Archives for the month of: December, 2012
Birthing From Within: An Extra-ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation

Birthing From Within: An Extra-ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation

As much as Worm thinks that his mother and I are each carrying a baby in our bellies, he will see only one infant arriving here shortly.  And even though I may not be delivering a child, it is my fatherly duty to read and learn something about pregnancy, if only to help me cope with my sympathy pains.  Since I’ve only got a couple of weeks before Smush shows up, I thought I’d dust off the old books from our shelf and brush up on how to have a baby again.

I’ve got one word for this book – polarizing.  I liked the book up until the section on fathers.  I almost burned it after that.

The authors, Pam England and Rob Horowitz, give an, ahem, interesting perspective on childbirthing.  The title says it all, the extra-ordinary guide to childbirth preparation.  (For U.S. readers, this book will be considered extra-extra-ordinary.)  Birthing From Within (BFW) is not for everyone.  The litmus test should be the first two reading sections …if you can get through those 75 pages without scratching your head, staring blankly at your privates, or thinking “WTF?”, this book may bring out the repressed version of yourself and cause you to take a closer look.

I enjoy self-help books.  I really do.  BFW definitely falls into that category.  It gives tips and ideas to help a mother-to-be face her fears and learn to accept herself and her state of maternity.  It also tries to empower the pregnant mother by emphasizing that she take a more active role in the whole process.  These are very good things.  Though, the book soured as I flipped further through the pages.  Chapter after chapter, the midwives are glorified and everyone else belittled.  I started the book fairly excited about the art therapy section and exploration of the subconscious mind through drawing or sculpting.  It was the repeated horror stories and badgering of the medical professionals that was undesirable.

The wife and I have had this book since before Worm was born.  Did we read it then?  Nope.  We perused a few pages and were lost in the strange ideas that were being presented.  We felt that Birthing From Within wasn’t what we needed for our first birth.  For our first birth, we wanted details.  We felt that birthing in America required some knowledge of drugs and medical equipment.  We wanted to know all the technical details along with any surgical and non-surgical procedures that the hospital would possibly use on us.  Understanding our environment was of utmost importance.  Therefore, we felt that this book was not quite what we needed.   Do I feel like we need this book now for our second birth?  Some chapters resonate with us now that we have a little more experience.  Steph and I both know a little more about what we are looking for and what to expect.  Having some experience also allows us to weed out the things from BFW that we don’t believe to be valid anymore.  (Some of the data is 20 years old.)   Should the birthing experience value the mother as much as the baby?  Yes.  We agree with England and Horowitz.  Should the husband be a wallflower during the birth?  No, we vehemently disagree.  Are there doctors and nurses out there that will continue to push drugs and medical procedures upon a laboring mother?  Yes, but not all of them are interested in intervening during labor.  Are midwives helpful during labor and delivery?  Yes!  But, so are husbands, fathers, doctors, nurses, doulas, friends, and family.   The birth experience should involve those people that support the mother and give her strength without taking away from her focus.  Period.

Birthing From Within is a one-sided view of what a woman’s birth experience should be like and what players should be involved.  Some of the ideas are great, but others may not be as helpful.  But as there are many women in the world, so too are there books on the ‘right’ way to birth.  This book will agree with some women, but it’s strong stance makes it somewhat biased and will turn many women (and couples) off.


4_worm_ratingOverall Rating:  4 Worms

Readability:  5 Worms

Usefulness:  4 Worms

Manliness:  3 Worms  (The section on fathers makes us out to be more harmful than helpful in the delivery room.)

Retail Price:  $19.95


Pros: Tries to engage mothers to take an active role in their birth experience.  Works on bringing up subconscious issues about pregnancy and birth to the mother’s awareness before labor and delivery to remove any mental and emotional roadblocks that may hinder birth.  Takes a more spiritual approach rather than a technical approach to childbirth.  The section “Birthing Through Pain” is excellent.

