Monday, May 30, 2011

Tough Love: Puppy vs Baby Advice

Meet my new baby, Annie.  She's a red-headed cockapoo.  She's almost 5 months old.  So far, she's been a fun addition to our family.  I'm so happy to have a baby in the sling again!  She loves it and will stay there for a long time.  She likes to be held and has gotten so much attention in our family.  She's been very social and content to let anyone pick her up and carry her around. 

We had a couple of dogs growing up, but they were outdoor dogs and had rotten behavior.  They weren't allowed to really be a part of the family.  I have never considered myself an animal person -- still don't -- but I am rather enjoying this dog.  I wanted an indoor dog because I think they are typically better behaved.  Plus, we have a pool and not a great backyard for a dog.  I am also grossed out by the fur of an animal that lives outside most of the time, tracking it in the house.

My sister doesn't have any children, and I remember when she held Darcy as a new baby, she was stiff as a board.  She held her arms straight out, totally awkward.  The baby didn't mold to her body.  It was painful to watch!  She had no idea what to do with a baby!  That is how I feel with a puppy.  I have no idea what to do or how to train it.  We got the dog on "class night" and I was asking several couples about different things with the puppy.  Over the course of the week, I have gotten more advice on how to train a puppy!

The conclusion I've come to is that people parent their babies like they do a puppy.  Some of the advice I've gotten this week in regards to the puppy reminds me of things I've heard about parenting a baby. 

*Don't let her sleep in your bed.  It disrupts the pack order.
*Don't let her manipulate you.
*Don't get her out of her crate if she is crying or barking.  She'll eventually like being there.
*She needs to know who is her master.  If she misbehaves, put her on her back and hold her chest until she   stops moving and fighting you.  You want her to be submissive.
*If she pees in the house, put her nose in it and "spank" her, telling her "no!"  Take her outside.
*If she doesn't pee when she is let out of her crate, put her back in and try again in a few minutes.  Keep putting her in the crate until she pees.
*If she doesn't poop where you want her to, move the poop and keep showing her where to go. 

As a non-dog owner up until now, I can safely say that I've seen people treat their animals like their babies or children.  They talk about them like they are their children.  When people are actually talking about their children, they will pipe in about their dog(s).  I've even thought someone was talking about their child one time and was shocked to find that they were referring to their dog.  I've always found this strange, and kind of annoying, to be perfectly honest.

To hear all this advice this week, it's made me think, it's no wonder people parent the way they do!  They have dogs and then along comes a baby and they think it's the same thing!  They don't want to disrupt pack order and won't let the baby sleep in their bed.  They put the baby in their crib (ie. crate), not letting the baby manipulate them by crying and trying to get you to come get them.  "Eventually they will like being there."  I just couldn't stop thinking of all the cry-it-out methods of "sleep training."

I see people swat toddlers hands or bottoms telling them "no!" and then putting them in time out, just like a puppy that peed on the carpet.  We want our children to be independent, but submissive, knowing who is their "master." 

Babies are not like puppies.  There may be similarities in behavior, but the way to deal with them is not the same!  Human babies have the need to be with their mama continuously.  You are your baby's environment (a quote from lactation consultant, Mellanie Sheppard) and they require that constant contact.  A baby cannot manipulate you.  Period.  You will have more confident, independent children if their needs are met by a parent that they trust.  If their needs (physical, mental, and especially emotional) are not met, you will have a misbehaved child.  My 14-year-old is capable of manipulation now, but he was not as a baby, or even as a toddler!  

I am not arguing with how to train a dog -- what do I know?! -- but so many things I've heard reminded me of things I've heard people say about parenting their babies.

*Don't let them sleep in your bed.  They'll never leave. 
*They have to learn to fall asleep on their own.  It's OK to let them cry.
*Don't let them manipulate you by picking them up or holding them all the time.
*Teach them independence.  They need to teach themselves how to fall asleep on their own.
*Swatting and spanking teach them to respect their elders and also right from wrong.
*If they don't behave, put them in time out until they learn.

Love on your baby.  Carry her in a sling as often as possible.  Breastfeed her continuously.  Watch her grow and thrive.  Allow her to sleep next to you and breastfeed throughout the night.  You will have a well-behaved baby, toddler, child.  Their needs are met, they feel loved, they trust you.  They will know that you value them as a human being.  You will have a mutual respect for one another, from one person to another.  

