Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Spring Cleaning

We have been flailing in our day-to-day life again. I am getting crankier and less productive by the day. And by productive, I mean as a mother: instead of enjoying my children's company, I am viewing them as a nuisance. How can I waste these precious years with that nasty attitude?!

It is time to get radical.

For myself, this means that the computer, unless required for a particular duty, will not be turned on until the afternoon. It isn't that I am spending so much time on it, but that it affects my attitude. Having that much opportunity for information and socializing at my fingertips is the cause of much distraction and impatience in my daily life. No more.

For the children, I will be implementing more structure into our daily life. We already have Special Time in the afternoon - after lunch and before pre-nap Reading Time - which has been terrific. [Special Time is 20-30 minutes where I get down on the floor and play with Diego (and Truen, peripherally). The timer is set, so we have a definite end. Without the timer, Special Time would go on into an infinity.] Special Time has been very good for us, forcing me to set aside time for focused attention; and of course, Diego just loves it.

So that is our afternoon: lunch, Special Time, reading, nap; but mornings are a different matter. Last winter, Diego would hit the ground running after breakfast and make a bee-line for the play table in the living room and play. Play, play, play. He would play by himself while I was able to clean up the kitchen and other miscellaneous activities. But that isn't happening this winter. He has a hard time finding things to do by himself, unless it is sitting on his potty chair and reading books for a half-hour (love it). This winter he is usually pestering the baby or creating mischief of some sort or the other. It really puts a crimp on things, as I am usually unable to do much of anything due to the circumstances (and it makes me mad).

He needs something to do. He needs a directed activity for the morning, after breakfast. I've decided to call it Work Time, where he will sit at the kitchen table and do whatever he wants: cutting, painting, coloring, pasting, play-doh, whatever. This will free me up to clean up the kitchen, prep for future meals, color with him, or whatever else pops up. Truen can sit at the table too, or run around. We started it yesterday morning and it went rather well.

New House Rules:

  • Work Time after breakfast
  • A skipped nap will result in Quiet Time
  • Half the toys will be going into storage, for rotation
  • Always keep a Star Chart on the refrigerator (a tool to look for/encourage the positive)
  • A "bad" day will result in keeping Diego at my side

Working towards:

  • More time outside
  • A more organized daily routine
  • A greater emphasis on craft/art projects
  • Less of a focus on ME and my varied interests
  • More attention to nurturing my wee ones
  • Less clutter

A lot of this has been tumbling around in my mind for the past week or so. I have been crafting my plans while staring at the ceiling in bed, until the big picture finally came together. Ultimately, if I've learned anything as a parent it is this: most of my angst is my own fault. My children act up when I am not totally present with them. Sure, I'm with them all day, but when I am distracted and intent on my own agenda, they suffer - and misbehave to get my attention. A lot of problems would be avoided by providing them more focused attention and structure throughout the day. Even though I recognize this fact, it is very hard to implement change. This is part of my strategy: to allow change to happen naturally, once the structure is in place.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The bill was killed

It is back to the drawing board for South Dakota. The legislators voted 32-to-33 to not "strike the not" from the Health and Human Services committee's decision of "Do not pass". It needed 36 votes to pass. In addition to few legislators being off the floor that day, there were four legislators who had committed to "striking the not" who didn't follow through.

So here begins another year for South Dakota without legal access to Certified Professional Midwives. The movement is growing stronger with each passing year, and the South Dakota legislators are going to be dealing with many people where feelings of injustice and outrage will start morphing into RAGE itself. Especially for those in their childbearing years for whom the opportunity of having their homebirth will be gone by the time it becomes legal. They have to know that this is not an issue that The People are going to back down on... Don't they?

Onward and forward.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

More frothy excitement about the Home Birth Safety Act

For those with interest and access, at 2:00 pm CST today, the South Dakota House will vote whether to "strike the not" from the "Do not pass" decision from the Health and Human Services committee from last week. If they choose to "strike the not", then the Homebirth Safety Act will be immediately debated on the floor. It should be very interesting.

If you have RealPlayer installed on your computer, you can listen to it live on the 2009 Session Committees page of the South Dakota Legislature. [You know I'm going to be glued to the computer!]

Advocates are expecting for the "not" to be stricken, as the bill had to be "smoked out" [a minimum vote from the floor] to even get to this point. For some perspective, the Homebirth Safety Act, which would give SD legal access to Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs), has never passed the Health and Human Services committee, nor has it been successfully "smoked out". The medical lobby is extremely strong in SD.

The fact that we are at this point this year means that (1) the grassroots campaign is gaining in numbers and strength, and (2) the legislators are starting to listen to their constituents and actively research this issue instead instantly dismissing it as "unsafe".

I listened to the Health and Human Services committee on the Homebirth Safety Act last week - the opposition presented themselves strongly, but were, at times, downright deceptive. One of the medical lobbyists gave a "fact" that 1-in-4 births have complications and should therefore take place in-hospital. What he failed to note, however, is that this is a hospital-based statistic. What this does explain is the nationwide c-section rate, which currently hovers around 30%. It has absolutely no bearing on midwife-attended homebirths. (Not to mention a very big reason why many women are choosing homebirths.)