Cons: This book is mainly focused on using art to address underlying concerns about birthing.  Lots of negative experiences are used in the book as examples.  There’s a negative tone about men “helping” in the delivery room.  It paints a picture that men should only pat their wife’s head and whisper reassurances about how well she is doing…and that more than that will probably hinder the birthing experience.  There is a lot of bashing in this book of Western medical professionals as well.  (I admit that I experienced quite a few of the bad things that hospitals add to the birth process, but some of my friends have had great experiences with doctors and nurses.)  It is a very opinionated book and some of the data presented has since changed.

Things I would modify:  Add more recent birthing data.  Add more positive birth stories.  Reflect multiple birth stories from various points of view.  Respect that fathers (and husbands) are sometimes a mother’s most intimate confidant and that they may be willing to fully submerge themselves in the birth experience, rather than being there just to hold back mother’s hair in the delivery room.

Badger Basket Covered Convertible Cedar Sandbox With Two Bench Seats

Badger Basket Covered Convertible Cedar Sandbox With Two Bench Seats

Whoa, what a long name!  I got the Badger Basket (<–Brand) Covered Convertible Cedar Sandbox With Two Bench Seats (<–Description) as a Christmas gift from Uncle Faldo.  He figured that since our little badger Worm liked to dig in the sand, a box would be suitable to both encourage and contain his excavating activity.  The package came partially assembled with a bag of 50 screws, yes 50.  Though, you should be able to put it together in about 20 minutes using a Phillips screwdriver and a couple extra biceps.  I’m telling you now so you’re not surprised, the sandbox doesn’t come with sand.  So you either have to grind down some local rocks and coral or steal a couple buckets worth from the closest beach.

The Badger Basket Cedar sandbox is made from, well, cedar!  Cedar wood is great for use outdoors because of its bacterial and fungal resistance.  (And you thought your grandmother’s cedar toilet seat was just tacky…little did you know it served a higher purpose!)  Cedar is also unpalatable to many insects.  Therefore, it should last a quite a while outdoors.  Worm hasn’t started to use his sandbox yet, since it has been a bit chilly here.  I will break it out in the next few months and let time tell us how long it survives in the California sun.

The enclosed instructions are fairly straightforward, but the writing isn’t as clear as it could be for the normal person (for example, instead of writing “20 – 50mm screws”, you get a bunch of symbols and strange technical notation).  I also think it would have been nice to have the screws sorted into separately labeled bags, but maybe the profit margin would have been destroyed with two extra plastic bags on the bill of materials.  Although this is our first sandbox, I feel that the build quality of this cedar sandbox is pretty poor.  For the price, I would expect that durable screws and hinges would be used.  This sandbox provides neither.  The screws are such low quality that I had one break while slowly screwing it into the pre-drilled hole.  The hinges that flap open the box are extremely low quality and will bend upon installation.  I would expect these issues on a sandbox 1/3 the price, not on something in this price range.  The idea of Worm delicately opening and closing anything in our house is probably about 17 years away…and hopefully by that time, he won’t be still living off of us and not paying rent playing in our sandbox anymore!

Right out of the shipping package, the Badger Basket sandbox comes partially assembled.  The six hinges are installed on one side of the unit.  Some of the wood slats are already screwed into place.  On my unit, 4 of the pre-assembled wood plank screws were stripped and 8 of the pre-assembled hinge screws were stripped.  Obviously, someone was using a power drill in the warehouse and was either nursing a hangover during my poor sandbox’s assembly or he was letting the shop dog hold the drill.  (I’m all for putting animals to work, but sometime the lack of opposable thumbs make for manufacturing quality control issues.)

Overall, this is a very nice looking sandbox.  The parts could definitely be higher durability, especially at this price range.  I like the fact that it is made of wood and my backyard won’t completely look like an extension of Worm’s toy closet.  It’s big enough (46.5 inches L x 46.5 inches W x 9.5 inches H) for both him and Smush to sit and play for hours (should she be forced to wish to spend quality time with her big brother).  The lid will be useful in keeping the neighborhood cats from using it as their community litter box.  I’m looking forward to Worm getting a lot of use out of this sandbox and I only hope it’s up to the challenge of being beaten, dragged, kicked and stomped on.

This will be an ongoing review.  Updates will be added later.


