Food For Thought Friday: Allergies

The other day, I asked the four-year-old to clean up his room.  He said to me, "I'm allergic to cleaning."  It was actually kind of funny, but at our house, real allergies are no laughing matter.  Mr. Lindstrom has a shellfish allergy which has only manifested thus far in hives and itching, but as it goes with these types of allergies, it could escalate at any time to anaphylaxis. We have an epipen on hand for the unlikely event, but mostly we deal with it by avoiding shellfish or any contact with it.

The four-year-old is a bigger concern.  Shortly before his third birthday, he was playing with our neighbors and Mr. Lindstrom down by the lake in our neighborhood. He stepped on a bee hive, and was attacked by bees.  Head to toe, we were able to count 30 stings. In his little body, that exposure to venom is potentially deadly to someone who is allergic, and unprepared. Luckily for us, at that time his reaction was mostly local, but we headed straight to the Emergency Room for good measure. Their suggestion was to get an Epipen Jr. (the little guy's version) and have it on hand in the event that another bee sting could lead to anaphylactic response, which is potentially deadly.  We learned the signs, we learned the technique, and now we just hope to high heaven that the bees stay far, far away from his brand of sweet.

Because in addition to the potential bee sting allergy, we have a food allergy in the family, we take the process of introducing foods very, very seriously. We know that among the foods that cause anaphylactic allergic responses (where the throat closes and the airway is compromised which may cause death) are peanuts, tree nuts, and strawberries. Other foods cause different kinds of allergic reactions, all of which are serious and should be treated.  As a result, our children will not eat a nut until they are at least five-years-old. This is how we've chosen to handle the threat of food allergy.

In any case, we know a handful of people who have a serious food allergy in their family, both children and adults, and the concerns are mostly the same. Children have a more difficult time communicating their allergy, and that's where these awesome stickers come in handy.

Mabel's Labels Allergy Alert Labels
You can personalize them and share the information easily by placing a sticker on their clothing (perfect at birthday parties or play dates), on their school lunch boxes, or on their medical bag which may hold an antihistamine and the epipen (this is what we have for the four-year-old in the event of a bee sting reaction). This way you can depend on the sticker to convey the message in addition to your child, who should know about their allergy and be able to identify it to adults.  In the event an adult forgets, the stickers will remind. You can personalize them so that they are unique to your child and their specific allergies.  We will be getting these for the four-year-old's med bag and to wear at outdoor play dates.  Stickers or no stickers, it's really important to be educated about food allergies and other potentially life threatening allergies in children. In the likely event that you find yourself responsible for a child with allergies.

Having a potentially life threatening allergy can be scary when it comes to your child, but knowledge and information is power in this situation, and there is no reason that the overall quality of life that your child experiences should be negatively impacted!

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn experts. Check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge. Also, be sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!


My Lips Are Not Sealed

Sometimes I discover something so amazing, that I have to shout it from the rooftops.  Since I have a crippling fear of heights... and straight jackets, I will not be climbing on top of any houses to scream about this product that I love, but I will blog about it.  I think that it's proper etiquette in the blogosphere to disclose when you are being paid to tell people how much you love something. That doesn't matter because (believe me) nobody is paying me jack squat to tell you how much I love this product.  I'm doing it out of the goodness of my heart (and a little bit because I have a fear that they will discontinue this product if more people don't fall in love with it, and if they did... well, see above fear of straight jackets...)

Here are the facts about me:

  • I apply makeup once a day... if that. In the morning. If I'm lucky and have a hot date in the evening (with Mr. Lindstrom of course), I'll give it a once over again prior to painting the town, but I do not reapply when I'm out and about. 
  • I do a lot of kissing. Mostly foreheads of short people, specifically those I gave birth to.
  • Sometimes I kiss Mr. Lindstrom, if he's lucky.
  • If I am leaving the house and only have time to put on one cosmetic product, it is lipstick.
  • I do not spend lots of money on makeup. I like to save my duckets for food and wine.
So, while cruising around my local Target a few years ago, I spotted Maybelline's Super Stay 24 hour lipstick.  Thinking it was too good to be true, I bought it, our love was instant.  I mean seriously, this stuff stays on until you take it off.  The benefits have been truly amazing.  My children do not walk around with Gorbachev-esque stains on their foreheads, my husband does not appear to be a cross-dresser after one little smooch, I don't even have to consider reapplying (and frankly, the act of "considering" a reapplication would be my only behavior change), and I have lots and lots of dollars left to buy a glass of wine... and not worry about my lips staining the rim. Brilliant!  

Listen, I understand that you may be reluctant to receive any type of fashion or make-up advice from me. But you can trust me on this. I promise. 


Wordless Wednesday: I Learned It From Watching YOU!

Now that you've seen the terrible example I've set for my daughter, please check out my post for It's My Baby Blog today that tells more about how I'd like to be a good example for my kids when it comes to supporting families who deal with Autism.
Pssssst... there's also a giveaway going on over there!


It's the Little Deaths...

I have to be honest, I've been a little heavier on the grief-talk around these parts lately than I usually like to be.  I attribute it in part to the fact that I am in what I call "the Brady Days." Our first daughter, Brady lived for 109 days six years ago, and we are in the middle of those 109 days between the day we celebrate her birth, and the day we mark her unexpected death. My muscle memory (the heart is a muscle) embeds these days with a deeper grief than I experience the other 256 days a year. That is not to say that I walk around in a cloak of sadness through these days, I find that each year it gets better. That is also not to say that I do not grieve the loss of Brady those other 256 days, each year I realize how eternal this pain is. While time certainly eases it, time cannot erase it. So, please bear with me during these days as I work through where I am today, and tomorrow, and on and on... What I am saying is this: I would much rather hang out in the joyful spaces in life.  I appreciate laughter and a great punchline, and certainly I am doing plenty of that in my day to day right now, but what I'm finding myself called to blog about is this grief stuff... so here we go again...

