jane & buddy

Jane and her friend Natalie's pony:



midwife visit

Things I learned:

-My belly is measuring "large for dates" (my belly always measures "large for dates" and I always have small babies)

-I now weigh as much as I did when I gave birth to my other three children....and I have three months left to go. Ack.

poor wife

I am very pleased that this sportswriter finally feels okay about revealing that he's actually A WOMAN. She writes beautifully of the pain this gender confusion has caused her for her entire life. But I sure do feel sorry for the woman to whom this person is married.

a vol abroad

I love THIS BLOG. I wish I knew this blogger. I also wish I lived in London - as she does - which I did for a semester in college, while I interned with a Member of the British Parliament. I love London. I love the British. I even like lots of British food. I do not, however, love Monty Python.


Someone I loved very much has died. Karen was my next door neighbor for 7 years, and she died of complications from breast cancer. She leaves behind her 12 year old daughter and her husband of 25 years.

I remember the day six years ago when she told me she had found lump in her breast. She brushed a hard spot on her breast with her upper arms while vacuuming. She was tremendously frightened, and yet always funny and brave through all of it.

The first round of treatment wasn't so bad, and they thought she had gotten it. She was cancer free for two years, and then it came back. And then it came back again.

She died at home, with her husband and daughter holding her hands.

On the surface, Karen and I didn't appear likely to become good friends. She was eight years older than I am, and a conservative Baptist. Her life revolved around her home and her church. She didn't breastfeed her daughter and didn't get why I thought it was such a big deal ;-) She was very shy and reserved, while I am an extrovert. She took he time getting to know people, and could seem aloof. She was very tidy and organized, and I am messy. She never got an e-mail account! In fact, as far as I know, she never once got online!

But over the years, she became family to me. She cared for my children while I worked. Her daughter and mine became best of friends. We planned birthday parties together, and spent many nights sitting on her front lawn or mine watching our children play until the sun went down. She sewed Halloween costumes for my children and my sister's children, and she was the one I turned to when I needed J's hair "done up" for a fancy occasion. She was better at it than I was. When I couldn't get a feverish E. to take medicine, I would take him next door to Karen's and she would whisper something in his ear and smile at him and he would gulp it down. He loved "Miss Karen" like a second mama.

And now she's gone. I am heartbroken. It's so wrong for someone that good and honest and pure to be taken from all that mattered to her - her child and husband. She so wanted to see her child grow up.

Her husband told me how happy it made Karen to see that after I went thru my rough patch a few years back - with the divorce, and having to move away from the house next door - I had come thru on the other side happy and healthy and loved by a Good Man. She got to meet Jon several times and she gave him her stamp of approval.

Karen didn't have many close friends. She was picky. But my sister and I were privileged to know her and love her. Now I will make sure that for the rest of her life, Karen's daughter will have women in her life who DID know her mom - who can tell her of Karen's sly, wicked humor; her selfless love; her ability to make a house a home, and her incredible bravery when life handed her a cruel fate.

I knew she was going to die. But I thought she would be here for at least a while longer. Her sudden death was a hard surprise for me. I cannot believe she's gone. I wish I had told her more clearly how much she meant to me and our family before it was too late. I won't make that mistake again.


found a childbirth class

Well, I finally found a one-day, 8 hour childbirth class that's do-able for Jon and me. It's a BIRTHING FROM WITHIN class taught at the freestanding birth center in MADISONVILLE, TN.

I don't think I'm gonna be that into the belly-casting and "birth-art" element of this class, but I like the idea of learning how to face and get past my fears, rather than just learning coping techniques for dealing with the pain.

a new breastfeeding blog

Read it HERE

beautiful writing

Just discovered this blog. Her various POSTS ABOUT CHILDBIRTH are gorgeously written, and capture a lot of my fears and ambivalence.

too much praise?

Jon wonders if we are giving kids TOO MUCH PRAISE these days.

alec baldwin

Have you ACTUALLY LISTENED TO the nasty voicemail message Alec Baldwin left for his 11 year old daughter? The one in which he insults her mother, refers to her as a "pig," and threatens her?

If you have, you likely share my disgust that he now publicly blames his raging tirade on his daughter's mother. Baldwin says that if his ex-wife weren't so difficult to deal with, he wouldn't be under the "stress" that led him to go off like this. He claims Kim Basinger has "alienated" him from his child.

This is a classic blame-the-victim strategy employed by rageful, abusive people - often men - toward their victims - often women and children. If you listen to the voicemail message, it's pretty clear that Baldwin doesn't need much help in "alienating" himself from his child. He's doing an excellent job of that himself.

And if all it takes to whip him into this type of frenzy is one careless, or even thoughtless failure to answer the phone by an 11 year old child, I cannot imagine what state he gets himself into when someone really pisses him off.

I have no idea who leaked this tape to the media, but that's a separate issue. Baldwin's rage and abuse speak for themselves, however they became public.

I feel really sorry for Kim Basinger. She's been living with this behavior as a wife, a mother and an ex-wife for 15 years now, and it must be incredibly painful and difficult.


After 6-8 weeks of feeling rather calm and happy (after feeling tired, slightly ill and nauseated during the first trimester), I am finding myself a bit moodier and short-tempered in the past few days.

I feel like our house is a wreck and my children are going to go deaf from their iPods and I am just not usre I have it in me to argue with E. one more time about how slackerly he's being on his math homework.

Really, nothing has changed since last week, when I felt quite content, but suddenly I feel a bit anxious and stressed and irritable. I need to shake it off. It helps no one, most of all me.

I am definitely getting a bit "nesty" and feeling like I have to get better organized and ready for the baby. Finding a childbirth class we can squeeze into our schedule is turning out to be a bit of a hassle. I think we need to take one together, but we really need to find one that is an intensive day-long or weekend-long one focused on achieving unmedicated birth. Even though we are willing to do it here or in Chattanooga or even in Nashville, I can't seem to find one that fits our schedule and inclinations.