Overall Rating:  5 Worms

Ease of Use: 7 Worms  (Easy to open and close.)

Performance:  _ Worms  (I attribute this to quality and I haven’t gotten enough use out of it to rate.)

Features:  5 Worms  (At this price, I would expect either more features or better parts.  I got neither.)

Durability:  3 Worms  (Hardware was cheap and flimsy.)

Manliness:  8 Worms  (I felt pretty manly putting it together!)

Retail Price:  $159.99



Very nice looking.  The benches support 200 lbs.  I’ve checked it with my 160 lb body and it really seems sturdy.


Cheap hardware included.  Poor pre-assembly at the manufacturer.  (Update April 2013:  2 months after being outside, the hardware is starting to rust.  I live in San Diego, so we don’t get much rain.  The hardware is also beginning to bend with the repeated opening and closing of the top.)

Things I would modify:

Better screws.  Better hinges.

Where to find:

Badger Basket Website – Cedar Sandbox

So, I’m driving my truck to the middle of nowhere to save myself  from the total annihilation of the earth today and I see this huge lifeform laser-beam-eye-blasting trucks out in the desert.  Something seemed out of the ordinary, and I thought to myself “Hey, maybe this guy is the one that was sent to end the world today.”

So I go up to take a closer look at him and he’s giggling like a baby and setting a couple of classic Toyota trucks ablaze.  Fearful that my old Toyota was going to be next, I grab my little portable back massager tool that doubles as a dog toy that doubles as a weapon.  (Yes, it’s that utilitarian.  I put it in weapon mode as I approached the monster.)

“What do you think you’re doing?”  I ask him…and the rest is in the image below.


I was able to get a good picture of the whole situation right before I put a stop to it with my quick wit.  (I also thought it would be nice to upload a picture to Facebook for posterity purposes.  It’s not every day that an apocalypse happens.)

Before you get too critical, I did photoshop this “End of the World” picture.  But all I did was add our conversation.  Everything else is legitimate and real!  (Yes, my dog is really standing in the path of destruction and looking fierce in a teal fleece sweater!)

So, if you think that the world wasn’t going to end today, YOU WERE WRONG!  I stopped it.  I’m not looking for any rewards or anything.  Just add Me vs. Gavin to your list of other daily timewasters.

I don’t want to write anything funny today. I can’t. Over the weekend, I took my Land Cruiser out to the desert to clear my mind, but the pressure in my head still hasn’t let up since Friday morning. The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School swirls inside me and I cry for the lives lost and the suffering family members left behind. My brain hurts. My body hurts. My heart hurts. Maybe Worm sensed it because this morning he doubled his affection towards me.

It’s a tragedy.  And this week, parents are burying children that didn’t deserve to die. Children that had so much life and so much potential that will forever lay dormant. As a father, It’s difficult to imagine having to bury my own child. I can’t even fathom the pain these parents must feel. It breaks my heart to think about it. This gunman could have meted out his fury anywhere in the country. The next gunman could mimic this monstrosity in my own town. Am I naive enough to think it could never happen to my family? No. So when I hug and kiss my son, I do so with all of myself, because in an instant he or I could be gone.

I have hope that America will change. We need to find value in ourselves and value in others. We must. Otherwise, we will continue to destroy each other. I have hope that one day our anger, hatred, and fears will be overcome by our desire to love. And until that happens, I can only believe in the future of humanity and the idea that people are inherently decent and good. Until that happens, I can only show the people around me that I love and cherish them. And that starts with my family. If we parents don’t show our children love, how can they love themselves? If we don’t teach our children how to love and support one another, how can they grow up to value human life? If we don’t teach our children these fundamental concepts of the human condition, they are emotionally and mentally lost. Lanza was lost.

I’m saddened by the events that transpired on Friday, December 14th. I wish we didn’t have to sacrifice so many lives in order to allow people to see the true spirit of human kindness, compassion, and love. May those that lost their lives forever find peace.

We cannot change the world without first changing ourselves. As Gandhi best put it, we must “be the change we wish to see in the world.” Unless that happens, we will all be lost.

Related Articles:

Newtown School Mass Shootings: Who or What is to Blame?

