Friday, April 29, 2011

The Akasikent (The Accident)

Have you ever used your child to deliver bad news?

We have a side car garage. When my husband, Josh, and I moved into our house six years ago, I claimed the right side, and he claimed the left. That was, until I pulled into the garage for the first time and scraped the side of my car. I quickly jumped out of my scraped car and claimed the left side of the garage.  We then had an understanding that anytime I drove Josh’s car, I was to park in the driveway, and he would pull it into the garage.

Fast forward a few years to last summer. At that point, we had our two and half year old son, Preston, and I was pregnant with our daughter, Emory. One Saturday morning, we were getting ready to paint the nursery.  We needed some additional paint supplies, so Preston and I jumped in the car (Josh’s car), and headed to the store while Josh continued to prep the room. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Crunch time

Meet my niece, Landry Nicole Raya. Weighing in at 7 pounds, 12 ounces, and 19.5 inches long, she made her first appearance in this world at 3:40 p.m. Monday afternoon. Mom and baby are doing great!

Upon meeting her Aunt Rachel, this little bundle of joy rapidly accomplished two things: stealing my heart and reminding me it is crunch time. For the last 35 and a half weeks, Landry's mommy has been my preggo buddy. We commiserated about first trimester nausea and exhaustion, laughed about strange cravings and food aversions, cried together (not really) about loss of bladder control, even registered together. You name it: we faced it together.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Finding the right breast pump for you

Pregnant women and new mothers face a host of choices when it comes to their new baby. Cloth or disposable diapers? Work or stay at home? And if you choose breastfeeding then even more questions arise. How do you choose the best one for you? Many times moms planning a return to work, even before their baby is born, call the Breastfeeding Support Center asking for information on breast pumps. What’s the best one?  Which do I need?  Is it worth it for the expensive ones?  Can I borrow my friend’s breastpump?  What do they mean by reusable? 

Let me just share the basics on breastpumps. But first a little background. I’m an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and a nursing supervisor in Women’s Services at Texas Heatlh Harris Methodist Hospital Hurst-Euless-Bedford. One of my duties is overseeing the Breastfeeding Support Center and working with our lactation consultants who help new moms establish breastfeeding.

Breastpumps basically come in three different types:  manual, personal/professional, hospital grade. OK, but, what is the difference? 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Working Moms

When faced with a difficult decision, how do you know that you are doing the right thing?  It’s hard.  I have been a mom now for over four years (close to five if you count during the pregnancy) and I just thought making decisions before was hard.  It is sometimes excruciating when there is a choice to make and you aren’t sure what the right choice is…especially when it comes to your children. 

It starts from early on….what OB/GYN do I use; what pediatrician is right for us; will I breastfeed; how in the world am I going to take care of a baby???  Unfortunately, I believe that as the kids get older it only gets harder.  I prayed concerning just about everything when it came to my kids because I was terrified of making a wrong decision.  One of the decisions that was hardest for me was if I go back to work, when is the right time?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Routine is King

If there is one thing I’ve learned over the past two years of raising twins, it’s that routine is king. It’s what makes our world go ‘round. Actually, it’s what keeps our world of double blessings from spinning violently off its precariously balanced axis.

When it comes to managing everything in twos, a consistent schedule has been my best friend. This hasn’t been easy for a girl who, to an extent, prefers to be flexible and to dwell in an environment where every day is different. That’s what keeps life exciting, right?

I learned quickly that twins, by their very nature, keep life exciting and different—especially once they hit that lovely age of two. This is why I always fall back on our daily routine to manage the demands of double the diaper changes, double the feedings, double the bathing, double the laundry, double the meltdowns and double the fun.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter: a season of discovery

Easter, at least in the eyes of children, is all about discovery. Most of us probably participated in either family-centered or organized egg hunts during our early years. Do you remember the feeling of exhilaration when you were able to fill your basket with brightly colored or decorated eggs? Or the disappointment when only two or three were found?

