Cannot...stop...consuming...Taco Bell...


I love horses. I always have. I remember pretending a broom was a horse when ai was a preschooler and we lived in a little beach town in Southern California. That was as close as I got to any horses.

Then my parents moved to a farm in Washington State when I was 6 and for my 7th birthday, I got my first pony. Horses were my passion throughout my entire childhood and I briefly rode at the college level. I had limited resources, but lots of natural talent and tenacity. But it's an expensive sport and after college, family and work commitments pulled me away for a number of years.

Then, when my now-11 year old daughter was about 4 years old, she rode a pony at a school fair. When the ride was over, she screamed and cried when we tried to take her off the pony. We let her go around again...and again....and again... and the next day I started calling around, trying to find a place where she could take riding lessons.


Jane's first pony - Dickens - '02

For the past seven years, hunter ponies and horses have been the biggest part of my daughters life.


She's far more naturally talented than I am, and just as passionate. It's so much fun to share this love with my daughter. Unfortunately for me, I can barely afford for her to ride, much less for me to have the time and energy to get on a horse. But when I do, I still find that nothing, absolutely NOTHING, gives me more sheer joy than being on a horse. As it is, I enjoy just being at the barn and enjoying being around the horses. I like pretty much everything about them. I am optimistic that in a few years, there will be a little more time and money available and I will be able to take back up the riding career I left behind before I had children. In the meantime, I enjoy watching Jane ride.

Jane at Tryon Hunt Club Show - July '05

This is my longwinded way of saying how sad it made me to hear that Barbaro had to be put down yesterday. It left me in tears. And then this morning I found out that a horse I know and really liked also had to be put down yeserday due to complications from injuries that just couldn't be made right. He was such a sweet, wise guy, who taught many people to ride. He was a very talented hunter horse, quite successful in the show ring, but he always struck me as just a very wise and patient and willing teacher.

Humans are so lucky to get to have relationships with horses.

Jane and Conco - 2005


genetic testing

Genetic testing during pregnancy sounds like a no-brainer at my age (39) until the date of the procedure approaches. Then it begins to seem a bit scary and invasive... I'm not so sure I want someone poking at my my baby with a needle, you know?

quote of the day

When I got out of high school, I thought, I'll take a year or two off and play the clubs, get this out of my system, and then go to med school.

-Gregg Allman

congrats to randall and becky!!

My friends DOWNTOWN RANDALL BROWN and Becky N. have decided to get hitched. They are a great couple, and I am very happy for them. Head on over to R's blog (linked above) and offer up some well wishes.

go ahead! baby your babies, people!

Two Harvard researchers EXPLAIN WHY.

Choice quotes from the article:

"The pair say that American childrearing practices are influenced by fears
that children will grow up dependent. But they say that parents are on the wrong
track: physical contact and reassurance will make children more secure and
better able to form adult relationships when they finally head out on their own."

" 'I think there's a real resistance in this culture to caring for children,'
Commons said. But "punishment and abandonment has never been a good way to get
warm, caring, independent people.' "

(Thanks Dewi :-)


This major new study says that losing weight is REALLY QUITE SIMPLE, unless you have some underlying medical condition.

Discuss amongst yourselves...

cold weather


I hate everything about it, except snow, and it never snows where I live, so the cold weather has zero redeeming qualities.

Okay, it is nice to have a fire in the fireplace, but other than that, I just hate it.

It's, like 15 degrees outside right now. It's miserable. I need some sunshine and flowers and birds chirping.

Jon loves the cold weather for reasons that are unclear to me, so I guess we will not be moving to Florida at some point, as I would prefer.

Now I need to put on my coat and go out to my frozen car and freeze myself over to my office.


words to birth by

Today my little sister and I watched the video of her last birth, 4 years ago (unmedicated waterbirth at St. Mary's in Knoxville).

She had some choice lines during the long and grueling event:

Sister: "I can't do this! I just cannot do this!"
Bro in Law: "Just go with it, honey." (Obviously trying to be the good Bradley birthing coach)


Sister: "Please someone tell me again why I am doing this?"

Sister: "This baby better be REALLY, REALLY cute!" (He was)


I have discovered that sparkling water or Perrier/soda water both settles my delicate stomach and helps with the PTYALISM.


bonnaroo line-up leaked?

Online buzz is that this year's Bonnaroo line-up was leaked by the local newspaper in the town (Manchester) where the festival is held.


It sounds too good to be true. The Police? Fountains of Wayne? Willie Nelson? Cat Power? The Decemberists?

The Police reunion sounds like a possibility since they were rumoured to be getting back together for Coachella, but when that line-up was announced, they weren't on the bill. That's a show I'd loooooove to see.

I will be very, very pregnant when Bonnaroo rolls around this year, but I still hope to make it down to cover it as I have for the past two years. It's an experience not to be missed.


Both my husband and I had previous marriages. Mine lasted 12-plus years. I still have a great deal of grief over the whole thing and probably always will. Jon is extremely understanding of this. I always say that for me, being divorced is sort of like missing a limb; I have become very adept at functioning without the limb (which hurt like HELL to be amputated), but I will always be aware that it's gone.

Jon's marriage was very, very brief. They dated for several years but were only married less than two years. And he has zero grief. I think he mostly feels grateful that it ended as quickly as it did (though it was not his choice at all, even a little bit) because he knows it could have been much more complicated and painful if it had gone on longer. But he is remarkably levelheaded about the whole thing and where it fits into his life story and what it all meant. I think his family has more anger and resentment about what happened to him on his behalf than he has for himself. (Those Hickmans have each others' backs ;-)

I am always a bit jealous of his thoughtful, productive approach to viewing what the relationship was to him. He's just....over it. Someone treated him without respect or honestly and thus, he knows he is better off without them in his life. End of story.

So last night we went to this venue to see a band and dance. Apparently his ex regularly did some sort of social dancing (swing dancing?, )often at this venue. So being there made him feel very uncomfortable. He tried as hard as he could to enjoy himself, and even to dance with me, but finally he had to be honest with me that being there, with that kind of music playing and people dancing, just made him feel, well, bad. We've been dancin together at another place, and had a blast, but this particular Knoxville spot just brought up a flood of unpleasant recollections.

