Monday, 28 February 2011

There's No Place Like Home...

Things I will miss about being in Korea (don't get excited; there's only one):
Being able to pass a police officer, on the right, while breezing through a red light (note to travelers - this isn't the best place to be a pedestrian).

Things I will NOT miss about being in Korea:
* The smells. They aren't just limited to the freaky wildlife and wildly inappropriate house pets.  I've stepped out into my hallway more than once only to be olfactorily assaulted by my neighbor's eye-watering cooking. And to be honest, it just smells in general here.  I don't know if it's because people just randomly poop outside or if there's an underlying sewage management problem, but this section of the country smells like dog shit.
* The restaurant selection.  Yes, we're spoiled in the States.  Even in a small town, you can choose between All-American, Steak House, Mexican, Mexican-American, Tex-Mex, Japanese, Chinese, American Chinese Buffet, Italian, and Chick-fil-A.  Here (unless you go on post) there is Korean and Cheap Korean.  (caveat: they do have some suspicious Koreanized American chains like Pizza Hut and Dunkin' Donuts [they love Dunkin' Donuts!] but it's not normal Pizza Hut... unless Pizza Hut has started offering a pizza that has corn dogs and Spam on it. I wish I was kidding).
* The moronic, idiotic, suicidal, head-in-the-goddamn-clouds PEDESTRIANS. There are footpaths, sidewalks, and bike paths all over the place, and CLEARLY DEFINED pedestrian crosswalks - do you think these people use them?  Fuck no.  Instead they literally walk down the middle of the road, tugging a cardboard-laden cart behind them, or cross against the light (and in this country that's practically a death wish), or just stand in the middle of the road, cars whizzing by on both sides, waiting to dart across like a reality version of Frogger.
* People. Are. Rude. Especially old women.  They will literally barrel you over rather than walking around you.  However, if you happen to have a blonde child (check) or one with a Mohawk (check) they will detain you, pick him up, take freshly purchased socks out of their own shopping bags to put on your sweaty-footed child, put a hat on him, and wrap him in blankets, all the while clucking away in Hangul, which you just know is a diatribe on your inferior American parenting skills.

Gah. There's no place like home.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Dumb Blonde

I hate the stereotype.  I've probably heard every "dumb blonde" joke there is, and you know what?  I don't think they're funny.  Granted, there are blondes that fit the stereotype - but I know quite a few idiot brunettes and at least a couple challenged redheads as well.

Now let's jump to the reason behind this post: Chauvinist Male Soldier.  First, I'll say that my deficits regarding the whole North/South/East/West thing are well-known; Husband takes every opportunity to rub that one in.  And yes, I'll admit, I don't know exactly the layout of each state in the U.S. (or necessarily their relation to other states).  However,  making assumptions as to the intelligence of a female based upon the fact that 1. she got a bit turned around on a goddamn Army base, and 2. her hair color, is a stretch.

Now on to yesterday.

I got a bit distracted looking for our post office and ended up meandering onto a road I didn't recognize.  Rather than keep going and hope I recognized something soon, I decided to ask for the assistance of a soldier sitting with his buddies on the side of the road.  After pulling to the side and smiling politely, I asked Soldier which whay the Hovey post office was, to which he replied "Oh, you need to head East; take a left and keep going North.  You'll drive right past it."

Unfortunately I had no idea which way was East in relation to the direction I was pointed.  When I asked "So... do I... turn around and go East that way?" - pointing back the direction I'd come - Soldier couldn't keep a smirk off his face, and then glanced back at his buddies to make sure they were getting the conversation.  "Um, no ma'am, you'll head back that way and then take the road that goes to the right.  That way's East." A couple of the other guys snickered.

