Category Archives: Parenting

Father’s Day 2012: The Direction of Adventure!

The morning of Father’s Day started rather early for me, as I had to head in to work around 6:30 a.m. for an early-morning planned maintenance. The whole team was there early to help out, so at least there was some camaraderie. The maintenance ended after church had already started, so even though I drove like the wind, I still missed most of church. Luckily, this sort of maintenance doesn’t happen very often.

Early Morning Work

Early Morning Work

For Father’s Day this year, Rebecca planned a surprise outing for me. I had no idea where we were going until we got there, which is not typical for me, but was exciting!

The "Plans"

The “Plans”

After church, we headed over on Route 62 towards I-95. I thought we were going to get on I-95 North, but I was surprised as Rebecca went past it. I expressed my surprise, pointing at the I-95 sign and saying that I thought we’d be going that way, because “That’s the direction of adventure!”

As it turns out, we were just stopping to get gas. But shortly after that, we doubled back and, indeed, headed “in the direction of adventure!”

I-95 North: The Direction of Adventure!

I-95 North: The Direction of Adventure!

As it turns out, our destination was the Portsmouth, NH area. This marks the third Father’s Day that I’ve spent there. One year we went on a cruise out to the Isles of Shoals, and another year we visited the USS Albacore. This time, our first stop was for lunch at Street 360, a funky little restaurant that celebrates street food from all over the world.

Me and the girls at Street 360

Me and the girls at Street 360

In addition to enjoying the funky atmosphere of the restaurant, and noticing that they used a wall-mounted iPad as an order-entry device, we thought the food was great. I enjoyed a ‘Singapore Salad,’ which was a bowl of salad that had: “Daikon, cucumber, cabbage, carrot, celery, scallions, zucchini, cilantro, mint, Thai basil and peanuts with fresh and delicious sesame ginger dressing.” I also chose to add avocado slices and grilled chicken to the mix. It made for a very tasty, hearty and filling salad.

After lunch, Rebecca drove us to our next mystery destination, for which I had been instructed to pack ‘adventuring clothes’. I soon learned that we were visiting Odiorne Point State Park in Rye, NH. We changed into our adventure clothes, and then headed out for a nice long walk along the rocky shores, through the woods, and around the ruins of a World War II-era coastal gun battery installation.

Rocky Shores

Rocky Shores

Gun battery

Gun battery

Papa, Catherine and Esme are "sea monsters"

Papa, Catherine and Esme are “sea monsters”

Great food and great adventure was the perfect way to spend Father’s Day with my girls. I’m thankful to Rebecca for her efforts in helping plan out a great day, and I highly recommend Portsmouth, NH and the surrounding area for great adventures, Father’s Day or otherwise!

For all of the photos from the day, visit the gallery.

A line of her own

What can save you money, is earth friendly, encourages discussion, solves discipline issues and introduces life skills to young children? A clothesline!

Catherine has, for some time now, been following me out to the clothesline during my (almost) daily chore. Hanging the laundry is a peaceful, monotonous, repetitive chore that gives me a great excuse to get outside in the morning. Having a five year old nearby clamoring to help can make the experience decidedly less peaceful, I’ve discovered.

My first response to her offers to help were “okay! Please hand me a sock!” That suggestion, as well as “Please hand me a clothespin!”, were met with protests from the aspiring Mama at my hip. “I want to really help!” she’d say. That meant that she wanted me to pick her up and let her pin the clothes up on the line. Not such a problem the first time, but my back can only handle so many ups and downs lifting a fifty pound kid! Also, while I wasn’t exactly in a rush to finish the chore, getting done in a timely fashion pretty much went out the window with this kind of help.

My second response was (I’m ashamed to say) to shoo her away. “Go water the garden or swing on the swings or collect sticks or, or, or…” Read: “Go do anything else and let me be!” Obviously, this option went over like a hot rock, and didn’t make me proud of my parenting skills.

My third response, and the best of them all, was inspired by something I read online somewhere. The author mentioned how she starting hanging her clothes out on a small line that her mother had strung up. The (cfl) light bulb above my head went of and a couple of days later Catherine had her own little clothes line on which to hang some clothes.

