Saturday, May 31, 2008

Lately 2

"Take a picture of me mom!"

Weeks and weeks now of pleasant uninterrupted sleep, heavenly!

Udon from Japan via cute little Japanese grocery in Columbu, Mmmmmm!

Solar S'mores. Tasy even without the fire.

Lately 1

Mr. Baseball's new built-in-fort bed!

Books are the thing at the Franklin house.

The Monkey wants to help wash dishes which means a lot of giggles and spilled water

Thursday, May 22, 2008

On the Way to Dairy Queen Tonight:

Mr. Baseball gave us a good laugh in the car:
Me: We're going home to get ready for bed, but first we're going to stop at Dairy Queen and get some ice cream.

Mr. Baseball(who'd been playing "Star Wars" all day): OH YEAH!... Are we getting ice cream because we killed the Death Star?

and a few minutes later, when I expressed my displeasure that Ironman was a new toy in Burger King Kids' meals....

Mr. Baseball: Who's Iron Man? (pause) Does he iron people's clothes?

Monday, May 19, 2008

When They Ask For It

I don't like Ricki Lake. Or didn't. My only basis of judgment has been the few minutes I've seen of her now defunct tabloid talk show. But now I'm thrilled she's using her fame to encourage a national discussion on the current state of maternity care in America. This weekend I participated in a well-attended screening here in Athens of The Business of Being Born, and a panel discussion featuring local birthing professionals and a guest, Jennifer Block, who wrote this:

I thought I knew what I would hear from the panel and the documentary, but I came out feeling like I and the rest of society know very little of the complexities of childbirth and what to do about the current road we're headed down in American maternal health care.

The directors of the film followed pregnant women around who were about to give birth, showed their births and interspersed them with a little history of maternal health care and interviews from various doctors and professionals. The blame is spread around (in the movie but I also hear these from women I've listened to), often without solutions.

"It's A-COG's fault" some say (That's the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology for us plain English speakers)

Others say, "The healthcare system has got to go"

some blame women for not being patient & using elective c-sections as "a quick fix."

many want to blame economics. "If those hospitals weren't so worried about their bottom line!"

"How could anyone do that to their child?" comments another, blaming women in general for their choices in care.

"It's just the way it is. Deal with it," I've heard it said before.

But I have a hunch most women don't want to just deal with one of the highest maternal death rates in the world or the second worst newborn death rate among developed countries. They don't want to be part of the 85% of women in America whose births are considered traumatic. As Jennifer Block put it, they don't want to be "caught in a system that discourages ... optimal care." I don't know any mothers who want less than the best in terms of care for themselves and their babies.

I've researched. I've given birth myself. I've talked to many friends and relatives about birth. But I didn't see this as a rights issue until now. Women, especially vulnerable, hormonal (HA!), pregnant women in this country deserve to have correct information about pregnancy and birth so they can make informed choices about their care. Birthing professionals need access to current research and incentives to apply that knowledge quickly to their practices. I hope that more women will get involved in the discussion and the result will be great changes in the system in the coming years to make birthing empowering to women and extremely satisfying.
I liked this quote from the doula who spoke on the panel last weekend:
"Women have the power to change birth [in America] but there will only be a reform if they ask for it."

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A few notes from the past few weeks...

Last Thursday night, while the boys took a bath, I thought I'd cut my hair. Unfortunately, while reaching around with the electric clippers to work on the back of my head, the plastic guard fell off mid stroke, and I cut a deep stripe in my hair. I tried to fix it, but, as one friend suggested, that's like going to the grocery store when you're hungry--you just don't know when to stop. So I ended up shaving it all off.

The Cincinnati Museum Center is housed inside the old Amtrak Railway station, and it looks like something right out of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (minus the cheesy sets and the bad acting).

You know that question, "If you were an animal, which one would you be?" Well...

We missed the Cincinnati Zoo Tulip fest by a week, but the Tulips were still around to enjoy.

Mr. Baseball and the Monkey loved the Zoo. Especially the bears. Especially the polar bears.

Especially the polar bears going to the bathroom right in front of us.

And, they loved the monkeys, who were also going to the bathroom right in front of us.