When I was a little boy this yearly ritual was orchestrated by my mother. She would hard boil the eggs the day before Easter Sunday. My siblings and I would then dip the eggs in various pans of dyed water utilizing a little copper wire to hold the eggs. Sometimes we would use crayons to scribble designs on the eggs before baptizing them in the colored water. Other times we would dye the eggs first, then attach decals or stickers, usually depicting little chicks or bunny rabbits. Our imaginations were limitless. The anticipation was gratifying.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Car seat dilemma

We have recently encountered a car seat dilemma. Our son, Wells, is really long for his age. He is only 7 months old is about to outgrow his infant carrier. Seems young, right? As a mom, I am struggling with upgrading him to a “big boy” car seat, or a 3-in-1 car seat, for many reasons.

When we do this, I have to face the fact and admit to myself that my baby is turning into a big boy. That is hard. The bigger issue is one of convenience. It is so nice to take his infant carrier, with him asleep in it, anywhere we go. You cannot do that with a big boy car seat.

The other issue is there are a million options, and quite frankly, I do not know where to start. Do I want a 3-in-1 convertible car seat? Will he really use that until he is out of a booster seat? Will I need that one for my next child? What are the best car seats for the next stage?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter traditions

What are your Easter Traditions?

My family has certainly had theirs. When my children were small, first, on Saturday, I would boil at least 3 dozen eggs because each of my children needed at least twelve eggs to enjoy. Then, we would spend hours at the kitchen table decorating and coloring the Easter Eggs – with that dye that would stain the carpet if we happened to drop any. The kitchen was a safe place because the table and floor was covered with newspaper (hard to find these days).

The “Easter Bunny” would come during the night before Easter and leave them a basket filled with goodies – not just Chocolate Bunnies, but a pair of jeans that they wanted, or earrings, or whatever their latest wish was. Always, their favorite Jelly Bellys, marshmallow eggs, and a large chocolate bunny. Then the Easter Bunny would have hidden their eggs, depending upon the weather – outside, if it was warm and sunny or inside, if it was rainy. They would hunt until they found all the eggs, then we would get ready for Church where they learned the real meaning of Easter.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Clearing up car seat misconceptions

A recent news headline broke my heart: “Toddler riding on mom’s lap killed by airbag after pickup hits utility pole near Dallas Love Field.” Reading this headline after recently having a discussion with my brother about his decision to turn my not quite one-year-old nephew forward-facing led me to Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician Julie Smith R.N. to clear up some common car seat misconceptions. My questions are in bold, followed by Julie’s responses.

My brother just recently turned his 11-month-old son forward facing because “he weighs 22 lbs?” What is the current recommendation on when an infant or child can face forward in the car?
The latest recommendation is as follows: keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It’s the best way to keep him safe and protects from head, neck and spine injuries. Keep the infant/child rear-facing to the maximum height or weight limits on the seat, which should be at least age 2. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

The scariest ride you’ll ever take

I’m lucky to have a few unique hobbies that occupy massive amounts of my free time. One of these is racing cars, specifically drag racing. In its simplest form drag racing is two cars racing side-by-side on a straight-line track. You start from a dead stop and try to reach maximum speed over a fixed distance. Participating in the sport of drag racing gives me the chance to combine several loves – old muscle cars, working on cars, solving problems (using your brain to figure out how to make the car run faster, more consistently and more reliably) and of course a little adrenaline rush from driving fast.

Over my racing “career” I’ve had the opportunity to drive a wide variety of cars, some that were incredibly fast, some that were incredibly scary and some that were a mix of both. I’ve endured a high-speed accident and more than a few close calls on the track.

I was once driving an open-cockpit dragster at 165 m.p.h. when the wind caught my helmet and lifted it up over my eyes, leaving me hurtling down the track approaching 170 m.p.h. “blind.” I’ve had a car on two wheels on more than one occasion and sadly put my dad’s championship winning 1969 Chevy Nova head first into the wall at 135 m.p.h. in a beautiful display of sparks and smoke (don’t worry I wasn’t hurt).

Needless to say I’ve had some dicey moments driving a car, but nothing could prepare me for the sheer terror I experienced behind the wheel of my wife’s Honda CRV on March 5th, 2011 - the day we took baby Elliot home from the hospital.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Who will she favor?

As the arrival gets closer and closer, the anticipation builds as we await the birth of our daughter. But one question we frequently ask one another is, "Who will she favor the most?"

