Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tick tock

Mondays just got a bit more challenging. School started back up for Mark again, and he has class on Monday nights until 8:30. That means that he takes off for work around 7:45 (unless he has a 7:00 conference call with China or Europe, which has been more frequent lately) so it's just us girls until after 9:00 pm. That's a long day for one person to be with an 11 week old!! Don't get me wrong, I love it and we have fun, but between getting my 8 hours of work in while she nurses and naps on my lap (the only place she will sleep these days), keeping her entertained when she's awake, trying to make and eat quick meals here and there...it's exhausting. And this teething thing is adding another dimension to the mix - sometimes she cries because she's in pain, and nothing I can do will fix it. Sometimes being a mom is heartbreaking! And then she looks up at me with a big smile, as if I'm the most important person in the world, and everything in the world seems right. We'll make it through this teething and through Mark's school just like we somehow made it through the colic (I seriously thought that would never end). And then I'll complain that I miss my baby, and where did the time go? heh

I just joined a local walking group for babywearers. They meet at the Mall of America and the skyways downtown (and local parks when the weather warms up!) which will be a really nice excuse for me and Claire to get a change of scenery. And it will be nice to meet some more moms who think and parent like I do. Most of my current friends are on the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to a lot of parenting issues, or they don't have any kids so they don't even care about my views on vaccines or co-sleeping.

I better go and relieve Mark. He's been walking around and bouncing Claire since I left for the gym a few hours ago. Now that I've had a little time to unwind, it's time for a shift change. I cannot wait for summer...I think we'll both have more energy when the sun doesn't set at 4:00, and we can spend time outside.

Maybe tonight will be better than last...Claire and I went to bed at 8:30 (before Mark even got home - we were tired!) and she woke up about every hour to nurse and/or fuss until 4 am when I put my arm around her and felt a wet spot on her back. She had wet through her diaper and her little outfit was damp. So I fumbled in the dark and found another one in the clothes basket (full of clean clothes I haven't had time to fold or put away...). It was a footed onesie/pajama number that I snapped from the feet up to the top, but when I got to the top set of buttons I realized that it was too tight and wouldn't reach. The rest of it fit fine, so I left it and we went back to bed. When I woke up this morning and saw her laying there, grinning, with the ill-fitting outfit I couldn't help laughing. The collar had folded out and was laying flat like an adult button-down shirt - she looked like Career Claire, as if she just needed a strand of pearls and a blaser and she was ready to head to the office. I guess we'll need to get some more 6 month outfits, as the 3 monthers are getting too small! Mommy's little chunker... :)

Ok, really, time for bed!

Real quick

I needed a quick protein boost after my workout, so I grabbed a handful of Planter's sunflower seeds. I happened to look on the jar while I chewed them and noticed the ingredients.

Who's bright idea was it to put MSG in sunflower seeds?! Yes, msg, it's right after the SUGAR.

For crying out loud. I didn't even think to read the label at the store because I thought it was just sunflower seeds and salt. Guess I need to be more diligent when I grocery shop.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Vaccine rant

I started this entry on Wednesday, and it's taken me this long to wrap it up. Work and Claire have kept me insanely busy!

Claire is "pre-teething". She'll be 10 weeks on Friday, so it's a little on the early side. I don't expect to see teeth any time soon, but things are definitely moving around underneath her gums causing her some pain. Poor baby :(

In a moment of desperation, I called our pediatrician's office to see if we could give her infant acetaminophen if things got really bad. The pain seems to come and go, but when it's bad she gets so frantic; she gnaws on her fists, her entire body stiffens up, and her face turns bright red. So after a sleepless night I was starting to anticipate a rough day ahead.

I got an emphatic "NO" to the infant Tylenol, or any other medication for that matter. The nurse went on to explain that babies under three months are in an especially high risk category and cannot take any medications.

So then let me ask why it's ok to inject babies with up to 5 shots, most of them containing 3 vaccines each, at the 2 month "well baby" visit? I know why they do it: because parents bring babies in for regular visits so it's a convenient mass-coverage plan. Parents don't normally bring older kids in regularly, when they could possibly better handle the overload to their immune system. Knowing why they do it this way is one thing, understanding why they think it's OK is another.