He wanted to leave. So we left. It was the first time he's ever expressed any sense of lingering hurt over his lost relationship. I felt terrible that I had put him in that position. I never want him to hurt. I can't imagine anyone hurting this profoundly kind, decent, honest, loving man. In fact, if anyone ever does again, they will have me to deal with.

We will dance at home.


I love, love, love to dance. I don't get to do it enough.


christabel and the jons

I love seeing live music, but pregnancy prevents me from going anywhere smoky, plus I am so sleepy lately that I cannot stay up very late.

But tonight at 8pm, there is a smoke-free show at LAUREL THEATER with one of my recent favorite local bands, CHRISTABEL AND THE JONS. I'm dragging Jon along with me and will insist that he dance with me. He's a very good sport.



My daughter has decided completely, 100% on her own that she wants to apply to the most competitive prep school in our area for next year. She says she wants to "have more opportunities" (she currently attends a very nice, protestant parochial school).

So we already discovered we missed the priority application deadline, and now I am going to be scrambling to get her application completed ASAP. Then she has to do the testing.

It's fascinating to me how different siblings can be. My oldest - a 9th grader - is totally not competitive. He's not interested in traditional definitions of success. He is wickedly funny and clever, very cynical, loves jam bands, can quote Abbie Hoffman, plays a mean guitar, and just blew the lid off the PSAT. But grades? He doesn't care. Competitive sports? Forget it. I have no idea what he'll decide to do for college.

My daughter is very competitive. She wants to be the lead in the play, the horse show winner, editor of the school newspaper... At age 11, she is already thinking about how going to a better middle and high school will influence her chances of getting into a better college.

urban renewal

A very cool house CURRENTLY FOR SALE in my neighborhood...

(Not much of a yard, though, for that much $$$$)


I predict my baby is a boy.

We'll see ;-)


call me crazy

You know, I read ANNE HECHE'S BOOK, and could have told this poor guy that getting involved with the woman WASN'T GONNA END WELL.


bad habits vs. expectations

I've been checking out this "NEW DAD DIARY" written by a pediatrician/father (who happens to be the son of the famous parenting author, Dr. William Sears), and I really love what he has to say about creating "bad habits" vs. expectations. I fully agree with how he explains this (and I also parent exactly as he describes):

"Mar. 3 - Creating bad habits?

Some new parents tell me in the office that they don't want to breastfeed their baby to sleep because they don't want the baby to become dependent on this. This kind of sounds reasonable. After all, everyone wants a baby that will fall asleep peacefully on their own. My wife, however, feels differently. She doesn't mind nursing Joshua to sleep. In fact, she insists on it. She likes the bonding and closeness. This is what we have done with all our kids so far. What about a year from now when he has gotten so used to it that he won't fall asleep without the breast? Well, that's ok. My wife is up for that. I guess it all has to do with what your expectations are for the future. On one hand, if, in a year from now, you want a baby that is independent at night, then you might think twice about nursing down to sleep at this point. If, on the other hand, you are okay with a prolonged nighttime attachment, then creating this closeness from day one is just fine. Our expectations are that Joshua will nurse to sleep for a couple years, then need to be rocked to sleep, then patted down to sleep. When he is four or five, we might even need to sit with him as he falls asleep. Heck, my 5 and 9 year old like me to sit in their room while they fall asleep at night. I'm fine with this. I just grab a flashlight and a good book, and enjoy a nice quiet half hour of reading. This is simply what we expected it would be like, and I am guessing it will be like this for Joshua too.

So, are we creating a habit by nursing down to sleep? Yes, we probably are. Is this a BAD habit? It depends on what your expectations are. For us, the answer is no. We are just creating closeness. That's what attachment parenting is all about."

Your mileage may vary.

I still enjoy getting my children to sleep most nights. Last night, lying down with my 11 year old daughter for 10 minutes before she fell asleep, we had the best time talking and snuggling and laughing over some really bad jokes. I was grateful for that time with her, not resentful. And yes, my two younger children (9 and 11) still like for me to lie down with them each night for a few minutes to ease them into sleep mode. It's a privilege.

Now don't get me wrong, there were nights in those first baby/toddler years when I felt exhausted or overwhelmed. It's not all sunshine and rainbows and attachment parenting perfection. I did wean my middle child from night nursings (meaning, I would still nurse her to fall asleep, but declined to nurse her again 'til morning) when she turned 2, and my youngest quit wanting to nurse at night on his own at about that age. But in the big picture, I don't mind being an active night time parent. Overall, it's what has worked well for us. And I feel really lucky that Jon has the same approach. He's great about helping to get Elliot to sleep at night with a snuggle or a story. Elliot sometimes now prefers Jon to me for these bedtime routines.

whither hillary?

I just can't get excited about Hillary Clinton. While I admire a lot of her early advocacy work - during and before the period when Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas -- her transformation into politician-borg has been disturbing to me.

There doesn't seem to be any there there. She's been plucked and airbrushed and botoxed and bouffanted into a political consultant's wet dream. She looks and sounds and moves like the perfect politician. But who is she? And why won't she answer any interview question with a straight answer? I've actually not heard her give a straight answer to an interviewer's question in years. Maybe not since the "vast right wing conspiracy" response on morning TV during the L'affaire Lewinsky.

It's likely that Hillary and I are in sync on most issues, and that matters, but character matters to me as well. I want a real human being with a core sense of self as leader of the free world.



It's weird being pregnant in the first trimester at the same time as my sister. Our symptoms are really different. I've been a little under the weather now and again, while she is increasingly so sick she's unable to function. She has gotten very severe "morning" sickness in each of her previous pregnancies. We had both hoped she would manage to avoid it this time, but no such luck. I told her today that she really needs to talk to her doctor about taking Zofran, which is apparently a wonder drug for pregnant women suffering from severe nausea.

this explains a lot



I am getting fat. I feel it creeping up on me.

I had gained 4 pounds at my last prenatal appointment and I've definitely gained at least 2 or 3 more in the past two weeks.

The problem is, I need to eat to keep from feeling sick. I am not gorging, by any means, but all these "mini meals" are catching up with me. Plus, my metabolism is changing. I can literally feel it happening.

