awesome frog


daily oskar

i have been taking pictures of oskar almost everyday...and i finally figured out how to post them on a new blog...

check it out.



took more pictures at baby group. good times. check them out by clicking here or here. i took holiday photos of little gabe. what a little cutie!

and our friends matt and rachel, who are just learning how to sew, sewed an adorable quilt for baby oskar. photos here.

and the gingerbread party was hosted for us by our friends neil and monica. more good times. photos here.


tips for traveling with kids...by laura

My good friend Laura used to travel a lot...and she developed a great system for doing so with her little people. She sent me her thoughts before our first trip. I have edited the list and am presenting it here for the betterment of travelers everywhere.

The Plane
* Check the logistics of your plane ahead of time, before you buy the ticket. You'll need to know your airline and the plane type, which you should be able to find in the flight details. The baby, if flying in a seat, will always have to sit in the window seat. Some planes are way better for flying with kids. For example a 767 has 2 outside seats and 5 middles, so if you & baby are on the side, with the other parent across the aisle from you, getting out for changes, grabbing things from the overhead, etc. is much easier. Furthermore, it gives you extra elbowroom.
* If you can't get a 2+1 seating, then get three seats all in one row. If you don't automatically get seats together, talk to the gate agent, and see if she can switch you.
* Seatguru.com can tell you whether there's a changing table on your plane. For example, the Airbus 319/320 planes have them, but Boeing 757s don't.
* The carseat is the safest spot for the baby because there is no chance of turbulence flinging the baby about. The stroller must be gate-checked, so make sure that it easily folds. In the future, if the baby does not have their own seat then check your carseat, and carry the baby in the baby bjorn, or whatever baby carrier you prefer. This is a great way to travel, especially if you have one older child and one younger because it means you have hands free, they sleep all cozy in there, and it's easy.
* Be the first one on the plane. Get the kids buckled into their spots (or their carseats buckled in). Prepare my seatback pocket with all essentials: ready to go bottle, mini-changing kit, pacifier, a fun toy, hooter hider, and magazine. I put everything else in the overhead, ready for my partner to grab it for me if I need it. With baby crying, you have everything right there, ready to go.

Travel Musts
* Baby tylenol or motrin - solves a poor sleep situation or a midnight ear ache. It's magic. This has been the downfall of a few trips, because we didn't have it, and all stores were closed at night, and we had a screaming baby with an ear infection for 10 hours in a hotel room. NOT FUN.
*A light-weight fleece sweatshirt - it works as a jacket, pillow, baby blanket, changing pad; it's easy to rinse out & dries pretty quickly.
* A breast pump so I can hand off bottles to someone else for a feeding, and I get a break!
* Desitin - a tiny tube for travel is always in my diaper bag
* Pack your carry on as light as possible. You will have to find spots for it on the plane, and the less hassle you have the better.

Carry-on Musts
* 4 mini-changing kits: With a few qt-size ziplocks, put in 1 diaper, a small wipe pack, an extra onesie. Make sure you have a few extra clothes for the baby. Once, I went through 4 outfits for my little guy on a 3-hour flight. If you're headed to an airplane lavatory to do a change, there is no room for your whole diaper bag and you don't want to be messing around with things that fell to the bottom of your bag. You can just grab a mini-kit and go change.
* Extra Milk. A bottle or breast is the best pacifier. As much as I was comfortable nursing in public, there are some times that baby HAS to be in the carseat. At Security, they will do a test on your bottles, but you can carry them through without issue. Same goes for any formula that you have, if you're supplementing. If you take extra bottles, I keep them all together in my diaper bag, so they're all in one place for going through Security. I recommend freezing one or 2 of your bottles the night before to use as a little ice pack to keep it all fresh during travel. My kids never had ear problems when flying, but try to nurse or feed during take off & landing when kids have a hard time popping their ears.
* An extra shirt for yourself. Inevitably, you're bound to have a blow out on a plane. It's awesome. I blame it on the change in air pressure.
* A small soft toy, a small shakey toy (like a rattle), a small sucky toy (pacifier, teether), and a small book.
* A water bottle
* A magazine for you
* A granola bar or small snack for you (I buy a snack box or sandwich on board for me).
* A few extra diapers & wipes in case you get stranded unexpectedly.

You may want more stuff, but don't bring it. You can be bored for 5 hours, or catch up on sleep. You just don't need anything else.

* Pack in duffels or roller bags for the kids, but when you get to the destination, immediately unpack it at the hotel. Set up a changing area, their little bed, and their feeding stuff. A roller bag actually works better, since you can organize everything & see stuff.
* DO NOT take anything special for bath time. Babies just don't care until they are bigger. When they are bigger, then I always take a small ziplock of plastic toys that are fun in or out of the bath. Kitchen utensils (measuring cups, spoons) and Duplo legos are our favorites.

You'll have to take the baby out of the car seat to carry him through the security checkpoint. Wait until all of your stuff is organized on the belt, or in bins, before you take him out. It is amazing how many people take their kids out of their carrying thing, and then have only 1 hand to deal with their own carry-on stuff. Disaster. I stage all my stuff in the bins, but send the carseat through the scanner first, so I have somewhere to put the kids once we're through, while I repack, get my shoes on, etc. Note: the lighter & more organized you pack, the easier security will be. I always wear tennis shoes to fly, and keep them loose, so they are easy to slip on/off. Also, they don't usually make me take off my fleece sweatshirt if it's the pullover kind - one less thing to keep track of.

Request a crib or pack & play at your hotel, unless you're co-sleeping.


mice...and science

this is a set of three articles that are important to read...
Lab Mice Are Limiting our Understanding of Human Disease.
the thoughts in these articles call into question the method of how we are using the scientific method...in my opinion.


almost as cute as oskar


oskar laughing

how much fun is seeing your kid laugh? a lot of fun it turns out.


i don't hate walmart

but this infographic is interesting...

Walmart Infographic

Source: http://frugaldad.com



The point of any project is to get something done. As with driving, there are many ways to get to your destination and different reasons for taking each route. But really we all just want to get where we are going.

However, when I do personal projects, I think them through but never write up a project plan. Even when I complete complicated projects, if it is something I am interested in, I find I don't need to plan. What I really need to do is think it through and DO. Sure sometimes I realize I forgot a step when I am working, but this happens even when I write out a project plan.

I am just thinking that sometimes doing is more important than planning. And we waste a lot of time planning.



Just back from a week in Portland. We saw Erica, Tanner, Walt, Josh, Carol, Harry, Bridger, Courtney, Darlene, Marian, Martin, Jessica, Pete, and a new friend, Katherine.

Pictures can be found here.

Oskar did an amazing job flying. What a great kid.


more on the spending fast

Laura asked a few good questions about the fast.

As of right now, we have everything Oskar needs. I have diapers stocked up, because we buy them in bulk. We also have all the clothes he needs...even for cold weather.

It does include groceries, but we also have a well stocked pantry, so we are doing well there. We got the veggie box last week too, so that helped. We did not get it this week though. We will see how next week goes.

We are thinking of doing this two weeks a month.

I was really tempted to buy something today: a baby bag from Jack Spade that is half price. Brent wanted one when we saw it a few years ago in NYC. I decided to just ask Brent if he wanted it. He said no, we have a diaper bag. So good thing I held off. It is better to unsubscribe from all of these shopping emails.

I have $41 left and Brent has $47.


cheap gene

The Harkins have a cheap gene. This allows said person to save money beyond what is considered to be reasonable. The gene can be turned off however, leading to spending that is less than controlled.

