Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Review: Mama Product - Queen Helene Mud Pack Masque with Natural English Clay

As always, my reviews are not in any way compensated.  It's just because I like the products.

So, I'm sitting here feeling frumpy and watching Motherhood, with my face slathered in the above named mask.  I'm watching a movie about another frazzled mom and her absurd life, and waiting for my face to dry and turn me into a fat, caucasian version of a frumpy motherly terracotta soldier. 

Now you can be one, too!

The pitch for the Mud Pack Masque boasts firmer skin and softened lines, but the draw for me is really the exfoliation and oil control it provides.  Additionally, it's a lovely english rose scent, which is one of my relaxation triggers. 

It's a standard masque - apply to skin, allow to dry and harden, wipe off with washcloth and warm water.  Because it gently exfoliates, it definitely leaves a glow and eliminates the dull I've-been-up-for-36-hours-straight haze that one's skin can occasionally accumulate.

It has a very thick, creamy, muddy consistency making application very easy and even kinda fun if you're into the whole texture thing. 

It takes approximately 20 minutes for it to dry, and it definitely dries firmly.  (See above reference to terracotta soldiers.)  Removal is somewhat messy, but that's a signature feature of any mud mask.

The ingredients for the Mud Pack Masque are minimal and delightful in their simplicity:  Distilled Water, Kaolin, Bentonite, Glycerin, Zinc Oxide, Propylene Glycol, Iron Oxides, Fragrance, Methylparaben

The fragrance is a bit strong, so if you have a sensitive nose, this product isn't for you.  Other than that, there's not much negative I can say about it.  I also don't advise it for anyone with dry skin, simply because it is a beast when it comes to it's attack on excess oil.

Queen Helene is one of the few ethically responsible broad-scale companies out there, and their commitment to being decent doesn't stop at their ingredients - they're fairly priced. Another positive.

Sally's Beauty Supply carries Queen Helene  products, and I've also seen them available in Albertson's grocery stores.

Go forth, defrump yourselves!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Getting it all together... in the all together?

So, there's been lots of tittering and tweeting over Erykah Badu very unabashedly going leafless at the site of the JFK assassination in order to film her new video. 

Truth be told, I often forget how "not normal" nakedness is for most people.  Admittedly, I've been known to swerve my car when I see a man jogging in the rain wearing nothing but a bright yellow poncho and silver jogging shoes, but generally speaking, nakedness doesn't make me bat an eye.  I, myself am often found in some state of dishabille or another.  (Pants... they are one of the bane of my existence!  Just ask my neighbors, who can name of probably every pair of underwear I own due to me having run to the car or the mailbox in them at some point or another.)

It took me a long, long time to become comfortable enough with myself that I allowed anyone anywhere to see me in any state of undress.  I would have happily worn knee socks, jeans, a turtleneck and a headscarf in the middle of summer, I was once so shy.  Not anymore, though.  Whoo, boy.  I'd be hard pressed to find someone who knows me IRL that hasn't seen me in some sort of undress.

I don't wander around half-naked just for kicks, though.  Nor do I do it to attract/frighten away potential suitors/stalkers.  I do it because I generally don't pay much attention, or it's convenient to change wherever I stand, or I just straightup don't care what someone else is going to say (in the case of picking a snack of oranges in my yard in the  middle of the night,) if they see me running around in my undies or bra (on the odd occasion I wear a bra.)

To me, Erykah Badu is not daring or progressive.  She's comfortable.  It's my wish that everyone out there become a little more comfortable.  After all, many people won't even strip down in the privacy of their own homes, let alone a national monument.  So here's to you, my friends.  May you discover the delight that is not giving a fuck and letting it all hang out. :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Welcome to the light, little Bug! (NSFW birth photo included.)

My pregnancy with Bug sucked.  A lot.  First trimester saw a placental abruption and restricted activity.  Second trimester brought SEVERE SPD and blinding headaches, which resulted in off and on bed rest.  Third trimester brought pre-term dilation and effacement (4 CM and 50% at 30 weeks,) and severe pre-eclampsia, with home bed-rest and in-patient bedrest.

I was already being followed by an obstetrician due to prior medical conditions that precluded anything but a hospital birth, so this was all taken in stride and quite well managed.

I was a week exactly into an in-patient session of bedrest and monitoring due to extremely high blood pressures and abnormal kidney functions, and 36w5d.  We were desperately trying to hold off until at least 37w3d, but preferrably 38 weeks.  My OB and I got along great - it wasn't uncommon for him to come in at 6 AM to drink his coffee and keep me company as I ate my breakfast.  We had been chatting off and on all week about the potential for induction - my pressures were rising and the edema in my legs was becoming so severe that the skin was beginning to crack.

That morning, though, I woke up and something just wasn't... right.  It wasn't something that was an emergency, just a gut feeling.

When my Doc came in, I told him that I had this feeling.  He reviewed my BP readings from the night, and checked my cervix, which had dilated another cm and almost fully effaced overnight, bringing me to 6 cm and 80%.  His reaction to this was to "Hmmm" and tell me he'd be right back.

When he came in again, he greeted me with the word "Waffles."  I naturally replied "Belgian" and then arched an eyebrow, which produced the response of "You have a doctor that waffles."  He then checked the BP strip again, checked my legs, and wandered back out.  Bug was making his entrance that day.

The induction went well.  My faithful birth companions were my mother and a dear friend of mine.

When my waters were ruptured, they were decently stained with meconium - that hunch was correct.  SOMETHING was stressing my little man out.  Not enough to show up on the CFM or Doppler, but enough to cause the staining.

After my waters were ruptured, the pit was hung.  I had decided that I was going to push things a bit and see how long I could tolerate pit contractions.  I did well - got a few hours worth in - before I asked for the epidural.  I also had magnesium going at this point.

The atmosphere in my room (after some initial misunderstandings and a few tears from all parties,) was more like a slumber party than an induction.  We laughed and joked around, the nurse and doctor joining in the fun when they came in to check or adjust.  I was relaxed and content and joyous.  Never once was the confidence in me and my body doubted, never once was a c/s even hinted at.  I was informed that if my labor stalled, we'd simply wait it out, give my body time to work it's magic.