This little line has stopped the tugging on my shirt and the begging to help. She now can take her own basket of socks and small shirts and hang them while I’m hanging the rest of our family’s laundry. While we’re out there we can talk about the weather or nature or the best way to hang a shirt. We also talk about plans for the day, upcoming events and whatever else tickles our fancy. What we’ve left behind is the power struggle of who would hang what and the impulse to shoo away a girl eager to learn the ways of her Mama.

Father’s Day Weekend

It’s been a great but exhausting Father’s Day weekend! I have spent a ton of quality time with my family, doing all sorts of things!

Friday, after I got home from work, I went out and got some Thai food for dinner (Siam Delight, of course). After eating dinner, we drove up to Rockport to visit Halibut Point State Park. We had a nice, tiring time hiking around there and seeing the beautiful scenery.

The Girls

The Girls

You can view more photos of our adventure in the Halibut Point gallery.

On Saturday, after heroically rescuing Mama who had suffered a flat tire on her bike ride, Catherine and I went out to Home Depot and picked up some supplies I needed for a few projects around the house. One of the gutters had some spikes that had popped out, and I got a set of gutter screws and ferrules to replace them and create a better hold for the gutter. I also got a strip of metal to make a nice transition between the flooring in our laundry area and the flooring in our new family closet. When I got home, I worked on these projects (both successful) while the girls worked on making some strawberry jam and a strawberry rhubarb pie.

Saturday night, we ate dinner at Qdoba. They had provided a BOGO coupon for Father’s Day weekend, and while we’re much bigger fans of Chipotle, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity for one free entree. At home we enjoyed the strawberry rhubarb pie that Rebecca had made. Mmmm… delicious.

Sunday morning, I received some great Father’s Day gifts! I got a Nikon DSLR Mode Dial decal for my MacBook Pro (by Suzie Automatic):

DSLR Decal

DSLR Decal

I also got a new tin of shaving soap (by Ethically Engineered):

Shaving Soap

Shaving Soap

And I got another book in the series of attempts to build up a library of children’s books that refer to fathers as “Papa:” “I Love You, Papa, In All Kinds Of Weather.” I have the sweetest and most thoughtful wife and kids! 🙂

Also in the “Papa” vein, I received a picture frame with “Papa’s Pride and Joy” printed on it, to be filled with a favorite photo of my favorite girls.

On Sunday after church, we drove up to Portsmouth, NH. We had lunch at Dos Amigos Burritos, a favorite of Rebecca’s from when she worked at Strawbery Banke. After lunch, we boarded the M/V Thomas Laighton of the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company for a Father’s Day cruise! The cruise lasted three hours, and took us around Portsmouth Harbor, and then nine miles out to sea to the Isles of Shoals, a group of small islands on the border of Maine and New Hampshire. We hadn’t been out to the Isles of Shoals before, so it was a very cool experience. The boat was somewhat similar to the Island Queen which we occasionally take to Martha’s Vineyard.

Isles of Shoals Lighthouse

Isles of Shoals Lighthouse

Of particular interest to me was Star Island, which is owned by the Star Island Corporation (which, frankly, sounds like something out of LOST or some other science fiction series). The corporation runs a conference center, mainly catering to religious groups such as the UCC and UU churches, but also open to other conferences (in particular, I noticed a digital photography workshop scheduled there later this year… hmm…).

You can see all of the photos from Portsmouth and the Isles of Shoals cruise.

It’s hard to believe, but this is my fifth Father’s Day! This has been the best one so far. I am so fortunate to have two great girls – funny, clever, creative, loving, caring. And to have a wife who is also a great mother and very supportive of my fathering. I’m looking forward to many more Father’s Days, and many more days, weeks, months and years with my family! I love you girls!

Papa, Catherine (and Esme!!)

Papa, Catherine (and Esme!!)

