Archive for May, 2007

On Vay-Cay starting Thursday

Thursday afternoon we’ll be heading out for on a nine day vacation sans computer through Oregon with the fam.  While I have a picture of bliss in my head – kite flying in Cannon Beach, wine tasting through Ashland, and pub hopping in Bend – the reality will probably be a bit different with the offspring strapped in against their will in the back seat of the Prius.  In any case, we’ll be hard at work trying to turn our money into fond memories for the children (and ourselves).  I’ll report how successful we were and what shenanigans occurred upon our return.  Until then, gaze upon the picture of me and Connor when he was one (taken in Hawaii 3 1/2 years ago).  All those little old ladies were right all along – enjoy it.  It goes so fast.


My new doula website (and birth pics!)

Over the last couple of days I’ve been putting a website for my doula business together. It’s still very much a work in progress. I’d love any feedback, positive or negative. I’m looking to strike a tone of acceptance/tolerance for any type of birth, and that I’ll be there to provide sound information on both sides of the coin and support her decision whatever that may be. The area I live in is very conservative and almost all women choose to birth in the hospital where their births are fairly heavily medicalized and intervention-heavy. I’d like to provide evidence-based information with a neutral tone – and perhaps very slowly I may be able to make a difference.

And as part of that website, I uploaded a bunch of pictures of my own birth experiences to my flickr account (see sidebar). Note that they are also in the hospital – there is an IV in my arm, there is a monitor on my belly, there was eventually an epidural in my spine and I am in bed. (I did, however go into labor naturally, birth vaginally and breastfeed both kids for almost a year each so I think I deserve a little credit…) My personal views about birth continue to evolve and if I were to do it all over again, I would have made some different decisions. But all in all I had very positive experiences. Don’t so many women go into birth work because they would have done things differently?

Alright. Next post won’t be about birth. Promise. (Can you tell I’m a little excited?)

I’m going to be a doula!

I have a few people lined up for on-call babysitting so it is all systems go for doula training/certification!

Although this has been a long (long!) time coming, it seems sudden to me to be really walking down this path.   But, and I know this will sound corny, I feel like I got a sign that this was the time.  And her name is Penny Simkin.

Guys, relate this to Angelina Jolie teaching your college sex ed class or something.

For whatever reason, I had been thinking about the doula thing more than usual the last couple of weeks.  Then we got a wedding celebration invite in the mail for an old friend in Seattle – and I thought – maybe, just maybe, there is doula training available from Seattle Midwifery (my preferred school) that weekend.  And not only was there, but it was going to be offered by my all-time favorite doula and birth writer and the founder of DONA herself.

Now I have to get crackalackin’ on all this birth reading.  I’ve read most of the reqired texts already, but won’t it be fun to read it all again?  Yep, I’m weird like that.  But I’ve already discussed that, haven’t I?

So think of me on June 27-30.  I’ll be in Seattle with a bunch of women talking about vaginas.  (Just making sure the guys are still with me here.)

On being Different

As a kid, I always marched to a Different drummer, as they say.

As I moved around a lot I have been both popular, unpopular and everything in-between, but no matter what my social standing was, I was always perceived as Different.

I’ve always looked fairly normal – in fact, I always worked very hard to dress in a way so as I don’t stand out too much (I still do this, actually). When I would move to a new town, either I would blend right in so no one would notice me (which was comfortable), or I would make friends with normal kids who later found out I wasn’t so normal (which was uncomfortable). But when I opened my mouth I always outed myself as Different.

I read Different books. I listened to Different music. I watched Different movies and shows on TV. I talked Differently than most of my friends. Both the things I said and the way I said them were Different. Often I talked about whatever comes to my head in a seemingly unbroken but completely random train of thought. In high school, I often said something and my friends would just stare at me confused, wryly smile and finally say, “Kristina, you’re wierd.”

And I guess I still am.

Lucky for me I was never picked on like so many poor souls. Although I like most high schoolers did not make it to graduation without enduring my share of verbal torture, I never had to put up with the physical bullying or emotional abuse I saw in other classmates. I worked hard to try to blend in as much as I could, and for the most part I succeeded.  I had friends.  My friends were either Different too or they saw me as a curiosity piece and kept me around.  I tried not too be too weird.

But now I try and embrace Me. I do actually like the person I am, even if I am still weird. It at times hard being different, although now that I am grown up it is nice being different with a lower case “d”. It is also wonderful to be unique. Now that I am more comfortable with my Self, I just shrug at the judgments that still occasionally come, although they are slyer; not so in my face. I enjoy my mind as a wonderful playground in which to hang out. But it has taken me thirty plus years to get here.

I have a feeling that Connor will also have to make this journey.

