Thursday, January 26, 2006

Pull Up the Covers, Your Cellphone Is Ringing - New York Times

It sounds like Stephen King has the right idea.

His latest book, Cell sounds like a must read for me. Not that I hate cellphones, I have... um, two, actually... but I would like to be the person who could control a pulse that emanates from a cellphone and controls the person's behavior. I wouldn't use it for evil though. It would just be a little jolt of pain when someone was being rude on their phone... okay, back to reality (and work).

Monday, January 23, 2006

Mobile phones: The end of society as we know it

Wired News: How to Squelch Your Inner Jackass is a very satisfying rant about mobile phones and how to use them. As I write this, I have someone standing next to my desk having a loud mobile phone conversation in Danish (to add insult to injury, I can't even earjack!). Grr.

Here is the list of "niceties" the author suggests. I actually disagree with the one about the ringtones. The theme to Alias may be inane, but it makes me feel like a secret agent.
  • Don't use your phone in obvious situations where your one-sided conversation can only be disruptive: at the movies, at a concert, in a public auditorium, on an elevator, in a crowded waiting room, etc. I would add city buses to the list, but those are already rolling prison yards for the most part. Use your phone if you must, but use at your own peril.
  • If you're in the middle of a face-to-face conversation with someone, don't take a phone call. It's disrespectful. You can go on the theory that if the incoming call is important enough, the caller will leave you a message. You can then return said call at a more convenient moment, and nobody is offended.
  • If you're expecting an important call and somebody stops by to chat you up, let your buddy know that you might have to take a call. That's fair.
  • Ditch the ring tone and put the phone on vibrate. The only person who cares about an incoming call on your phone is you. Don't worry, you'll feel it. (It feels go-o-o-od.) Most ring tones are not only intrusive, they're inane.
  • Don't have emotional phone conversations in my face. In other words, don't break up with your boyfriend publicly. (Besides, we can't see him and being able to see his reaction is half the fun.) Wait until you get home and then toss his sorry ass out the door.
  • Don't talk on the phone while you're grocery shopping. For whatever reason, the acoustics of a shopping aisle seem to amplify your voice. Also, talking on the phone tends to distract you from what's going on in your immediate vicinity and I need to get around you to reach the Cocoa Puffs.
  • When you're in my cafe, turn off your phone and don't use it at all.
  • Personal note to my son: Using part of a rap song as a voicemail greeting, where the only intelligible words are "bitch" and "fuckah," is not a felicitous way of welcoming an incoming caller. While your friends may find this the height of wit, your employer and professors and parole officer almost certainly will not.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Personal Choice

Today is the 33rd anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade and I've signed up to blog for choice. I've been thinking for the past week about what to write, and I decided to get personal. I've been pregnant three times in my life and I made three different choices.

The first time was when I was 19 and a freshman in college. I came very close to having an abortion, but my mother talked me out of it. Before the baby was born, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Shortly after the birth, she died. Without the support of my mother I felt I couldn't raise a child and I gave him up for adoption. That was the hardest and most painful decision of my life.

Two years later, when I was 21 and engaged to be married, I found out I was pregnant again. I think on some level I knew what a horrible mistake I was making to marry that man. I just knew that neither he nor I were ready for a child. He was very excited about the news and we fought bitterly about my decision to terminate the pregnancy. The marriage ended badly a year later and I have never second guessed the choice I made to have that abortion. I know I did the right thing.

Now I'm 40, married to the love of my life and have the most beautiful 8 month baby. I am blessed to have this family. But I wouldn't be here if I hadn't made the choices I've made in my life. Personally, I can't think of anything worse than feeling like you're in a situation where you don't have a choice.

One of the great things about Denmark is that I don't hear about "Pro-Life" here. This is the most family oriented place I've ever seen, yet no one questions that a woman can choose what she wants to do with her body. Choosing a name for your baby is more restricted than deciding whether or not to have that baby!

Don't let the choice be taken away in America! This is an ongoing fight that has to be taken. Sign petitions at Planned Parenthood and Campus Progress. See how else you can get involved at Planned Parenthood. Read more about the issue at Guy2K and capitolette, who has also blogged for choice.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Royal baby

The TV here has been taken over by the live broadcase of little 3 month old Prince Christian's baptism. The little prince was born on October 15, 2005, but this is first time that his name was announced. This is not entirely uncommon here in Denmark, and I find it a little strange... for example, I knew what we were calling Emma from the time we found out it was a girl (because she's named after my late mother) but they wouldn't refer to as another other than Kaae, Pige (girl) in the hospital.

Baptisms are a big deal here in Denmark. Emma didn't have one because I felt that it would be hypocritical on my part, but we still had to register her birth with the church. We also pay a parish tax... I find this hard to accept as an American... Yet another thing (but certainly not the last thing) that's hard to accept is only first names approved by the government can be used. This is a quote from the Information for new members of Danish society web site:

"You are not allowed to give your children a first name that could be to their disadvance and expose them to teasing by others. The Danish Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs (Kirkeministeriet) has published an official circular listing all the approved names. The list can be downloaded from the Ministry’s homepage.You must apply to the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs (via your parish office) for permission to give your child a name not included in the circular."

