Monday, August 31, 2009

Why I'm No Longer a Totes/Isotoner Customer

Thanks to Loralee's (@looneytunes) tweet today, I just found out about a wrongful termination case in the state of Ohio. The Supreme Court of Ohio has ruled that breastfeeding is unrelated to pregnancy and, therefore, a woman who was fired for taking breaks to pump milk for her baby was not wrongfully terminated.

You can read the post that Loralee's tweet sent me to at Writes Like She Talks. Enjoy, and don't forget to not give this company any more of your hard-earned dollars.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Saving Mister Rogers' Neighborhood

I should have written about this before but can't find that I have (shame, shame). I found this blog last year that is devoted to saving the program Mister Rodgers' Neighborhood (MRN) for generations of children to come. Talk about a worthy cause!

I have such fond memories of watching that show. The feeling of peace, acceptance and love is one I treasured greatly when I was young; I returned to watching it eagerly when The Biscuit was a newborn. I assumed that message would be available for him to hear for himself when he was old enough. Guess I was wrong.

PBS says they can't afford it. I especially like this paragraph from the current post:

While we can certainly empathize with PBS’ financial situation, surely, someone there must realize that nothing on their current schedule comes even remotely close to MRN in terms of affective development. But then they have to compete with popular cable programs like Yo Gabba Gabba — a creatively brilliant show, but one that is essentially crack for the toddler attention span.

That's right, "crack for the toddler attention span." I've never seen Yo Gabba Gabba (we don't have cable), but who needs that?

Apparently the powers that be haven't released the episodes on dvd either. At this point we are left with a campaign to get the shows released that way. I'm going to write to Family Communications (their contact page is here) and let them know how I feel. And next week when we are at the library I'm going to ask the children's librarian if she'll get involved.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

I'm a Winner

Just a little shout-out to Chronicle Books to say thank you for choosing me as a random winner for Noodles Every Day. I promised I'd post a review on their site after trying a few recipes and I'll link to those reviews here. Can't wait!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Going Car-free in the 'Burbs

Finally, Twittering my life away has led me back to my blog!  (I'm not even going to talk about my Strimko addiction; it's worse than when I first found Sudoku.)  I ran across a re-tweet that sent me to this post on BlogHer about a car-free challenge.  We went car-free on March 19th so I thought I would contribute my two cents about our experience.

The reason I can remember the last date I drove our van was because it was The Biscuit's last day of preschool, just before spring break. Not really an eventful day, but memorable. We thought that our insurance had expired (turned out that was wrong so I was not driving without insurance, whew!) and I think it was weather and the party going on at school after he had been out ill that made me feel it was worth it to take him.  Lucky guy, he got to watch Cars at school, in the dark, with popcorn and his own personal flashlight and everything.

Have I mentioned that we love Teacher Katie? Because we do! She has helped a little boy and his mom like being apart from each other because class is so much fun and is just so worth it. Hip hip hooray for Special Ed Preschool Teachers.  If you agree then please consider using the button in my right sidebar linking to and donating some money to our school (Woodside) or one near you.

Back to the car-free business...

We live in a suburb of Portland, Oregon. While Portland is well-known as a nice place to live without a car, the 'burbs are seen as much less transit-friendly.  I'm here to tell you that it can be done.  It does take a major shift in your outlook though.

The idea started simply enough: I joined a walking book club. We would meet at the local library, walk around the beautiful ponds on nicely paved trails with our strollers to lose some baby weight and talk about the book we were all reading. I started feeling badly that we were driving two miles to the library in order to walk; why not just walk to the library? So I started doing extra laps after the other ladies were finished walking to build up my strength so that walking those two miles, then walking with the book club, and then walking two miles home wouldn't be so hard. This was back in the early spring of 2008, a year before we parked then van.  I never did work all the way up to walking to the library for our walks before we went on hiatus for the winter.

There were still nice days here and there after the book club took a break and I would want to get the kids out for a walk. Sometimes it was just too much to get our errands done and figure out a way for me to get exercise. I'm sure lots of other moms have this same problem. Eventually it dawned on me that if we walked to our errands that I could kill two birds with one stone. Of course my day would often get out of hand with two kids under 4 years old so we would use the van, get the errands done and skip the walk altogether.

When we finally did stop driving the weather was nice enough and things weren't too bad.  We are lucky enough that even though we are in the 'burbs we have a bus stop two minutes away and a MAX (the local light rail) stop about 15 minutes away.  I did research and found that the regulations state that I don't have to fold up the stroller if we are riding in a low train car, so when I have both kids we don't bother with the bus (where you must always put your stroller away before boarding) and walk to the train station.  Only twice have we skipped boarding a train because it seemed too crowded and I didn't want to inconvenience the other riders with our stroller.