I guess knowing what I know about about babies has made me wonder about all the advice I've gotten this week about the puppy.  When new parents are given this advice about their baby, they believe it.  They follow it, even if it doesn't feel right to them.  My girls, and my husband for-that-matter, have not liked some of the advice we've gotten.  They think it seems mean.  Are they following their instincts?  Should we listen to that, or will we have an ill-behaved dog as a result?  We certainly don't want that!  So, we follow the advice by people who have dogs already, just as new parents follow advice by people who already have children.  That, as we know, is not always the best idea! 

As we try to get to know Annie, we are finding that she has her own little personality.  I guess we'll take bits and pieces of advice we've received, and throw the rest out that doesn't feel right.  We may create our own little hellion in the process and we'll have no one to blame but ourselves. I can't help but think that love and tenderness cannot be a bad thing in raising a baby of any variety.  I hope I'm right on this one!

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Penny A Load!

I have a great post I'm working on, but the laundry soap got brought up this week - and since we are dogsitting this weekend, - I think I'm going to take the opportunity to make this be the weekly post!  I feel like I'm cheating a bit, but I hope this will be useful for you, especially in these economic times.

I've been making my own detergent for about 2 or 3 years now.  I can afford laundry detergent.  I don't know why I keep doing this!  I guess because I can.  I also can my own beans, but I could buy them at the store too.  I like being self-reliant.  I can make yogurt, too, but I don't really think I save money on that one, so I don't do it.  But I could if I had to! And I love that feeling, of knowing I am resourceful.

I posted on my Facebook page this week that I make my own detergent and promised I'd post my recipe here. 

3.1 oz bar Ivory soap
1 cup Borax
1/2 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (found at Kroger)

5 gallon container
Cheese grater
small bowl
stove pot
long stirring spoon (I got mine at a restaurant supply store.)

Pour 5 cups of water in the stove pot and heat it just shy of boiling.  You want the water hot enough to be able to melt the soap, but not hot enough to boil over.  While the water is warming up, use the cheese grater to shred the bar of soap.  Add the shredded soap to the pot of heater water and stir the mixture until the soap is completely melted.

Once the soap is melted, pour 3 gallons of hot water into in 5-gallon bucket.  To the 3 gallons of hot water, stir in the melted soap mixture.  Once it's mixed, add the 1/2 cup super washing soda and stir until it's dissolved.  Pour in 1 cup borax and stir again until dissolved.  Lots of stirring!

You can add essential oils to your laundry detergent to make it smell good, but I never have.

Cover the container and place it somewhere it won't be disturbed.  Let it cool overnight.  It will begin to gel as it cools.  You'll want to put it in smaller containers.  I stir mine once it is "set" though because it does better in my new washer.  There will not be suds in your washer using homemade laundry detergent.  This was hard for me to get used to.  I don't like to pour it directly on my clothes either, as it has left white "residue."  I put the soap in the washer and let it run for a bit and then add the clothes.  Works great that way.

Use 4 oz, or 1/2 cup, per load.  One recipe yields 442 oz which should get you through 110 loads of laundry!  The breakdown, price-wise, is about a penny per load.  Not bad.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Birth Next Door and Upcoming TCBN Meeting this Week

You can now buy your copy of The Birth Next Door from my blog!  Just click on the button to the right This book of birth stories is from Tarrant County, Fort Worth, Texas and it benefits the Tarrant County Birth Network, a non-profit 501(c)3.  We have grown to be the largest chapter of BirthNetwork National in just over a year.  Our primary focus is making Mother-Friendly maternity care a reality for all families of Tarrant County. 

If you live in the Fort Worth area, we invite you to be a part of what we are doing.  We meet the last Thursday of each month at Lou's Pavilion on the TWU campus from 7:00-9:00 p.m.  This  month, the topic is Nutrition for Pregnancy and Beyond.  Our speakers include The Mommypotamus and Dr. Betsy Taylor, of Crossroads Natural Health.
Attendance is free and open to the public.  Lap babies only please.  Don't leave without introducing yourself to me.  See you there.

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Christmas Letter -- In Blog Form

I had a friend ask me a while back if I thought if a good birth - or "bad" - made you feel closer - or further - from that child.  There was a time when I might have said yes, but I do have the perspective that time sometimes gives us, now that my children are older. 