I have been thinking a lot lately about this quote by David Eagleman: "There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time." This is most certainly true in regard to your own death, but for the bereaved, their loved ones die hundreds and hundreds of deaths. There is, of course the death of the body, and then the farewell to the body. However, the bereaved will keep the names of our loved ones on the lips of the living, as long as we are alive, that death will not come. 

Instead, each day, each week, each month, the ones we love who have died, die many times.  When we realize that we have lost a memory (like the feeling of Brady in my hands as I brought her to her bath. Her small naked body, the weight of it, the softness of it, the folds and slopes, the warmth. I cannot remember. This was the memory I never wanted to lose, and I have lost it.), or that we don't think of them as strongly as we once did (there comes a time after the death of a loved one, that life without them becomes the new normal, and the new normal becomes as comfortable as the old normal, and it is deeply troubling because it means that we are getting used to life without.), or when someone (usually) unintentionally speaks without remembering our loss (I bristle when someone tells me about something they have done or haven't done with their child and follow it up with the words, "... and they lived.")  The ones we love die again, and again. The little deaths happen with no fanfare or ceremony. We grieve them silently, and we move through them. 

I am keenly aware in my day to day of these little deaths. I wrestle with these little deaths. I grieve these little deaths. Somehow, and I don't know how, I keep surviving these little deaths.  I realized yesterday that I have literally NO idea how I keep getting through this profound and painful loss.  I have NO idea how I arrived at a place where I knew that I had a choice to make, and my choice was to live here, and live without Brady. I never have had an idea where on earth I found the courage to become a mother again after she died. I have NO idea how Mr. Lindstrom and I, or any other of my friends who are bereaved parents figured out how to keep waking up despite this pain, to keep showing up for life and I am willing to bet you that they don't really know either. We are not stronger than anyone else, we have just been tested. We are not braver than anyone else, we have just been forced to show our bravery. We are not wiser than anyone else, we have just been presented the opportunity to process and live into a deep experience. 

Here is the grace: When the four-year-old wraps his arms around me and tells me how much he loves me, or when the Twinstroms both climb into my lap and try to find room for both to cuddle (and miraculously, they always do), I am holding all of my babies, even the ones I have lost.  That, my friends, is LIFE.



Manic Monday Blogarrhea

I'm pretty sure that when I am around other adults I look like a lazy mom.  Here's why, when there are other adults around (specifically ones that are related to my kids like uncles, aunts, grandparents, etc.) I let them do the running around and picking up so I can relax a little. It's a survival mechanism. If I have to look like a lazy ass every twice in a while just to get a little respite, so be it.

Another item on the list of things I should be embarrassed about; I just realized that Arby's is RBs spelled out.  RB stands for Roast Beef, which is what they serve in sandwich form. When I realized it, I told Mr. Lindstrom thinking that this was some sort of amazing discovery. His reply to me? "Yeah, everyone knows THAT." (Then about a week later, I found out that he was lying to me, and that when I explained it, it was the first time he realized it, too.)

I have a lot of girlfriends who love the color purple.  Here is my observation (it is an observation - NOT a judgement), people who love purple LOVE purple.  I have one girlfriend who said that it's sort of an obsession.  Like, she will have to talk herself through not buying something she likes in purple just because it's available, and then she will frequently go ahead and buy it anyway, because she loves purple that much.  She said that the last thing she needs is another purple sweater, but she LOVES purple.  I think about Prince (formerly known as The Artist, formerly known as The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, formerly known as Prince) and how purple was like a religion for him. Like he wanted to procreate with the color purple and make sweet little purple babies. I guess I like green, but I don't have that reaction to green. I think it must be something about the psychology of the color purple. Any insights?

I was reading the four-year-old a book about tortoises who hibernate before bed the other day, and the tortoises explain that they sleep all winter because they can't find any food outside.  I would like to go on record when I tell you that if ever I could not find food, I would give up and sleep, too.


Food For Thought Friday: Put It On "Ice" - In Case of Emergency

Once I became a mother, I spent even more time than I had previously thinking about what would happen if there were an emergency.  Suddenly, when there are children to care for, being involved in an emergency situation affects proportionally more people. It may feel a little like borrowing trouble when you spend time thinking about what would happen in an emergency, but really it is really important to be prepared.  I grew up in a house that was well decorated with the old green Mr. Yuk stickers. It was a method to keep us safe, and as an adult, I appreciate the symbol that kept us out of the poisons, and the support that little sticker provided parents and caregivers with the poison control number displayed prominently right there.

There's a new campaign that I want to make you aware of, one that takes only seconds to complete.  The other day, I called my husband on his cell phone and when he answered he said, "Hello ICE-Colleen." At first I thought he was giving me a new nickname (for the record, I think it's a pretty badass nickname), but he explained to me that I am now listed in his phone as ICE Colleen because Emergency Responders will look in his cell phone under ICE (In Case Of Emergency) should he be in an accident and they need to find his emergency contact.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2006 that 1.6 million emergency room patients could not provide contact information because they were incapacitated. Mr. Lindstrom will not be one of those people in the future, because he took a couple seconds to put me in his phone under ICE. 

