Wednesday, February 27, 2013

36 weeks pregnant

I'm almost 37 weeks now, but we've been crazy busy with home renovations, working on some of our rental units, and dealing with sick kids.

Pelvic instability has hit. I can feel my joints loosening, especially the symphysis pubis. Whenever I get up from sitting or lying down, I have to do belly dance hip circles before I can move. I also ran into major sleep issues about 10 days ago: inability to fall back asleep after 3 or 4 am. I finally gave in and started taking a half dose of Unisom 3 days ago, and it's made a tremendous difference. I feel like a normal, functional person again. I haven't had any of the weird breathing issues I had during Inga's pregnancy, thank goodness.

Eric was gone all last week doing book readings and classroom workshops. He has another trip scheduled for the end of next week, getting back March 10th, and I've been realizing more and more how much I do NOT want him to be gone. He's had this trip planned for a year now, and back when I was barely pregnant, having him leave for a few days didn't seem that big of a deal. After all, I've barely come to mental grips that I'm actually having a baby. I'll be almost 38 1/2 weeks when he gets back. I had Zari at 38 weeks, so it's entirely possible for me to have a baby when he's away. I've expressed very strongly how I would really rather he not be gone, but I have to accept the reality of his being away. I just called my younger brother, and he said he could come down and help out while Eric's gone. Then my mom found out and said, "There's no way you should be alone this far in your pregnancy! I will come help out while Eric is gone." (I hadn't even thought to ask her, since I figured she'd be too busy with work.)

All I can do now is hope and pray that I won't have the baby until he gets back.

The baby has been hanging out ROT/ROP recently. Still quite active and tons of movement up front and/or stretching my belly from side to side. Zari and Dio love to feel the baby squirm and kick and hiccup. Inga knows to say that there's a "baby inside Mama belly"--not sure how much of that she really understands, though. She found a container full of newborn socks and soft fabric shoes, and she's been carrying them around all day, exclaiming in a high-pitched voice, "baby shoes! baby socks!"

One of the big stressors I had to deal with while Eric was gone was evicting a family from one of our rentals. They moved in and didn't pay another penny of rent, ever. So we went through the whole eviction process...and then they didn't move out on the designated day.They gave excuse after excuse, but still they wouldn't leave. Finally I got them out 2 weeks past their eviction date and went by to pick up the keys. They had already left the apartment by time I arrived, probably because they had completely trashed the apartment in just 3 short months.

I hauled out almost 10 huge trash bags full of oozing garbage (mainly dirty diapers), slipping on the kitchen floor several times from the liquid nastiness. They left behind rooms full of old furniture. The carpets were covered in a thick layer of dirt and dried up food. Worst of all, every wall in the house was ruined. They had let their kids draw all over the walls with permanent marker, crayon, pen, and nail polish. They had thrown raw eggs and melted wax against the walls and on the carpets. They had also tossed cups full of soda and kool-aid onto the walls and let the liquids drip down and dry, leaving sticky streaks everywhere. And imagine the insect infestation as a result of them living like that...

It felt like a slap in the face, since we had just renovated the apartment from top to bottom. I've spent hours and hours scrubbing down walls, carrying down furniture, vacuuming carpets, and smashing bugs, with Dio and Inga in tow. Ugh. Ugh. I CANNOT understand how people can live like that. We've had to completely repaint the apartment--no small task in a 3-bedroom, 1,000 square foot space. (We hired someone, since I've been too busy painting and tiling at our own house.) It's almost done now. Next up: having the carpets deep cleaned.

I'm sorry, but having 3 small children is NO excuse for treating an apartment like that. For the place to be that badly damaged, the parents had to be not only allowing this behavior, but encouraging it.

~~ deep breath ~~

I really need some cheering up after that fiasco. How about sending me something for my virtual Blessingway? It's not too late, and you can always send it by email as well as snail mail. Here's the invite again, in case you missed it the first time. I'd love to hear from you :)

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Pregnancy: Month 6

The month of December was busy preparing for family to visit. We repainted the upstairs hallway, back staircase, and master bedroom. That may not sound like much, but we had to repaint all of the baseboards, doors, crown moldings, and trim before we could paint the walls. That made everything take ten times longer. Plus we take forever to choose paint colors. I like that Eric cares about home decoration--but it definitely slows the process down!

