Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Extending the Attitude of Gratitude

We celebrated our Thanksgiving with a road trip to see both our families in Illinois.  Moving away from everyone and seeing family less often has been a difficult change for us, and there's no better way to spend a holiday than surrounded by the people we love and for whom we are so thankful.  Tye is growing so quickly and noticeably right now that she amazed relatives with her expressive vocabulary and thick blonde hair.
Waiting for dinner...
Throughout November, I kept running into people's daily posts of things for which they were thankful.  I appreciate the conscious effort made to focus on being thankful, especially during the month we celebrate Thanksgiving.  Any way to extend the meaning and celebration of Thanksgiving (other than just extra turkey and potatoes) is, in my opinion, a great reminder of all we have.  
Now that Thanksgiving has passed and we're already deep in the throes of Christmas (though last I checked, it's still November), I hope all those people are continuing to practice their mindful thankfulness.  I've been told it takes 30 days for an activity to become habit.  Thanksgiving was on the 24th, almost a week shy of the 30 days it would require for someone to make a habit of noting something for which she is thankful each day.  Another theory by Dr. Maxwell Maltz suggests that 21 consecutive days is a span long enough to create a habit, but they must be consecutive.  I'm hoping there is truth to that theory and that everyone who noted daily what made them thankful will continue that practice, especially through the holidays.

As I grow older, each year I'm more aware of the stark contrast between Thanksgiving's prayers of gratitude and Black Friday's push for wanting, needing more.  Don't get me wrong- I'm very happy that the economy is rebounding, and I even participated in this year's Black Friday shopping mania.  I think I just notice the attitude shift between the two days much more clearly as I gain perspective.  

Or, maybe Black Friday is becoming a bigger deal each year- apparently to some it is, like the lady who pepper sprayed other shoppers over an XBox.  This year, as Black Friday edged it's way into the day of Thanksgiving and stores opened at 10pm Thanksgiving evening, the world of shopping seemed to overtake our one day devoted to thankfulness.  
Yesterday, I was reminded it was Cyber Monday when I opened my laptop to 49 new emails announcing huge discounts.  I deleted most without opening, but one caught my attention: from Patagonia*, an email with the subject line "Do Not Buy This Jacket."  Clever marketing, I thought, and opened it, curious to see what spin on the day the company was throwing.  As I read, I was greeted with the breath of fresh air I needed.  From the email:
Today is Cyber Monday. It will likely be the biggest online shopping day ever. Cyber Monday was created by the National Retail Federation in 2005 to focus media and public attention on online shopping. But Cyber Monday, and the culture of consumption it reflects, puts the economy of natural systems that support all life firmly in the red. We're now using the resources of one-and-a-half planets on our one and only planet.Because Patagonia wants to be in business for a good long time – and leave a world inhabitable for our kids – we want to do the opposite of every other business today. We ask you to buy less and to reflect before you spend a dime on this jacket or anything else.
In a world so deeply immersed in consumerism that not even a full day is devoted to being thankful any longer, we're bombarded daily with messages that we need more.  Combating those sentiments requires a conscious effort, because emails like those above are few and far between.  The first step to wanting less is appreciating what we already have, one more reason to continue the practice of being thankful into December.  So while the holiday of Thanksgiving may have passed, I'd like to wish you a season of continued thanksgiving.  Keep giving thanks and maintain your attitude of gratitude.  Before you know it, it will become a habit that changes your life for the better.

*I love Patagonia products and as much as I wish I was receiving something from Patagonia for sharing this with you, I'm not.  Other than a few online orders, they've never heard of me.  But I did spend the weekend stretching out the stomach in my favorite Patagonia fleece....  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Delayed Cord Clamping

When Tye was born, we delayed clamping the umbilical cord until it stopped pulsing about 8-10 minutes after her birth.  It was a precious time- unlike all the Hollywood movies that depict a rush of medical interventions and hurried instructions to the dad to quickly cut the cord, when Tye arrived, she and I sat in the warm water in the tub while Tyler and I soaked up the reality of our Baby Girl's transition.  
In this photo, Tye is still attached to me via her umbilical cord, which is still pulsing and bringing precious blood from the placenta into her body.
The benefits of delayed cord clamping are significant.  Being the type of person who believes our bodies were created to work in ways we still don't fully understand and certainly can't replicate, delaying cord clamping allows the body to function as it was designed.  Certainly women long ago didn't birth their babies themselves and immediately instinctively cut the cord.  