I keep asking close friends and family if they can tell I am pregnant by my belly profile, because I sure can, but they all tell me honestly that I just look, well, fat. Thick in the middle. My waistline is totally gone already. I am completely out of any clothes I was wearing a month ago and into all my stretchy things, plus a few maternity items. I broke down today and ordered maternity jeans from Old Navy. They aren't quite as heinous as the maternity jeans that were available last time I was pregnant, in 1997 (maternity clothes are ONE THOUSAND TIMES LESS HORRIBLE than they were a decade ago), but they are still maternity jeans. I've packed up my size eights for the forseeable future.

I love being pregnant. I love my pregnant belly. But I would really like to avoid getting really fat this time. I mean, hey, I'm a newlywed. I want to look cute for the guy. He swears he likes my burgeoning belly, but I'm not sure he's prepared for a burgeoning ass, which really, has nothing to do with growing the baby. I just don't think I am built to be one of those fabulous pregnant women who don't really LOOK pregnant unless you see their belly. My sister in law Nicole is like that. She looked exactly the same while pregnant (four times in six years) except she had a baby belly. The rest of her looked svelte and strong and toned. My body just doesn't seem to roll like that.

I am aiming for 30lbs or less this time (as opposed to the 50 I gained with each previous pregnancy). We'll see how that goes...

cute helen!

This is my niece, Helen, on vacation in Mexico this week. She is seriously adorable.



scariest parenting moment so far

I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I think I am about to face my very biggest parenting fear. I am going to let my 15 year old son "go downtown" in a car driven by another (older) teenage boy - a friend from school.

I have never before let Henry ride in a car driven by another teenager (except a few times with a very close family friend who is 3 years older). This thing today will be a first.

There is nothing more frightening to me than a teenage boy behind the wheel. This one seems nice enough, but how can you really be sure? Some of the "nicest" boys I knew in high school were the biggest terrors behind the wheel. Cars are like crack for teenage boys, aren't they? They're crazymaking.

And this huge step may make me crazy. I will be freaking out until he brings my baby home.

elliot, j. and c. head off to battle in the kudzu forest

Picture 004

Picture 003

15 year old boy captured in his natural habitat

Picture 016


Lots of bloggers I read and admire have ads on their blogs. I have often thought that I, too, should consider trying some ads on this blog.

I tried Google adwords, but ended up with ads for infant formula, which I don't want. Maybe there's a workaround for that.

I would be willing to share proceeds with someone if she/he could figure out a way to "monetize" katieallisongranju.com with some appropriate, non-obnoxious ads.

If anyone has any thoughts, I welcome them. E-mail me at kagranju-at-gmail.com


cornish pasties?

Anyone know where I can order pasties (the traditional Cornish food, not the stripper accessory) online? It seems like a gourmet or British specialty food shop would have them, but I am unable to find them anywhere.

I want to order some for my grandmother, who loves them and just had back surgery.


I grew up as a wild child. We lived out in the middle of nowhere and I would disappear - on foot or on my pony - for entire afternoons. I'd explore the roads and pastures and woods and creeks around our farm and neighboring farms. This was an important part of my personal development.

My children live in the city, but I still try as hard as I can to give them opportunities to be alone and to wander and explore, both in nature and in town. My oldest began walking downtown -- or sometimes taking the bus -- to see free concerts and hang out with his friends a few years ago. My youngest son, who is nine, likes to dress in cammo and go play army in the huge forest of kudzu next to our backyard. Although our neighborhood is very urban, we also have a backyard that slopes down to a creek, and I encourage all of the children to go play down there and check out the turtles and the tadpoles and the occasional sandcrane.

But after a high profile kidnapping of a child, like we've had in the U.S. in recent weeks, I find it harder to let them go play outside. I always find it harder to let my 11 year old daughter just go play, because I worry more about her. BUt still, I force myself to let them go. Right now, Elliot is dressed in his fatigues and has packed up an army napsack full of capguns and snacks, and he is out in the "kudzu forest." I can see him from the kitchen window, but just barely. He's a tiny, green speck deep inside the wall of kudzu.

The odds that my child will be snatched are exceptionally low. Of course, to a parent to whom this horror happens, the odds are meaningless. And I am scared sometimes. People ask me if I worry more about their safety because we live in a truly urban neighborhood instead of in the manicured 'burbs or in the country. I don't. I remind myself that the two boys kidnapped in Missouri were snatched up while riding their bikes on remote, rural roads.

I push myself to get past my fear and allow and even encourage the children to go play outside. I think children lose out when they never get to explore beyond manicured, fenced yards. I believe that our children today are losing the ability to learn from their mistakes in navigating their own neighborhoods. When you never encounter muddy slopes or dogs that chase you or sketchy characters, you never learn how to deal with unexpected challenges.

Plus, sometimes children just need to be alone.

But I worry. I think I'll go peek out the window again and make sure I can still see Elliot.


shawn hornbeck on oprah

I have been more than a little baffled by the way the parents of Shawn Hornbeck, the Missouri boy held captive for four years and rescued last week, have paraded him all over television since he came home.

They dragged him out to a nationally televised press conference the day after his return. And then, to my horror, they actually had the child appear on Oprah only a week after his rescue. And making matters worse, they told Oprah they believe he was sexually abused while being held.

I am unclear how these two obviously loving parents cannot understand that a 15 year old boy would not want this highly sensitive information disussed by his parents on national television. Shame on them for appearing on Oprah and shame on Oprah WInfrey for asking that incredibly crude and unkind question. As THIS COLUMN POINTS OUT, adult rape victims are given the dignity of having their privacy protected in the press. Poor Shawn Hornbeck has had his privacy violated in the most expoitative way possible by the people who are supposed to be protecting him. I feel like the kid is being raped all over again.

no habeas corpus?

I'll grant you, I am a law school dropout. I only finished two years. But I feel pretty certain that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is DEAD WRONG in his assertion that there is are no Constitutional habeas corpus protections.

