When your baby doesn’t follow the rules

Alternative title: Early Teething Sucks

So my son W (I will never stop grinning when I type that) decided to be all color outside of the lines and got his first tooth at 16 weeks. This is one of those weird moments in parenthood where part of you thinks,”my kid is SO advanced!” and then you realize that your genius kid cut his first too before he is old enough to really have the skill set to cope with it.

This means no good drugs (no motrin for us!) and no swank teethers as W can’t really do fancy things like hold something. He teethed for weeks on his fist and fingers. And he cried. Lots. And he totally freaked out over the pain.

Teething tablets worked well enough, but I wanted W to have something other than his hands (too many moments where he learned about his gag reflex) to gnaw on. But most traditional teethers, the kind that you put in the fridge and then just give to your kid, didn’t work for us because, as I mentioned, holding something for longer than 1 minute was not quite a milestone met.

Then my Mother found something called the Lamaze Flutterbug vibrating teether. I had seen other teethers with vibrating bits- but those seemed to buzz only when the baby bit down in a certain spot.

What I dig about the lamaze teether is that he can gnaw on one side and I can press the other and activate. It is also thinner and easier for a smaller mouth than the “bog boy” teethers. He can only tolerate about 2 minutes of it before he gets distracted, but it does seem to give him some relief.

[This is not a paid review, just a post I am putting out there in case anyone else has an early teether and wants to know what works for us.]

lamaze teether

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I am doing this for Wes

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I came home with a bunch of swag after BlogHer and certainly did not intend to blog about any of it. But some of it was cleaning supplies. And if there is one thing my beloved Wes adores… it is something with which to make the world more sparkly.

He made me PROMISE that I would tell you about this product. And I agreed because he looked really scary when he talked about it. He had that breathless panting demonic look, eyes wide and voice insistent that you MUST understand how gross something was until this product came along and SOLVED ALL THE WORLD’S PROBLEMS.

Apparently this fur fighter thing cleared off two years worth of hair that had been hiding in the womb chair. And by hiding, I mean he has cleaned it with the vacuum, the sticky roller thing one uses on clothes, and a special microfiber sponge intended for the same purpose. None came close to removing so much hidden hair.  And he made a big, loud, breathless point of telling me that most of it was not pet hair but MY HAIR. Thanks so much, dear.

Anyway, it apparently works well on upholstery. Wes says so.

A Book Review, With an Assignment

This is a guest post written by the brilliant woman behind Arcane Matters. If you would like to write a guest post let me know!

In The Heart of the Canyon
Elisabeth Hyde


I am a big, big fan of those adventures-gone-wrong movies, like River Wild and such, so I was naturally drawn to In The Heart of the Canyon.

With apologies to the late great Estelle Getty, picture this: A rag-tag group of adventure seekers and three experienced guides spend two weeks on three rafts risking life and limb as the careen through white water rapids. There is a family of four; a mother and her sarcastic high school daughter; a single man looking for some river action; an elderly couple back for something like their twentieth (and last) river run trip; an annoying picture-taking know-it-all boor and his suffering wife and, finally, a brainy and quiet college professor. Then there’s the guides: JT, who is leading his 125th run; Dixie and Abo. Oh, the possibilities! The personality clashes; the chance for madness and mayhem and mischief. I started this book with such high hopes.

I finished the book pretty quickly, but not because it was un-putdownable, mainly because I was hoping to getting closer to What Goes Wrong. The entire book, I waited for a bunch of jewel thieves to show up and hijack the boats, taking all as prisoners. Or for the group to take a hike and get stranded in a deep dark cave. Or for a maniacal escaped-from-jail serial killer to stalk the group. But this book is much more subtle that that. The traumas are more emotional than physical, and the lion’s share of the action is of the internal variety. Instead of thieves and scary caves and marauders, we are dealing with even scarier things: crumbling marriages; broken hearts; facing the end of life; dealing with Alzheimer’s; being an overweight teenager in a viscous high school world. Scary stuff, indeed.

The writing is not nearly sublime enough to be of the literary variety, but isn’t fluffy enough to be a guilty pleasure either. It exists somewhere in the middle. Some of the river-running details and descriptions of this Grand Canyon read at times like a Wikipedia entry. And all that skipping between characters forced m to consult the front-of-the-book character guide on more than one occasion. What kept me reading was the promise of something going wrong.

Perhaps it was wrong for me to assume that a river adventure must include massive mayhem, but that is what I wanted. Mayhem never really ensued, but there is a little twist, a shocker of a storyline that I suspect the author wanted to take us by surprise, to make our jaws drop open and our minds race with thoughts of “Now what?!” The thing is, though, I figured out what the twist was in the very beginning of the book, and the many, many dropped hints scattered throughout only supported my early conclusion and made the writing seem contrived. Those hints stuck out like sore thumbs, and it all felt so cheap. Am I especially astute? Or is the writing especially flawed? You decide, and if you do read it, tell me exactly the page you figured out the shocking twist. I have a feeling it was probably very early in the book.

Research Revolution!

This is not a paid review but a pure and simple post of, “Hey! Check this out!”