Last night at Kroger, I bought a new Nabisco Product. They call it the "Over Stuffed Oreo." At 400 Calories per serving, I'm not sure how long they'll stay on the market (The package actually comes with a surgeon general warning about coronary artery disease--Yikes!)
It's after 1:00 am and the house is quiet. A single bulb in the lamp across the room pulls shadows across the wall, bathing the tidy room in a soft, almost reluctant glow that seems to know the world should be sleeping. Her sewing machine is resting in the corner. It's been on the kitchen table for the past few days, running stitches through new fabric and old clothes, turning holed jeans and slacks into summer shorts, fixing a suit, sewing scraps into clothes for Mr. Baseball's doggy, and in just a few hours one evening, producing a striking gift to send to her own mom for mother's day. "I like to sew," she tells me when I come home from running errands. "It's satisfying."

The kitchen sink is empty except for a few drink cups and the crock pot. This morning, while I was at school studying, she stirred together some Split Pea Soup, and it cooked all day--She made a big batch, enough for three, maybe four meals. We used to tease her, when she was pregnant with the Monkey, about over cooking. "Why make a double batch, when you can quadruple it?" She would say. And she was always right. We ate it all, and what we didn't eat, we froze, and ate after the baby came. She keeps a binder with menus and recipe ideas, and when she's on top of her game, Rachael Ray, Martha Stewart, and The Iron chef would have trouble keeping up with her. She laughs, actually, when she reads some of Rachael's and Martha's recipes: "35 ingredients? three hours to prepare? Serves two? You obviously don't have kids to take care of," she says. And still, inside somewhere she actually feels guilty that she can't do everything she wants to for her boys, the apartment, her church assignments, me.

By the door, on the shoe hutch, sits a large paper and cardboard beehive she made this morning, after she put in the soup. She'll use it tomorrow at church as part of a game to help her primary children learn a new song. She's had us singing it for weeks. Every morning before I head off to work, we sit on the couch and she coaxes a new song out of Mr. Baseball and me. Even the monkey occasionally waves his arms to the melody. And tonight, after the kids were asleep we sat on the couch and she told me how much she hates Saturday nights because she gets so nervous. Playing the Organ for the entire congregation--a congregations that includes one of the foremost Organists in Church, perhaps the country--is enough to maker her sick sometimes, though she only shows it in her anxious desire to get to church a half-hour early so she can practice before people begin to show up. During the week, when we go to the church so she can practice, she asks me how it sounds, and all I can say from my untrained ears is "sounds great," and I know she thinks I'm supposed to say that, but she really does sound wonderful, and she has no idea what she does for the people who come every week to sing and feel, through the reverberations of her organ, the power, and love, and word of God.

The book shelf is full of library books. Kids books by the dozens of course, but also about a half-dozen books on child birth education. I catch her often with her nose in the binding of one of them, and I know she is as excited as she is nervous about the training, about the business, about the challenge. And I can picture the couples she will teach, and the one-on-one work she will do to help couples prepare for pregnancy and childbirth, and I hope she sees what she has to offer them.

Our apartment is small, and only really gets quiet like this at night, when everyone is, or should be asleep. Here, accompanied by the low hum of the computer, I think about this idea of staying. We are a country on the go. We go to school and to work, we go out, we go up, go in, and go over. Progress, change, expansion. That's what we do. So when a mother chooses to "stay home," she must deal with the social implications of not "going," the implied inaction of "staying at home." That could not be further from the truth, but she deals with the question of validity every day. Should she be working? Isn't she already?

Happy Mother's Day Queen Bee. You keep the hive humming, and make life sweet. we love you.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Now. I. Get. It.

Lines of credit

This explains it ALL.

I didn't really understand how it happened. I'm not an economic expert or a realtor or a market hound. But now I get it. This week's story, "The Giant Pool of Money," on This American Life has it figured out.
You should listen to this. You really should.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Tips for Traveling with Children: Part 2/3

Complementary Continental breakfast Etiquette

1. Remind children to walk, wait in line, use their inside voice, and refrain from picking up and setting down five different spoons before choosing one.

2. Don’t even try to eat a bowl of Fruit Loops unless you’re okay with your child having a bowl.

3. Always allow your eighteen-month-old to lick jam off bread, because, why not, it's vacation.

4. While everything tastes better when you are camping, this rule does not apply to complimentary continental breakfasts, especially not to white plain bagels, and instant oatmeal.

5. Try not to wonder too hard at the folks who at additional cost, order hot breakfast, when there’s an all-you-can-eat breakfast already provided for free.

6. It’s best to clear your plates, bowls, cups, and trash before going back for seconds, or thirds. That way only the most observant of your fellow guests will realize you’re probably eating more than you should.