I keep thinking about how unprepared I was when E. was born three full weeks before his due date. It took me pretty much completely by surprise.


which childbirth prep class did you take?

Which childbirth prep class did you take (Bradley, Lamaze, the standard class offered by hospital, HypnoBirthing, Birthing from Within, etc) and why? What did you think of it? How well did it serve you during childbirth? What did your husband/partner think or get out of it? What kind of birth did you want? What kind of birth did you end up with?

Comments below, please :-)

feeling the baby move

Jon got to feel the baby move FOR THE FIRST TIME a few days ago.

glass half-full kid

J. is my glass half-full kid. No matter what life hands her, she manages to find the best in it, shake off what's bothering her, and move on. She doesn't cling to the negative, or let things get her down when there isn't anything she can do about the situation. I frequently point out to her that this practical optimism is a wonderful quality that she has, and that she should continue to cultivate it.

This week she is on a 3 day class field trip in another state. Her older brother went on the same trip several years ago, and he told Jon and me that she probably wouldn't like it because it was really dull.

"Oh well, " Jon said. "Knowing J., she'll make the best of it."

So the first night of the trip, she called home to check in, and I asked her how the trip was going.

"Well, it's actually really lame, but I'm trying to make the best of it," she answered.


The Farm at 36

Hard to believe it, but The Farm in Summertown, Tennessee is NEARLY 40 YEARS OLD this year.

Given my parents' inclinations, and the fact that we moved to (very) rural Tennessee from the west coast in 1977 in order to have a more natural, wholesome family lifestyle, it's actually somewhat surprising we didn't end up living on The Farm. I'll bet my parents at least considered it. I'll have to ask them.

(My parents, along with my Uncle John and AUnts Delphia and Louise at Thanksgiving, 1974 - you get the picture)

thanksgiving 1974

I know that I grew up eating a lot of food prepared out of the two Farm-published cookbooks my mother kept out on the kitchen counter at all times.


Ina May Gaskin is one of my feminist heroes.


new car

After going 'round and 'round about our car situation, we finally decided to bite the bullet and buy a new car. Last night we brought home a 2007 HONDA ODYSSEY.

It's very scary signing off on such a big purchase, but the plan is to try to pay it off as quickly as possible. We decided that while we could have gotten a cheaper minivan of a different type, the Hondas hold their value so well that it makes the whole idea of buying a new car less intimidating; in the event we ever need to scale way back financially, we could easily sell the Honda without taking a huge bath on it. The hope is, however, that we will take excellent care of the Honda and drive it for the next 10 years.

I did consider a station wagon with the third seat, but those seats looked really uncomfortable to me for anyone over 3 feet tall. And whatever the experts say, the idea of a kid riding facing backwards sounds scary to me in the event of a rear end collision. And the only big-enough station wagon that holds its value at all is the Volvo. I do like those boxy old Volvo wagons, but we decided we wanted the reliability (and warranty) of a new car if we would be making a car payment anyway. And we couldn't afford a new Volvo.

We bought the cheapest new Honda Odyssey on the market, both because we wanted to spend less and because neither of us wanted all the fancy electronica that comes with the higher end models. I know that if I had electronic sliding doors, I'd be squashing children via remote -- before the doors stopped working altogether. Nope, give me regular old doors anytime. We also didn't want DVD players or navigation systems or any of that stuff. I'd rather the kids listen to music, look out the windows, read, or even (gasp!) talk to each other while in the car.

But even this cheapest of all Odyssey models is much nicer than any car I've ever owned. It's incredibly comfortable and well designed in inside. It has an unbelievable amount of available and concealed storage (E. loves the under floor "boot" for storing stuff), and every seat is really comfy and nice. Plenty of room for all 5 of us to ride together, and still plenty of room when NewBaby comes at the end of the summer.As an added bonus, it has tons of safety features. I know I will feel safer driving everyone around in it, as opposed to my VW (which we traded in).

I do feel guilty about getting a bigger car with worse gas mileage though. And that seems to be the biggest consumer complaint I've read: that the Odyssey doesn't get the mileage it's advertised to get, which isn't that spectacular anyway.

Time to buy some carbon offsets and go vegetarian to make up for it...

Having a new car is shallow fun, I must admit. I can't wait to take our first family roadtrip in it. It will also be great for camping at Bonnaroo in June.

By the way, be sure to tease Jon about having a minvan now ;-) He's definitely got that family man vibe happening these days.



are you an east tennessee blogger?

Do you blog at least part of the time about your life as a parent?

If so, I want to know of your existence. Let me know about your blog by commenting below.



anti-obesity infant formula?

This sounds creepy to me.

It's actually just the latest attempt to manufacture the living properties of human bresatmilk (available free to the vast majority of human infants, straight from their mothers) and MAKE WOMEN PAY MONEY FOR IT.

(Hat tip to M.B.)

start your week off right....

...with Big Star playing SEPTEMBER GURLS, live.

Pure pop perfection.

Which reminds me, I have been discussing with some friends what the best pop song ever recorded is. My vote is for "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys.

(Please play this at my funeral)

Enter your vote below, but remember, you only get to pick ONE song, and it has to be a pop song.


So Jon and I haven't been quite sure how childcare for the baby would work out once my 8 weeks of maternity leave are up. We figured his mom might help some (she's a teacher, retiring at the end of this year), and we thought maybe Jon could take her with him to work some, but we really weren't sure about any of this without talking to his mother and father (who is Jon's boss).

Tonight we talked to them, and Jon's mother is going to care for the baby 2 days each week at their house, and Jon can bring the baby to work with him the other three days, as well as work from home some. Short of me being able to quit my job, or cut back to part time, which is simply not a possibility, this is really the second best arrangement.