Many moms of preschoolers I know are signing their boys up for soccer this summer. I won’t be one of these moms.  Connor has always been more interested in art. In fact, he is often the only boy at the art table during independent play time at preschool. And at home he is always wanting to do “arts and crafts”; play-doh, cutting, pasting, paining, coloring. He enjoys roughhousing with the boys, but he is just more at peace at the art table. He’s just – Different.

When Connor gets in a group setting with other boys, he doesn’t know exactly how to play or what to do. He gets so excited just to be there that sometimes he gets too loud, too energetic, too physical even.  I watch and wince and remember what it was like to be that kid – the kid that said things that were strange and did things that were weird.

Connor also still has some irrational fears that most boys his age seem to be growing out of. He hates getting his face wet or his clothes wet. If he gets two drops of water on his pants, he’ll throw a tantrum and want to change them.  I remember as a young child having to get my hair washed in the kitchen sink until I was in Kindergarten because I was so afraid of water on my face.

Connor is very emotional – much more so than most boys. I think that some of this is because I’ve encouraged him to be, but I truly believe that he has been this way since his first colicky days. He shares his feelings purely – anger, happiness, jealousy, peace, sadness, love, fear. I experience feelings strongly too, and had to learn to bury them so as not to appear too strange as a kid. It is only as an adult that I’m trying to let myself feel purely again.

I hope he doesn’t have to bury his feelings, although I expect as a male, he will feel the pressure to do so more than most. He is in for a rocky journey, I’m afraid. I hope he will be able to turn to me in the middle of the storm of his adolescence and find comfort in someone who has been through it. Someone who loves him.

And loves him just as he is.  Because she has learned to love herself.


Connor is in the back seat of the car as we travel toward the Farmer’s Market.

Connor: “What does yellow and blue make?”

Me: “Green.”

Connor: “What does red and purple make?”

Me: “Um…sort of a reddish purple.”

Connor: “Mommy, what does green and shiny make?”

My little man, I love seeing the world through your eyes.

And now we wait…..

Dear Friends:

(Sorry SUPER long email ahead – bear with me as I get to the point here…)

I have an exciting prospect in front of me – something that makes me nervous and giddy all at the same time.  But it is something I cannot do without help from friends.

Those of you who know me well probably are aware that I am a helpless pregnancy nut and birth junkie.  (You know that when you still read books about pregnancy and childbirth even after you no longer have a uterus that it is something you are passionate about.)  I’ve toyed with the idea for years of doing something career-wise with birth for years, but the inherently unstructured schedule and my commitment as a mother has left me at an impasse.  Nevertheless, the niggling at my brain and heart has never stopped as much as I’ve tried to bury it. 

I’ve recently decided that if I take on birth work on a very, very part-time basis I may be able to make it work.  Rich and I have been talking and I now have the opportunity to enter into training for certification with Doulas of North America (DONA) to become a birth doula.  Although there are a handful of other certified doulas in the Tri-Cities, none are currently certified through DONA which is the largest and most respected doula organization in the world. Rich is on board with the idea of me taking on one birth a month if I can find adequate child care when he is unavailable.

For those of you who don’t know, a doula is a professional birth coach who is hired not by the hospital, but by the mother.  Doulas do not deliver babies.  Doulas do not just do homebirths as some believe but may work in many different birth settings such as hospitals, birth centers, and at homebirths or a combination of the three.  In our town, the largest number of women by far choose to birth in hospitals, so I’m sure the vast majority of women I’d work with would be in the hospital.  Doulas also do not (or at least should not) make any decisions about how a baby should be born or voice any personal opinions about a decision a mother and her care provider (obstetrician or midwife) have come to.  I strongly believe that doulas should never stand between a care provider and a mother and those sorts of decisions should be left to the mother to work out with her care providers which has the added affect of empowering the mother.  Doulas also don’t just attend women who have “natural births” but attend women who are having planned epidurals, inductions, and cesarean birth.  Doulas do help women in labor (and their husband/partner if present) come up with and help train/administer coping techniques for pain management and progression of labor such as massage, positions, breathing, etc.  The presence of a doula has been proven to make childbirth much easier and progress much more “normally” and, if the woman wants it, can drastically lower her need for such interventions as pitocin, pain medications, and cesarean.

Where I need help is with childcare.  And because of the unpredictability of birth, hiring childcare from a daycare of some other situation would not work.  I want to see if any of you would be interested in PAID (and on this point I insist) babysitting about once a month for 12-36 hours at a time.

What I need before I decide if I am going to take this class (I need to sign up by the end of next week) is to see if I have an adequate number of people who would be interested in getting some extra spending money for watching my children once a month.  We’ll work out the hourly fee together, but I’m willing to pay VERY WELL.  We are only sending this to people we know and trust with our children.

