Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Day

Before I go back and see if I wrote about Leap Day four years ago, I'm going to say this: This is one of my favourite days. I love the fact that Leap Day only comes once every four years; it's like a comet or something that has to be caught or you'll miss it. I love Leap Day.

Today's Leap Day included, you'll never guess, a broken-down car. The car was driving just fine, until I tried to leave the dentist office and discovered the car was dead. The battery couldn't have been dead, at least not fully, because the lights and the radio still worked. Just not the car. I tried to phone my father-in-law to rescue me, but then I remembered he was working today. So I tried my mum-in-law and got no answer. Scott was at work, so Fifi and I were stranded. I could've walked back home, except today was one of the worst days we've had this year for crazy wind and rain. I would've been blown away, as would the pram, if I'd attempted it. Well finally, I got ahold of Marion, and she picked us up and took us back to her house to dry off (I was soaked, not from the car ordeal, but from just moving from one vehicle to the other) and have a cup of tea.

Anyway, when Scott and Andy got home, they went and jumped the car and it was fine. Stupid, stupid car.

So now we're home, finally. We had a late dinner; I had fish out that needed to be eaten today or be thrown out. Fifi is asleep on the couch. I can't bear to wake her to take her upstairs. I don't want to go through the process of putting her back down. Last two nights I got something like 4 hours of sleep because of her (she's teething, so she's sleeping horribly), and I'm not ready to face that again for the third night in a row.

(Yeah, and as for the no sleeping thing, I'll just add that trying to chart one's BBT for Natural Family Planning is already hard enough when you are breastfeeding, but genuinely impossible when you never get the solid three hours in a row of sleep necessary for an accurate reading.)

Anyway, I'm tired. I think I'm going to pray Fifi stays asleep a little longer and go take a quick bath. I still feel pretty water-logged from this horrible day.

Happy Leap Day! (I finally caught the comet!)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Who knew toddlers were ACTUALLY as much work as they say? I deserve a medal each time I even finish a....

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Cars Are Like Boys...

More trouble than they're worth...
Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em...

Eh, I'm out of lame idioms.

Our car has lasted us a while and done us well, to be sure. But in the past two and a half years (or has it only been two?), we've spent more on repairs than we did on the actual car. (Which is a joke, because we got the car for free, but I'm sure we've spent more than we would have if we had paid for it.)

The past few months have included new tires, a new battery, a new alternater, three home-starts and one roadside tire change on our breakdown cover, and another new tire. That happened yesterday.

Scott pulled out of the drive on the way to work and noticed the steering wheel pulling strongly to the left. I dropped him off and headed to the petrol station to air up the tires. It unfortunately wasn't just low air; there was a nail in the tire. Dang it. Thus the roadside assistance. My mum-in-law met me at the petrol station and tried to change the tire for me (she's a real woman), but we couldn't get the jack to work. So a recovery truck arrived and changed my tire for me. Which leads to why we had to buy a brand new tire, as the tread on the nail-punctured tire made it not worth repairing.

But here's the kicker.

The recovery guy? He recognised me. 'Oh, I've been up to your house a few times! Battery, wasn't it?' I could've died.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


I don't normally write complaints. An issue must both be one of great importance to me and be something I'm fairly knowledgable about. The following is one of those rare occasions.

Copied from Junior Pregnancy & Baby, Feb/Mar 2008, p115 "Breastfeeding
Advice" ('Agony Aunt' style column by Clare Byam-Cook, author of "What
to Expect When You're Breastfeeding And What If You Can't?"

Q. My three month old son is always hungry! He breastfeeds for at least half an hour, every two hours, even at night. I'm exhausted. Any ideas?

A. Poor you - I'm not surprised you are exhausted. At three months, most babies should sleep through the night and last three to four hours between daytime feeds. You don't say if your son is gaining the right amount of weight, nor what he weighs, but both are relevant. If he is not gaining enough, he is clearly hungry and not getting enough milk; if his weight gain is normal, he is getting enough milk overall, but in snacks rather than 'proper meals'. If he weighs well over 6kg/13lb it may also be that he's struggling to drink enough milk to get the calories he needs and may need to start solids a bit early (i.e before six months).