Jon's parents' house is only 2 miles from my office, so I can nurse the baby at lunch time on the days she is with Janice. The rest of the time, she will have to learn to take a bottle of pumped breastmilk from Jon.

We will set up a cradle and a rocking chair, etc at Jon's office.

He's really excited about getting to be the main baby care person three days a week. He'll actually get way more time with her each week than I will. I already feel a little jealous, and I am dreading all that pumping, but still, this is a great relief to be able to do it this way.


those third seats in station wagons?

YOu know those third row seats you can fold up and down that come in some station wagons? Are they safe, do you think?

Katie, still trying to figure out the whole car-with-even-more-children-situation....

hot fuzz

Jon and I went to see "HOT FUZZ" last night and I laughed my arse off.

I am no fan of action movies, cop movies or slasher movies, and yet somehow I found this clever send-up of the three genres the most amusing movie I've seen in ages. And the SOUNDTRACK is outstanding.

Highly recommended.

your unmedicated birth stories

Care to share?

I would like to have an unmedicated birth this time around. I'd like to read more folks' stories of birth without meds. If you feel like sharing yours, comment below.




beginning to feel really pregnant

I am now 21 weeks pregnant. As with my other pregnancies, I look and feel thoroughly pregnant now, although some women are barely showing at this point. Me, I'm huge.

I am starting to feel quite pregnant. I feel totally great, but very pregnant. It's getting hard to turn over in bed. I can't lie on my back any more. And when I stand or walk for long periods, I get pretty achy in my lower belly. I am amazed when I hear about women who are still running regularly until their third trimester. I can't even imagine it.

But I am enjoying every minute of it. I really do love feeling her kick. And it's thrilling seeing Jon so happy and excited. He's really into the pregnancy. He's been reading "The Birth Partner" by Penny Simkin, and the other day we were out somewhere when he suddenly and very earnestly asked, "So when are we supposed to start the perineal massage?"

"Not now. Not here," I told him.

But it's wonderful to have a husband who is so involved and interested. It makes it more fun. He's gonna be a kickass daddy.

Soon J. and I are going to start shopping for some babygirl clothes. She has some definite ideas about how her little sister will be clothed.

if you love ira glass like i love ira glass...

This American Life host and producer Ira Glass began work on the project in 1995 in Chicago, where he found himself inspired by and catering to an audience of professionals who dine out frequently and have a hard time getting angry. Glass and his team of producers, writers, and interns set about the exhausting task of gathering all available information on a range of subjects from minor skirmishes with the law to the rewards of occasionally talking to poor people. The raw data was then analyzed, deconstructed, reconstructed, re-deconstructed, organized under a broad philosophical title, and interspliced with musical interludes by rock duo They Might Be Giants.

Read the rest RIGHT HERE.

words that irrationally bug me

I can't bring myself to call old people "seniors." It just sounds ridiculous to me. I want to call them "old people," or "the elderly."

When I am old, I want to be called an "old woman," but not "a senior."

That is all ;-)

doctors becoming less willing to allow VBACs

See the story RIGHT HERE

katie couric, always trying to copy me ;-)


Folks sometimes ask me how I happened to end up married to someone significantly younger than I am. I always say honestly that I never would have imagined such a thing. The idea seemed very foreign to me before I met Jon.

The first time Jon and I went out, I didn't know exactly how old he was. I thought he might be 3-6 years younger than I was, but I wasn't 100% sure. I thought we might be about the same age. Then it came up in casual conversation when he had graduated high school. I literally choked on my drink.

I struggled with the idea that he was younger when we were first dating, but the more I got to know him, the more I just sorta forgot about it. I certainly know lots of women whose husbands are quite a bit OLDER than they are.

Now I barely even think about it. People don't seem to notice unless I mention it (and then women usually give me a "you go girl!" response). I guess it's good motivation for me to take good care of myself.

He's just Jon, and I'm just me, and I realize my previous prejudices against age differences between adults who care for each other were baseless.


the definitive resource on co-sleeping


This wonderful book is now available, and I recommend it to everyone who wants to learn what co-sleeping is, and why it's safer and healthier for babies. It's written by Dr. James McKenna, who heads up the THE MOTHER-BABY SLEEP LAB at Notre Dame.

Here is a great collection of INFORMATION on the hows and whys of sleeping with your young'un.

hillari and her supercute baby

I just stumbled on this new column by my friend Hillari, mother of beautiful baby Truman. It's RIGHT HERE. Hillari is a yoga buff (she used to be editor of Yoga Journal) and is apparently now writing about getting back in shape after having a babe.

found dog

This morning there was a gorgeous, super sweet, steel gray pit bull hanging around the parking lot at my office. She had no collar and was clearly lost, as she was begging to be let into the building. She was also running in front of cars, and I was afraid she was going to be run over, so I have taken her to my house for the time being as I try to locate her owners.

If you know of anyone in North Knoxville missing a dog matching this description, please e-mail me at

Please forward to friends and coworkers.



baby kicks

The great thing about feeling your baby move is...well...feeling your baby move.

The bad part is that if you don't feel much or anything for 24 hours, you start to worry.

NewBaby has been extremely quiet all day yesterday and this morning. If I don't get some baby kick action by later today, I think I'll ask my midwives if I can pop in for a quick heartbeat check..

the dangerous book for boys - a preliminary review


Allow me to gush.

This is a WONDERFUL new book for boys of all ages and their parents. For starters, it's gorgeous to look at and hold in your hands. If you grew up in a house full of musty old books with cloth covers, as I did, just holding this book in your hands is a visceral pleasure.

When I handed it over to my 9 year old male test subject, he too seemed to instinctively love the heft and feel of this lovely book. Then he opened the cover, and his head stayed buried in it for the next 30 minutes.