The spending fast has turned on my cheap gene. Brent cites this mayo jar as evidence. I say there is more mayo in there...I will get it out today on my ham sandwich.

(feel free to note, but not comment on hoard of polaroid film.)


guerilla gardening

so fun.


spending fast

We are on a spending fast. $100 cash for the week. That is what each of us has to
spend. No more. No credit cards.

I will report back later on the outcome.


halloween brussels sprout

yes, we made Oskar a brussels sprout. poor kid.

more pictures by clicking this sentence.


pumpkin patch 2011

Went to the pumpkin patch with Erin, Montana, Ada, Clara, and Brent and Oskar...and we were joined by Miriam and Asher. Photos were taken. See them by clicking here.


Book Review: The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband

by David Finch

This book does not come out until January 2012, but I got a copy from our bookstore. Even with a newborn I read this book in a day! The author finds out when he is in his 30’s married with 2 kids that he has Aspergers Syndrome. Actually his wife figured it out. He wrote a Modern Love column about it in the New York Times, and as often happens with many New York Times Modern Love columns, he got a book deal out of the column. (Read the column here.)

Needless to say, I think Finch pulled a great book off. He explains what life is like with Aspergers and how he uses his newly found knowledge to change his behavior. He starts keeping a journal to detail how needs to change his behavior. This book will appeal to the masses is because his faults are the same faults we all have, but his are more, well, concentrated. He seems to have them all.

But he truly loves his wife and family and has a great sense of humor. I wondered actually if someone helped him afterwards inserting humor. And I wonder if he still has his old job.

Check it out when it comes out. Good book.


photo project

So, I have a problem. I hoard something...It takes up a quarter of our refrigerator. To be fair to me, they don't make this thing anymore...it is Polaroid Film.

Until recently, I have not really had any "polaroid worthy" projects. Enter Oskar. That's right, he is polaroid worthy.

So I am taking at least one polaroid picture of him every day. Then I date the picture and put it up on our magnetic wall.




Oskar turned one-month-old three days ago. People keep asking me if I can even remember life without him.

I can.

But I do have a different feeling about him. If you have ever lost a loved one, for me my mom, you will know the feeling I mean. Sometimes, I will dream of Linda and for two or three seconds when I wake up I feel OK. I feel like everything is right in the world; my mom is not really dead. It is a euphoric feeling; specifically like the lack of a giant weight on my shoulders.

I get that feeling when looking at Oskar sometimes. I feel like everything is right in the world. And that’s nice.


a few book reviews...mini style

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, by Marc Weissbluth

This book was recommended by my friend Marika and it has been pretty helpful. One question Brent keeps asking is when the baby is supposed to do X. This book spells out the when for sleeping nicely. He uses month my month examples to help parents know what is normal and what to do if things are abnormal. We are really trying to keep Oskar on a schedule.

The Ghost Map
, by Steven Johnson

Great book about how science can go stray when people become attached to an idea dogmatically. Johnson explains how a doctor (the same doctor who invented the whole field of anesthesiology, by the way) sussed out that cholera was a water born illness rather than in the air. The reader learns all about life in London in the 1800's. Bacteria really rule our world. Oh and you can cure cholera by drinking LOTS and LOTS of water, because cholera just removes water from your system. Oh and did you know beer has antibacterial qualities? Great book.

The Case for Make Believe, by Susan Linn

This author really believes that kids need time to use and develop their imagination. She also believes, with statistics and studies to back up her belief, that TV stifles children's abilities to play. She turned me into a believer. To the extent possible I would like to keep Oskar away from screens as much as possible for as long as possible. We will see how that works out.


diaper dilemma solved

I did not want to use disposable diapers because of environmental concerns (which are debatable) and because of concerns with the gel they put in the disposable diapers these days. I have been told (but have not researched) that there is a correlation between decreased sperm counts in boys diapered with disposable diapers.

So we started researching an option that would work for Brent and I a long time ago. I thought that the diaper service in DC would work great. They deliver the clean diapers to you once a week and pick up the dirties. They do the wash. But, you have to supply the outer layer which covers the diapers. We used Thristies Covers. But it turns out that the cloth diapers they use are just not absorbent enough. So then we tried just using the cloth during the day and disposable at night. An option, but then the cloth diapers were just not working during the day. Oskar's clothes were getting wet all the time.

Montana and Erin are using cloth for Clara. (Bumgenius I think. My friend Maureen has used these with two kids, and loves them.) Their system works great, because their diapers have microfiber inserts, which wicks wetness away. I was concerned that our washer would not handle doing the laundry for their type of cloth diapers. Montana persuaded us to try it, so we got four of the cloth inserts that you can purchase with the Thirsties. These worked great and laundered well, but well, that is a lot more laundry...

So yesterday I went and purchased some gdiaper inserts and one gdiaper. Gdiapers are pretty neat. You can use them like regular cloth diapers with a cloth insert, or you can purchase their biodegradable diaper inserts and flush the used diapers! It is so neat. I looked all over the internet to see if you could use the gdiaper flush-able inserts with other diaper covers but no one had anything to say about that.

Well, it works! Tell the internets: using gdiaper inserts with Thirsties diaper covers works.

Look, diapers are messy, but this works for us.

Good times on the mommy blog.


fascinating graphic of job gains and losses

Brent sent me this link. What a great visualization. Worth a click:

Job Gains and Losses in the US over since 2000.


more from the new baby blog

The other day we were hanging out. The doctor told us to introduce a bottle so he knows what to do with it. Once a day. So Brent decided to try. I should have given Brent more direction. I finally realized this and then Brent took the baby in to the bedroom to feed him. I was on the phone.

Brent comes out some amount of time later with a crying Oksar and says, "it did not work." Ok, give him to me. I feed Oskar. Oskar wants both boobs. Strange, but ok. Oksar then proceeds to spit up milk in a fashion not dissimilar to that of Niagara Falls. It goes everywhere. On me, on the couch, on him, everywhere. So bath time here we come. Before that I casually ask Brent, "what did you mean by it did not work?" "He did not drink the whole bottle." "How much did he drink?" 2/3rds of it! Only 1. 4 ozs or so.

Ops. Rookie mistake. (And to be fair, Brent may remember this completely differently than I do...)

While Brent is holding the naked baby, said naked baby pees on him. HA. Brent says, "now I hope he does not shit on me."

Bath time is a win.

Cut to today, early, say 7 am. Brent is up changing the baby. I am asleep. Brent yells, "SHIT." I spring out of bed. "What is wrong?"

"The baby just projectile shat on me and everything else. It just came out with such force. I had no idea I had to watch for that."

Poor guy. I felt horrible for Brent. He took it mostly in stride.



Time has become fungible. It is so strange. How did it get to 12:18 already?

I have things to do:

1. Keep baby happy and alive.
2. Laundry
3. Eat
4. Blog
5. Do training for work.

Trying to get it all done in 45 minute to 2.5 hour amounts of time while Oskar sleeps. Oh and I would love a nap.

Sorry folks, it is a baby blog now. Our regularly scheduled program will resume in some amount of time.


oskar's first bath!

What a cutie!


vituary: deni

Spending all this time with Oskar has me thinking a lot about my childhood. I spent my summers at Girl Scout camp, outside Augusta, Montana. Linda would put me on the plane, remember my father was a pilot so I could fly for free, and when I got to Montana someone from the Girl Scout council would pick me up. I was the camper who never went home on the weekends. I think Linda needed a break from me. Or maybe she wanted to get me away from some bad influences that existed at home...we will never know for sure.