Hat tip to my mama for this interesting tidbit.

her parents must be very proud

She sounds like someone I would have LIKED VERY, VERY MUCH.

cuteness + major concentration

Jane and Sydney fill out their tests (over horse and pony knowledge) AT THE FIESTA FARM HORSE SHOW.

john mayer on the grey's anatomy brouhaha

John Mayer (yes, that John Mayer) has a modest proposal for getting actor Isaiah Washington to CONFRONT HIS OWN HOMOPHOBIA.

new memoir

I saw a review of this new book today. It's about how a couple dealt with wildly differing libidos. It sounds entertaining, but one has to wonder how he liked having her write about the specifics of their, ahem, strained marital relationship. I write a lot of stuff for publication, including some highly personal essays, but I can't see myself ever going this far.

The book looks entertaining and I think a lot of women would relate to it. Not me, of course ;-)


Tonight I introduced myself to a local power player who was appearing on the TV news show I produce.

"Oh, I know you, Katie," he said. "I read your blog."

I don't ever check the stats for the ol' blog, so I'm never sure who reads it or how often. Lately I haven't even kept track in a general way with how much traffic it gets. So I am always surprised when I meet folks and they tell me they read my blog. I mean, I guess I realize that people read it, but I'm still surprised.

But thanks for reading. I appreciate your blog patronage.

Yr. pal-



i need a vacation

I am looking for ideas for a cheap, quick 3 or 4 day getaway. Preferably WARM, although I'd consider being snowed in with my hubby in front of a fire somewhere gorgeous for 3 days.

Cheap is important (saving for baby and maternity leave, etc).

Your ideas?

wal-mart organics may not be

I try to buy organic everything for our family's food. I don't always succeed, but I try. I am lucky because we have A FOOD COOP in our neighborhood, so there are plenty of organics there.

I never shop at Wal-Mart. I hate Wal-Mart. Every time I do somehow end up shopping there, I leave with a headache and a sense of despair that lingers for the rest of the day. Give me Target any day.

But I was happy to hear a few months ago that Wal-Mart planned to start selling organic foods. I figured that would be great for organic growers, as well as consumers on a budget who want to eat healthy. Now, however, it turns out that Wal-Mart's organics may NOT BE SO ORGANIC after all.


the 11th commandment

Jon is helping Jane study for a test over the 10 Commandments and he almost has her convinced that the 11th is "Honor Thy Stepfather."


It's fun watching the kids with Jon. He's very good with them.

will ferrell, lactivist

I now love Will Ferrell EVEN MORE. Hilarious!


a new kind of baptist?

I am pleased to see some progressive Baptists FIGHTING TO TAKE BACK their denomination from the fundamentalists who have tarnished its reputation. As I understand it, Baptists were orginally a free-thinking, highly independent Christian denomination. Now, not so much.

I also love the comment at the bottom of this story I linked to that reads:

"What is this world coming to? Well, soon it's coming to an end."

frozen cloth diapers...

...look LIKE THIS.

That's pretty funny.

I have always just used borax - soaking 'em before washing them - and they get nice and clean. No ice or snow needed.

kate hearts jon

Just wanted to mention it.

He's the bestest friend, husband, stepfather, father to be....I am so lucky and grateful.


At what stage of pregnancy did your clothes get too tight? At what point could people actually tell you were pregnant?

another reason to find bill o'reilly really distasteful

Now, he is saying that the little boy who was kidnapped at age 11 and held captive for 4 years by a 300 pound child molester didn't try to escape because he "ENJOYED HIS CAPTIVE LIFESTYLE."

Despite the fact that there have been numerous cases where children who are abducted and sexually abused and threatened finally give up and stop trying to get away, even when they have the opportunity, O'Reilly says this boy is a bad kid because he had "piercings," and that he probably didn't try to escape because his kidnapper didn't make (try, let) him go to school.

I find this reasoning utterly despicable. The fact that he is saying it on TV is foul. And this comes after he has gone around potraying himself as the go-to guy in media for being tough on child molesters.

first yoga class

So I started my YOGA CLASS tonight. It was not technically a prenatal yoga class, but a beginner class that the instructor said she would help me modify as needed.

It was a great class, and the instructor was excellent. I enjoyed it a lot. I may have slightly overdone it though. It was a bit more rigorous than I expected for a class for total beginners. I'm not totally weak and wobbly, and I found it relatively challenging, as did a non-pregnant friend who went with me.

But I plan to stick with it once or maybe even twice a week.


my least favorite parts of being a parent

1 - Feeding them. I hate shopping, cooking, and organizing meals. I continue to abhor this 15 years after first realizing I had to keep another human being nourished 24/7. I like eating what I want, whenever I feel like it. This is not a good way to parent, so I have to make an effort. I hate it.

2 - Dealing with schoolwork at home. Need I say more? Homework sucks.

3 - Stepping on legos

4 - Laundry. I don't mind washing it, but I never get it folded or put away. We have an entire room full of laundry at the moment (it's an extra room upstairs that's like a very large closet, but still...). Maybe we just have too many clothes. Or maybe I've done a truly terrible job of making my children responsible for their own laundry. Yes, that's it. And I don't iron. I have no idea how to iron properly.

5 - Feeling guilty because my work means I can never go on school field trips.

6 - Sleeplessness during the baby phase.

7 - Sibling squabbles

What are your least favorite parts of being a parent? Go ahead, spill. We'll never tell.

i bought...

...one of these.

The idea is that I should be able to wear my regular clothes longer. My favorite jeans in particular. I hope so. Because they are getting wildly uncomfortable.

new article on how mothers influence children's diabetes risk

THIS BIG NAME SCIENTIST GUY says women need to eat well and not get fat during pregnancy, and they need to breastfeed as long as possible in order to minimize their babies' future risk for obesity and diabetes.

(I read this while guiltily eating a pop tart at my desk. Bad, bad me)

I gained 50 pounds with each of my pregnancies. No matter what I did or did not do, I gained 50 pounds in order to produce relatively small babies (6 lbs 8 oz, 6 lbs 15 ozs, 7 lbs 6 ozs).

This time, I am starting pregnancy 15 pounds over my best weight, so I really, really want to avoid gaining 50 lbs. I am not a big person, so me weighing 175 lbs is NOT a graceful picture. I have already gained 4 pounds.

I start my yoga class tonight...