Even with medical interventions available now, clamping the umbilical cord early removes the protection provided by the cord.  If the baby requires a little encouragement to begin breathing on her own, as long as she is connected to the placenta via her cord, her body is still receiving oxygen-rich blood, just as it was in the womb.  By delaying cord clamping 5 minutes and allowing the placenta to finish pumping blood back into the baby's body, the result is 61% higher blood volume than in a newborn with immediate cord clamping.  At four hours after birth, a baby who received delayed cord clamping has higher hematocrit levels and a red cell volume 60% greater than those who had not.  Now, new research out of Sweden this week shows that infants provided delayed cord clamping have higher iron levels and lower incidence of iron deficiency at 4 months of age.  That cord blood is the gift that keeps on giving.

Of course, there are situations in which the mother and baby need to be separated immediately to save the life of one or both.  Simple prematurity isn't reason enough, however. In infants with very low birth weight, delayed cord clamping reduces incidence of intraventricular hemmorhage and late-onset sepsis.  Delaying cord clamping combined with kangaroo care provides better outcomes for even very premature babies.  The idea that the infant needs to be whisked away to NICU isn't always based on the best information possible; rather, when asked why delayed cord clamping isn't practiced, doctors cited "difficulty with implementation in clinical practice."  Those precious minutes that could potentially save a newborn's life and at the very least protect the newborn for months after birth are eliminated to save time.  How tragic.

Tyler did eventually cut Tye's umbilical cord once it stopped pulsing.  As soon as she was dried, Tye was laid on my chest, skin to skin, and began nursing as I delivered my placenta.  In awe of the organ that had sustained my Baby Girl for 38 weeks, I begged Tyler to take pictures.  

Our bodies were created with far more in mind than speed and convenience.  As more research is done on the implications of birth interventions, we're learning that cutting corners and changing the natural route of birth can cause more harm than good.  But it would be foolish to think that the only advantages of delayed cord clamping are those measured by science.  Our family was afforded ten minutes of beautiful bonding time uninterrupted by outside influences.  Tyler and I gazed at our Baby Girl in utter awe.  Then, at the moment Tyler clipped Tye's cord, I remember coming to a sudden realization that my baby was being fully separated from me for the first time.  I know I wouldn't have been able to savor that moment in the same way had it happened in the seconds following the birth.  Looking back, the peace in those still minutes after birth were precious time for us to bond and together admire the miracle in my arms.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Overheard: Tyeisms

"I gonna get me!" -when wrestling with Daddy

"Terry you?" -to request being carried, as in "Want me to carry you?"

"'Mere, Kiko." -translation: "Come here, Mico."

"I find ____!" -when Tye finds any object (i.e., "I find cars!" or "I find booger!"

"It too pisces." -spitting out any food; apparently "spicy" is synonymous for "yucky" 

"I so high!" -swinging, or climbing any tall objects

"Wanna watch Elmo/Cars/Snoopy/Nemo? Sure! Okay." -in conversation with herself when she wants to watch TV but knows it's not actually an option

"Go way." -telling Mico to go away

"Ba ba no no wore so high." -translation: "Up above the world so high," followed by "Like a diamond in the sky."

"No, I fine." -when declining an offer

"I do it." -all. the. time.

"I find me!" -when Tye suddenly appears, especially after hiding

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Presents and Cupcakes and Candles, Oh My!

We had a wonderful birthday celebration for Tye!  My parents came in to visit Sunday afternoon and were here until this afternoon.  Sunday after Tye went to bed, Tyler and my dad, who Tye calls Coach, decorated the living room with banners, streamers, and balloons and we prepared all Tye's presents.  Like most two year olds, Tye didn't understand what it meant that her birthday was coming, but we would make sure the next day would be special.