I smiled.  "Do you know anyone who's diabetic?" Soldier shrugged. "Yeah, a few people I guess." Me: "Any idea what you'd do if they went into diabetic ketoacidosis?" He blinked. "Uh..." Me: "Any clue what the signs and symptoms are?  Precipitating factors?  Protocols?" Soldier shuffled his feet "Um..." Me: "Well I'll tell you what, Magellan. I won't make fun of you for not knowing a few life-saving maneuvers in the event that someone you know might go into a fairly common and occasionally deadly complication of an otherwise manageable disease, and you won't make fun of me for not getting my fucking merit badge in Directions. And furthermore, while I can get a goddamn GPS and be on my merry goddamn way, you will still be USELESS in a fucking DIABETIC EMERGENCY." and I drove off.

In the wrong direction.

Friday, 18 February 2011


Oh, the Internet... where anyone can cherry-pick the information they like that suits their beliefs, compile it together, and then set it free into cyberspace.  I cannot count the number of times someone has written or remarked "But studies have shown that (insert whatever it is the writer/speaker feels passionately about) is proven to ___________________ !!!!!!!!!"

That irritates the fuck out of me.  If you would like to discuss something with me, I want you to know more about it than a controversial sound byte or story clip you got off of the Internet.  Don't get me wrong, you can find plenty of factual and useful items to support your claims... but more often than not, it's not going to be on the first page of Google search.  Those are not listed by "most factual first," they are listed by "greatest number of people who believe this" first.  Know the difference.  Even better - do a Deep Web search via Ebscohost, ProQuest, NewFirstSearch, Lexis-Nexis... you get the idea.  Politifact also has a strong fact-checking team.

Obviously facts are not (mainly) what you need when discussing moral issues, and they don't always play a major part in social issues.  But if you're going to be discussing the "rampant number of illegal aliens on welfare", or the "oodles and goodles of information that says vaccination is BAD", you'd better have links and citations to back that up - and not from Fox "News."  In return, I won't cite from Huffington Post.  Sound fair?

So in the spirit of debate, if you have a topic you'd like to discuss you can email me at a(dot)leah[at]yahoo(dot)com, find me on Twitter or facebook, or comment here. 

I won't bite.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Fruit of My Womb (Part 3)

If you're just now joining us, check out parts two and one first.

Vlad: "I can't get these stupid 'noculars OPEN!!" Me: "Hand them here; I'll do it." V: "No, I need a grown up to do it." Me: "Um. I am a grown up." V: "Well, a grown up that's bigger."

Vlad: "Hey Chief, you havin' a good day?" Me: "Not too bad, you?" V: "I'm good. So. You happy right now?" Me: "Um, yes. I suppose. Why?" V: "Well. If you walk by my bedroom just keep your eyes closed then, okay?" Me: "WHY?" V: "I think there was an accident."

"Vlad, Vincent has a stomach bug, so you need to keep to your room and stay out of his face." V: "Does he have Ebola?" Me: "Um, no." V: "Black plague?" Me: "No, Vlad. Just a stomach bug." V: "He got the Swine flu? Diabetes?" Me: "NO, Vlad. It's probably a norovirus, okay?" V: "Next time just say norovirus. Now can I see it on the computer?"

Vlad: "Whatcha doin' Chief?" Me (going from room to room): "Looking for my book." V: "In your closet." Me: "My closet?" V: "Yeah. This morning after you had it in your room you took it by the computer & then picked up Vincent & then changed him then fed us breakfast then fixed your hair & got your book & went to your closet & changed & called your friend & went into the living room." Me: "Thanks, Rain Man."

Vlad: "Hey, I want Vincent to come play with me in my room." Me (folding laundry): "Then you need to keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn't get hurt." V: "I don't want to have to take care of him, I just want to play!" Me: "So, you want the pleasure of playing with your brother, without the responsibility of his welfare?" V: "Um, yes." Me: "We have a lot of ground to cover before you start dating."

Vlad: "Hey Chief. How come guys don't got boobs?" Me: "Um. Well, they sort of do, they're just a lot smaller than women." V: "Can they still feed babies 'n stuff?" Me: "No, just women can do that." V: "Okay. Well go get me a pizza then."