(This is me and the kids at last fall's Buddy Walk so you can see the stroller. It's a Tike Tech Trax360 double in lime green -- safety neon green if you ask me.)

At this point I need to admit that I feel absolutely no guilt in parking our stroller in a handicapped space on the train.  As I said in my last post, this stroller is only as wide as a wheelchair, so it fits and other people can get around us just fine.  If anyone wants to argue with me that my son isn't disabled so doesn't deserve that spot then they can bring it on.  No one has challenged us though.  We've had lots of great conversations with new people we've met and the kids really seem to enjoy the train and watching the doors when we pull into a station to see which side will open.  One day The Biscuit clearly said "door" after the announcement that "The doors are closing."  That was a sweet moment!

The biggest change we have had to make is in our thinking.  We live less than a mile from a major chain grocery store and about two miles from the library. Costco is right there near the library so at first I didn't worry about changing where we shopped.  What I had to change was what I thought of as "walking distance."  I didn't used to think that a mile was close enough to walk to.  The place I get my hair cut is just a couple blocks and takes about five minutes to get to, so of course I walk that, but the grocery store?  Yeah, turns out that's not a hard walk.  It's just walking. You put one foot in front of the other and continue until you arrive at your destination.  Really not so terrible. 

I eventually changed some of the places that I shop once I got used to using transit and noticed that there are often stores very near train stops.  That meant sometimes going to a local independent grocer that's only 2 train stops away (actually, there are two different local grocers that are two stops away, just opposite directions), and switching to a Costco that's near a MAX stop instead of the one that's a 40 minute walk from home.

Our biggest challenge is Target and Trader Joe's.  I can't give them up completely so that means that once in awhile I take a 20 minute bus ride from practically our front door to a center that has both stores.  That bus only runs once an hour so I have to time my trip just right, but it works.  Yes, it's Oregon so I get rained on, but that just means strategically packing the groceries so that what's on top protects the other items.  It also means that I do not forget my reusable bags (repurposed goody bags from last fall's Buddy Walk) because they are waterproof and have handles that make them comfortable to carry.  Another bonus for going carless is that I always remember my bags now.  It used to be that sometimes I would decide it wasn't worth it to walk back to the car to get them.  How sad is that?

Another strategy I've had to come up with is how to lug everything home.  My first method was to only take one of the kids with me so that I had not only the basket under the stroller but one of the seats to place items.  That worked great for Costco.  Then I started taking to heart my old idea that getting out with the stroller should be my daily exercise and we started shopping more frequently.  This resulted in smaller loads to be carried, but I still had to deal with the fact that we go through about a gallon of milk every day.  The trick turned out to be as simple as a bungee cord.  I can buy two gallons of milk, put each in one of those repurposed bags and then attach them to a bungee cord that's been wrapped around the strollers handle.  It doesn't change the feel or balance of the stroller that I can tell; it's still just as easy to push.  I just have to be careful when going up and down curbs that I'm not turning right or left at the same time.  As long as I take it easy everything stays where I put it.

All in all, the carless thing is working for us, despite having a walk score of 37 out of 100 which is labeled as "car-dependent."  And it's true that our walk to both the grocery store and the train station take us down a road with no sidewalks that sometimes has a bit of traffic.  I make sure that I walk on the left side of the road so that we are facing traffic, pull over into driveways if I feel that we need to be out of the way for a bit, and I've gotten in the habit of waving to everyone who does the right thing and slows down and gives us some space.  

I think that once you re-examine your thinking, there are ways of dealing with whatever location you find yourself in.  Parking that car suddenly becomes  a lot more possible.

Note:  I'm writing this after a week of sick toddlers and the toll that has taken on me.  I'm truly sorry if this isn't very coherent and would gladly clarify any points that don't make sense.  Please feel free to comment or email me questions!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I'VE HAD IT! (Post full 'o bile)