First, check your milk supply to assess his feeding and whether you have enough milk. You can do this in one of two ways. Method one: put him to both breasts until he won't suck anymore, or up to a maximum of one hour. Then offer a top-up bottle of milk (expressed if you have some, formula if not) to see if he is still hungry. If he drinks this (as much as he wants), then immediately use a breast pump to see how much milk you can express compared with how much he has taken from the bottle. If he drinks more than you can express, your supply is low; if you express the same amount, it means he is feeding badly.

Method two: don't put him to the breast for several feeds, but use a bottle - then express after each feed, comparing how much he took from the bottle with how much was in your breast. If your milk supply is low, he should feed far less frequently when given extra milk in a bottle, and the expressing will stimulate your breasts to produce more. If your baby doesn't want or need any extra, he may have a problem such as wind, colic or reflux - in this case, consult your doctor.

My response:

Dear Editor:

I am writing in response to the breastfeeding advice given on page 115 of the Feb/Mar 2008 edition of Junior Pregnancy & Baby by Clare Byam-Cook. The advice given was entirely inaccurate and incomplete. Not only will this bad advice influence the original enquirer but the numbers of women reading the column.

To begin with, the advice completely overlooks the most obvious of possibilities: a growth spurt. The baby is three months old – a classic growth spurt age. Breastfeeding babies approaching a growth spurt will always feed more often for the days leading up to it, in order to increase the mother’s milk supply; this is how supply and demand milk production works. As a breastfeeding ‘expert’, Ms. Byam-Cook should have immediately picked up on this distinct possibility.

Secondly, the most important question would be one of positioning and attachment. If the mother feels that there is more to the issue than an upcoming growth spurt, then she should check that her positioning and attachment are correct, for if it is not, then the baby could very well not be getting enough to eat and would then be feeding more often and not getting full. If positioning and attachment are not corrected in the early days, the mother’s milk supply will be negatively affected, as will the baby’s weight gain and calorie intake. She should consult a health professional experienced with breastfeeding to ensure the positioning and attachment are without error. The fact that this was not mentioned either is very irresponsible.

Aside from these important omissions, much of her advice is inaccurate or simply not true. She begins by asserting that at three months most babies should sleep through the night – how untrue! Very few babies will sleep through the night at such a young age without some sort of sleep training. Also, very few breastfed babies will last three to four hours between daytime feeds. Breastfed babies should not in any way be timed or scheduled, and to expect a three month old to last that long between feeds is unreasonable, and in most cases, unsafe. Again, trying to get a three-month old baby to last that long between feeds can seriously affect the mother’s milk supply and the baby’s weight gain and health.

It is also blatantly wrong to assert that breastfed babies should eat ‘proper meals’ instead of ‘snacks’. Breastmilk is very efficiently used by the body and runs through the system much more quickly than formula milk. Also, it is important to remember a baby’s stomach is very small, about the size of his fist. Breastfed babies often take in small amounts many times a day, which is perfectly normal and healthy. The advice given could lead mothers to try to time and regulate their breastfeeds, which as I’ve already mentioned, is not safe for the mother’s supply or the baby’s health.

Then, to address her advice on assessing how much milk the mother is making, not one bit of it is correct or makes any sense. Her first method goes against the very essence of supply and demand feeding. To top the baby up with a bottle after feeding from both breasts will keep him from suckling as much as he needs in order to stimulate the breasts to make enough milk for his needs. At three months he may very well be hungry enough to drink what is in the bottle, but this would then mean he is not stimulating the breasts as is necessary to ensure his mother produces the milk he needs. Furthermore, using a breast pump will never give an accurate measurement of how much milk a mother produces, as a breast pump does not work the way a breastfeeding baby does; a pump only ‘suctions’, whereas a baby ‘suckles’. A pump also does not encourage a release of oxytocin in the mother the way a baby does, which encourages milk flow. If the mother can not achieve a let-down with a pump, this will cause her expressed milk to be even less. Pumping should never be used as an accurate measurement of the mother’s milk supply.