I'm currently working on painting our living room. A few days ago, I decided that I really wanted the room done before the baby arrives, preferably by this coming weekend. I've painted all the baseboards and some of the crown moldings. It's a pain to be up on the stepladder, and I can only do so much before I get dizzy.

So this quilt square helps me remember my sixth month of pregnancy. I named it "Painting." 

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Can men ever really understand pregnancy or birth?

I remember learning during a freshman course on ethnobotany how, in some Polynesian cultures, men would get neck-to-knee body tattoos. It was the closest they would be able to come to understand the pain of childbirth. At that time, labor & birth seemed like horrific, disgusting, and disempowering experiences, and I resented that women had to endure them. Full-body tattoo with no pain medication? I thought. Serves them right!

My perspective on childbirth has altered significantly over the years, but I am still fascinated by male efforts to understand or truly empathize with pregnancy and birth. Recently, author Ben Percy wrote about a 9-week simulated "pregnancy" in GQ. (Read it. It's definitely worth your time.) During the hottest part of the summer, he wore a pregnancy belly suit for 9 weeks to try to understand a little of what his wife had to go through. This was followed by a Today Show interview with host Steve Harvey. Apparently Harvey was at a loss for words. From the LA Times:

In publishing, landing a spot on the "Today" show has traditionally been thought of as a publicity holy grail. Is that why Benjamin Percy wore a pregnancy suit to get there? And did he have any idea just how strange the experience would be?

Not wearing the pregnancy suit for nine weeks -- trying to talk to Steve Harvey. Harvey gets so discombobulated that, apropos of nothing, he asks Percy if he's ever bitten a man.

Percy does have one of the most arresting voices in contemporary American letters. He's also known for writing fiction with a specifically manly bent, like "The Wilding," which is about three generations of men in one family who go on a hunting trip. So imagining him walking around as a pregnant woman does present a little cognitive dissonance.

He committed to a simulated mini-pregnancy, wearing a high-tech pregnancy suit made in Japan that got bigger each trimester. "It looks a little like a flak jacket," Percy writes, describing his mommy-gear in militaristic terms. A chronicle of his experience -- which included shopping, attending public events, and getting a sweaty rash -- appears in this month's GQ.

(Ben Percy is one of my husband's writer friends, and yes, his voice really is that deep. If you ever have the chance to attend a reading of his, please go. He's super entertaining.)

Here's the Today Show interview.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

So, what do you think? Is it commendable that men are trying to understand what a woman experiences when she's pregnant? Or, since they can never really understand what it's like, is it just another way to garner praise and attention?

I should add that Eric has often remarked that he is in awe of the birth process and feels a sense of loss that he'll never be able to experience it. That's the kind of man I like :)
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Thursday, February 14, 2013

You're invited to my Blessingway!

I hope you can be a part of my Blessingway! I've decided to host a virtual celebration before the baby comes. Then after the birth, I'll have a gathering at my house for friends and family to welcome the baby earthside.

I hope all of you can join in helping me prepare for this baby's arrival by sending a bead, a note of encouragement or wisdom, and something to decorate my birthing space. If you can't send something by mail, please email your contributions, and I will print them out for you. I'll be keeping everything I receive to put into a memory book.

Please send your blessings as soon as you can. I have a jewelry maker friend who's going to help me put the necklace together. I'm a day away from being 35 weeks--yikes!--so time is short for her to collect all the beads and then ship the finished product to me.

I hope you can all be a part of this celebration!

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ombré dyeing tutorial: dip-dye

After batch dyeing 6 different hues for a duvet cover, I tried my hand at ombré dip-dyeing. Dharma  Trading Co. advises starting with the lightest shade first, while Rit Dye's tutorial starts with the darkest shade first. Which works better?

Hands down: lightest first.

Here's the ombré dip-dyed fabric sewn into a ring sling: 

  • Dye appropriate for your fabric type. I prefer Jacquard dyes. I used Jacquard iDye in the following proportions to achieve the end color*:
    • 2 parts 418 Turquoise
    • 2 parts 419 Royal Blue
    • 1 parts 421 Kelly Green
  • Non-iodized salt (if needed)
  • Dye fixative
  • Mason jar with lid (for mixing dye)
  • Large pot or bucket
  • Stovetop, camp stove, or bucket heater (optional, but keeping the fabric close to a simmer helps the dye absorb better)
  • Old clothes
*Note on end color: I was aiming for a turquoise with some green undertones, but the end hue was a greenish teal. The kelly green was surprisingly strong. If you're aiming for a bluer hue, cut the kelly powder in half.