The fear that Thimerosal (mercury, a neurotoxin), a preservative in some vaccines, causes autism is just the tip of the iceberg. They may be phasing it out of vaccines now, but what about the chemicals that are still used? What harm are they causing? Aluminum, known to cause brain damage (and has been linked to dementia and Alzheimer's disease); formaldehyde, a known carcinogen; chick embryo cells, which are commonly contaminated with avian leukosis viruses. You may be thinking that an avian virus can't transfer to humans, but I just read that early Polio vaccine experiments in Africa may have transmitted an AIDS -related monkey virus to humans, beginning the AIDS epidemic. You just never know.

Viruses can only be detected in vaccines if researchers know what they're looking for...I don't want my child to be part of an experiment - which is what vaccines are - only to find out down the road that "oops, we didn't know X was in it and happens to be harmful to humans." That's what happened to me with my Rheumatoid Arthritis after I received MMR, DT, and flu shots. I won't put Claire through what I've been through these last 5 years.

Instead of mass vaccinations, why not teach and encourage better nutrition? A strong and healthy immune system is the best defense against illness. In high risk populations where the possible benefits of a vaccine outweigh the risks, it makes sense to utilize them as long as parents have informed consent. But it makes me so mad when doctors make parents feel like they MUST vaccinate according to schedule, and that side effects NEVER happen. Many states, including Minnesota, allow parents to decline vaccinating their children with some or all of the recommended doses; parents also have the option of delaying the schedule. We declined the HepB vaccine when Claire was born because neither of us have Hepatitis and the chances of exposure are incredibly slim. It would have been like putting casts on her legs "just in case she breaks them". No thanks.

I also wonder about the chickenpox vaccine. It is not guaranteed to guard against the disease, and it only lasts up to 8 or so years, max. So what happens after that? It surely doesn't give immunity in adulthood, when chickenpox become serious and sometimes life-threatening. So why prevent kids from getting it when complications are rare and they're in turn guaranteed lifelong immunity?

I better end this entry now, or I'll go on forever. Long story short, I'm interested to see how our pediatrician reacts when we take Claire in on Thursday for her 2 month visit - the visit she's supposed to be getting her first round of shots at. I've already told our doc that we're not interested, and he was respectful (unlike other pediatricians I interviewed when I was pregnant) but he did ask me to do extra research on a few in particular. I did, and am armed with reasons why I'm still not interested. I'm sure I'll have another long-winded entry after the appointment. Aren't you lucky!

Ragin’ CAJN

CAJN. Those are Claire's initials, and sometimes Ragin' Cajun is a fitting nickname. Poor thing is still fussy on and off, and I still think it's teething (or pre-teething) pain. I took her to a La Leche League meeting on Thursday and had to stand and bounce her almost the whole time. I was meeting a few friends there, and one of them has a 6 week old who is already visibly sprouting teeth. And although it's rare, some babies are even born with teeth. So I don't think it's too early for that to be the case with her at 10 weeks. I just hope it stops soon, because I hate seeing her in pain. At least between the painful periods, she's her cheerful and smiley self. I live for her smiles and coos.

I'm looking forward to attending a baby wearing meeting sometime in the next week. I have a sling and a wrap, and have tried both with her a few times, but she hasn't liked either yet. I think it's because she loves looking out at the world, but doesn't have the required neck strength to be worn facing out yet, so she squirms when I wear her facing me. Maybe in the next month or two it will get easier when she can face out. Or maybe it's because I'm still new at this, and she's uncomfortable while I fumble to get her situated. I'm hoping I can figure it out at a meeting with women who are pros at this, or maybe I can try a few other types of slings/wraps to see if another style works better for us. Either way, I really want this to work out - I love having her close AND having both hands free!

I've been emailing back and forth these last few days with Karen, the other woman who just started at work and trained with me. So she was there the first day and a half when we didn't have computers, and she's endured our trainer's motormouth with me, and she also sat in her car outside of our boss's house the day we trained there together when our boss was late to her own house. Neither of us have ever worked for a company quite like this before, so it's nice that we have each other to talk to when something happens. I told her about my latest experience on Tuesday.

I trained at our boss's house again while Karen went somewhere else to train. My boss told me to arrive at 8 (which required me to leave my house by 7 because of rush hour), and when I did she was still getting her kids ready for school. We didn't get started until around 9, and then she told me that she had a 1:00 coffee date with a friend that she had forgotten to cancel, and would I mind hanging out at Target one exit up the highway for a while? I would have just gone home for a bit, but my house is a good 45 minutes away without traffic.