The Connecticut school massacre: How the world sees us

In the wise words of Brittany Spears, “Oops, I did it again…”.

I don’t know if I should be embarrassed or angry.  I get it.  It’s the new millenium, the age of feminized men.  Delicate jawed, pouty lipped, long eyelashed men.  Weepy, emotional, does-this-tie-make-my-belly-look-fat, softy men.  At times, I’m that guy.  But I’ve got an excuse.  I’ve got a full-time position as a SAHD and studies have shown that many long term SAHDs suffer from a flip in the testosterone to estrogen ratio.  (Can I claim disability for this?)  Since I didn’t destroy anything, my boss renewed our contract and in January I’ll be put in charge of another underling…with no pay raise!  I’m a little miffed about it and thinking I may go on strike.  Sorry, just venting…now back to our regularly scheduled program.

I’m at the park this morning and I see two children, somewhere between 2 and 30 years old, and I think ‘Hey, a couple of girls for Worm to practice pickup lines on’.  He doesn’t go up to either of them and I figure he’s just minding his own business (or looking for a good stick to poke them with.)  And then I start chatting up the nearby mom of one of the kids.

“Worm loves to dig in the sand and pile it in the buckets.”  I say.

She replies “For a while, I couldn’t get my son out of the sandbox.  Now, he’s into the jungle gym.”

Son?  Where is he?  Maybe he’s in daycare now?  Or his dad has him?  Because all I see in front of me is one boy.  Mine.  It takes me 10 minutes of conversation with this mom to figure out that the ‘son’ she is talking about has been here the entire time!  I wipe the sleep out of my eyes and look again.  I don’t believe it.  (“Inconceivable!” as the great philosopher Vizzini would say…)

It’s a good thing I didn’t open my mouth too soon and say something stupid.  Whew!

0 for 1.  Next kid.  Worm and I head over to the swingset and see a dad pushing his little creature in the swing.  I look in the basket and see a child with its hair tied into a hamburger-bun-or-whatever-women-call-it on top.  Remembering that I’m not in India and that chances are slim that a boy, especially one of caucasoido-anglo-northernEuropea-something descent would be wearing a girl’s hairstyle, I assume I’m looking at a wee chickadee.

“How old’s your daughter?” I ask, thinking that she is the same age as Worm.

“Ahem!  My SON is almost two.” along with a pursed lip smile stretched over his gritted teeth.

Whoops!  Hoping he has the memory of a goldfish, I point to the bike leaned up against a nearby tree and ask this dad about the quality of the baby bike seat.  0 for 2 today.  (Good thing I didn’t take a third pitch, eh?)

You know how when you’re at the playground and you’re just not quite sure of what you’re looking at?  Hmm.  Is that a boy or a girl?  (I would have sworn on my second child that those two kids at the playground today were girls.  It’s a good thing I didn’t wager.  It would be terribly awkward to explain to Steph during labor and delivery that Smush’s new owner wants me to videotape him catching his new prize and cutting the cord.)  You perk up your ears and listen for the parent to say something like “Hey Joey boy, stop slamming your face into the merry-go-round.” or “Lisa Ann, don’t you know that little girls should practice good posture daily?  Put that book back on your head and walk this way.” to doubly confirm your suspicions of whether or not the kid you’re looking at owns a Y chromosome.

Parents, make sure the people around you don’t have to guess your progeny’s gender.  Don’t embarrass your kids or other adults or get other adults to inadvertently embarrass your kids.  There are ways to avoid these potentially scarring and indelible moments from occurring (unless you’re punishing your child on purpose).

Situations like this next one, happen every year in American homes all over the world (It sounds more grand this way.):

Your son, little Junior, has been constantly mistaken for a girl for the first 13 years of his life.  (Part of the reason is that the hand-me-downs he wears come from his older sister that YOU forced on him because you wanted to get double the usage out of them.)  His physique is obviously not a big ego boost for him and he’s become a teenage mess trying to understand why he doesn’t look glisteningly mannish like the Chippendale models on the freeway billboards.  (You live in Vegas, ok?)  So he goes to the local gym and buys a case of steroid injections with his allowance money that YOU gave him.  He shoots up every day, builds boatloads of muscles and his voice drops.  Then using his practicality inherited from YOU (remember the hand-me-downs?), he refills the steroid needles with heroin because he wants to get double the usage out of the hypodermics.  Now he’s a ‘roid raging heroin addict and it’s all your fault.