Motrin in Pain

As some of you may have heard, Motrin recently released an ad campaign (online video and print ads) promoting their pain reliever as a boon for moms who are in pain from wearing their babies. The ad is no longer available, but the text appears here courtesy of a transcription from yours truly:

Wearing your baby seems to be in fashion. I mean in theory it’s a great idea. There’s the front baby carrier, the sling, the schwing, the wrap, the pouch, and who knows what else they’ve come up with? Wear the baby on … Read Moreyour side, your front, go hands free. Supposedly it’s a real bonding experience. They say that babies carried close to the bod tend to cry less than others. But what about me? Do moms that wear their babies cry more than those who don’t? I sure do. These things put a ton of strain on your back, your neck, your shoulders, did I mention your back? I mean, I’ll put up with the pain because it’s a good kind of pain. It’s for my kid. Plus it totally makes me look like an official mom. And so, if I look tired and crazy, people will understand why.

I welcome people to make their own interpretations of that ad, but to me it reads incredibly smarmy, self-centered, and ignorant. Thankfully, many other moms and dads agreed. When news of the ad campaign hit the internet this past weekend, an ad-hoc “Motrin Moms” group quickly formed and started flooding Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook with their reactions. Motrin has since removed the ad and posted a half-hearted, corporate “apology” letter on their website. I am not linking to it because I don’t want them to get any more press than they’ve already got, but you can feel free to find their website on your own and read the letter, if you desire. Chances are, their target audience probably wasn’t offended by the video, but due to the viral nature of internet video, a few views by the right people spread into a large and vocal campaign.

Rebecca and I support and practice babywearing. Ever since Catherine was born, we’ve carried her in all manner of ways, including a baby backpack, a front carrier, a sling, and the swankiest, a Mei Tai style carrier that Rebecca made by hand. A baby carrier is designed to make it easy for a parent to keep their child close to their body while leaving their hands free for other things like carrying bags, doing some chores, or (and I’ve seen this a few times) holding a drink at a bar. Keeping a child close to your body can help with fussiness, help get them to sleep, and develop a closer sense of security between child and parent.

Now I’m certainly not begrudging people their right to treat their pain. By all means, if you’re in unbearable pain, take whatever measures you are comfortable with, including natural methods like hot/cold compresses, relaxation, etc, or medication. But please consider the fact that, when a baby carrier is used properly, there should not be any pain. “Used properly” means not used for too long a period of time and properly positioned on the body so as to have the maximum distribution of weight. If you’ve got a single strap digging into your shoulder, or if the carrier is forcing you to strain or hunch over, then of course it’s going to cause pain. But it shouldn’t.

If you’re wearing a baby because it makes you look like an “official mom” (or dad), then it’s probably the wrong thing to do. But if you want to keep your child close to you (as in attachment parenting), it’s definitely the way to go.

If you’re in the North Shore area and have questions about babywearing, feel free to give my wife Rebecca a shout! She’ll be glad to help. You can find her contact and social network information on our Contact Page.

North Shore Birth Center

Beverly Hospital, where our daughter Catherine was born, offers a Birth Center as one of its services. It is offered for women with low-risk pregnancies who want a comfortable environment to pursue a natural and unmedicated childbirth.

The management of Beverly Hospital has brought a proposal to the hospital’s Board of Trustees to stop allowing births at the Birth Center, apparently due to a sharp increase in malpractice insurance premiums. Today, the Board decided to postpone taking a vote on the issue, thanks in large part to supporters of the Campaign to Save the North Shore Birth Center. The Campaign has organized letter-writing campaigns, sent emails to board members, and gathered together a group of supporters to rally outside the hospital’s grounds today just as the Board was to meet this morning.

Rebecca and I support what the Birth Center does, even though Catherine wasn’t born there and our next child won’t be born there. So I wanted to explain why we support them. Natural childbirth is the practice of a woman going through labor and delivery of a baby without the aid of medications for pain relief, speeding up labor, etc. A natural childbirth can be had anywhere: Rebecca gave birth to Catherine without the aid of medication right in a normal labor and delivery room at Beverly Hospital. Other moms have natural births right at home, or in places like the North Shore Birth Center.

