What’s a babywearing consult?

I am often asked what happens in a babywearing consult, what exactly do I do. In this blog post I’m going to outline how a typical babywearing consult progresses.

Why a Babywearing Consult? Parents often find themselves overwhelmed when their baby first arrives. They realize how much their baby wants to be held, and they want a good solution! Babywearing is the solution! If you have received a hand-me-down carrier that didn’t come with an instruction manual, or are just overwhelmed by all the different choices out there, a babywearing consult is a great way to narrow your choices. A good babywearing educator or consultant will take your needs into account and recommend the carrier that is best for you. And then, she will help you learn to use that carrier so that you and your baby are happy and content!

Where do we start? First we make an appointment. My schedule is fairly flexible and I can come to you morning, afternoon, evening, or weekend, and I will drive anywhere in San Diego County! Many parents prefer this to a babywearing meeting due to their busy schedules, proximity to meetings, or the desire to have a co-parent or additional caregiver present. Also, if you have a brand-new baby and prefer not to leave the home, this is also a great way to learn just what you want and need to know.

I require a small non-refundable deposit to hold the appointment. If you need to cancel your appointment at any time, this deposit can be used toward a future appointment, or toward the purchase of a baby carrier.

Babywearing 101 / Introduction to Using Baby Carriers. When I arrive for the appointment, I will bring my teaching kit, which consists of carriers and accessories. 1065782_10151705031309710_88858682_o

We will talk about your baby’s needs and yours, what you plan to do while wearing your baby, and any other considerations (such as breastfeeding, medical conditions or injuries, etc.).

I will bring different brands and styles of the following: ring slings, wraps, buckle carriers, and mei tais. I will demonstrate each one’s proper use and how to get a comfortable fit with your baby. I will talk about the pros and cons of each type of carrier, and which are appropriate to your baby’s age and developmental stage.

Or if you prefer, I can simply demonstrate the carriers you are interested in using. I have found, though, that many parents discover other carriers they hadn’t previously considered after seeing them demonstrated.

Then we will try on the carriers you’re interested in using. This can be one of your own carriers, or you can try some of mine! We can use a weighted doll to practice until you feel comfortable to try it with your baby (or if your baby hasn’t arrived yet!). A consult usually gives us the opportunity to try 2-3 carriers depending on how much time we spend on each one.

Since we are dealing with babies (or toddlers), we of course can take breaks to feed, change, or comfort baby as needed.

At the end of the consult, we discuss what carriers you are most interested in, and I can provide you additional resources (online or print) that will help you remember what we’ve learned. If you are interested in purchasing a carrier from me, we can also arrange that at that time.

Intermediate or Follow-Up Consult. If you’ve already got the basics down but need help with one or two things, there’s a consult for that!

190149_503920749633617_1159106003_n (1) Intermediate or follow-up consults focus on one of many different topics: back carries, different types of wrap carries (or wrap carries using a specific wrap size), troubleshooting a particular carrier, or an infinite number of things! These consults typically run about 45-60 minutes, although some topics may run longer.

In the future, I may offer Skype or Google Hangout consults, so keep an eye out for those!

Any questions? Please email me at hi@crispybata.com. I am happy to answer any questions!

Let’s Stop Perpetuating the Idea that a Mother’s Body Is Ruined

A few nights ago, I was helping my 8-year-old son shower. As he cleaned his body parts, he asked, “Why do I have to have such a deep innie [belly button]?” He always has trouble cleaning in there. I told him I didn’t know why, and remarked, “Mine used to be like that, too, until I had babies.”

Gavin peered at my own belly button, which has gotten remarkably larger and shallower since two kids made my belly their home 8 years and 3 years ago, respectively.

Gavin looked up at me and said, “I’m sorry, Mama.”

Automatically, I replied, “It’s not a bad thing.”

And it isn’t. I remember when I was a little girl, and I traced the stretch marks on my own mother’s torso.* I asked her how she got those stripes, and she said, “They’re your fault. These are yours, and these are your sister’s.” I remember thinking they were pretty gosh-darned cool, that your body leaves you visible reminders that babies were carried there, and that once upon a time, we were physically one person. But my mom’s facial expression told me she didn’t believe that it was cool.

I secretly held on to the idea that it was cool, though. My mom and I don’t agree on a lot of things. This was one of the first things I remember disagreeing about with her.

When I was pregnant with Gavin, I could see the stretch marks starting to form. Everyone advised me to apply cocoa butter, which I did. But I knew that they wouldn’t make my stretch marks disappear; it was another thing I found cool. My mom and I had matching stretch marks! I did keep applying cocoa butter though. I found the stretching to be itchy, plus it smelled like chocolate. Win-win.

I was ready to give birth. Gavin felt it was necessary for me to wait an additional 12 hours after this photo was taken. Look how round I was.

I was ready to give birth. Gavin felt it was necessary for me to wait an additional 12 hours after this photo was taken. Look how round I was.