When he emerged from his initial perusal, he proclaimed it to be "the best book ever." With short chapters on everything from how to safely get your pocketknife onto an airplane (he's very into pocketknives these days) to how to build a treehouse, the book is tailormade for a little boy's interests. He told me he can't wait to read the parts about how to play poker, how to fireproof cloth, and how to make a pinhole projecter. I know he will also enjoy the true tales of daring and adventure included in the book.

I will write a more complete review of the book as we have more time to dig into it (it just arrived yesterday), but I can tell you already that this book is about to become my staple gift for all little boys, as well as baby showers where boys are expected.

An instant classic.

bears repeating periodically

"As for me, I've chosen to follow a simple course: Come clean. And wherever possible, live your life in a way that won't leave you tempted to lie. Failing that, I'd rather be disliked for who I truly am than loved for who I'm not. So I tell my story. I write it down. I even publish it. Sometimes this is a humbling experience. Sometimes it's embarrassing. But I haul around no terrible secrets."

----Joyce Maynard


my five year blogging anniversary

It's this week.

You can read my very first blog post, from five years ago, RIGHT HERE.

new family pix

My nephew Nicholas


My nieces and nephew sacked out: Jones, Anna and Helen


Anna and Helen


Nicole and Anna


introduce yourself!

I notice from my blog stats that I have a lot of new readers lately. Seems like now is as good a time as any to put out my semi-regular call for folks to introduce themselves.

So who are you? Where do you live? What brought you to the blog? How often do you visit?

Comment below (and I'll get the ball rolling).

ricki lake

Who knew that Ricki Lake is now a film maker and ADVOCATE FOR MIDWIFERY?


NewBaby will not have a real nursery because we'll have her sleep in our room for the first year or two. I would like a nice sling, and maybe a new stroller, but I really don't need that much baby stuff...okay, okay, I'll admit to loving adorable baby girl clothing. But seriously, I am not that hung up on getting baby STUFF beyond the basics, which we will need to stock up on since it's been 10 years since E. was born.

But I have to admit that I have become rather excited by picking out a new supply of....cloth diapers.

Yes, I am a dork.

I cloth diapered my last two children most of the time, and we did invest in some nice FITTED CLOTH FLANNEL DIAPERS and two DIFFERENT KINDS of ALL IN ONE diapers. They all worked very well (though almost all are handed down or gone now, 10 years later). I have already. ordered some of that same brand of flannel fitteds for NewBaby.

But it seems that in the past decade, the number of types of cloth diapers available for we cloth diaper-ers has grown by leaps and bounds. And they are all available to order online, something that was just beginning to be an option when E. was a baby.

So I've ordered a few samples, and I'm thinking my new cloth diaper stash is gonna consist of:


-with some of THESE BAMBOO ONES

-and at least 12 of these THESE ALL-IN-ONES.

All three of these are the best of the samples I've ordered, and they actually come in true newborn sizes (most "newborn" size cloth diapers are actually better suited to a 3 month old).

As for diaper covers (needed on diapers that are not all-in-ones), when my last kids were babies, my favorite brand was Biobottoms, but they have apparently since gone out of business. Fleece seems to be the new, favorite diaper-cover material, something that wasn't available ten years ago. I think I'll order a few OF THESE, and I still like good, old fashioned PULL-ON PANTS

(And as an aside, is there some law mandating that all cloth diapers have to have such ridiculously cutesy brand names??)


my thoughts on the difference between attachment parenting and "over-parenting"

This is an essay I wrote about three years ago on this topic. See what you think:


-Katie Allison Granju

We dropped our nearly-12-year-old son, Henry off for a month at summer camp this weekend. He stayed two weeks last year but wanted to try a month this time. I know I'll miss him but it was fun to see him happily waving goodbye, surrounded by a gaggle of other boys as we drove away.

In the past few weeks, as I've mentioned to friends and acquaintances that Henry would be gone at camp for four weeks, I've encountered quite a bit of wonderment that we would allow him to stay away that long, or that he would want to. Interestingly, some of the folks who seemed most startled at the idea that a sixth grader would spend a month away from his parents at summer camp are the same people who have amazed me in the past with their willingness to leave their infants and very young children for days or even longer at a time.

In thinking about that riddle, I was reminded yet again of how upside-down I find much of millennial, Western child rearing to be. I think we have it backwards in our culture: we don't allow babies much of a babyhood, but we treat our older children and teenagers like babies for far too long.

As with other higher-order mammals, human infants are hardwired to require certain responses from their adult caregivers in order to thrive. Human babies need to be held a great deal—almost constantly, actually—and experience a great deal of touch-time with other humans. They need to eat very frequently and in small amounts, including during the night. They have a strong need to suck for comfort, not only for food. They need to discover that they are able to elicit responses from the people around them when they cry. And optimally, human infants need to wean and reach other important developmental milestones, such as readiness for separation from parents—at their own unique pace.

Notice that I said that they need these things to thrive, rather than survive. I'm well aware of the anecdotal "my mother fed me on a strict schedule and I'm just fine" argument (I myself rode around without a car seat in a haze of second hand smoke as a tyke), but a growing body of respected anthropological and medical research now supports the view that high-touch, fed-on-cue, attachment-style child care yields optimal neurological and emotional development in babies and young children.

Sure, babies can turn out OK under a variety of conditions, just as plants can take root in rocky soil, but we know with increasing assuredness what the gold standard is.

Yet we modern American parents lead the world in our gadgetry and lifestyles designed to maximize babies' separation from their parents. Although there has been some movement toward more attachment-style parenting in recent years, American babies still spend more time in playpens, swings, cribs, and battery powered bouncy seats than they do in the arms of their parents, siblings, and other relatives. We stay at arm's length, and it's almost as if we are afraid to hold our babies too much for fear they will never let us put them down.

