Resting on Lughnasadh

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In the Celtic world, tomorrow, August 1st is the festival of Lughnasadh. For those who celebrate the old holidays, Lughnasadh represents the end of summer and the beginning of harvest season. In Ireland, Lughnasadh takes its name from the Sun-god Lugh, who celebrated the first festival in honor of his foster-mother Tailtiu. Tailtiu, according to legend, died of exhaustion after clearing the entire island of Ireland so that it could be used for agriculture. Thus, Lughnasadh has strong and obvious connections to childbirth - the time when the child is "harvested", taken from the dark earth and brought into the light.

Beyond its celebration of the real act of harvesting, Lughnasadh offers a chance for us to reflect on the nature of giving and taking. Tailtiu gave until she literally died from exhaustion. All of us have areas of our life where the balance is shifted too far - where we give until we're exhausted and don't get anything back. Perhaps it is a job, a relationship, a friendship that simply asks too much. Mothers of young children know that they are incapable of returning the time and energy we put into them, although in their small way they enrich our lives beyond measure.

Any farmer knows that harvest is one of the busiest times. But when all her bounty has been collected, brought in and stored for the long winter, the earth rests. And so should we.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I couldn't resist this astrology report from They were eerily correct! Except for the part about Lil Blue and me being well put-together. And others being envious. But otherwise....correct!

See your mom and baby personality overview. Generally, here's what's in the stars for you and baby!



The Scales

Sept. 23-Oct. 22

Lucky you, Libra. You're likely the mom that all the other moms secretly wish they could be: You always look good, your baby is fashionably dressed, and the preschool teachers think you're the exemplary mom specimen. Libras are naturally charming and have excellent taste and an enviable ability to keep things running smoothly. And your pitch-perfect sense of diplomacy? It will come in handy time and again at school and on the playground.

Don't forget to lighten up a little, though -- remember that mess and occasional chaos are an inevitable part of life with a baby. It's not a reflection on your parenting skills if one day you just can't seem to coordinate your baby's shoes with her overalls. And when Cheerios get squished in between the car seats? Let it go, mama.



The Twins

May 21-June 21

Your baby is blessed with a quick, engaged mind and needs constant stimulation. Read to her several times a day, and make sure you have lots of little objects (rattles, squishy toys) for her to play with. Satisfy her natural curiosity -- and fend off restlessness -- with pop-up toys, puppet shows, storytime at the library, and frequent field trips (such as to the supermarket or a fish store). A true chatterbox, your little one may be the first in her baby group to speak. Even if it sounds like gibberish, pay attention: In her mind, she always has something crucial to say.

Tooting my own Horn

Last night Mr Blue and I set a new PR - 7 miles in exactly one hour! That works out to slightly over 8 and a half minute miles. Woo hoo!

Conversations With a One-Year-Old

"Lil Blue, its time to change your diaper"
"Yes, your diaper. Come here, please"
"Diiiii-poo! Hi mama!!"
"Yes, hi! Now lets change your diaper"
"No ball right now. Diaper"
"No doggies right now. Diaper"
"yum yum?"
"When you're finished. Then we'll have yum yums"
"In. A. Minute"
"Where are you going! Come back here you little streaker!"
[sounds of little feet running away. Laughter]

"Uh ohhhhhhh"
"Hang on. Mama will get the rag"

We're Livin' on the Air...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sorry for the terrible WKRP reference, I couldn't resist.

Today I got to meet some of the wonderful women from Cincinnati Women Bloggers. We had a great discussion and lots of laughs. I learned a lot from some of the more experienced bloggers, especially those who are recently returned from Ohio PodCamp and BlogHer. I think we're really building a great community here in Cincinnati, and during the meeting I found myself getting incredibly excited by the possibilities. There is some overlap with this group and some local groups that are working to promote Cincinnati as a business and tourism destination - what if we could harness our combined voices and energy to really create a city that embraces technology in all its facets! That got me thinking about the other things going on in Cincinnati that only want for greater exposure. We have the Fringe Festival and MidPoint Music Festival that bring in artists from all over the world. It seems like every weekend I hear about someone or some group doing some kind of creative, exciting event. We have groups doing amazing good like Give Back Cincinnati. We have so many groups working to make Cincinnati greener, more progressive and more inclusive that when I tried to link to them all I gave myself a wrist cramp! We have so many voices with so much to offer. If we could just get everyone organized, we'd be moving forward so quickly that we'd be unstoppable.