I requested my epidural mid-afternoon.  I had been finding a lot of relief through centering myself and vocalizing through contractions, but pit contractions are evil.  They make you want to push (and push hard,) when conditions are not ideal.  Pushing at that stage (7 cm and 90%) would have been exhausting and fruitless, and I knew that.  I knew my body, I knew my limits.  Still, though, I was laughing going into contractions, and laughing coming out of them.  I was still quite happy and content.  No one looked at me askance when I made jokes in the middle of a contraction.  No one was disparaging or disbelieving when I smiled through them, even though the pain was intense and fast.

Epidural in, we turned the mag sulfate down to see how I'd tolerate it.  At this point, I was in that dreamy transition state, due in part to the relief of no longer feeling the pit contractions, and in part to being... well, in transition. ;)

I remember more joking and laughing, but the memories here are in watercolor instead of snapshots.  I dozed off and rested, and when we turned the mag sulf back up, stripped down to minimal clothing and dozed and rested some more.

As evening approached, my faithful and awesome nurse was due to go off shift.  By then I was nearly ten cm with just barely a lip of cervix left.  I desperately wanted her to be there for Bug's entrance, so Doc and I agreed that a few trial pushes might just get me to ten and finish my effacement.

Totally didn't work.  My pushing was self-directed with a little help from my cheerleading squad (we were rowdy and boisterous, I'm not gonna lie.)  Since I was still feeling the epidural pretty well, I did request being informed when there were contractions starting, but I didn't need pushing counts and direction - it was in my hands.

A few pushes in, it was apparent that we weren't ready, and that was it.  I tearfully bade my nurse goodnight, and welcomed her replacement.

I liked her replacement far, far less.  Still, I didn't let her distract me.  The party was still going. :)  I requested that the anesthesiologist come in and top off my epidural, he teased me about not having had Bug yet.  I grinned and told him that by 8 PM, we'd have a baby.  (That was at about 7 PM.)

During this time, I took the opportunity to get myself into a better position.  I moved the bed up, re-adjusted my legs (with help) into more of a squat, and decided it was time for another practice push.  We didn't call Doc in right away - I still had that darn lip that hadn't effaced.  I gave one push, and we went "Okay, time for the doc!"

He came in, complained a bit about things not being ready (did I mention I wasn't fond of the new nurse,) we made some snarky comments to each other about said new nurse, laughed quite a bit, and commenced with the pushing.

Push one, cheerleading squad rooting for me, stop.  Bug's head cleared my cervix.  I rested, re-adjusted again because I wasn't quite as squatty as I wanted to be and I was feeling it in my back, and we moved on to push two.  Cue cheerleading squad, bug's head descended further.  Push three, cheerleaders, brief laughter from me about a goofy comment made, and then I orgasmed as I continued my pushing efforts, which was when he crowned.  Push four, I delivered his shoulder and Bug was born!  At 8:16 PM on Wednesday, 11/11/2009, my beautiful (and BIG) boy was placed on my belly. (Photo below jump, NSFW birth photo.) I pulled him up to my breast and began stimulating him as he was suctioned.

He did need further suctioning and resuscitation, so they took him from me to weigh him and get him moving.  We didn't get to delay cord clamping like I would have preferred, because...

...I ended up hemorrhaging again, which was no real surprise.  My Doc handled it quickly and efficiently - I firmly believe that his pro-active approach to it saved me a whoooole lot of blood.  I was in and out during that time - vagal responses are a bitch, really.

I was conscious and alert enough to catch his measurements as they were called out - 9 lbs. 8 oz (or 9 lbs. 7 oz, depending on who you ask.)

Yes folks, you read that right.  My 36 weeks and change baby was nine and a half pounds.  We were expecting it, though.  We were expecting as high as 13 lbs had he been term.  No, before you ask, I had no sugar concerns.  I just have robust babies, with my first having been ten lbs. at term.  (ALSO a vaginal birth.)  Still, expecting it doesn't always mean you REALLY expect it, and Doc actually did a double take, pausing his efforts to stitch my mild perineal tear to check the scale himself. ;)

Bug spent a few days in the NICU lite, AKA the "Special Care Nursery" for continued respiratory issues and severe jaundice.  During that time we did more mag sulf to bring my pressures back down to a safe level, and I convalesced.

We were released four days later.

I am living testimony that not all obstetricians are bad, and hospital births can be beautiful, laughing, orgasmic things.  Be informed, be assertive, and be picky about your care providers.

P.S. In case you were wondering about the nurse that no one liked, an official complaint was lodged.  The manner in which she treated the family I requested to have around me, as well as her ineptitude were simply inexcusable.  I'm unaware as to what disciplinary actions were taken, but I did receive a formal apology from her. 

The one where she gets kinda pissed off.

I've ranted before how deeply angry I get at the snobbery that is running like a bandit through birth and mothering communities these days.

This time it's personal, you fuckingmothers.  (Present company excluded, of course.)

While I hold dearly to the idea that one's intellectual property and any forum set up in affiliation is private property, with rules to be made by the owner, I DON'T hold that someone can be called a liar, or a troll, or an instigator when they're genuinely trying to participate and share something they're proud of.  That's straight up rude, and I certainly hope their mamas would be ashamed of them.

See, I had the dreaded hospital births.

Meeting my beautiful Ella girl in the hospital.  No awesome immediately after birth pics for this one, I held her for a split second before I started trying to bleed to death and all, so she was about 7 hours old before I was strong enough to say hello.  I do have one shot (somewhere, on a cd, buried under about a million other cd's,) of the inept doc immediately as she caught her.  Will dig that out when I'm more motivated.

