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Link Roundup – January 18, 2019

18 days into January and I’ve broken all my New Year’s resolutions. Then again, I’ve had the same ones for 10 years, so it doesn’t bother me too much. Ah February is a new month. ;)

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Here are some interesting parenting links from around the web this week!

H E A L T H

Mom scoops up her own intestines after C-section scar splits via New York Post

Anti-Vax Movement Listed by World Health Organization as One of the Top 10 Health Threats for 2019 via Newsweek

New California law says employers must provide lactation rooms for pumping mamas via Motherly

Severe Flu Raises Risk Of Birth Problems For Pregnant Women, Babies via NPR

E D U C A T I O N

‘It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way.’ Why Some Boys Can Keep Up With Girls in School. A study shows the Asian-American gender academic gap starts later, giving educators insight into how to help boys of all races and pointing to the influence of social pressures. via New York Times

Six Ways that School Libraries Have Changed (and One that Will Always Be the Same) via Medium

Why Steve Jobs, not Bill Gates, Was the True Education Visionary via Fee

Traveling with your kids makes them better in school, new study says via Matador Network

What if schools focused on improving relationships rather than test scores? via AJC

F A M I L Y

The Only Kids Are Alright: Only children are much maligned, yet triangle families are on the rise… via Medium

Co-Sleeping Destroyed My Marriage via Fatherly

In the Middle Ages there was no such thing as childhood via The Economist

The continuing importance of the family via The Economist

I work with kids. Here’s why they’re consumed with anxiety. It’s not social media. via Vox

Young Trans Children Know Who They Are via The Atlantic

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Adult Tonsillectomy (and the Complication Aftermath)

In December (the day after Christmas) of 2017, I had my tonsils and adenoids taken out. I had been struggling with constant tonsillitis and tonsil stones for the past few years and when the ENT (ear, nose, and throat specialist) finally took a look at them, he referred to my tonsils as infection factories. I had my initial visit with him on December 21st and he asked me about insurance during that visit; as a result of me meeting deductibles for the year already, he recommended that I had them taken out as soon as possible, both to alleviate the infections and to avoid having to pay an enormous bill out of pocket in the new year. His next available appointment was December 26th. I didn’t even really have time to think, I just said yes. And so it began.

On the morning of the surgery, I was really freaking out. I had not had a real surgery since before the kids were born and even though the risks for this surgery are extremely low, I was still afraid that something would happen. We got to the surgery center at 11 am, with my surgery scheduled at noon. I had to pee in a cup to confirm that I was not pregnant, and then they had to prep me with an IV and some antibiotics. The poor nurse took three tries to get my IV in before they called in another nurse to finally get it done on the fourth try. They were extremely apologetic, but this is a frequent issue for me, so I was mostly un-phased.

They finally took me back for the surgery at around 12:20 pm and I was back in the recovery room before I knew it. According to Mr. Cereal, I came to a number of times to say how fast it went, but I remember none of this. What I do remember is that they forced me to drink some water before I could be discharged and that was uncomfortable, but not that bad. Once we got home I got into my comfiest pyjamas and went back to sleep. When I woke up, Mr. Cereal was there, telling me I needed to take my pain medication and my anti-nausea meds. That first swallow was extremely uncomfortable and I dreaded all other swallowing from that point. I was very careful to sip water all.the.time so that my throat didn’t get dried out, which seemed to keep the pain mostly at bay for the first two days.

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Snowy at Five

I’m still incredulous, but my little girl is FIVE!!

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Five years ago, on a very snowy January afternoon, she was my treasured reward for two weeks of prodromal labor and a very difficult pregnancy with undiagnosed chronic illness.

We’ve had quite an adventure together in these five years, little love. Snowy was born a month before my second semester of grad school and a few days into Mr. Snowflake’s second semester of grad school. In that time, she’s been to an in-home sitter and five different daycares. We have moved four times (though once was admittedly from a one-bedroom to a two-bedroom in the same complex).

All these transitions in Snowy’s young life have made her a highly adaptable girl who loves adventure and trying new things. She loves going outside and exploring in the woods with her dad, but is equally content watching a movie with me. Our favorite shows to watch together are Wild Kratts, Dinosaur Train, and the Octonauts. She loves animals, science, and learning new things.

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Continual Victories

I have been creating my own kinds of therapy for my recovery after a brain bleed this past March. I was also pregnant so those two together kept me in the hospital for about 5 months and then in the care of my family after that. I decided part of my mental exercise this year was not to do any work, and certainly not any hourly paid work since I take so much more time now, but to create a video for this contest.

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The theme, “Conquered” couldn’t have been more perfect and the timing just made sense so I jumped on it, and my family helped me dive in by watching the kids and letting me focus – something that I still struggle with as my brain has been recovering. The other day the doctor took one look at me and knew that I struggled with paying attention because my eyes still don’t focus properly or stay steady. But regardless, this three minute video happened and incredibly, it won the contest.

My husband contributed awesome ideas and reviews that I am much more grateful for now that my ego is less involved in the process. I don’t have memories of the early days of my recovery, but everyone who was there says one of the most miraculous moments was when I starting playing with my daughter with the balloon glove (also featured in the film). It was such a clear moment of intention and consciousness early on. So I think winning a contest for my craft, or art or whatever you’d call it, after a traumatic brain bleed is such a victory because I never expected it to happen. I never expected to get a shot at creating on this level again. I am so grateful to be able to turn hardship into art, even if it takes me longer. I’m still doing it, and I’m doing it gratefully!