Vlad (watching part of an episode of Law & Order: SVU): "Chief, what's gay?" Me: "You know how Kelsey and I love each other and kiss and got married?" V: "Yeah." Me: "Well, sometimes boys like to kiss and marry boys, and girls like to kiss and marry girls." V: "They fight over who has to do the laundry too?"

Vlad (munching contentedly on his lunch): "Chief, I sure do love pizza." Me: "I'm glad you enjoy it." V: "You know what? I love it like I love you!" Me: "Too awesome." V: "Does Kelsey love pizza like he loves golf?" Me: "Kelsey loves few things like he loves golf." V (patting my arm): "But his golf doesn't fix his supper, right?"

(at the conclusion of our Crunchy Parenting experiment) Me: "Okay, Vincent, are you ready to put your diapers back on?" Vin: "Ba-GEK!" Vlad the Translator: "He said 'Yeah, potty training is bullshit'!" Me: "VLADIMIR." V (shrugging): "He don't know that's a bad word to say yet, Mam; don't get mad at 'im."

Me: "Vlad, Vincent's coming into your room. Treat him how you want to be treated, okay?" Vlad: "You want me to buy him toys and let him have some ice cream?"

Vlad: "Heya, Chief, why you carryin' Vincent around on your hip?" Me (trying to mop): "Well, because apparently today is 'carry around your infant everywhere with you' day. Good times." Vlad: "Well why don't you just tie him to your leg? Then you can walk around like a pirate and be very cool!"

Vlad: "Chief, I need more brothers. Do they all have to get here baby-sized first, or can we get them bigger?" Me: "Well, there's always adoption." V: "What's adoption?" Me: "Some kids don't have a mom or dad anymore, so other families take them as their own." V: "Cool! Can we get three or four?" Me: "Not right now." V: "But you won't get humongeous again!"

Me (trying to wriggle Vincent out of his carseat): "Vlad, hold my purse for a sec." V: "I can't." Me: "What do you mean you can't; of course you can, take my friggin purse!" V: "I can't! Your purse is GREEN! My coat is BLUE! It does not match!"

Vlad (watching me trip and fall into the bathroom): "Man, I hope when I grow up I can walk better than you, Chief. I wanna be able to play golf!" Me (rubbing my bruised knee): "You can still play golf, Vlad." V: "Not if I'm walkin' like that."

Vladimir on the distribution of privacy: "Chief, you can't be alone, cause if Vincent needs something or there's an emergency I gotta know 'zactly where you're at and what you're doin'." (later, when I spy him pooping with his door open) "GET OUT!!! This is PRIVATE! That means BY MYSELF!!!"

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Crunchy, I Am Not

The day started out as usual; up with the Vs about 8am, made coffee and cinnamon rolls, and saw Husband off to work (he didn't have PT because he was on CQ duty, which lasts 24 hours).  After settling down at the computer with my cup of chocolate coconut coffee, I scrolled through my blogroll while I sipped, clicking on whatever looked interesting.  As I wandered through cyberspace, I stumbled across this blog on elimination communication, and was suddenly struck with this brilliant idea - and thus began my day of crunchy-esque parenting.

Which turned out to be about a half day.

I hurriedly texted my fabulous idea to Husband, who fired back this response: SOUNDS MESSY.

He was right.

After browsing my cupboards and determining that I wouldn't have to dash out right away for organic/all natural foods (it said, right on my Sprite can, "all natural ingredients"), I removed Vincent's diaper, looked him in the eye, and said "Okay, Little V.  Let me know when you gotta go, capish?"  When he ecstatically replied "BOO-gurk!" I assumed that was Emperorspeak for "You got it, Mam!" and turned back to my online chat with Stacey, assuming all was well in the Land of Elimination Communication, and that my offspring would effectively communicate his toileting needs to me at the appropriate time.

He didn't.

