25 November 2010


Today I am thankful to be with my family...for the past several years I have been at births for at least part of Thanksgiving & while that's wonderful in its own way, it's nice not to have a split focus. I'm hosting a large family gathering, about 15 or so. Although we are sad that my mom is not with us, it's been nice, I think, for my dad to be involved in helping prepare the meal and talking about Thanksgivings in the past. Although I'm not exactly sticking to it, I'm so glad I have my mom's stuffing recipe...it was a made-up amalgamation and would have been lost forever.
I am also thankful that I am healthy and strong and was able to sneak out for a really great, tough early morning spin class before the craziness ensues...I got the very last bike!
I am thankful for our friends next door and the puppy playdate we had with them, so that our bulldog puppy, Lula, is content and quiet as I cook.
I am thankful that we have plenty of food to share. And while I'm at it, I'm thankful that I can turn a handle and fresh water comes out, that I turn a dial and heat comes on, that all I have to do with all the trash that comes from a giant meal is put it in a bag and someone comes and takes it away rather than me having to haul it someplace.
And I am thankful for the hands of my children, who peeled and cut sweet potatoes and made place cards and decorated.
And if the weather holds, I will gather with friends and family around the fire pit tonight and give thanks that fall is here and winter is not far behind.

21 November 2010

restore your faith in humanity

if you ever doubted the kindness of strangers and the power of motherhood,
read this touching story of how one mom, overcoming the loss of her own baby, helped save another mother's child by donating breast milk

Becoming a skiing family...ah, winter!

I did not grow up skiing but took it up as an adult. My oldest started skiing at age 4, my middle son at age 3 and my youngest at age 2. Because my oldest two ski (and now snowboard) faster than I do, I have had to up my game to keep up...I even do tiny jumps sometimes, since I have to be in terrain parks with them anyway.

Skiing is a great (but expensive) family sport. We are lucky in that there are local ski clubs for the kids starting as young as third grade & we live withing an hour of decent (for the East Coast) skiing. If you are taking up this sport more seriously, I thought I'd pass along what's needed/helpful (this was my email reply to a friend asking for info):

We (grown-ups) have our own boots - that's the toughest part to fit and requires no maintenance. Oldest just got his own snowboard/bindings/boots/carrying bag with room to grow, so hopefully that will hold him for while (except boots), though there will be maintenance. We have poles too, but frankly never use ours, as they come with the skis. We lease for the season - it is about $110/kid & $135 or so per adult, plus a hefty deposit...but where we rent, if you leave the deposit on file it grows so you are essentially getting a person free the next year. It's cheaper than renting for a week at a ski resort and makes day trips more appealing b/c you are not spending time renting gear each time. This year we will get a pack of discounted day passes.
We have a roof-top ski holder but it's no longer big enough with all of us + snowboard...so we will be moving to a Thule roof top box...we borrowed one last year & it was awesome...requires roof cross bars.

We also have our own helmets (& goggles, obviously). It pays to buy extra ski mittens for kids when you see them on sale and maybe an extra pair of goggles. It pays to wear proper ski socks - I prefer Smart Wool brand. It's best not to have the kind of girlie ski pants that fit inside the boot, lest you get something called "boot bite" - painful!

For the kids, I often actually buy their ski pants at Target, though I have sometimes found them on sale at various sports places...REI can be great, but shop early. For snowboarding gear, skate shops. Shop in-store & buy online once you know your sizes.
If night skiing, you may need clear goggles (for helmets) in addition to darker ones for day...
More on goggles: Ask for suggestions on what are most versatile - the light changes dramatically throughout the day and ones that are great for sun can make it hard to see when the light is flatter at the end of the day. There are goggles for people who wear glasses. Never wipe the inside of your goggles when they are foggy or wet...scratches will result.

