Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Itinerary

I realized we have never really posted a whole bunch about our summer plans, here are some of the details:

Apr 23: Leave for Egypt. (Cait will miss walking across the stage, but it was that or miss the trip to pyramids that we take on the first day in Egypt)

Apr 29: School starts. We have 10 hours of Arabic study a day from this day until July 29th. We will be at a small college called the "Hedayat Institute" where we'll learn Arabic from native speakers and one of our professors.

We have Fridays and Saturdays off. With Church of Friday morning we have the rest of the weekend for sightseeing and the group goes to lots of places together, although we are supposed to desiginate some Saturdays as "Review Days."

July 31-August 3- Bus towards Israel taking stops in the Sanai and at the Red Sea.

August 3-August 14- Stay in Israel at the BYU Jerusalem center. All sight-seeing I think.

August 14-20 - Sight see in Jordan.

August 20- Spend my 36 hour birthday mostly on a plane.

Pretty much, I expect our trip to look like this:

Following instincts in birth

Healthy birth practice #5: Avoid giving birth on your back.

I was just thinking about this recently as I reflected upon the birth of Theodore. I pushed for a solid two hours, squatting, kneeling, hands and knees, side-lying, and finally sitting up**. It took A LOT of effort to get his tiny body down the birth canal, and I'm positive that if I had been working against gravity, we might have ended up with a c-section (or forceps/vacuum assistance) after so many hours. And looking back, I can't imagine pushing any other way. I was " in the mode" and did what my body told me too, and luckily, I had a supportive midwife/husband/doula/nurse that encouraged me throughout the process. I wonder how it would have felt to be discouraged from doing what my body demanded and forced to lie flat. That position seems so... convenient. Unnatural. Contrived. I also did not have anyone chanting numbers or telling me how to push. They were encouraging, yes, but not controlling. I was the one in control, and I think that's the way that worked best for me.

** I would post pictures, but I was completely in the nude.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Some funny pictures

Atticus lifting weights

Atticus Reacts to Asparagus

Atticus Soaks His Feet in Some Cure for RSV

Elevated Sleep

Huraches and a return to running

I haven't run consistently since two summers ago, although I have run on and off since. I feel the stirrings of my inner runner have been increasing lately as I try to bring balance back to my life among lots of school and trying to be a father. I was planning a series of runs working up to a marathon this year, but that was before we decided to got to Egypt this summer, so I am trying to reformulate those plans.

Whatever happens, though, I feel a much greater desire to run than I have for a while. My neighbor Casey shared the book "Born to Run" which talks about a tribe of super runners down in Mexico who have running as a central tenant of their society and how their connection with a very natural style of running allows them to find joy in the effort of a daily long run.

I really liked the book and it helped to stir my inner runner even more. I helped Casey make some Huraches for me. Casey has become an expert in Huraches which are the sandals made out of tires that the Tarumara, the tribe in Mexico, use to run. I haven't really jogged in mine yet, because I'm still getting used to just walking in them, but I hope to be comfortable enough in them to run with and walk around everywhere with them in Egypt.

Here's what they look like, off the feet:

On the feet:

Standing up (Cait says this leg stance looks gay. That's okay)

PS. If there is anyone in the greater Provo area that would like to go with me on a run or runs, let me know, no matter how fast or slow you wish to go.

UPDATE: Actually just got back from my first real run in Huraches. It felt just fine. Because there's no cushioning they forced me to run on the middle and front of my foot more than the heel, which is how we run most efficiently. The wind and having been sick slowed me down a lot more than getting used to the Huraches. I do need to trim them down some to reduce slapping noises when they hit the ground.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Adventures in baby-led weaning

Baby-led weaning. It's a concept that seemed natural to me, that I mostly learned about from my neighbors. They are pretty avid (though not in an ideological sense, they just did it because it was easier) baby-led weaners (haha) and their 18-month-old eats EVERYTHING. Raw tofu, asparagus, every type of vegetable and soup and curry you can imagine. Advocates of baby-led weaning stress the importance of giving your baby textured food from the start, and then they won't reject it later. I wanted to do this on the one hand, on the other hand we get free baby food from WIC and you know I don't say no to free stuff. We bought some pureed peas and carrotts and pears and apples and tried to feed them to Atticus. He flat out rejected them. He'd take one bite and gag and clamp his mouth shut. I thought it was weird because even before we decided to feed him food he would try to eat ours so I figured he was eager to eat. And he had loved pureed avocado, so how different could baby food be? Well, I tasted it. It's nastier than I imagined. No need for my baby to eat this stuff daily. I will sometimes still mix a little green beans with some mashed up potato, but most of the baby food we ended up with went into food storage.

