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Written by Mama Monday

Blog posts written by mamas on cloth diapering, green living, natural parenting.

It was a sunny Sunday after about eight years ago. I was on a short hike with our two big dogs and my husband and Lauren, who was about ten months at the time, were hanging out at home. As I was a few blocks from the house, I heard sirens and they sounded close. I was friendly with several of our neighbors, two of whom were very elderly, so I assumed that something must have happened–a fall or worse.

A minute later, my cell phone rang. It was my husband. “The ambulance is at our house. Don’t panic. Lauren was choking but she’s fine now.” Ambulance? Choking? What? Panicking was an instinct not an option. I sprinted home.

When  I got there, the EMTs were loading Lauren, in her car seat, onto the stretcher. Still confused, I climbed in with her. They told me that she needed to go to the hospital to be checked out even if she seemed fined. Protocol I guess, for when anyone calls 911 for a child.

Before I could get the story about what had happened, we were off. Lauren fell asleep almost immediately so I called my husband and asked “What happened? What was she choking on?” He told me that she had been standing by the front door (she wasn’t walking yet) and suddenly he noticed that she was gasping and coughing. She turned bluish and her eyes rolled back in her head. He grabbed her and ran outside to the front yard so that he could try to clear her airway and yell to a neighbor to call 911 at the same time.

Since I had taken Infant and Child CPR and First Aid through the Red Cross before taking a job as a nanny, I had shown him the basics: Lay the infant face down across your arm with her head lower than her body, cradle her chin in your hand. With the heel of your other hand, thrust blows downward just below the baby’s shoulder blades. He did this and yelled for our neighbor to call 911. After a few tries, an earring back flew out of Lauren’s mouth and she began to breathe again. Phew. But the ambulance was already on its way. 18155

At the hospital, Lauren was examined and then X-rayed to see if she had swallowed a foreign object. Sure enough, there was an industrial-sized carpet staple sitting in her stomach. We guessed that both objects had been lodged in her airway and that one had gone up and one had gone down when my husband wacked her on the back saved her life.

As scary as that incident was, it was not the only time it happened. About six  months later, we had people over and someone gave Lauren half an olive to try. What we didn’t know was that she had a dry cleaning tag already tucked in her mouth. She began to choke again and this time I was the one who flipped her over and got the offending items out of her mouth. I was expecting only to find the half olive that she had been eating but was surprised to fish out the pink piece of paperboard as well. This time, we didn’t bother to call 911 since we could see that she was breathing normally right away. She was fine. I wasn’t though. I couldn’t believe it happened again. Where was she finding these things? We kept our house clean and I picked up “chokers” as I called any small item whenever I saw them. It just goes to show that you can’t prevent all accidents from happening no matter how careful you are. You have to be prepared for things to go wrong. Babies and toddlers have ways of finding the tiniest things in couch cushions, under area rugs and embedded in carpet pile. If there is something they can fit in their mouths, they will find it.

I’m awfully glad I learned those seemingly simple but life-saving techniques before I became a mother because when the time came, the motions were instinctual.

Have you had any close calls with your baby? Are you CPR and First Aid Certified and if not, to you plan to be?








This past Thursday, July 3, I turned 40. I’ve tried to look at the passing of another decade in a positive light, despite the fact that part of me wishes I could stop time and stay young forever. But I can’t so the next best thing is to celebrate the life I’ve lived and hope to live at least another forty years.

My thirties were important years. I had every one of my three children between the ages of 31 and 37 years. My thirties were also incredibly hard as I often struggled with trying not to lose my own identity and yet not having a second to spare to be anything but “Mommy.” It’s been amazing and back-breaking at the same time–like the saying about parenthood, “The hardest job you’ll ever love.”

My husband asked if I wanted a party to celebrate my birthday and my response was “Heck, NO!” In many ways, this is symbolic of how I have changed and become more sure of myself and attentive to my own needs as I’ve gotten older. I need some “Me,” time and my husband and I need some more “Us” time.  I took matters into my own hands and booked us an overnight at the Patterson Hotel in Denver and arranged for a good friend to stay overnight with the kids. As much as I love the kids, the breathing room that comes with youngest now being three is nice. I don’t miss my babies, I love my kids.