OMG TEH HORRORZ U GUIZE!!!!!  I'm a strong supporter of non-hospital births in many cases, but for various reasons (including bleeding disorder, severe asthma, kidney issues, the list goes on...) it's not a reality for me.  That doesn't mean my births were some sort of evil, institutional, abusive, wretched experiences that left my newborn permanently scarred and disfigured.  Yes, my first birth was less than ideal in that I didn't know the delivering physician and she was completely inept, but I'm quite happy with the birth itself.  It was orgasmic and spiritual, and my beautiful baby girl was born into a dimly lit, silent and comfortable birthing suite.  My birth with Bug was much, much better.  I had a provider I clicked well with that I understood and who understood me, and my entire labor was a dreamy event, filled with laughter from alll parties.  My birth attendants, my nurses, my doctor - there was so much laughter and love that tales of it made the rounds and I later became known as the laughing woman.  (Original, right?)

I had an IV.  I had an epidural.  I had an O2 sat monitor on.  I had CFM.  I ALSO had a very easy labor, and an even easier delivery.  Laughter, four pushes, orgasm, baby on my chest.  ALL KINDS OF AWESOME.  The room was dimly lit, the birthing suite was comfortable and occupied by my mother and a dear friend.  This time there wasn't silence, there was laughter and happy sounds.

I wanted to share a photograph of my beautiful son on my chest seconds after he greeted the world, in the hospital, as I still smiled, and I was told no.

That would have been okay if it had stopped there.

Instead, I was called names.  I was told that I must certainly be lying, that I must certainly be there only to taunt mothers who had bad experiences and to defile the ideologies of those who disagreed with medical births.

My feelings aren't hurt.  Ho no, my friends.  I'm fucking PISSED.

Jesus god, people.  Who are they to say that it's IMPOSSIBLE to have a happy and fulfilling birth in a medical setting?  I don't sit and tell them that they're fruit loops for holding hands, singing kumbaya, and applying crystals to their chakras for pain relief, do I?  No, I acknowledge that they feel it worked for them, and I rejoice in the end product!

THIS.  THIS RIGHT HERE.  This is why I'm considering abandoning my path to becoming a pregnancy and birth care provider.  Quite frankly, the bullshit is piling up, and it's becoming less and less apparent why I want to dive head first into it.  I can't help other mothers who need a more traditional and transparent care provider that are otherwise denied the opportunity if I'm so frustrated by the verbal barbs and open disdain that I'm miserable.

It's not just the internet, either.  You'd think I was putting babies on spikes. (cue to 00:40, NSFW humor)  Seriously, talking to these people when I try to network IRL is excruciating.  Apparently, the idea of someone going to midwifery school to become a midwife, and then WORKING WITH A DOCTOR (never mind that it's to challenge the system from the inside, be a voice for change, provide high-risk mothers with options that are considerably unheard of, and generally do good,) is apparently the most appalling thing these people have ever heard. 

Insert giant *headdesk* here.

Bah.  You know what?  Fuck those shrews right in the ear.  I'm going to share my awesome picture.  I'm going to share it with you.  Under the jump for those who may be at work or what have you, since there's OMG naked.  (Oh yeah!  That's the other thing!  I got to labor and deliver nigh on naked, and had the option of being completely naked if I wanted!  I spent my last two hours of labor with my button down shirt buttoned down, my bare breasts and belly viewable for all the world!  The ONLY reason I kept the shirt on was because I was concerned I'd get chilly at some point!) Ahem.  Anyways.  Here ya go!  My VERY proud moment, holding my beautiful little blue bug, before the bleeding started.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Nightmare on Lover's Lane.

Dating.  It is the bane of my single parent existence.  In fact, I don't think I know of any single parent with a child under the age of 18 that doesn't dread the idea of it, in spite of our desires and needs.

So, what's an awesome, off-beat, witty and well rounded single mama like myself to do?

I'll give it to you straight:  I have No.  Freaking.  Idea.

Seriously.  There are hundreds of dating sites dedicated to the specifically single parent demographic, and hundreds more on top of that dedicated to dating in general.  LBGQT single parents, career single parents, Goth single parents, poly-minded single parents - there's something out there for everyone.

I've done the internet dating site thing.  Bug's existence may or may not be directly attributed to a brief relationship with a prime specimen of the psychotic loser that hides it well that your mother always warned you about person met via an online dating site.  Quite frankly, these sites are time consuming and unreliable.  There's far too much room for misrepresentation, especially with the double-edged anonymity the internet affords.

So, where the hell do we go, then?  I'm told that for the religious types that churches often hold socials and mixers aimed at the singles in the congregation, and there have been rumored successes in that venue.  Another one I hear of quite often is the "support group."  Yeah, a little too touchy-feely-playing-nice for me, but hey - if you dig it, it IS a support group for whatever you choose (and some of them are AIMED at single parents!) so theoretically anyone you meet and hit it off with should be totally cool with your maternal/paternal status.

For the rest of us, I suppose we leave it to chance.  Well, chance and self-fulfillment of our needs and desires, self fulfillment from a company (NSFW) that offers a free fulfillment method every few weeks.  (NO affiliation or sponsorship from them, just total devotion to their awesomeness.)

Tell me, readers:  Do you have other suggestions?  Hit by a meteorite or hit by a meteorong methods?  Sage advice, adages or anecdotal examples?  Leave 'em here. :) 

Insert David Bowie Lyrics here.

So, AccidentallyMommy will be undergoing a serious overhaul here in the near future.  The business logo is almost complete.  ANYWAY, my point is, that there's changes afoot everywhere else, so I decided to make them here, too.

Anyways.  Before I create these catastrophic changes that will screw with your every-day aesthetic, I wanted to let you know so you weren't thrown for a loop, and let you know that content will remain the same.  Hell, content might just improve and become more regular, if I can compose it in an environment that is more suited to me.

There will still be Things-that-are-Awesome-Thursdays and FlogYoBlog Fridays, as well as product reviews and rants and rhetoric and audience participation.  I'm also considering implementing a weekly giveaway, as well.  There probably won't be a FB fan page, unless readership booms.  We'll see about that.  There will ALWAYS be cute pictures of my monster children, and there may even be a few more personal posts from/about me that don't have any real purpose behind them.  Like this one.

Sooo, yeah.  Rock on with yo' bad selves, and more to come very very soon!