I'm so stinking tired of reading online that I'm not welcome someplace with my double-wide stroller!  I know I'm hormonal right now (not pregnant... this month), but it is SO rubbing me the wrong way.  I shopped really hard to find us something that would make the kids happy (sitting next to each other) and would still be useful (i.e. no wider than a wheelchair so we can go thru single-sized doors).  Everytime I see these comments wishing that double-wide strollers would be banned at the Portland Farmer's Market the Mama Bear in me just gets furious.  I saw it on Twitter (specifically a Yelp guy -- that was a while ago so I'm sure the Tweet is gone by now), then on Dave Knows: Portland, and now OurPDX.  Just which of these things are they trying to tell me?
  • If you have to keep your almost-4-year-old in a stroller then you're a bad parent. He should be under control and able to walk along side you. Oh, he has Down syndrome? Oh. (That's when I see the thought bubble over their head wondering why I didn't do what the other 90% of women do and abort him. Because disability is part of the normal human condition! He's not a thing to be pitied or that should have been "put out of his misery" or "spared" from having to live. He's a wonderful little boy with a great sense of humor and I thank God that I get to be his mom.)
  • If you already had this kid with special needs, why did you have another kid? (Uh, cuz sometimes married couples celebrate and, well, sometimes pregnancy results. Did you not take health class in school? Besides that, the plan was a family of 5 so we *did* back off.)
Most people that talk to us think my kids are twins. What if they were? Should I have given one up for adoption so as not to burden your day with a double-stroller?

So here I am with 2 toddlers that I love and DO NOT REGRET HAVING and you think that means that I should stay in my house and out of your precious little way?  No!!!  We are a part of your community and that means that we are out in the community doing things and living life.  You need to get off your high horse and stop looking down your nose at us. Say "Hi!" We're friendly and enjoy meeting new people. Quit picking on me, my kids and my G-D stroller!  Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!

Hopefully this will get the bile out of my system and I can stop leaving comments saying a MUCH milder form of this on other peoples' blogs.  (Sorry, Dave.)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Hey, my baby's still in that bathwater!

I know that there are far too many c-sections nowadays.  I know that there are moms who schedule a whole package and the tummy tuck is done before the c-section is closed up.  But that doesn't mean that c-sections are never required.  Without one, without the heart monitor that showed he needed one, there would be no Biscuit.  So, as I commented on the post over at Mom's Rising, take a second to mention that you don't think ALL c-sections are unnecessary and that for some mamas and babies they are lifesaving.  Because when I read posts like this what I hear is "Sorry, but c-sections are just money makers for the doctors. Your baby should have died."  I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt and admitting that she probably didn't mean that, but the proof is in her future posts. Will those of us who have our children thanks to c-sections get a little nod, a little credit for doing the right thing, instead of just being looked at as poor dupes of the system?

Stupid mommy wars.

I'm quoting my comment here, but it probably makes more sense to go read the post it's a response to over there.

Because I had a fine pregnancy and didn't want invasive prenatal testing, we had no idea that our son had a major heart defect and Down syndrome -- but he did. Our first inkling that something was wrong was what his heart monitor showed when I had a contraction. It is a fact that without that monitor and the c-section it showed he needed (not me, him) he would have been stillborn because his defective heart could not have handled labor and delivery.
Please remember that when you rail against the medical establishment sticking their noses into a natural process like birth you are telling moms like me that our kids should have died. I'm not saying that you think that; I'm saying that when you are silent about the lives saved you are in effect saying that. Please take a moment and a line or two in your future posts to acknowledge that some of us have our precious children *thanks* to baby monitors, c-sections, and very caring doctors.
Believe me when I say that for the most part I agree with what you have written. By making monitoring a standard policy unnecessary c-sections will happen because some doctors are more worried about malpractice than actually doing the best thing for the patient(s) in front of them, as backward as that sounds. All I'm asking is that you not throw the baby out with the bathwater because that's *my* baby and I love him.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tomato Soup

I made this soup last night and polished off the rest of it today.  I would have taken photos, but it broke a little and while tasting fantastic it looked a little funny.  Weird, but so what, it tasted great!

I found this recipe at Winker thanks to a Google search.  Here's what she did:
Homemade Cream of Tomato Soup
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
half a cup of cream or milk
1 cup chicken broth
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz)
salt, pepper, and sugar to taste

Melt butter in a saucepan. Cook the onions in the butter gently until they are softened and translucent (maybe 15 minutes). Stir in the flour until it's completely combined with the butter. Gradually stir in the cream or milk and the broth. Mix in the baking soda and heat through. Add the tomatoes with their juice and puree with a stick blender. Heat through and add salt, sugar, and pepper to taste.

I didn't have a can of diced tomatoes, I had a can of organic tomato sauce.  And I didn't feel like getting out my immersion blender when I was using sauce anyway... besides I like onions.  So I minced the onion as finely as possible and just skipped that whole blending thing.  When adding the seasonings at the end I skipped the salt since the sauce I used has salt in it. It was good.  Even my non-tomato soup eating husband thought it was good - for tomato soup.  I think that was saying a lot.  I thought it was so nummy I needed to post about it.

Now if I could just get either kid to eat soup.  Hints welcome!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hey, Medical Profession! Look at this!

Enjoy! I sure did. Thanks, Jennifer, for sharing this in your post. This is the kind of thing I like to see spread around the net virally.