There's a little more to it, but it's all still doable.  It's a four step process: 1. Choose a person to be your emergency contact. 2. Make sure that they are equipped with your important information regarding your Medicines, Allergies, and Doctors. 3. Put them under ICE in your cell phone. and lastly 4. put an ICE sticker on your phone that will alert emergency responders that you have this type of communication protocol in place.  You can get ICE stickers and find out more about this awesome campaign here

I'm already ICEd, will you do it too?

Pop over to It's My Baby Blog for some more great ideas on Emergency preparedness for your family. 

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn experts. Check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge. Also, be sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!


The Brag

The other day on my facebook page, I asked people how awesome they were.  Only three people responded with some variation of "totally awesome." I am not shocked. We are not allowed to shout our awesomeness from the rooftops nearly enough.  So, here, anonymously if you'd like (but feel free to identify yourself. In fact, if you identify yourself, everyone will cheer for you by name!) brag away. What makes you so awesome? Or what are you proud of yourSELF for right now.  One rule, no bragging about your kid, your spouse, your mom, your cousin, or anyone else that you cannot call "me".  Not because they all aren't awesome, but because this is about YOUR awesomeness. If they are so awesome, have them come on over and tell us about it!  Just spout your awesomeness in the comment section, and we'll all cheer you on!  Don't be afraid...


Wordless Wednesday: Conjoined Pacifier Twins

Note to self: Remove pacifiers from the boiling water when done sterilizing...

When you're done marveling at how forgetful I am, please head on over to It's My Baby Blog to read the post I did on the birth of a daddy.


It's a Girl Thing

I got real lucky last weekend. I had the amazing opportunity to spend a weekend Up North (for those of you from other areas, this is a Minnesotan term for 'close(r) to the Canadian border') with my girlfriends. We call ourselves the Odd Quad because we have known each other since high school, but we came from four very different "crowds." We intersected originally in our freshman year of high school, having all chosen to take Chinese as our foreign language option.  Naturally, as the years plodded on, many people dropped out of Chinese, it's a pretty tough language to learn, and once you've fulfilled your foreign language credits in high school, it can be difficult to build a case for sticking with it - for reasons unbeknownst to each of us, we all stuck with it.  We graduated and like people do, we went our separate ways with the intention of trying to stay in touch.

It's funny to think about this now, in our extremely connected world where geography has nothing to do with your ability to keep up with the day to day happenings of friends and (frankly) complete strangers, but email had just been catching on the year that we graduated from high school. People our age didn't carry cell phones, and what on earth was a "text"? When we called people outside of a 50 mile radius, we used this thing called long distance that you had to pay EXTRA for.  We used pens and papers to write letters, and had to make a trip to a mailbox and wait at least two days to get a written message to our friends. Then we'd wait a week or more to hear back from them (this was the cheapest method of long distance communication aside from email, but we used it because it was so much more familiar than that new fangled email. Sometimes I think of how students huddled around our PO boxes in the Student Union thumbing through handwritten envelopes, grinning at a letter from a parent, a sibling, or a great friend who was going to school across the country. I don't suppose it's very much like that anymore.)  As you can imagine, we fell out of touch.  Years later, we connected again through facebook and started getting together as close to once a month as our schedules would allow.

My husband regularly checked with me over my weekend away with these women whom I had known since I was a girl, to see how it was going, and he'd ask, "what are you guys doing up there?" I had only one answer, "talking." For 2 full days, we talked.  No TV, no music, no book reading, and (almost) no social networking (this will be addressed in a future blog post titled "Put Down the Freakin' Computers, Smartphones, and Whatnots and TALK TO THE PERSON SITTING NEXT TO YOU" or something of the like). We talked. It was just what the doctor ordered.  This confused my husband. He could not possibly imagine sitting around in a living room all weekend and just talking to his dude friends. His confusion was evident as he continued to probe, "Did you play video games? Did you go to a bar? Did you play board games?" and on and on... No. We just talked. That had really been the plan, to wear comfy clothes all weekend, and hang out, and talk. We never ran out of things to talk about. I think if we had spent another day the same way, we would have come away with even more things to talk about. Women are like this, there are always more depths to explore, there are always more layers to uncover. Our conversations ranged from grief to the most comfortable underwear, sometimes within five minutes. We flowed effortlessly through the tough topics and the lighter topics, we laughed a lot, sometimes until we cried. We remembered the girls we were, and celebrated the women we had become.

Four of us, with distinctively different high school experiences, with even MORE different adult experiences. Just to give you a flavor, one of us is a widow who is single parenting, one of us is married and has decided not to become a parent, one of us has two children and has spent the majority of the past decade somewhere other than the place the rest of us have mostly known as home (Minneapolis), and then... there's me, you KNOW me. We have adapted to a slightly more grown up version of our old friendship (emphasis on slightly... we pride ourselves on our ability to behave completely immaturely when the mood strikes). A friendship that was based on nothing more than a sincere care and love for each other and desire to know each other's stories.  We still make fun of the people we were and joke a little about how those people have given way to the people we are. We learn from each other, we laugh with each other, and we genuinely support each other in being who we authentically are (and in some ways always were).  In short, they are my SHE-roes.

As difficult as it was for me to leave my kids for the weekend, as much as I missed them, it was so important for me to get away for a short time, so that I could get BACK to me.  Sometimes as a mother, finding the time to just be YOU can feel like an indulgence, and culturally, an indulgence is too selfish. I gave in, and I'm proud of myself. These women were like a map. Reminding me that I am more than just a mom, and pointing out to me when I was and wasn't "keeping my cool." I could have done it without them, I suppose, but it wouldn't have been nearly as fun. I got real lucky last weekend.