I don't need to rehash the births of my children, but my 2nd birth was my most emotional.  I felt so excited that I had accomplished my goal of an unmedicated birth.  I won't say it was my best, but I definitely experienced that "birth high" that we sometimes read about.  She did not look like my baby though.  She was dark skinned with pitch black curly hair.  People always asked me if my husband was "ethnic."  She is now 12 years old, and while our relationship is probably better now than it has ever been, she has always preferred her Daddy.  We have had very little in common and our relationship has frequently been somewhat forced.  She is very serious and has an intense moral compass.  She loves to write and remembers everything I've ever said, which has often come back to haunt me!

My first baby (now 14), on the other hand, looked just like me and my side of the family when he was born.  Still does.  I was always close with him and thought that I could love no child as much as I loved him.  I had an epidural for his birth.  I do not feel that it had any bearing on how I felt about him.  Of course, now finishing up his freshman year of high school, he thinks we are total idiots.  His friends are more important than his family and music is the center of the universe both playing it and listening to it. 

My 3rd pregnancy, labor, and birth were all the hardest.  Abby constantly had her foot in my ribs. The harder I pushed at her foot, the harder she pushed back.  It was the only pregnancy we did not plan.  This child was determined to get here!  Between you and me, I have the strongest connection with #3 (now 10 years old).  She looks nothing like me (dark olive skin and dark hair), but I have the most in common with her.  She has been, and continues to be, the best conversationalist.  In fact, she's the most mature of the entire family!  She's organized, self-motivated, has great "style" (which makes her fashion-conscious Daddy proud), is confident, and has a great sense of humor.  She should have been born the oldest because she would have been a great babysitter.  Currently, and formerly, she is very un-babysittable, taking direction and instruction from no one, mainly her big brother and sister.

Darcy (6) was probably my "easiest" birth and we've always been good.  No complaints.  She is my mini-me.  She's a firecracker and just lights our home with non-stop excitement!  We've had a good, solid connection since she was born.

So, the answer to the question?  No, I think our children's births are often more about us than it is about them. I will say that how their personalities were in the womb is very much how they have been out of the womb.  Daymon was constantly in motion, I hardly ever felt Vena move, Abby constantly made her presence known, and Darcy just always went with the flow. 

As I re-read over this post, I realized that a lot of what I wrote was similar to my Christmas letter, which I've been told over the years, is so brutally honest, it's everyone's favorite!  I hope you enjoyed a little slice of my crazy children's personalities and what I endure day in and day out!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Facebook - Why I'm Glad it Wasn't Around When My Kids Were Little

What an exciting week it's been in the land of Facebook!  The natural birth community has been under attack by some very bored women as of late.  I've been thinking about this topic and post for a couple of weeks now, and then with all the drama this week, I decided it was time.

If you read my blog regularly, you know that there is often a bit of controversy surrounding some of my posts.  Some, I understand why, and others, frankly, I've been baffled at the hype. (Like the "My Epidural" Post.  It was shared nearly 500 times!  Seriously?)   A couple of weeks ago I was worked up over something on Facebook -- I don't even remember what now -- and things that snowballed afterwards.  It's all I talked about all week long.  My house fell apart, as I spent literally hours in front of my computer screen or constantly checking my itouch for new "developments."  My husband was ready to freak out, and he's not a freak-out kind of guy!  I just felt consumed with... with... with the topic, with Facebook, my blog. 

It's hard to remember life before Facebook.  In case you haven't realized, I have a highly addictive personality.  I typically don't do things in moderation.  Take my love of Tim McGraw.  This summer I'll be seeing him for the 13th and 14th times.  I won't tell you how much money has been spent on concert tickets and airline tickets traveling to see Tim over the years! (This year I'm traveling to OK and Indianapolis to see him!)   I can't seem to drink just one can of Diet Dr. Pepper or Mountain Dew.  Again, I'll spare you the details.

There have been periods where I have found my life consumed with what my next Facebook status will read.  Do you do that, too?!  Please say yes.  Something funny will happen and I'll think, "I've gotta put this on Facebook."  Or a picture taken.  It really is the weirdest thing.

David took me to Cancun for my 40th birthday in January, and while there, I didn't touch my cell phone and had no internet.  It was bliss!  I read a book -- which I never do unless it's related to childbirth -- and if it weren't for the ending, would have really enjoyed it!  David and I talked about things unrelated to what was happening on the internet and were in the here-and-how.  What a concept.