We went to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and went to an IMAX film about Pandas. We took our time at the exhibits, feeling like we had left someone behind, relishing being able to walk around without chasing, scolding, answering questions or taking someone to the bathroom. That evening we went to a nice dinner in downtown Denver and sat and talked and ate for two hours. I texted the babysitter a few times things like “I forgot to tell you, Cooper is REALLY scared of thunderstorms,” or “How are they doing? Is Kate behaving?” She texted back that everyone was fine and to stop worrying and enjoy myself–but the truth is, I was enjoying myself immensely.

The next day, we slept until almost eight. I was sure I would want to sleep until ten since the kids get us up so early everyday, weekend, summer break or holiday. But the ol’ internal clock has been forever changed since becoming parents and we couldn’t sleep any longer. When we arrived home on the fourth, the kids were glad to see us and we were glad to see them. We had all survived the night away and I think it was good for all us, not just my husband and me. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? Since it was the fourth, we immediately started getting ready for the parties we were planning to attend and began packing up the cooler and the swimsuits.

So how does forty feel? To tell you the truth, it doesn’t feel much different than thirty-nine. I think this decade is going to be epic for me and I’m ready to rock it. I’ll leave you with my  Facebook Status Update from Thursday, July 3, 2014:

There once was a woman from Boulder,
And quite snarky (or so everyone told her).
Despite turning forty
She said “I thank the Good Lordy!
And I hope to get even older!”

How do you want to celebrate your birthday this year? With the kids or without?





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One of the things I love about being a parent is how it brings back memories of my own childhood. It’s a chance to see the world once again through new eyes. Simple things like Lauren’s first pony ride at the pumpkin patch, Kate fishing for the first time with Grandpa or Cooper turning over a rock and finding a beetle are exciting and new again. When my children are naughty, bickering or otherwise causing trouble, I find myself sheepishly remembering certain instances from my youth in which I behaved the same (or worse) and a voice in my head pipes up “Karma!”

I was not an easy child and my mother has made sure that I’ve not forgotten this. She has told me plenty of stories that have kept me humble. These tales also help to put my own parenting struggles in perspective. For instance, when my children are running away from me in the grocery store, I remember that when I was three I got away from my mother at church and ran up and stood behind the priest during a sermon. Blushing, she slunk up behind him to retrieve me wondering why I couldn’t just sit still like my friend Julie, who at three, sat quietly next to her mother swinging her patent leather shoes and looking at books.

How about the time my mother had several bags of groceries and a toddler to carry up to the house when I was five? Our driveway was at the bottom of the hill and our house was at the top. I was feeling mad and sorry for myself because my little sister got to be carried and I had to walk and so I stood at the bottom of the hill in the driveway and screamed. And screamed. And screamed. Until a neighbor came over to find out what the emergency was and if I or someone else was hurt. Nope, the only thing that was hurting was my ego after suffering the incredible injustice of being expected to walk up the hill when my sister was carried. Not fair! Not fair! When my kids pull this kind of stunt, it is absolutely infuriating so I can only imagine how my mother was feeling. I comfort myself with the knowledge that I turned out to be a decent, polite and friendly law-abiding citizen so perhaps there is hope for my children as well.

When I’ve caught Kate or Lauren doing something unnecessarily dangerous like climbing on top of the refrigerator for no reason whatsoever or sliding down the stairs headfirst on a stuffie, I become frustrated that my repeated attempts to warn them of the possible dangers—black eyes, broken bones, stitches, trips to the emergency room—do little to convince them that it’s not worth trying anyway. Then I remember being five and entertaining myself on a cold Vermont winter day by knocking giant dagger-like icicles off the side of the house. My mother came out and scolded me, telling me I could poke my eye out (and truthfully, those icicles were so heavy, so large and so sharp I probably could have poked my brain out right along with my eye) but as soon as she was out of sight, I went right back to knocking them down. Lo and behold, a very large icicle fell and hit me in the face, right near the tear duct of one of my eyes. I ran in crying to my mother scared, but not hurt. How many times has a similar scenario played itself out at my house?

One of the single most terrifying things about parenting is the fact that at a certain age, your children learn to talk. Their first words are charming as they point at and name familiar objects: dog, cat, ball, Dada. And then suddenly, their newly acquired verbiage is a liability, likely to leave a parent sweating, blushing and stammering awkward apologies while trying to exit the scene before the child can come up with another loud and obnoxious (and worst of all, completely accurate) comment about someone’s physical appearance, body odor or bad breath.