Manic Monday Blogarrhea

When you're a parent, and you make it through the newborn stage, and then someone (or everyone) gets sick and you're up all night, you kind of wonder how you EVER existed with such little sleep over an extended period of time.

Here is something I am embarrassed about: Up until yesterday, I did not know what it meant to "detail" your car.  I thought it was just called "cleaning." Now that I know exactly what it is, I'm thinking I'd like to get my house detailed.

How do you feel about the Nakeds at the gym? The Nakeds at the gym are the people in the locker room who spend extended time naked.  They do not treat nudity as a transitional state, but rather as the primary state in the locker room. Nakeds do everything that other people do with a towel or underwear on, only they do it naked.  Drying their hair, putting on their make-up, sitting on the bench, having conversations, they do it all naked. So, who are the Nakeds? Do the Nakeds know that they are Nakeds? (For the record, here's what makes Nakeds different than Nudists.  Nakeds are confined to the locker room, Nudists have communities.)

I want to say a very heartfelt thank you to all of you who were awesome enough to vote for me for the Circle of Mom's Top 25 Inspirational Family bloggers.  I made it into the top 5.  I have to tell you, I honestly don't think of what I do here as intentionally inspiring. I am just living my life out loud, and hoping that I can give some purpose to the pain I've had in my life.  I also want people to know that out of the deepest pain, can grow some of the most amazing, life affirming things.  So, even when you feel kicked in the gut, remember that there are blessings and beauty all over the darn place. Keep looking, and it'll find you in no time.


Food For Thought Friday: Talking To Your Children About Death

Wow, I've been a real downer this week! Sorry, I just thought after yesterday's post about what you can do if someone you know is suffering a loss, it was natural to talk about how to bring your kids into the fold.  I promise more fun and frivolity next week.  This is an important topic, because the conventional wisdom has been to keep kids out of the loop on the whole death gig for as long as you can put it off.  I understand the temptation to do that, but kids can handle so much more than we give them credit for. Conversations about death do not have to be the big "sit down and talk" type. They can be larger ongoing conversations.

Death has always been a topic at our house.  People have asked, "when will you tell your kids about their big sister who died?" My answer is "right now." We tell them what is appropriate for them to know at any given time.  Death is a HUGE concept even for adults, for children, it is even bigger. So, we use terms that they understand to their ability, and then answer questions as they come.

Fall is a great time to talk about death because that's what the season is all about. If you are a Christian type, the combination of Spring and Easter are a perfect time to talk about the concept of rebirth and heaven. Talking about the death of a loved one, or of someone you know, or even of someone that the world knows are all ways to introduce the concept.  I have found that kids process death in such an open and honest way, they are not afraid as we both assume that they will be and as we are ourselves.  When another child asks me who Brady is, or asks me about death, I always check with the parents before I tell their child about death. I believe that it is up to each family to decide how they want to introduce the topic, and I don't want to impede on their process, but the conversation usually goes something like this.

Me: Brady is my baby girl who died when she was very small.
Child: What does that mean?
Me: It means that her body stopped working and we had to say goodbye to her.
Child: Will you get to see her again?
Me: I believe that someday, in a long long time, when my body stops working too, that I will get to see her again. But that won't be for a long long time, and I miss her very much.
Child: [usually at this point the child says something amazing that brings tears to my eyes, or else they change the subject to cars or princesses or something else].

It's actually quite a simple conversation, and a typical one that I've had with my own child, and many other preschool aged children.  They frequently don't react by putting themselves in the situation like we think they might (that really is something adults do far more than the children. The children tend to be more empathetic rather than sympathetic. It's really beautiful), but sometimes a child may say, "am I going to die?" And the answer I use is, "not for a very very very very long time." (The more times you say "very" the more likely that they are already thinking about cars or princesses).

Death is a part of life, and as adults, we get so jammed up it because we don't totally understand it. In many ways, children are far better able to accept it for what it is at the youngest ages than we are as adults.  When my four-year-old was three, we started buying fish. I say that we started buying fish, because we had to keep buying fish to replace the ones that died.  Each time a fish died, the four-year-old would say, "why did Carl die?" (Each fish was named Carl), and I would say, "I don't know..." and he would say, "I'll miss him." And that was it.  The point I'm making is that often we are scared of other people's grief anyway, and that has to do with our fear of inadequacy in handling it. There is nothing to be afraid of. There is no ONE right answer, there is no ONE right way, it is a process for all of is.  I only encourage the conversation because it makes the process that much easier for children to grasp if understand it at their level and process as they grow, rather than being offered the concept all at once and forced to make sense of it.

The most important thing: "I don't know" is a perfectly acceptable answer. Especially because there is so much about death that we really don't know.

Head on over to It's My Baby Blog, Welcome Baby Care's blog about parenting to find some excellent resources, including children's books.

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn experts. Check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge. Also, be sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!


What Can I Do?

More than I care to, I get an email from someone asking what they can do for a friend who has recently lost a child. In the last six years, since the death of my first daughter, I have probably gotten this email just over a dozen times from just over a dozen different people. Each time, I go cold inside as I am propelled backward in time to a place that I wish I didn't know, but that is so much a part of me, the place that makes it possible for me to have an answer to the questions that these emailers are asking.