One might ask why the Birth Center needs to exist when a natural childbirth, like ours, can take place at a hospital. One advantage of the Birth Center is that it’s specifically geared towards natural childbirth. In a regular labor and delivery ward, all of the options are available to you, and even if you go in with the intent to do things naturally, it is very easy to make the quick decision to switch to medication. In the Birth Center, those options aren’t readily available – you’d have to be moved over to the hospital to receive any medication. So if you’re completely intent on a natural childbirth and don’t want to bother with the possible distractions of labor and delivery in a medical setting like a hospital, the Birth Center may be for you.

As I mentioned, we were able to have a natural childbirth right in the hospital, thanks to having written up and distributed a birth plan, having some great and supportive nurses, and lots and lots of personal determination. We’re thankful that we were at the hospital to give birth, because Catherine had some complications after she was born and needed immediate attention. Had she given been born at the Birth Center, the time it took to transfer her to the hospital could have led to even greater complications. As it was, they were able to rush her up to the hospital’s special care nursery right away, and then down to Brigham and Women’s Hosptial in Boston. However, the vast majority of births occur without these sorts of complications, and the Birth Center is readily able to handle them.

We have friends who’ve used the Birth Center, and we know that many other people want to have it as an option. It’s been a great option for women for nearly 30 years, is one of only two in our state, and it would truly be sad if the hospital removed this option purely because of a business decision. I’m hopeful that the delay in voting will give the Board time to discuss the issue and give supporters time to make their cases.

If you’re interested in learning more, head over to the site for the Campaign to Save the North Shore Birth Center.

Update: For reference, here is the recently-released official statement from the hospital’s Board of Trustees:

OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM BEVERLY HOSPITAL (November 18, 2008): The Board of Trustees takes its responsibilities to this organization and to the community very seriously. Consistent with other birth centers around the nation, the North Shore Birth Center is experiencing a significant rise in the cost of malpractice insurance premiums. The Board of Trustees is diligently weighing the impact that the closure of the Birth Center would have on the community; the level of community interest in its continued operation has not gone unnoticed. The Board intends to leave the Birth Center services unchanged while it continues to examine and discuss this

NPDITC, we barely knew ye

It only has five posts, but I’ve decided to bring Nobody Puts Daddy In The Corner to an end. I had started out hoping to be an entertaining and insightful ‘daddy blogger,’ perhaps along the lines of Dad Gone Mad, but without the profanity. As it turns out, it takes a lot of time to think up and write good posts, and even more work to build a blog into a success. At the same time, I’ve posted very little on this blog that we already have. So I’ll soon be taking down NPDITC, and integrating its posts into this blog. Hopefully I’ll be able to devote some more time to our regular blog. Thankfully, our blog has two authors, and I’m glad that my wife has been holding down the fort for both of us.

So here’s to my short-lived daddy blog. Maybe some day when I’ve got more time and more interest, I’ll try something similar. For now, stay tuned to World Wide Wood!

Nursing Out

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Nursing out in Boston

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Today, Becky, Catherine and I drove down to South Weymouth to attend the iParty-sponsored “Nurse-Out.” In case you hadn’t heard, Brockton cardiologist Dr. Melissa Tracy was recently told that she couldn’t breastfeed her baby while at their South Weymouth store. The owner of the chain has since established a policy that instructs employees to allow mothers to nurse in the store wherever is most comfortable for them. On top of that, they hosted the “Nurse-Out” event that we attended today. A number of moms from the Mothering.com forums as well as the South Shore Breastfeeding Club were there with their kids. Some of them we had met last Sunday when the SSBFC had a nurse-out on the Boston Common. Dr. Tracy and her husband were also in attendance, as were the owners of the iParty chain. There were at least two television camera crews there, and some of the moms engaged the owners in on-camera discussion about the store’s policy in support of breastfeeding. (If you’re in the Boston area, you might want to keep an eye out on WCVB (Channel 5) to see if they run a story on their website or on the TV news in the next few days…)

There are some bills in the works in Massachusetts to specifically give mothers the right to breastfeed in public, and to that end, the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition is promoting May 9 as Breastfeeding Lobbying Day. Moms from across the state, including Becky, will be visiting the Massachusetts State House to lobby on the issue with their state government representatives. Having such laws on the books would not only enable currently-breastfeeding mothers to nurse more conveniently while out and about, but it should also help make expectant mothers more likely to choose breastfeeding, knowing that they’d be free to do it.