Step 1: Prepare the dye concentrate
  • Add the dye powder/liquid into a Mason jar and fill with water. I used approx. 1 cup (250 ml) of water per package of iDye, resulting in a full quart/liter of dye concentrate for 5 packages of iDye. (Note: I ombre dyed a total of 18 yards of 56" wide linen with this concentrate and still had some left over. If I had dyed the colors successively in the same bucket, rather than in separate buckets, I would have had at least half a jar of concentrate left.)
  • Fasten the lid tightly and shake well. Even a few drops of this concentrate will stain your fingers a deep hue!

Step 2: Moisten fabric

If your dye calls for it, moisten your fabric before putting into the dye bath. If you want to leave the top undyed, then do NOT wet the fabric.

Step 3: Prepare the dyeing area

You will need some way to hang your fabric and move it progressively upward. I suspended my fabric with a sturdy hanger. I was dyeing a double length for ring slings, so I simply folded the fabric twice lengthwise to fit on the hanger, then put the hanger in the middle. If you're only dyeing one length/garment, you'll need to attach it to your hanger with safety pins.

Next, I attached two ropes to a tree branch and moved my fabric up in 6" intervals. (I used two ropes to more easily jump back and forth between lengths, but you could make do with one rope.) I tied single knots in the rope and slipped the hanger hook through. The rope held 5 1/2 yards of wet fabric with no slipping.

Step 4: Prepare the lightest dye bath

Fill your pot/bucket with boiling water. Start by adding a tiny amount of dye for the lightest hue, around 1/4 tsp or less per 4 gallons of water.

I used a bucket heater to keep the water hot. You could also use your stovetop or campstove. 

Step 5: Add fabric

Add entire length of fabric to the dye bath and agitate constantly. (If you're keeping the top undyed, suspend the undyed end above the dye bath.) I kept my fabric folded over the hanger, but you might find it easier to take it off for this first step. Aim to keep the fabric in the dye bath for at least 10-15 minutes to ensure an even tone, so don't add too much dye concentrate at first! You can always add more if needed.

Tip for adding additional dye concentrate to a dye bath: Remove the fabric before mixing in additional dye concentrate. The last thing you want to do is to pour dye concentrate right onto the fabric; you'll end up with a dark spot!

Step 6: Elevate and add more dye

When the fabric has reached the desired shade, elevate one end 6" above the dye bath. (You may choose smaller or larger intervals depending on the length of the fabric/garment you're dyeing). Add a tiny bit more dye concentrate (start with 1/8-1/4 tsp) and gently agitate the fabric.

My tip: Every time I moved to a deeper hue, I elevated the fabric 12", carefully stirred in the dye solution, then lowered it back 6". This  ensured a more even gradation between hues. I would also ladle the deeper dye bath up a few inches on the suspended fabric to help soften the hue changes.

Here's a picture showing successive dye baths, starting with the 3rd color change and ending with the last one (I did about 9 color changes in total).

Every 5-10 minutes, lift the fabric up another 6" and add more dye concentrate. Continue to gently stir the fabric to ensure an even hue. As you reach the deeper shades, you'll add progressively larger amounts of dye concentrate and let the fabric sit for longer intervals. Your deepest hue should sit in the dye bath for around 30 minutes.

Once the last part of the fabric has reached the desired hue, remove the fabric out of the dye bath. Always rinse from top (lightest) to bottom. If you're outdoors, simply elevate the fabric and rinse in place with a hose until the water runs clear. Remember, the fabric will be lighter once it's been rinsed, washed, and dried.

Machine wash the dyed fabric with dye fixative.

The lines between hue changes disappeared after rinsing & machine washing. I was very pleased with the end result!

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ombré dyeing tutorial: batch dye

During an unusually warm spell early this December, I tried my hand at ombré dyeing. I wanted a duvet cover with hues like this duvet cover:

and sewn like this knotted squares bedspread (an Anthropologie knockoff DIY):

I had over 12 yards of white linen on hand, otherwise I would have used jersey sheets to make the knotted squares duvet. I also had another bolt of pale ivory linen, so I used the extra dye to dip-dye fabric for ring slings.