One of the reasons why I agreed to write some posts for 23andMe was because I found the company and the product to be pretty awesome. Really it is beyond a product, it is a community. And within that community are scientists that are constantly doing more and more genome research. The kind of research that can seriously make a difference.

Right now 23andMe is having a sort of summer contest. Well, calling it a contest sort of makes it a game, but for me it is not a moment of play- it is an opportunity. They are committing their scientists to a specific health issue and they want the community within 23andMe to help them select which issue it will be.

If you have a moment please click here and sign up to vote in the Research Revolution. Then vote for research on Multiple Sclerosis. Setting up an account is FREE, but supporting research to help us better understand MS is priceless to me.

Have I mentioned that my Mother has MS?

She was officially diagnosed during my freshman year at college. It was almost a bit of a relief to actually have the diagnosis because she spent years undergoing tests and studies trying to find out what was wrong. The knowing is, of course bittersweet. You finally have a name for what ails you but there is NOTHING to cure it.

And because MS is so squirrely no two people seem to suffer the same way. The symptoms vary widely from person to person. Here are the biggest symptoms that my Mother deals with daily: fatigue, aphasia, falling down, muscle soreness, depression, narcolepsy, difficulty swallowing. And because it isn’t like an open head wound most people (me included) sometimes forget that she suffers. Daily, Hourly.

This 23andMe revolution is a HUGE deal and it would be beyond amazing if such a great team were able to dedicate their energy to researching Multiple Sclerosis.

(And as a side note, because it is a pretty kick ass deal, you can buy a research version of the dna test for only $99. That deal ends on September 30th.)

When washing your face is pretty much all you can do

I used to love make up. I used to actually WEAR make up. Then my lifestyle became mostly home-bound and wearing make up became something that I only needed to do to leave the house. Once I became pregnant I pretty much stopped wearing make up altogether. No matter what I put on my face, by the time I got to where I was going I had melted it off with my hormone inferno body.

But I have always loved lipstick. And more specifically I have loved red lipstick. The problem with a true red is that an hour after you apply it your lips look weird. Either they are now a faded orange or all the inside color has gone leaving you with an unintentional lip liner look.

I really wanted a red lipstick that went on well, didn’t look like clown lips, and when it faded didn’t leave me with crazy lips.

Recently I watched one of those early morning chat shows that featured a segment that touted make up products that looked good on everyone. Ha! But they showcased this lipstick that everyone on the show was wearing and by jove they all looked really good. And then I saw the packaging of the lipstick and I fell in love.

packaging

I also like the philosophy behind the color. The company’s website states:

…going back to Medieval times,
when full coverage lipstick was considered a sin.
Instead, women used lemons to stimulate the lips and stain them a see through blood red. It looks like you naturally have gorgeous swollen cherry lips.

I wanted those kind of lips! And now…I have them.

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before and after

What is your favorite newly discovered beauty product?

We have a Winner! We have a bonus!

Giveaways are all kinds of exhilarating and fun. Thank you to all that stopped by and entered. Your comments were so touching.

This morning I plugged in information into the  randomizer and it zinged back a winner:

Picture 5So just who is #3? Why that would be Juli. I have sent Juli an e-mail notifying her, but I wanted to share her comment with everyone.

Well, this would be significant for me because I recently lost my father to cancer and cancer is not in our family history. My mother was adopted and is generally healthy but, again, we have no record of her history…so there’s a giant question mark there. As I grow older, and as I watch my son grow, I am learning more about myself and wondering whose traits I have acquired. I am very much like my father in many ways, but my mother and I share some obvious similarities. I would be very curious to see how it all matches up. Depending on how many people the test kit can include, I’d be curious to compare my brother and I as well.
Further, we recently found out our donor has MS. I’ve been screened for it twice with negative results, but I wonder what combination he and I have passed down to Z…

Looks like Juli & her family will really benefit from DNA testing. Congratulations to her!

Ready for the BONUS? Well since so many of you were interested in 23andMe they have decided to extend an offer to you guys. This is really cool.

They are going to offer a discount code good for $50 off one kit to the first ten people who use it in the 23andMe store. The code will expire in two days so act fast!

Code: EUHQXA

Thanks again to all that entered. There are going to be some fun changes on the review blog soon so keep checking back!

Don’t Spit in the Wind. Spit in a tube!

wholekitRecently I have been writing about my experiences with getting my DNA test information from 23andMe.  They sent a test for me, Mother & Grandmother. Three generations of tube spit.

Truth be told it has been emotional and educational. I have learned more about my own genetics than I ever dreamed and it has also brought me closer to both my Mother and Grandmother (in unusual ways). There is something beautifully tangible about being able to log on to a network and see the genetic map of your family looking back at you. Even more valuable has been the community within 23andMe. Everyone there is just as curious about what makes them tick as I am. It is a whole new frontier.

The fantastic thing is that now ONE OF YOU will get to know what it is like to be a part of the 23andMe community. That’s right it’s a giveaway!! 23andMe is going to give a free DNA test to one of my readers. (That’s a $399 value that includes access to detailed information about your traits, family background and health predispositions.)

So here is how we are going to do it: Leave a comment answering the following question: How and why would winning DNA testing be significant for you?