Not a week goes by when my husband and I don't sit back, pause and intently ponder who our little girl will look like and act like the most. I guess I should start out by explaining the meaning of her name, Nandi. It means "strong-willed," and before we knew the meaning, my husband told me he wanted to name his daughter Nandi. "I've always loved that name. Shaka Zulu's mother was named Nandi; and I made a decision long ago to give my daughter that name," he said.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Can you get pregnant while breastfeeding?

Yes, you can. Ovulation is much less frequent in women who breastfeed compared to those who do not, but pregnancy can occur with lactation.

Although resumption of ovulation is frequently marked by a return of normal menstrual bleeding, ovulation can occur without bleeding. It is also possible to have bleeding without ovulation. The occurrence of ovulation seems to correlate with the frequency and duration of each feeding. Studies have noted that ovulation tends to resume as the length of time between feedings seem to lengthen. For example, mothers may resume ovulation as the baby starts to sleep through the night. Although this is an interesting trend, it is not the rule.

When it comes to ovulation and lactation there is only one rule...if you do not desire pregnancy you must prevent it!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Sneaky Mom

Spinach & Butternut Squash Ravioli Lasagna
I hear it over and over again --What do I do for my PICKY eater? Maybe you have a child that puts up a fight at the dinner table over the carrots, or your husband swears that he is allergic to anything green. Let me offer you a glimmer of hope: it can take as many as ten to fifteen tastes before a person (not just a child!) will learn to appreciate a new flavor, so don’t give up just yet. Sometimes, it’s okay to be sneaky in the kitchen.

Grate your way to goodness. Cube, shred, or grate fruits and vegetables down, or puree them up and see how creative you can get with your favorite recipes. Grated zucchini and carrots do wonders for turkey burgers, meatloaf, and meatballs adding both moisture and beneficial nutrients to the dish. Puree cooked cauliflower, winter squash, or red peppers and stir them into sauces, or mashed potatoes, even into the glorious macaroni and cheese. The bonus is that you’ll be adding a new twist to an old favorite recipe.

Try this vegetable enthused recipe for a delicious weeknight meal- a sure guarantee for raves courtesy of the sneaky mom:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Hero Mommies

You know those lists OCD moms keep? Whether it’s in their head, on a meticulously scripted notepad or typed in a Blackberry, you’ve seen them: Needs vs. Wants, Good vs. Bad, Romeo vs. Scoundrel. They help us make life’s important decisions: Do I really need new shoes? Will I regret this tattoo in 10 years? Date him, or dump him?

Sometimes I keep a running tally in my head just to be sure I make my way through my OCD day. I started a very unhealthy list in my head several months ago. I call it my “Bad Luck” list. I don’t know why I did it, but I let it rule my inner psyche for way longer than I would like to admit. I think it began with the loss of my beloved and only remaining grandparent. The chain of ridiculous events just seemed to catapult me into my list even more. My husband had a minor car accident. Our household income suffered a shocking cut due to the economy. Repairs on one of our cars cost more than its blue book value. Our dryer just basically stopped working right in the middle of 10 loads of laundry. (Who could blame it?) I tried to shrug some of it off, but then our kitchen sink pretty much blew up underneath, covering everything in the cabinet with mold, water and ground up food. Then my little one came home with some sort of infectious horn growing out from under her ear. I know, I know, these are all just normal events in this thing called life, but I am keeping a list. Remember?

I forgot one very important thing in this ever-lengthening pity party. That thing is the ying to its yang. There is a whole other side to my list. The positive side, or the versus, is so long that my “Bad Luck” list is not worth another mention. Yes, the “Good Luck” list is filled to infinity with strong mommies who prop me up when I fall and make me laugh when I am at my lowest. I envision them as sort of a circle of guidance and protection. They are moms and stepmoms. Each of them adds a special layer of friendship and direction in my life. Some of these women have known me all of my life. Some might as well have known me all of my life. Some, I believe, may have known me in a past life. They are all heroes for very special reasons, and when I sent out a mass text to vent about my recent chain of events, they all called and responded simultaneously to make sure I was okay. No greater confirmation exists that you are well-loved than a chorus of, “Keep your chin up!” There is not enough cyber space on this blog to elaborate on these heroines sufficiently. So I will, with regret, have to narrow it to only a few:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Do our kids affect our waistlines?

Look for opportunities to be active outside.
Does having young kids make it harder for moms to eat well and exercise?