Diabetes doesn't run in my family and on the whole, my family doesn't tend to have major weight problems. However, diabetes DOES run in Jon's family, so our baby will be at higher risk. Gotta lay off the pop tarts.


what not to wear

Tori Spelling gives pregnant girls everywhere A BAD NAME.

induction and c-section rates

I realized today that whenever I hear of a friend or acquaintance having a baby these days, I generally assume the labor was induced or "augmented," or that she had a c-section. That's because rates of induction and c-section are so high in my neck of the woods.

The last person I know of personally who had a totally natural (meaning no pitocin, no cytotec, no c-section) birth was my sister in law. That was about 7 months ago. Since then, every single person I know of who has had a baby has been induced and/or had a c-section.

Comment below and let me know your experience with this. Of the last 10 people you know or know of who had a baby, how many were induced, augmented or had a c-section?

more proverbs

Below, I posted about Elliot's class project studying proverbs. The kids were each given half of a well known proverb, and then they had to finish them.

Here are some of my favorite, kid-updated proverbs from E's class:

"There are none so blind as...the three blind mice."

"Where there's smoke, there's...a jetpack."

"Strike while the....bear is attacking."

"No news is...no fun."

"If you lie down with dogs,....you'll love the dogs."

"Strike while the...ball is in the middle and the goalie is diving."

"Don't put off 'til tomorrow...what you should have done the day before yesterday."

"There are none so blind as....a blind sea otter."

"Don't bite the hand...that is magic."

"Better to be safe than....dead"

"Love all, trust...the power of the dark side."

"It's always darkest before...the moon comes out."


My brother and sister in law, along with their four kids and the nanny, have gone to spend a week at a beach resort in Mexico, which they do twice a year.

I am trying not to be jealous. After all, global warming means it's 70 degrees right here in Appalachia...


prenatal yoga in knoxville?

Anybody know where I can find a prenatal yoga class in Knoxville? Preferably one that takes place at night or one weekends?


...seems to be my primary pregnancy symptom. That, with a love for bean burritos from Taco Bell.

Actually, I am able to get everything done for my job, but when I get home, all I want to do is sleep, eat burritos, and take warm baths. That's it. I am emnarrassingly lazy at this point.

great news!

I have been thinking alot about this case and was ecstatic to read about this EXTRAORDINARILY POSITIVE OUTCOME. I cannot imagine how relieved that community is tonight.

bad news

Reuters Health

Thursday, January 11, 2007

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A growing number of Americans incorrectly believe that infant formula is as good as breast milk, while more are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with mothers breast-feeding their infants in public.

"The findings underscore the need to educate the general public that breast-feeding is the best method of feeding and nurturing infants," Dr. Rowe Li and colleagues from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta write in the January issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Li and her team note that while health experts recommend infants be breast fed for at least a year, and receive breast milk alone until they reach six months of age, the percentage of US infants exclusively breast fed at six months is 14 percent, while just 18 percent continue to receive breast milk at 12 months of age. The same survey, conducted in 2004, found 71 percent of children had ever been breast fed.

To investigate public attitudes toward breast-feeding, which play a key role in whether a woman decides to initiate and persist with breast-feeding, Li and her team compared results from two nationwide surveys conducted in 1999 and 2003 by the public relations firm Porter Novelli.

In 1999, 14.3 percent of those surveyed agreed that "infant formula is as good as breast milk," compared to 25.7 percent in 2003, the researchers found.

And there was a small increase in the percentage of people who agreed with the statement that "mothers who breast-feed should do so in private places only," from 34.8 percent to 37 percent. The percentage who said they were comfortable being near a mother breast-feeding her infant in public fell from 49.9 percent to 48.1 percent.

While rates of breast-feeding among US mothers have been on the rise since 1990, Li and her team note, the percentage of women who started breast-feeding fell for the first time between 2002 and 2003, from about 70 percent to 66 percent.

"The findings imply that despite widespread information on the benefits of breast-feeding, the trend in national opinion might be that infant formula is as good as breast milk," Li and her colleagues state.

This may at least in part be due to the introduction of formulas that contain long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in 2002, the researchers note, which have been advertised as "mimicking the positive influence of breast milk" on brain and vision development. Also, the researchers note, spending on advertising for infant formula rose from $29 million in 1999 to $46 million in 2004.

SOURCE: Journal of the American Dietetic Association, January 2007.



I showed Elliot & Jane the ULTRASOUND PHOTO from our doctor appointment yesterday.

Elliot said, "Eeeew. My baby brother looks like a worm...We should definitely name him Pablo."

(I agree that at this point, there is some resemblance to a caterpillar. No, we do not know the baby's gender. Elliot just WANTS the baby to be a boy. And no, we will not be naking the baby "Pablo.")

Right on, Meagan Francis

I totally agree with what SHE HAS TO SAY in this column about how we tend to under-parent babies and over-parent bigger kids.


Elliot's class did a study of various proverbs. As part of their work, they were given the beginning of a well-known proverb and had to finish it themselves.

Elliot's was: "There are none so blind....as the three blind mice."

the spelling bee

Elliot informs me that the reason he only placed 4th in his class spelling bee was because he really, REALLY had to go to the bathroom, so he purposely spelled a word wrong in order to be released from standing at the front of the class in front of everyone.

When Henry was in 2nd grade, he "accidentally" won the school-wide spelling bee. Henry is the least competitive person I have ever met. He doesn't like to comepete, or to draw attention to himself. He also happens to be an excellent speller. He had no idea that when he kept spelling words right, he would "win," and thus automatically progress to the county-wide spelling bee. When he realized that he had accidentally achived this feat, he was morose. He begged not to be made to compete, and threatened to throw the competition. His teacher persuaded him to at least give it a try, but I knew he wouldn't actually try. On the day of the competition, he was by far the smallest child on the stage (this was for all of elementary schools in the whole county), and sure enough, he failed to spell something easy like "opportunity" correctly. Then he smiled happily and gratefully exited the stage.


Check out the cool thing Julie made to honor Ward at CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR.

I aspire to be half as groovy and talented as Julie.


info overload

So today, here is what I found out from my doctor.

I am "compound heterozygous" for the MTHFR genetic mutations C677T and A1298C.