Now, we're just giving Atticus what we eat. Salmon, asparagus, sweet potatoes, pasta, Cheerios, apple slices, lentil soup. I'm still being careful not to give him dairy, eggs, citrus, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, nuts etc. but we don't eat a lot of that anyways so it's not really that hard to feed him what we eat. It also is helping me be aware of what I'm feeding the rest of us; for instance, instead of adding butter and brown sugar to sweet potatoes, i just eat it plain so Atticus can eat with me. I try to make sure not to add too much salt in our soups and casseroles if we are going to share. Although he doesn't get as much food this way as if I was feeding him jar after jar of baby food, it means he gets more breast milk which is way better for him and full of nutrients than any baby food I could feed him. He doesn't fill up on table food, gets more breast milk, and this is so much easier than preparing baby food and having him spit it out. I still puree up some things in my handy baby blender that Shay and Nessa gave me, but mostly if the food is too chewy for him to handle on his own, I just chew it up and spit it into a spoon for him. May sound gross... but not really. And surprisingly, he can handle most things on his own. Today, I was nervous he would choke on whole pieces of spinach penne pasta, but he chewed them right down one after the other. Same with whole pieces of asparagus. We also bought this nifty little contraption that Lauren had for Benny that you put food in and it has a little net that keeps them from choking. He loves it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Carrying my share of the blogging load, or "Is the world getting better or worse?"

I haven't been blogging much lately, mainly because I've been busy with school and partly because El Tipito (my name for Theodore that I don't use as often as I'd like) has been so sick lately.  Time to start up again now that I'm on the down slope in terms of school and apparently of El Tipito being sick. Which makes me think, is the world on an up slope or a down slope. Is it getting better or worse. I feel like in the LDS church and churches more generally we get a lot of the "getting worse" side. While I certainly think some things in the world are getting worse, pornography use, child trafficking and the ecological damage the average human inflicts on the earth (even if you completely disregard global warming),  and global conflict and military spending. These are all serious problems and are accompanied by many others which certainly need our attention.

But many of the things I would consider to be quite damaging to the human population of the world are falling: poverty; violence; divorce (falling faster than marriage rates); overall crime, including as far as I could tell domestic and child abuse; teen pregnancy and abortion rate, although I understand that this has increased a little in the last few years, malnutrition, although it jumped after food price rises of the last couple years and overall medical care in the world. Some other things such as drug use seem to have leveled off or fallen slightly.  A lot of the statistics that I found were just for the US, but a lot were for the whole world.

So what do you think? What are some of the things you think of when you hear "the world is getting worse?" What do you feel overall trends are if any?

For my part, I would have to say that overall, the average person in the world would say they are in a better off and have more opportunities than their parents, especially in some of the less developed part of the world. But it is definitely a mixed bag, with arguments on both sides.

Here's some graphs that I found for some of these:

Friday, March 26, 2010

No, I'm not going to kill our baby

This morning I was feeling very bleh. We were (and by we, I mean me) up all night with a shrieking little baby, and I was exhausted this morning. He continued to shriek all morning after I got out of bed. I was feeling pretty frustrated even though I had only been out of bed for approximately 15 minutes. I made some passing comments about how some moms get postpartum psychosis and kill their children, and I wondered aloud if that could ever happen to me. Being slightly prone to depression and anxiety disorders already, I know that I have an elevated risk of postpartum depression/psychosis. Scary.

I think I freaked Tim out, because the next thing I knew he had put on the Sleepy Wrap to take The Guy to class with him. I assured him that I would not kill our baby today. He still looked pretty worried as he left for school.

It's 12:34, and we are both still alive and well thanks to a long morning nap.

Friday, March 19, 2010


We've been having a sick few weeks around these parts. Last week, The Guy came down with an explainable high fever. I chalked it up to teething, but apparently he had roseola, complete with wicked sweet red dotty rash all over his body. It looked cool, didn't seem to bother him except for the fever. I apologize in advance to any parents whose children may or may not have been exposed to him at church, playground, etc. I had no idea he was contagious. Rookie mistake.

A few days ago, I came down with a sore throat and Tim the next day. The Guy may or may not have a sore throat. It's hard to tell, but he's rather fussy. I couldn't think of what to do with a baby sore throat except Tylenol and breast milk smoothies. Hopefully this combination will do the trick.

Luckily, this weekend we have nothing to do but lay around and get better.

On a brighter note, we had some asparagus that needed to be eaten from Bountiful Baskets , so I broke up the monotony of a strict Tomato Soup diet (my own) and made dinner. We had salmon, asparagus, and sweet potato. The Guy ATE IT UP. He loved it. I was worried about his pickiness because he wouldn't eat baby food, but that's just because he has refined tastes for a 6-month-old.

On a second bright note, Tim reading to The Guy today. He looooooves his Middle Eastern politics.


