Archive | July, 2010

The Power of Nursing

29 Jul

For me, nursing was a no brainer.Not only was it the best for Baby R, but it was free and I got bigger boobs! My husband was all for it especially with those results. But on a deeper level, it was something I always knew I would do when the time came. Perhaps it was growing up and listening to my Grandma, the family Nursing Nazi, talk about how great it is for the baby, and bonding etc., or even reading all about the studies that tout the benefits of breastmilk. Whichever it was, I can’t imagine not nursing Baby R. In fact, it’s become so important to me that I find myself advocating it on a regular basis. To me, it’s incredibly selfish not to breastfeed, and it’s really disappointing that more women don’t do it. A few caveat’s though – if you can’t nurse because of adoption, milk supply, defects, etc you’re off the hook. What I’m talking about are women who choose not to because they are lazy, tired, don’t want to ruin their boobs (seriously? after stretching your belly to oblivion?), don’t want to pump at work and otherwise just don’t want to make the effort.

I can’t tell you how many Moms are indifferent to it. You bring a child into the world and your job is to protect him or her as well as nurture yet you don’t breastfeed because it’s a burden on you? How selfish. Breastmilk is the single greatest meal a baby can have. It has vitamins, minerals, fat, proteins, immunity, and everything else a growing and developing baby needs to survive and thrive. Recent studies show that if more women nursed their babies for the first 6 months it would save thousands of lives and billions of dollars. That means that breastmilk is one of the most powerful and beneficial things you can give your baby.  I had a friend once tell me her reasoning for not nursing was because she was tired after delivery, and her milk wasn’t in. Well DUH!! You just pushed a kid the size of a watermelon out of a hole the size of lemon. Of course you’re tired – and you don’t have milk because it doesn’t come in for a days. Babies are born to survive for a few days without lots of food – hence the body produces colostrum – a super rich “pre-milk” to take care of the babe while everyone recovers (or at least tries to !) from the trauma of delivery.

I know I make this sound easy, and it is, to advocate and stand on a soapbox, but the reality of nursing a baby is that it  is not easy. In fact, its one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Babies are born knowing they have to suck, but not necessarily how to suck. Couple that with exhaustion, sleep deprivation, overall moodiness and you have a whopper of a problem.  For me, my Mom was my biggest champion – her help led the lactation consultant to ask me why I was there. For others, such as a dear friend of mine, patience, strong will and her lactation consultant were the key.

I will freely admit, seeing my friends success – even with the hard beginning – has contributed a GREAT deal to my success. Because I saw her doing it, I KNEW I could do it. Perhaps it was competitive, but I look up to my friend and seeing her have a great experience (although not always) was a great lead-in to my own.

Again, I have to stress, breastfeeding is not easy, after childbirth, its one of the hardest things I have ever done. The baby won’t latch, falls asleep, won’t wakeup to feed, no one else can feed him or her, etc. It’s not easy. But it is SO worth it. Baby R has never been sick – and she’s been at daycare since she was 8 weeks because I had to go back to work. She’s growing and growing and growing – she just started cereal a few weeks ago and is fascinated when my husband and I eat. She also loves to “help” feed herself. Usually that means the cereal is in her ear and the spoon becomes a teether, but its great to see her happy and healthy. I’m not insinuating that formula-fed babies are any less happy and healthy, but its a proven fact that breastmilk is best.

Oh – to my sister who is absolutely appalled whenever I nurse Baby R in public – GET OVER IT.

And one final note – my husband –  he bonded with Baby R just fine – they have each other wrapped around their fingers.

Pittsburgh, Primanti Bros, Andy Warhol and PNC Park (sort of)

22 Jul

Let me start off by saying this – I love my sister, I really do, but last weekend was the last time I’m driving to Pittsburgh for the forseeable future. The 4 hour drive took 5 to get there and 6 to get back – not fun!! Luckily, once we got there, compared to DC, Pittsburgh is like a city without traffic! It was great, 10 minutes to downtown and not a traffic jam in sight. Parking was easily found, especially by a shark like myself, and all-in-all we had a great time.