The plan is that I would take on no more than one client a month.  Unless the mom’s birth is scheduled (as in the case of an induction or a planned cesarean), I would not know when she goes into labor or how long the labor would be.  You might get a call in the middle of the night if Rich was out of town or he might drop them off quite early in the morning (about 5:30 am – he has to be at work at 6am Monday – Thursday).  I would provide an aerobed, sleeping bags and pillow for each of them each time because we wouldn’t know if they would be needing to spend the night.  It also might mean that you might need to take Connor to preschool.  Starting next fall, his preschool will be in the afternoon each Monday through Thursday.  I would drop off carseats with the children on the way to a birth.  You need to have a car big enough to haul my kids and yours if you have any. You would also need to feed my kids during regular mealtimes.

I could be attending to births as early as July 1.  Let me know if you would be interested in this sort of arrangement. 

Can you email me back and tell me either:

1. Yes!  I’d love the extra money and wouldn’t mind the unpredictable hours.  Put me at the top of your list.

2.  I couldn’t do it all the time, but wouldn’t mind babysitting occasionally if you can’t find someone else.  Put me down as backup.

3.  My schedule doesn’t allow me to babysit all the time as I have other commitments (job, etc.) but I would be interested in doing it as my schedule allows and taking the kids to someone else’s house on my way once I have to leave.

4.  Sorry.  This isn’t going to work for me.  (I utterly and completely understand if this is the case)

It is hard to put into words how excited (and nervous! Did I mention it makes me excitedly nervous???) this idea makes me.  Thanks for at least entertaining the idea if you read this far.  If I don’t hear from you by Wednesday, I’ll assume the answer was #4.


PS – if you know anyone that is pregnant in the area and interested in having a doula, ***my first 3 births at least would be free of charge*** as I work toward certification.  Spread the word!

Recycling Without Curbside Pickup: an Illustrated Guide

It took my Republican friend to finally get me to start recycling.

Friend: “Where do I put this can?”

Me: “Um…in the trash…”

Friend: “You don’t recycle?  That doesn’t seem to fit you.”

No.  No it doesn’t.  I didn’t recycle because I was standing on high moral ground – my city doesn’t do curbside recycling and until they do, by God, I was a contientious objector.

Crazy comes in many forms.

But the truth was that I was both crazy – and lazy.  I didn’t know how to sort my trash properly and I didn’t want to take the time to learn how set it all up and take it to the recycling center – which just happened to be only a few blocks away.

My how things change.

A few weeks ago we had a big windstorm.  Windstorms are not uncommon around these parts.  But this particular day was trash day in my neighborhood so all the cans were out and the effect of this was that trash of all kinds was swirling around my street like a scene from the Wizard of Oz.  But instead of the Wicked Witch of the East riding through the storm on her bicycle, imagine me running from house to house picking up trash cans and rummaging through neighbors’ blowing garbage scowling and cursing out loud to myself.  “Who throws away their ALUMINUM?  Don’t they KNOW recycling a single can will power their television for THREE HOURS?”

If I can go from one kind of crazy to another in a matter of months, I’m sure I can help you too.  Don’t fret – you probably won’t start wearing a pointy black hat & shoes and striped stockings – I’m just special that way.


The ultimate goal of recycling is to reduce your carbon footprint: both the stuff that you use to live and the trash that ends up in the landfill because of said stuff.  It isn’t enough to just consume and recycle.  First think about your lifestyle choices and what you can pull back on.  Use less paper.  Stop buying all that plastic bottled water and fill up a reusable bottle with filtered water instead.  Before you toss that cardboard box, is there something else you can use it for?  You get the idea.


Chances are the recycling center’s containers are well labeled.  Learn what is recyclable in your area.  Find out what goes into each bin and how to prepare each item (for instance, you’ll probably need to break down cardboard boxes, crush milk jugs and cans, etc.)  If you happen to live in Richland, I’ll save you the trip (even if you don’t, chances are they are similar):


Think about where you’ll store the bins in your car and how they will fit in your car when they are full for the trip to the recycling center.  I opt for small bins and go to the recycling center every week or two.  (Hint: smaller bins means less of a chore.)

Even with my small car it all fits in the hatchback – mostly.  I put the oversized cardboard in the passenger seat:

I keep them in the garage right outside the door from the kitchen.  That way it’s easy for me to walk over and place a folded up cereal box or whatever in the bin with only taking a few steps and swinging open a door.  They need to be washable, stackable and open on one side.  I love mine – the handles make them stackable and easy to carry.  I got them at Target or Walmart.


Break down each bin by the container you’ll be recycling into.  Permanent marker should work easily and not wash off.


‘Nuff said.


Actually, I sort of enjoy my trip to the recycling center even if I do look like a stereotype with my hybrid car.

It doesn’t take long, and often I keep the kids strapped into their car seats.  But sometimes I let Connor help.




Well, that sums it up…and if you end up looking like this, don’t say I didn’t warn you:

Hello, you!

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