Again, for perspective: the World Health Organization recommends a 5-10% c-section rate. This number is reasonable, and leaves room for true medical necessity. In the USA, the c-section rate for in-hospital births is 30% - more than three times the ideal. Additionally, this number has gone up 50% in the past decade. [Outrageously fishy, or what?!] Certified Professional Midwives, which are trained for the homebirth setting, have a c-section rate of 4%.

The reason for this low number is threefold: (1) Midwives work with low-risk, i.e. normal pregnancies, only. CPMs transfer care when they detect anything that moves a pregnancy out of the realm of low-risk. (2) Midwives are proponents of "natural birth". They believe in spontaneous vaginal delivery and do not induce, which often starts the domino-effect that leads to fetal distress and sectioning. Nor do they administer drugs, which can slow labor down and result in a "failure to progress". (3) Midwives are supportive throughout all of labor. They are by the side of the laboring woman, providing assistance and helping her work towards the end goal. I also believe that women in their own homes are more relaxed, which aids a gentler birth.

Ultimately, advocates for CPMs are not insisting that everyone give birth at home - they just want the option. And, outrageously, in South Dakota, people don't have the ability to choose this option. CPMs are arrested, prosecuted, and jailed for attending a birth at home. Families either (1) go it alone, or (2) cross the borders of the state to Safe Houses for a home-like birth experience. Neither of these are ideal choices.

And finally: a personal disclaimer. Because I am so enthused about this particular issue, I have found that many of my friends and acquaintances feel as if I will look down at them for choosing a hospital-birth. This is NOT the case. I am naturally exuberant and take quite quickly to championing causes I believe in. (But I don't have to tell you that...LOL) My main goal is to make sure that people know there are OPTIONS. I have talked with so many women who were upset about their experiences giving birth. It doesn't have to be like this! Do your research. Talk to your peers and elders. Know that there are choices outside of what is presented to you as a cultural norm. And then...decide for yourself.

Much love and NO JUDGEMENT from this girl...
a. borealis (aka - you know my name)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I'm reading two books right now: one that has made me weep and gnash my teeth, and the other, which has made me snicker, guffaw, and feel a little dreamy. It is a good balance, one that helps my tender heart remember that life on earth is both bitter and sweet - with each extreme existing more heavily for some than others.

What is the What - Dave Eggers
Tales from Shakespeare - Charles and Mary Lamb

Thursday, February 05, 2009

We had a little visitor

I think opossums are cute --
I like their long hair and pink noses.
I like their slender bare fingers,
with thumbs on both hands and feet.

I even like their tails
and their little beady black eyes --
but I don't like their teeth.
After seeing them, I can see how people
get the creeps from opossums.

But I still think they're cute.

We only see our resident opossum in the winter months.
Isn't that interesting?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

I'm a Friend of libraries and sustainability

I cut my thumb with a knife last night so badly that it took 3-4 hours to stop the bleeding, with my arm in a sling and my thumb pressed against ice the entire time. Amazing. [I sliced into the top of my thumb, which is why it bled so profusely.] I was cutting up a tangelo. Bummer.

But...I'm all bandaged up and okay, though still a little bloody.

Remember all my groaning about our little town's public library? [I'm not going to link to it because I've wondered if my complaints were too snarky - but if you're really curious, they are all filed under "Rural Life".] And remember how I participated in starting, then became the president of, our local Friends of the Library group? Yes, well.

Our first official fundraiser is in week and a half: we are having a Sunday-noon Valentine Spaghetti Meal. My role will be as "Kitchen Helper", where I will be dishing up plates of food with gloves on and my hair tied back. It should be very interesting. The main cook said to expect 200 people! We are having a selection of Dazzling Desserts to lure the after-church crowds - and hope to have a small booksale on the side.

An interesting sidenote: at my insistence, we are serving the meal on ceramic dinnerplates with metal cutlery. Not only will it cost less - in the fact that we don't have to buy the supplies OR pay to throw them away - but I also am very serious about promoting a culture and atmosphere of sustainability vs. the seemingly-unquestioned current disposable culture. How will people know it is feasible if it NEVER happens? All the charitable meals "in town" use disposable table-settings, so this is really bucking the standard.

My plan has been met with everything from raised eyebrows to an exclamation of "You have GOT to be kidding me!!" Seriously. Nobody does it, so everyone thinks it is totally looney. I decided that I am going to be the Kitchen Helper to take the brunt of the dishwashing and not allow any room for complaints. (Not that I know that people will complain.) I don't mind washing dishes! And furthermore, at family gatherings I have actually discovered the JOY of washing dishes together. It can be a such a pleasure working together. This seems to be another sad victim of our culture's obsession with working less and "enjoying life more". There is great satisfaction of a job well-done, not to mention pleasure the actual act of "working". Why do we believe the contrary?

It will be interesting to see if we get any comments.