Thursday, January 31, 2008

The opposition

Why I think it's so important that breastfeeding activists be ACTIVISTS and speak out against the underhanded tactics of formula manufacturers, and why we need to start being a lot more intentional and strategic in our efforts to eliminate their undermining of our children's health.

Moms Feeding Freedom - Feeding Your Baby

Don't see a problem with anything on that site? How about this: it's owned by the International Formula Council. Hidden agenda, anyone? Don't believe me? It's right there in the first sentence of their "who we are" page: was made possible by a grant from the International Formula Council.
The editing of the site is attributed to a woman named Kate Kahn, who they make no bones about having no lactation expertise - she's a journalist. And from the statements given as "facts" given on that site (especially common sense reasons women don't breastfeed, which are almost all lack of education issues not physiological ones), not a very good one. Not that I've been overly impressed with the quality of journalism lately while watching the presidential campaign news and seeing several candidates be totally ignored while getting a decent percentage of votes in early primaries and caucuses. No, the news never creates the story. Never.

But, of course, women need a "Guilt-Free Zone" when she's "not able" to breastfeed her baby. And yes, they DO go so far as to say:

[A]ccording to the Mayo Clinic, while "breast milk is best, formula-feeding is perfectly acceptable. Sometimes exclusive breast-feeding isn't possible or practical. Until age 1, formula-feeding is the next best choice." [emphasis added]

Funny, the World Health Organization and others disagree. Formula is the fourth best choice. First being milk directly from mother's breast, THEN mother's milk pumped, THIRDLY the milk of another human mother. Commercially prepared artificial baby milks just out-rank homebrews of various concoctions of things like goat's milk and honey (which some argue are actually better for the child and funny enough there hasn't been much research to prove either side correct).

That website was written extremely strategically. Lactivists need to really start returning the favor. The "who we are" would give you the impression that the two women organizing this site are breastfeeding activists. You need nothing more than their own words in print and some critical thinking skills to see how much undermining they're actually doing. Then add to it that they're doing it for pay and what do you have? What I have are questions about what these two women's definitions of "successful breastfeeding" are - and a guess that it's breastfeeding that winds up with the baby on a bottle of formula at least part-time before it's first birthday. They'd lose their paychecks otherwise.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bebe Gras

So I've had this image in my head for a while and haven't found time to track down another mom to pose for me and wanted to just do it, so I had Garvin take this picture of me on January 27th to commemorate 7 months of nursing Del:

The beads are actually from New Orlean's Mardi Gras 2005, 2nd hand from one of Garvin's coworkers that year that earned them "the old fashioned way". I made the mask.

If anyone wants to model for a reshoot of this image with their own baby, I'd be happy to oblige - wound up doing a lot of cropping and the lighting wasn't to my liking because I couldn't exactly set it up properly before the picture was taken... as it is I'm sitting on Liam's sidecar bed, that's the bedroom wall behind me, so not too shabby of a picture after some photoshopping ;) I would have liked to have had more of Del's legs in the shot - he's got such lovely chunky thighs, at least you can see one, but his chubby little feet are so sweet! Ah, well, here's a picture with his foot (as well as mine and Liam's), the title of this one is "Our Best Feet Forward"

Speaking of feet, John Edwards, the candidate I was supporting the most whole-heartedly, has stepped off the campaign trail. Obama was always a close second to me, rising more every time I heard him actually speak about issues (instead of just vague ideas like "hope" which, while I appreciate, I need something more concrete from a candidate). I'm now joining Liam in his support of Obama.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Del's a growing boy