A new study out today found that new moms eat more unhealthy foods and exercise less compared to their childless counterparts.

According to the study, mothers ate more fatty foods and drank about seven sugary drinks weekly, versus about four among childless women. Moms got on average a little more than two hours of at least moderate activity weekly compared to three hours weekly among women without childern. Mothers also had a slightly higher average body-mass index than childless women — 27 versus 26. Healthy BMIs are in the 19-24 range.

"This isn't a study about blame," said co-author Jerica Berge, a University of Minnesota researcher, in an MSNBC article. "This is about identifying ... a very high-risk time period" for parents that doctors should be aware of so they can offer solutions, she said.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Facing my fears

Talking through fears works for Reace and her son
Do you have a fear? I do. It’s heights. If I’m getting on a plane, I have to plan a couple of weeks in advance and listen to a set of “Fear of Flying” lessons I have on my phone. I understand the physics of flying, but it still makes my heart pound to think of a giant, heavy object up in the air. Roller coasters? I’ll get on them, but my eyes will be closed the entire time. At least with a roller coaster you’re only up high for a few seconds.

Now that my children are more aware of how I react to things, I have to be more careful about how I deal with my fears. I don’t want my kids to have the same fears I do. I want them to be able to plan trips without dreading the flight. I want them to view flying with the same sense of adventure my husband has. I don’t want my kids to be fearful of heights like I am.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sock Monkeys or Birds and Trees?

So you've got a place you call home and you're having a life-changing event. Maybe you are going to have a baby or your mother-in-law is moving in. Either way, it's time to get a space ready for your new occupant. It's time to decorate - or redecorate! So how do you do it, when you don't know what he or he will like? You pick things YOU like, of course!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mommy Moment

My favorite “Mommy Moment” yet happened last month while we were at a golfing range - just the three of us (My husband, Max, me and my little boy, Wells.)

The evening started with Max hitting golf balls first...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tightrope walking

I walk a tightrope daily. It's not strung at the top of a circus tent, but it sometimes feels just as tricky. And, while I've never actually walked a real tightrope, I can imagine that the rush of crossing safely to the other side is just as big for me as it is for any big-top performer.

I am a stepmom. Now, I want to make it abundantly clear that nothing in this post should be read as me complaining about being a stepmom. I LOVE my stepsons. They add a level of joy to my life that I didn't know was possible. I got the best package deal ever when my husband and I married - I didn't get one great guy, I got THREE. My stepsons are the reason I have my own darling son (really, ask my husband) - they made me realize that not only could I do this Mom-type stuff, I really and truly wanted to.

Monday, April 4, 2011

iWork iTeach iPlay iMom

So, after months of waiting, planning and dreaming, the day of the big arrival was finally here. It didn't come with labor pains or wrapped in a blue and pink-striped blanket. But there was a burst of adrenaline nonetheless as the whole family piled in the car and my husband rushed me across town to pick up the little package I'd waited for so long: my iPad.

I know, I know. Silly for a grown woman to get all worked up over an electronic device. But I have visions you see - visions of this little 1.3 lb.- wonder changing my life. I'll get in better shape 'cause I can entertain myself while I walk on the treadmill. I'll be more organized at work and home 'cause I can keep all my to do lists in one spot. I'll be a better mom 'cause I can more easily keep a journal for my daughter (since the hard copy one I started the day I found out I was pregnant, and kept so well the first year, only gets updated with major milestones now). And teach her things with educational apps. And entertain her during otherwise-challenging moments. I'll be able to tap back into my lost creativity - you know, write a novel or make a movie or something.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Does artificial food coloring cause hyperactivity?

Whole foods without additives and dyes are a good choice.
News stories this week mentioned the federal government is reassessing whether foods with bright artificial colors aggravate behavior problems like hyperactivity in some children.

Foods like Jell-O, Lucky Charms cereal and Minute Maid Lemonade were given as examples.

According to a story in The New York Times, Food and Drug Administration scientists suggested that problems linked to these additives could be similar to a peanut allergy, or “a unique intolerance to these substances and not to any inherent neurotoxic properties” of the dyes themselves. The F.D.A. already requires manufacturers to disclose on food labels the presence of artificial colorings, as it does for peanuts and other foods that can cause reactions.