Unfortunately I got this email from a handful of people in my circle of friends just two days ago, and it occurred to me that this should not be a secret. People need to be told how to handle the unthinkable, and having been through it, I want to share what I unfortunately know. I answer these questions from my own experience. My first child died, she was an infant, it was unexpected. I am sure that some of what I'm sharing can be applied to other types of grief or loss, but these are thoughts about what was helpful or not helpful in the early and very raw days following the loss of my daughter. I share this with you in the hopefully unlikely event that you will find yourself the the place of wondering, "what can I do to support my friend who has lost a child?"

DO meet your friend where they are in their grief. You may have advice on how to approach the grief process, and it may indeed be good advice, but in the early days, your friend needs you to support him or her.  They need you to walk the road beside them. It may change moment to moment, and you may feel like you have multiple personality disorder trying to keep up with the changing mood of the moment, but what you are going through in trying to keep up is minute in comparison to what they are up against. Be there. Show up. Love them. That is enough.

DO say the child's name.  Say it often. Say it loudly. Don't be afraid. They NEED and WANT to hear their child's name.  Talk about their child, allow them to talk about their child. Never apologize for tears, they are healing.

DON'T share thoughts you have about how you would be handling the situation. It is natural to imagine yourself in their shoes in order to get your head around the depth of their pain. Though the sentiment is genuine and the intent is certainly loving, the grieving ears may hear such things as, "I don't know what I'd do if I lost ___" or "I can't imagine what it is like for you..." as rubbing salt in their wounds. Of course you don't know what you would do and you can't imagine what it is like, because you still have your world in tact.

DON'T say the words "at least..." Whatever you do, if you feel those words tickle your lips, stop talking. Just stop.  Nothing good comes after those words. Whether you are intending this or not, those words are minimizing the pain of their grief.  They are saying, "it could be worse." For the grieving person, it couldn't be worse. Or if it could, they don't want to know how.

DO help them with their day to day tasks.  In the earliest days, the simplest tasks indicate that time is moving ahead. For the person who is grieving, the world has stopped. Each moment passing means that they are a moment further from the last time that they held their child. This will change. For some it changes quickly, and for others it takes some time. Grief does not move on any sort of regular time table. So help your friend with things like grocery shopping, house cleaning, yard work, paying bills, laundry, anything that you do from day to day, they may need help with. It's not that they can't do it, it's just that grief can paralyze. There may be times that they feel like they need to do that stuff to feel "normal" again, and other times (like when they get a bill in the mail for the ambulance ride to the hospital where their child ultimately died) that they will not be able to bring themselves to write the check and mail it, or make a call to dispute it. Remember that you are walking the road beside them.  Some things that were particularly helpful to us, we had friends bring everything from toilet paper, to bottled water, to styrofoam coffee cups. There were always people around in the first couple of weeks, and we were happy to not have to worry about all the things we would normally worry about if we were "entertaining." For the first couple of months, our neighbors called us every time they went the grocery store. They made sure we were stocked up with the staples.  Do not underestimate the power of this gesture. You may not be able to find the right words to say, but you can support your friends by making sure they are cared for in their environment.

DO put important dates on your calendar and ACKNOWLEDGE them. A birth day, the child's due date, a baptismal anniversary, the date of the child's death. Send a card, say a prayer, give them a call.  That said, do not send sympathy cards on a birthday. This one is tough to explain, just trust me on it.  Just a nice blank card with the words, "we're thinking of you on this date as you remember the birth of ___." That's perfect.

DO Check in regularly. For us, most of our friends sort of disappeared and got on with their lives right away after the funeral.  We had been surrounded physically for about four days, and then suddenly everyone was back to their lives.  Our lives still had the brakes on. It is understandable, for sure, but it was really really hard.  So, do what works for you, but if you put it on your calendar or to do list each week to check in, it will mean a whole lot. And then remember, you are walking the road WITH them.

DO Tell them you love them. Tell them you're sorry. And if you don't know what to say, say "I don't know what to say." They will appreciate that far more than the attempt to find the "right" words.  I have to tell you a secret, there are no "right" words, nothing about the situation is right.  You don't have to try to eliminate pain or be inspirational. You just have to walk beside them. Meet them where they are. Love them.


Wordless Wednesday: 15 Months, Going On 15

Click above, scroll down to Keeping Her Cool, and click the little orange "thumbs up." You can vote once a day, so vote tomorrow, too. 

Once you're done here, head on over to It's My Baby Blog to see my post on Babyproofing Lindstrom Style.


I Was Born To Do This...

"I am not afraid, I was born to do this..." - St. Joan Of Arc

I am not really ashamed of my reaction when I found out I was expecting twins, but I can't say that I'm totally fond of the memory. I joke about it a lot, but it makes me sad just the same. Just to review, I did not say "oh yay." If the word "yay" started with the letter F, and ended with an uck sound that would be more accurate. Oh, and I didn't say it just once. I said it millions of times over a 7 month period. At our eight week viability ultrasound (you "get" to have this type of treatment when you've been through the level of loss that we've been through. Even though SIDS, a miscarriage, and Trisomy 18 are unrelated, we were offered any and all tests available. It was not an honor, but was a welcomed privilege) we were quite surprised, as we were not expecting this type of news. I was frankly scared and not quite sure I was going to be able to do it. I don't know what I thought not doing it would look like, but I was sure I'd find out. (This is why parents of multiples have a hard time hearing, "I don't know how you do it," because we aren't quite sure what the alternative would be.)