Here's the end result of my first foray into ombré dyeing:

Now that I've done two different methods of ombré dyeing, I wanted to share my tips & tricks. Today's tutorial will be on ombré batch dyeing (dyeing each shade separately). Stay tuned for a dip-dye ombré tutorial.

  • Dye appropriate for your fabric type. I used Jacquard iDye in the following proportions to achieve the end color:
    • 2 packages turquoise
    • 2 packages royal blue
    • 1 package kelley green
  • Non-iodized salt (if needed)
  • Dye fixative (optional with iDye, but I found it made a difference)
  • Mason jar with lid (for mixing dye)
  • Large pots or buckets
  • Stovetop, camp stove, or bucket heater (optional, but keeping the fabric close to a simmer helps the dye absorb better)
  • Old clothes

Preparing the dye concentrate
  • Add the dye powder/liquid into a Mason jar and fill with water. I used approx. 1 cup (250 ml) of water per package of iDye, resulting in a full quart/liter of dye concentrate for 5 packages of iDye. (Note: I dyed a total of 18 yards of 56" wide linen with this concentrate and still had lots left over. If I had dyed the colors successively in the same bucket, rather than in separate buckets, I would have had at least half a jar of concentrate left.)
  • Fasten the lid tightly and shake well. Even a few drops of this concentrate will stain your fingers a deep hue!

Dyeing the fabric

I batch-dyed six different shades using 2-yard pieces of linen. I used six 5-gallon plastic buckets and dyed outdoors. This will be very messy, so try to do this outside if at all possible! I kept the water hot using a bucket heater (found at farm supply stores).

Now that I've done this once, I recommend dyeing everything in one bucket, one shade at a time, starting with the lightest shade and adding successively more dye to the same water (Method B). But first I will explain how I actually did it using concurrent batches (Method A).

If your dye calls for it, pre-moisten your fabric before putting into the dye bath.

Tip for adding additional dye concentrate to a dye bath: Remove the fabric before mixing in additional dye concentrate. The last thing you want to do is to pour dye concentrate right onto the fabric; you'll end up with a dark spot!

When the fabric has reached the desired shade, rinse with cool water until the water runs clear. (Remember, the fabric will be lighter once it's been rinsed, washed, and dried.) I dyed my fabric outside and had a hose on hand, so it was easy to refill my rinse buckets.

Machine wash the dyed fabric with dye fixative. I washed the 3 lightest hues together, then the 3 darkest hues. You could probably wash them all at once too.

Method A: Concurrent Batches (Not Recommended)

I filled six 5-gallon buckets with 4 gallons of very hot water per bucket and added about 1-2 cups of non-iodized salt into each bucket. Add a small amount of dye to the first bucket and successively more amounts of dye concentrate to each bucket.

I started the first bucket (lightest hue) with about 1 Tbsp of dye concentrate to 4 gallons of water and it was WAY too much. I'd suggest starting with 1/4 tsp or less of dye concentrate per 4 gallons of water for the lightest hue. Remember, you can always add more dye if needed. My last bucket (deepest hue) had 6-8 Tbsp of dye concentrate. So ideally, your starting to ending dye ratio will be at least 1:50 and perhaps close to 1:100.

Darkest dye bath (#6) on the left; shade #3 on the right.

For the first few shades, you really won't need much dye. It's better to have a more dilute dye solution and let your fabric sit for a while, than to have a more concentrated solution and a short dyeing time. Why? If your fabric is in the dye bath for only a few minutes, it won't come out evenly dyed. (I learned this the hard way!). Aim for at least 15 minutes in the dye bath for the lightest shades.

Once you've mxied the dye concentrate into the water, add the wet fabric. Keep the fabric hot using a burner or a bucket heater. While you're dyeing each shade, stir constantly to ensure the fabric is evenly dyed. Again, aim for a minimum of 15 minutes for the lightest shades and more for mid- and deep tones. Your deepest hues will sit the longest in the dye bath, ideally 30-60 minutes. Rinse dyed fabric until water runs clear.