I think back to that person and realize I was precocious and I am not quite sure I would have wanted to spend a lot of time with me. On the one hand, I was capable of flying alone across the country at age 9, but on the other, I was a know it all (still am).

My fondest memories of camp are with my most favorite camp counselor, Deni. I had lots of great female role models growing up. But Deni was the first woman to actually tell me and show me that I could do anything boys could do other than write my name in the snow with pee! She taught me how to use a knife, a hatchet, a scythe, and how to start a one-match fire. I learned how to flip a pancake with one hand over a fire with her. I went on my first back country hiking trips in the Bob Marshall Wilderness with her and learned how not to lose your shit when you were a) not where you were supposed to be when you were supposed to be there and b) confronted with lots of bear shit on the trail when you were not where you were supposed to be. We biked up and down and all the way around Lake Koocanusa, on the border with Canada. I learned to feel empathy for the camper among us who complained the loudest after learning she had lost her mother. I drove a car the first time with Deni. But most of all, we had fun together. She took me home to meet her parents. (Side story, her father was a trucker, as I remember, and when his trucking friends had clothes that needed to be mended, they could throw them out the window in front of their house and her mom would collect them, mend them, and then the guys could pick up the clothes on their way back. Lovely.)

Because I did not know that where were limits placed by society about what I could or could not do Deni was a perfect role model. I am sure there were times when she was probably tired of me, but I don’t think I ever tired of her. All told we spent 7 summers together.

Really, I want to say thank you for putting up with me and for teaching me survival skills that transferred way beyond Girl Scout Camp.


birth story: oskar edward

As many of you know, we had a planned induction for Wednesday morning, but I was not looking forward to that. Naturally, that morning at around 5 am I started having contractions. Brent and I got up and went downstairs for a walk in the rain/mist. I tried going up and down the stairs. We called the doctor and the doula, a type of birth coach who helped us with the pregnancy. Both thought we should go ahead to the hospital.

I did not realize that our doctor would be there to meet us and wrongly, it turns out, assumed that everyone was late to their induction appointments. I had not been able to get moving that quickly that morning. So we missed seeing our doctor.

Once we got there, Claudia, our doula, met us there and asked right away what our plan was. All along I had not wanted to be induced, and since I was in labor, I felt like we could go home and labor. So we told the nurse that when she came in. She was not happy. The nurse evaluated me and I was at 2-3 centimeters dilated. However, the blood pressure readings they were getting for me were VERY high. The day before at the doctor’s office it had been 120/80, and now they were telling me it was 176/104. Just not possible. I asked them to manually take my blood pressure because I had had problems with these machines before. So for two hours they searched high and low in the hospital for a blood pressure cuff. They finally had to buy one! They got the same reading.

The doula explained that if the hospital thought this was indeed my blood pressure a c-section was in the offing.

After some back and forth with our doctor, we decided to check out. I signed myself out. On the way to the doctor’s office I called Erica. She almost fell off her chair when she heard we had left the hospital. Apparently people NEVER do this. Carol, Brent’s mom, is here to help us and was also a bit surprised at our decision.

At the doctor’s office my blood pressure was elevated, but nowhere near their readings. 142/75. Not in the danger zone. I saw the doctor. She evaluated me and urged me to go back to the hospital.

We had an appointment with the acupuncturists at 2:45. At this point it was around 11 am. We went home to get lunch, and my contractions came stronger. Our doula had asked us to call her when we left for the hospital again, and regrettably, I was freaking out and just told Brent we had to leave. We called her when we go there.

I thought I had wanted a natural childbirth. I really liked the idea. But above all I wanted not to have a c-section.

Claudia got to the hospital and told me right off the bat, “Well if this is going to be your attitude then you might as well go home. Our game plan has changed for today. No natural childbirth.” That was just what I needed to hear I think. Things had changed. OK.

I was in a lot of pain. “Claudia, is it normal to be in this much pain, this early?”

No, she said...but I get the sense she did not know if I was just a wimp or really in a lot more pain than the average person. HA.

At this point an epidural was suggested. I jumped all over that. I honestly did not know if I could get the baby out. Claudia was great at calming me down. I felt hysterical. She kept telling me to ride the contraction’s wave. Up and then down. I did this while I waited for the anesthesiologist. I had not wanted an epidural because women who get them are more likely to have a c-section. Now I should mention that the hospital where I delivered has a 40% c-section rate, so the odds were not really on my side here. I was also very afraid of having something put into my back. I have heard some really horrible stories about this.

Anyway, at that point I would have done anything. Putting it in went really well and from then on out I did not feel the contractions. I did not feel good and was hooked up to all kinds of machines to monitor me and the baby, but I was not ready to give up.

And then we waited. I had made it to 4 centimeters dilated on my own. I needed to get to 10. I was not progressing, so the doctor recommended that I start pitocin, a drug that mimics the hormone your body makes when in labor, oxytocin. At this point I would have done whatever they said...so we did that.

A few hours later and some other unpleasantness, I was ready to push. I could tell. It was 2:34 in the morning and I decided I wanted the baby out before 3 am. The doula told us that most women push on average for 2 hours, with first time moms pushing for an average of 3 hours.

The doctor checked and decided it was time. I started getting sick. I pushed three times, and on the third push my doula told me to stop throwing up, I was not sick and I needed to watch my baby being born. She took the throw-up bin away and I stopped and looked down just in time to see little Oskar join us. At 2:54 the little guy was born.

September 8th was Carol’s husband, John Gordon’s birthday. He passed away this year so it was very fun to have Oskar on his birthday. I am sure he and my mom and dad were watching over us.

Oskar Edward Lattin
Born 9.8.11 at 2:54 am. 21 inches long and 7 pounds and 12 ounces.

Photos of Oskar available here as they are available!


better day at the doctor's office

Went in today with a list of things to discuss and felt much better. The doctor even offered to call and change the induction date if possible. We are going ahead with tomorrow at 8 am though. I just felt better that she was listening to my concerns, etc. And now she knows how we feel about natural child birth, etc. I think in DC especially, lots of women want to be induced and have planned c-sections...so I just needed to be clear that I was not in that group.


rant coming: PIC, the pregnancy industral complex

Just back from the doctor. I am annoyed at the pregnancy industrial complex...

I am going to lay this out once and for all and then try to let it go. Brent has heard me rant about this too many times already.

Here are the facts:

1. Earlier sonograms are more accurate at predicting due dates of babies.
2. My first sonogram said I was due September 2nd, today.
3. Subsequent sonograms said August 25th and 26th.
4. My doctors believed the earlier dates.
5. This matters because they will only allow the baby to gestate 12 days past its due date. Then they induce the labor.
6. 85% of first time pregnancies go past their due date.
7. If a birth is induced this greatly increases the chances of a c-section.
8. I DO NOT WANT A C-SECTION. No one in my family has ever needed one. I don't need one.
9. If the doctors had gone with the more accurate date of September 2nd, which was clearly accurate because I HAVE NOT HAD THE KID YET, then I would have 12 days from today to get the kid out.
10. As it is, I only have until September 7th.
11. The doctor stripped my membranes without asking me first today.
12. We had to pay for yet another sonogram and other test because they insist on doing this once you are past your due date. (And I have recently read that there is some correlation between autism and sonograms...)

Finally, I guess I just don't trust doctors.

Everything is fine. Things are progressing normally. I just hate that this made up due date is dictating what will happen and when...