Being new and wanting to make a good impression on my boss, I told her "no problem!" and headed to Target. I pulled into her driveway at the agreed upon 2:15, noticing only one set of tire tracks leaving her garage stall. She wasn't home yet. So I sat in my car on her driveway - again - with the heat blasting for 10 minutes until she rolled up. Pretty tacky when she's the one who planned this training session, and it was her second time making me wait outside her house for her.

So then Karen told me about her latest experience. Since we're WAHs (work at home employees) we were given computers. Unfortunately, that's about all we were given. We had to remind the several times to give us log-in info and passwords, and then when we got home we had to figure out how to set everything up and find the necessary programs on our own. Karen was having trouble with her router at home, so she called the help desk. Apparently the guy she talked to was so impatient and unprofessional that at one point she could hear him banging his phone against his desk. Nice! I have such a hard time believing Fidelity is as succesful as it is, and that it's a Fortune 500 company. How is anything accomplished when nobody knows what they're doing? I just hope they'll give me a break and flexibility if I ever need it, because I've certainly excused enough from them these last few weeks.

Ok, time for bed.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Mecca lecca hi, mecca hiney ho

Lately I've been waking up wanting chicken for breakfast. Forget eggs, yogurt, or oatmeal; this morning I threw a chicken kiev in the oven at 8 am. Must be all of the physical activity and the nursing that are making my body crave more protein. I've also been drinking enough water and tea to make my eyeballs float. Maybe I'm singlehandedly responsible for the drought in Georgia because of my water consumption. (I apologize to those who are suffering from the watering ban and recommendations to reduce the number of toilet flushes...) Nevermind the logistics, it could be possible that my home in Minnesota somehow draws water from Lake Lanier in Georgia.

I got to take my new work computer home yesterday. It has the largest monitor ever made, and I'm not talking screen size. The thing is easily like, 2 feet deep. And I don't have a real desk yet, so it's sitting on a flimsy card table in the living room. I keep imagining the entire thing collapsing into a cloud of dust, and having to explain to my boss why they should give such an irresponsible person a new one.

But the cool part is that I also got what they call a token. It's a little plastic thing with a digital screen; it has a 6 digit number that changes every minute or so. In order to log onto my work server, I have to enter my own 4 digit pin followed by the number displayed on the screen. The way it works is pure magic. I had never heard of such technology until this week, so I'm still really impressed, can you tell? I was talking to one of the IT guys, and he said it's an almost foolproof security measure, and it may be introduced in the world of online banking someday but it's too expensive right now.

Mark and his brother can be such stinkers sometimes. Today Mark and I were at Erik's house hanging out with his family - his three kids LOVE Claire and had been asking to see her again. They're 4, 6, and 8. And, like most kids their ages, they have too much energy to contain. So while we adults were talking, they were chasing each other and running around. Meanwhile, Claire was having trouble falling asleep, so Mark was standing and swaying with her when he got an idea and said something to Erik. After the kids ran by again, Erik grabbed a doll off the floor and handed it to Mark while Mark slyly handed Claire to me. Erik stepped in front of me just as the kids came running back by us, and Mark joined in yelling "YAYYYYYY!!!" as he made a big show of dropping the doll on the floor.

The looks on their faces before they saw Claire, safe in my arms...it was actually pretty funny. They're used to these sort of shenanigans, and as always started begging him to "do it again, Uncle Mark!" If Claire is anything like her dad, I think I'm in for it :)

I wish I had a desk, I'm so excited to get my home office set up! ("Wish? Did somebody say wish?")

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


I met with Jeff, my trainer, tonight for the first time since Claire was born. It feels so good to be getting back into a routine again! I started working with him about a year and a half ago because I was having trouble dealing with some major pain issues. It seemed like one day I was teaching Yoga and Pilates, taking Kali classes 5 times a week, and leading an active lifestyle, and then the next I was crying in my car at a gas station because my hands hurt too bad to squeeze the pump handle. I was miserable at work; it hurt to type and was next to impossible to flip through folders in the filing cabinet, both of which I had to do for 8-10 hours a day. And I think all of the aches, pain, and resulting stress (and anger - who authorized this disease to take over my life?!) were changing me. I was beginning to feel cranky and act like an 80 year old woman. And Mark was beginning to call me Arthrito-Girl (which actually helped, because it made me laugh)

One day I was about to cancel my new gym membership, because after 3 months of paying dues I had only managed to frustrate myself by taking it too easy (fear of hurting myself) or actually hurting myself because I didn't know how to work this new body of mine. And the blow to my ego didn't help matters. It hit me that I had lost a lot of mobility that I may never recover, and I mourned my active lifestyle. Out of the blue, somebody from Lifetime Fitness called me to see if I was maximizing my membership; was I happy with what I was paying for? No, actually! It felt weird admitting that I needed help when not so long ago I had been the one helping other people, but the girl on the other end of the line was an angel. She said she had the perfect trainer to help me.