I guess I've just been thinking lately about how grateful I am that Facebook and blogging were not around when my kids were little.  All my kids are in school now, so Facebook is mostly a time-suck for me.  My kids aren't terribly effected by my time on Facebook.  I constantly wonder how these moms do it that have little kids at home.  Many of them are commenting everywhere all the time.  When I spend a lot of time Facebooking or blogging, my house really does fall apart.  The dishes pile up, dinner doesn't get made, and the laundry doesn't get hung.  I just can't live like that and a mess makes me crazy.

And yet, it's totally addictive.  It's hard to walk away.  I have a couple of friends that took themselves off Facebook for lengthy periods of time, and I must say, I admire their commitment to their families, and their sanity!  Frankly, I don't want to turn off Facebook and blogging.  I enjoy it.  I finally had to limit the blog posts to just one a week, and that has been helpful.  (I usually write it on Saturday or Sunday night after the kids have gone to bed.)  I hope this doesn't sound like a guilt post.  But it has been on my mind lately. I think it should be addressed and talked about.  Are we addicted to Facebook, email, blogs, and texting?  Does it cause us to miss out on the here-and-now?

I am never ever going to win a mom-of-the-year award -- ever -- but we did have fun when the kids were little.  I didn't have a cell phone until the older 3 were all in school.  I wasn't texting or talking to anyone other than them when we left the house.  We didn't have a DVD player in the car - still don't - so the car tends to be where we have always done the most talking.  Our best conversations, and often the most important ones, have taken place while we are driving. 

We did lots of "field trips" and play dates and play groups.  When we were there, we were really there, in the moment.  No one was texting back then and Facebook certainly wasn't around.  In fact, no one had internet on their phone back then.  I was always scared to get a cell phone - I was 34 before I finally got one - because I am fully aware of my addictive personality.  I knew I would like to have one.  In fact, I've made plans to get an iphone next month, and I am scared to death.

I learned to can, or bottle, all sorts of foods when my kids were little.  Salsa, chicken, beans, beef.  That has been an invaluable skill for me and saved my family a lot of money over the years.  (I just canned 75 pounds of chicken during all the snow and ice we had in February.  Again with the moderation!)  I learned to garden (That was in NM "soil," not TX clay!) and the kids helped.

I remember our bedtime routines were lengthy back then.  Maybe it's because there were so many I had to help, but it seems that it went on for about two hours.  Bath, dinner, and LOTS of books.  Again, I probably have that memory because none of the kids were reading yet.  Once the bigger ones could read to the younger ones, I think I enlisted their help!  I regret that now.  I just wonder how many of these memories would have been created if I had so many distractions in my life, pulling me away from my kids.

Recently, we tried enforcing a no-media rule at our house after 7:00 p.m., but it's nearly impossible, unless we actually turn the phones off!  People are constantly texting or calling and it's irresistible to check them.  My husband's phone lets him know every time he gets an email or someone posts to his Wall.  It is constantly buzzing.

A while back, I mentioned on my Facebook page,  my concern over being the first generation of parents having to deal with Facebook.  (Do you appreciate the irony of me linking you to my Banned From Baby Showers Facebook page?)  If we have such a hard time putting it down, it's worse for a teenager!  I do not think it's been a good thing in our children's lives. 

As for the cell phones, I'm not sure why everyone thinks their kid needs one.  We did get our son a cell phone when he started high school, but in a 3-month period he went from 5,000 texts to 10,000 texts to 15,000 texts.  Talk about addicted!  I took the phone away, paid $145 to stop his service, and he will never have a phone on my watch again.  I have no regrets whatsoever.

Back to some of the Facebook happenings this week, I truly am baffled by the amount of time people spend to stalk other Facebook pages.  If you don't like a page, or disagree with someone, don't read it!  I know from experience that when I get worked up over something I don't agree with, it spills over into every aspect of my life.  It is not healthy.  I feel the same way about my stuff.  If I offend you, don't read it!  Or is it like a train wreck and you just can't look away?  While I enjoy your comments and questions, I just can't spend that much time there.  My BFBS Facebook page is a place where current, former, and future students can get information.  I'd like to spend more time there, but I have to limit myself because my regular life demands it. 

This became a lengthy post.  Think of all the things you could have gotten done instead of reading this!  I am sincerely glad for all the time you spend reading my weekly posts.  I believe we've done some good things here and made a difference. 

Facebook, blogging, and texting are not going to go away.  We are always connected -- to everyone, all the time.  I believe it has caused us to be less connected to the people who really matter - our families, our children. Turn off the computer and go spend some time with your kiddos!  I'm going to go can 2 dozens pints of pinto beans before my kids come home from school.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Products and Services I Would Want to Buy or Use if I Was Having Another Baby -- But I'm Not, So I Think YOU Should Use Them!