Everyone will need:
  • long underwear (at least 2 pair...there is a brand of microfleece - Hot Chilies? very comfy/warm)
  • other top layer...only a tshirt of not too cold but something warmer if super cold
  • socks (wool is best)
  • (maybe sock liners & glove liners, though I don't personally wear them)
  • pants or bibs (snowboard pants often benefit from a belt)
  • jacket (I prefer jackets with vents in case you get hot)...if you will spring ski too, maybe under layer + over layer rather than one jacket
  • neck gator & or baklava (gator attached to head cover for under helmet - kids might like - I hate)
  • helmet
  • goggles
  • gloves or mittens - I prefer mittens, the more flexible the better - mine are Scott
  • shoes/boots that are grippy to wear to/from (though unnecessary for snowboarders, most likely)
  • boots
  • a big duffle for family gear
  • maybe a day bag to leave at lodge
  • If kids will be in lessons, consider taking your own roll of blue painter tape & sharpie & labeling stuff the night before, as this can be a bottleneck
  • I carry a tube of arnica pellets in my pocket in case of injury or achy knees
  • walkie-talkies & instructions to kids on not abusing them...no one wants to hear them playing around on the radio. pick a less-busy channel & have instructions about leaving them on. Get rechargeable.
other helpful info:
  • Drink water before/during/after...expect to have a horrible headache for one day if at high altitude - drinking water helps - drinking alcohol hurts
  • Kids can sleep in long underwear
  • put socks on first, then long underwear
  • have a plan on what to do if separated or lost
  • make sure the seam of long underwear is not hitting a tight part of boot
  • have a grab & go breakfast maybe
  • consider having granola bar or something in pocket in case starving/melting down kid & long lines...try to eat lunch off peak or not at main base lodge
  • packs of tissues & lip balm too
  • wear sunscreen on your face
  • either take off for awhile or leave your goggles on in gondola - less likely to fog
  • let your boots dry completely then wipe down. Don't leave them in the car overnight - cold plastic is no fun...sit them by a heater. Store them buckled off-season.
  • everyone will dump their gear all over when they walk in the door...either make them come back & pick it up or do it yourself without complaint...it will happen, so don't get upset.
  • establish a firm "carry your own" policy and learn how to properly/safely carry skis so you don't blind someone
  • teach your kids the rules of the mountain - not unlike driving rules
  • get your gear ready to go the night before...recharge radios.
  • Mornings can be hell getting out the door but then it's all worth it.
  • Pee before you get your gear on! ;-)

15 November 2010

vaginal breech twins birth - excellent birth story

Check out this wonderful birth story from the blog "Living A Truly Blessed Life" ...awesome!

clearly not in America...:
the registrar appeared (the infamous Hassan!) and the midwife sounding panicked told him I had been 9cm with a lip but was now pushing and the babies were breech, she asked him what to do, “hands off and just watch” replied Hassan.

The registrar then called for a c-section, apparently twin 2 wasn’t coming down. Clearly my precious boy had his own ideas, within seconds of the midwife leaving the room to organise the c-section the urge to push hit again. “Go for it” the registrar said, so I did.

Note to this mom...I have an Oliver of my own & Sebastian is the middle name of my youngest!

Rock on momma (and Hassan & care providers like him)!

a sneaker-clad step toward growing up

Yesterday my youngest, 6 years old, got new sneakers. His first lace-up sneakers, at his insistence. He recently learned how to tie shoes - we even bought a cute book with instructions, pictures and practice laces. He's so proud of himself and I'm proud too...but, well, a bit wistful. Maybe because this is right on the heels (no pun intended!) of cleaning out little kid clothes and saying goodbye to all those tiny, tiny underwear. It's not that I love Velcro sneakers so much, though I imagine they have certainly had a positive impact on maternal sanity...and of course I celebrate this step toward independence, but every little move toward growing up means that soon he will be needing me less and less - a bittersweet thought.
And to tell the truth, I also groan a bit internally, knowing that this will mean lots of knots to untie and extra time waiting to get out the door when we are running late.

I hope I will exhale and allow him time to get it right.

10 November 2010

snippet of motherhood: terminology

My youngest said for Thanksgiving this year, he would like to wear his "Indian clothes" (he has them for Diwali celebrations) instead of being a pilgrim...after figuring out what he meant, I explained the difference between being "Indian" and "Native American"...love that kid!

08 November 2010

meaningful words from a midwife

From The Abundant Life's blog, How I Got Into Midwifery,
...We serve, we serve, we serve, we serve. We love, we help, we massage, we do what she needs, we listen, we advise, we rejoice with her, we grieve with her, we hold her accountable, we search around if there's something she needs, we buy her vitamins if she can't afford them, we stay up late researching for her. A midwife pours her life out for others...