When I was pregnant with Audrey, I became fascinated with the fact that I got an entirely new set of stretch marks! On the surface, I was like, “Hey, that’s not fair.” Most mothers don’t even get stretch marks at all, but I got two separate sets, souvenirs from my 9-month journey as a pregnant woman with each child.

Gavin’s stretch marks are all along my panty line. They sweep across from one hip to the other because he sat low my entire pregnancy. I looked ready to give birth starting in my second trimester; he sat that low. According to old wives’ tales, my round belly and “gained weight all over” look should have netted me a girl baby. But I knew even before I was pregnant that we’d be having a sweet baby boy. A baby boy who enjoyed kickboxing with his mother’s cervix. I used to tell people I didn’t even know what a cervix was until I was repeatedly kicked there by my firstborn.

Can you believe this was only like 18 weeks in? I look ready to pop already!

Can you believe this was only like 18 weeks in with my second pregnancy? I looked ready to pop already!

The second time I was pregnant was a little different. Audrey’s stretch marks form a little circle around my stretched-out belly button. She hardly moved at all until the last 6 weeks or so, and then it was like 24-hour gymnastics in my womb. She literally changed positions 2-3 times a week between weeks 36-39, until she finally turned head down and told me she was ready to come out. I carried her all in the front, as if I was carrying a watermelon under my maternity dresses, but with the long way pointing out.

I don’t care what people think anymore: I believe my stretch marks are beautiful and I’ll shout it from the rooftops. I’m going to start thinking of them as my children’s first works of art. They left reminders of their burgeoning personalities while we were still one person. What’s not beautiful about that?

If you have stretch marks, I encourage you to stop thinking of them as scars or battle wounds. Carrying children doesn’t ruin your body; it makes it better. My body carried and sustained life! And then after that, it made milk and nourished babies even longer. Recognize the beauty of what the stretch marks represent.

*Disclaimer: I apologize to my mom, whose body I described in detail without her permission. I hope she forgives me. My mom is the most beautiful woman on earth. Well, she was until my daughter was born.

Crispy Parent of Two

It has been a while since I’ve updated this blog, but that’s to be expected. I now have double the number of children I had before. How does it work out to more than double the work?

I’ve found that being “crispy” has taken on a whole new meaning. Mothers who take a more “natural” approach to parenting are labeled as “crunchy” or “crunchy granola.” Well, we can’t be crunchy granola because we’re Filipino and we don’t eat granola that much. So I guess we’re “crispy bata,” which is a play on “crispy pata,” a pork thigh dish from the Philippines. “Bata” means child. Which means my children are just crispy children, and I’m a crispy mama. Not quite crunchy, but almost!

One skill that is off the mainstream that I have adapted much more readily this time around is babywearing. That means attaching your baby to your body, rather than pushing them in a stroller or holding them in arms.

This is very useful for many reasons.

First, I don’t need to utilize ramps to travel. I can walk stairs; I can probably navigate a ladder if needed (but I wouldn’t choose to).

Secondly, I can see my baby’s face, and she can feel my heartbeat. Babies, especially newborns, are most content when they can hear their mother’s heartbeat, just like the womb.

Wearing Audrey in a ring sling and holding Gavin's hand.

Third, it frees up my hands to hold my older child’s hand or to tend to him in other ways. This also means that my arms aren’t killing me after 10 or 15 minutes. This particular ring sling, as you can see, distributes weight over my shoulder and back. At the time, Audrey was probably around 12 lb., but I could wear her in that sling for an hour and be comfortable. As she got heavier, I moved on to carriers that used two-shoulders, which provide more support.

Baby's legs are straight, putting all weight on the crotch area, rather than being distributed over the bottom and thighs.

These carriers are different from the Baby Bjorn style carrier. My husband used a basic Bjorn with our son and it was only comfortable for him until Gavin was about 15 lb. The straps put too much pressure on B’s shoulders rather than distributing it over his shoulder and back. The other problem with the Bjorn is that even though it looks cool and sleek, the baby hangs from his crotch, and that’s not good either, according to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute:

Carriers that distribute the baby’s weight across the bottom and thighs, as well as holds the baby’s knees at or above the bottom are recommended:

Proper babywearing - baby's weight distributed over bottom and thighs; knees are at or above bottom.

I am very fortunate to be a part of BabyWearing San Diego, which is a nonprofit organization that does outreach and promotion of healthy babywearing. The organization holds informational meetings almost every week in different parts of San Diego County. The organization has a lending library, full of carriers that are safe for both baby and parent to use. The leaders are so helpful about finding the right carrier and showing novices how to use them. It is a collegiate environment, where moms (and dads or other caregivers) share their experiences and advice.

BabyWearing San Diego’s very active Facebook page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/BabywearingSanDiego/

Babywearing International: http://babywearinginternational.org/

One last picture of us babywearing – Audrey at several weeks old and being wrapped for the first time in a German woven wrap:

Cozy ... just like mama's tummy

Audrey’s Birth Story

My pregnancy with Audrey was in many ways different from mine with Gavin. She gave me zero issues from day one, besides normal fatigue and hunger during the first trimester. My second trimester was awesome.