Method B: One Bucket For All Batches (Recommended)

Fill your pot/bucket with very hot water. Start by adding a tiny amount of dye for the lightest hue, around 1/4 tsp or less per 4 gallons of water.

Add fabric and stir constantly. Aim to keep the fabric in the dye bath for at least 15 minutes (for the lightest shades) and 30-60 minutes (for the darkest shades) to ensure an even tone, so don't add too much dye concentrate at first! You can always add more if needed.

When the fabric has reached the desired shade, remove & rinse. Keep your rinsed, wet batches close by so you can visually assess when your next batch is the right shade.

dyed and rinsed batches #2-6

Using the same dye bath, add a little more dye concentrate (maybe 1/4 tsp) for the second lightest hue. Then add your wet fabric. Rinse when the fabric is the right shade.

Repeat for each successive shade. Each time you go a step darker, you'll be adding successively larger amounts of dye concentrate. So while you might add 1/4 tsp for the 2nd batch, you'll probably add 1tsp for the 3rd batch, 2-3 tsp for the 4th, 1-2 Tbsp for the 5th, and so on. Remember, you can always add more dye if the fabric hasn't darkened sufficiently after at least 10-15 minutes in the dye bath.

Why do I recommend doing each hue successively in the same dye bath, rather than all at the same time?
  1. You have more control over the end results. By starting light and going successively darker, you will have the best results achieving gradual tone changes.
  2. It's hard to do 5-6 batches at the same time, especially with larger pieces of fabric. You simply can't stir, heat, assess dye color, and rinse all by yourself. You'll likely find that some batches have gone too dark too fast and that others are splotchy. 
  3. You only need one large pot/bucket for dyeing, instead of 6!
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Sunday, February 10, 2013

34 weeks pregnant

Some days I feel huuuuuuge! I'm not actually that big, though. My belly sticks out a good amount, but from side to side it's quite narrow.

I've been sleeping well, yet I'm still exhausted much of the time. I'm used to being capable and active, so my desire to lie on my side all day and do nothing at all frustrates and surprises me. I've found that getting out for a walk helps restore my energy. Don't know why that is!

I'm hitting that turning point in pregnancy when having a baby goes from seeming very far away to unnervingly close. I haven't really integrated the reality of another labor and birth. But I have my home visit scheduled for next Saturday, so I had to gather all of my birth and postpartum supplies. I did a final shopping trip last night, and now I have everything organized in a central location, from diapers and pads to hydrogen peroxide and witch hazel to herbal salt baths and tinctures for bleeding and afterpains.

It's easy to gather supplies for a baby, but preparing emotionally is more complex. I can never entirely relax until the baby is safely earthside. I have enough friends and acquaintances--in person and online--who have lost babies or who have had children with severe health problems that I can't take a healthy baby for granted. And even after my children are born, I still worry about their survival. I am sure I'm not the only parent who checks to be sure their kids are still breathing at night! Not all the time of course, but sometimes I just have to pop into their bedrooms and listen to their soft snores.

I'm also painfully aware that there are people out there in internet-land who are circling, waiting for a tragedy to strike me or my baby so they can pick apart my life and triumphantly proclaim that "see, home birth kills babies!" or "see, Natural Birth Advocates(TM) are so stupid and ignorant!" I would never, ever dream of capitalizing on someone else's sorrow. So I have both public and private demons to wrestle.

I'm also feeling a bit lonely in this pregnancy. I'd love to have an awesome blessingway (like this one) but if it's going to happen, I'll have to organize it myself. That's depressing. I loved Dio's blessingway that my friend Julie put together...then I had to do Inga's on my own. And let's be honest, some of my friends would love it while others would probably feel waaaaay out of their element. If only I could somehow bring all my long-distance friends together from across (and beyond) the country...
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Thursday, February 07, 2013

Students who walk or bike to school concentrate better

Eric sent me an article last night about The link between kids who walk or bike to school and concentration.  I haven't been able to get our school administrators to request a crossing guard, despite everyone agreeing that the intersection we cross is fairly dangerous for pedestrians. Zari's kindergarten has implemented drastic new security protocols since the school shooting in Connecticut, including a lock-down policy and intercom buzzer to get in the front door. My school "can't afford" to supply a crossing guard for 20-30 minutes a day total, even though we cross that street four times a day, five days a week. Yet after Newtown, her school immediately spent untold thousands of dollars to prevent a highly unlikely event. Because they "care deeply about students' safety."