I also carry the PAI (-675) 4g/5g genotype.


What does all this mean? Well, at minimum, it means I am at higher risk for clotting disorders throughout my life, and at higher risk in pregnancy for various venous and bloodflow-related problems. How much higher risk?

Well, that's where the info seems to vary some. Dr. Google has led me to a boatload of medical research on this topic, and it appears that research on these clotting mutations is exploding in recent years, and a lot of doctors aren't yet keeping up with the latest. The research makes it pretty clear that these mutations, especially in combinations like I have, put you at much higher risk for miscarriage. Despite this, a lot of doctors aren't yet familiar with their role in miscarriage.

What's less clear is just how strong the link is between these genetic issues and other pregnancy complications, like IUGR, placental problems, HEELP and preeclampsia. I never had any of these problems in previous pregnancies, but now, after reading all this info, I am worried. My perinatologist seems to think this is basically a situation where I need to be treated as a high risk pregnancy, and monitored every two weeks with ultrasounds, etc. He said he would definitely recommend giving birth in a hospital, not at home or at the birth center.

Lots to mull over.

one heartbeat

That's what we saw/heard on the ultrasound this morning. So there's only one baby (yay!), and he/she looks perfect and healthy :-)

This was a great birthday present for Jon (yes, today is his birthday).

I do have some issues with these gene mutations that will require me taking some meds, plus closer following, but everything looks excellente!

nurse betsy

Check out my best friend Betsy IN THIS NEWS STORY about second career nursing students. She's the person teaching the nursing class at Vanderbilt.

I still remember the first time Betsy visited Vandy's school of medicine. We wre in 10th grade and she went there for some sort of career day and came back the next days saying she'd seen stuff like cadavers and just knew she'd found her calling. I seem to remember something about a dead rabbit as well....I said gross, and figured she would change her mind. She never did. Now she's rather
well known in her field (high risk perinatal nursing).

I could never do anything in medicine for a variety of reasons, most important of which being that I would certainly accidentally kill people.



Apparently I have what is known as a MTHFR gene mutation. My perinatologist discovered this. This means that I am at higher risk for vein problems and blood clots (I already guessed this due to family history and my own too-frequent aching, swollen legs). It also means I could have pregnancy problems because of this. It could explain the miscarriages. I am having further testing tomorrow.

MTHFR problems are treated with blood thinners (I already take aspirin every day) and high-ish doses of B vitamins.

We are also having our first ultrasound tomorrow. I am nervous and excited about that.

And my jeans are getting too tight in the waist.

baby stuff

It occurred to me today that Jon and I will actually need baby stuff for NewBaby. I haven't had a baby since 1998, and Jon's never had one, so we have exactly zero for a baby. Well, I take that back, I do still have a nice bunch of the really expensive all-in-one cloth diapers I had for Elliot, so that's a good start (yes, we plan to use cloth), but that's it.

Baby gear has improved a lot since 1998 (and even then, I didn't get much new stuff, because that was my 3rd baby in 6 years and I was mostly using stuff I'd had for the other two). There are all kinds of cool gadgets that seem really useful, like this thing:

I am also thinking we might get one of the Arms Reach Co-sleeper thingies for nightttime. Have any of you used one? What did you think?

But there is also a lot of stuff that seems excessive and useless. Babies don't actually need that much stuff.


to snip or not to snip?

L. over at Suburban Turmoil is trying to decide whether to CIRCUMCISE HER SON.


I don't plan to circumcise our new baby, whether it's a boy or a girl.


clarification of the day

Sending thousands more troops to Iraq is not a "surge," it's an escalation, straight up.

This "troop surge" mumbo jumbo irritates me, and the so-called liberal media is buying it just as happily as Fox News.


We celebrated Elliot's 9th birthday earlier this week with a family dinner and cake, etc. But Saturday night I told him he could pick a meal and invite some frinds to sleep over. S0 he chose sushi for supper, and invited his little buddies over for the night.

I had expected to have 4 or 5 kids, but at one point last night, for a variety of reasons, we ended up with FIFTEEN children stampeding all over the house. It was bedlam.

By bedtime, we were back down to six kids. E's siblings had wisely decided to find other digs for the night (Henry went to Max's and Jane spent the night with her cousin Eleanor), so the little boys had the house to themselves.

They were all very cute. This is a wonderful age - second to fourth grade - and these are sweet little boys. Everyone got along very well and judging by Elliot's exhaustion today ( he has not moved off the sofa for hours), the sleepover was a roaring success.

nursing other people's babies

My friend Leslie pointed out this fascinating article to me. It's about WOMEN NURSING other people's babies.

I would far rather have a close friend or family member nurse my baby in a pinch than give my breastfed baby bottles of formula. And in fact, my sister and I have, in the past, nursed one another's babies when one or the other of us had to run out to the store or went to a movie or whatever.

I think it happens more often than women discuss because, just like nursing toddlers and preschoolers, it's frowned upon in our culture at this moment in history. But in certain, specific circumstances, it just makes good sense.

Your mileage may vary.


courtney love's new year resolutions

As I've said before, I actually really like Courtney Love. These are apparently her NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS. They sound pretty reasonable to me, although she needs an editor.

I already knew Courtney is also a horse show mother (her daughter Frances rides hunter ponies) and from her list, it looks like they are ready to trade up from a pony to a horse...


chicken salad?

I am totally craving a savory chicken salad on a bed of iceberg lettuce. But I don't know how to make chicken salad. Can anyone enlighten me?

(No nuts in the salad, but yes to grapes and lots of pepper. No egg either.)

Or is there some place in Knoxville that sells an excellent take-out chicken salad?

wow. rehnquist was a drug addict

He was apparently ADDICTED FOR YEARS to a prescription sedative.

I wonder how many drug cases he heard during that period.

what's in a name?

This is AN INTERESTING STORY. An unmarried couple expecting a baby could not agree on what last name the baby would have. The mother wanted the baby to have her last name - also the name of her other children. The father wanted the baby to have HIS last name, and especially objected to the baby having the woman's last name because it wasn't her birth name, but her ex-husband's last name. The court finally had to step in to decide.