Friday, March 26, 2010

MckLinky Blog Hop

The Sound of Music

Music is integral in our culture and has been for thousands of years.  There is no disputing that fact.  I am, in fact, a musician.  Well, I was anyways.  In the highest-level band in highschool, I took lessons to hone my skills as a classical flutist.  I was part of a band (At the time the BHS Symphonic Band conducted by Florida Bandmasters Association Hall of Fame inductee Paula Thornton, but Ms. Thornton has retired and the Symphonic Band has since re-named,) that accrued many prestigious awards including the Otto J. Kraushaar Award.  Needless to say, music is firmly ingrained in my soul.

Classical and band music aren't my only bread and butter, though.  A lot of genres appeal to me.  Staring me in the face as I type are albums from the artists and bands Regina Spektor, Sublime, Nine Inch Nails, Norah Jones, Poison, Green Day, Against Me!, Pink Floyd, Rob Thomas, Santana, Apocalyptica, and Simon and Garfunkel.

I have to tell you - my kids listen to all of them with me!  Now, I've gotten a lot of flack when people learn that my five year old knows some of these bands well enough to request them by name.  The look of shock, for example, when she asks me to put on Green Day instead of Nine Inch Nails.  The question of "Don't you think that letting her listen to music like that is BAD for her?"

My answer is very simple and very blunt.  No, I don't.

I believe that children should be exposed to as much cultural diversity as possible, and I think that holds true with music, film and art, as well.  Yes, even the music, film and art that includes naked bodies, the word fuck, homosexual relationships, political rebellion, religious disbelief and all of the emotions the humanimal is capable of producing.  Subjecting them (and me) to toned-down kids bop and other various thematic children's music is insulting to both me and them.

I don't think that children should grow up in a bubble, and that especially includes the music they're exposed to.  Between learning to discern the mechanics of the music itself and the deep cultural impact, I think that it's crucial to a child's early developing sense of self and community to allow them to experience as much as possible.  I agree that it must be done with discretion, though.  While I acknowledge that my daughter greatly enjoys looking at photos of tattoos and body murals, watching Shaun of the Dead  and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and singing happily along with Sublime's 40 oz. to Freedom, allowing her to look at photographs of murder scenes, watching most of the nightly news and playing NIN's Closer on repeat are probably pushing the limits even for me.

So, Parents... What are the Sounds of Music in your home?  

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Things-that-are-awesome Thursday!

Behold, I bring you Things-that-are-awesome Thursdays!  Every Thursday from now on, I will spotlight a business/blog/items/etc. that I feel is completely awesome, to share just with you my loyal readers!

This week's Thing-that-is-awesome is a locally-run business called Dayna Lane Gifts.  Offering everything from scrapbooks and scrapbooking supplies to gorgeous jewelry handmade with love, there is something available within every budget and all tastes and styles.  Better yet?  Purchasing from Dayna Lane supports some amazing stay-at-home moms.  We all know how I feel about stay-at-home moms, being one myself. ;)

So, hop on over, check them out, or read their blog.

Happy Shopping!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Do you guilt over "green"?

We've all been there.  A party, a meeting, around the watercooler, in the grocery line... SOMEONE is inevitably talking about how "green" they are, and how bunnies would magically ejaculate rainbows if everyone else would just be "green" too.

I don't know about ya'll, but the word "green" and all of it's connotations are starting to illicit a Pavlovian, Catholic-style guilt response in me.  (And trust me when I say it friends, I know what Catholic-style guilt is.  *kisses her grandmother's rosary and looks heavenward*  Love you, Gran.)

There is a virulent infection of one-upmanship spreading rapidly through the movement that has come to simply be known as "being green."  Similar to the viciousness that is gripping the social mothering community these days, this one-upmanship focuses not on the small improvements we're striving to make and instead glorifies the all side of the prevalent all-or-nothing attitude that so many have.  Those of us who are unable to re-purpose our vehicles into container gardens for growing our own organic vegetables and eat animal products that are anything but grass-fed and free-range are vilified, compared in certain extreme instances to Nazis in our "rampant and careless" destruction of the earth.

This illness is not only making us as adults doubt our validity and the impact our smaller positives are having, it is perpetuating the cycle of intolerance in our children.  Our desperate efforts to teach them from the beginning to reduce, reuse, recycle is being tainted with the mindset that anyone who cannot give it absolutely everything is somehow "bad".  OUR guilt that is being bred by this malignant attitude will inevitably roll off onto them, which will present yet another stumbling block towards high self-esteem by making them think that if THEY cannot be perfect in this aspect, THEY aren't as good as someone else, either.  EVERYTHING has an effect, and it's my personal opinion that when raising children to be happy and healthy, you need to minimize those self-esteem killing effects.

Now, I don't know about you, but I teach my kiddos that even a small piece of kindness is better than nothing.  I teach them that in ALL aspects of life.  Why can't we as adults wrap our brain around that same concept and apply it in this situation, too?

As a firm believer in the "One voice is all it takes" philosophy, I'm shouting tonight from atop my soapbox a very clear and unwavering "THANK YOU" to everyone else.

The family that is making a conscious effort to inform themselves about their household cleaners and start phasing out the worst?  Thank you!

The bachelor(ette) who orders take-away twice a week, and has suddenly stopped when they realized they were producing a full bag of trash a day?  Thank you!

Those who cannot afford organics but instead buy as locally and in season in possible? Thank you!

Those who choose small-farmed animal products instead of national producers?  Thank you!

Gardeners who take their neighbors' paper bags to use as mulch, People who repurpose and upcycle old clothing, those of us that buy and trade used books, even the people who do things so seemingly insignificant as turn the light off when they're done with the public bathroom:  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!!

Our society has fallen into some very detrimental habits, there is no arguing that.  Brow-beating and guilt tactics are not the way to go to initiate ecological reform, though.  Instead of focusing on who has the most money and time to go 100% "green" as quickly as possible, let's look instead to those who are making efforts and achievements, and in turn setting new goals.

As they say, Rome wasn't built in a day.  A day isn't enough time to change the collective conscious for the better, either.