I will do a random drawing to select the winner (via randomizer.org). The contest is open to legal residents of the USA, ages 18 or older and the winner is responsible for any applicable taxes.

For a complete list of rules go here: https://www.23andme.com/bloggergiveawayofficialrules/

Comments will close at midnight (EST), June 29th.  PLEASE make sure you double check your e-mail addy so I can contact you if you are the winner.

My Grandmother’s Check List

Convincing an 87 year old woman to spit into a tube might seem like a daunting task, but my Grandmother loved it. Sure it took her the better part of a morning to fill the tube and she somehow managed to do it an the most lady-like of ways, but she embraced the “assignment” with as much vigor as she could. You see my Grandmother is an awesome marriage of two kinds of geek: ancestry geek and science geek. When I told her that I wanted her to spit in a tube so that we could compare all of our DNA and learn about our family’s history THROUGH science she was thrilled.

But here is also where I tell you that my Grandmother has been battling Alzheimer’s for over seven years. And this is also where I share that it is a giant fear of both my Mother and myself that we will one day face our own battle with this horrible disease. In her lucid moments (and she was absolutely lucid the day we explained what 23andMe is and how she could participate) she also worries about what health ailments will be carried on. When speaking of her Alzheimer’s she is sad and angry.

When we got GM’s genotype results back Mother and I examined them differently than we examined our own results. For starters one of the main reasons why Mother and I were so keen on finding out so much information was so that we could begin preventative care where we saw necessary. We could research and study and be on the look out. In terms of GM’s results it was a bit of a check list, and possibly our way of verifying how “accurate” results could be.

Now I say “accurate” because just because your genes reveal a predisposition does not make it an actuality. But that is sort of what Mother and I were looking for. Just what did GM have in her genes and what, at 87, did she end up having to deal with.

The first thing we read were GM’s disease risks, and this is pretty interesting, of the two disease risks indicated GM has neither. HOWEVER, her children do. Within her traits we found several items that were absolutely true: GM does have brown eyes and she does have amazing muscle performance. The biggest, “oh wow she SO has that” moment was when we saw that GM was at a very elevated risk for ulcerative colitis. In fact GM did suffer with a very rare kind of colitis. It nearly killed her as it took YEARS to be diagnosed.

It was seeing that elevated risk that made Mother and I appreciate 23andMe more than we thought we could. If only…if only we had access to this information a decade ago. Maybe we could have spared all of the horrible years of pain and discomfort that GM faced while searching for her colitis diagnosis.

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A New Generation of Pregnancy

Recently I wrote about the fantastic stretch-marks that I achieved during my pregnancy with W. And really, they were truly fantastic. And when I wrote about them I happened to mention that I obviously was going to get stretch marks because my mother had them during her pregnancy. Well now it turns out that I misspoke and my mother would like me to clarify that she did not get any stretch marks when she was pregnant. In fact she had a very easy and mellow pregnancy with me. It feels a bit weird that I just assumed that my experience with pregnancy would be a mirror to that of my mother’s experience. Isn’t that how it is supposed to go? Aren’t we just following in the same path?

I went back to my genome results from 23andMe, this is something that I find myself doing more and more as there is always something new to see, or a new survey to complete. I dove into the health and traits section that is specifically geared towards pregnancy and went through each trait comparing and contrasting my data with the data available based on the tests of both my Mother and Grandmother. You would think that we would be, at the very least, somewhat similar, but it turns out, when it comes to our DNA we are pretty different.

The largest genotype discrepancy happens to fall within two biggies of the pregnancy health world: pre-eclampsia and something iI had never heard of before, intrahepatic cholestasis.

Pre-eclampsia was something that I was anxious about during my pregnancy. I knew of several women that had developed it and all had to deliver earlier than they would have liked. I knew it was serious. Big time.

And wouldn’t you know that at my very first official OB appointment I had high blood pressure and was then flagged to watch for pre-e for my entire pregnancy. It seemed like at every appointment there was something of a warning. Early on set of edema around month five. High levels of protein in my urine around month 6. Every week that I went in I braced myself for the words, “you have pre-eclampsia we have to deliver NOW.”

Thankfully I never heard those words and was able to carry my son to term (and then some), but my anxiety about pre-e was always there. And oddly enough it was there without any sort of familial tip off that it should be. My Mother didn’t have any issues, nor did my Grandmother. And now that I am looking back at my genotype results and what sort of things I am at higher odds for I feel incredibly validated.

There, in the mix of health traits and risks, is something that us utterly unique to MY DNA: I have a G at a specific marker where my Mother and Grandmother have an A. That G simply means that I have a substantially higher risk for developing early on-set HELLP (pre-eclampsia). And while I did not have an actual, official diagnosis during my pregnancy my body certainly behaved like it was going there.

I wish I had these results before I became pregnant. In a weird way I feel like it would have comforted me, or at the very least it would have made me feel less shy about calling in to the OB’s office with complaints about my edema. Having a predisposition does not make it an actuality, but it totally makes it something to be on the look out for. I have to wonder if my earlier anxiety about pre-eclampsia was there because my body knew before my mind did that it could happen.

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