I kept my ex-husband's last name after we divorced, and also after I married Jon, because it has been my name since I was 22 years old, and because I want to have the same name as my children. This seemed important to them as well (really, I wish I had never changed my name at all. I will strongly encourage my daughter to keep her birth name should she ever marry).

Interestingly, JON ALSO CARRIES A NAME FROM HIS EX. When they married, he legally changed his middle name to her birth name, and she legally changed her last name to his. I think this was a very sweet way to do things. Anyway, when they divorced, he decided to just keep his ex's birth name as his middle name. I assume she dropped his last name, but I am not sure.

Anyway, the bottom line is that I have my ex's last name as my last name and Jon has his ex's last name as his middle name. And of course, all three of my kids have their father's last name. Around our house, the children often jokingly combine Granju and Hickman and refer to us as "the Hick-Ju" bunch.

So now we are expecting a little "Hick-Ju" offspring, and I would really like the baby to have some nominal connection to his/her Granju siblings. I suggested making the baby's middle name "Granju," but Jon gave this the big thumbs down and the few other people I've mentioned it to seem to thin I am insane for suggesting such a thing.

Anyone else got any bright ideas?


I seriously do not deserve my husband. He's so patient with me. And such a great stepfather. He should teach a how-to course for husbands. He is exceptionally excellent at being married.



After you have had a miscarriage, it's hard to feel very invested in a pregnancy because you worry something can go wrong.

Everything looks excellent this time around (there were some warning signs in last pregnancy), and I am trying to relax and allow myself to enjoy things - even the nausea and lethargy.


Ok, when you throw yourself on top of a stranger to protect him from an oncoming train, that's REAL HEROISM.


real life "mean girls"

Can you IMAGINE?

mac and cheese

I believe I have discovered the perfect food for mildly-nauseated-at-all-times pregnant women who are too sleepy to prepare even a sandwich: Stouffers frozen mac and cheese. Just ate some for breakfast, and I have stocked the freezer at my office with the stuff.

Lean Cuisine spaghetti with mushrooms also seems to fit the bill. I think I'll alternate...for variety.


on the turntable today

a women's health poll

A new poll asks about YOUR VIEWS on the right to videotape hospital births.


I actually started writing my new book today. It's due to the publisher in only 6 months, so I have to get cracking. Of course, I've been pre-writing for a while now, with notes and thoughts and research scribbled down. But today I actually started writing the manuscript.


When our baby is born, his or her siblings will be almost-16, 12, and 9 years old. Henry will be at home full time only two years of this baby's life, before he heads off to college (or to be a traveling minstrel, which is what he favors as a life plan this week). Jane will be well into middle school and Elliot will be starting 4th grade.

That's a big age gap, and not one I ever would have planned. I have enjoyed seeing my three children grow up together, and have sometimes felt that even the 4 year gap between Henry and Jane was too long (for them, not for me. I found the wider spacing easier than the 2 year spacing between Jane and Elliot).

I was thinking about this when reading THIS WOMAN'S ACCOUNT of having one baby in her 20s, one in her 30s, and one at age 40. She lays out the pros and cons pretty well.

Along with being excited about having a new baby brother and sister, I do think the children have some apprehension about what it will be like to be so much older than the youngest in our family. Henry worries he won't get to know him or her. Luckily, we do have a good model. Some close friends of ours adopted a baby girl when their sons were in their teens, and those boys ADORE and dote on their little sister, who is now in elementary school.

nine years ago

Nine years ago tonight, I was in labor with baby Elliot, who unexpectedly arrived three weeks early. Three weeks isn't THAT early...unless your lungs aren't yet fully "cooked," and his weren't.

E. was born with pulmonary hypertension of the newborn. He was extremely, critically ill and in the NICU for several weeks. At two points, they told us we should be prepared for him not to make it through the night.

Those weeks were the most horrible experience of my life. No one who has not experienced having a child that sick can imagine what it feels like. As it turned out, Elliot was seriously ill two more times before he left babyhood. Dealing with those illnesses changed me in some soul-deep ways.

I wrote this essay about it:

State of Grace

by Katie Allison Granju

" Oh no. Please God not again."

This was my thought -- my mantra -- as my husband and I carried our three
year old son, Elliot, into the emergency room at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital last week. Limply draped over my shoulder, he winced in pain as I handed him over to a waiting nurse for triage care.

It was quickly determined that Elliot was suffering from meningitis, which required a nightmarish evening of IVs, a spinal tap, a catheter, and eventually, admission to the hospital. The good news was that his meningitis was not bacterial, one of the most dangerous and dreaded of modern childhood infectious illnesses. The bad news was that he was miserably ill, with a throbbing headache and an inability to sleep or
get comfortable.

Elliot was released after several days of IV antibiotics and observation, and we were beyond grateful as we carried him out the sliding doors of the hospital into the muggy Tennessee afternoon heat. This is Elliot’s third major illness in his three short years with us and I no longer take his well-being for granted.

I am aware that it could be worse. He doesn’t have cancer or AIDS or cystic fibrosis. After our many, many weeks in several hospitals since Elliot’s birth, I have met the parents of the children with those illnesses and I always feel guilty in my bald relief that we are not there for the same reasons. However, I also feel blessed in having been in the presence of these mothers, fathers, and grandparents. There is a particular radiant serenity that is immediately apparent in the
countenance and bearing of the parents of critically and chronically ill children.

After spending time with others who are in the clutches of what is almost universally acknowledged as the most indescribably horrible human experience, I come away feeling that I have been in the presence of God.

When a pre-term Elliot was hospitalized in the newborn intensive care nursery at birth, each small, plastic box in the large room held a very sick baby, generally surrounded by a rotating band of hovering mothers, fathers, and grandparents. But the isolette next to ours housed an impossibly small, intubated being that to my frightened, worried eyes appeared incapable of being a real, live baby. This infant never had any visitors. The two pound child lay there day after day, completely alone
but for the attentive nurses and neonatologists who carefully monitored the machines that kept her alive so that she could grow. But no one sang to her, or massaged her pea-sized toes, or whispered in her ear to help her sleep. I began to feel resentful toward these parents I had never seen, wondering what sort of monsters could leave their sickly, premature infant in the care of strangers.