Next time you see someone doing something small, say "Thank You" out loud.  Let them know that SOMEONE acknowledges the effort they've made, no matter how tiny.  More "Thank Yous" and less "How dare you?s" could very well be the pound of cure we need in order to get back to the ounce of prevention.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Just Because.

Someone I know (who is also quite outspoken and opinionated,) posted a list of "Just Because" statements in an attempt to help certain people in her life understand her views.  I thought it was a phenomenal idea.  The simplicity of it is delightful.  No long explanations, just one-sentence long statements that lead to a clearer understanding of who she is and what she believes.  I've decided to poach it from her!  I now bring you me, the surface layer, in the form of Just Because!

  • Just Because I'm uncomfortable MilkSharing for my babies doesn't mean I don't support other mamas who are.
  • Just Because I cloth diaper doesn't mean I'm a snob, or that I judge people that use disposables since I've been known to use them on occasion, too!
  • Just Because I'm a mom doesn't mean I'm not an individual.
  • Just Because I don't believe in circumcision doesn't mean I don't understand the sociocultural motivation behind SOME of those who do.
  • Just Because I'm fat doesn't mean I'm not beautiful.
  • Just Because I'm Bipolar doesn't mean I'm not a good parent.
  • Just Because I'm outspoken doesn't mean I'm intolerant.
  • Just Because I'm liberal doesn't mean I don't respect more conservative views.
  • Just Because I blog doesn't mean I don't value privacy.
  • Just Because I'm poor doesn't mean I take advantage of the system.

So, dear readers, what's on your "Just Because" list?  Post it yourself, let us scratch the surface of the many facets of you!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Feeding our families, souls and communities.

Before I go on, I'd like to let you all know that I'm not preaching.  Quite frankly, there are very few things that I'm passionate about enough to personally preach.  I simply want to share my experiences.

I became a locavore quite by accident.  I had known about the locavore movement, but didn't put much thought into it.  I shopped at a grocery chain that made it a point to use as much semi-local produce as possible, where I checked origins and made it a point to skip over anything non-US grown and avoided anything that deviated from the Southeastern area.  For a time, that was enough. Then I discovered the gems that are my local Farmer's Markets.  THAT'S when I was converted.  A sunny, summer afternoon spent people-watching, chatting up vendors, and buying some of the most beautiful tomatoes and Muscadine grapes I had ever laid my eyes on, all the while snacking on beautifully made artisan bread still warm from a vendor that gave it to us for free, in exchange for a smile and a hug from my outgoing and bubbly toddler.

Kinder Major after we got home from our first market adventure, circa July 2006!

That afternoon got me hooked on the soul-food that is interacting with the community in a small yet impacting manner, as well.  As my daughter played at my feet and I watched the busy goings-on of the downtown market, I saw many beautiful things.  Families still smudged with dirt, vending from the tailgates of beat-up 20 year old pickups laughed and played together between customers.  Mothers brought their children and fed them directly from the stands they just purchased their foods from.  Indigent residents came and bartered and haggled to afford vital fresh veggies and fruits that otherwise wouldn't be available to them, that provided them with the nourishment necessary to keep them going just that much longer.  Students, professionals, young, old, fashionable, scene, hippy... you name the demographic, it was represented.  It was and is a breathtakingly beautiful melding of our community, all gathered together to laugh and play.  Smiles are abundant between strangers, which we all know is a rarity in today's society.

These markets are so much more than food markets.  Locally made crafts, clothes and gift items, vocal advocacy for political and social issues, musicians, dancers, artists... they all gather to ply their wares, stances and performances.  There's something that appeals to every sense.

It's markets like these that truly feed us as a society.  Not just by providing nourishment for our bodies, but economic nourishment, social nourishment, and soul nourishment in the form of hope.  In today's society where so many are isolated by choice and by chance, these markets provide us with the opportunity to come together for a common purpose.  It provides the necessary soul-ular (get it?  Soul-ular instead of cellular?  I'm punny =P) vitamins of smiles, kindness, laughs and camaraderie.  It helps to rebuild our faith in our fellow man, if only for a few hours each week.

I didn't become a locavore to spit in the face of Big Agriculture, nor to perpetuate a socio-political movement or simply because my friends were doing it and it was trendy.  I became a locavore because I realized that by feeding my family the (literal) fruits of my neighbors' labor, I was feeding their families as well as my soul and our communities. 

This year I plan to take my locavore-ism to the next step, with a garden that should produce enough to feed my family comfortably, as well as allow me to reach out individually to someone who is in need, since there will undoubtedly be more than enough to share.  I've said in jest that even in the worst-case scenario, I would have enough extra to set up my own vendor's stall at the market, but that goes against what it feels right in my heart to do.  The profit I'm looking for isn't monetary - I want to give back the good feeling I've been blessed to receive that comes with knowing that someone cares about me and my family, and is willing to share their good fortunes with me.  That, in my opinion, is the key motivator behind home-base locavoreism.

So that you gain more than just my rhetoric from this post, I'm going to leave you with links to finding out how to become locavores in your own communities and a recipe.  Happy Nurturing!

Vegetable Squish
***Please note:  All measurements are approximate.  I'm a firm believer that cooking is based more on feeling and heart than measurements and calculations, but I acknowledge that not everyone cooks that way, which is why I provided the estimates.  :)
  • 5 large tomatoes (two cans of diced tomatoes can be substituted, or you can mix fresh and canned.  I often make this substitution, simply because tomatoes get eaten like apples in my house and I never have enough left.)
  • 4 mid-size crookneck/yellow squash
  • 4 mid-size zucchini
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 TBSP minced garlic
  •  Fresh ground pepper, to taste
  •  Fresh ground sea salt or kosher salt, to taste
The layers in which you add your veggies is important, so take heed.  In a large pot, add garlic.  Dice tomatoes, making sure to reserve all liquids.  Add to pot.  Coarsely chop onions, add to pot, stir to combine with tomatoes and garlic.  Chop squash and zucchini, making sure to discard ends. Layer on top of the onion/tomato/garlic mixture on the bottom. 