Method two is just as faulty and dangerous as the first. To deny him the breast for a few feeds (once again) will only negatively affect the supply and demand nature of breastfeeding. Again, expressing does not stimulate the breasts as efficiently as a baby’s suckling. To try to measure how much milk a mother is making via expression is dangerous advice. To advise denial of the breast to a hungry baby is simply bad advice and will only cause more problems with feeding in the end.

All of these things (and others, such as advising the use of a bottle which can cause ‘nipple confusion’ and neglecting to mention the government’s recommendation of not introducing solids before six months, for instance) make for incredibly faulty and irresponsible advice for breastfeeding mothers. If one is to take on the responsibility of writing an advice column on any health issue (and writing a book to boot!), one must be certain she obtains and gives correct information, backed up by research and good medical authority. Ms. Byam-Cook seems to have no understanding of basic breastfeeding knowledge, such as supply and demand, positioning and attachment and many of the other things I have detailed in this letter, and should therefore not be giving advice on breastfeeding.

Thank you very much for your time and attention to this matter.

Yours sincerely,
Lori McFarlane

If anyone else feels inclined to write in, the following email address was supplied after the article:

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Cute Toddler Stories

Fifi's reaching that age where she does funny things and funny stories are being formed.

Yesterday I caught her eating the toothpaste. She was innocently holding the cap in one hand and sucking on the tube with the other. All while never turning her eyes away from Hairspray on the TV. Good thing kids are so resilient, huh?

Also (less funny) we've started potty 'training' (I prefer to think of it as late elimination communication), and while there have been a few successes (how she loved watching her poo flush down the toilet!), there have been more misses. She sits patiently on the toilet (she won't sit on plastic kiddie potties), and then gets off and pees on the floor. Charming child. I'll need to swap tips with my sister-in-law Rebekkah, who's potty training now too.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Memory Lane

When I think back on my life in America, I get a bit sad. Mostly when I think of friends that I've lost contact with and will probably never fully stay in touch with at all. As I drove home today, with a sleeping baby in a quiet car, I got to thinking about what I call my 'secondary' group of friends I had in college (listening to The Paper Hearts gets me thinking of old times). You know what I mean by secondary; often you've got your first group of friends, then a second group you see less often and so forth. The Paper Hearts and that crew were my 'second' group. But then I began thinking of individual people who were more than just secondary friends.

First I thought about Lincoln McCurdy. He was in that group, but he was much closer than some people in my primary group. We hung out a lot, mostly in JR's (the bar we all frequented), but once I got engaged, and became engrossed in wedding and moving preparations, we lost a little contact. Now I have no contact with him at all. I miss him.

That led me think briefly of Chris Lankford, another JR's pal. Which led me think of Ryan Russ, with whom I'd drink Guiness at JR's and talk theology. I still every now and again say hello to Chris on MSN messenger, but Ryan could be anywhere in the world now and I'd never know where. I miss both of them sometimes too.

Then I started thinking further back to high school. No one knows how our old friend Zac is doing, which saddens me. I usually trust Devon to keep me abreast of the gossip surrounding our high school friends, but even she has lost contact with Zac. Zac and I shared some good times; I hate that I'll probably never hear much from him again.

And so on. Not only have people passed out of my life because of natural progression, but they are so much more out of my life now that I live in a different country. I can't just call one of them up and say, 'It's been so long! Fancy meeting up for an hour just to catch up?' No, my old friends are sadly a part of my very distant (literally) former life.

It's not all sad though. I still keep up with a few people through blogs and gossip, and a few people, like Amanda and Devon and Julie, are still friends, despite the distance. And of course, I've made friends here. Friends I'd really miss if I left. Friends I'm finally beginning to feel myself with. I don't feel all that sad when I remember that. I was driving home from having spent all morning with Carol, Maria and Liza, and I had a great time.