Inititally, I thought it would be a little cooler than DC, but alas it was just as hot! Saturday we headed to The Strip District because I was jonesing for some Primanti Bros (which my sis informs me is pronounced “primmanys” – good to know so I don’t sound like a TOTAL tourist). Let me say this – Primanti’s is one of the best sandwiches I’ve had in a long time. My post last week was true – I do love it. Although their fries, I’m sorry to say aren’t the best. A little too cooked for my taste, and the oil was dirty, but otherwise, delish! We walked around The Strip for a while and went in all the little shops, checked out the TONS of Steelers/Pens/Pirates junk, bought some aviators and lusted after the deli and bakery at Penn Mac.

Later on we went to the Andy Warhol museum – I had no idea he was a Pittsburgh native – and definitely saw some interesting umm, art. I was unaware that you could use jizz to create a painting and have it hung in a museum, or take photos of rolling on a condom, or jacking off on someone, but apparently, if Andy Warhol made it, it counts as museum material. Think I’m kidding? Visit when you’re there – it’s on the 7th floor. Here I was expecting lots of Campbell Soup cans, Marilyn Monroe and the like, but apparently they are elsewhere. Not to say that the museum wasn’t great, it was, but I thought my husband was going to launch out the window at some of the exhibits. Luckily Baby R slept through most of it, or I would have to cover her eyes! There are some amazing self-portraits hanging on the walls, and the history of Warhol (on the ground level) is not to be missed.

Later Saturday we ended up at PNC Park for a tailgate hosted by my sister’s law firm – and wow do Pirates fans put Nat’s fans to shame. The Pirates STINK – and I mean last place in the league stink – and they have for years, but this stadium was FULL . Sold out. Full of people. Having fun. Until Strasburg showed up, the Nat’s were lucky if they filled half the stadium. The tailgate was great – hot but great – my sister’s colleagues were nice, but my sister was kind of a bonehead when she left the hubs and I by ourself while she hung out and played bean bag games with her friends, and passed Baby R around (weird to see a stranger holding your kid, but she seemed ok!), but whatever.

That, however, was not the problem. The problem was Baby R got Heat Exhaustion! Poor little thing. It was SO hot under the tent that even being down to her diaper, and running cool clothes over her didn’t help. As we made our way in to PNC Park, and the air-conditioning of guest relations, woooshh – projectile baby puke everywhere over my shoulder. As I turned her around to see if she was ok, wooosshh again – this time all over me, in my mouth, down my shirt, across my shoes and I was soaked. Soaked. I looked like I had been in a wet t-shirt contest except there was breastmilk everywhere and it was not nearly as sexy. Needless to say we turned around and headed home, Baby R puking all the way. What started out as a fun evening, got a little hairy – luckily Baby R was ok once we got her inside, but it was a little nerve-racking for a few moments. So I brought her in the shower with me, cleaned us off (she’s a slippery little sucker!) and we were in bed by 10. What an exciting evening!

Sunday was much more low-key as we ate at Fatheads – oh my heavens – I had a burger with a pierogi on top. Enough said! And took some photos up on Mt. Washington before we headed home. Mt. Washington was great because the photos we took a little over a year ago there I was 8 weeks pregnant, and with these photos Olivia is with us on the outside! So all-in-all we had a great time, but between the looong car rides, puking baby and general crazyness that is our family, I’m not sure how excited my sister will be the next time we say we are coming to visit!

Pool Accessibility and Compromise

20 Jul

After a whirl-wind weekend, I’ve finally got some time to update everyone on what happened when I met with Alexandria City last week!  Baby R is sleeping, hubby is out and I’ve got some peace and quiet! Well at least the peace part – Baby R sounds like Darth Vader right now.

Thursday night, I spoke with Ralph Baird the Aquatics Director for the City of Alexandria and we had a frank talk, not only about the accessibility to patrons, but about the attitude of the lifeguards. As I suspected, the snarky comment from the lifeguard – who chose to speak out, but not release his name (wimp) – was NOT the view of the city, and is not supported by the city. But on to bigger and better things – COMPROMISE!