At this point, cover your pot and simmer on low.  The idea is to cook the tomatoes well along with cooking the onions to translucency, while steaming the squash and zucchini.  

After ten minutes of simmering, mix to combine the squash and zucchini with the tomato-onion-garlic mixture.  Cover and simmer until squash and zucchini are tender to taste.  (We like them very mushy, so it's usually another 20 minutes or so for us.  YMMV.)  

When veggies are fork-done to taste, add ground pepper and the salt of your choice, mixing to incorporate.  Cover for another five minutes to let flavors mingle.  Remove from heat and serve over white or brown rice, or egg noodles.

I generally serve this over white rice with stew beef marinaded in a honey-sesame teriyaki sauce.  It's a very flexible dish, though, so experiment and enjoy!

Logo help

I'm in need of a graphics designer looking to flesh out their portfolio (read as: works cheap/for barter,)and will receive full credit/exposure for their work. Comment here if you're interested!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bug's birth... from someone else's perspective.

A very dear friend of mine accompanied me on my journey to bring Bug into the light.  I asked her to write up her experience for me to share with my readers.  It was truly awesome to hear someone else's recollection of what it was like to be there, and I'd like to share it with all of you.  Enjoy!

Story Time: Why I love my OB and the evils of pitocin.

**ETA, my timeline on Bug's birth was a bit incorrect - How am I supposed to remember the time, I was laboring? ;)  Please see the above post for a more accurate description of times.

Forgive me for a random, babbling post.  It's very late, but I had the urge to share these thoughts with you and there's no time like the present to do so. ;)

My births were both induced.  For those who don't know the stories, I'll attempt to Reader's Digest them for you.

My pregnancy with Kinder Major was uneventful.  It was even pretty enjoyable, complete with the wonderful magic that most first time mothers experience.  As we hit week 38, though, life became hell.  In stepped prodromal labor. It wasn't too bad at first; dilation without effacement, strong but irregular contractions.  As week 38 progressed, those contractions moved to my back and I tasted hell.  At week 39, the provider of the day stripped my membranes without telling me.  No big, after I was informed 12 hours later what was done, and that the bleeding resultant was normal.  However, the emotional stress from that reversed some of the good dilation I had going and made the back labor worse. At that point I was desperate for forward movement - I bounced on my birth ball, I knelt on all fours, I masturbated to orgasm, I did various yoga positions, I took Evening Primrose oil both orally and vaginally, and I used black and blue cohosh religiously.

My goals were two-fold: reposition my daughter to move the pain out of my back and to go back to the forward momentum I had briefly experienced.  It was somewhat successful.  At a late-night triage episode due to extreme pain at 39w6d, I begged for an induction.  I'm bipolar, and I hadn't slept (and I mean literally, no REM sleep,) in nearly four days.  The risk at that point of a manic episode and the potential for post-partum psychosis was frighteningly high.  After a third practitioner during that visit alone checked my cervix at 7 AM, it was announced that I was dilated back to four and 25% effaced.  As long as there was no backwards movement of those numbers after an hour of walking, they would induce me.  In her immortal words, "Wow, that's a big head.  Actually, that's a really big head."

And so, the induction began.  I was put in a labor and delivery room, got my epidural, got hooked up to IV fluids for dehydration, started on pit, and I blissfully slept for almost 12 hours while my body did its thing with a little help from pharma-nature.  By 4 AM I was fully dilated and effaced, and my epidural had almost completely run out.  I wasn't upset about that, and when I was informed that the on-call anesthesiologist was busy in an emergency section, I told them not to bother calling him.  I liked being able to feel what was going on, and it fulfilled my original desires to have a medication free birth, even though it truly wasn't.  Three pushes later, and my beautiful 10 lb, 21.5" long redhead daughter greeted the world at 4:36 AM on Valentine's day of 2005.  I never felt the dreaded pitocin contractions, or had any of the shockwave effects.  My after-birth complications of 3rd degree tear, violent and painful placental tractioning and post-partum hemorrhage were a combination of practitioner error and my body's little bleeding disorder secret.

With Bug, my pregnancy... well, it sucked.  I spent almost half of it total on bedrest, dispersed through different intervals.  Severe pubic symphysis disfunction, blinding headaches, overpowering fatigue, and in the end pre-eclampsia that landed me on in-patient bed rest due to BP spikes that reached as high as 210/125 as well as abnormal kidney function tests and severe proteinuria were the main factors to the utter suckage.

This is where I tell you why I love my OB.  He was new to me, as I had spent Pregnancy One in a high-risk clinic affiliated with the local university-based teaching hospital.  I can count on one hand the number of times I saw the same practitioner.  I cannot count how many different ones I saw.  The person who delivered me (and fucked up royally) was someone I'd never met, who couldn't remember my name during delivery.  I Did. Not. Want. That. Again.

So, I ferreted out a doctor that met my base criteria:  Professional yet approachable, compatible with my personality, low c-section rates, delivers at the OTHER hospital in town.  I interviewed three before him, and stopped after his interview.  He was absolutely the one.

While his internet reviews often stated "Poor bedside manner," "quick to suggest interventions," "cold" and "doesn't take time to explain things," I found him to be quite the opposite.  What he IS, however, is quick to get annoyed with bullshit, expectant of his patients in regards to self-education, unwilling to allow a potentially dangerous situation to become fatal to fetus or mother, and somewhat sarcastic.  This suited me perfectly.  He's also a horse person, which was more than awesome.  We got along fabulously - he recognized that I wasn't stupid and actually knew what was going on with my body and my baby, and he respected me far more than I think he would have had I been clueless, or even somewhat confused by the process.  The questions I did have he answered thoroughly, he respected my desires and opinions and discussed and implemented them when we both deemed it to be appropriate, and more than anything, he made me comfortable and kept me laughing.  His perceived poor bedside manner and coldness was simply a low threshold for ignorance and whining.