Most importantly, I still have my family. Not just my extended families, but my own little intimate family: Scott and Fifi. I think I could go anywhere as long as I had them. So I'm not really sad at all. Sure at moments I get a bit down thinking about the past, but old friends are always a part of life, no matter who you are. We all probably think of old friends who once were so close and wonder where they ended up. I often think of my friend, Amber, from Junior High. Who knows where she ended up? She was my best friend. Then she moved away unexpectedly and that was that.

Oddly enough, however, sometimes totally unexpected people from your past show up and re-enter your life completely. Jeff Brown ('The Chicken Farmer') now lives in Edinburgh with his Scottish wife. I gotta make a point of keeping them around.

Monday, February 04, 2008

I've Been Tagged

I've been tagged with this meme from RevJATB:

The rules of this game:

1. Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more.
2. (No cheating!) Find Page 123.
3. Find the first 5 sentences.
4. Post the next 3 sentences.
5. Tag 5 people

Here's the quote:
(First 5 sentences...)
Spectators at the far side of the estacada squatted or dropped to their knees and some of them lay face down in the dirt with their hands over their heads. In the silence the only sound was the low whining of one of the dogs. Then someone spoke from the bleachers. Bastante, he said. No le molesta.

(Next 3 sentences...)
It was the alguacil. All turned to him. He was standing in the upper tiers of the rough board scaffolding with men at either side of him in their seven x beaver hats, some smoking puros as was the alguacil.

From The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy. (I did not make mistakes above. McCarthy doesn't use much punctuation or italics or anything.)

I'm supposed to tag 5 people, but I'd rather just say, do it if you want! You're all potentially tagged.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Birthday Party and Other Things

Fifi's birthday party was good. The night before, Fifi developed a pretty croupy cough, which worried us, but she didn't seem bothered by it except when she was coughing, so the party went on as scheduled. She's also teething (back teeth), so that actually caused more upset in her than the cough. So due to all of that, and me just not being organised, I didn't get anything done on Friday that I planned, meaning Saturday morning was a huge rush to get everything together for the party. Fifi must have picked up on the mania, because she fussed and refused to nap all morning. By the time the party actually started, she was shattered.

She fell asleep within 30 minutes and slept most of the party away.

I was a bit anxious about how long she was sleeping - not because I was worried, but because I didn't want people to feel like they could never leave if she didn't wake up in time to do the cake and candle thing. But it was no problem. She slept for an hour and a half, and then woke up, all groggy and bleary-eyed. We sang happy birthday and blew out the candle and opened presents while she was still reasonably awake. She got grumpy again, which I attributed to the teething, so I gave her some Nurofen, and twenty minutes later she perked right up. You know, right about the time the rest of the kids were winding down and ready to go. It was funny. At least I got to enjoy the party, some. I was a bit frantic most of the day, trying to be a good hostess, offering drinks and tea and seeing that the food was out and plentiful and making sure I spoke to all our guests (there were hundreds of people, and that was with about 4 couples not coming!).

A Few Party Pictures:

(The duck cake.)

(Singing happy birthday.)

(Big kids helping her open her presents.)

More pictures can be viewed here.

Sarah and Ian and their son Cameron stayed late after everyone else left, which was great. We love Sarah, Ian and Cameron, so it was good to chat with them some on our own.


Now, unrelated to the party, I must show off the outfits I've been sewing.

Here is the dress I started in America, and finished this past week. Fifi wore it on her actual birthday:

(Picture taken while she watched TV and chewed on her new baby doll.)

Here is part of the outfit I made this week, as well. She's only wearing the top, with a top underneath it, as it is a summer dress-and-bloomers combo, but I was really pleased with it:

(You can see the headband just under the bonnet. The bonnet was knitted by mum/Gran.)

I also made matching headbands to go with both. Someone requested the instructions for them so here it is: Hooray for Headbands

Did I mention that I love sewing? Anyway, that's all for now. Fifi's been at Gran and Grandpa's this afternoon while I got some work done, and she's due back now in a couple of minutes. Better get the living room tidy before she gets into my work stuff.