Everything will be fine. It always works out in my life.

Deep breaths.

Thanks for listening.


mini book review: My Korean Deli

by Ben Ryder Howe

Cute book...Mr. Howe's wife decides that instead of buying a house she will repay her mother for all of her sacrifices with a deli in New York. The book chronicles their going about finding, running, and well, eventually, selling their Korean Deli.

What the back of the book does not mention is that the book is also about Mr. Howe working as an editor of the Paris Review. Super interesting, that part! He is basically living a double life: working at the review by day and the deli by night.



Boingboing posted about this new website, Atavist, where people make visual stories. I guess some people call these movies. This is an excerpt from a new one. Fascinating.

Here is a link to the whole story shown above, if you are interested. Via The Atlantic


woman in a box, left to die

I ran across this photo in these photos from St├ęphane Passet. It keeps haunting me.

I found this about the photo on the internet:
"The image shown is of a female Mongolian prisoner. Passet recorded that she had been imprisoned for adultery but historians have cast doubt on this, as Mongolian culture of the time was thought to be tolerant of adultery.

The purpose of imprisoning people in a box in this way was to allow the nomadic people to transport prisoners from place to place. It was 'portable imprisonment'.

People who took pity on prisoners were allowed to leave them food and water and small bowls can be seen in the photograph, just beyond the reach of the incarcerated woman."

A different website said she would be left there to die...out in the Mongolian steep.

What was she thinking? What did she do? How could you just take a picture of her? How long would she last?


the hurricane took down a tree

right next to our house...fell onto the neighbor's car that the building is constantly arguing with...good times. poor tree.



hurricane passing over...leak in roof found...old law & order's on the TV. Good times.


today's art project: light box photo

i have been meaning to put this project together for years...literally. DONE!


what I read

I read a lot.

Currently we read:
New York Magazine, weekly
The New Yorker, weekly
GQ, monthly
The Atlantic, monthly
boingboing.net, daily

I have started reading the back posts of:

I like to read magazines on the day I get them...otherwise they can languish.

I also try to read a few books a week...hence my reviews you get to read.

I don't want to hear from anyone else that having a baby will mean I will never read again. My good friend Tania told me I will be able to read while I breastfeed. I believe her.

I am feeling a bit militant about this...If I could keep reading during law school, I can keep reading after a baby.

Thanks for reading...and being supportive of my habit.


rethink nyc

I love this thought experiment...what if the city was all smashed inside Central park, and the rest of the city was the park?


the atlantic: hit or miss...and tea cup kids

I read this article, "How to Land your Kid in Therapy" about teacup kids in The Atlantic recently. The article, by Lori Gorrlieb, of Marry Him fame, chronicles the end results of helicopter parents who insist on being friends with their kids rather than parents. Colleges have taken to calling these children "Teacup Kids" because the first time something goes wrong in their life they break like a delicate teacup.

Really worth a read. Would love to hear what you mom's who read my blog think about the article...


blogging down...inability to sleep up

Ok, so I am having problems sleeping at this point...between the baby and acid reflux, I really sleep best during the day...which is silly.

Anyway, I have stumbled upon a new blog that I just love. You all know I love boingboing.net, but now there is blog.sethroberts.net, a blog by Seth Roberts. His posts are endlessly fascinating to me. I have made my way back to the beginning of last year, and will continue working backwards. I did this for boingboing too...

Roberts engages in a lot of self experimentation. He does different exercises everyday to monitor how well he is doing that day. For example, he takes a math test everyday and records the amount of time it takes him to compete the test. He has found that eating half a stick of butter a day and eating flax seeds makes him feel better and improves his math test scores.

Maybe instead of reading his blog I should write...but I haven't.


baby shower pictures...


Click here to see the pictures!

Thanks Erica, Pam, Keith, Jordan, and Erin. It was a great time!


too many dinosaurs

This talk by Jack Horner has been stuck in my brain...I just found this idea so compelling: instead of lots of dinosaurs, there where many fewer and the paleontologists have been finding babies, juveniles, and adults and thinking they were different species, when really they weren't.

In high school I got to go to Egg Mountain in Montana as a Girl Scout and work on the dig there for two weeks. Jack Horner's son was there, John. He was HOT. And I remember finding a big bone and asking him what it was. He asked me. I asked back. He raised his voice. I raised mine. Finally he was shouting at me: WHAT IS THIS BONE? I finally guessed and said a femur? He said sure. I then realized he had no clue either.

Anyway, watch this video and ponder. Good times.



Anyone out there ever gotten into juicing? Brent and I watched this pretty great movie (Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead) about juicing to lose weight and regain health and just bought a juicer to give it a go.

The apple juice was good...but earthy. Very interesting taste. Preview of the movie below:

I liked the idea of resetting your food pallet. When we discussed this with my brother and his wife, they did not really buy it...but I think there is some merit. These guys were not eating any fruits of veggies...ANY...so they really needed to reset things. And it worked. I will be trying the juices Brent makes, because of my delicate state...but not actually only drinking juice...that seems a little crazy. I could see Brent just drinking a juice for breakfast everyday. My uncle has a smoothie for breakfast everyday.



cook books v. the internets

Do you use cook books to find recipes or the internets? I kind of go both ways. We have quite a few cook books now and I enjoy reading them. I have a friend who collects them. She does not cook though.

However, when I am looking for a specific recipe I tend to go to the internets. Grammy used to make a wonderful strawberry bread, and I thought I had the recipe, but I could not find it.

I found this one online:

Fresh Strawberry Bread

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups strawberries, rinse, dried and chopped

1. Grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
2. With electric mixer cream butter, sugar and cream cheese until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla.
3. In separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Blend flour mixture with butter mixture just until blended. Add buttermilk and only stir until just combined; do not over mix.
4. Carefully fold in strawberries. Dough mixture will be thick.
5. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes.

I will let you know how it works out!


movie: A Man Named Pearl

Amazing movie. Pearl lives in rural South Carolina and created a huge topiary garden, because his neighbors complained that he was not taking care of his yard.

Very inspiring.

Check out the website here.


book review: the art of eating in

The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove
by Cathy Erway

Operation prepare for the baby/learn to self motivate has had some competition from operation hotter than hell outside/TV calling. Some days I self motivate, some days I watch TV.

But after taking back all of the labor books to the library I happened upon this book in the new books section. Bringing new books home to read from the library is strictly prohibited right now. We need books going OUT.

But one thing I have wanted to work on is eating at home more, especially since I am not working. It is a good way to save money and I am a decent cook (queue comment from Brent.) As a child, we only went out to eat for special occasions. But somewhere along the line, eating out became something that was just a normal part of my life. Even when I am bored with the food options, I often don't get my act together to bring my lunch to work.

The author spent two years not eating out in New York city. In fact that is what her blog is called: Not Eating Out in New York.

I can imagine her blog and book could readily be compared to the blog that inspired Julie and Julia. But her book is better that that book. By far!

Erway chronicles all the different experiences she has while eating at home. She learns how to cook new things, although the title is a bit mis-leading, because she is already a great cook when she started the experiment. She hangs out with friends at home, she goes on picnics, she goes to food cook-offs.

Unfortunately, we don't have similar palates, so many of her recipes I would not try, but she has inspired me to be more creative with my cooking. And her blog is great too.




other books

Ok, so I have read some other books I don't feel like reviewing more than a little bit. This a cop out. I know that.