I had no more clicked open my chat window when the sudden and unmistakeable scent of Vincent doo reached my nostrils.  I leaped up and snatched up my still-defacating offspring and raced to the trash can, trailing poop all the while, with Little V laughing hysterically and Big V making overdramatic retching noises and ostentatiously fanning the air around him.  After ensuring that his bowels were empty, I wiped his butt, reinforced the Elimination Communication with Little V ("Next time, just start crawling toward the bathroom and I'll meet you there, okay?") and released my naked offspring.  After gathering paper towels and 409 spray, I returned to the Scene of Elimination and proceeded to clean up the mess, with Big V offering commentary and inquiring as to whether I was going to put Vincent's nose in the mess.

Task finished, I again sat back down at the computer, with Vladimir on my heels.  "How come you get to use the 'puter and I don't get my tv, Chief?" he asked. "Well, I have to chronicle our experiment," I replied. He clicked off my monitor. "Use paper."

After agreeing that the computer would also be off-limits, I asked what he wanted to do, to which he immediately replied "Go outside!"  After sending him to his room to get dressed, I was confronted with the challenge of how to leave the house with my as-yet un-potty trained infant.  After picturing myself dashing frantically back inside my building, trying to reach a sink or trash can while trailing urine and poo, I decided that one diaper in 24 hours wouldn't be too much of a cheat, and so put Huggies, socks, and pants on a loudly protesting Vincent and herded my brood outside to the playground. 

After about 20 minutes, Vlad was sufficiently frozen enough to want to go back inside.  After stripping off Little V's clothing, I removed his diaper and noted with some satisfaction that my youngest had remained dry throughout our foray outside.  As I gave him smoochies on his face and belly and told him what a good job he'd done, he promptly broke into giggles and proceeded to pee on me.

After changing my clothes and once again reinforcing the Elimination Communication with the Emperor ("Vincent, say 'POTTY'!") Vladimir informed me that he was hungry and needed Second Breakfast.  I dug through my cupboard and presented him with a bag of All Natural tortilla chips.  "How about a Pop Tart?" he asked. "Those aren't All Natural, Vlad" I countered.  He rolled his eyes and stalked out of the room, tossing over his shoulder "I think Vincent's gotta poop again!"

I dashed over to my youngest, who was standing at the coffee table with a perplexed look on his face.  "You gotta poop?" I asked.  "GECK!" he announced, so I snatched him up and streaked to the bathroom.  After holding him over the toilet and watching him swing his legs and stare at his reflection in the toilet water for about 10 minutes, I concluded that it may have been a false alarm and transported him back to the living room, where he promptly peed on the carpet.  Sighing, I looked around for a place to corral him while I cleaned up, and decided to place him in his Baby Einstein bouncer.  Apparently, the act of bouncing was just the thing to stimulate his bowels.  Jabbering excitedly, Little V bounced and peed, bounced and pooped, all to the tune of Rossini's William Tell Overture.

I decided that another tactic might be in order.  I collected the pile of puppy pads that Pablo never used, and lay them all around the carpet in front of the sofa.  After depositing my youngest on the now-protected carpet, I snuck onto facebook and updated how my experiment was going.  As I clicked off, I looked up to see Vlad wandering back into the living room, completely naked.  "What are you doing, Vlad?" I asked.  "Bein' natural" was his reply.  I sighed, collecting his workbooks.  "Okay, are you planning on doing your homework naked?" "Yep."

After a couple pages of counting and alphabet exercises, he put his books away and told me he was going to go jump on his bed "To see what it's like when I'm naked."  After a few minutes, I heard the sound of his bed being moved and went into his room in time to see him maneuver his bed in front of his dresser mirror, the better to watch his naked leaping.  After ordering him to return his bed to its proper place, I realized that Vincent hadn't Eliminated in nearly an hour, and ran back into the living room, where once again the Emperor was standing at the coffee table, looking puzzled.  After dangling him over the toilet again with no success, I carried him back to the living room, where he managed to crawl over to the one miniscule area of carpet that was not covered by puppy pads and once again, marked his spot.

