quilt Project.

From the project’s website:

“The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project is a national effort developed to draw public attention to the current maternal death rates, as well as to the gross under reporting of maternal deaths in the United States, and to honor those women who have died of pregnancy-related causes since 1982.

Did you know…that the United States ranks behind at least 40 other nations in maternal mortality rates according to the World Health Organization. In 2004, the United States reported 15.1 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, up from 7.5 per 100,000 in 1982.”

For each woman Ms. Gaskin learns about, who died as a complication or result of her pregnancy, childbirth or postpartum experience, a quilt square is created and added to the quilt.  The hope is that, through bringing awareness to this issue, our medical system will look at the enormous disconnect between an industrialized nation with incredibly superior prenatal care, and one with a surprisingly high maternal/infant morbidity and mortality rate (when accurate numbers are surmised and considered) in comparison to other similar nations.

I had the opportunity to meet Ina May at a conference a few months ago, where she brought a portion of the in-progress quilt.  Seeing those names and dates on the quilt squares is bone-chilling, as were the details Ms. Gaskin shared with us about so many of the U.S. women for whom she has sewn quilt squares.

The Safe Motherhood Quilt project is about honoring women who have died in or around the time of childbearing, and bringing to light the secretly high maternal death rate otherwise misrepresented by our country’s honor-system-only reporting structure.

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Motherhood: Celebrating Our Bodies

While preparing for last night’s childbirth preparation class, I came across this lovely poem which I chose to share with my students.  Now, I would like to share it with all of you…

The Shape of a Mother

My belly may or make not shrink. I am at peace with that.
36-inches around and I have never felt more beautiful.
A number cannot define me, I will not give it that power.
Body, mind and soul I am balanced and I am healthy,
– waist size notwithstanding.
This body brought forth life.
What greater beauty is there then that?

I am the vessel from which life poured.
I am a mother.

These stretch marks will always be with me.
Commercials may tell me to laser them off,
– but I love them all.
My son has changed my soul forever, for the better.
My body too is changed forever, for the better.
These marks are my tattoo of motherhood.

I have crossed a threshold.
I am a mother.

My hips are bigger, my old jeans don’t fit.
These hips birthed my son, they are beautiful.

My breasts are bigger, they soak my shirts.
These breasts nourish my son, they are beautiful.

My heart and my soul are bigger, my emotions overflow.
This heart and this soul love my son, they are beautiful.

I am a mother.
I am strong.
I am beautiful.

I am a mother.

~ by Jaspenelle Stewart

For more beautiful poetry and thoughts on parenthood, visit this poet and mother’s blog site.

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Filed under From One Mother to Another, Mommy and Motherhood, pregnancy, Writing and Publishing

Penelope Leach on Child Care and So Much More…

I was thrilled to hear an introduction on the NPR syndicated news magazine, Here and Now, about Penelope Leach’s new book Child Care Today, Getting it Right For Everyone.  You can listen to Robin Young’s interview of Dr. Leach here.  But, if childcare is not an issue that currently affects you…don’t click away so soon.  The issues brought to light  during this interview go WAY beyond interviewing childcare providers and day care centers.

While Leach discussed her somewhat changed opinion from a decade ago about whether or not the best place for a child is in the home with mom (as opposed to being in a childcare setting) the larger take home point that caught my attention was her remark on our country’s dismal maternity leave policy.

This is a topic I have written and spoken about on many occasions…the fact that, out of all the industrialized nations around the world, the U.S. has THE WORST maternity leave policy.  That is to say, we basically have NO maternity (or paternity) leave policy.

Sure, individual employers offer individual maternity leave plans, and there is that thing called the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 that can be used during the postpartum period…but only for a relatively short period of time (up to 12 weeks) and if the woman meets a variety of qualifications (see link above).  Oh, and the woman receives $0 during her leave if taken under the FMLA.  This is down right embarrassing, especially when you consider countries like Sweden and Norway that provide federally funded maternity leave for 12-13 months at 80% of the woman’s full time pay.

As Leach and Young discussed this fact, and the difficult position it places U.S. families in who need their double income to make ends meet, an excellent point came forward:  the fact that our country can’t get it together enough to provide a significant, federally mandated parental leave act (notice I said parental…dads shouldn’t lose out either…) equates to the fact that we, as a nation, do not value enough the role of the parent, the importance of parent-baby bonding, and the dignity those roles and processes should otherwise maintain.

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Filed under family, From One Mother to Another, Kids, politics

Explaining the Trinity to a Child

Yesterday, while driving home after church, five-year-old Ellie and I had an interesting conversation–spawned by Ellie, of course.

“Mom, God is everywhere, isn’t He?”
“Yes, honey.  God is all around us.  He’s in our hearts and in everyone we meet.  There’s a little bit of God inside each and every person.”
“So, if there’s some of God in you, then I’m talking to God right now…right?”
“Well, yes…I guess so.  And I guess that means I’m talking to God right now, too.”

The conversation continued to meander its way around all things celestial.