This is why everyone has the same name in Denmark... but there is a stipulation which could be helpful, considering a number of names on the top 100 baby names in the U.S. are not allowed in Denmark:

"Any parent who is or has been a subject of another country is entitled to give his or her child a name that is not approved in Denmark, provided that it is a common first name in the home country of one or both of the parents."

"Subject of another country" "Crown prince" "parish tax"... I'm not in Kansas anymore...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Easing the guilt

Another great idea by working mothers. Why not have office space at the day care? That's exactly what they'll be doing in Copenhagen. (Mathilde and Magnus?! Mmm)

You would think in this family friendly country I live that the family friendly (toy) company my husband and I work for would have day care on premise. They do in their U.S. offices, but not here. Instead we're looking to move to the little podunk town where the company is located. I guess it doesn't really matter... the population of this entire country is less than the city (NYC) I moved here from...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Definitely NOT

...Pregnant, that is. Again.

I was so ambivalent before getting pregnant with Emma. I went off the pill in August 2003. Of course for the first few months if I was an hour late I thought I was pregnant. But it died down. I think it was May when I started thinking, "shouldn't I be getting pregnant by now?" It was summer when I bought ovulation tests, and I ended up returning them because I found out I was pregnant at the end of August 2005. I had just started to think about it, so I was shocked. I took 3 pregnancy tests, thinking there had to be a mistake. Then the euphoria set in and it hasn't quite left.

At some point during my pregnancy I knew I wanted two children. And since I was 39 when I gave birth to Emma, I knew the second would have to follow closely. I talked about timing with my doctor and she suggested that we start trying again at 6 months. We stopped using birth control at 4 months... I was still breast feeding, but started using the ovulation tests. I had also heard that a woman is more fertile after giving birth. I was reading all these stories about women who accidentally got pregnant a few months after giving birth. I just found out one of the mothers in my mother's group is pregnant again last week... Without meaning to be... But she's not 40. Bitch.

Saying I want another child just doesn't do this feeling justice. I believe that it is my destiny to have another child. I am obsessed with having another child. I will be heartbroken in an epic way if I don't have another child...NOW.

So now I have another month of trying. I remember hearing a friend complain about this and thinking, lots of sex? Great! You'd think it would be fun, right? It just ends up being stressful.

This is exactly where I tried not to be: desperate to get pregnant. I know, if it doesn't happen I have a great, wonderful, beautiful daughter and I am blessed. But I know it's my destiny to have two wonderful, beautiful children. I just know it is.

Signs of a bad nanny or babysitter

BabyCenter has a good article listing signs of a bad nanny or babysitter. Luckily, Emma has a good day care mother (direct translation from Danish) that she is very fond of... in fact, sometimes too fond of, it sometimes makes me a little jealous. Like this morning, when Emma could care less that I was dropping her off for the day.

We manage to communicate well despite the fact that she doesn't speak English and my Danish skills are rubbish.

There's enough mommy guilt to be had without worrying about bad care givers.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Information on SIDS

When I was 19, my mother volunteered to babysit her friend's three small children for a week. It was the first vacation for the parents in many years and they jumped at the chance. The youngest child was a six month old baby named Jordan. I had less than no interest in babies at that point in my life and my mother thought she would remedy that by leaving me to care for Jordan at every possible chance. As beautiful six month old babies are wont to do, he won me over by the time the week was out.

A few weeks later, I'll never forget the date, on March 8, 1985, Jordan died of SIDS. I was devasted and I have been paranoid about SIDS ever since. I found a great post on Daddy*drama's blog about preventing SIDS which includes a great link to a really thorough Pediatrics article.

Emma is sleeping soundly right in her Sleep Sack, on her back, with no toys or pillows in her crib.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Nursing Tips

I see someone else had the same idea and posted some tips for nursing.

Baby Movie

Every Wednesday afternoon, the movie theater here in Kolding has a showing of a current movie specially for mothers with babies. They provide a changing table and microwave just outside the door so you can still see the movie while taking care of those basic needs. I went to a lot of these movies when I was on maternity leave and Emma was smaller. It was the easiest thing to have her sleep in my arms and breastfeed during the movie. I took last Wednesday off last week and went with one of the women in my mother's group (more about that in another post) and realized that Emma is a bit too big and curious for this to be a pleasant outing. The movies start at 11:30 which interrupts her long afternoon nap. At least I thought that's why she didn't sleep, but a tooth did appear on Thursday, so maybe that was why. It gets filed into the "I don't know why my baby did that" category.

I've seen articles about this gaining popularity in many American cities, so it's not just a European phenomenon. I loved it when Emma was very small, it was easy to take her and I got to get out of the house. I definitely plan on doing this again with the next one (more about that in another post).