At this point, I was getting a bit frazzled.  Vlad was complaining that he just "need some time to watch tv and relax, Mom" and I needed to devote some time to doing my homework.  I was 0 for 4 on the elimination communication, and in fact, the only person who seemed to be enjoying my experiment was Vincent, who would spend each and every day completely naked if I'd let him.  I decided to re-diaper the Emperor and lift the tv ban, and conclude the experiment with a family co-sleep later that evening, which was promptly aborted once I realized Little V had no intention of sleeping (preferring instead to grab at my face and jabber) and Vlad rolled over and whacked me in the face in his sleep.  I concluded that being a jello mama was much more my style than being crunchy, and transported each V back into their respective beds.

So.  Much kudos to you mothers who make this a lifestyle.  It takes time and dedication to make Crunchy Parenting run smoothly, and I definitely applaud your efforts.  It's not easy bein' green ;)

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Confessions of a Selfish Mommy

Why is it that so many women feel the need to make excuses for their parenting choices?  And yeah, I used to do it.  After my first son was born via c-section, I felt I needed to qualify that with "it was an emergency c-section" and "his heart rate was going down" and "I wasn't dilating."  Now granted, I didn't walk into the labor ward and say "Hey ladies, I'd like an epidural right now, and can we do this via c-section?" - but so what if I had? 

Oh, right.  I forgot.  Mommy hell.  Meaning, if you don't have a life-threatening situation for not birthing naturally, or a documented medical reason for why you're not breastfeeding, then you're a selfish bitch who shouldn't have kids if you're not ready to sacrifice every goddamn minute (waking AND sleeping) to your children.

Ahem. I realize I had a post about my crunchy [half]day I needed to write (like 4 days ago) but I had ANOTHER mommy blog emailed to me, with the usual I feel so guilty for not (insert currently socially acceptable mothering technique) and I feel like I need to explain why I make my parenting choices that seems to permeate a rather large faction of the blogosphere.  That plus my pot and a half of Lively Columbian has given me the shakes and my overdeveloped sense of justice has been rankled. Again.

People do have legitimate reasons (other than being Selfish Mommy) for being unable to breastfeed, or to be a stay-at-home mom, or not having time to grow, harvest, and puree their own baby food.  But since when is "I'd just like to get more sleep" akin to child abuse when deciding to switch to formula?  It's been said many times, but that doesn't make it any less true - if mama ain't happy, no one's happy - and if mama would be happier letting daddy or grandma feed the baby every once in a while, it's okay.  Your baby will not be any less intelligent, good-looking, or healthy than other babies just because you give him formula.  I know, I know - you've got a bunch of google 'research' that tells you otherwise, right?  That and the pressure from SuperMommy at the park can be pretty daunting.  Well, instead of getting into a War of Google Links, let's just use a wee bit of common sense.  How many people do you know have been fed formula, or feed it to their kids?  Are the majority of them of subnormal intelligence, unattractive, and constantly ill?  What about the breastfed people?  Can you tell who's been breastfed or formula fed, just by looking and talking to them?

Didn't think so.

With my younger boy, I had originally planned to give him formula.  He had delayed passage of meconium, which necessitated a short stay in the NICU.  While there I changed my mind and decided that I wanted to breastfeed, which got me pats on the back from the nursing staff, a gold star from the rounding doctors, and free meals in the cafeteria - in short, I was rewarded.  I received validation and approval from everyone who knew of my choice, and that felt good.

After about two weeks, I had almost had it.  I was back at school full time, leaving the nursing floor at clincals to go pump (and on a few hectic occasions unable to pump at all), studying my ass off, and nursing my boy about every 2 hours.  I was so exhausted I sat on the couch during my 3am feedings and bawled, because I had to be up for clinicals at 4:30 so definitely no going back to sleep.  I wanted to give him a bottle so bad, but you know why I didn't?  Because I felt like my decision to discontinue nursing would let down other people.  That's right.  A decision that was absolutely no one else's fucking business is actually EVERYONE'S business in MommyLand, and if I didn't have a good enough excuse ready, then I was opening myself up to a barrage of "oh, but have you tried pumping so you can get a break?" (that's actually NOT a break, FYI) and "but NUMEROUS studies have shown that your child will be a serial killer if you give him formula!" and "how about these herbs to increase your supply?" and "yes, even if you have a patient that's coding, you can still get your pumping break" and the unspoken but heavily implied "EVERYONE WILL THINK YOU ARE A SELFISH, BAD, BAD MOMMY IF YOU QUIT."