However, in the 3rd trimester, I developed gestational diabetes, which is basically one of the worst things that could happen to someone who eats whatever she wants anytime she wants it. I also felt that she would come early, as did her brother. (I don’t know why I thought that; this pregnancy was different in every other way.) So I kept counting down to August 10 or so: “Two more weeks of not being able to eat ice cream!”

Due to the gestational diabetes, starting at around 36 weeks, I was monitored at my OB’s office twice a week, which included non-stress tests and an ultrasound at each visit. Her non-stress tests were awesome, aside from the fact that because she moved around so much, it was difficult to track her with the heart monitor. With almost every ultrasound, she was in every position except the favorable “head down” one. My OB even scheduled an Cesarean delivery for August 17. By August 15, thankfully, she was head-down and the C-section was canceled.

Since at least 20 weeks, I made up my mind that I would try to do a natural, un-medicated labor and delivery. I felt that my previous experience with Gavin’s birth was a slippery slope from narcotics, to Pitocin, to epidural, to depression and lots of difficulty in breastfeeding in the first few weeks. When I was pushing, I felt no pain and only lots of pressure. I don’t know if I’m a masochist, but I felt a little cheated because of that. I read lots of literature to prepare myself for an un-medicated birth. I began to believe that my body was built to give birth, and I wouldn’t need pain medication to make my experience better in any way. And then when my due date came closer, I re-read everything. I expressed my desires to my doctor and nurse practitioner, and they were on board with everything until my due date got closer.

August 20 came and went and I was mad. I mean, literally mad that I had not even started contracting (regularly) yet! Apparently, it is my medical group’s protocol to induce any gestational diabetes patients who go past their due dates. I resisted because I feel that it was possible that I ovulated late and my calculated due date therefore was a little early. Additionally, I knew that being induced before she was ready to come out would again be a slippery slope, and I did not want to experience that again. I wanted my little girl to pick her birthday, and I wanted us to have a chance at a vaginal delivery.

On the afternoon of August 23, Brian asked me if I wanted to come by his work so we could go to lunch together. This was really serendipitous timing, because as we drove to the restaurant, my doctor called. She expressed concern that I was so reluctant to be induced after being given all the information about why they don’t allow post-dates gestational diabetes patients to go very long after their due dates. She basically used scare tactics, and although she left the decision up to me, I felt that I really had no choice but to get induced that night. My one shining moment was declining the induction medication my doctor had said she would use; because I had done my research I knew that it was (a) not approved for induction of labor by the FDA and actually says it on the package (!) and (b) it is known for causing uterine rupture and maternal death. I requested a different medication and she agreed without any fuss, to my relief. My induction was scheduled for 9PM that evening.

After lunch, Brian decided he would not return to work. I called some of the elders in our church to anoint me with oil. I felt this would help because Audrey turned head-down after I was anointed several weeks before. I jokingly said, “God told her to turn head down, and you can’t NOT listen to God.” It also helped to ease my mind; prayer always helps ease worries. Sometimes it helps and I don’t even realize it. I believe this is what happened in this case. Many women believe that childbirth is very much a mental exercise as it is a physical one.

A representative from the hospital called me late in the afternoon, around 4:30 and said my induction was for the following night. I told her, no, my doctor specifically told me to come in that night. I was frustrated. It didn’t give me much faith in my medical group, but secretly I thought if I were given another 24 hours, perhaps Audrey and I would go into labor spontaneously. They moved up my induction to 8PM instead of 9. My doctor said she would be in at around 7AM, so about 11 hours later. It would give me plenty of time to dilate and go into labor.

We picked up Gavin from school, had dinner at Panera, and met my mom at our house. We dropped off Gavin at my in-laws’ place and headed over to the hospital.

Once I got checked into my labor & delivery room, I met my nurses. They did a lot to put my mind at ease. They were upbeat, competent and very trustworthy. I was checked as a baseline, and my cervix was dilated only about a half-centimeter. I had an IV placed first, and then the induction medication was inserted. As they were preparing the medication, I had a contraction. I said, “Hm. Maybe she was planning to come out today anyway.” That also eased my fears and worries quite a bit. I had to lay on my back for the first 2 hours to let the medication do its work. Sometime during all of this, my Auntie Wai-Ling arrived. She was there for Gavin’s birth, and I felt that she was a very encouraging presence. I asked her to come for Audrey’s birth because I felt that her spirit gave me confidence, too.

My contractions started just about right away. I got a new nurse in the middle of the night named Holland; she said that she normally worked until 7AM but she took a class earlier in the day and would be leaving at 3:30. Her class was in natural childbirth; she said she was very excited about doing an un-medicated birth and would be fully supportive of everything I wanted to do to give birth naturally and even had some suggestions if we were open to them. I felt like God put Holland there to reassure me that everything would be OK.