Long story short, I made excellent progress with Jeff's help. The dozen or so meds I had tried were all a big waste of time and money for me. The side effects outweighed any benefits, and I worried about long term usage when they weren't even helping. I was lucky enough to find a "cure" in exercise when I learned how to modify what I was doing.

I backslid a little while I was pregnant, especially towards the end when my growing mid-section put too much strain on my pelvis. I would have been fine going through life not knowing what or where the sacroiliac joints are, but mine are arthritic and cause problems when I'm not active enough. Thank goodness I have the gym to escape to, because I always walk out feeling strong and healthy.

Tonight was no exception. It was my fourth visit this month, and I can tell I'm making progress. I'll be back to my old routine again in no time. No mom jeans for me! As for Mark's nickname for me, I'll keep it. It reminds me of the obstacles I've overcome. And I kind of like being a superhero.

Monday, January 7, 2008



Training has been a nightmare. Day one we had no computers, so we sat around all day chatting and waiting (they never came). Day two, one computer was brought in around 10:00 (after they made us arrive at 7:30), and then it took a while for our trainer to get everything set up and logged in. And then she talked about herself and her family so we probably got 2 hours of learning in but had to stay until 3:30. That was last week. Fast forward to today.

We were scheduled to attend a meeting at 9:00 with somebody from HR to go over the Fidelity company structure, bankruptcy and foreclosure processes, dress code, etc. But our original trainer asked us to come in at 7:30 again, since we didn't get anything done on day 1. We did, but she was 20 minutes late, and then still had to log in and ended up chatting so we didn't accomplish anything before 9. When we walked over to the conference room for the HR meeting, we were informed that it was delayed 15 minutes so it was back to our original trainer to hear more about her personal life.

Fifteen minutes later we tried the conference room again only to find the HR rep buried in piles of papers, frantically shoving them into three-ring binders for us. Way to be prepared. Her computer wasn't set up, so she started the presentation sans Powerpoint; she had included printouts of it in the binders, but they were 3 slides to a page and the text was too small to read. She finally got Powerpoint up and running, and I noticed that she was simply speed-reading the slides and moving on without adding any information of her own (or leaving room for dialog or questions.) Not surprisingly, she admited that this is the first time she's done this presentation, so she's not sure what she's doing. This was especially irritating, though, because she's the one who sent the email invite to us all a week ago. Wasn't that enough time to at least make a quick run-through on her own? I always did that when I lead training sessions at Wells Fargo. (and I had my handouts ready several days in advance...)

Afterwards she handed out a three page test filled with multiple choice questions. But each question had one answer in bold font; she had given us all the answer key.

When is this place going to get their act together? The original plan was to have us on our own by the 16th, but it doesn't sound like our computers will even be ready by then, so we may be stuck with our trainer for another few weeks. Ugh!

I have to just keep telling myself to hang in there...once I'm trained in, I get to work from home and never see or hear these people. I'll be able to take my laptop with me wherever I want, including Atlanta to visit my family, without having to use any vacation time. I'll get to work very flexible hours, and spend more time with Claire. This could be a dream job, if I can survive this incredibly frustrating month.

Can you tell I'm cranky? Time for bed. I'm going to need some rest to deal with this at 7:30 am again.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Knee deep in the hoopla

Whoah, did Claire really just sleep from 10-5? She's never slept longer than 5 hours before, and even that's not common. That sleep sure helped after my long day yesterday!

I went to bed last night thinking about the gym, and drifted off with Def Leopard's Hysteria playing in my head. That was one of my favorite songs to run to before the morning sickness kicked in. I was doing heart rate training, running on the treadmill in intervals. I'd run at around 80% of my max heart rate, about 145 bpm, for five minutes and then take a minute to work up to 100% and hold for a minute. It was so difficult, but I always felt so good afterwards that I would push myself to make it. After holding for a minute I'd take another minute to lower it back down to 145 for another 5 minutes, and so on.

