Tuesday, August 12, 2014


The topics that Zoe doesn't quite have a grasp on are pretty entertaining...hence the "Things My Toddler Does Not Understand" series. But lately, she just seems so wise. Noticing everything. Quietly observing. Reminding me to close a gate because Aleko is on the floor. Taking food off his high chair that I didn't cut small enough. Remembering the tiny details of every task including what color all the mini-golf balls were. She helps me stay present. Reminds me how much information we learn and take for granted. Her observations are priceless and abundant.

Friday, August 1, 2014

But, Think of the Children!

Guys. It finally happened. After 3 years, 1 month and 28 days of breastfeeding I had a negative encounter.

Here's what happened.

It was the most gorgeous day DC in July has ever seen and we decided to go to the National Zoo. We walked past a woman breastfeeding a baby a few months younger than Aleko on a bench outside the Reptile House. 

I looked at her for a long time. She probably thought I was creepy. I always worry that nursing moms will think I'm judging them negatively, when really I'm just scoping out their spot. 

We walked past her and a zoo employee with pink hair as we entered the building. There was a camp full of screaming, rambunctious boys inside, and Aleko immediately got fussy. So I decided to join the lady outside to have a baby nursing party. 

I sat on the bench next to her and said, "I need to do that too."

I started breastfeeding Aleko and the zoo employee very nicely said, "Can I actually ask you to do that somewhere else with all the kids walking right here?"

I looked at her and with my calmest voice replied, "No. Actually you cannot ask me to move somewhere else."

Things went downhill from there. She immediately got flustered. Her jaw clenched and her eyes rolled. 

"I just asked you nicely if you could move."

"I know. You did. But, I have the right to feed my baby anywhere he needs to be fed."

"Not BREASTfeed."

"Yes, absolutely breastfeed."

She said something else about it being a problem because of all the children walking by to which I responded, "It's good for them to see and learn that it is completely normal to nurse a baby."

She huffed and crossed her legs to turn away from me. The grandmother sitting next to the other woman nursing gave me a thumbs up and mouthed, GOOD JOB. A woman passing by quipped, "She's fine!"

After a brief silence I felt compelled to say more...

"I'm not mad. You know, maybe you should talk to the zoo in order to find out their policy."

In true teenager fashion she crossed her arms, "Maybe YOU should."

"Well, I don't need to talk to anyone because I know what the law says."

(I actually didn't know what the law says, but I was pretty sure it was on my side. It was the first thing I checked when I walked in the door at home. Check out this link for state laws. You can breastfeed in any public or private location in DC. In my home state of VA, I just can't get arrested for indecent exposure).

Aleko had long lost interest by this point and started chewing on the bench instead. 

When Yannos and Zoe exited the Reptile House, I stood up and said, "Have a good day!" to the pink-haired zoo employee who was furiously texting. 

When we got home, I called the zoo. A woman named Sandra apologized immediately and said that would not happen again. She would be speaking to that employee and all the other employees. 

Women in a Facebook group I'm a part off were calling for a nurse-in. A letter to the newspaper! A REVOLT! 

But, I just felt so sad for this young woman. She really thought she was doing the right thing. Protecting the children from the extremely modest and almost completely covered woman on the bench who was breastfeeding a baby in a zoo filled with humping mice, masturbating gorillas, and nursing cubs. 

Gosh, I wish she'd use a cover

Picture by: By Stan Osolinski

If I'm the most confusing thing a parent has to explain at the zoo then we have a real problem. 

That society has somehow taught her breastfeeding a baby on a shady bench is more offensive than the woman who walked by with her boobs hanging out of a nearly see through white tube-top. 

I do know that she is braver than I ever was at that age. I also know that if she had asked me to stop nursing Zoe three years ago, I probably would have cried and obliged. 

But now, as brave as she was to stand up for what she thought was the right thing to do, I was braver. My confidence nursing in public has been slowly acquired. First through the necessity of getting a screaming, starving infant to stop crying in the middle of the mall even though I had forgotten my nursing cover at home. Then through watching other women easily nurse cover-less without anyone batting an eye. 