Don’t be stupid and turn your child into a heroin addict.  Play by the rules.  Boys should be seen and not heard look like boys and girls should look like ballerinas, princesses or fairies, or something like that.

Here are five tips on how to keep your kid from being gender-confusing to the world:

  1. Dress your child in pink if you’ve got a girl, and blue if you’ve a boy.  (This is pretty simple people.  The colors are there to avoid the Crying Game guessing game.  Follow this until boobs and mustaches form on your little one.  If boobs and a mustache grow on the same little one, see a doctor. Got it?)
  2. If you know your boy is a little effeminate or your girl wears a lot of flannel, add the word “boy, buddy, son” or “girl, sister, daughter” to every sentence when speaking aloud.  (It puts other parents at ease.  For example, “Hey Matthew girl, pick up your bicycle.  Bring it in the house, young daughter of mine!”  It’s perfectly clear that this parent is using the unisex version of the name Matthew for their daughter, yet it’s no surprise to other parents that this Matthew is a female.)
  3. Don’t name your children after inanimate objects found in nature.  (“Come here Parkbench, I’d like you to meet Treeroot.”  Huh?  Other moms and dads will sit around for hours staring at your kid trying to figure him or her out.  I know we’re in California and we’re more subject to the atypical naming conventions that abound with treehugging hippie nature-loving heavy potsmoking alternative-healthseeking parents.  So until the androgynous look is outgrown, use a name that leans strongly to the right or left like “Mike” or “Jill”.  Afterwards, you can call them “SlowlyBlazingGrassLeaf” for the rest of their lives.
  4. Cut your child’s hair.  (Buzz cuts for boys.  Shoulder length or longer for girls.  Don’t think about it, just do it.  Chances are that you’re still debating whether the ‘Jennifer Aniston’ do will gain your favor in daycare and whether or not the ‘Bieber’ will still look good when baby’s got boogers dripping and a 9-tooth smile.  It doesn’t matter right now.  Let them screw up their own hair, attire, and lives when they get older.  But, until then, keep it simple.
  5. There are only four tips, ok?  I can’t think up another one right now.  I’m tired and need a drink…I mean a nap.

So there you have it folks.  And for those that need a picture to burn into their brain, please see an example of what NOT to do.  (I purposely photoshopped the image as poorly as possible so that my dad with bad eyesight can see that it’s not a real wig.  His blood boils when I do crazy stuff with Worm in real-life.  Here’s to you keeping your hypertension in check, dad!)

If Your Son Shows Up to the Playground Looking Like This and Other Parents Continue to Mistake Him for Her, There May Be a Problem You're Just Not Seeing.

If Your Son Shows Up to the Playground Looking Like This and Other Parents Continue to Mistake Him for Her, There May Be a Problem You’re Just Not Seeing.


…in broad daylight and we didn’t wear a disguise!  (Worm and I are brave soldiers in the constant battle for equal treatment of men in this woman’s world.)  Publicly, we scoff at the cornucopia of mommy and baby activities in San Diego.  But deep down, we yearn to participate!  And so we did just that after hearing through the grapevine that a dance class was being offered in the neighborhood.

I’m not a mommy, but I play one at home (and I’m even having sympathy pains with this pregnancy)!  And for me, that’s good enough.  I just hoped that it was good enough to sneak us into the blatantly gender-biased dance class unobserved…(Do you think my mustache would give me away as a dad?  Nah, not in crunchy California where mustachioed women are gaining broader acceptance by everyone except Republicans.)

The Mommy and me sing and dance class is one-hour long, $5 a family, and designed for toddlers.  So you’re telling me that I can give someone $5 to let my kid off-leash to run around their store like a maniac?   Where do I sign up!  I didn’t believe it.  I had to see for myself what kind of establishment would allow for such lunacy.