The Wild Life of our Bodies: Predators, Parasites, and Partners That Shape Who We are Today
By Rob Dunn

Great, great book. Loved it. Go read it. It will change your life. Or call me, and I will tell you why I loved it.

Forget Sorrow

by Belle Yang

This book is a lot like Maus by Art Spiegelman. It chronicles her family's history and then plight in China before coming to America. If you like graphic novels, pick it up.

The Parrot Who Thought She Was A Dog
by Nancy Ellis-Bell

Cute book about a crazy animal woman. She adopts animals, even birds who threaten to bite her at every moment. Quick read. If you are into animals, this is a book for you.


book review: slow love

slow love: how I got knocked off the fast track and put my pajamas on for a year and found happiness.
by Dominique Browning

I read this awhile ago. It was, the opposite of a coming of age story, I suppose. It was more of a coming to terms with latter middle-age story. The author was the chief editor of House & Garden, until the magazine closed. Then she really did not know what to do with herself. She became depressed. She also had a rather un-fulfilling relationship with a married man for many years. (Reading about said relationship was one of the most annoying parts of the book.)

I now consider the need to learn how to self motivate again. Perhaps this is what she was really doing in the book: learning how to self motivate without the looming deadline of a magazine to produce.

So many people I work with say they just don't know what they would do with themselves if they did not have to work...I have lots to do...but I am still learning how exactly to self motivate myself. This week has gone well so far.

Anyway, the book. It was ok.

I did like her guiding piece of decorating advice: create as many lovely places in which to sit and read as possible in your home.


book review: the wave, in pursuit of the rogues, freaks, and giants of the ocean

The Wave
by Susan Casey

I read this book right away when it came out a few months ago...and LOVED it. So why have I not written the review yet? One word: jealousy. I had this idea to write a book about giant waves, from an article in the New York Times. Hundreds of ships go missing annually. For years they had no idea why...but now we know that the sailors stories of giant waves were not just tall tales.

But I did not write the book. Mrs. Casey did.

She took an interesting tact: she interwove the science of the waves with the stories of surfers trying to surf giant waves. It works well. You get the personal interest stories coupled with the scary science. (FYI: no cruises for me, ever, thank you very much.)

For example, there are landslide-induced tsunamis. These happen under water. 8,000 years ago a piece of shelf the size of Kentucky gave way off the coast of Norway. The slide might have been caused by methane hydrates, or spherical gas deposits frozen into the sea floor. Changes in the temperature of the ocean could trigger more of these spheres to explode. Changes as little as one degree will set them off, leading to giant waves and vast clouds of methane going into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas ten times more potent than carbon dioxide. Scary stuff.

Oh and the USGS conservatively estimates that twice the carbon found in all fossil fuels in the world is contained in these ice balls.

Bottom line is that the book is a great example of non-fiction done well.


intimacy update...better!

I heard from the store manager. She was very apologetic and offered to send me a bra to try. I will let everyone know how it works...


lil' bean n' green: cafe n' play

In Toronto we stumbled across this cute little cafe...well half cafe and half playroom. The front of the space was dedicated to food and coffee for adults. In the middle of the space there was a little garden gate, behind which all kinds of fun toys awaited children. What a great idea for parents?

Check out their website:

I could see this working on other cold places...like Montana.


babymoon in toronto

A babymoon is like a honeymoon but before your have your first child. It is a cute idea...well at least I think so. Grammy found it to be really really funny.

We went to Toronto this weekend. What a lovely city. We walked all over, and I am still exhausted from the trip. I would highly recommend visiting Toronto. We stayed at this cute little hipster hotel called The Drake. The staff were super. They really could not have been more helpful.

Click here to see pictures from our trip!


military service

Once people are dead, you can request their military service records. I finally got around to doing this for my dad. It is so interesting. He joined the Air Force when he was 18, in 1958. He never talked about being in the military. He did mention, somewhat vaguely, that he was in Libya during the Vietnam War. But who knew if that was true? It was true...kind of...he was there for 5 months, and according to the records he gained 20 pounds being there. Strange. I can't figure out what he was doing in Tripoli quite yet. I need someone to interpret the military speak for me.

I love seeing how his signature changed over the years, becoming more and more unrecognizable.


store review: {intimacy} a horrible experience there...

Talk about a nightmare. I read this article in Bloomberg Businessweek about this really awesome sounding new lingerie store where they have 70,000 bras in each store. And a new one opened in DC!

To get a fitting you have to make an appointment in advance. They will not let you buy one with out a fitting. And you have to fill out a questionnaire online about what you are looking for. I am only looking for nursing bras.

I get there on time. No one is in the store, except the three women working there. I tell them I am there for a fitting. One woman says I must be Nicole. I am in fact Nicole.

"Did you fill out a questionnaire online?"

"I did."

"We can't access the computers, so could you fill it out again." (Why ask me if you can't access it?)

I do. All I need, the sole reason for driving an hour to get to this store, are properly fitting nursing braS. (She NEVER reviews my card that I filled out.)

I only check this on the card. The woman then tells me her colleague will be with me in a moment. I stand there like an asshole...for 5 minutes...then the other woman standing next to the woman who initially helped me says, hello, she will be helping me. WHAT? Is this some joke? You kept me standing there for no reason? I had an appointment.

Then, as asks if the trainee can see my fitting. Fine. I don't really care. She brings in a maternity bra. I try it on. It is a fine bra. $117 but fine. I don't need a maternity bra. I need nursing bras. She says for free they will alter any bra to be a nursing bra.

"How do you do that?"

"We cut the strap, and put a hook and eye in, just like in the back."

Really? I could cut my bra apart and sew in a hook and eye. And who is going to cut their new $117 bra?

"Could I just see the nursing bras?"

Seriously 15 minutes later she returns with five bras that are all maternity bras.

"I am really ONLY looking for nursing bras."

"I could not find them."

"Well could you look a little more. That's all I need. Don't you have something like 70,000 bras in each store?"

She come back eventually, telling me the girls working are new, so they don't know where the bras are, and she usually works in a different store.

This is the only store in the DC area, so I ask what other store she works in. One in California.


She tells me the nursing bras were all mixed in with the other bras.

"This is the only nursing bra we sell. Try it on, and see how it works."

It is too small. She says it comes in black or nude. I tell her I will take one of each in the proper size. Oh she also mentioned she does not like to sell nursing bras until closer to when the baby is due. I thank her for her opinion.

Then this: "This is our best selling nursing bra."

"Well of course it is, if it is the ONLY one you sell."

She smiles.

We go to the register. She tells me they no longer sell the nursing bra in black. I ask, just to verify, if they only sell this nursing bra.

"At this store."

"At this store? So you have other nursing bras?"

"Not at this store."

"Do you or do you not sell other nursing bras?"

"We have others, but not at this store."

"Could you order me one?"

"No, because you would need to try it on. The sizing is a lot different because there is no under wire."

I remember that apparently you don't want under wires when you are nursing. I read it someplace.

"So there is no way I could get the other bra?"


I was incredulous. A store which will only let you buy bras that you try on, doesn't have the bra in stock, and can't get it, and I drove a hour to get there after waiting 2 days for a damn appointment, and I am supposed to just buy the ill fitting bra she had me try on?

"I think I will just not buy anything. Thanks. Could I get the district manager's phone number?"

She gives me the store manager's number.

When I call to talk to the store manager, they hang up on me.

I could not make this up.

I called their headquarters in Atlanta. Finally got a hold of someone. They promised to call me today. No call yet.