But by age six or seven, we begin to obsess over every detail of our kids' lives and micro-manage every moment of their days. Because we worry about stranger danger and exposure to the wrong movies, advertising, or foods, we no longer allow kids to wander freely through our neighborhoods or even our own front yards, where they should be learning important lessons in autonomy and problem solving. I meet many 10- and 11-year-old children who, while never having spent a night sleeping in the same bed as their parents as infants, still have never spent a night at a friend's house as third and fourth graders.

Our parenting style is like asking trapeze artists to learn to work without a net first, and only after they have mastered this, insisting that they perform in full safety gear of nets, wires, and pulleys. I believe that the result of this backwards approach to raising kids is that we are turning out children who may feel an unexpressed longing for something very primal that they can't even identify, yet without basic life skills or self confidence.

Babies need babying. Big kids need the chance to try out their wings.

And when they experience the inevitable bumps and bruises along the way, that's when we get to hold them close and give them a little "booster shot" of smother love. I fully anticipate that we will receive at least one "I'm so homesick I could die" letter from Henry. When I do, I'll pack and send off an extra special care package for him and continue to count the days until we get to retrieve him. And I'll be both surprised and a little disappointed if in a year or two, he doesn't feel ready for a five week stay.


breastfeeding's protective impact against breast cancer

Some very INTERESTING NEW RESEARCH was released this week on the ways in which breastfeeding lowers women's risk for breast cancer.

april at our house

e. gives baby sister-to-be a zerbert (please pretend you do not see my developing double chin. i have now gained 18 pounds!)

Picture 015

the belly

Picture 012

h. and everpresent guitar.

Picture 005

j., thinker

Picture 004

j, reader

Picture 003


new essay

I have a new essay in TODAY. It's about over-parenting, and how it's bad for kids and parents.

Thanks to all who talked to me and shared their insights and ideas while I was writing the piece. Not many actual quotes made it into the finished piece, but your feedback was really helpful to me.

Let me know what you think of the essay.


true mom confessions

Here's mine for the week: sometimes I tell E. I will read to him before he falls asleep, but I secretly stall so he'll fall asleep before I have to read the story.

Bad mama.

Other moms have their TRUE MOM CONFESSIONS HERE.

It's like POSTSECRET, but for mothers.

It's fascinating to read, but I must admit to being afraid some terrible child abuse stories will start popping up.

first horse show, etc

Our planned first horse show of the season was a bust.

J., E., and I woke up at 5am Saturday and drove down to Cleveland, TN (about 90 minutes away) to meet our trainer and get ready for J.'s first day showing her new, medium pony. They were just going to do a few pleasure and under saddle (meaning, no jumping) classes at this first show, because Sloan - the pony - is a baby and he has never been away from our barn to scary showgrounds. This was supposed to be his chance to just get familiar with things.

Unfortunately, he somehow got a stone in his foot, so he developed a painful bruise and was too lame to ride for the whole weekend. J., was disappointed, but very mature and upbeat about it. She decided to stay at the show for the weekend with a friend so she could help out the other kids from our barn, socialize with other horsey kids, and watch the show.

So E., and I came back to Knoxville to try to make his Saturday afternoon soccer game, which ended up being rained out anyway. J. is still at the show Sunday afternoon and I will pick her up when she hitches a ride back to Knoxville with her friend's family later this afternoon.

And poor H. has been sick with strep all weekend. He spent Friday night with his grandparents, being coddled and petted as only grandparents can do for a sick grandson, then he came home yesterday afternoon and was sort of under the weather all afternoon and evening. This afternoon he seems to have regained all the energy he'd lost in being sick for the past 4 or 5 days, and now he is bouncing off the walls. It doesn't help that it's 40 degrees and raining, so he's stuck in the house.

all boy

I have worked hard to raise my children in a family environment free from constricting gender expectations. But no matter what I do, or have done, each of them generally fits gender stereotypes pretty well.

J. my 6th grade girl, loves shopping, makeup, high heeled sandals (which she isn't allowed to wear in public), and her growing collection of purses. She has a strong belief that a girl cannot have too many handbags.

And E., my third grade boy is - for lack of any better way to put it - all boy.

Yesterday, Jon wrote about how E. SPENT HIS AFTERNOON,, and yesterday, as I did piles and piles of dirty laundry, I had to carefully dig the rocks, string, pocketknives, and bits of snakeskin out of E's pairs of pants before throwing them in the washer.

Last night, E. fell asleep in our bed. Before Jon could carry E. to his own bed and put him in it, I had to clean the bed off, because it was covered with:

-a real machete (in sheath) recently unearthed in the kudzu behind our yard
-a large, sharp knife E. bought at a flea market (in sheath)
-two lacrosse sticks
-a baseball helmet
-three balls
-two giant nerf guns
-two cap pistols
-one book about monkeys
-one animatronic monkey

Let's just put it this way: in 11 years of raising a girl, I've never found knives or guns in her bed, while both of my boys seemed to end up with these items all over their sleeping spaces.

Although now that H. is in high school, his bed is more likely to be full of guitar picks and dirty socks.


thinking about pregnancy

Here is some more info on my decision to forego routine gestational diabetes testing (which is not routine in many other developed countries with better birth outcomes than we have, by the numbers)



Of course, I will have the test if any syptoms of risk factors develop, and maybe even if my midwife just feel really strongly about it and urges me to do it. But at this point, I am leaning toward no.

I have had a lot of screening testing in all my pregnancies, and even more in this one due to my "advanced maternal age" and my recently-discovered thrombophilia gene mutations. I am not opposed to screening tests I believe serve a purpose. But I am trying to have a pregnancy/birth where I feel like I am making truly informed, empowered decisions at every step. Sometimes this may actually involve asking my doctor or midwife for MORE testing. For example, I have read the research and ultrasounds don't worry me, so I have no problem asking for one if I have a concern or worry the ultrasound might alleviate.