I labored sitting on the birth ball, standing up, and sitting up. I found out that Holland tried to get them to remove the fetal and contraction monitors since I was doing so well (also they were a huge pain to keep on my misshapen belly), but because I was on medication, they had to keep them on me.

I had a different nurse starting at 3:30; Holland assured me she would get me someone who would be supportive of a natural child birth. I got Christina, who was awesome. She was like Holland, but with more experience behind her. She was confident and assertive; I like that. My contractions started becoming more and more intense and closer together. I went to the bathroom and lost my mucus plug with a little bit of blood.

Typically with the induction medication used, they don’t check until 12 hours after insertion; however, Christina said that because of the increasing intensity of my contractions, it was probably wise to check sooner. At 4:20AM, she checked my cervix and I was dilated to 6cm. We all cheered. It was really quick progress! I noticed that Christina was bustling around the room, basically getting it ready for the baby’s arrival. My contractions were very energetic at that point. I began to shiver and asked Christina if that was normal. She said it was a good sign because it meant I was going through “transition” (I think that means the time between laboring contractions and actual pushing/delivery).

At 4:55AM, Christina checked my cervix again. This time I was at 8cm and at a 0 station! (I believe 0 station means that the baby’s head is in line with the pubic bone. A -2 station means she is crowning.) Very quick progress! I knew she would be coming soon. I felt like the next contraction (it was probably 2 or 3 after Christina checked me), my entire body was heading south. I probably said in a voice more forceful than I typically use, “She is coming out RIGHT NOW!” or something like that. I just felt all my energy focused RIGHT THERE.

Things moved pretty quickly after that. I noticed that there was another nurse assisting Christina. I felt like I pushed for several (million) hours. I could actually feel Audrey moving down through the birth canal, which I didn’t feel at all with Gavin. At some point I wanted to stand up, but Christina didn’t feel I needed to; she said Audrey was right there and all I had to do was push a little.

The other nurse (I forgot her name) advised me to hold my breath and push with all my might. It took a couple of tries to do it, but I soon got the hang of it. At some point, they attached a bar above my bed; I tried pushing while holding on to it, but it didn’t help. We also tried to turn me over, but as soon as I tried, I was like, “Oh NO WAY, DUDE.” I ended up pushing while on my back because my pubic bone was blocking Audrey’s head.

I felt her head coming out and I actually reached down to touch it. I didn’t know exactly what I was feeling, but it gave me more confidence to continue. As I pushed, I thought, “What a dumb idea; wanting to do this without drugs! This is the WORST IDEA EVER!” But it was past the point of no return, so I just had to keep on doing it!

The contractions were starting to come right on top of each other, and when she started to emerge, the nurses said, “You have to stop pushing!” I thought, “ARE YOU KIDDING? NO WAY!” I told them, “But she wants to come out right now!” The nurse told me to breathe as if I was blowing a feather in the air. They were calling the doctor. I was starting to get frantic. “I need to push!” The nurses, my mom, my aunt, and Brian were so supportive though. They kept telling me I was doing great (even though I was panicking a little, or a lot, inside) and kept reassuring me that the doctor was on her way.

When the doctor finally arrived, I started pushing for real. They massaged the opening to try to prevent me from tearing. I felt her head come out and her shoulders shortly thereafter. I think it was my mom who said, “It’s definitely a GIRL!” They placed her right on my chest and started rubbing her, and she began to cry within a few seconds. Also she peed on my hand. She seemed huge and tiny at the same time. Unlike Gavin, who looked dazed when he emerged, her attitude appeared to be more “I’m out now! Pay attention to me!”

I kept her on my chest for what seemed like a long time. It was wonderful. I tried to nurse her but she wasn’t very interested, and that was OK. I asked how long I pushed for, and they said 20 minutes. It seemed like hours.

I had a superficial tear that required 3 stitches. The doctor and I introduced ourselves to each other, which was kind of funny. The moments after birth are so frantic and frenetic (partly why I wanted to document all of this as soon as possible), and there are 10 million things going on at once. Brian got to cut the cord, and this time I got to watch. I don’t remember getting to see when Gavin’s cord was cut.

From induction medication being inserted (9PM) to actual delivery (5:34AM) it was about 8.5 hours of labor, 10 hours shorter than my labor with Gavin but definitely more eventful. With Gavin’s labor, I felt like I just went along with whatever the nurses told me to do; this time, because I was informed, I was a more active participant in what happened next. Even if it was what the hospital protocol was anyway, I felt more in control of everything that happened to me.

When they went to weigh Audrey, it was only Christina, my mom, my aunt, and Brian in the room with us. Christina was taking bets on how much she would weigh. I heard someone say 7 pounds, and 7 and a half pounds. I had it in my head when I went past my due date that she would be about 8 pounds because she was gestating so much longer than Gavin did. They placed her on the scale, and she was 8 pounds, 3.4 ounces. Even Christina was amazed because she said Audrey didn’t look that heavy. So pretty much the only thing I was right about the whole pregnancy was that Audrey would weigh about 8 pounds.