Addition: They called this morning, but I did not have my cell phone. I will call her back tomorrow and let you know what happens.


uncomplete thoughts

Sometimes, I get so wrapped up in questioning the knowledge surrounding some subject that I completely discount that any real knowledge is known about that subject. My questioning of the little things makes me skeptical of whether the big piece of understanding is correct.

I suppose this could be called over-thinking.

I have been doing this about the birth process lately. I don't really buy that all babies need to come out by 42 weeks of gestation. But my friend Pam pointed out that in places where they don't do this the infant mortality rate is much higher. (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2091rank.html)

I still am skeptical, but need to accept that doctors do in fact have some knowledge and experience that I don't have, so I should trust that.


book review: how my breasts saved the world: misadventures of a nursing mother

by Lisa Wood Shapiro

I ran across this book at our bookstore and took a chance on it. Baby books can be hit or miss. One I read was so bad I did not even want to review it. I liked how the book started: with this idealized version of how her mother and other female family members discussed breastfeeding as though they had all done it for years and it was so easy...

Years ago, I asked Linda if she had breastfed all of us. “Yes, all of you were breastfed.” Well, ok. Then later I thought to ask more.

“How long did you breastfeed Mt?”

“Oh, almost a year I suppose.”


“Eight months.”


“I quit work with John, so 6 months I think.”


“You were breast fed.”

“For how long?”

“You were breastfed.”

I finally got out of her that I was breastfed for almost a month before she went back to work.

This book turned out to be just wonderful and full of all kinds of interesting tidbits. The author wrote the story basically as an extension of her quest to explain to new mothers how difficult breastfeeding is and how important getting help is to your success. She walks all over Brooklyn telling new moms about her nursing group and breastfeeding pillows, and leaking boobs, and on and on. Her husband tries to shut her down a few times, but to no avail.

Her tips, scattered throughout, are lovely.

• Re-load the diaper bag as soon as you get home so it is ready to go when you are ready to leave again. Getting out of the house is 100% of the battle.
• When making homemade cupcakes, use the food processor and just put the batter into the cupcake papers directly on a cookie sheet rather than using a muffin tin.
• Get a lactation consultant early and often. It is worth the expense.
• The latch is the hardest part.

I keep thinking about the book and telling my friends who are expecting what Lisa said: it is hard, so get help. I haven’t even tried it yet...but I am leaking. (Is that TMI?)


ice cream success

Erica and Brent's dad, Harry, got us an ice cream maker for Christmas. We finally made ice cream the other night...but I did not follow the directions exactly, and the first batch was a fail. (Egg whites and egg yokes should not be mixed up.) Tonight we tried again, and SUCCESS. It was really easy. Mix and then put it into the machine. Next time we will modify the recipe a bit more. It was a bit too creamy for us.

Simple Vanilla Ice Cream

1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 cups heavy cream (1 c = half a pint, like the little milk boxes you got in elementary school)
1 tablespoon vanilla

Mix, chill, then put into the machine. Mix until thickened; about 20 minutes.


book review: kraken: the curious, exciting, and slightly disturbing science of squid

Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid

by Wendy Williams

I love cephalopods: octopus, cuttlefish, squid. I don’t eat them because I love them so...I could never even try one. They are just too smart(see video above regarding their smarts). So when Brent surprised me with this book, I was excited. But the book disappointed, or rather the author did. I know she spent a lot of time working on the book, but she injected herself into the story too often. And I feel like she needed a better editor. She repeated herself a lot.

I did learn some fun things though.

For example, the star of The Aquarium of the Pacific, was an octopus which was found walking along the street several miles from the ocean! Can you imagine seeing that? A good Samaritan saved the little guy, named Lucky Sucker.

Cephalopods’ ink contains dopamine, so its prey might be feeling good while being eaten.

So, if you are really into the little guys like I am, read the book. Otherwise, skip it.


eels, by james prosek

What do you know about eels? Other than their skin can make great wallets that will demagnetize your credit cards...nothing really.

You all know about my interest in the stranger things of the world. Well, Eels: An Exploration, from New Zealand to the Sargasso, of the World's Most Mysterious Fish about eels was just fascinating and filled all of the requirements I have for a great read: 1. random topic, 2. well written, and 3. easily explained to others. An excellent read, even if you don't think you care about eels.

Eels, which are fish and not to be confused with electric eels, are born in the ocean and swim up the rivers to live, the opposite of other fish. The scientists think the eels from the eastern coast of the north and south American continents spawn in the Sargasso sea...but no one has ever seen them actually spawn. And eels can live outside of water for periods of time enabling them to move between ponds.

Prosek travels all over the world to learn more about eels...he spends 10 years of his life on eels, and we are the recipients of his massive amounts of knowledge. I would be interested in what got left on the editing floor, because I bet there were lots of interesting gems lying around.

Unfortunately, eels are not faring well. According to Prosek, eels once traveled up the Mississippi as far as Iowa, Ohio, Minnesota, and Illinois. Dams have been their downfall.

Prosek also travels to the island of Pohnpei where the eel is worshiped by some as their ancestors, and therefore not eaten. As an aside, the island also has a set of ruins from the city of Nan Madol, "a ruined city that lies off the eastern shore of the island of Pohnpei that was the capital of the Saudeleur dynasty until about AD 1500." You have to check out the pictures of this place (click this sentence.)

Here is a video about the last guy on the east coast who still uses a weir to collect eels in the same manner as the Native Americans did:

eel•water•rock•man from Orion Magazine on Vimeo.


i can't believe

the weekend is over already. Lots of stuff accomplished. The white chair is gone. The rocking chair is in the living room, ready to rock. The closet reorg has begun. We have started emptying out the chest of drawers for the baby. I caught up with lots of friends this weekend. A good weekend.

Oh and my leg is healing finally.

How was your weekend?


wonderful news

My aunt, the esteemed actress, Kate Harris, won a very prestigious award last night in Chicago for her role in Cabaret last year. The non-equity Jeff Awards are given for excellence in acting. I am so proud. She really deserved this award.

Read more about the award here...



So few weeks ago I sent out a survey to my friends. I was reading On Managing Yourself, which is one of the Harvard Business Review's 10 MUST READS.

On the first page there were even some interesting ideas. Peter Drucker said that most people don't know what they are good at nor do they know what they are bad at. Which made me think: I should ask everyone about my skills and see what they say.

I asked everyone to email me 3 things they thought I was good at and 1 thing I am bad at? (Other than receiving criticism...I know that one already. :P ) I promised to send out the results. And offered to do the same for my friends.

I got a surprising number of responses. I think the responses fit into 8 groups: photography, being a good friend, confident, adaptive psychology, sense of humor, good project manager, writing, other.

In terms of number of time mentioned, being a good friend was by far the most, with being a good photographer being the second most mentioned quality. Having an ability to adapt to life changes well, resiliency, was the other oft mentioned characteristic.

Brent felt that my bad qualities often reflected more on the person bringing the issue up than on me...which was an interesting insight. Impatience was the most mentioned deficiency, which is probably true. Ok, it is true.

Tomorrow, what I plan do to with these insights.


the multitasking myth

This little op-ed from Government Executive does a great job explaining why multitasking is a myth.

You are not the outlier. You cannot multitask.

What is the word for singletasking?

The Myth of Multitasking
By Elizabeth Newell

"Most federal managers feel they have no choice but to multitask. Among the multiple projects with overlapping deadlines, performance reports that need to be filed and employees who require direction, tackling one task at a time seems like a luxury supervisors can't afford. But multitasking could be slowing you down and costing the government valuable productivity points.