Updated to add a title because I'm a twit that clicks Publish too fast.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Patrick Thibodeau's Basketball Game

I hope you like this as much as I did. Needed a tissue at the end though, even after I'd seen it a few times.

I love the way his teammates treat him like a teammate, not someone to be pitied. *That's* what it means to be a part of the community.

Feel free to Google his name and find more copies of the video. I found a nice article on Deadspin but the comments, for the most part, were not something I enjoyed reading. Jokes about "Down's" that I wouldn't suggest anyone should expose their eyes to. So, Buddy Walks still have more work to do. On my to-do list: contacting whoever runs Deadspin about sponsoring a Buddy Walk next fall.

Updated to correct my poor grammar!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

My Special Baby Crazy

I commented a little over at Pinwheels about big brothers/little sisters. I'm wondering how many of us Special Needs Mamas still felt the baby bug after having our special-er little one. In the midst of all the worry, concern, grieving for the perfect baby you thought you'd have, maybe even grieving for the birth that you wanted to experience, wondering if the older members of your family will accept and love your new one despite his differences, and the exhaustion is there time for being baby crazy for more children?

I have wanted 3 kids for as long as I have wanted kids. I'm 43 years old and I mean since 2002 (6 years), the year my husband proposed. I figured I wasn't too old to have kids but that we'd have to get moving on it as soon as the giant huge wedding happened. My husband would joke about wanting 5 kids, but I told him I could probably only manage 3 pregnancies in the time I had left so he'd better make 2 of those twins. Somehow, in that banter and joking it got set in my head that we would have 3 to make a family of 5. I just cannot shake that.

So we had The Biscuit right away and I think of him as a celebration of our wedding, though he was a little bit later than a honeymoon baby. We had The Cupcake in a celebration of finally getting to act like a family and take The Biscuit on vacation to my family's cabin in Montana. It was exhilarating, fun, and what we should have been able to do the year before, but the pediatric cardiologist said 4 hours away from the nearest hospital was unacceptable.

On the way home that year we drove home a totally different way than we had ever gone and passed through Logan, Utah. We stayed at a beautiful Hampton Inn, bought some flip-flops for me at a Wal-Mart (I place I only shop at on vacation through no great plan, that's just how it works out), and were excited that the only Starbucks was right across the street and had Grand Opening signs up. Turns out they were opening the next week, so no hot chocolates for us, but we still left Logan with a nice feeling. A feeling that for me has turned into baby #3. NOT THAT I'M PREGNANT. BECAUSE I AM NOT PREGNANT. I just know that somewhere out there Logan is waiting for us and someday Logan will be my third child. I know this with every looney cell in my looney body. I am totally open to the idea that by the time we are ready I'll be too old and Logan will come to our family by adoption. But I completely believe that he (or she) will come.

So, for now, I'm kinda perma-baby crazy. In a very specific way. And The Biscuit's special needs do play a part in it. It's guilt for what The Cupcake may need to do when we are gone. She may have to shoulder the responsibility for caring for him. And if Logan does join our family then she will have someone to share that responsibilty with. Otherwise it's all.on.her.

Duh-duh-duh! [/ominous music] Mommy guilt sucks.

I took the time to sit down and write this out tonight while making dinner (late, again) because The Cupcake came to the gate between their playroom and the kitchen and asked for some milk, by telling me her cup was "T" (empty). As soon as I took it and seemed satisfied with her signing MORE PLEASE she ran off and got her brother's empty cup and brought it to me too. So here we are. She's not even 2 years old and it seems to just be a part of her to help. She has Eldest Daughter syndrome, and there's not a darn thing I can do about it. Lucky Logan.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Slideshow of Earth from Space

This is one of those "forward to everyone you know things" which I normally abhor, but I'm a sucker for photos of the Earth from space.  I really like the way features are labeled so I'm sure I'm seeing what I'm seeing.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Dear Interwebs,

Mommy needs a break, so I thought I would tell you about my afternoon.  Well, a part of my afternoon.  We have started an adventure in cloth diapering which is going really well, but every once in awhile I don't follow my "daily constitutional" routine and surprise Mommy with a very messy diaper when she was just sure that it was safe to put me in one of the back-up, not-quite-as-good diapers.  I got her really good today!  That's why she needed a break.

Good times.

Hugs & kisses (& poo),
The Cupcake

Sunday, January 04, 2009


I read PostSecret every week. It's how I know that it's Sunday some weeks. This week I was touched by one secret and moved to action by another. These links just show you the postcards - please follow the link to the main page to see the comments other people have made -- the community that springs up around a secret is worth it.

I want to share in the hopes that more people will go sign this petition (I know, I know, cheesy, but this time it seems worth it).