I didn’t cry when she was first placed on my chest, like I did with Gavin. I think I was just too exhausted. But I did cry when she first latched on to my breast to nurse. For some irrational reason I was scared that we wouldn’t be able to.

When I was wheeled to my post-partum room, I kept telling anyone who would listen that I was eating a Belgian waffle with strawberries and whipped cream for breakfast. The post-partum nurse told me that since the placenta was out (and my blood sugars came back normal — they checked right after delivery), I could eat whatever I wanted. My mom and aunt went out to get it for me.

I had my baby girl, I had my waffle, my big boy Gavin came to visit shortly thereafter. I felt so empowered because I felt like I was so informed before this birth, and I did it just how I wanted to. Although having a second baby after 5 years meant I had forgotten just about everything, all the important things — breastfeeding her, holding her, changing her — came naturally to me. All was good!

Our girl Audrey Lane

Growing up fast

I don’t know what it is. Perhaps it is the fact that he is, chronologically, 4 years old. It could also be, possibly, that I am working full-time again and don’t have the gift of witnessing every little development anymore. Or maybe it’s just what happens to kids sometimes.

I feel as if my child is growing up too quickly.

It seems like just last month, I had a very large baby. He was still in diapers (pull-ups) most of the time, when you handed him a pencil, he drew discernible shapes, but mostly just doodles.

But a couple of days ago, he produced this:

No more doodles. These are pencil scratchings with MEANING.

The top was a collaborative effort; I wrote the G, he wrote the A, V and I, and I finished it off with the N. Later on, he practiced some more and produced the second masterpiece (as well as the purposeful but cryptic doodles along the bottom).

All by himself.

I still remember when he required assistance staying upright and now he is communicating on an advanced level. Soon he’ll be writing e-mails. And maybe not too long from now, I’ll be blocking social networking sites (do I have to go into detail about why I don’t believe elementary- and middle-schoolers don’t belong on Facebook or Twitter?).

My mother still has old notebooks that I doodled in when I was about the same age as Gavin. And maybe because it’s special to her, it’s special to me, too. But for some reason, it’s finally sinking in that we don’t have a baby anymore.


As a child, I was very blessed. I had four living grandparents, and I was able to get to know and spend time with three of them on an extended basis. I wish I knew my paternal grandparents a little bit better, but I moved to the United States when I was in elementary school, and therefore I only kept in contact with them through letters and over the phone (and a couple of short visits).

My maternal grandmother, or “Mommy,” was the one I was closest to. I lived with her for four years while my mom established her career, and when deciding on colleges, I specifically chose one that was geographically close to her. It was a good thing, too, because she passed away right before my final semester. I was glad that I was around during her final days.

G is in a similar situation as I was: He is the first and currently only grandchild on both sides of the family. My mom and in-laws were both present for his birth and are a constant presence in his life. However, my father, who lives in the Philippines, did not have a chance to meet G until just last month.

I hadn’t seen my father in almost 6 years, when he walked me down the aisle at my wedding. He was here on business, bringing the Philippine national boxers to compete and train here. (I wondered though if it was a coincidence that they came to train in Southern California, where I live, and Northern California, where my sister lives, or if my father planned it that way. Heh.) At the same time, I was starting a new job and planning G’s 4th birthday party. I was excited for my father, who has 4 girls, to finally meet his one and only male direct descendant.

Anpa Ed and Gavin goofing around at the pho restaurant in their matching shirts.

Many people probably take grandparents for granted, but because of our situation, I can’t. I know that I am blessed that my parents, who split up almost 30 years ago, still get along and are good friends despite the distance and for the sake of their kids and now their grandkid. I am blessed to have in-laws who are willing to take an active part in their grandson’s life and do so on almost a daily basis. And my mom, who without question (maybe with a little question) will follow my rules in parenting even if they differ from how she used to do it 30 years ago. And my father and stepmother, who were doubtlessly tired because of their schedule, but still came down to San Diego for 2 days with their grandson. So because of these very wonderful people positioned as my child’s grandparents, I cannot take them for granted.

There is a very prevalent mindset in the United States when it comes to parenting, which is, “This is my child, not yours.” I don’t think I necessarily subscribe to that. My parents raised me; my husband’s parents raised him, and I think we turned out well; so whatever we learned from those experiences, good and bad, we bring to the table in raising our own child. If we expect our child to learn diversity, he will know various child-rearing techniques from all of us (as well as his caregivers at daycare/preschool). We are fortunate that our families for the most part adhere to our rules and are (relatively) sane, rational people. Many parents can’t boast that. As his parents, of course we will make the primary decisions for him, but it’s important for him to learn from his elders.

I still remember sitting at the kitchen table and helping Mommy and my great-aunt Tita Charito roll lumpia (Filipino egg rolls) while she told stories of her youth, and of my mother’s youth. I remember my papa’s mother getting a tape measure out of her purse the last day that we spent in the Philippines, so she could have a record of how tall my sister and I were — and 5 years later, when we returned for a visit, she still had the same piece of paper where she wrote down our heights.