This loss in efficiency stems from what researchers call "switchover time," the time needed to refocus on the original task after you've temporarily switched gears. In a 2001 article in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, researchers showed that switchover time can take a couple of minutes for every change. Multiple switch-overs a day - even an hour - can sap a significant amount of productivity.

So what should managers do? Multitask less.

In an academic study published Feb. 14, 2008, in The Journal of High Technology Management Research, managers said the key to managing multiple projects is to minimize switchovers by being meticulously organized, methodical and focused.

One manager said he clears his desk of all documents or reminders of projects B, C and D while working on project A. Of course, this becomes increasingly difficult with technology in the mix. You might be able to clear your desk of documents, but it's much harder to keep project B-, C- and D-related emails from popping up in your inbox. Technology-related multitasking exacerbates what some call technostress in the workplace. Technology is effective and helpful in part because computers are designed to multitask, but the human mind is not designed the same way.

"The human mind can switch from one task to the other but it keeps the previous task queued somewhere in the back of the mind," Peter E. Brillhart wrote in a September 2004 article for The Journal of the American Academy of Business. "The more tasks we try to multitask the less efficient we become at performing any tasks . . . Laboratory research shows that multitasking increases stress, diminishes perceived control, and may cause physical discomfort such as stomach aches or headaches."

You might be reading this and sighing, convinced that you are the outlier - the rare, exceptional human whose productivity is multiplied by multitasking. Odds are you're wrong. A 2009 Stanford University study set out to determine what, exactly, effective multitaskers were doing better than everyone else. The study focused on people who multitasked extensively while using different forms of media (the computer, smartphones, etc.). To their surprise, the answer was - nothing. People who multitask at the highest levels are "suckers for irrelevancy," says Clifford Nass, a Stanford communication professor and co-author of the study. Apparently they are easily distracted and struggle to distinguish a worthy distraction from one that should be pushed aside.

So the next time you're tempted to knock out a few emails before finishing up that report on your desk, think again."


ideas to ponder

I hear people at work saying all the time that they do not know what they would do with themselves if they did not work.

REALLY? I know. I have a long list of things I would do...

But do I really? I mean, I have had days off where I have done nothing but sit in front of the damn TV. (After which I usually tell Brent we should get rid of the TV...but then we don't...anyway.)

The Boing posted an interview with this guy who I am not sure about, Ran Prieur. But he said something interesting in the interview:

"One of the points I make that people really seem to resonate with is that you get depressed for a few years if you're in a highly regulated system, highly regularized from the first time we started school. From kindergarten on, we're in this rigid structure where every minute is regulated, especially with the younger kids. When I was a kid, we still had unstructured time, play time in the afternoons. And now, people have everything planned for them.

When you quit that, and you have these vast blocks of time where there's nothing you're supposed to be doing, people get depressed. Even I got depressed, and I like unstructured time. What you're doing during that time is you're learning to self motivate. And it's not easy, you have to, it takes some time and you have to kind of go through a difficult time and almost hit bottom. I don't know why you say "you hit bottom." That's not a good phrase. But yes, you get depressed for a few years when the structure is removed and you have to learn to regulate yourself and motivate yourself in a life inside yourself."

The idea that self motivation is a learned ability really resonates with me. Or maybe we have that ability and then it is beaten out of us.

Maybe this is why I am obsessed with unstructured playtime...


great girls weekend

Jen and Carly just left...Laura could not come because of work and Amy decided not to come this year because of other reasons.

The three of us had a lovely time.

More soon.



so our friend, dave, says i should not blog about health issues...but i am ignoing him today.

i have a skin infection called cellulitis, caused by the car accident. the infection is caused either by a staph or strep infection. many of you know my dad came very close to dying from a staph infection, so this scares me.

i also distrust antibiotics, but today the doctor gave me a huge shot of them and i am taking them orally. erica and brent assure me and the baby will be fine.

i work up and worried i was having an allergic reaction to the drugs. i now think i am fine.

i got home from st. louis and called the ob. she said to be seen by my regular doctor right away. called him. he was on vacation this week, naturally, but the receptionist said to call the doctor on call for him. i called that office, and they sent me to get an ultrasound of both legs to rule out a blood clot. no blod cot, but the doctor at the ultrasound place said to go immediately to my doctor's office. so i did just that.

i walked in, with reading materails at the ready for a long wait, and told the receptionist what happened. she huffed and puffed, and said to wait a second. i sat down. the she comes back and says, " the doctor is in with a patient, but i just want you know this is not a walk in clinic."

that is when i lost my shit. i said fine and left. i was not a walk in patient. i had spoken to them this morning. i went downstairs crying to my normal doctor's office where the receptionis was in. she opened the door and there i am crying like a baby. she was super nice, and helped me. we went back upstairs. she said, "the know any of our patients are welcome anytime they need us, so i don'tknow why she said that."

the doctor himself was great. he could tell right away what it was, and had a plan.

later my ob's office called back, to check on me, which also made me feel good.

this sucks, but erica assures me it will be fine.





How does the body decide what to heal when there are multiple areas that need help?




brent and i, all dressed up



bag insert

So, I ordered this little bag insert from this woman in Switzerland. I love the concept. You put this inside your purse and when you change purses you can just move this thing rather than having to dump everything out of your bag.

I want to get her to make one properly sized for baby stuff: diapers, bottles, changing pads, etc.

Click here to go to the CouCou website and order one!
The package came quickly and was not very expensive. The black one is even on sale right now: 13.50 Euros rather than 19 Euros.


nothing like an accident

and being laid up on the couch for a week to drastically reduce your spending. I am just saying.


maybe i should be careful

I posted that PSA last about driving...and then we almost died driving up I95 from DC to NYC the next day.

We were just making fun of the fact that there was a Newark, Delaware and how that town should change its name. I pointed out that since Delaware was one of the first states, the Newark in Delaware was probably older than the one in New Jersey.

I looked to my right, and as if in a movie, this purple Honda Accord was on two tires. The driver had not checked his blind spot before moving lanes to his right. We were in the far left hand lane. He over corrected coming directly at us. I tried to get around him, and almost did. And then he hit us and we went into the Jersey Wall full on, almost perpendicular to the wall. We spun around, and to my surprise, after the airbag exploded, we were blind. The smoke did not allow us to see out. So as we careened across four lanes of traffic, I frantically asked Brent what we should do. He said there was nothing we could do. Before we hit the median on the other side of the four lanes, I used what was left of the brakes to stop us. We jumped out of the car.

Brent's lips started turning blue. Two parole officers stopped to help us as did a nurse. I just wanted the ambulance to come. It took forever. Maybe it did not. I have no real sense of time. I texted Brent's mom and Erica. I tried to stay calm. I tried to avoid looking at Brent's mouth. Or thinking that he could have died.

I worried about the baby. A lot.

We went to the hospital, and luckily were fine. All three of us. We are bruised and sore and still out of sorts, but we are fine. Montana, Erin, and Ada came up to collect us and our stuff from the totaled car. We took the train to DC and then went to the hospital again to get double checked. Our doctor was on call so she took care of us. Montana drove down to collect us from yet another hospital and stayed with us until the next day when Carol, Brent's mom, flew in.

The car did a great job saving us. Some people think my driving is to be thanked. I kept wondering if I should have taken a different action: slowed down, moved to the left immediately, I don't know. But I have stopped this. No one died in the accident, so I am going to take solace in the idea that I took the best action in a situation that needed an immediate response. Analysis of the situation was not an option.