Garvin's got a bad cold (most likely viral according to the doctor) and asked me to make him an appointment. I tagged along with Del so we could weigh him since I haven't bothered to make his 6mo well-baby checkup since he's doing fine and we're delaying vaccinations, so a $15 copay seems a bit of a waste just to weigh and measure the kid and chat with the doctor (who I really like and enjoy spending time with outside the office - we're both Potterheads). They don't mind me coming in and weighing Del on my own and mark in his chart how much he weighs when I do that. I usually forget to measure him, but he's growing out of his clothes so I'm pretty sure his growth isn't stunted or anything (he's currently wearing a lot of 9-12mo stuff, generally fits his torso length and has long enough legs to keep from riding up enough to expose bare flesh to the cold weather while being carried about). So, Del's gained about a pound since I last weighed him between Xmas and New Years (I *think* it was the day he was 6mo), when he weighed 18lbs 2oz. He weighed 19lbs 2oz today and was 26.24 inches long (took the time to measure him on the exam table between when the nurse did Garvin's intake and when the doctor came in to see him since I knew where she keeps the measuring tape). According to the WHO breastfed baby boys chart, he's about a standard deviation above the mean in weight. All the stupid online calculators that give you percentages seem to be using the CDC ones that are primarily formula fed babies so they aren't giving an accurate percentile (saying 49th percentile I think). Del is also working hard on learning to crawl, he gets up on all fours and rocks back and forth, sometimes intentionally lurching face-first to the floor repeatedly to propel himself forward inchworm-style. He's very good at maintaining a sitting position and has been since around New Years (was sitting up before then but leaning on his hands). Now he's also working on trying to get from a laying down position to a sitting position - if he's semi-reclined (say, leaning back on the boppy or my arm) he can usually get up to sitting by himself, and he rolls to the side and tries to push himself up but hasn't quite managed it yet.

Just wanted to make sure I remembered to record this SOMEWHERE since I'm horrible at remembering to record things where I'll find them again. Clare, looks like borrowing the carrier carseats from us will be NO PROBLEM - they only go up to 20lbs, at this rate Del will grow out of them well before Monkeypuzzle arrives.

Seven-Word Wisdom

Clicking around the internet (which is about all I'm capable of some days when Del is kicking the keyboard off my lap every few seconds), I came across an article on the NY Times website (which may or may not require a login to read, sorry) about Seven-Word Wisdom, which they turned into a little contest. Synopsis: the point was to write 7 words of sage advice in the form of 3 haiku-like sentances - 2 words, 3 words, 2 words. The concept was based upon the original by author Michael Pollan, who wrote "In Defence of Food" complete with the catchy edict "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." The winners were:

Read Pollan. Take his advice. With salt.
Make promises. Don’t break them. Find loopholes.
Seek wisdom. Think for yourself. Avoid maxims
Enter contests. Don’t ignore rules. Try again.
Ate plants. A big heap. Still hungry. [that was the grand prize winner]

I found it rather interesting that all the winners (and the vast majority of the ones I scanned through of the 1000 replies that constituted the contest entries) stuck with periods for their sentences. No other punctuation. Had I seen the contest before it closed, my entry would have been:

Hit wall? Stop, look around. Find door!

This comes partially from a recent conversation with Serena about strenuous physical activities (marathons, fighting with foam weapons, giving birth, that kind of thing). I've heard many people over the years talk about hitting "a wall" and then you break through it and get a huge endorphin release/high. I told Serena then when *I* hit a wall, my usual response is to stop and reassess exactly where I was heading and if possibly there may be a more sane way of getting there instead of trying to be the Kool Aid Man. This has been a bit of a problem for me, all my life but especially recently. I haven't just been feeling like I've hit a wall, I feel like I've been talking to one and hitting my head against one repeatedly. Through thorough testing I have proven to myself that I am indeed not the Kool Aid Man and finding doors is a much better way of moving around walls. Brainstorming, experimenting, and problem-solving are my way of finding doors. Now if I can just get the rest of the household to try these doors instead of all the damn wall hitting that's been going on with the very strong-willed children we've managed to produce and the personality conflicts between adults. Interesting to note I'm the only member of the household who doesn't have high blood pressure. Hmm.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Random thoughts on fish and politics

Just me blathering about the "conventional wisdom" being bandied about by our presidential potentials...

Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day.

Teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.

Unless, of course, he's allergic to fish, in which case you may have just committed involuntary manslaughter.

Give a woman a fish, she'll find a way to feed at least a family of five for three days.

Teach a man to gut and clean a fish, and you turn him vegetarian.