Although I was very little when I left the Philippines , I have special memories of him, and no one can replace him as my father. I’m hoping that my son can also develop some nice moments with my papa, as I had with my grandparents.

Three generations of the Picson family: me, my papa, and Gavin.

Hardcore about being 4

The Crispy Bata has turned 4 in the last week, and for some reason it is almost as if someone took my 3-year-old and replaced him with and identical-looking but differently acting 4-year-old.

Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and do-it-yourself gummi bear decorations.

For example, the child who once was so resistant to even going near a toilet has basically not needed a diaper in the past 5 days. Iz am amazed at the difference in him. It’s as if he has never even seen a diaper or know what it’s used for. When we were at the supermarket, I asked him if he had to potty (because I didn’t want to leave a cart full of perishables in an aisle while trying to locate a bathroom), and it was like he was offended that I would ask. Because DUH, he would tell me when he had to go!

We were even more surprised when, at a time that all 3 of us were slightly sick with a cold, G woke up in the middle of the night and announced, “I have to go potty.” I was so shocked that he would even do that (especially since he had been wearing a pull-up to bed). In the past he would have just peed in his pull-up without waking up. I was so tired that I told him if he wanted to potty, he had to do it by himself. Half-awake, I heard him go into the bathroom, pull his stool up to the adult toilet, sit down, pee, and then flush. If I had had more energy, I would have stayed up and cheered. As it was, he crawled back into bed with me and fell asleep.

He did this twice, 2 nights in a row. The second time, B was conscious enough to witness it. The previous night he had been sleeping, and I’m pretty sure he thought I dreamed it or something when I told him about it.

What with the new potty-learning skills under his belt, I didn’t want to push anything else new, such as transitioning him to his own room … But this insane new child that has been traded for our old one actually suggested sleeping in his own room himself several time. Of course, he didn’t actually sleep there — he ended up coming back to his regular spot in our bed. But it was definitely a change from the boy who was scared of even being in that room alone.

The boy who was scared of the doctor’s office last year willingly followed all directions that the doctor and the nurse gave him. The instructions during the hearing test were confusing for him, but he even sat still for the shots –until the needle pierced his skin, and then he started screaming, “I don’t like this! I changed my mind! I don’t want shots anymore!”

He has even insisted on dressing and undressing himself (with some minimal help while his huge melon is stuck inside a shirt, so he can’t tell that I’m helping). When he was creeping up on his 4th birthday, we asked him to do things like use the potty and he would respond, “I’ll do that when I’m 4.” We tried to explain to him that he had to practice.

My other theory, besides my son being replaced by a clone, is that he really just needed to get comfortable mentally with the idea of potty-training. By giving him a deadline of FOUR YEARS OLD, with about 2-3 months notice, he was able to use that time to slowly get comfortable with the fact that at that point, we would expect him to act out this particular behavior. Although we would probably have gone easy had he been unable to do it, in his mind it was absolute: “Four-year-olds do not wear diapers. Four-year-olds use the toilet.”

In a way it’s a very sophisticated way of thinking, considering he’s 4. But he’s taking being 4 very seriously. I’m hoping this is a sign of more good things to come.

This potty chart has been posted in the bathroom since May. About 70% of the stickers have been acquired in the past 2 weeks. There were no stickers rewarded for those middle-of-the-night potty visits, or potty use at daycare.

Sometimes the rewards of parenting is about small victories

My precocious, intelligent son can count to 13 (to 30 with some help), knows all his ABC’s, as well as the sounds that each of those letters make, and he remembers things that happened when he was barely 2 years old.

At 6 months old, we briefly tried elimination communication. It worked, but only for about a month.

And yet as we come upon his 4th birthday less than 2 weeks from now, he is not even close to potty-trained.

That’s right: I’m admitting to the whole wide Internet that my almost-4-year-old is not potty-trained. I try not to mention it because inevitably I get either judgmental looks (and heavy silence) and/or ignorant remarks. Neither of which help the situation.

He was just starting to get potty-trained last year when I was laid off from my job, and therefore his routine was basically turned on end. Although he enjoyed being home with me most of the time, both of us transitioning to an at-home situation made for very poor potty training environment. Then he went through a contrary stage, which can only be described as the terrible 3’s (he got over it, thankfully). And then we moved.

An entire year full of transitions is just a difficult time for a child to be potty-training, so he just decided he wasn’t even going to try.

What I know about my son’s disposition is that he knows what he can do — and what he believes he can’t do, he won’t try for fear of failure. (Sounds a lot like me, actually.) Despite a lot of coaxing, praising, bribing, and cajoling, he just would not sit on the potty at the right times to do the right things.

An attempt around December 2009, before we moved. Unsuccessful.

Recently, I taped a potty chart at child’s eye level in our guest bathroom. We bought a brand-new truck potty (basically it makes a “vroom-vroom” sound when something hits the bottom of the bowl). I told G that when he acquired 10 stickers on his chart, he got to choose a toy from Target. And he acquired stickers by going pee or poop in the potty.