We've been having a sick few weeks around these parts. Last week, Atticus came down with an explainable high fever. I chalked it up to teething, but apparently he had roseola, complete with wicked sweet red dotty rash all over his body. It looked cool, didn't seem to bother him except for the fever. A few days ago, I came down with a sore throat and Tim the next day. Luckily, this weekend we have nothing to do but lay around and get better.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Social entrepreneurship

I've been thinking lately about development. By lately, I mean the past three or four years, ever since I became an International Development minor and interned in South Africa. I'm still not entirely sure I have a correct idea of what we should be doing in the developing world to lift our brothers and sisters out of poverty. But then again, the experts don't agree either. I was talking with a co-worker about her trips through Africa with Mothers Without Borders. They gather supplies from the States, pay a heapload of money, then travel to orphanages distributing these supplies. I have no doubt these people appreciate their services, but is this really doing anything at all to deliver them from the cycle of poverty? Probably, no, definitely not.

I've been reading a lot lately about the new development trend called "social entrepreneurship." Before, development and business contradicted. Business made money by exploiting these people, not helping them. Agribusiness bought their land for pennies on the dollar to grow cash crops, so that they could no longer grow cassava for their families. Multinational corporations hired them for cheap wages to work in sweat shops in Southeast Asia, so we as Americans would get unlimited cheap clothing, toys, appliances, you name it. For previous development generations, big business=bad news.

Recently though, with the rise in popularity of microcredit and microloans, business is seemingly successful at doing its part in eradicating hunger from the lives of the select poor individuals who benefit from it. Businesses are sending children to school so they do not repeat the course of being ill-educated. Social entrepreneurs are finding ways to improve lives by helping the poor lift themselves out of poverty. It's not about hand-outs, it's not about aid money. It's self-interested in some respects, but what isn't to the economists? It's self-interest that is helping others while it's helping the entrepreneurs. It ensures mutual benefit.

If you want to learn more about social entrepreneurs or development debates in general, there is SO MUCH out there. I've taken a slew of college classes on it, but it really just requires a little reading. Start with Jeffrey Sachs's The End of Poverty. Then read the antithesis of his arguments in William Easterly's The White Man's Burden. There are books with a gender perspective like the new book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn entitled Half the Sky. Read about Muhammad Yunus of the Grameen Bank, then read about his followers. BYU hosts a social entrepreneurship competition every year. Read about some of the winners.

If you don't care to read, but like what little I've said in these sparse paragraphs, give a microloan at Kiva. Buy some jewelry from Musana. Be informed, learn a little bit more about your brothers and sisters not in your family, your ward, your country even. Do your tiniest part to help the world be a better place for God's children.

Your tiny, pink hands

This morning Atticus and I were laying in bed, contemplating the coming day after a peaceful breastfeeding session. I was just laying there with my eyes closed and he was just staring around all content. I opened my eyes to see him, one hand in the air, just staring at it. He kept closing and opening his fist, twisting to get another angle, moving his fingers one by one. I tried to imagine what he was thinking: "Oh my goodness, I have HANDS, seriously, what the heck?!"

One day, your hands will grow. Grow and grow and grow. And I hope they do good things, my Little Guy.


Atticus has another tooth coming in.... but it's not one of the middle top teeth. It's like the next to the middle top tooth. If the others don't come in right after, he's going to look very, very strange until they do.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Car seats in Egypt?

I need a little insight from fellow parents. Especially fellow parents who travel. We are wondering what to do about taking our car seat to Egypt. It seems like we won't be traveling by car much, if at all. Not to mention, Tim's Arabic professor told us that the taxis/buses don't even have seat belts so we wouldn't have anything to strap the car seat in with anyways. That makes me really nervous though, because they also told us that the taxi drivers were crazy/smoking hashish and went really fast. So, what are we supposed to do?! I can't imagine not buckling our seat belts let alone letting Atticus just sit in our laps. But on the other hand, if it truly won't be useful to us, is it worth it to lug it all the way to Egypt? We already got rid of our infant seat so all we have now is a huge Evenflo convertible seat. We can take two suitcases each, which is a lot, but they also want us to pack light since we're hauling everything through the Sinai/Israel/Jordan for the last three weeks.

Also-- anyone ever flown for a whole 24 hours with an 8-month-old? Insight there would also be appreciated. We're lucky in that we only have one short layover in NYC on the way over, but that also makes for a LONG NYC-Cairo trip. I'm just picturing an inconsolably screaming baby for ten hours. Not likely, of course, but scary nonetheless. Atticus is super good at falling asleep wherever, he usually needs help from us but noise and light and people around generally don't bother him as long as we give him the pacifier and rock/bounce/nurse him (good thing we didn't BabyWise him, the last thing we need is for him to fall asleep by himself in a quiet room) .

"A little confusing..."

I just got this email from Tim's Arabic professor about the club that we will be joining while we are in Egypt*. He said their website was "a little confusing" but we could take a look at it and gave us the address. I try to check out the website and realize it's more than "a little confusing." You can see what I mean.