Or the Republican strategy: teach a man to fish, then allow your corporate cronies to pollute all the fish-carrying waters with heavy metals so that anyone who actually eats the fish they catch becomes literally retarded enough to vote Republican. Then find as many ways to monetize the act of fishing as possible through requiring expensive licensure, which requires only very specific and exorbitantly supply-and-demand-priced-out-of-the-middle-class fishing tools be used. (I never said Republicans are stupid, just that they more closely resemble Sith Lords than the Christians they portray themselves to be).

I prefer land food. 99% of seafood makes me horribly nauseous. I'll just find/enlarge/dig a pit and chase deer and other such game into it, is that a viable alternative?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mind Survey

Mind Survey

We see politicians on the news, in debates and in commercials, and we make decisions about who will lead the country. But how do we really form impressions of these people? We are interested in finding out how people perceive a number of American politicians.

First you'll meet the cast of politicians you'll be rating, then you'll pick a survey. Each 10-minute survey is about a mental ability--such as the ability to feel joy, to think, or to feel pain. Your job is to judge pairs of politicians to say if one has more of the ability.

Monday, January 14, 2008

dearth of posting

i've not been posting because i just haven't had the energy or free hand - yes singular - due to both kids needing three adult hands each lately. the fact that i've been at my lowest energy point in years (since before liam was conceived) really doesn't help matters, i've been surviving on caffine and dark chocolate just to be concious enough to meet their basic need s while alone w/them for weeks now (not their optimal needs mind you - several ec misses to the point of leaking diapers, baby crying for a while before i can move sufficently to pick hi up off the floor,l liam hearing "mama hurts and can't do that right now, give me a few minutes" and winding up going to the corner for testing limits i've been too out of it to be consistent enough with - hey, the kid's getting good at counting to 30 due to all the practice in corner time, bright side, right?).

when i feel like this, i tend to dive into reading. my attention span w/the kids distracting me has sucked too bad for fiction (tho fanfics where i don't need to learn new character names/environs would probably work, i would feel too guilty not reviewing what i read so i've abstained). i've generally been able to use the mouse via the arrangement i'm positioned inthe profile picture here - the computer i'm writing on is to my right and when del isn't kicking my arm too much i can use the mouse on the right side armrest, especially facilitated when liam is also sleeping (which is what the blob to my left is in that picture). a site i've been particularly enjoying is, where i am currently ranked as one of the january best at guessing stranger's personalities (especially those of of psychpology professors - i scored .79 on DrZ and .8 on Pennebaker). from there i took the typing personality test (typing for 15min straight while alone with the kids just didn't hhappen, had to get up several times for liam as well as helping the baby back to his favorite toy twice before finishing with him in my lap nursing). still managed to type 970 words - which considering that that is still more than 64 words-per-minute would impress people if i didn't around 100wpm when not distracted (at least i used to, haven't tested my speed since becoming a mother). here's a cut and paste of that analysis:

Self-analysis dimension Your data Average response Your level
Physical appearance 1.96 2.35 normal
Family orientation 2.27 1.59 normal
Social connections 1.13 0.76 normal
Achievement Striving 2.68 2.68 normal
Religion and spirituality 0.10 0.28 normal
Optimistic orientation 1.44 2.32 normal
Negative concerns 1.34 1.13 normal

Overall, you wrote 970 words in the 15 minutes.

Physical Appearance. High scores are associated with using physical descriptions of faces, bodies, physical health, or manner of dress. People high on this dimension tend to judge themselves and others on their looks.

Family Orientation. People high on this dimension tend to think about their immediate family and loved ones at high rates. They think about family links more than others in defining who they are. Note this could be due to the fact that they have very positive experiences in their families or because they have very negative experiences.

Social Connections. High scores reflect an awareness about how individuals interact with other people. It's not about what you're like around people, or even if you like to be around others. High scorers simply judge the world more than others based on social style and connections.

Achievement Striving. People concerned with achievement are thinking about success and/or failure; about striving for the future or about how they are meeting or not meeting their goals.

Religion and Spirituality. People who score high on this dimension think about religious and spiritual issues more than most. They could be deeply religious, agnostic, or athiest. Whatever their beliefs, however, they are thinking about them more than most people.

Optimistic Orientation. People high on this domain tend to see themselves and others in a generally positive light. They tend to weigh their worlds along a continuum of very positive to not at all positive. Note that this is very different from seeing the world from positive to negative.