The Mom Bod

In December of 2017, I weaned Little Bug from nursing. It was a slow process that we started in early November, and was mostly due to the fact that I was going to be gone for a number of work trips over the next several months and I was completely uninterested in pumping during those trips to maintain my supply. I also got my tonsils and adenoids removed the day after Christmas last year (stayed tuned for a post about what that was actually like). As a result, I gained almost 25 lbs over the next few months. For the past year I have been trying to come to terms that this is likely what my body is going to be like now. I have always been on the thicker side with powerful legs and arms, so I probably should have expected my body to settle into a normal that was not exactly my ideal image.

I struggled for a lot of last year with trying to diet and having no success. With my intestinal issues, losing weight is a struggle because of my limited diet, and the fact that exercise triggers episodes. I am also perpetually exhausted because my body is constantly in a state of distress from the IBS. I can usually walk, do yoga, or occasionally ride my bike, but even these activities sometimes trigger an episode. I know that this is partly a mental thing too, like my body is in flight mode just in case I start to have an episode, so I am pretty much always on alert during exercise. I also have one other fun element that makes exercise difficult; I have a histamine reaction during exercise in the colder months. Basically my body has a histamine reaction when my skin is cold and my blood is pumping. For a really long time I thought that this happened to everyone, but when I mentioned it to my doctor about three years ago, she had me do some testing and my body does some weird stuff when it is stressed.

So where does this leave me now? In a place where I am trying to accept the body I have now, even though it is not exactly what I want. I am learning to dress myself better, to accentuate the areas of my body that I am pleased with (my hips, my butt, my shoulders) and to avoid accentuating the areas that I am less thrilled about (my mom stomach and my back area). This also meant that I had to accept the clothing size I am wearing now, which is about a size and a half bigger than where I would ideally be. I’m sure many of you have also seen the Netflix “Tidying Up” special with Marie Kondo. And this has helped me so much to accept my size. I had been keeping clothing that I was sure I would fit into again at some point, and it was so freeing to just let all of that go. I opened up a Poshmark account and I’m selling a lot of these pieces on there. The rest I donated to a local charity and even that brings me joy (Thanks Marie!) because now someone else can love those clothes, even if I no longer do.

As a result of this new me, I’ve been trying to come up with a new wardrobe that makes me feel good about myself and is also comfortable. Some of my go-to wardrobe items now are:

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Converse shoes

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Dry January

Two years ago, Mr. Starfish came home from a January business trip all excited to tell me about a conversation he’d had with a British colleague. While a group of them were at a business dinner, he noticed that everyone was drinking except the aforementioned British guy, who uncharacteristically ordered a club soda instead. When my husband asked him about it, he learned about Dry January. For those not in the know, Dry January is simply the practice of abstaining from alcohol in the first month of the year. My husband loved the idea of trying this – after the excessive drinking (and eating!) of the holiday season, it’s a way to get your health and habits back on track.

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After hearing about this challenge two years ago, Mr. Starfish and I attempted Dry January together last year in January 2018. Mr. Starfish accomplished his goal. I did not. To be honest, last year my heart wasn’t really in the challenge. I had several social events on my calendar that month which included alcohol and I wasn’t interested in giving up that component. I also was under severe work stress last January and a glass of wine at the end of the day did wonders to help me through mounting work-related anger and frustration (thankfully, I left that job a few months after that and haven’t looked back!). Last year, I definitely cut back as a result of the Dry January challenge, but I still consumed alcohol five days or so during the month.

Coming in to January 2019, I was way more interested in the challenge. I felt that my drinking was becoming a habit and I wanted to see if I could moderate it. I also had no work or personal excuses. Mr. Starfish was also super stoked about repeating the challenge – he’d been successful the past year and felt empowered and healthier and in control because of it. Finally, this year felt different because Dry January has grown in popularity in the U.S. When we did Dry January last year, no one had really heard of it in our social circle. But this year, it’s popping up more frequently; articles like this one from the Wall Street Journal are not uncommon. For me, it has been helpful to see so many people embrace the idea and take on the challenge; I feel less isolated by the challenge.

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Career, Parenting, and Chronic Illness

I am a full-time working mom of a five-year-old, and I also deal with multiple chronic illnesses daily. Me working is necessary for our family. Not only that, but I genuinely enjoy the work I do. It is definitely not what I saw myself doing, but two things majorly changed my trajectory: chronic illness and becoming a parent.

I didn’t really accept myself as chronically ill or disabled until quite recently. Now, I was always a sick kid, and was diagnosed with my brain structural abnormality, Chiari Malformation, in 8th grade, but I didn’t really think of how it would define me: for years, my symptoms were low, and I was able to live a fairly “typical” life. I went to college, majored in religious studies, graduated in 3.5 years, and married my husband, who I met there, two weeks after our commencement ceremony.

Both my husband and I went immediately from college to graduate school. I attended seminary, pursuing a whopping 85 credit Masters in Divinity, with the original intention of becoming an ordained senior pastor of a church.

How quickly things change!

The day we moved into my grad school married housing, I found out I was pregnant. I have talked about my pregnancy here before, but it was extremely difficult. I was so sick. Still, we needed some income, and my hours at seminary were much more flexible than my husband’s law school hours, so I took on a part-time job at a children’s consignment store. I’ve had lots of odd jobs like that over the years, most directly related to working with children or education. The arrow has always been pointing that direction: but it took my pregnancy for me to realise it.

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