“Mom, why do we call God ‘God’?”
“Well, that’s just one name we use for Him.  We can also say ‘Heavenly Father,’ and other people around the world use other terms like, ‘Yaweh,’ ‘The Great I Am,’ and ‘Allah.'”
“We could also say, ‘Heavenly Mother, right?”

Damn, that girl is good.

“Well yes, honey, we could say ‘Heavenly Mother.'”
“Or, we could call God ‘The Great Wind’?”
“Sure, we could call Him…or Her… The Great Wind.  Some people use the term The Great Spirit, or The Holy Spirit.”

And thus began the next part of the discussion on The Trinity (after I asked her who taught her the terms Heavenly Mother and The Great Wind…to which she replied, ‘No one…I just knew them on my own.’).

By rote repetition, Ellie knows to describe Jesus as being a part of God.  But I’ve wondered how to solidify this understanding in her and, eventually in her brothers when, as an adult, I still have a difficult time understanding it.  Then I had a light bulb moment.

Upon returning home, I pulled out a clear glass bowl plus another smaller bowl, some canola oil and blue food coloring.  I filled the bottom of the glass bowl with oil.  I put a small amount of water in a second bowl and added a few drops of food coloring.  Then I carefully added the died water to the oil…so that the blue-died water would sit in one circular spot in the middle of the oil (oil and water don’t mix y’all…remember?)

I called the kids into the kitchen to share with them my “experiement.”

“See this blue blob you guys?  This is kind of like God.  God can sometimes be in one place at one time.”

Then I took a tooth pick and gently poked and prodded at the drop of blue water until I succeeded in separating away two smaller drops of blue.

“And sometimes, God can separate into three different parts…those parts are called God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit.  But just like these smaller blue drops, they are a part of one big drop…they’re all part of the same thing.”

Then, I made a crude drawing to further demonstrate my point.

img_3809

Who knows how far it sunk in.  But, dovetailed onto the message they hear every Sunday in Godly Play (the Episcopalian version of Sunday school): about how, when a candle is burning the light is in one place…and then when you put the candle out and the flame turns to smoke…the smoke (a.k.a ‘the light’) has the ability to go everywhere…just like God has the ability to be all places at all times and in different forms…hopefully they will begin to get it.

How do you explain crucial elements of religion to your child(ren)?

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Filed under family, Kids, Religion

Cliff Bar Products Linked to Salmonella Outbreak

I received a garbled telephone message yesterday afternoon from the Costco corporation telling me that the Clif Bar products I recently purchased are involved in a voluntary recall, due to a Salmonella outbreak.  (For a list of Costco recalls, click here.) The outbreak is linked to peanuts sourced from the Peanut Corporation of America.  Here is an article about the outbreak from Velo News.

It’s bad enough to be suffering from abdominal pain, nausea and/or vomiting and/or diarrhea as an adult.  But when it strikes your kids…that’s a whole other ball game.  And, yes, the Clif Bar product called Z Bars are included in the list of recalled items.  Here’s the list:

CLIF BAR Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch
BEST BY/SELL BY:
21JUN09 to 01OCT09 and
03NOV09 to 28NOV09

CLIF BAR Crunchy Peanut Butter
BEST BY/SELL BY:
21JUN09 to 01OCT09 and
03NOV09 to 28NOV09

CLIF BAR Peanut Toffee Buzz
BEST BY/SELL BY:
13SEP09

CLIF Builder’s Peanut Butter
SELL BY:
19JUL09 to 30SEP09 and
05NOV09 to 18NOV09

CLIF Kid Organic ZBaR Peanut Butter
BEST BY:
07JUL09 to 05SEP09 and
12NOV09

LUNA Nutz Over Chocolate
BEST BY:
29JUL09 to 03OCT09 and
11NOV09 to 14NOV09

LUNA Peanut Butter Cookie
BEST BY:
02OCT09 to 03OCT09 and
11NOV09 to 14NOV09

MOJO Mountain Mix
BEST BY:
30APR09 to 21JUN09

MOJO Peanut Butter Pretzel
BEST BY:
30APR09 to 21JUN09

MOJO Dipped Chocolate Peanut
BEST BY:
30APR09 to 21JUN09

MOJO Dipped Peanut Butter and Jelly
BEST BY:
30APR09 to 21JUN09

MOJO Dipped Fruit and Nut
BEST BY:
30APR09 to 21JUN09

If you have any of the food products above, the company requests that you destroy them.  Here is where you can contact Clif Bar directly for further information about the recall, to request a refund, etc.

But wait!  There’s more!

It’s not JUST the Clif Bar co. that’s experiencing peanut-related recalls, check out this list from the FDA of all the different companies having to recall their products because they used peanut butter or peanut paste sourced from one particular PCA processing plant on Blakely, Georgia.

If you or your kids have been eating any products from the above list and/or have had the following symptoms and are concerned, visit your doctor for further assessment:

Nausea.vomiting
Abdominal pain/cramping
Diarrhea
Fever
Headache

While Salmonellosis usually clears up on its own, the illness can sometimes progress to severe diarrhea or sepsis–requiring hospital admission.  (six people have died as a result of this outbreak)

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Filed under family, General Health