Labor & Delivery Workshop, 11/20/10 Shakti Yoga, Maplewood

Labor & Delivery Workshop
with Kim Collins & Ires Wilbanks

When: Saturday, November 20, 2-5pm, Shakti

Cost: $75 per couple ~ please preregister.
Register: call 973-763-2288 or pay online

Questions: email Kim Collins

Giving birth is one of the most powerful and transformative events in a woman's life.

This intensive workshop is the perfect introduction to give you and your partner a glimpse into some of the many tools with which to approach birth physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Facilitated by Kim Collins, certified doula and childbirth educator, and Ires Wilbanks, certified teacher for yoga for labor and delivery, we will lead you through positions, breath work, comfort measures and vocalizations that will allow you to open your pelvis and experience a more efficient birth.

Learn how movement, touch and vocalization act as natural painkillers. Get insight into what to expect in a typical hospital birth and some of the ways you might avoid unnecessary interventions. A guided deep relaxation and visualization will also be included.

05 November 2010

you know you're tired when...

you look longingly at your client's hospital bed and think, "wow - that would be a nice little vacation"...
Clearly I needed a nap...or perhaps an IV streaming coffee into my veins...'cause I know that's not where I really want to be. I guess the concept of being required to rest and be in bed without feeling guilty, with a remote and a button to push for "service" is what's appealing.
Maybe I should see if I have some miles to use for a mini hotel vaca...but then I'd just have to confront my new paranoia about bed bugs, so I probably wouldn't do much relaxing. sigh.

sharing breastmilk...network of milk banks forming

passing info along on Eats On Feets:
I am writing because there is a new network of moms forming right now, using facebook as the platform. Eats on Feets is a global milk sharing network designed to connect moms who have excess milk with moms who need donor milk. No other services/advice/fees...just mama to mama networking. I think midwives, doulas and LCs are going to be the backbone of the group since they are in constant contact with the lactating :o)

I am the admin of the New York chapter. The link to our page is:

Would you pass this along to your contacts? Everyone can “like” the page, and milk share needs/offers can be posted there.

It has only been about a week since we’re getting it off the ground, and we have chapters in almost every state and 10+ countries!

Thank you!

help "The Birth House"

a note via Facebook from author Ami McKay...link out to vote for her book (link then scroll down):
Hello from my little house by the Bay!

On this rainy, blustery November day, I thought I'd send you a long overdue note. Settled in the nook off my kitchen (once the birthing room in this old house) I've got a cup of hot tea, and my trusty(but sook of a yellow Lab.,Ponyo by my side. Life is good.

I'm writing for a couple of reasons, but more than anything I wanted to take a minute to say "thank-you" - for your messages, your comments, your stories, your readership, your patience, and above all, your kindness.

I can't tell you how many times a slow, challenging day of writing, (or life) has been made better by your words. Writing The Virgin Cure has been an amazing journey, but it hasn't always been easy. Although the idea for the novel came long ago, (it's a story I always wanted to write for my mother,) bringing it to the page has felt frightening and freeing all at once.

This writing life constantly suprises me - bringing me to truths I'd found easier to ignore, showing me parts of myself I never knew existed.

I know that getting this tale to you has taken longer than expected and I'm sorry for that. (Creativity and publishing dates are both slippery little buggers ;-) I hope you'll stick with me and stay tuned for the duration...I promise there will be much more to share, soon.

In the meantime, I want you to know how grateful I am to all of you for passing The Birth House to friends and family, hand to hand. I never imagined that so many people would take my words to heart!

For those of you who don't know, The Birth House recently made CBC Radio's "Canada Reads" top 40 essential novels of the decade list. What an honour!

They are currently holding an online vote for the top 10, and readers (wherever you might live) can cast your vote for The Birth House at the Canada Reads website,


The deadline for voting is midnight ET - Sunday, Nov. 7.

Thanks to all who have already voted and have been spreading the word via FaceBook, blogs and Twitter!!!

I hope you're having a glorious autumn (it's my favourite time of year) and that you're cozied up with many good books and cups of tea!

With gratitude and best wishes,

04 November 2010

Welcome, baby Ezra

The boy who decided his own birth date, in spite of all sorts of people trying to impose other ideas!

Born at 6:44 pm on 11/3/10, 8lb 9oz, with a full head of auburn hair.

Welcome, beautiful boy. You have such fun and wonderful parents and the most kind, handsome and smart big brother!