After two months, I did quit.  I made half-hearted excuses related to my clinical hours/time spent at school/diminishing milk supply, but to be perfectly honest - I just felt like getting more sleep.  Sue me. 

So how about we stop being so judgmental about other women's choices?  It's shallow, it's petty, and it's highly unbecoming.  I think it's great that some mothers keep things as natural as possible - I've made several friends who breastfeed exclusively, cloth diaper, and homeschool, and they're some of the least judgmental ladies I know.  What they do takes a tremendous amount of time and dedication, and I'm not belittling that.  But not one of us is any better than the other.  We all have a goal of raising happy, healthy, and successful children.  There are a lot of different ways to accomplish that.  Share your methods, don't push them.  Talk, don't lecture.  And don't ever apologize or feel you need to justify why you do things the way you do.

My formula-fed Baby Einsteins:

Friday, 4 February 2011

My Self-Inflicted Crunchy Mama Challenge

As much as I shake my head at many of the tenets of crunchiness, I decided to issue myself a challenge: take one entire day and be as crunchy as possible.  With both Vs.  By myself.

The only way this will work is if Husband isn't home.

I've been googling the main aspects of how to be crunchy - attachment parenting, cloth diapering, co-sleeping, baby wearing, and an interesting concept called elimination communication.  In anticipation of this event, I shall go to the commissary and buy some more paper towels and some organic stuff.  And puree it.  As I can't homebirth or start breastfeeding the Vs or un-vaccinate them or un-circumcise them, I'll just have to start with the natural foods, baby wearing, no diapers, and no t.v.  Since Husband has CQ, I'll co-sleep tonight...AND I don't have to shave my legs!!!!

Stay tuned.  Husband thinks this is going to be messy.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

The Worms

Husband came home from the vet yesterday with some devastating news: little Pablo has worms.  Monolithic Dog-Eating Roundworms, to be precise.

O God.

I have an amazingly strong stomach.  As a nurse, it's a plus - I've smelled C diff, GI bleeds, been splattered with blood from a yanked IV, been vomited on, peed on, and have had amniotic fluid splashed on me.  Not once have I been squeamish or nauseated.


Worms freak me out.  Husband has been doing a great job of taking care of the doggie business the last 24 hours (one parasite, which was Zombie-white and looked nearly eight inches long, had wrapped itself around Pablo's poo and I swear to Baby Jesus it was still moving) and has promised to come immediately home from work should Pablo poop and evict more helminths.  However, since the Epic Infestation of Pablo the Demon Dog of Dongducheon has been brought to my attention, I've realized something else.

1. Parasitic infestations happen often in humans.
2. They happen even more often in underdeveloped/Third World countries
3. I have plans to go work in one of the aforementioned underdeveloped/Third World countries (specifically Bolivia)
4. Some of my patients will have helminth infections; i.e. Monolithic Human-Eating Roundworms.

O God.

Hoping to de-sensitize myself to images of freaky host-consuming worms, I googled "endemic diseases in Bolivia" and came across the following:
Chagas disease


Then I came across a slew of videos on YouTube called Monsters Inside Me.  These videos have catchy names like "Deadliest Parasite on the Planet" and "Invincible Brain-Eating Monster" and "Death by Tsetse Fly".

So now not only are my dreams of bringing free healthcare and happiness to Bolivians being dashed to pieces, but I have Pine-Sol'ed and disinfected every inch of the living room, play room, and kitchen, my fingers look like shriveled figs (but they smell wonderful), and Husband is laughing at me because I had to send him a tearful text about Pablo's poop moving and can he please please please come home, because THIS THING is about to come out of my dog:

AND I'm out of Pine-Sol.