A Time To Dance dance studio is the place.  When we arrived and I was getting Worm out of the car, I kept saying “We’re late. We’re late.  We’ve got to hurry.  This is not a good first impression.”  And then as we walked in, I breathed a sigh of relief at a room full of screaming toddlers bouncing off the floors, mirrors and the ceiling.  (Duh.  We’re fine.  What was I thinking?  This is not a job interview.  A good first impression for toddlers is sharing one another’s boogers.)

“Worm, I don’t think anyone will notice the ‘daddy’ as long as you’re screaming at the top of your lungs and flapping your arms a bunch.  We should be incognito.  There’s too much going on for any mom here to focus on more than their own child and the object he or she is crashing towards.  Just do me a favor, for the next 60 minutes, my name is ‘Ma ma’.  Ok?”

We dropped our entrance fee into the bowl and I scouted the adult crowd.  Immediately, I gravitated towards the lone bearded man in the corner of the room and introduced myself.  We exchanged the clan handshake.

“Our group is growing!” he exclaimed.

“Once we get a foothold in this place, the other SAHDs will be called in for reinforcements.  We won’t be outnumbered for long.”  I winked in response.

Talk about nuts.  (Not him and I.  The atmosphere of the dance class!)

At first, the Worm clung to my neck like a baby lemur with sharp fingernails that need to be clipped tonight sometime after bath and dinner time.  Worm’s survey of the dizzying situation was complete within 10 minutes.  (Worm is like a pot of chili ramen noodles.  Give him some time to warm up and eventually he’ll be a spoonful of bubbly spicy awesomeness for under 25 cents.)  He was ready to be set loose.  And off he went.

It’s amazing what your child pays his mind to when thrown in a new environment.  For Worm, it was:

  • Why is that light off?
  • The music is coming out of that box on the wall.  I can hear it.
  • What the hell are all these kids screaming about?
  • This place has the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” song?  You kept telling me you made it up, Dad!
  • Why is that kid holding my new favorite plastic red cone?  Gimme that!
  • Wow!  Beach balls!
  • Why is everyone dancing in a circle?  While they’re distracted, I’m going to grab some of these finger puppets.  Dad, put these in your pocket.
  • Shit, they stopped moving.  Are they looking at us?  Run!
  • A parachute!  Let’s try to walk acr…Whoa!  This thing’s extraordinarily slippery, if I do say so myself!
  • Amazing!  There’s ten of me in the mirrors.  And we’re all handsome!  Except that one way over there…
  • I’m tired Dad.  I’m ready to go home.

“Dude, we’ve got 45 minutes left.” I whispered to Worm.  “Why don’t we try to participate with the rest of the class?  Don’t you want to learn how to dance so that you can be on SYTYCD and make your mother proud of you?  You wouldn’t want to disappoint her.  So, let’s work on the pirouette and petite allegro.  Point the toes.  Point!”

I'm All Danced Out, Dad.  Stop Taking Pictures and Let's Go Home and Nap!

I’m All Danced Out, Dad. Stop Taking Pictures and Let’s Go Home and Nap!

Ok, so maybe the dance teacher was only trying to get the kids to touch their knees and jump up.  I just thought it be impressive if my son did some ballet techniques in the middle of the room instead.  (I only want what I think is best for Worm.  Is that too much to ask?)

Sweet!  Dancing With Parachutes!  That's Brilliant!

Sweet! Dancing With Parachutes! That’s Brilliant!

We actually had quite a bit of fun at dance class.  It wasn’t as chaotic as I thought it would be.  The benefit of locking a bunch of toddlers in a room together is at some point they are forced to collide interact and that is precisely what Worm’s little life needs.  I’m pretty sure the dance studio didn’t mind that a couple dads came in through the side door and had some fun.  Did Worm dance?  Not quite.  There’s definitely room for improvement, so we’re going back for more.  The sky’s the limit!

Am I going to YouTube some breakdancing moves for us to do in class next week?  YES!  We’re going to show ’em ‘Gangnam Style’!

Related Links:

A Time to Dance Dance Studio – There’s more than just toddler dancing…

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