But I am not willing to just blindly go along/get along - either direction.

Another example: I wasn't going to be able to have the birth I want with the perinatologists I was seeing because of how and where they deliver babies. So I spoke up to them about this and they were very open to working with midwives at another hospital to make sure I get what I want. I am glad I spoke up and didn't just accept what appeared to be the only option. I feel really good about taking some control over my care, and I continue to feel like I am still in very good hands for both my routine care (certified nurse midwives), as well as for any back-up or more advanced care I might need (my perinatologists).

For my birth, I plan to be assertive about what I do and do not want, recognizing that sometimes I may have to trust the judgment of my caregivers if they say I really do need to have some sort of intervention I would ideally like to avoid, like continuous fetal monitoring.

On the other hand, I may choose one intervention in particular - an epidural - that my midwives don't generally offer, because for 95% of their births, they are working in a freestanding birth setting rather than at the hospital where I will be having my baby.

Bottom line: my body, my baby, my brain, my birth, my decisions. We are lucky to live in an age where good info about pregnancy and birth are available to most women in the U.S., if they know where to look. I am lucky enough to have health insurance that allows me some choice and flexibility in choosing the caregivers I really want, so I know that I can trust their judgment and guidance in deciding how my care will proceed. And I am also lucky enough to have a husband who is equally involved in making pregnancy and birth decisions, but who supports my right to "drive the bus," as it were.

You might make different decisions for your own pregnancy, and I may make a misstep along the way, but at least I'm thinking as I go.


no GD test for me!

I have decided to decline the TESTING FOR GEStATIONAL DIABETES unless I have some obvious risk factor or symptoms that develop.


senile babydaddies?

People talk a lot about older women having babies these days, but you don't hear as much about the super-elderly fellas who are spreadin' the love around.

This is AN INTERESTING NYT ARTICLE about "start over dads," guys who have second families in their 60s and 70s.

How old is too old to become a father? Do you place any stock in the emerging research showing that "old" sperm can cause problems like miscarriage and autism? Do women take an unfair amount of flack over waiting 'til later in life to become mothers, while men are given a free pass?

jogging stroller - yay or nay?

Jon's a runner. He will also be doing a lot of our baby care while I am working.

Should we invest in a jogging stroller for him to use? Or would it gather dust?

For those who run and have babies, what's the verdict?

what's hot and what's not!

I'm with Lindsey; these people have TOO MUCH TIME ON THEIR HANDS.

step parents and new babies

All three of my children are excited in their own way about the impending arrival of their new baby sister. It's yet another change among the many big changes they have experienced in the past few years as their parents divorced, moved, dated other people, and then each remarried last year.

As wonderful as Jon is, I worried about how my children would adjust to having a new guy in our household. We had been a cozy family of four - just them and me - for four years when we moved in with Jon (or did he move in with us?). I worried the children would resent him, and he would resent how challenging it is to live with a 9 year old, an 11 year old and a teenager.

Happily, all my worries were for nothing, mostly because Jon is so laid back. He is the epitome of an excellent stepfather (regular readers know I hate the "step" monikers and wish there were a better word).

He is building a unique relationship with each of the kids. Obviously, the way he relates to a 15 year old boy (you don't start trying to actually parent a 15 year old boy when you have just married his mother.) is quite different from the way he relates to 9 year old E., who thinks Jon hung the moon. And of course, he is profoundly respectful of the relationship the children have with their father. He is careful to never overstep his bounds in that regard.

It's a delicate balancing act. He does a great job.

But now things are about to get more complicated with the addition of a new person to our family who will be Jon's biological child. The other children call him "Jon." Our new baby will call him "Daddy." I have to admit to some anxiety over how this will all work. Will NewBaby hear the other children call her father "Jon," and want to call him that too? Will it make me really sad to know that NewBaby will remain at home with Jon and me during periods when her older siblings go to their father's for a few days?

Anyway, it's interesting to think about. I'm sure we'll find our way. We will be a family of a different shape, but a happy family. And apparently other stap-parents think about this issue as well; here's an NICE ESSAY TODAY from a stepmother who is considering having a baby, and wondering whether that would be difficult for her two stepchildren.


From the current "found" section of my hometown newspaper (The Shelbyville Times Gazette):

Black female with white spot on her neck, medium size, found at the end of Amos Gammil Rd. 703-8703


midwife visit

I had my first prenatal visit with MY MIDWIVES today. As much as I like my perinatologists, seeing them still involves a stressful visit to a very busy doctor's office. Seeing the midwives is more personal, laid-back, and low-key.

Barring any complications, I'll be seeing the midwives for my care going forward, which is nice.

Now I have to figure out finding and either buying/renting the birth tub we will take to the hospital when we have the bambino...

confession of the day

I have no idea how to use eBay.

I have bought a few things via the "Buy It Now" feature, but I don't know how to bid in the auctions. It totally baffles me.


dad advice

Jon's looking for feedback from MORE EXPERIENCED DADS on baby gear.



No matter how many times you have a baby, it's always miraculous when you first begin to really feel her moving around.

I started feeling some flutters and wiggles several weeks back, at about 16 weeks, but in the past three days, the kicks are a lot ...thumpier, and they are much higher up on my belly, rather than confined to the lower half.

I think Jon and the kids could feel this, if I could get their hands on my belly at the right moment. So far, though, I'm the only one who has felt her doing her flips and kicks.

a parenting milestone

My oldest child got his learner's permit; he is now an almost-driver.



We have to buy a new (or used) car. The five of us barely fit in Jon's 12 year old Subaru wagon or my 5 year old Jetta. There's no way we're cramming another person, no matter how small, into one of our current cars.We have to get a new one before the baby is born.