* Life update: We're going to Egypt for Tim's study abroad. It's required for his major... oh darn. While we are there, BYU requires us to pay for a membership to a "club." I think it's the equivalent of a country club in the US, but less hoity-toity and more mainstream.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Atticus Meets the Orange

He REALLY liked it. Unfortunately, I think it gave him a little butt rash so we're laying off the citrus for a few more months.

Hunger Banquet

Ever since I've come to BYU (minus last year, I was in New York), I've gone to the Hunger Banquet. I feel like it's been a quintessential part of my experience here. Two years ago, I was one of the organizers, and let me tell you, it is a LOT of work. This year, however, blew my mind. There were SO many people there. The speaker, Martin Burt, was phenomenal. I don't know how they got him to speak, but he flew all the way from Paraguay to be there. I volunteered so that I could go for free (pathetic) but it was fun to be there. I sat most of the time with Austin and Wills. I took The Guy so Tim could go to the temple, and he just rode on my back the whole time and loved it. I dressed him in his awesome onesie that my friend Bethany sent us when he was born. He ate a lot of beans and rice, which gave him gas and kept him up but he liked them at the time so it was worth it.

310th post


We bought our plane tickets! And we got a great deal!

Pediatrician visit: 15.19 lbs, he's such a skinny guy.

Last but definitely not least: breast milk cupcakes with strawberry icing. Delicious...

Recipe here.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

In which my brain exploded....

So, I was reading on a friend's blog and came across this comment:

"One piece of advice - if you're going to nurse in R.S., seriously, sit in the back row. A few weeks ago I sat next to a lady with a baby because I thought the baby might be more entertaining than the lesson, and she started to nurse RIGHT NEXT TO ME! She had a blanket, but you know what? I saw her boob anyway! I wasn't even really looking. gross."


I cannot even verbalize my feelings about this. Breastfeeding is NOT GROSS. It is NOT OBSCENE. GET OVER ITTTTTT. Maybe the mom wanted to listen to the lesson and was sick of hiding in the mother's lounge to breastfeed. It is attitudes like these that are prohibitive to breastfeeding. If mothers can't breastfeed except in bathrooms or their house, they won't do it. Then who suffers? Their baby (also them, to some extent). Besides, you are a WOMAN. WOMEN HAVE BREASTS. They are supposed to feed their babies with them. It's natural. It's what Heavenly Father intended. Gross is the last word to describe breastfeeding.

Am I weird about this? Is it because of my relationship with bodies and nudity?

Personally, I'm very comfortable with nudity. Maybe too comfortable sometimes. I attribute this to both my very open family but also to friends over the years. When I danced, we all were naked together in dressing rooms, all the time. It wasn't a big deal, we were all girls, and none of us were fazed by it. Same with cheerleading, not so much naked but definitely in sports bras. Then in college, sometimes I had prudish roommates, but mostly my openness led to their comfort with their bodies. I never pee with the door shut, I never lock it when I'm in the shower, I walk around in my underwear or in a towel. I'm just not a modest person. And then hello, naked hot springs trips.

I realize that maybe I'm on the extreme end of the nudity question.

Good news though.... women in Egypt breastfeed uncovered in public. I can finally do it without worrying about offending people!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

6 Months!

Half a year old. Wow. My little baby is not so little. But...

Atticus is so, so, SO cute. He babbles, rolls, and is starting to scoot. He is almost sitting now, but still tumbles over quite a bit. It doesn't seem to bother him though. He has two (very SHARP) little teeth, and was biting me for a while, but I think he learned to stop because it's more rare now.

At six months, Atticus loves:

* Paper, plastic, anything crinkley
* Books, especially when he can rip the pages
* Sleeping in his cradle
* Being rocked in his cradle
* Being sung to (especially when it's Innocence Mission lullabies singing to him)
* Rolling all over the place
* Oatmeal baby cereal and avocado, avocado, avocado (it's about all he'll eat)
* Nursing ALL night long
* Sleeping cuddled up between mom and dad at night
* Going on runs, being outside
* Our neighbor Casey
* Parties
* Riding in his new car seat
* Playing with the bouncey ball

Atticus hates:

* Pears, green beans, bananas, sweet potatoes (at least the baby variety)
* Being left alone and ignored (which happens when we need to pee)
* When we take away slobbery paper, suffocatable plastic bags, etc.
* Being carried in the laundry basket

Happy half-birthday Little Guy!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Family plans for the Brownings

Devany pointed out how spread out our family will be this summer. Caitlin pointed out that if Eric goes to Australia or a Pacific isle, we'll have all the major continents covered.

Devany: China
Tim, Caitlin, & Theodore: Egypt
Charity: London
Josh: Chile
Eric: mission call