Confidence from situations that originally made me uncomfortable. From attending La Leche League meetings where the leader nursed her 3 year old. From the waiters at an Afgan restaurant walking up to the table while I was nursing to take my order and talk to the baby like nothing out of the ordinary was going on at all. From my mother in law asking about how my breasts were feeling when I had thrush or mastitis. From my father in law kissing my babies on the head while I am nursing them. 

All things that pushed me out of my comfort zone. But normalcy only evolves from everyone around you going on with their lives while you are doing something that feels scary. 

So, to the pink-haired zoo employee sitting outside of the Reptile House...

I truly hope I gave you a positive memory to store. Sure. I know I pissed you off. But maybe if you have children and you want to nurse them, you'll have this encounter somewhere in the back of your head, encouraging you to feed your baby wherever you need. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mother's Intuition

When you become a mother, you have a lot of people telling you to trust your instincts. It's good advice, but it's not always easy. Is that 101 fever a passing virus or an ear infection? Can my 9 month old cry for a few minutes in order to fall asleep at night? Is my toddler ready to potty train? Sleep in a real bed? Eat popcorn? Insert any activity. 

We make a hundred decisions a day that affect another human's life and I know I don't normally need to consult my gut. 

Intuition: the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.

I hear moms say, "I wish I had trusted my intuition." But I hear other moms say they don't have it. No gut reaction to what is right or wrong. For me, it's a mix. Sometimes I feel very strongly about what I should be doing or trying and sometimes I have absolutely no clue. 

During my second pregnancy, I felt uneasy from the moment I had my first ultrasound. First it was the twin issue. Then it was my terrible pelvic pain. Then my pre-term labor. I always felt like I shouldn't be delivering at home, but there was no reason on paper to be concerned. So I chalked it up to crazy hormones and really tried hard to ignore all the anxiety. 

This was quite the change from my first pregnancy in which I just exuded confidence in the whole endeavor. I asked multiple times if I was still OK to be at home. Everything was always all clear on the medical front. 

After sitting there with my healthy baby boy that was born at home in .4 seconds, I remember thinking to myself: I guess I was crazy. All that uneasiness was unnecessary because everything was cool and fairly easy. 

Then my midwife walked in, examined the placenta, and blurted out, "Oh my god you guys. You are incredibly lucky."

Umm what? Not really something you want to hear after you deliver your own baby at home 4 weeks early. What was the deal? 

Basically the umbilical cord inserts oddly into the placenta and it can cause some issues. They can usually see it on the anatomy scan (67% specificity for science nerds). They usually recommend a planned C-section before you can go into labor on your own, because if your water breaks in a certain place, the baby bleeds out. 

According to an article, "Pregnancies complicated with VCI are at greater risk for adverse perinatal outcome (fetal growth restriction, preterm labor, placental abruption, vasa previa, abnormal intrapartum fetal heart rate patterns, low Apgar scores at 1 and 5 minutes, and neonatal death).


The kicker for me was finding out that it is WAY more common in twin pregnancies. So the 20 times I asked EVERYONE if there were any risks associated with the fact that Aleko was originally a twin pregnancy and I was looked at like I was a crazy person. Thanks for that. 

VCI only occurs in 1% of singleton births but up to 15% of twin births. 

So...I wasn't crazy after all. Something was off and I knew it. The problem was, no one else knew it. 

I say it was the scariest thing that never happened. It's weird to hear that it could have been a disaster. For anyone thinking this is proof that no one should deliver a baby at home, even in the hospital VCI can end in death; it's just too fast. This could have (should have?) been picked up on the anatomy scan. If it had been, I would have been transferred out of midwife care. 

At least the midwives got a new toy. They boxed up my placenta in order to freeze it and show it off to everyone. So glad we could offer a teaching moment. 

So guys, as Jewel says...Follow your heart. Your intuition. It will lead you in the right direction. Thanks, Jewel. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014


...Carrot Sticks!

After explaining that I cut the big carrots into strips and we call those carrot sticks, she was still very sad.