I do sometimes wish, though, that I could go back and erase that reaction. Have a heart to heart with my 25 month ago self, and say, "it's going to be okay, you were BORN TO DO THIS." Now, I know that I was born to do this. My life just fits me, just like a really nice pair of pajama jeans. However, I don't like the fact that I'm really going to have put lipstick on the pig when I tell my kids about getting the news that they were coming.  It reminds me of how I think back on the days before Brady died (or rather, the days of Brady's life). Never knowing that I was going to lose her, I wish I'd loved life with her differently while she was here.  You know what though, through all of this uncertainty, fear, challenge, pain, and grief, I keep finding myself, and liking myself a whole lot more.

The truth is this: Life is the most amazing, miraculous, ridiculously joy filled thing, and simultaneously so painful and hard sometimes.  Many times, those moments of ridiculous joy can come in rapid succession with the painful hard moments or sometimes they even exist in the exact same place. It's all part of the mystery, but whether you are in the midst of the joy, or the depths of your pain, remember this: Do not be afraid, you were born to do just this, and you will do it, and come out on the other side more YOU than you have ever been. (Even if you don't know it yet.)


Manic Monday Blogarrhea

  • A while ago, I Bloggarrhea-ed about Chad Ochocinco and what a massive d-bag I think he is (based only on his name, we haven't had coffee lately). On Saturday night, Mr. Lindstrom and I went to the Twins game. They played the Oakland A's (I have to say, A's sounds way cooler than Athletics as far as team names go, so nice work, Oakland, on saving time by abbrev.). Do you know that there is a dude on that team named Coco Crisp? COCO CRISP!!! That's awesome! I think cereals should start paying Athletes to change their name to their product names. Like a wrestler called Frosted Flakes, or a golfer named Trix, maybe even a hockey player who will go by the name Lucky Charms... Whoa, Mr. Lindstrom just informed me that there is another baseball player named Milton Bradley... YOU CAN NOT MAKE THIS STUFF UP, FOLKS!
  • I used to be a really great beer drinker. The older I get, the more it upsets my stomach. So, I've made the switch to wine. When I go to a ball game I like to have an adult beverage during the game, but since I don't do beer, I get really classy and drink white wine out of a beer glass. Cheers! 
  • Do you see this? This is a romper for an adult that I found while shopping at Old Navy. Please friends, can we agree to limit rompers to the under 3 year old set? Please? Now, I'm no fashionista (remember, I have pajama jeans), but I really think this look goes best with a full diaper (if you know what I mean, and I think you do).

  • When I was little, we had a bagpiper that practiced in our neighborhood.  We lived near a bridge that apparently had really great acoustics. The bagpiper would practice until dusk, and then pack up his pipes and go home. It was sort of an unspoken rule in our neighborhood that the kids should go home when the bagpiper stopped playing. One day, a classmate in school was talking about not hearing his mother calling him home at night, and subsequently being grounded for being outside too late playing. I said to him, "well, don't you just go home when the bagpiper stops?" Because I literally thought that every neighborhood had a bagpiper.  True story.
  • Hey, while I have you here, can I trouble you to just click below and vote for Keeping Her Cool. It will take you 15 seconds and you will burn 4 calories. That would just be real nice.  Thanks!


Food For Thought Friday: Plan Well... And... Well...

First of all, I'm a little late to the game on this. I found out about a week or two ago that I have been nominated for this supercool list (thanks to whomever threw my name in the hat!) I would love it if you would take a second and vote for me by clicking this sweet little button. You can do it once a day until April 14. 


At my first prenatal appointment ever, my doctor said to me, "please don't make a birth plan." I was all, "wait, huh? I have been studying all of my mommy books that tell me how to be the most perfect mother on the face of the planet (perhaps in the entire universe), and I will be making a birth plan per their advice, thankyouverymuch." Instead of saying that, I just asked the very simple, "why?" My doctor and I have this type of rapport. He knows he can be pretty candid with me, and that I won't take offense if he accidentally steps on my delicate toes. He said to me, "when women make a really specific birth plan, things almost always go the exact opposite. So, just have a general idea of what you want/need, and then be open to the rest, you'll be happier." I chewed on that for a second. The truth was, I was just busy being pregnant, I had not yet gotten to imagining how this little person was going to make an exit. So, no birth plan? Cool, one less thing for me to do while getting ready for this baby!

For so many reasons, I am glad that I wasn't attached to any plan. The most attached I ever was to a plan was the plan I'd made prior to the birth of the Twinstroms which you can read about (and how it all went awry) here.  I knew some general things like how I felt about drugs (for the record, I felt good about them, which is a perfectly acceptable way of going about things... the other way is perfectly acceptable, too), and who I'd like to have in the room, but I tried not to attach too much to the experience, and just get good with the fact that it would be what it was, and it would reveal itself at the proper time.  The good thing to know is that babies always come out.  To date, I have not heard of a woman carrying a 20 year-old around in her uterus. Babies come out. They just do. The miracle and wonder is in the how.

And here's a how that I am fascinated with. Just two days ago in my hometown of Minneapolis, MN, a woman gave birth on the side of a well-traveled interstate in the back seat of a car during rush hour on the way to the hospital. Wow. I am pretty sure none of that was in her birth plan.

I don't want to give the birth plan a bad rap. It's good to know how you feel about different landmarks during the experience of labor and delivery. Where you want to labor, for how long, what kind of drugs do you or don't you want, who you'd like by your side, what position you'd like to be in for the birth. All of these things are good to explore, and wonderful to hold close during the experience. However, part of the planning is being open to the journey. I don't say this from a place of authority, because I still grieve the fact that I was unable to have my last birth vaginally due to a couple of disobedient infants. I STILL GRIEVE IT - and have not yet reached a place of true acceptance. Instead, I say this from a place of life experience (in birth, and beyond), when you allow yourself to roll with the punches a little, and remember who you are and what you value through it all, life is a whole lot easier. Even the tough parts.