I still have a car payment for my car, which I bought two and a half years ago. I paid too much for it, and then dinged it up, and am now "upside down" on it. So not only do we have to navigate the complexities of figuring out what kind of car to get, and whether we should buy new or used, and applying for and getting a loan, we are going to also have to figure out a way to get this Jetta traded in on the new vehicle.

I have never had to do this before (trade a car in when I owe more than it's worth), and I am very anxious about figuring out how to do it. I have a feeling the only way we will get it traded is if we buy a new car, but of course, you are always told to avoid buying a new car because they lose so much value as soon as you drive off the lot.

And the number of minivans now available is dizzying. How to decide which one to get? Sigh. Right now I am researching the Kia Sedona, which seems to be really cheap for a new car, have very high safety and buyer ratings, and comes with a kickass warranty.

Anybody got any thoughts on any of this? It all makes me feel as if my head might explode.

New or used?
Credit union/bank loan or dealer financing?
What kind of car to buy?
Which dealer is least likely to make me want to strangle the smarmy salesperson?


a good life

I've realized recently that this is the happiest and healthiest I've ever been in my whole adult life.

I attribute a lot of this to Jon. No, no, I'm not saying that you need another person to make you happy or healthy, but I will say that living with such a fundamentally sane, kind, thoughtful, even-tempered person, with such healthy values would be good for anyone. He's just Good Folks.

I tend to be a bit of a drama queen (many of us creative, writerly types are). Jon keeps me grounded.

The best thing about living with Jon is that I have never experienced being treated with such respect. That's a morale-booster for anyone.

When my daughters are old enough to date, I will encourage them to forego the dark-and-tortured-unpredictable-types for the Good Guys. It was a lesson it took me 38 years to learn, but I know now.

I am lucky.

And yes, this s a very sappy post, but hey! We're still newlyweds! I get to do things like this.


My daughter J. is a natural fashionista.

I love clothes, but I do not love shopping or trying to dress anyone else.

J. loves clothes, LOVES shopping and loves figuring out what other people should wear. She has a natural fashion sense.

So she's decided that she and she alone will be the fashion advisor to her baby sister, once she arrives. I have already told her she can choose the outfit in which baby Charlotte will come home from the hospital.

And yesterday, she called me from her father's to say that she had hit some estate sales on Friday, where she bought baby Ugg boots and some other "very cute" baby clothes.

Charlotte has her own stylist, and she isn't even born yet.


good (bad) friday

I often have very bad luck on Good Friday, involving major auto accidents, horseback riding injuries, tornadoes, etc.

I told Jon this this morning and he said to just be careful - just drive the short distance to my office, and come straight home afterwards (no need to drive children around today because H, J and E are with their father for the weekend).

So that's what I plan to do, but I will still be extra careful all day.


why breastmilk is more than food

Judy Hopkinson, assistant professor at the Children's Nutrition Research Center at the Baylor College of Medicine, has observed, "Breast milk is really primarily an immune booster. We think of it as nutrition, but it is really integral to the immune system."

Approximately 80 percent of the cells in breast milk are macrophages, cells that kill viruses, fungi and bacteria. Breastfed babies "receive maternal antibodies in the milk that reduce the risk of ear infections and diarrhea, as well as urinary and intestinal infections."

Read the whole article RIGHT HERE.

student's religious rights violated


The school sent him home.

baby charlotte

Charlotte Brittain Hickman

That's her name :-)

(Brittain is my middle name - an old family name)

Jon has terrific taste, if you ask me.

getting bigger

I am wearing maternity pants today.

When I sit down at my desk, I have to unbutton them.

I am trying very hard not to gain 50 lbs in this pregnancy like I did in my last three. For one thing, I started this pregnancy 15 lbs over my best weight (although I felt like I looked fine and I definitely felt good).

Then I gained 3 or 4 pounds after I got pregnant in September, which I did not lose between the time I miscarried in early November and when I got pregnant again a month later. And now I've gained 15 lbs so far in this pregnancy.

So I am definitely packing on some weight, although my doctor says I am gaining exactly right.

I also tend to get a ginormous belly. I do not have one of those tiny "is she or isn;t she?" pregnant bellies. I get a BELLY. By six months, people are generally asking me when I'm due and/or when the twins are due. They are always rather shocked when I tell them I have several more months to go. Part of this must be because I am pretty short so the belly is more noticeable.

Yeah...that's it. I'll just keep telling myself that....

Jon likes my belly.

instant family!

One of you should adopt these THREE ADORABLE LITTLE CHILDREN.

Be sure to watch the video.


growing a human

It's quite amazing to me that in the first 18-19 weeks of pregnancy, the baby grows about 10 ounces.

Then, during the second 18-19 weeks, the baby grows six to ten pounds.

That's pretty astonishing.

the feminine mistake

I haven't yet read this book, although I plan to:

The author argues that when women allow themselves to become too dependent on men for their financial well being, they are taking a huge risk. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But millions of women are still giving up jobs and careers to stay home full time, believing that they can count on the deal they have struck with their husbands: they will take care of the children and he will provide his wife's financial security.

Women who do this mean well. I did it myself for a number of years, and I continue to believe that having one parent at home most of the time is optimal for babies and young children. It also helps a household run more smoothly even as the kids get older. God knows it would be easier if either Jon or I worked, say, half time.

But it's a big risk for the women who do it. Fifty percent of us will end up divorced or widowed, no matter how good our marriages seem when our children are little. And I can tell you from personal experience that ending up a mother in your mid-30s with no husband-with-a-job, no retirement plan of your own, no full time job and no health benefits is not a good place to be. It's even worse for women who find themselves in that position in their 40s, 50s, or 60s.

I wrote about my own experience as a "displaced homemaker" RIGHT HERE. As I say in the piece I wrote, I was luckier than most. I had kept one foot in the workplace even as I stayed home with my children (I was a freelance writer and editor) and this made it somewhat easier for me to find a "real" job and get back into the workforce, but it wasn't easy. If it hadn't been for significant family help during the transition, I would have ended up on public assistance.