Friday, January 13, 2006

Tooth #3

Emma just cut her third tooth. The first bottom two came at the beginning of October and although we repeatedly think she is teething this is the first sign of anything new. She is such an easy baby. I've heard horror stories about teething babies, but she had a day of being a little off and a night or two of restless sleep and it was done.

The odd thing is it's her top eye tooth, not the front tooth. Is that strange?

Ut oh. I just read the ADA's page on teething. We've been brushing Emma's two little teeth with toothpaste. I guess we should stop that...

Sunday, January 08, 2006


I am a product junkie, there is no doubt about that. The new focus of my mania for finding the newest and best (and most expensive) is the wonderful world of baby products, of course. Where are the cutest clothes? What are the best feeding accessories? What can I buy to make her sleep at night? I am constantly surfing the web for the latest and greatest from America and making my friends and family ship it to me (Thank you by the way).

This handy thing, the HandySitt, is actually made here in Denmark. Not just anywhere in Denmark even, but in Billund the small town where I work. We used this for the first time yesterday at my in-laws house and it is the best thing to travel with because of how flat it folds. It's very light and it hooks on to any normal chair. It's much better than lugging around our Ikea ANTILOP high chair, which is a great value by the way. It's under $20 (or 95 dkk) and I like it better than our fancy Tripp trapp (or KinderZeat)--at least right now.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Rice Porridge Recipe

Here are some recipes for homemade rice porridge, which you can start feeding your baby at 4 months. Of course, the standard advice is to wait to introduce solids until six months if you're breast feeding. But you'll know if your baby needs to eat.

"They" say that feeding a baby doesn't help her sleep through the night. All I can say is that my little angel stopped waking up every two hours when I started feeding her rice porridge during the day.

The thin porridge can be given in a bottle. I could never give this to Emma because she absolutely refused to take a bottle.

Thin Porridge (grød in Danish)
1 cup of water
2 tsp corn flour or rice flour
1 cup of formula or breast milk
-Let the flour and water boil for 1-2 min. Let cool to room temperature and add formula.

Regular Porridge (to feed with a spoon)
1/2 cup of formula or breast milk
1/2 cup of cold water
2 1/2 tbsp of corn or rice flour
1 tsp butter
-Bring the flour, formula and water boil and reduce heat. Cook for 2½ min and remove from heat. Add butter and let cool to room temperature.

The butter is actually quite important. I can't remember where I read that normal fat in a baby's diet helps their brain develop. Normal fat meaning a baby SHOULD NOT be on a low fat diet like the mommy who is trying to lose those last 10 lbs from pregnancy that just won't come off.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Big Babyitis

I'm here to add to the mountains of information that's on the web about babies. Not that I have all the answers, oh, goodness no. But having eight months of parent experience I think makes me an expert. Not just on the past eight months, I have plenty to say about the next 20 years.

I do spend a lot of time hunting for answers to my burning baby questions online--and only sometimes finding them. I read a few baby blogs as well, and sometimes can relate to them. I have a tendency to read American web sites and blogs, since I'm American... but I live in Denmark and that just opens a whole new can of baby worms.

My husband is Danish, and has Viking blood running through his veins. I'm no petite flower and we have produced a very large (and beautiful) baby girl named Emma who was born on May 1, 2005. I named her after my late mother but lucky us, it happens to be the number one baby name of 2005 according to BabyCenter's Top 100 names of 2005. Emma was 10lbs 3oz, or 4670 grams as they told me here in metric land (I hate doing math). According to my BabyWeekly newsletter, "At eight months old, babies usually range from 25.25 inches long and 15.25 pounds (10th percentile) to 28.5 inches long and 20.5 pounds (90th percentile)." Emma is 30.3 inches (77 centimeters) and 20.9 pounds (9.5 kilos). So what percentile is that? (I just said I hate doing math)

Needless to say, she eats a lot. This was the last day of our Christmas holiday from work and I spent almost the entire day making baby food. While I was on maternity leave, I made all the food we fed her and I can't bring myself to commit to buying baby food in jars. I have no idea why I'm like this. I'm not crunchy by any stretch of the imagination. I certainly have no crazy ideas about making her clothes or anything like that... but I keep making baby food. I also can't quite bring myself to wean her, but that's a whole other story for another blog...

So baby food recipes was one of the first things I looked for online and was disappointed. I just wanted to know how to make some rice porridge and stew some damn fruit and I couldn't find it anywhere. I finally realized that there are baby food recipes in the back of "What To Expect The First Year". I've moved on to the lentil stew and lentil casserole recipes today. We now have three ice cube trays of this grayish lentil and vegetable paste in our freezer. She seems to like it. She likes it better if I add a little cottage cheese to it. I don't know what I'm going to do as she gets older about food. I find the whole process of feeding her utterly baffling. What kind of nutrition does she need? How do I feed her without giving her the same hang ups about food I have?

Well, it's 8:30 p.m. on a school night, which I'm sorry to say is past my bedtime.


New pictures from Christmas as promised.

Click here to see the pictures.