Negative Concerns. People who score high on this dimension are often worried about important aspects of their lives. It is not uncommon for them to see the world as a potentially threatening place. Not only do they tend to see themselves in a negative light but they have the ability to judge others negatively as well.

The Big Picture: The above interpretations are based on a new mathematical text analysis strategy developed at The University of Texas at Austin by Cindy K. Chung and James W. Pennebaker. It is intended to provide feedback about the DIMENSIONS along which people think. If you judge yourself along a certain dimension, you are more likely to judge others along that same dimension as well.

What if you did not score high or very high on any of the dimensions? In fact, 20 percent of people who do this assignment score in the normal range for everything. This simply means that the computer didn't find anything along these particular 7 dimensions. Hopefully, in the years to come, this system will become more sophisticated and will provide more detailed feedback. In the meantime, think about the dimensions of life along which you see the world. The computer might not be able to catch it but you probably can.

Questions about this project? If you would like to know more how the computer program works or are interested in the nature of personality feedback in general, contact Dr. Pennebaker.

i f you're interested in taking the test yourself (it's free), the direct link is: - there are other tests linked off there which I'm also taking (free hand permiting)... here's the feedback from the first one on the website's list so you can get a sampling (and it did take me significantly more than 5 minutes wtih the kids distracting me):

Psychological Feedback from Demographic Information

Our lives are shaped by our families, hometown, and various early experiences. These earlier life experiences influence our current health and life orientations. This demographic questionnaire attempts to tag some of the major issues and experiences. From questions such as these, we can get a sense of who we are.

Early Childhood Experiences: Family harmony
We all experienced very different childhoods. Some are pleasant and loving, others are meaningful, others are full of conflict and sorrow, most are a combination of these things.

Your score on the Family harmony dimension (which ranges from 0 to 18) is: 4. By most estimates, you do not consider your childhood as particularly easy or harmonious. There were clearly periods of upheaval and tension. However, there are also signs that you experienced some happiness and growth. Most people who had difficult childhoods ultimately triumph as adults.

Social Connections
Across all of psychology, one of the most powerful predictors of physical health, happiness, and quality of life is a person's social connections with others. The more time a person spends with others, the better.

Your score on the Social Connections dimension (which ranges from 0 to 40) is: 22. You are HIGH on this dimension. You clearly care about your friends and seek to be closer to others in your social circle and community. Your general social patterns are a marker of good mental health.

Breaking out: Trendsetting
Some people lead lives that are relatively stable, traditional, and conventional; others are more risky in their thinking and behaviors. Although trendsetters may sometimes be a bit more "wild," they can also be leaders in business and culture.

Your score on the Trendsetting dimension (which ranges from 0 to 50) is: 20. Good news. You are MODERATE on this dimension. There are several things that you do that are unconventional. At the same time, you are firmly grounded in reality. Your approach is probably maximally healthy.

Health Orientation: Current health
There are many ways to think about physical health. There is often a confusion about the difference between people's current health with prospects for health later in life. For example, if you are under a great deal of stress right now, it may cause health problems in the next few weeks but there is no strong evidence that it will predict health problems 30 years from now.

Your score on the Current Health dimension (which ranges from 0 to 10) is: 2. Your current health score is in the LOW range on this dimension. This suggests that your health habits aren't too good right now and that you have likely been feeling sickly in the last week or so. Current health problems are often the result of stress, poor health habits, and exposure to bacteria or viruses. If this is a unique time in your life in terms of health problems, the odds are that your health problems will soon pass. If this is a recurring issue, it might be helpful to stand back and reflect what factors may be contributing to your health issues.

Health Orientation: Longterm health
How you feel today is only weakly related to your health 20 or 30 years from now. The Longterm Health measure takes into account broader statistical factors such as daily health habits, your sex, social and economic markers, and other factors in estimating your longterm health prospects.

Your score on the Longterm Health dimension (which ranges from 0 to 13) is: 6. In terms of longterm health, your profile puts you in the GOOD range. Some things you can do to improve your longterm prospects (e.g., exercise, don't smoke, eat moderate amounts of healthy food, have an active social life), others you can't (be a right-handed female).