Attending the Children’s Museum

1. If visiting the children’s Museum on the same day as the Natural History Museum, do the Natural History Museum first—bones and bugs don’t hold a candle to water rooms, life-size excavators, and fake forest playgrounds.

2. If you have to choose between keeping your eye on the four-year-old or the eighteen-month-old, always choose the eighteen-month-old (Of course, if you do lose the eighteen-month-old, chances are he’s in the ball room).

3. When playing in the children’s village grocery store, never put a rubber chicken under your shirt and pretend to steal it. Your child, and all the other children playing around you are likely to follow your lead and turn an innocent make-believe game of grocery shopping into an episode of “Cops.”

4. No matter how long you are at the Museum, even if it’s three hours of non-stop play, for your four-year-old it won’t be long enough, and when you get him in the car, he is liable to say, “I just want a chance to play.”

Friday, May 2, 2008

Tips for Traveling with Children: Part 1/3


1. Pack your luggage and load the car the night before. Except, don't pack the stuffed animals or blankies. If a child wakes up in the middle of the night and needs his doggy, and it's packed away in the suitcase, and that suitcase is in the car, that will make for a disruptive night's sleep, and we all know how important sleep is before a road trip1.

2. Also, don't pack the clothes your wife is planning on wearing the next morning or when she comes home from her church meeting late she will have to unpack the suitcase you already packed so she can get her clothes out.

3. Pack a toothbrush for each person2, but only one stick of deodorant. This saves space in the toiletry bag and, for some couples, represents a level of intimacy to be proud.

4. Sharing deodorant is only advisable if the shared stick is a)unscented, b) not a “roll on” or “Gel” brand—because those are just gross, and C) not old—well worn sticks of deodorant tend to adjust over time to the unique underarm contours of the primary user, and thus glide less easily under a foreign pit.

5. Pack two pairs of pants per-day per-child, because you never know when your four year old will spill a cup of Sprite in his lap, or wade calf-deep into a rain puddle in the Zoo Parking Lot, or spill bean soup on his crotch, or wipe said bean soup-soiled hands on pants.


1. Use to get directions.

2. double check Google's directions against's directions.

3. Triple check Google's and MapQuest's directions against most recent AAA road map.

4. While driving south on rural Appalachian Highway, pay less attention to road signs pointing to Cincinnati, and more attention to step 5 in Google's direction that point out significant short cut.

5. Refuel often.

6. Don’t take “Dad, I need to go Potty,” too seriously, the first time. After that, use your best judgment. We suggest using the line, “I’ll stop as soon as there’s a place to stop,” and then changing the subject.

7. Don't leave wallet or other valuable item on the counter at rural Appalachian Gas Station. If you do, then at least don't fail to realize blunder until you’re an hour down the road.


1. Don't forget to pack paper bowls for bean soup or entire party may be forced to eat out of the hotel coffee mugs.

2. Let children run wild in room. “Running wild” includes, and is not limited to, pillow fighting, furniture climbing, bed jumping, at-top-of-lung screaming, and copious TV watching.

3. Also, while Spouse bathes kids, make grocery run to Kroger for Chocolate-Mint Moose Tracks and Cookies ’n Cream ice cream pints--keep one pint on ice until the kids go to bed.

4. Freely acknowledge feeling self-conscious as a hotel guest because A) the hotel you’re staying at is a NICE hotel that just fell into your lap via Priceline at Motel 6 rates; B) you just carried a plastic Kroger grocery sack full of snacks through the lobby, past the glass case advertising all the “room service” menu options, including $3.25/slice chocolate cheesecake, the sight alone, of which makes your knees buckle; and C) the color of the fraying bungee cord currently holding your rear bumper in place doesn’t match your paint job.

5. Allow four year old free reign of all TEN pillows in hotel room in order to make a fort. After four year old falls asleep, completely buried in pillows, remove pillows from at least his face, so that he doesn’t suffocate or sweat profusely during the night.


1. We’ve learned from past experience that this is a bad idea. This trip we avoided the pitfall, though the Queen Bee had to remind me, since I'd already snatched the stuffed animals from the beds of our sleeping children.

2. Some may argue that sharing a toothbrush is fairly intimate, and we’ve done it before ourselves, but as one extra toothbrush makes little difference in the overall bulkiness of the toiletry bag, sharing a toothbrush is considered unnecessary.