Birth is possibly one of the most profound lessons in losing control.

Parenting is another lesson in the loss of control, but in such a different way. I often wonder why there is so much talk of birth plans, and very little (to none) about postpartum plans. Perhaps once the main event (the grand exit) is over, we think we'll just naturally grow into our parenting role. That is, after all, what the culture expects. And yet, when you stop and really listen to women and men talk about their first days with their children in their homes, it sounds anything but natural. We rarely have the conversations about how we're going to make sure the new parents are fed, who is going to act as the support network, who can the mom and dad call in the middle of the night when they can't possibly take it anymore? The postpartum plan is a plan I can get behind, but it's not toted at all in the "be the perfect parent" manuals.  Here's the thing, whether you're on your first baby, or your 19th (Hi, Michelle Duggar, thanks for stopping by...) having a baby rocks the world you're used to.

This last time around, I got wise to the gig, and made a postpartum plan. Sure, "you're expecting twins" is a really good way to prod a girl into figuring out how the heck this is all going to work, but I always wished I'd have done so with my prior births.  I'd have avoided a whole lot of self doubt and depression. My postpartum plan included the engagement of a Postpartum Doula (from Welcome Baby Care), but postpartum plans come in all shapes and sizes.  The purpose is to make sure you have a plan for this transition. It's a huge one, and wouldn't it be nice to make it as easy as possible?

For some resources on birth plans and postpartum plans, check out Welcome Baby Care's It's My Baby Blog!

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn experts. Check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge. Also, be sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!


Wordless Wednesday: 4 Months


Now that you're feeling optimistic about the weather, I hope you'll go feel inspired at It's My Baby Blog with my post today on getting back to fitness after baby.



Spiders are damn scary. This is a fact. Arachnophobia plagues something like 55 percent of Western women. I am one of them. Miss Muffet, girlfriend, I feel you. If that hairy long-legged insect sat down beside me, I'd make a mess of my curds and whey, too. So, imagine my own surprise, when I decided that I need to push myself outside of my comfort zone and hold in my sweet little fair hands, the mother of all arachnids -- the hairy and large TARANTULA.

I decided this over a year ago, when I was doing a challenge a week on this blog. That is in fact how this blog began. In an effort to keep myself socially relevant in the adult realm, while my days were mostly spent wiping butts and talking about dinosaurs, I would push myself out of my comfort zone once a week, and then share it here. So, while compiling a list (a list that did not include "carry and give birth to twins"), I flippantly added "hold a tarantula." See, you have to know, when I made these lists of potential challenges, I would consciously add things that I knew I would never do, just to make the list look really really long and then I would choose from the most palatable on that list. I was sure that a) I would never have the chance to hold a tarantula and b) chicken out if I ever found myself in that position anyway. The aforementioned twin pregnancy and birth was ultimately what forced my blogging into a hiatus, and I returned six months following the birth of the Twinstroms to do... whatever I'm doing here now.

Remember how I said that I knew I'd never have the chance to hold a tarantula? Well, that changed the other day when my friend Liz and I were at a Social Science event at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Wandering around we happened upon Bruce the Bug Guy. I leaned in close to Liz and whispered, "when I used to blog about challenges, I had 'hold a tarantula' on my list." The second it left my lips, I knew I should have locked those loose things up for once in my life. "Well, I think you need to hold that thing," Liz said with that evil smirk of a friend who holds you accountable when you really just want her to laugh it off and say, "that's ridiculous, let's go get a glass of wine." Liz is good like that.

So, I let Bruce the Bug Guy put that frightening little creature right in the palm of my hand. Then, I let Liz take a picture. Here's the first shot:

We learn two things from this picture. 1) I was about to crap my slacks and 2) When I am very frightened, I show all my chins.

Then, here's what happened next. Liz, while a good friend, is also sneaky. She realized that she had not turned on her flash, and proceeded to spend the next 8-10 hours* trying to turn the flash on.

(*time approximate)

Here is the real shot:

So, I held a tarantula and lived to tell. Guess what, I don't ever want to do that again. Never. It was easily a sensation worse than dragging my freshly manicured fingernails down a chalkboard. Don't do it. Just don't. If someone asks you if you've ever done it, just say, "no, but a read a blog once about a woman who did." If you find yourself playing Six Degrees of Tarantula, that should satisfy. Just go with me on this.


Manic Monday Blogarrhea

I resisted for a long long time, but I've finally welcomed emoticons into my life. I prefer the keyed out ones rather than the produced or animated emoticons. Like :-) or :-( or even, <@:-) (clown hat, curly hair, smily face). I use them sparingly, and only in emails or tweets. I feel good about my policy. However, I have a grammar question. When I am using them at the end of a parenthetical statement, specifically with the smiley face, where the smile on the face is actually the close parentheses symbol, do I still go ahead and close the parentheses? In other words, does it look like this (:-)) or this (:-)? Help. What's the etiquette on this? Also, I refuse to get rid of my dash nose. A face needs a nose!

Many people think that texting while driving is the biggest risk to safety on the roads. I agree that it is the biggest risk, and that there are many other equal risks while driving which take your attention away from your main responsibility... driving. I would like to submit what I believe to be high up on the list of safety risks while driving. Sneezing. Especially sneezing after you've had a few children and have weakened pelvic floor muscles. Sneezing, for enthusiastic sneezers (like yours truly, :-)) (See, here it is in action... what do I do with that?) is more than just a quick event. Nose tickles, eyes close, snot flies, eyes water, and if you aren't prepared and mind the pelvic floor, there's an entire other crisis possible. Lather, rinse, repeat, because nobody sneezes just once. I don't trust someone who sneezes just once. The only thing worse when you're driving is when you THINK you're going to sneeze... and you wait for it... and wait for it... and prepare for it... and then... don't.