It’s good to see iParty leading the way in support of breastfeeding in public. Sure, throwing the nurse out party was good publicity and probably resulted in creating some sales and new customers, and I doubt the owners would ever spend money on something that wasn’t going to help their bottom line. But it also shows that of the things they could choose to spend their money on, they’re spending it on issues that really matter. The laws currently on the books in Massachusetts don’t have any special provisions that protect a mother’s right to breastfeed, and inside a place of business it is up to the owner as to how breastfeeding will be handled. Many business owners probably don’t have any specific policy allowing it, and thus it is handled on a case-by-case basis. Private businesses can make changes much more quickly than government can, so that’s why it’s a good thing for iParty to show this kind of support. Hopefully other businesses will follow suit and create policies for and awareness of breastfeeding. Once the idea starts to get some traction in the private sector, that might lend some fuel to government-based efforts.

In addition to the corporate and government levels, breastfeeding advocates also need to work on a person-by-person basis. There is currently a lack of understanding of breastfeeding in the general population. It is certainly a person’s right to feel how they want about the issue, but it’s unfortunate if that feeling stems from misconceptions or bad information. Sometimes talking to just one person who is uninformed or misinformed about the facts of breastfeeding can mean all of the difference. At today’s Nurse Out, Becky talked to two young women from out of state who just happened to be in the area and wanted to see what was going on. Not that they were ill-informed or against breastfeeding, but I think she left a favorable impression of breastfeeding with them. Hopefully they’ll go on to become breastfeeding mothers or at least support their friends who are.

If you have any questions about breastfeeding, please feel free to ask Becky or me. I can at least speak from the perspective of a supporting spouse, but Becky’s the real expert. 🙂 You could also ask Catherine, but I think she’d just say “Mmmmmmm!” 🙂

You can see some photos from today’s iParty nurse-out. Enjoy!

On Breastfeeding

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Recently, Mothering Magazine put the call out for someone to create an international breastfeeding symbol. After a series of voting rounds the winner was selected (see right). The idea is that it can be used in Airports and Malls and the like to alert parents to Family rooms and breastfeeding friendly areas.

I love it. I think that it is simple and clear and (if you’re sensitive about these things) doesn’t imply that all babies are bottle fed. I wonder if it will catch on and if we’ll start seeing it in airports around the country.

It also started me thinking about my own experience with breastfeeding. I knew from the start that I wanted to breastfeed. I think that God did a pretty good job designing the human body to do what it needs to do. Why pass up something nutritional and so convenient? And with the cost of formula, and the time and energy needed to wash bottles breastfeeding seemed like the best decision for us.

When we learned that Catherine would have to hang out in the hospital for a while I was worried that I’d have trouble nursing her. I was adamant that she not get formula, and luckily, the NICU doctors agreed with me. I was able to express breastmilk, freeze it and bring it to the hospital. Catherine was able to take it first by NG/feeding tube and then by bottle.

Once she had her IVs removed we started to attempt breastfeeding. We had a tricky start. We had some latch issues. It was nothing that some practice and patience couldn’t cure. By the time she left the hospital we had stopped using the bottles and were well on our way to figuring things out together. It was tough, it was tiring, it was frustrating, but in the end was well worthwhile. We’ve had a seven month breastfeeding relationship that is still going strong.

During Catherine’s first two weeks I was fortunate to meet with a couple wonderful Lactation Consultants who helped us with the learning curve. Now that we’re doing well I find myself wanting to encourage other women who are breastfeeding or who want to nurse their babies. The LCs are all registered nurses, so I can’t do it in a professional capacity. I’ll have to stick with the old fashioned route and support others by example and by offering encouragement to those I know personally.

Do any of our readers have thoughts on this topic? I’d love to hear what you think.