Ralph and I discussed the situation and I expressed my concern about the difficulties accessing the pool. He appreciated my dilema and mentioned some options. One was to have some other Moms staff the gate for those who need the gate unlocked, but unfortunately neither of us knew if there were a group of local Moms who spent the days sitting at the pool who would be willing to take on the task. So onwards and upwards! Ralph was not comfortable leaving the gate unlocked, but NOT because people would walk in without paying, but because kids might get out and that would not be good for anyone. My thought is that parents should be watching their children, it’s their responsibility not the City’s, but I can certainly stand behind a policy that takes the safety of kids into account. So after a few rounds, we finally decided on a doorbell. This would allow those of us who need to use a gate to have it opened when needed, but still keep everyone safely inside the pool area. And omit yelling for help.

While the gate isn’t unlocked, I am very thankful that the City took the time to address the issue, discuss options and agree on a solution that helps everyone. Ralph emailed Friday and said the doorbell he had picked up wasn’t working well past 50 feet, but that he would keep trying until the situation was taken of.

I can’t thank the City enough for working with me, and responding to my concerns. This is a prime example of how social media, coupled with community activism  and the desire for a positive outcome can all come together for the greater good. The gate might not be open – my original desire – but the pool is now (or will be when the doorbell is installed) accessible for not only those with strollers, but for handicap individuals (no more discrimination!) and those who can’t monkey with the steps. As I said before, I love living in the City of Alexandria, and I can’t wait to head to the pool and ring the bell!

On a side note, I was given Ralph’s cell phone, and given instructions to take a picture of any lifeguard or cashier who was NOT professional/appropriate and send it to him for accountability. Moral of the story? The squeaky wheel gets the grease, you get more with honey than vinegar, and politeness/professionalism is always important.

Primanti Brothers

14 Jul

I love Primanti Bros and I haven’t even been there yet. I know, I know – how I can love a place I’ve never even eaten at?! How? Because I love french fries on sandwiches. And Primanti’s is famous for their french fries-stuffed sandwiches.

I discovered this amazing – yet highly fattening – delectible way to use french fries when I lived in Aix-en-Provence and all of the street cart sandwiches were made this way. I was in heaven everytime I ordered lunch and watched the woman stuff it with fries. Since it’s been, oh about 8 years since my last visit to Aix, I haven’t had a french fry stuffed sandwich since 2002. I have tried and tried to find such a place in the States with no luck – until now.

I first learned about Primanti Bros on the Travel Channel (I am obsessed) and now that I have family in Pittsburgh it makes my mouth water just to think about visiting. So visiting I will go, and Primanti’s I will eat and Primanti’s I will love. Not only will I love Primanti Bros – and I am headed to the original spot on The Strip – I will enjoy and savor every bite of the steak sandwich I will get. Yes, I have been reading the menu for the past few days,  and have already narrowed it down. Seriously – I think I have the website/menu memorized.

This is one of those deep-down gut rumbling feelings where I just know I’m going to love it. So I can’t wait to hit Pittsburgh this weekend. Not only to spend time with family – that is the REAL reason I’m going – Primanti’s is just a little too far to satisfy a craving, but hey since I’ll be there anyways why not go – but to also try out this amazing french fry stuffing sandwich shop. Whether or not it lives up to my favorite French street carts is another thing entirely, but I have high high hopes.

Pool Accessibility and Missing the Point

8 Jul

While I appreciate both Ralph Baird (Aquatics Director) and Tony Castilli (Director of Communications) taking the time to respond to me, they both missed the point. The point wasn’t to get a form email/comment saying thanks for the concern and we value everyone’s accessibility, please call ahead when you’re coming. The point and issue is the fact that this is an extremely SIMPLE fix. Unlock the gate. You don’t even have to keep it open – just unlock it so that those of us who can’t walk down the stairs can open the gate and walk in just like those who don’t have strollers or wheelchairs can do. I shouldn’t have to call attention to myself (literally) just to get my daughter and myself to the pool. And neither should a handicapped person – that’s just cruel.

There’s no money involved, no monkeying around with facility architecture, and no heavy lift – just unlock the gate. If the lifeguards are that worried about people walking in without paying, then staff a table at that entrance to collect money. The driveway up to the gate is perfectly accessible by those with strollers and those in wheelchairs so to keep the gate off the driveway unlocked is really a no brainer.