Banned From Baby Showers needs a nice generic post for a change!  Seriously, there are several products and services that I've wanted to mention here, so now seems like a great time to do so.

First, let me say that it's been 6 years since I had a baby in the house.  There are many things that are different now, one being cloth diapers.  I'd like to say that I am certain that I'd jump on that bandwagon, but in all reality, it scares me.  I don't know what I would choose.  I'd like to think I would cloth diaper...   Good thing at 40 I'm not making this decision!


The first thing I must mention is the book that was just released this week by the  Tarrant County Birth Network  --  The Birth Next Door:  Stories and Lessons of Birth In and Around Tarrant County, Texas.  Obviously, you do not need to be from Fort Worth to enjoy this book!  There really is not another book available quite like it.  Proceeds will benefit TCBN and improving maternity care in and around Tarrant County.  I wish I could take credit for putting this together, but alas, I had close-to-nothing to do with it.  Shannon Blackwell, owner of Simple Baby  - and cloth diaper guru! - as well as fellow Chapter Leader for TCBN, single-handedly put this together.  I did, however, write the Foreword. Get your copy today.


The Art of Birth took place Saturday, April 30 in Fort Worth, and it was amazing.  One of the features was a Haylee Ryan, 24, finger painting a portrait of a live model.  In less than 5 hours she created a masterpiece.  It was so lovely, I desperately wish I had done something like that when I was pregnant.  If you give her a photo, she will paint a portrait out of it.  (This may be my best bet at this point.)  The cool thing is, you wouldn't have to sit for the painting and you could live anywhere, not just in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.  Visit her website or Facebook page to see all the cool things she can do.


If you have read my birth stories, you know how important videotaping my births were to me.  So important, in fact, I changed from a hospital birth to a homebirth at 33 weeks so that I could videotape my third birth.  Ceci is a professional photographer who recently started birth videography, set to music, catching the highlights of your labor and birth in about a 6 or 7 minute video.  One word -- amazing.  I desperately wish I had known her when I was having my babies.  It is such a treasure.  People spend twice as much money on a wedding video, but do you remember when that woman in The Business of Being Born talked about the day she gave birth, she admitted that it "trumped the wedding day."  A lot of us feel that way.  Spend the money.  You'll be glad you did.

Bonus:  She's doing a FREE giveaway for a Birth Story Movie, worth $800.  Click here for details if you are in the DFW area and are due this summer.


If you are a regular Banned From Baby Showers reader, you know how I feel about the (stupid) Hooter Hiders and Udder Covers.  Without jumping on that soapbox (for now anyway!), I would like to take this opportunity to plug for Baby Bond.  I love the fact that mom is covered and baby is not!  People still "see" baby breastfeeding, but mom is able to remain covered.  There are 3 different styles, but if I were to buy one, this is the one I would want, shown above.  I never once used a cover in over 7 years of breastfeeding, but there are times when this one would have been handy.  One of my former students ordered this and loves it!  TCBN has been giving Baby Bonds as door prizes and the mamas are loving it!


From "covers" to Boobie Beanies.  Many of you have probably seen the Boobie Beanies on Facebook.  I recently ordered several to use as prizes in class.  I love, love, love this!  It's the "made ya look!" thing that is just so darn fun.  This cracks me up to no end.  The best part?  They come in a variety of "flesh" colors to match mom's skin tone.  Now who would ever want to use a silly nursing cover when you've got a Boobie Beanie?!


I've mentioned Moon Over Maize here in the past, but it's been a long time.  I've ordered more things and seen more of her work since then, and it's just improved with time.  In the Fort Worth area, she's created quite a name for herself.   No, she doesn't live here, but enough people have her jewelry, people recognize the name.  She has many beautiful pieces of jewelry, not just celebrating pregnancy and homebirth.  My favorite piece is still the pregnancy silloutte, stamped with a word of your choice -- homebirth, doula, midwife -- and the birth stones of your babies dangling from the middle.  Order one for yourself or as a gift for your doula or midwife.

I'll be adding to this list, I'm sure.  Hopefully it won't take me as long next time.  I'll live vicariously through y'all, using the products and services I wish I could use -- just not bad enough to actually have another baby!  Be sure to tell them that Donna over at Banned From Baby Showers sent you.