Some digging revealed that she thought we were going to eat with CHOPsticks. The confusion had come from two places.

1 - We had checked out a book from the library about the creation of chopsticks

2 - I made the mistake of giving her watermelon "popsicles" which were just slices of watermelon with chopsticks in them.

So, I grabbed some chopsticks...

Crisis averted!

Thursday, June 19, 2014



So Zoe and I were drawing with chalk and I asked her if she wanted to lie down so I could trace her body.

"YES! Let's go. Do it in pink."

So she positioned herself on the driveway and I traced her.

"Do you want to give yourself eyes and hair?"


"What's that?"

"My nose."

"Hair, hair, hair, hair."

"And eyes!"

"Is that your mouth?"

"Ummm. No. That's my other eye."

"Now, it's your turn Mommy!"

So I got down on the driveway and she worked hard to trace me. When I got up, this is what I found!

Apparently my body shape is Minnesota.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Ride the Riverside 2014

Last weekend Yannos and a few of our friends participated in Ride the Riverside for the MS Society. The group on Saturday rode 100 miles and the group on Sunday rode 32 miles. Yannos was the only one crazy enough to ride both days.

The team raised an outstanding $7,307! That truly amazes me. Here are some pictures from the day. I'm unfortunately finding it much harder to take quality pictures with 2 kids. Something about needing my hands free...

It was a gorgeous weekend for chilling at the finish line! 

And climbing poles...

And passing out...

So that's what we were doing while these guys did all the work.

Here are the Saturday boys (minus one rider). 
Unfortunately there was an injury early in the ride that took Justin out of commission. The boys said they were riding for me, but really they were riding for Justin. 

Medals and sore backs!

The tribute to Justin!

Day 1: Max speed of 34mph? You guys obviously didn't see that speed limit sign Zoe was climbing. 

Day 2! 

Haven't seen Greg since our wedding, but MS rides bring people together. 

Looks too easy for Laura :)

Yannos and the skidoos

Hanging out in the tent.

Lexi had to bow out of the ride on Sunday due to asthma, but then we really lost her when the pick up van went the wrong way on the highway.

Yannos said he was worried when he first got back on the bike again on Sunday, but felt completely fine after a few miles.

Next up for team "With Friends Like These..."? Team jerseys.

If anyone knows anything about custom bike jerseys, you let me know.

Thank you to our team and thank you to everyone for all of the support!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Happy Birthday Little Girl!

My first baby turned three and I have some things to share about it.

Her birthdays are totally cursed! On her first birthday, I had to leave the big, amazing party we were having at our house to bring her to the ER for 105 degree fever. Yesterday, on her third birthday, this happened suddenly...

Then this brown disgusting liquid started coming out of her ear and I was totally grossed out. The doctor said she could see us Thursday.

Thanks, but no thanks.

I carried my screaming toddler to the car and woke up Aleko to head to Urgent Care for an ear infection/probable busted ear drum diagnosis and her first ever antibiotic.

That was super fun and all, but my favorite part of her birthday was her reaction to the present we gave her.

So over a year ago, Yannos and I rescued a dollhouse from our neighbor's trash pile and I've been slowly collecting dollhouse furniture from consignment sales for the past two years. Yeah, we're patient around here.

The dollhouse has been sitting in our garage and every now and then Zoe asks if she can play with it. I ignore her completely until she forgets about it. Great, I know.

I was anxious to give it to her, so when she woke up from her nap after her party, I basically ran into her room and yelled about coming downstairs immediately.

When she saw the house she so sweetly said...

Good thing I'm no dummy! I ordered these guys...

They are great because they stand AND sit which is apparently rare in dollhouse world. I was also determined to get a non-white family. 

The baby's name is "Aleko like our baby."

Unfortunately for Zoe, Aleko also took an interest.

This dinosaur is "taking the Pappou to Philadelphia because the dinosaur might be too scary for the two Goldilocks sleeping in the bed."

Duh guys. What dollhouse doesn't have a stegosaurus to ride? 

Check out the deal on past birthdays HERE.