So maybe the safety angle just won't work with our local elementary school. Maybe they will support students walking or biking to school if I can demonstrate that driving or busing to school  negatively affects children's concentration. 

I stand firm that we are doing Zari a favor by walking her to and from school every day. She's learning to rely on her own two legs to get her places, rather than on burning fossil fuels. She's getting 2 kilometers of extra exercise every day. She's learning that walking isn't always easy or fun in the winter, but that it's worth the effort of bundling up and getting fresh air.

For now, though, we are alone in our commitment to walking and biking our child to school.* The bike rack remains unused except for Zari's lone bicycle.

Don't you love the awesome spray paint job on her bike? Vive le Canada!

Here's the article by Sarah Goodyear from the Atlantic Cities (emphasis mine):

Every day outside my son’s Brooklyn school, no matter what the weather, you will see a distinctive pale blue bicycle locked to the rack. It belongs to a 7th-grade girl from a Dutch family whose members have stuck with their traditional practice of riding to school each day, despite finding themselves in the not-so-bike-friendly United States for a few years. This lovely blue city bike was a gift from the parents to their eldest child, who is now almost as tall as a grown woman. She has graduated from riding with her parents, and deserves a first-class vehicle to get to class each day. She is fiercely proud of it.

According to the results of a Danish study released late last year, my Dutch friends are giving their daughter a less tangible but more lasting gift along with that bicycle: the ability to concentrate better. The survey looked at nearly 20,000 Danish kids between the ages of 5 and 19. It found that kids who cycled or walked to school, rather than traveling by car or public transportation, performed measurably better on tasks demanding concentration, such as solving puzzles, and that the effects lasted for up to four hours after they got to school.

The study was part of "Mass Experiment 2012," a Danish project that looked at the links between concentration, diet, and exercise.

Niels Egelund of Aarhus University in Denmark, who conducted the research, told AFP that he was surprised that the effect of exercise was greater than that of diet:
"The results showed that having breakfast and lunch has an impact, but not very much compared to having exercised," Egelund told AFP. "As a third-grade pupil, if you exercise and bike to school, your ability to concentrate increases to the equivalent of someone half a year further in their studies," he added.
...In an article about the Danish study from the Davis Enterprise, Egelund says that he thinks there is a deep connection between the way we move our bodies and the way our minds work:
“I believe that deep down we were naturally and originally not designed to sit still,” Egelund said. “We learn through our head and by moving. Something happens within the body when we move, and this allows us to be better equipped afterwards to work on the cognitive side.”
Lots of parents drive their kids to school because walking or driving on streets and roads designed exclusively for cars makes the journey prohibitively dangerous for anyone, especially children. That problem is not easily solved, especially since schools are increasingly being built on the edges of sprawling development, rather than in a walkable context. [PDF]

But many other parents drive their kids because it’s easier, or seems to be easier. They often frame it as a kindness to the child to spare them “trudging” all the way to school, even if that trek is only half a mile long. As these short driving trips become the societal norm, it gets more and more difficult for families to deviate from them. School traffic begets school traffic.

So what could turn the trend around? The connection between active transportation and better physical fitness is well-documented and intuitively easy to draw, and yet apparently not compelling enough....Nationally, as of 2009, only 13 percent of kids in the United States walked or biked to school, down from 50 percent in 1969.

But if more parents realized that packing the kids into the back seat actually affects their ability to learn, would they change their ways? Advocate for building schools in more walkable locations? Demand improved bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure? Or simply make the time and effort required to get to the kids to school under their own steam, accompanying them if need be?

Many parents pay for test prep and after-school enrichment programs to make their kids more academically competitive, and go to great lengths to schedule time for those activities. Imagine if they invested those resources instead in something as simple as helping their children to travel safely from home to school on foot or by bike, arriving ready to learn.