When Tye woke on the morning of her birthday, I got to greet her by singing Happy Birthday.  As we walked out of her bedroom, she let out a huge gasp when she saw the decorations.  We said good morning to Coach and Gram and since Daddy was still home, we started opening presents one by one, pausing in between to play with each new toy.  

Other birthday highlights included a walk through Fort Greene Park soaking up the beautiful 60 degree weather, playing The Big Piano at FAO Schwarz,  riding the subway to dinner at Eataly followed by hazelnut gelato, and blowing out the candles (again and again) on pumpkin cupcakes with cinnamon-maple whipped cream.

Tye might not remember the celebration when she grows older, but for the rest of us celebrating Tye and the anniversary of becoming parents and grandparents, it was a really special day.  Happy second birthday, Tye!

Monday, November 14, 2011

To Tye, at 2 Years Old

Dear Tye,

Happy second birthday, dear daughter!  As your second birthday has approached, you've reminded me frequently that you're entering a new phase of your life.  You are willing to fight for your independence, whether you're struggling with a challenging puzzle, a frustrating package, or limits that keep you from what you think you want.  I admire your persistence and find much joy in watching your hard work reap in rewards, from putting on your own tutu to serving yourself second helpings at dinner.  Over the weekend, you taught yourself how to ride your friend's scooter, a skill far beyond your young age and one that clearly pleased you.  Some day when someone tells you you're stubborn, be sure to remind them that stubbornness is the same trait as persistence; the attribute's name only depends on whether the other person agrees with you or not.  Whichever title it is given, wear it with pride, because it will get you far in life.

You are a little ball of fun right now, Tye.  Every evening, as we finish eating dinner together, you start asking Daddy to wrestle.  You have a powerful headlock, girl, and you know how to keep the wrestling fun with your emerging humor and nonstop giggling.  You love exploring your world, whether it's chasing squirrels at the park or stopping every 20 feet on our walks to investigate a tree or fence post or fallen leaf.  I love hearing you talk to me, to your toys, to strangers on the street, and to yourself.  When I hear you say, "Thank you, Mommy" every time I hand you a snack or "Bless you" whenever any person in earshot sneezes, your simple phrases fill me with happiness. You make me smile and warm my heart.   

Two years.  730 days.  And you have filled each one with unimaginable joy.  Birthing you was the beginning of living life to a new level of fullness, one that I hope you are blessed to experience yourself one day because words can't describe motherhood's treasures.  Two years ago, I was forever changed.  The metamorphosis of birth is amazing; I entered the birth tub a pregnant woman and emerged as a mother cradling my babe.  During that time, during that one push in which you squirmed from inside to outside body, I felt myself being flooded with love for you in a stronger wave of emotion than I had ever experienced before.  Two years later, I am still overwhelmed with that same love for you; how I live the rest of my life in such a state still amazes me.

You are going to be very celebrated today, Tye, and the anniversary of your birth deserves it. As much as you'll love the presents, the gift is you in our lives.  Thank you for sharing the best two years of my life.  I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.


Since she was born, I've written a letter to Tye on each month's anniversary of her birth, with this being the final monthly letter.  You can see the rest here.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Two Years Ago...

It was a Friday.  I was as big as a house.  I wore a yellow sweater that barely covered my belly and asked your dad as we walked to dinner at Jerry's if I looked like a school bus.  It was a warm evening that smelled like fallen leaves.  At Jerry's, I ate hummus and my favorite sandwich (the Baba R- green apple, peanut butter, basil, grilled onions, chipotle chutney- a pregnant woman's dream sandwich),  and we laughed with friends for a long time.  

When they asked Daddy if he was going to stay out with them after the meal, I told Daddy I didn't think it was a good idea, because I thought it might be "the night."  Nothing in particular told me so- but I felt different, and I just knew.  We went home and went to bed.  I slept deeply and soundly until you woke me early the next morning to let me know you were coming, and the rest of our lives began.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Favorite- Bedtime Favorites

The only constant in our bedtime routine is that it's always changing.  The main components of the routine stay the same- put on pajamas, brush teeth, apply a calming essential oil, read books, then rock, sing, and nurse to sleep.  Within that routine, though, we go through phases. 