My advice to all young women is to assume you will always have to earn a living for yourself and your children. If you take time off to be home with children, be smart and keep one foot in the workforce with freelance or part time work. Go back to work at least part time when your kids go to school. Get a retirement plan in your own name and start socking money away, even if you are a stay at home mom.

And we should all be working within the political system for better family social supports in this country that don't force women to make such stark choices between financial security and family obligations, starting with one year of paid maternity leave and retirement benefits for stay at home caregivers.
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big kid

For most girls, a major "I'm getting grown up" milestone is that first pair of heels, or maybe being allowed to wear some make-up.

For girls who ride horses, however, it's that first pair of tall boots (as opposed to the ankle-high jodphur boots that little girls wear.)

Today was the big day for J.; we took her to get measured for her first pair of tall boots. As it happened, they had some in stock in her size. She was able to wear them out of the tack shop.

And then then she continued to wear them until bedtime (see photo below), with a huge grin on her face the whole time. This was a very exciting day for a girl who has been riding since she was five years old.

I love this picture, which I took on our front porch tonight. As it happened, each of the 3 kids was suited up for their favorite activity: H. was playing guitar, J. had just come from the barn in breeches and tall boots, and E. had just come from soccer practice.

Picture 029

Picture 001

Picture 038


alanis morrisette now has irony figured out

Check it out RIGHT HERE.

I love it!

more on the new HIV-breastfeeding study

An excellent overview of exactly what the study revealed RIGHT HERE.


We plan to use cloth diapers most of the time for NewBaby, as I did with my last two, but after 10 years since having a baby in the house, I am having to get all new ones. (Luckily, Jon is 100% on board with using cloth, despite the fact that many people say, "Your husband will never go for that!")

As I bemoan the expense of all new cloth diapers and covers, I got to wondering how much it costs these days to keep a baby in disposables. So that's my question: for those of you using disposables with your baby, how much do you spend?

(I would still use cloth even if it's more expensive, but I am just curious)


she appears to be an actual, human person

Had our "big," mid-pregnancy ultrasound today. Here's 4D Photo that's pretty neat-o.

Girlbaby looks perfect and healthy in every way. She was wiggling around a lot and sucking on her little fingers.

My doctor says he is A-OK with me transferring to the midwifery center for my primary prenatal care going forward, with my perinatlogists as back-up in case any problems crop up (though he doesn't expect any). So I don't even have to switch perinatologists.


breastfeeding and HIV - "Just one bottle"

A few years ago, I was a speaker at a La Leche League conference in Georgia. While there, I was lucky enough to get to meet one of the "founding mothers" of La Leche League, and spend some time talking with her.

She told me that she was working on a project to support and publicize some very early research indicating that exclusive breastfeeding actally protects babies against HIV, even when their mothers are infected. She explained that this point of view was very controversial, because conventional wisdom held that HIV-infected mothers should never breastfeed, and the infant formula comanies were using this point of view to launch massive new marketing campaigns in countries with high rates of HIV infection.

Several years later, NEW RESEARCH is confirming what this woman told me she believed would eventually be proved: exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months - even by HIV-infected mothers - lowers HIV infection rates in babies.

The almost miraculous anti-infective properties of human breastmilk fight off the HIV virus, while avoidance any supplementary formula, milk, or foods in the first months helps to protect "the integrity of (babies') intestinal mucosa, which thereby presents a more effective barrier to HIV."

Not only is this information going to save a lot of lives in the developing world, it offers clear insight in our own culture as to how breastfeeding protects our own babies from disease in the first months and why EVEN A FEW BOTTLES of infant formula can interfere with the disease-fighting properties of breastmilk.

The GI tracts of infants are designed for human breastmilk and only human breastmilk. Human breastmilk coats the immature (and sterile) GI tract with actively anti-infective protection, which helps the baby fight off pathogens in the early months.

Infant formula disturbs the sterile GI tract and irritates the protective mucosa coating. It actually introduces pathogens, while offering none of the active disease-fighting properties of living human breastmilk.


I know some people don't want to know the sex of their baby until the baby is born, and that's great.

Me, I always want to know beforehand because I'm impatient.

We knew for sure with J. and E., but with H., they told us they were pretty sure he was a boy, but couldn't be 100% positive. So there was a little bit of a surprise factor there.

I find that after I know the baby's sex, I start to feel more connected to her, like she's a real person and not a strange medical condition causing me to blow up like a blimp. That's exactly how it has been for me since finding out our baby is a girl a few days ago. The pregnancy seems more exciting and more real. I find myself talking to her and patting my tummy, which I wasn't really doing before. It's easier to know what to start buying for her.

ALso, it's nice for the kids to know. It makes the whole thing more real to them, too. J. is so excited about having a baby sister, I thought herhead might explode when I told her. E. wanted a boy, but after some discussion, he realizes that there are some advantages to remaining the special, youngest boychild. And H. is 15. It's another baby sibling, you know? After all, H. has two younger siblings and 9 younger cousins on my side of the family alone, so he's used to whole new baby thing.

Yesterday my sister surprised me with an adorable pink newborn outfit that will be perfect for Baby Girl to wear home from the hospital after she's born, and I found myself having a moment of "Wow, there's a real human baby girl in there, and in a few months, she'll wear this," and was really excited.

I am looking forward to Jon settling on a name. That will make it even more tangible ("Charlotte" seems to be the favorite at the moment). And I can't wait to meet her.

the morning after

Wow! That was a great party! We definitely had more than 50 people. Great fun!

I have a postparty headache this morning and I didn't even drink (of course). But it's nothing a little tylenol and caffeine (yes, I partake of a bit of caffeine even while pregnant) won't cure.