I think I put up that potty chart sometime in June. Today, G acquired his 10th sticker (and his 11th!) and got to open the Leapfrog Tag that my father had bought for him this past weekend.

I have to say, this made me feel pretty good, especially when he used the potty a second time. In the past year or so, there have been many times when I have felt a failure. Failing at keeping a job, failing at being an effective, successful stay-at-home mother, failing at helping my child reach the simple milestone of potty-training. It doesn’t matter that he’s one of the smartest children I know, that he has a sense of humor to rival his father’s, that he kisses my face and tells me every day “I love you, Mama,” that he can put together sounds in words that basically means he’s doing some rudimentary reading. This one thing, the darn potty, has kept me from feeling like anything like a good parent.

Today, I experienced the feeling of a small victory, and I realize that the feeling is still not much more exciting than any other day. And then it struck me: parenting isn’t about anything huge. Most parents don’t have kids who win Nobel prizes, or become President of any country — or even a company. It’s about the little things that prove that sometimes, they’re hearing what we say, following our examples, and incorporating our beliefs and values.

I’m going to try to remember this feeling and this revelation, and hope that our lives are full of small victories — and that I’m observant enough to recognize them.

Recipe for chicken tortilla soup

I’m really good at following recipes, but this one I had to improvise on because I lost the original recipe! It came in one of those fliers from Trader Joe’s. It took me a couple of tries to get it just right. You can get the ingredients almost anywhere (including Trader Joe’s of course). This is the “cheat” version, which uses canned versions of everything but of course you can make everything from scratch separately if you’re not as lazy as I am (or just not very patient).

Also, it’s a good way to use up all those broken tortilla chips at the bottom of the bag.


about a half-pound of chicken (I like chicken breast and then I cube it, but you can use anything)

one carton of chicken broth/stock (or you can make your own)

one can of corn

one can of black beans (drained and strained, so the soup doesn’t turn gray)

one small jar of prepared salsa (I like the chunky salsa from Trader Joe’s but you can also use Pace) — I sometimes can get away with about 3/4 jar

For garnish: broken tortilla chips, sour cream, shredded cheese


1. Cook the chicken. I typically just go ahead and boil it in the broth and then bring it back down to a simmer.

2. Add corn and beans. Stir stir stir.

3. Add salsa. Stir stir stir.

4. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream, shredded cheese and tortilla chips.

5. You’re done. Eat.

The Lazy Girls’ Reasons for Breastfeeding

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7), I’m resurrecting our blog. Hurray, right? YAY!

Although my son has been weaned for over a year, I still think back fondly to those 2 1/2 years that he could be comforted by nursing. The benefits of breastfeeding have been touted in the news over and over again; do you guys really need to hear that? No. Mostly because many women? Are STILL not listening. They come up with excuses why they didn’t even try, or worse, that the medical facility that they gave birth in didn’t offer any support for it.

Those are all issues that are too big for me to deal with, but what’s easy for me is to share with you why I breastfed my son.

It’s because I. Am. Lazy.

What? Breastfeeding takes so much of your time! The baby is attached to you 24/7! How do you ever get anything done? You might say that. But if you just think about it as a 10-15 pound growth on your breast and carry on with your day, it’s not so bad.

Let me start over because that might sound gross to some (all) of you. I should just make a list. Here you go, Kat’s Reasons Why Breastfeeding is the Lazy and Easy Way to Feed Your Child:

1. You don’t have to pack anything. Seriously, NOTHING. Well, OK, you need to pack diapers so you can catch what comes out after. I never packed a nursing cover (jackets, burp cloths, or my own shirt usually sufficed), I never packed pacifiers (after the 4th month, when G would just reject them by spitting them out), bottles, formula, or anything like that. So easy!

This is what a milk coma looks like.

2. Because you don’t have to pack anything, there is nothing to forget at home or have to buy at the store at 2 in the morning. Listen, almost anyone who knows me will tell you that besides being lazy, I have a horrible memory problem. I’d forget my head if it weren’t screwed on, and I’d forget my boobs at home if they weren’t permanently attached. When G started eating solids, I’d always forget to pack snacks for him, which is why so many people saw me nursing in public. Breast milk is always fresh, always available, doesn’t run out (and require Daddy to run to the grocery store in the middle of the night) and never forgotten at home.

3. It doesn’t take as long. Yes, it takes about 4-6 weeks to “get the hang of it,” and bottle-feeding is very straightforward from the word go. But I believe that the initial time and patience to learn how to breastfeed again appeals to my lazy side. Why? Once again, if G was crying or required any kind of comfort, all I had to do was lay him in my lap. By the time he was 8 months, he would stop crying before he even latched on because he figured out what was coming. This is why I think breast milk has magic in it. It can stop almost any healthy child from crying. Seriously. TRY IT. It takes less than 3 seconds to place your child in your lap and whip out your breast (yeah, by the time G was 3 months old, I could really do it that quickly!).