Read the rest of the article here

Other articles on this subject: 
  • "Car children" learn less in school (The Davis Enterprise). In this article, researcher Niels Egelund comments: “This result means that the parents have an enormous responsibility. I have a child in third grade and a child in ninth grade. I find it a great pity to see how many students are driving to school. You see long lines of cars in front of the school; some drove a very short distance. Parents should really pull themselves up by their bootstraps.”
  • Exercise before school improves concentration: study (AFP)
  • Marc Schlossberg, Page Paulsen Phillips, Bethany Johnson, and Bob Parker. "How Do They Get There? A Spatial Analysis of a ‘Sprawl School’ in Oregon." Planning, Practice & Research, Vol. 20, No. 2, pp. 147 – 162, May 2005 (PDF). From the introduction: "For over 50 years, communities across the United States (US) have experienced a shift away from small, neighbourhood schools to large ones located on the urban periphery. Two effects of this type of ‘sprawl school siting’ are increased traffic congestion during school pick-up and drop-off times and decreased walking and cycling by children accessing school....When school sites are remote, and children do not walk or ride bikes to school, they are deprived of the opportunity to exercise. This, in combination with a variety of other factors (poor diets, television, the popularity of video/computer games) has lead to an increase in the number of overweight and obese children in the US."

* There are 2-3 families living in the immediate neighborhood who also walk; they don't have to cross any busy intersections because they live on the other side of the highway.
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Sunday, February 03, 2013

Currently reading

Eve's Herbs: A History of Contraception and Abortion in the West by John M. Riddle. I've read bits and pieces of this during my graduate school years, but this is a fascinating compilation of how women controlled their fertility from thousands of years ago until the present. Before ultrasound or over-the-counter pregnancy test and before our modern understanding of pregnancy, women often viewed a cessation of menstruation--which may or may not have been due to pregnancy--as dangerous. They would take herbs to bring on menstruation, and these herbs nowadays have known abortifactent effects. Definitely worth reading. I had to return it before I was able to finish it, so it's on my to-read list once I can ILL it again.

The Politics of Women's Spirituality: Essays by Founding Mothers of the Movement. I originally checked this out to read an essay I saw cited, but I can't remember which one it was. I paged through much of the book, but didn't actually read it in depth. I found the early 2nd wave feminism a bit too simplistic for my tastes. But it's valuable as a marker in the evolution of feminist thought.

Our Bodies, Our Crimes: The Policing of Women's Reproduction in America by Jeanne Flavin. Just started this today. I might use part or all of it for a freshman tutorial on reproduction that I hope to teach next fall.

A blog acquaintance shared a huge file of ebooks, so I've been reading two historical novel series set in England ranging from the 1100s-1600s. I've had fun learning all sorts of tidbits about English history. The first series included The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End by Ken Follet. Next was the Morland Dynasty series by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, a set of five books beginning with The Founding.

Now for some Mormon stuff...

My mom gave me Terryl Givens and Fiona Givens' book The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life for Christmas. They argue that the most compelling characteristics of a God worth worshipping is his vulnerability and compassion, his capacity for feeling and understanding human pain and joy. The book's prose sometimes is more fanciful that I usually care to read, but still quite moving. Also worth your time are the interviews with the authors at Feminist Mormon Housewives (Episode 27: The Nature of God and the Feminine Divine) and a 2-part interview (Episodes 385-386) at Mormon Stories.

Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History. This book has a short narrative introduction, but most of it is, as the title suggest, a compilation of original source documents relating to LDS temples. So it's not something you'd exactly want to sit down and read straight through for enjoyment, but if you're researching the historical origins of certain policies or practices, this is the place to go.

Women and Authority: Re-Emerging Mormon Feminism edited by Maxine Hanks. A classic collection of essays and stories published in the early 1990s.

Why Theology Can't Save Us, and Other Essays on Being Gay and Mormon by John Gustav-Wrathall. I first listened to his extended interview with John Dehlin on Gay Mormon Stories and was so moved by his life story that I wanted to learn more (to listen, go to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4). I saw this book and (guilty admission) bought it right away for my Kindle. He really breaks apart preconceived notions of what it means to be both gay and Mormon and how one might reconcile the two. On the subject of gays and Mormonism, you can't miss reading Carol Lynn Pearson's books, from Goodye, I love You to No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons Around Our Gay Loved Ones to The Hero's Journey of the Gay and Lesbian Mormon

I have a subscription to the Exponent II, a quarterly magazine for Mormon women's writing.

And of course, I can't talk about Mormon reading material without mentioning some of my favorite blogs and podcasts:
What have you been reading? I need to start compiling a postpartum reading list, like I did when Inga was born.
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