When I was four, I began to worry about “dying.” I don’t remember what prompted it but I was trying to comprehend the fact that I would die someday and so would my parents. My dad tried to comfort me by telling me that I wouldn’t die until I was very old with white hair and neither would he or my mom. Obviously enlightened, the next time I saw our very sweet, very old and very white haired neighbor Elsie I asked “Why aren’t you dead yet?”

It seems as if my verbal skills, combined with an advanced tendency for critical observation, peaked when I was four years old. My social skills however, were right on par with my age: blunt. Picture me as a scrappy four year old with long brown braids eating lunch at restaurant with my mother and my mother’s friend, Rita. A man in a nearby booth started an innocent conversation with me. He asked my name and I told him. And then I asked his name and he told me. Then I asked “And what’s the name of your fat friend?” looking pointedly at his plump dining companion. My mother says at this point, he began ignoring me so I repeated the question, only much louder. My poor mother was horrified and embarrassed and decided to pretend that I was actually Rita’s daughter. Who could have predicted that such an innocent conversation with a friendly stranger could take such a socially catastrophic turn. Sorry Mom!

Do you have any memories of your own mischief that keep you humble as a parent? Or has your child made you wish you could make yourself faint on command rather than being left to repair the damage done by your own socially disastrous offspring?

some of that tea

My five year old daughter Kate has eczema, and when it’s flaring up, it’s pretty severe. It covers her back, stomach and shoulders and hides behind her knees and under her arm pits. We’ve tried everything to get rid of it, including elimination diets and allergy testing. We’ve followed her pediatrician’s suggestions of short baths, using very little soap and covering her in petroleum jelly afterwards. We’ve used prescription steroidal creams and ointments, and in fact, when the eczema flares up, we can’t use any type of cream on her at all–it stings and she screams in pain. She seems to tolerate ointments much better. At first I balked at the idea of putting petroleum jelly on her skin but unlike the most natural, even organic, eczema creams I’ve bought OTC, it doesn’t sting when we put it on.

Treating the eczema wasn’t ideal. I wanted to prevent it from happening at all. But how? Much of what I’d read was related to food allergies and I hoped the answer was as simple as eliminating eggs, dairy or gluten and voila! Clear, soft baby skin that didn’t want to make my baby scratch til she bled. Despite my best efforts and both skin tests and blood work to check for allergies, as well as elimination diets, nothing seemed to indicate a cause and effect relationship between anything she ate and the appearance of the itchy menace. My best guess is that it’s your garden-variety eczema that’s common in people with Irish, English or Scottish heritage and very fair skin. Check, check and check!

My mother, who has sensitive skin herself, sent me a link to an article about how many people find their eczema either disappears or improves greatly while drinking at least one cup or more of Chinese Oolong Tea a day, probably due to the polyphenols in the tea and it’s anti-inflammatory properties. When I first began blogging for Thirsties over two years ago, I became more and more interested in more natural and environmentally friendly options for everything from cleaning products to personal health–I was amazed at the multitude of uses for things such as colloidal silver  and Tea Tree Oil and how they seemed to work better for clearing up infected cuts (and even my cat’s pink eye) more quickly than anything I had ever been prescribed by a doctor. My mind was already open and so I thought, what the heck, let’s give it a try.

I started brewing large batches of tea, mixing in honey and lemon for taste, and storing them in the fridge. Instead of sending Kate to school with a bottle of water, I’d send her with her “tea.” Sure enough, after a week, her eczema was improving and soon her skin was looking better than it had in months. I was amazed. I also read that you can add the tea to bath water and that the anti-inflammatory properties may work topically on the skin. The tea does contain caffeine so this may be a good way to try it for young children and babies first, until you talk to your doctor. The amount of caffeine the tea contains doesn’t seem to affect Kate at all so I feel comfortable that it’s safe for her and in fact, I much prefer her drinking Oolong tea than being covered in steroidal ointment.

Do you or your children suffer from eczema? What do you use to treat it?


Bert Anderson who writes our Thirsties blog, “Written by Mama Monday”, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl on Sunday afternoon.  Keira weighs 7 lbs 8 oz and is 18″ tall.  Congratulations to Bert and her family!!