I don’t think that the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed so that facilities could just tell patrons to call them ahead of time instead of allowing them to use the facility just as an able-bodied person could. How insensitive of Alexandria and its pool operators.

The secondary issue here is the utter lack of respect that the lifeguards working seem to have for the patrons. Yes, I was not super nice this weekend after I asked, again, why the gate isn’t open – but that’s only because every time I come, and every time I ask I met with major attitude about what an inconvenience it is to the pool staff for them to have the gate unlocked. “People will walk in without paying” and “if you don’t like it, go to another pool” are unacceptable comments. 1. Most people will NOT walk in without paying – that’s not saying much for city residents, and 2. Telling me to go to another pool because I’m asking you to do your job is astonishing.

Again, I cannot believe that Alexandria City has nothing – not one word – to say about the attitude and rudeness of their employees. There are simple fixes to these problems. 1. Unlock the gate (off the driveway, not at the top of the stairs – that would defeat the purpose if the gate unlocked was at the top of a set of stairs) and tell your lifeguards to knock off the attitude. That the pool manager allows this to happen makes it all that much worse.

I love living in Alexandria, the neighborhoods are great, the shopping, restaurants, family-friendly activities (usually), and people make this place a great town to raise a family in – but the response – both the comment in my first post, and the email I received is incredibly disheartening and disappointing. It’s unacceptable to be discriminated against because I’m a Mom, and even more infuriating that the city is seemingly unconcerned about wheelchair access to pool patrons. While I one day will be able to come to the pool without a stroller, that is usually not the case for wheelchair bound people.

Pool Accessibility – Inaccessible is Unacceptable

6 Jul

I admit it, I was not nice this weekend. I was a bit defensive and caustic. But I’m sick of fighting with surly unprofessional lifeguards! I live near a City of Alexandria pool, and visit regularly. It’s close by, the water is clean, and its family friendly. Great, right? Nope. Not only is it not stroller accessible, it’s not handicap accessible. And that is UNACCEPTABLE. In order to get my daughter to the pool, I have to carry her stroller down a flight of steps (with her in it that’s over 45 lbs) or take her out, find a lifeguard to help me carry it down, then figure out how to carry both her and stroller down a flight of steps. The other option is to yell through the fence to a lifeguard, ask them to open the gate and wait and wait and wait for said lifeguard to leave his or her post, find a person with a key and then open the gate. And let me tell you, there is MAJOR attitude when I do this. So I usually strap her in, and try not to dump her over while I haul the stroller down the steps.

So after a few times of doing this, I ask the lifeguards why the gate isn’t open. Their response: people might come in that way and not pay to use the pool. Here’s a novel idea: STAFF A TABLE!! There’s no reason that these lifeguards can’t staff a table to take money from patrons needing to use a gated entrance and not the steps. Not only can I not get to the pool without monkeying with my stroller, there is NO way a handicapped person could get to the pool. The City of Alexandria discriminates (knowingly or unknowingly) against families and handicapped people by allowing this to happen. This is against the law! The Americans With Disabilities Act prevents such discrimination.

Mind you, there are 9 lifeguards on duty at any given time. 3 watch the pool, and the other 6 sit at a table and gossip and complain about things. So because they are too lazy, and incompetent I have to struggle to get my daughter to the pool and a handicapped person would really have to make an effort. It’s not fair to discriminate against someone because your workers are lazy. The gate should be open so that people can enjoy the pool without calling attention to themselves.

Want to know the coup de grace moment? I was told that if I didn’t like it (meaning their lazy butts weren’t going to open the gate) that I could “GO TO ANOTHER POOL”. Who does that? Seriously!! I was so pissed about this, that it still makes my blood boil. Not only was this lifeguard completely rude and out of line (I was not that obtrusive to him) his BOSS was RIGHT THERE – and agreed with him. The quality of these employees hired by Alexandria City astonishes me.

I emailed the City of Alexandria’s Director of Aquatics, Ralph Baird earlier today and am very curious to know of his response.

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