When it became obvious that simple bed rest wasn't cutting it, we started magnesium at a low dose.  Then came 36w5d.  I woke up that morning and knew that something wasn't quite right.  It wasn't emergent, it wasn't obvious, it was just a feeling.  When he rounded that morning, I looked him in the eye and told him very plainly that I wanted to have my baby that day, that there was just something not right.  After going back and forth a few times, he agreed.

By then I was 5 CM and 90% effaced, so we broke my waters before starting the pit.  I had also decided that I was going to hold out on my epidural, and see if I really needed it.

My waters were stained with meconium when they were broken - there had been no pit, nothing to otherwise cause distress.  My hunch that *something* wasn't right had been correct.  Still, though, apart from a few random decelerations, there was no real sign of distress from my son.  We chatted and a scalp electrode was placed.  Alas, though, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Now I tell you why pit is evil.

It is evil because it is so damned deceptive.  Yep.  Deceptive.  I didn't experience these contractions with Kinder Major because I opted for the epidural before the pit was even started, so that I could get the sleep I so desperately needed to avoid post-partum mania.  I had no idea.  Pitocin takes a standard contraction and ramps it up, we all know that.  What no one talked about and warned me about, though, is the nearly irresistable urge to push that comes with it, even when only dilated to 8 CM.  My brain was saying "NO PUSHING, IT'S NOT THE RIGHT TIME YET" and my body was saying "I DON'T CARE IF IT'S AS LITTLE AS FIVE, YOU'RE GOING TO FREAKING PUSH."  No amount of breathing or vocalizing or focusing or meditating can relieve that urge to push that comes along with a full-swing pitocin contraction.  Pushing then would have been frustrating, fruitless and exhausting.  At that point, I broke down and asked (okay, maybe begged,) for the epidural.  I wasn't angry, I wasn't scared, I was tired and knew that the process was... out of sync.  There's nothing I hate more than a liar, though, and pit certainly is/turns your body into one.

While it is evil in its deception, it definitely did its job quickly on my body that was quite ready for its help.  Seven hours from the time the pit was hung and three hours after the epidural was in, my son was born after four good pushes at 9 lbs. 7 oz. and 19.5" long, at 36w5d on Nov. 11th, 2009 at 8:16 PM.  Yep, you read that right - a 36 weeker preemie was over 9 lbs.  My OB (who, btw, was AWESOME through the entire thing, laughing with me and trusting me when I told him what I felt and when, as well as never once doubting my ability and never even entertaining that I might require forceps/vacuum, let alone a section,) had to actually pause his efforts to repair the minor tearing I experienced to go over and look at the scale for himself.  Everyone was quite shocked about Bug's weight.  The niggling feeling that something was wrong proved to be a couple of things.  The cord was wrapped tightly around his neck, albeit once, and he had some respiratory issues of which the cause was not readily apparent.  He was also jaundiced to the point of remaining nearly purple for two weeks after his birth.  My doctor and Bug's doctor both agreed that had delivery been delayed any longer, the lasting effects would have been far more severe.

My minor bleeding disorder came to light after Bug's delivery, as I experienced a hemorrhage without the violent placental tractioning I blamed for the one I had after Kinder Major's delivery.  Were it not for the exceptional capability my OB possessed and his exemplary management of the minor crisis, I would have lost far more blood than I did.

While granted, my need for a transfusion wasn't recognized until a good four days after we were released, I don't blame him.  I saw the labs myself - at the time of discharge, the numbers of my CBC did not indicate such a need.  Again, he exhibited trust in my instincts and did not belittle me when I informed him I thought I needed a transfusion, instead he supported my decision to go to the emergency room, and checked in on me daily while I was admitted for the transfusion.

These are the things that give me hope in our physicians.  Knowing that he is out there practicing leaves me with the confidence that there are docs like him available for those who need them and are willing to look. 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

When life hands you lemons... that are infected with fungus... that also have worms...

So, AccidentallyMommy has AccidentallyBroken her leg.  Yep.  I was doing laundry (I knew that house cleaning was inherently bad for one's health!) and fell whilst exiting my laundry room.  The dog may or may not have had something to do with it, he refuses to 'fess up.  Anyways, one moment I was grumbling about the lack of white vinegar next to my washer so I could launder diapers, and the next I was on the floor.  I'll spare the squeamish the gory details, but the end result was an incomplete linear spiral fracture of the fibula, which in english means that it fractured clear through the middle long-wise, but stayed together.  There was also an open dislocation and tendon and ligament damage. 

Lots of surgery and screws and plates later, here I am, on orders to bear ZERO weight on that leg, which means crutches or a walker on  good days, the wheelchair on bad ones.  (I have vertigo directly attributed to the use of Lamictal as part of my pharmaceutical regimen to control my bipolar symptoms, as well as fibromyalgia that likes to flare at the drop of a hat.  Both of those things make using crutches or the walker very, very difficult.)

At this point I am three weeks post-surgery.  I am also a walking (see?  I'm punny.) plague.  What started out in the household as a virus has turned into an ear infection in Kinder Major, potential ear infection in Bug, Bronchitis in my mother and sister, and Bronchitis AND double ear infection AND sinus infection in me.

"Where the hell is she going with all of this, does she think we want her life history?" you're asking.  Bear with me, I'll get to the good part here in a minute.

What does a parent DO with two young children when they feel like death and can barely wipe their own ass, let alone get down on the floor to play and entertain?  Well... here's some ideas that will work for anyone.  I gave you all of the above background info to PROVE that they'll work for everyone.  If I can make them work, you can, too.