I really appreciated this time aspect when G was waking up every 2 hours in the middle of the night. I wondered how I would have gotten any sleep at all if I had to prepare a bottle for him every time. (Also add to this the fact that I am also clumsy as well as lazy. I bet I’d drop an uncapped milk bottle at least once a night.) Actually, I would have probably sent my husband to do it. Because of this time aspect, in the first 3 months of G’s life, my husband only had to wake up 3-4 times to help me. Since he was still working full-time during the day, I felt he should get his sleep at night. G and I napped during the day.

4. I don’t have to do as much washing. If I had to choose 2 chores that I don’t hate, it’s laundry and washing dishes — but only those hard-working, type-A people enjoy cleaning. I am not one of those people. When G was in school, yes, I had to wash bottles, but there were definitely fewer of them than if he had bottle-fed full-time. Also, breast milk stains, whether in the bottle or on clothes, are easier to get out of clothes than formula or milk stains, or any food or dirt stains. You just throw it in the wash and let the detergent take care of it.

5. Related to this is the fact that breastfed poops don’t stink as bad and are easier to wash. As someone who did a lot of babysitting for extra money, I’ve changed my share of diapers. And phew, were they stinky! My son was the first exclusively-breastfed diaper that I had changed, and guess what? The smell ain’t so bad. AT ALL. The best description I’ve heard of is buttered popcorn. Yes, it really does smell like buttered popcorn! Also, in the unfortunate event that you get baby poop on the baby’s clothes or heaven forbid, on YOUR clothes, you know what you do, lazy girl? Just throw those clothes in the washing machine. You don’t even have to rinse it out first! It also means that there are fewer clothes ruined. (Not that they can wear them for very long; if my baby is normal, then he grew out of clothes so quickly, he wore some things barely once.)

6. It’s cheaper. Do I really need to pull out that chart that shows how much families spend on formula for the first year? I found a website that says it costs $1,000-$2,300 for the first year on formula. But that doesn’t even take into account the water (to mix with the formula as well as to wash the bottles), the bottles, and the things you need to clean the bottles. Cheaper is cheaper is cheaper is FREE (especially if you don’t need to pump). Breastfeeding is free. In tough economic times, anything you can get for free is good (well, almost anything). Sure, I ate like a hungry gorilla for the first 6 months of my son’s life, so we might have spent a bit more on food — but not $2,300 worth of food. Which brings me to my next point:

7. It’s a great weight-loss program. It’s not just about how breastfeeding contracts the uterus (which it does — it’s that thing inside your abdomen area that causes what I fondly refer to as the “mom pooch”), but I found that I ate much better when I was breastfeeding than when I wasn’t. Basically, my subconscious told me, “Whatever you’re putting in your mouth eventually goes into your child’s mouth, too.” I didn’t reject the occasional cheeseburger or anything, but I drank lots more water (felt thirsty all the time anyway and then it just became a habit) and craved veggies like crazy. Not that this will necessarily work for you. But it’s a good reason to start, right?

8. When I was working, I had the excuse to really take those 15-minute breaks. I pumped milk while working full-time until my son was 13 months old. I was the last of my working-mom group that was still pumping, too. My coworkers ragged on me about it, but I persevered. I said it was because my son was allergic to regular formula but part of it was that I enjoyed getting away from the hustle and bustle for a few minutes each day. I brought a book or magazine, or I called my mom for some idle chit-chat.

I’m grateful for the California laws that requires my employer to provide a place for me to pump as well as mandates that I take my breaks to pump. Other employers might not be so flexible, but technically they break the law if they don’t let you. And it’s becoming more common for mothers to assert their rights to these laws, so although employers might complain about it, it’s still your right as a mother to them.

9. When my son was a toddler, he let me hold him still for more than 10 seconds at a time. Mothers of toddlers would appreciate this. When they get mobile and start discovering the world outside of that little bubble of Mom ‘n’ Me, they move like the speed of light, getting into everything and putting their fingers and hands where they shouldn’t and getting so dirty they need a bath every other hour. But the highlight of my day was coming home from work with him, and he would sit in my lap and nurse for at least 10 minutes. It was our way of reconnecting, of communicating, of saying, “Hi, how are you? I missed you for the past 8-10 hours.” This was actually the last nursing session we kept and was the hardest to wean from.

After about a year of being weaned, he still stays close to Mama.

In a society where we’re so eager for our children to grow up and be independent, I wanted to let him be a baby for as long as he wanted. Because I knew the time would come too soon when he wouldn’t want to be a baby anymore, and I would have no choice about it. I’m not sure why our society believes that we should teach our children to be independent as soon as they’ve exited the womb. There is nothing wrong with keeping your children close especially in the first few days, months, or even years in their life. In fact, their instinct (which is pretty much all they’ve got at this point) is to be close to their mothers first and other caregivers second. So why do we fight it? I don’t get it, so I don’t subscribe to it. My kid is sticking next to me for as long as he wants.

10. I’m too lazy to think of a number 10. So here are another 101. Plus, my kid is trying to climb all over me …