Our newest must-read bedtime book (and really, Tye's favorite book any time of the day) is the book The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood and Audrey Wood. 
I first discovered this book when I taught a classroom of two year olds in Germany.  Daily, the majority of the students requested this book, and everyone was captivated by Little Mouse.  The simple plot, in which Little Mouse picks a red, ripe strawberry and can only save it from the Big Hungry Bear by sharing it with the reader, is easy to follow for young readers.  Children seem easily engaged by the text, too, in which the reader speaks directly to Little Mouse rather than telling a story about the character.  Each reading, the child participates in an interaction with the mouse and helps to solve his problem.  Tye, who particularly likes eating the strawberry along with Little Mouse, could read this book on repeat for hours.

After our books, we turn out lights, say a prayer, sing goodnight to Mico, Baby, Mommy, Daddy, and Tye, and then sing a lullaby as we rock and nurse.  Since April, I've been singing the lullaby "Su La Li" to Tye, one that we learned in Music Together and I have now sung for hours upon hours.  Tye's newest infatuation is "Story About Sammy," a sweet children's song I learned as a teacher.  

(I have no clue who these kids are, but thanks to a search on YouTube, you can watch their adorable faces sing "Story About Sammy")

Now as we rock each night, Tye requests "Sammy song" and falls asleep listening to my version of the song, in which Sammy is a girl with a very, very long list of animals she'd like to imitate on her way to the store.  Should I dare attempt to sing any other song, Tye will open her eyes and ask for "more Sammy song."  While I can only guess why Tye loves this song so much, I have a feeling it's because of the simple, repetitive verses combined with animals and their actions.

Many nights in the past, I've brought my phone or Nook into Tye's bedroom with me so I can play games or read as she falls asleep.  Recently, though- perhaps because her second birthday is around the corner- I've been cherishing our time together as we rock and sing.  I remind myself that today is the youngest Tye will ever be again.  Tomorrow, she'll wake a day older, and I never know when our bedtime routine just might change again.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sticking it to me

We moved into our home in Brooklyn one month and two days ago.  It's hard to believe it's only been 33 days here.  Even though I still feel like we're settling in and discovering our neighborhood, I feel like we've been here for months, at least.  We're down to one box in our living space (and it contains Tyler's Xbox, so it being packed isn't such a bad thing- I keep trying to convince him to bring it back to Illinois with us and leave it there...). I have more organizing to do before I'll feel like everything is in its place, but in general, I feel like we live in a home now.  

There is one aspect of our move that continues to make its presence known, however.  Because we used professional movers, every item that went into the truck received a numbered sticker that corresponded to a list of items moved.  These small, yellow stickers seemed harmless enough- they are easily removed and leave no residue or mark, like a Post-It note.
On Tye's trampoline...
On Mico's dog food container...
On Tye's bookshelves...
But they are everywhere.  
On the diaper pail...
On the arm of the rocking chair...
On the vacuum cleaner...
Thirty three days, and still, these stickers haunt me. 
Even when I leave the house.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Perhaps the most adorable dinosaur breed ever, the Tyeranasaurus was spotted this weekend in Brooklyn, New York.  Through steady observation, scientists discovered a great deal about the new species.  

First, she prefers eggs, over easy, for her first meal of the day.
 The Tyeranasaurus, however, is not picky.  Here she is observed eating ice off the sidewalk at the playground.
 She boldly ventures down the slide....
and back up.
 Here she is spotted engaging in daredevil tactics to gain the attention- and gasps- of other mothers at the playground who fear she may fall.  However, her balance proves to be strong, likely due in part to her long tail.
 When cheese crackers are available, she will ignore any distraction- including a full party of two year olds- to eat in solitude.
 She is social with other dinosaurs at all other times, though, as seen here, sharing the art easel.  
 When attending social gatherings, she partakes in the local food options.
 Tyeranasaurus was also observed spending a great deal of time engaged in dollhouse play.
This docile, apparently omnivorous species was heard roaring several times through the observation as well as singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and the ABC's.  Scientists are anxiously awaiting her next appearance for continued study.


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