Ricki Lake: Home Birth Ambassador

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Apparently Ricki Lake's documentary The Business of Being Born has been influencing some celebrities to consider un-medicated, midwife-assisted homebirth. According to People Magazine, Boxer Laila Ali is planning to give birth to her first child at home.

While I didn't end up having Lil Blue at home, I am a staunch advocate of womens' right to choose that option, and I would recommend that anyone who is interested in homebirth check out The Business of Being Born. Its an absolutely stunning, well-crafted, powerful look at modern birth options in America. I had a successful natural birth in a hospital (and all in all, a great experience) but far too many women end up being pressured into unnecessary and potentially dangerous medical interventions, including C-sections.

Every woman deserves the opportunity to choose for herself where to give birth, and under what circumstances. Medical interventions should be a choice made by the woman in consultation with her physician. Unfortunately, too often interventions are presented as "hospital policy", or necessary even for normal births. My own physician pressured me incessantly to be induced on my due date, despite no evidence whatsoever that my body wasn't progressing normally. I went into labor on my own at exactly 41 weeks, and had an uneventful labor and birth. Lil Blue was born healthy, on her own schedule. While things worked out fine for us, I had to put on my "game face" entirely too much during my last month of pregnancy while I argued with a doctor who was telling me that waiting even one day past my due date would endanger my child. Even though every credible medical source that I researched on my own indicated that due dates are really only "best guesses" and that absent a medical reason to induce at 40 weeks, a healthy mother should be able to go as much as two full weeks past her due date before an induction should be considered.

Another resource for anyone interested in birth options is The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth. Henci Goer is up-front about her bias in favor of natural birth, but she does an excellent job presenting all of the facts surrounding medications, inducements and C-sections.

There's What in my Strawberries?

Monday, July 21, 2008

There's no question that buying organic food has benefits for your health and for the environment. Unfortunately, for those of us who are not billionaires, a wholly-organic diet is out of reach. So how do you make the choice to buy organic or conventional? For the Blue family, our finances often make the decision easy - if we can barely afford to buy any food that week, then its conventional or nothing. But when we're farther in the black, I try to buy organic as much as possible, especially for the foods that Lil Blue loves, like cheese and snack foods. Today Gramma Blue (aka my mom) sent me this handy guide to the relative load of pesticides in each food. Its printable so you can take it with you to the grocery store to help you decide if that 200% price difference is worth it.

I also highly recommend this book. Burke goes into detail about the process of becoming a certified organic farm, and explains the benefits of buying locally as opposed to certified organic food from a large national or international agri-business. Its a quick read and contains helpful lists at the end that can be photocopied and kept as resources. Her book is available on Amazon but of course you should purchase it at your local independent bookstore.

There are issues beyond your personal health that factor into the organic vs conventional debate. While it may not be strictly necessary from a cost/benefit point of view to buy the lower-pesticide load veggies, buying organic still supports smaller, more earth-friendly farms, and helps reduce the overall amount of chemicals put into the air, ground, and water. So naturally, buying everything organic (or at least locally) is the ultimate goal.

But you have to start somewhere, and this list and Cindy Burke's book do a good job helping the average consumer make baby steps toward healthier, more responsible food buying.

Weekend News Roundup

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Our trip to California went brilliantly! After three cross-country flights with a babe under one, I've learned the following:

  • Always fly direct. Layovers only increase the risk of some sort of disaster.
  • Check your car seat. Knock on wood, ours has never been lost, and we haven't had to deal with carrying it through the airport.
  • Leave early in the morning. Yes, it sucks to be up and out at the crack of dawn, but you'll be grateful when you reach your destination and still have time to settle in and get the baby down at a decent hour. She'll be exhausted because she probably didn't nap all day, and by going to bed at her normal time, she'll be back to a regular schedule that much sooner.
  • Fly first class. Its worth every penny. Shorter check-in lines, bigger seats, your own bathroom, free DRINKS....Worth. It.
  • Make a list of things you want to do at your destination. Cut it in half. Cut it in half again. Now you have a realistic goal of things to do.