However, on the fourth day after Elliot’s admittance to the NICU, the tiny baby’s mother suddenly appeared at her bedside. She was young, clearly younger than I was, and so thin that her cheap shift hung on her like a leaf on a branch in November. Timidly, she offered up a large, battered cooler to the nurse in attendance, explaining that it contained bottles of the breastmilk she had pumped every four hours around the clock for her hospitalized infant.

And then she settled in to the rocking chair next to her daughter and began speaking to her in a low, shy voice, heavily accented with what I recognized the regional patois of southern Appalachia. In the hour she was there, I heard her explain to the baby that she had no car and thus, couldn’t come to see her as often as she would have liked. She told the child of the several young brothers and sisters who would be
waiting for her when she was able to come home to a mountainous county several hours away. She sang a high, lonesome lullabye I have never heard before or since, as she sat close to the baby she wasn’t yet allowed to hold.

And then a nurse appeared at her side and informed her that her ride was waiting in the lobby. With a grace and beauty I have seen only a few times in my life, the mother rose from her seat beside her child, blew her a kiss, gathered up her now-emptied cooler and quietly left the room.

Tonight I will wrap a freshly-bathed Elliot in a soft blanket and rock him on our wide porch facing the Smoky Mountains off in the distance. I’ll sing to him about the moon and fairies and I’ll count his breaths as he finally drifts off to sleep. I will probably weep a few tears for no good reason other than the almost physical sense of relief I have in the presence of his sweet smell and strong toddler's body. And I’ll say a prayer for the parents all over the world who are spending their evening sitting in emergency rooms and next to hospital beds, drawing on a deep
well of strength they never knew they had.



another video of a recent jane riding lesson

double ugh

I think I cursed myself, by mentioning the ptyalism (below).

I was driving across town tonight when it suddenly started. It was that quick: one minute I was fine and the next I...wasn't.

That was several hours ago and I seem to have it full force.

I was just googling it, to see if maybe there has been some wonder cure developed for this bizarro pregnancy symptom since last time I was with child. Apparently not.



help with breastfeeding

Yesterday an acquaintance of mine called and asked if I could come by and help his wife with some breastfeeding questions she was having. She had only been home from the hospital after a c-section for 3 days and she was feeling overwhelmed and panicky about how nursing was going.

I told him I'd be happy to come by, and asked if I could bring my sister, Betsy, who has nursed two children and teaches the prenatal breastfeeding classes at a local hospiatl. He happily agreed.

So we both went by and visited with them for a little while. The baby is absolutely GORGEOUS! Babies delivered via c-section definitely don't look as "beat up" as other babes, and he looked like a baby out of a picture book.

He was nursing, but his mother was afraid he wasn't getting enough milk and was feeling postpartum and weepy. Her milk was starting to come in, and the sensation had her concerned she might be getting mastitis.

It turns out that she just needed some help with positioning him properly and knowing that she needed to get more of her breast into his little mouth. We also explained to her that the "feedings every two to three hours" was a minimum, and that in the first week or so, it's good to offer the breast every 45 minutes or so, even if he only nurses for a minute or two before falling back asleep. She hadn't had the chance to take a breastfeeding class or do much reading before he was born, so was doing her best getting started nursing without much info or support. We also suggested she stop giving him the pacifier until breastfeeding was better established.

By the time we left, she was smiling, and the beautiful baby had finished off one breast and was ready to start on the other one. Milk was dribbling out the corner of his mouth and he had that newborn "milk drunk" look that lets you know he's eating well.

Those first few days are so tiring and scary with a new baby. They're also critical to establishing breastfeeding. With the right advice and support, most "problems" are easily solved. She literally just needed someone to show her how to hold the baby and how to get his mouth on her breast. No one had really shown her this and she didn't know how.

It's too bad more American hospitals don't offer a midwifery/doula care model that would send a helper around the the house a few days after birth to listen to the new mother and help her with any questions or concerns she might have.

And it's very satisfying to help someone begin such a wonderful relationship with their baby.

Happy New Year!!!

Here are a whole bunch of things WE DIDN'T KNOW ONE YEAR AGO.

so damn tired

The dreaded first trimester nausea has remained at bay so far.

Instead, my primary symptom is exhaustion. I am sleepy, sleepy, sleepy. I want to fall asleep at the table. I want to fall asleep at work. I can hardly motivate myself to complete anything I start. I just want to take warm baths and then sleep.

I guess growing a new human being takes some energy. I am trying to think of it that way when I feel like a total lazy ass. And again, this is certainly easier to deal with than it would be if my children were really little. Now when I need a nap, I can just tell the kids to leave me alone for an hour while I take a nap with no worries that one of them will eat the catfood or accidentally set the curtains on fire while I sleep.

And as always, Jon is being extremely accomodating, although he's probably tired of me being so...tired.

the gun show

Several weeks ago, my 8 year old noticed a billboard advertising a "gun show" at the Expo Center. He asked if I would take him and I agreed. So on Saturday, I took E. and his pal C. to the gun show.

I had no idea what to expect, and my first surprise was that it cost $10 for me to get in. Yikes. Once inside, it was like an alternate universe. Men with guns were walking around everywhere. We don't live in a culture where you see many people walking around with guns, so it's jarring to see that. Of course, all the guns were checked by police officers at the door and had to have some sort of plastic safety tie on them so they were not fire-able, but it's still a strange sight.

The little boys were in heaven. My only rules were no running and no touching without asking the person staffing the booth, and they both carefully followed the rules. So basically I followed them around for two hours as they went from booth to booth, admiring everything from beautful guns from the War of 1812 to scary looking handguns.Everyone at the gun show was extremely kind and friendly to the two inquisitive little boys asking all their questions at booth after booth.

E. used his own money to buy a new airsoft rifle. C. used his to buy an action figure of a Russian WWI soldier. The next day. E. went back with his grandfather and came home with a WWII bayonet.

local news coverage of leprechaun sighting

This is INCREDIBLY funny. I strongly encourage you to watch it. Gotta love the local news.

jane and irish

Here is Jane on Saturday schooling Irish, a medium Connemara pony that belongs to her trainer. Her riding is getting sooo much steadier and quieter.