So, the bottom line: don't talk on the phone while driving, don't text in the car, look in your blind spot before changing lanes. If you are tempted, thinking you are a better driver than most, remember, killing someone would ruin your life and put the damn phone down. It can wait.


young driver: tell them these tips

The New York Times ran another article with tips for teenage drivers. Teenage drivers have 10 times as many accidents as older drivers.

There are 3 common mistakes young drivers make:

1. Failing to scan the road,
2. Misjudging driving conditions, or
3. Becoming distracted.

These mistakes come to us by way of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Children's Hospital in Philly.

The mistakes above are actually abilities that you develop as a driver overtime, without noticing. So as a parent you need to reenforce these abilities when teaching. Kids tend to focus straight ahead, rather than scanning. Asking student drivers questions like, what color was that car we just passed? Or How many people were on the sidewalk? will help them begin scanning.

Again, as a parent you have to let your child try driving in poor conditions, so they know how to react.

Finally, distractions. No cell phones in the car. Put them in the trunk. I am just kidding...kind of.


cancer and sugar

I told Brent about my office selling cupcakes to raise money for breast cancer research and he reminded me of the New York Times article about sugar that came out a few weeks ago. Here is a link to the whole story, but I copied the important part about sugar and its link to cancer. He made the point that serving cupcakes to raise money for cancer rather like selling cigarettes to raise money for lung cancer. My boss, while saddened, said they would look into other fundraisers!

The excerpt below is from the end of the article about the link to cancer. The whole article is worth your time to read, but at least read the part I cut out below.

All the people I have lost to cancer and to think that by not eating sugar we could spare our loved ones this sadness...but damn that stuff is addictive...and in EVERYTHING.

Is Sugar Toxic?, by Gary Taubes, The New York Times

"One more question still needs to be asked, and this is what my wife, who has had to live with my journalistic obsession on this subject, calls the Grinch-trying-to-steal-Christmas problem. What are the chances that sugar is actually worse than Lustig says it is?

One of the diseases that increases in incidence with obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome is cancer. This is why I said earlier that insulin resistance may be a fundamental underlying defect in many cancers, as it is in type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The connection between obesity, diabetes and cancer was first reported in 2004 in large population studies by researchers from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. It is not controversial. What it means is that you are more likely to get cancer if you’re obese or diabetic than if you’re not, and you’re more likely to get cancer if you have metabolic syndrome than if you don’t.

This goes along with two other observations that have led to the well-accepted idea that some large percentage of cancers are caused by our Western diets and lifestyles. This means they could actually be prevented if we could pinpoint exactly what the problem is and prevent or avoid that.

One observation is that death rates from cancer, like those from diabetes, increased significantly in the second half of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th. As with diabetes, this observation was accompanied by a vigorous debate about whether those increases could be explained solely by the aging of the population and the use of new diagnostic techniques or whether it was really the incidence of cancer itself that was increasing. “By the 1930s,” as a 1997 report by the World Cancer Research Fund International and the American Institute for Cancer Research explained, “it was apparent that age-adjusted death rates from cancer were rising in the U.S.A.,” which meant that the likelihood of any particular 60-year-old, for instance, dying from cancer was increasing, even if there were indeed more 60-years-olds with each passing year.

The second observation was that malignant cancer, like diabetes, was a relatively rare disease in populations that didn’t eat Western diets, and in some of these populations it appeared to be virtually nonexistent. In the 1950s, malignant cancer among the Inuit, for instance, was still deemed sufficiently rare that physicians working in northern Canada would publish case reports in medical journals when they did diagnose a case.

In 1984, Canadian physicians published an analysis of 30 years of cancer incidence among Inuit in the western and central Arctic. While there had been a “striking increase in the incidence of cancers of modern societies” including lung and cervical cancer, they reported, there were still “conspicuous deficits” in breast-cancer rates. They could not find a single case in an Inuit patient before 1966; they could find only two cases between 1967 and 1980. Since then, as their diet became more like ours, breast cancer incidence has steadily increased among the Inuit, although it’s still significantly lower than it is in other North American ethnic groups. Diabetes rates in the Inuit have also gone from vanishingly low in the mid-20th century to high today.

Now most researchers will agree that the link between Western diet or lifestyle and cancer manifests itself through this association with obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome — i.e., insulin resistance. This was the conclusion, for instance, of a 2007 report published by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research — “Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer.”

So how does it work? Cancer researchers now consider that the problem with insulin resistance is that it leads us to secrete more insulin, and insulin (as well as a related hormone known as insulin-like growth factor) actually promotes tumor growth. As it was explained to me by Craig Thompson, who has done much of this research and is now president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the cells of many human cancers come to depend on insulin to provide the fuel (blood sugar) and materials they need to grow and multiply. Insulin and insulin-like growth factor (and related growth factors) also provide the signal, in effect, to do it. The more insulin, the better they do. Some cancers develop mutations that serve the purpose of increasing the influence of insulin on the cell; others take advantage of the elevated insulin levels that are common to metabolic syndrome, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Some do both. Thompson believes that many pre-cancerous cells would never acquire the mutations that turn them into malignant tumors if they weren’t being driven by insulin to take up more and more blood sugar and metabolize it.

What these researchers call elevated insulin (or insulin-like growth factor) signaling appears to be a necessary step in many human cancers, particularly cancers like breast and colon cancer. Lewis Cantley, director of the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School, says that up to 80 percent of all human cancers are driven by either mutations or environmental factors that work to enhance or mimic the effect of insulin on the incipient tumor cells. Cantley is now the leader of one of five scientific “dream teams,” financed by a national coalition called Stand Up to Cancer, to study, in the case of Cantley’s team, precisely this link between a specific insulin-signaling gene (known technically as PI3K) and tumor development in breast and other cancers common to women.

Most of the researchers studying this insulin/cancer link seem concerned primarily with finding a drug that might work to suppress insulin signaling in incipient cancer cells and so, they hope, inhibit or prevent their growth entirely. Many of the experts writing about the insulin/cancer link from a public health perspective — as in the 2007 report from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research — work from the assumption that chronically elevated insulin levels and insulin resistance are both caused by being fat or by getting fatter. They recommend, as the 2007 report did, that we should all work to be lean and more physically active, and that in turn will help us prevent cancer.

But some researchers will make the case, as Cantley and Thompson do, that if something other than just being fatter is causing insulin resistance to begin with, that’s quite likely the dietary cause of many cancers. If it’s sugar that causes insulin resistance, they say, then the conclusion is hard to avoid that sugar causes cancer — some cancers, at least — radical as this may seem and despite the fact that this suggestion has rarely if ever been voiced before publicly. For just this reason, neither of these men will eat sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, if they can avoid it.

“I have eliminated refined sugar from my diet and eat as little as I possibly can,” Thompson told me, “because I believe ultimately it’s something I can do to decrease my risk of cancer.” Cantley put it this way: “Sugar scares me.”

Sugar scares me too, obviously. I’d like to eat it in moderation. I’d certainly like my two sons to be able to eat it in moderation, to not overconsume it, but I don’t actually know what that means, and I’ve been reporting on this subject and studying it for more than a decade. If sugar just makes us fatter, that’s one thing. We start gaining weight, we eat less of it. But we are also talking about things we can’t see — fatty liver, insulin resistance and all that follows. Officially I’m not supposed to worry because the evidence isn’t conclusive, but I do."