Today we are going to our one-year childbirth class reunion. It blows my mind that all of our babies have turned one. It really seems like we were all doing our relaxation breathing and learning about our pelvic floor muscles, like, last week. Unbelievable.

I had my first unsubscription from the new mom's yahoo group I moderate. (Its a private group for my friends and invited friends-of-friends, so don't go looking for us!) But that makes it even sadder that someone would unsubscribe, especially without any warning or any explanation. I emailed J to see what's up and to tell her that we'd miss her and hoped she still wanted to hang out sometimes, but I haven't heard back. I'm sad to think that either something in her life has happened, or (worse) that something happened within the group to make her feel unwelcome. I guess some frienships come with an expiration date, but it still makes me sad because I like her.

I met Tito Ortiz at work last month. Nicest. Guy. Ever. I'm serious! He took the time to talk and personalize every person's book and memorabilia, and even stayed later to make sure everyone got a chance to meet and get their stuff signed. He took pictures with the staff, and was incredibly gracious. Here's a guy who has had a lot of success and never forgotten where he came from. You could tell he sincerely appreciated his fans, and his fans return that love a thousandfold. I'm already a huge UFC and MMA fan, but now I'll be sure to root extra hard for the Huntington Beach Bad Boy.

I've been working a lot lately, when it rains it pours, as they say. But all that means extra money for us, so yay!

The state of Ohio apparently doesn't want me to pay my yearly registration dues, and they're letting me know that by making it impossible for me to find a site to pay them online. Or even to check and see when they're due. This is an issue for me, because I don't work in an office so theres always a chance of a dues notice getting lost. So any Ohio attorneys who have paid your dues online, drop me a line and enlighten me.

Shut Up, Teddy Grahams

Friday, July 18, 2008

This morning while I was eating a handful of Teddy Grahams for breakfast I took a look at the back of the box. There is a "recipe" for "PB&J Man!!" From what I can tell from the picture, I'm supposed to 1) cut a piece of bread into the shape of an (un-anatomically correct) man; 2) smear the head with peanut butter; 3) smear the body with jam (heh heh); and 4) stud his "clothes" with teddy grahams. Because....really? I have the time to "create" with food? Because Lil Blue will actually eat any of that stuff anyway? Lately the only thing she'll eat is goldfish crackers, and only if she can walk around in a circle with one fish in each hand. Because that's how she is.

I know I shouldn't let stuff like this bother me, but its been a rough couple of days. Yesterday Lil Blue and I had a playdate at our friend's pool. It was going to be us, and two of our friends and their little boys. Normally LB seems happy when we go swimming. But yesterday we were at the pool for less than an hour, while LB whined and cried and grabbed at me and hit and scratched at me, and generally threw a fit. She then screamed at top volume the entire ride home after I packed her up from the pool. This has been happening so much that I'm at the end of my rope. Nothing makes her happy. She hates me, hates everyone we know, hates everywhere we go and everything we do. Apparently the only place she's content is her three days a week at daycare, and then only if no one comes near her or touches her. When she was a newborn we called her colicky. Then she became "high needs" and lately "very sensitive" or "very spirited". But all those euphemisms don't make me feel any less like a failure. Shouldn't a child want to be with her mom? Shouldn't I be able to make her happy? What am I doing wrong? Did I screw up by not making PB&J man? Is that what it takes? Should I just give up, go back to work and let her be at daycare fulltime?

Things Left Undone

Monday, July 14, 2008

This is the year I turn 30. The big day is still a few months off, but I've started thinking about things that I've started and not finished. I have a tendency to veer off into new activities as soon as the going gets tough - or boring - leaving a wash of unfinished tasks behind me. Here is a list of things I haven't finished, but hope to.