I sort of get the concept that the shape of the noodle really does change the flavor of a pasta dish, but how can it be that spirals and cheese are so vastly superior to traditional macaroni and cheese? You can argue with me about this (if you dare), but it is a well known fact. (Shells and cheese is of course THE best, but that has more to do with the processed cheese-food than the noodle shape. Trust me... I know these things.)

Remember the olden days on this blog, when I used to challenge myself once a week? Well, I did another challenge... and I am going to tell you about it tomorrow. I cannot even believe I did it, and I kind of feel like a rockstar... so check back tomorrow, and see how I fared!


Food For Thought Friday: Traveling With Kiddos

People told me I was crazy... or brave, I didn't think much of it. We wanted a vacation, and we were going to go gosh darn-it. It has been a particularly long winter being somewhat cooped up in our house and a warm weather destination was just what the doctor ordered. So we booked our tickets to Florida about 6 months in advance of our trip. We sort of knew what we were getting into, we knew that the Twinstroms would be about 15 months, the same age that the four-year-old was when we took him on his first airplane ride. Traveling with a young one wasn't a foreign experience to us. Traveling with two really young ones and another young one was a completely foreign experience. So, I started visualizing the trip early. Troubleshooting, if you will. I imagined every moment of the vacation from the arrival at the airport until we were dropped off safely at our front door. It would be an entire week. I am nothing, if not prepared.

So, after months and months of preparation (it’s like Thanksgiving dinner. It takes a whole day to prepare, and only 20 minutes to eat) we did it, and I learned a lot from the experience which I want to share with you, should you find yourself or a loved one planning to travel with small children.

1. Be over prepared. The more prepared you are, the calmer you will be, and the calmer your kids will be. If you think you have everything under control, they will trust that you do (even if it turns out that you don’t.)

2. When picking a flight, try as best you can to fit it into your children’s schedule. If you want them to be sleepy, maybe get an early flight so that you will have to wake them early in the morning, and they’ll still be tired. Or if you can sync it up with a naptime, even better. If they tend to be crabbier later in the day, perhaps that won’t be the best option. I have to be honest, I searched for a flight that would work on our schedule before I searched prices. In the end it was a difference of about $100, but I honestly think it was worth the pain for us. If you’re taking a road trip, take the same things into account.

3. When you check in for the flight, ask about seating. I was surprised to find out that while we originally had booked three seats across in a row (intending to have one twin on each adult lap and our four-year-old in the center) we could not all share a row. There are only four oxygen masks in the row. Ask lots of questions; are the seats around us taken up by individuals or groups (indicating families vs. individual or business travelers)? Can we pre-board? Have we accidentally been placed in an exit row (everyone in the exit row has to be over 18)? Ask any question you have to anyone with a name badge and some wings!

4. Make sure that you have squirreled away some new toys, ones that have never been seen or played with so that your kids can have something new to be fascinated with on the flight. And when at your vacation destination, a few days before the return, grab something new and exciting for the return trip. You won’t be sorry…

5. Pack food. Lots and lots of food. For a couple of reasons: If you, like me are meticulous about foods that contain potential allergens, you can only control the foods that you have with you. So, pack your own foods, the snacks that you KNOW are safe for you and your kids. Also, I have found that favorite snacks can be excellent for behavior modification. (That is a fancy way of saying “bribery”, but when you are at umptifoo thousand feet, you’ll do what you have to do…)

6. If you have very small children, talk to them as much as you can about what to expect and what you expect of them. Answer questions as honestly as you can, and start talking about it weeks in advance of the trip. Getting them used to the idea will only help you in the long run. Pretend that you are flying for the first time, and tell them everything that happens. Talk about going through security, let them know that they will have to take off their shoes, tell them about the lines, and the metal detector, tell them what take-off feels like, tell them what landing feels like, get them excited about what kinds of things they might do during the flight, EVERYTHING you can think of. Talk about it often, as often as they want you to. The more prepared they are, the less anxious they will be. Even if it’s not their first time flying. They may need to be reminded.

7. If you have very small children, choreograph the coming and the going. Who is going to sit where? Who is going to lead and who will bring up the rear? Who is carrying whom or what? When you leave the plane, are you going to hop up ASAP? Or wait until everyone around you has gotten off the plane? Who is responsible for which bags, or any other things that were brought on the plane?

8. Most importantly: COMMUNICATE! Calmly and directly with each other. It can be stressful to travel without kids. Children bring another element to air travel. Remember that no matter what, you will get to your destination, you will either do it with a calm child, or a distressed child, but you can remain calm and COMMUNICATE with everyone around you about what you need and what is happening. The calmer you can be, the calmer those around you will be.

In the end, the Lindstroms had a very positive experience traveling with the whole fam damily, and we’ll do it again (though, not any time soon)! It was exhausting, but the benefit of getting away and having time as a family was well worth the effort we had to put in.

Looking for real resources? We've got a handy list at It's My Baby Blog!

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn experts. Check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge. Also, be sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!

More EXCITING news from Welcome Baby Care! A brand new BLOG, It's My Baby (and I'll ___ if I want to) featuring a weekly dose of insight (and humor?) from yours truly. Check it out!

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