  • TV screen whiteboard drawing.  Now, this only works if you have a glass-faced television, and if you have opaque white board markers.  That said, pausing your favorite movies and giving the paused characters various... ahem... accessories... like moustachios and funny hats and kitty ears and glasses... well, it leads to hours and hours worth of hilarity that can be very easily wiped off.
  • DVD case Jenga.  Standard Jenga pieces are waaay to small for little hands, IMO.  Hell, they're too small for my hands.  DVD cases, however, are light, large, and (at least in our house,) abundant.  Played on the floor or a coffee table, it's a simple but fun activity that can be done without the worry of someone breaking/scuffing anything important or losing small pieces.
  • Coffee Table Chef.  Because my house is NOT handicap friendly, I've had to be very creative with my food options during the day when no one is home that can safely use the stove or the microwave.  As a result, there is a variety of ingredients that do not require cooking in any way left in a low shelf in the fridge.  It is not unheard of for Kinder Major to bring them in and spread them out on the table, where I then tell her to pick two or three things and we come up with ideas of what to make.  She gets to help and have fun by doing most of the making, of course. :)  It's a little messy, (okay, a lot messy,) but it's great for her self-esteem and yields something much yummier than peanut butter on crackers.

There are other wonderful activities that fall into more traditional categories, such as playing dolly pretend, being the rapt audience in an impromptu fashion show, reading, coloring, drawing, singing and sit-down crafts that are minimally messy.  If you're like me and staring six more weeks of frustration down, though, sometimes you need to think outside the box.

I hope you may find these ideas helpful, and at the same time I pray it's not for the same reasons I do. 

Have some out-of-the-box solutions of your own?  By all means, feel free to comment.  Likewise, watch the comments, you may find more things to add to your own personal arsenal.  :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dirty little secrets.

So, we all know that in the real world, no one is able to hold up all of their parenting and life ideals all of the time.  It's the human condition - none of us are perfect.

I'd like this post to be a load-lightening confessional for all of you, dear readers.  I'll get the ball rolling.

-I let my pre-schooler and my infant watch TV.  There, I said it.  We pick things we can watch and enjoy together, and damnit, we sit our butts on the couch and watch.  Admittedly, my infant is just in it for the pretty colors, but still.

-I still use paper and plastic sometimes.  Big Shame on this one, but I can't always remember to put my reusable shopping bags back into the car.

-My kiddo and I indulge in the occasional McNugget Happy Meal with sweet and sour sauce.  Too many fond memories from my childhood and my mother doing the same thing with me.  I want her (and eventually Bug,) to have those same memories.

-I rarely get a chance to use moisturizer on my face or brush my teeth after every meal.  In fact, the teeth brushing is usually only once a day.

-As much as I dislike Big Corporate, I shop at Wal-Mart almost exclusively for non-grocery items.  The explanation for this one is very simple and can be summed up in two words: 24 hours.

So come on, readers.  Get yours out there, this is a post free of judgment and disdain.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"You are such a hypocrite!" or, "Why I chose formula over someone else's mama milk."

It's no secret that I accepted blood transfusions from stock blood after both of my births.  I'm okay with that.  I know what the numbers are on the risk of transmitted bloodbourne pathogens slipping by undetected, and it's a risk I'm willing to take.

When certain persons with their noses so high they can't see their toes hear that, though, the terms "hypocrite" and "lazy" and "negligent" are slung around as carelessly as "please" and "thank you."

Why is this, you ask?  Well, because when I was unable** to breastfeed, I chose formula over donated mama milk.

No one close to me was nursing a child or would even have been able to re-lactate to help me, and I was unwilling, plain and simple, to accept and/or pay for a stranger's mama milk.

Off the bat, I do look like a hypocrite.  I accepted a random person's blood, but I'm not accepting a random person's milk for my child.  Yep.  Sounds hypocritical.  With one teeensy smidgen of a difference - the random person whose blood I accepted had been screened rigorously for pathogens and pharmaceuticals, and that blood was deemed clear and safe for use in any patient, no matter the medications they were taking or the allergies they had.

I cannot get that assurance with donated mama's milk.  I will freely admit - I don't trust strangers.  Not even a little bit.  While I'd like to think that there wouldn't be anything done out of malice, I cannot be so naive as to think there wouldn't be anything done out of stupidity.  Someone thinking that what they're putting into their body is insignificant, or someone thinking an infection they had was harmless.  Ignorance, plain and simple.

Medications, herbal supplements, infections... these are all things that could be tagging along in that seemingly innocuous little bottle of breastmilk.

I will not offer my child anything that I would not put in my own body, and I would not drink a random woman's breast milk without tangible proof that she had been exhaustively tested for any and all possible issues.

I choose formula over donated mama's milk because if nothing else, there is at least an FDA regulated quality control on the ingredients that go into that can of powder.  And yes, I realize that there's a LOT of things in that can.  It's a trade-off I'm willing to make, though. 

It's smelly, and doesn't taste very good (I said I wouldn't give my children something I wouldn't put in my own body, and I meant it.  I've had formula - and not just dipping my finger in it to taste it.  I made up a few ounces and drank them myself,) and it makes my kids smelly, but it doesn't run the risk of infecting my child with HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis or HPV, not to mention other more obscure pathogens, and potential pharmaceuticals.

I commend other women who are more trusting than I am and are willing to accept a stranger's milk.  I often wish I could turn off the nagging "what if?" voice whenever I think about the subject.  The simple fact is that I can't.  I can't entertain putting my child in that position any more than I would be able to entertain trusting the care of my child to someone who may or may not have a history of pedophilia.  In my mind, the risks are equal.

That said, just because I feel that way doesn't mean I'm going to judge another mother harshly, so why should I be so judged?  Food (pun intended,) for thought.

**I could not breastfeed Kinder Major because the medications I was on at the time of her birth and forward strictly prohibited it.  I have discontinued breastfeeding Bug because of a medication issue as well, albeit a different one.  I nursed him happily until just recently, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't mourn the loss of that facet of our mother/child relationship.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Aaaand... I'm back.

Since wallowing in misery is so counter-productive, I decided to stop.   Don't get me wrong, I'm a champion wallower... blue ribbon at the state fair, in fact... but it's just not something that I can do for extended periods of time.  Not for lack of trying in my past lives. ;P

All of that said, my thoughts are a bit... scattered.  I'm recovering from orthopedic surgery on my leg, and it's still painful enough to require narcotics, which means that AccidentallyMommy is a leeetle bit loopy.

There will be a REAL post coming soon though, I promise.  I just wanted to let you all know that my hiatus (if we can really call it that,) is over and there is plenty to muse over in the works.