1. Finish getting my pilot's license. I logged around 30 hours in flight school several years ago. I'm many solo hours and one checkride away from being a fully licensed pilot. I quit because I had run out of money and time. I was preparing for my first bar exam and just couldn't find the big blocks of uninterrupted time you need to really work on flying. When I was flying, the average cost to achieve a private pilot's license was $6,000. Minimum. And that was for a motivated student who had the time to fly several times a week. Now that the cost of fuel has nearly doubled, I can't even imagine what it would cost to rent even the tiny thing I flew (that would be a Cessna 152)(it looked just like the one in the picture)

2. Get my black belt. This one was more about running out of time than money. I had two belts to go when a perfect storm of law school applications, wedding planning and relocation pelted me all at once. Mr Blue (a third degree black belt) technically could train me all the way to my first degree, although he's said that he would have me do my black belt test with an independent examiner so there is no question of impropriety and I could have my belt registered officially in Korea. We've talked about me starting my training again, but it'll take a lot of time when we are both free and rested. Ha! HA HA!

3. Improve my language ability. At different points in my life I was nearly fluent in French and Spanish. Both have degraded terribly over the years. I'd love to knock the rust off. I'm slowly working my way through a Spanish review workbook - I also have several friends from Mexico who have offered lots of free conversation. This year I vow to get over my insecurity and take them up on it!

4. Run a half marathon. I wanted to do one before Lil Blue turned one, but that didn't happen. I'm scheduled to run a half on my birthday in September.

I hate having so much unfinished business gnawing at me. Hopefully as Lil Blue gets older I can start working on these things - I want to look back in another 30 years and not wonder how things would have been different, if I'd only gotten up off my ass and worked on them.

TV Shows you should be watching but probably aren't

Thursday, July 10, 2008

If you haven't been watching Burn Notice, you totally should. Mr Blue discovered this hour long awesomeness buried away on the USA Network. Season Two starts tonight at 10 EST. BE THERE! If you need to get caught up, check out the episode guides here. And while you're there, browse around the website because Television Without Pity rocks.

Next up, Reaper. Another awesome show hidden on a crap "network". CW, per usual, has absolutely no idea how to market or promote a fabulous show but yet Reaper rules in spite of CW's ineptitude.

Happy Shimmies!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

You haven't heard me talk much about bellydancing lately, and here's why: the monthly cost of classes, in addition to the gas I would burn to drive the 20 minutes or so to get there has led me to go on yet another hiatus. I was totally bummed until I discovered that I can dance at home for free, courtesy of Fit TV's series Shimmy. Overall, I was pretty impressed with the series. The camera work is beautiful, if a tad dramatic. (Bellydancing in the snow? Really?) The series seems to be devoted to more traditional style than I am used to. With the exception of my very first introduction to bellydance, I train exclusively in tribal style. Tomato, tomahto.

My only gripe (you knew there would be one) is that the videos move very quickly. If you are new to bellydancing, you'd best have a DVR and practice with remote in hand, otherwise you'll very quickly get lost. Also (and this I'm sure is due to each episode only being 30 minutes long) the moves are shown, but not broken down or explained. So I fear that beginners will not develop very good technique. If you really want to learn to bellydance and you don't have access to a bellydance school, I would recommend picking up an instructional video.

For your viewing pleasure, here is a video of one of the foremost tribal style bellydancers, and my girlcrush, Rachel Brice.

Obama: June 30th Speech on Patriotism

Monday, July 7, 2008

Finally, someone who gets it...

Summer Staff Picks Two - We're Turning Japanese!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Putumayo Kids Presents Asian Dreamland: World music snobs love to hate on Putumayo in the same way that foodies love to hate on Rachel Ray. There are some surface similarities - both produce copious quantities of cheerfully repetitive product, heavy on comfortable favorites that require little heavy lifting by the consumer. But I openly admit to enjoying Putumayo's CD's precisely because they don't require heavy lifting. I can certainly spend hours diving into iTune's World Music library and discovering obscure artists. But certain types of music (especially Asian music) are so difficult to access by the average Western listener that it helps to have Putumayo do the work for you, by presenting ten or fifteen interesting examples of the given musical theme. Asiam Dreamland is in heavy rotation in our house as soothing naptime music, but it would be just as suitable for big people to relax to.