Listening to my exercise playlist while running helped me focus and kept me motivated. But I always kept a secret weapon for when things got really tough.

When I was in elementary school, our favorite unit in gym was the jumprope unit. Those plastic beaded ropes that made the cool clicking sound against the gymnasium floor. Most of them were red and white or blue and white, but there was one that was red, white, AND blue and it was the perfect size for me so it was always my goal to get it before anybody else. At the end of each gym class our teacher would hold the Skipper of the Day contest.

She would wheel out the cart holding her record player (yes, a record player) and have everybody stand up. The anticipation was intense. When she started the song we'd all start jumping rope, sitting down on the floor when we tripped. The last one jumping once everybody else had messed up was crowned Skipper of the Day, and got a certificate with their name posted outside the gym door. It was one of the highest honors one could achieve at Southview Elementary, and I was always determined to win. Of course, I never did. I think Chris did regularly, but I was not even close to athletic until I hit my 20s.

But back to my secret weapon. The song she would play at the end of every class during the jumprope unit was We Built This City. One of the best songs ever. I loved it so much, and remember being so determined each time I listened to it as a kid, that I saved it for the end of each workout when I wasn't sure I could make it just a few more minutes. It would renew my spirit and give me the boost I needed. Isn't it funny how things like that will stick with us? I mean, that was probably about 20 years ago. Wow, I just realized what a nerd I am.

Time to get ready for work! Hopefully they'll have computers for us today...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

First day back to work

Whoah, what a day. We had another long night with Claire (not too surprising, considering she'll only be 8 weeks old on Friday) and when the alarm went off at 6 am, for the first time in several months it was meant for me, too. I was so tired I felt numb. But I was also excited to be starting my new job today, and a little nervous, so I snapped out of it and got down to business. I was loaded down with stuff: my pump since I'm nursing Claire, my purse, a notebook, and a lunch that reminded me of elementary school. When's the last time I had pb&j with a cut up apple? Now that I know I'll have access to a fridge and microwave, I can bring something better, like leftover beef stew. Pb&j was pretty boring today.

Ironically, the new office is just 5 minutes from my former job (20 miles from my house). I made it there before the other new girl and the trainer, so that made me relax - I hate being late. And both women ended up being super friendly, so it made training very pleasant. The only problem: the IT department failed to have computers for us in the training room. So we spent the entire day, from 8-4, talking about what we were missing out on. "There's a screen in the system that does this....and then there's a button that does that...and this part turns blue when this happens, you'll see tomorrow." I'm an auditor and work in a queue, my entire job is done on the computer, yet they couldn't train us on a computer today. Why didn't they just let us go home?

The woman who was training us is one of those people who doesn't need to take a breath for 8 hours. And her segues were worthy of an award - she talked and talked all day long, somehow finding her way to new subjects without letting either of us get a word in about the last one. I finally had to interrupt her after 2 hours of solid talking to remind her that she offered to give me a tour of the building and show me where I could pump. Things were starting to get painfull and I needed to take care of it.

So now I know her life story, and those of her daughters and the kids she babysat after high school. I also learned that vinegar and baking soda are very effective cleaning agents, and that I need to see the movie Chocolat. But I was so tired from our long night that my eyes started to get dry. And the training room was really warm, and when she started talking about what the computer system would look like, I felt my eyelids getting heavy. I was sitting across a small table from the other two women, trying to stay awake and look interested when my head snapped up and woke me up. Woke me up?! That means I was sleeping!! But the trainer didn't even notice, she was still talking a mile a minute and laughing in her good natured way. I tried blinking and squeezing my eyes shut to ease the dryness, but I was too tired and the hypothetical topic too boring. I fought hard to keep my head from falling onto the table. Somehow 4:00 rolled around and I was set free with the promise of actually learning something tomorrow.

I woke up completely when I stepped out into the 7 degree weather, and picked up some dinner on the way home. And then I somehow had energy to run to the gym - another first since Claire's been here. It felt good to stretch and move around, but it was incredibly frustrating not being able to do what I used to do. I listened to my 'exercise' playlist, the one containing my most motivating songs that I used to LOVE working out to, and it only made me long to push myself harder than I knew I should. Maybe I should hold off on those particular songs, as the Pavlovian response is just too strong.

Aaaand somehow it's 11:00 and I have to get up in 7 hours to do it all again. Good night!