Sujata Massey Girl in a Box: This is the 9th book in Sujata Massey's fabulous series about young Japanese-American antiques dealer turned amateur detective Rei Shimura. Each book in the series is wonderful, and if you're new to the series I would recommend starting with the first book, The Salaryman's Wife. Its not essential to read the series in order, but it will help you keep the secondary characters and their roles in Rei's life straight. While Rei is American-born, each book takes place in Japan. You will learn a great deal about Japanese culture and society, and enjoy quick-moving action and suspense at the same time.

Kirin Ichiban lager: One of my favorites. A light, bright lager that isn't too hoppy or carbonated. In my opinion, one of the most refreshing beers for summertime or along with spicy food. I always drink Kirin with sushi because it doesn't overpower the delicate flavors of the food, and doesn't sit heavily in my stomach.

I want to believe

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

It's bad enough that my last fill-up cost me $52. And that my last trip to Kroger topped out at $225. But now the fading economy has really hit me where it hurts. Today NPR Marketplace reported in passing that beer prices are rising due to higher prices for key ingredients like wheat, barley and hops. An MSNBC article from May explains that smaller microbrewers are in even more dire straits because they can't absorb higher costs or negotiate lower prices like big brewers. I feel no shame when I admit I am a beer snob. When I'm out and about, you're likely to find me blathering on about hoppiness and clarity and grapefruit-y undertones. Its just what I like.

Reason Magazine takes the debate to the next level by claiming the rising prices are are a result of greater demand for biofuels. Its not a new argument, and I don't deny the logic behind the proposition that prices for food staples are higher across the board due to a combination of agriculture subsidies and more land being turned over to biofuel production instead of food production. Growth of corn for ethanol production is highly subsidized in the United States and Europe, giving farmers a huge incentive to switch crops. Therefore, the supply of foodcrops is not stable, but in fact shrinking, excerbating the strain caused by supply vs demand.

It is true that some production methods for biofuels can result in a greater release of carbon into the environment than the amount released by a comparable quantity of fossil fuels. Reason, being a conservative publication, concludes that the solution involves abandoing biofuels altogether, and also smacking "the greens" in the mouth. However, the Science article that Reason cites explains that what is actually important is the location of the biofuel production, and the methods used to produce it. The authors of the article were comparing biofuel production in clear-cut areas in rainforests, savannahs, etc., versus the use of perennial biofuel crops in low-value or abandoned agricultural lands. The increased carbon release from biofuel production is a result of the clearcutting of the land on which it is grown, not a flaw inherent in biofuel production. What does not seem to be seriously up for debate is that use of biofuels can reduce the amount of fossil fuel consumption world-wide, lowering the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and hopefully slowing global climate change.

The truth, however, may wind up being more inconvenient that Al Gore anticipated. The truth is that as a middle-class American, I can afford to care about climate change. Sure, I may be paying more for beer, but I can afford to want to leave a cleaner environment for my children. And while I and other middle-class Americans are demanding more research into biofuels, mothers in Haiti, Bangladesh and Africa are daily enduring riots, desperately paying more than 75% of their income to buy rice and grain to keep their children alive. The truth is that there is a divide between the First and Thirld World that is deep and growing deeper every day, with no clear solution in sight. In 2007, Barack Obama stated "I believe [climate change is] one of the greatest moral challenges of our generation". He plans to invest $150 million over 10 years into biofuels, including second-generation biofuels that may help to arrest the ethanol-corn growth that has resulted in skyrocketing food prices. Obama's campaign advocates change we can believe in. And I want to believe. I want to believe that I don't have to mortgage my children and grandchildren's future to fulfill a moral obligation in the present. I don't know if his plan will work. But I know we have to try.