Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Food Fight

Now that I've discovered the trove of parenting information that is the Ask Moxie blog, I have been reading some "back issues". I came across a post on introducing solids that really resonated with me for a couple of reasons:

1. I am stupidly anxious about feeding Pumpkin solids. Am I feeding her the right foods? The right amount? Does the fact that she fights getting into her high chair mean we are setting her up for food issues for the rest of her life? The rational part of my brain knows that it probably doesn't matter what food I feed her now, but the irrational worrying part of my brain that got such a boost when I became a Mommy still, well, worries.

2. I have just finished reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan. One of his conjectures is that Americans' food neurosis is a result of our having lost our cultural guides about what is good to eat. As omnivores, we are biologically programmed to be able to eat just about anything, so we rely on our culture to help us sort out which of the countless possibilities are safe, tasty, and good to eat. American culture doesn't really provide a uniform guide. We are currently trying to replace these missing guidelines with scientific research, which is ever-changing, leading us to fall prey to food fads and generally worry more about what we eat than most other people. I wonder if this is also the reason for the fact Moxie points out (and for which item #1 above provides evidence):

"Americans are totally neurotic about introducing food to babies"

Moxie goes on to try to say that we should introduce solids however we want. But then she references a Dutch study about the benefits of letting the baby lead the solid-introducing exercise, and giving the baby large pieces of food. This of course made me start worrying that I am doing wrong by feeding Pumpkin primarily mushed up food (commercial or homemade- she is just starting on "finger foods", and still hasn't quite got the concept). I think I need to get better at ignoring that worrying part of my brain, because it clearly isn't going anywhere.

The Omnivore's Dilemma has lots of other thought-provoking ideas in it. However, I will warn you that reading it will probably make you feel very bad about your food choices, even if you are a vegan who eats only organic food.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Message of Hope

Blogger sent me randomly to the Mimi on the Breach blog, where I saw this post about a baby who is now sleeping like a baby. I followed the link to read what said baby used to sleep like. The earlier post sounds mighty familiar. The later post sounds like paradise. So there is hope!

The Good Bits

So much of what I post about parenthood, and indeed, what everyone posts about parenthood, focuses on the hard parts. I guess we're all using our blogs as a venue to vent, and/or to try to find advice or solutions to our problems. It is the same when parents talk about parenting, too. A non-parent colleague of mine recently reminded me of this negative focus when she said that the parents in the group were not making parenthood sound like a good idea. We all laughed, and assured here that there were definitely more good bits than bad bits.

So here is one of the good bits: how obviously happy a baby gets about simple things. One of the things that Pumpkin likes to do is go for walks in her Baby Bjorn. We go for a walk every work day when we get home. She now recognizes the Baby Bjorn, and when I get it out of the drawer, she gets a huge grin on her face, bounces up and down and flaps her arms. It never fails to make me smile.

Then there are the good bits that you might think are bad bits. I was struggling to get Pumpkin into her high chair tonight. She has figured out that if she kicks the plastic restraint attached to the tray, I can't get the tray on. She was doing this tonight, and at first it was frustrating me. But then I had to laugh, because really, she is a pretty smart 8 month old to have figured this out (and in fact, she figured it out when she was 6 months old). When I started laughing, she got this devilish grin on her face and started laughing, too. Which of course just made me laugh harder. We still needed Daddy's help to get into the chair, though.

Zenbit: Tea in the Mist

Tea is as lovely to look at as it is to drink.

Location: Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
Date: February 10, 2006

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Great Sleep Experiment - 10 day results

It has been 10 days since we started our no-cry sleep solution experiment. Actually, it has been 11 days, but Thursday was such an unusual and busy day that we didn't think it would be a fair test of how we were doing. We did our sleep logs last night, and from the pure numbers, it doesn't really look like things are improving:

Asleep time - 7:45 p.m.
Awake time - 6:10 a.m.
Total wakings - 5
Longest sleep span - 2 hrs 30 min
Total sleep - 9 hrs

However, we have made some progress. She now sleeps most of the night in her crib, rather than spending part of the night cuddling on the floor with Daddy. I put her in her bouncy chair after her last waking, since she tends to have trouble going back down after that and we have decided that getting her quantity of sleep up is more important than getting her out of the bouncy chair. Also, several of the wakings require only that we give her the binky and a few pats in the crib, rather than picking her up. Last night, we only had to pick her up on wakings when she ended up eating. The average time to get back to sleep is down to 17 minutes from 20 minutes, and that is skewed high due to a long session where Daddy was trying to get her down without her bottle for 20 minutes before finally giving up and letting her have her bottle. Three of the other four wakings required nothing more than a binky and a few pats, and she was back to sleep in five minutes or less.

We need to revisit our plan and decide what, if anything, needs adjusting. The idea that has worked the best for us is an idea that was actually proposed for extending nap time: to be there ready with the binky or whatever calming techniques work to get the baby right back to sleep if she wakes up "too early". We've been doing this for her first waking (which used to be 1 hour 45 minutes after she went down) and have had some success in getting her to sleep through this waking some nights.

I'll post again in another 10 days!

Friday, November 23, 2007


Yesterday was the first time I've done the Thanksgiving turkey all by myself. usually, my parents are staying with us, and my Mom helps get the bird ready. I've done it so many times that I knew what to do, but it was a lot less fun on my own. And I had to pull the bag of giblets out of the still almost frozen neck cavity, which is something my Mom usually does for me. She doesn't enjoy the task any more than I do, but she's the Mom, so she usually does it. This got me thinking about parenthood, and all of the not so much fun (and sometimes really rather disgusting things) parents do for their kids.

One of the surprising things about becoming a parent was how much more it made me appreciate my parents. I thought I was already fairly appreciative- it has been obvious to me for quite awhile that I got lucky in the parents sweepstakes. However, Pumpkin's birth has taken this appreciation to a new level, and not just because I now realize how sleep-deprived I made them. (I didn't sleep through the night until I was 18 months old. I have very bad sleep karma.)

I was born in the pre-disposable diaper age, and my parents had neither a washing machine nor a car when I was very young. My mother had to push loads of laundry to the laundromat in my older sister's stroller (while carrying my older sister). Somewhere around the 500th diaper I changed, I started to really understand how much work I was.

In my family, we all tease my father for being a bit of a worrywart. I still tease him, but I understand this instinct now, and can recognize it in myself. You don't really understand worry until you have a child to worry about. I started to understand this while I was pregnant, and would find myself worrying about whether or not Pumpkin would be healthy. I thought things would get better once she was born, but in fact, the worries have only grown as I realize all of the things that could go wrong and deprive me of my beautiful daughter or deprive my daughter of her full share of happiness.

I have also come to better understand the responsibility a parent feels. Each decision I make feels so important. If I choose the wrong option, will Pumpkin's development be slowed? I have always considered myself to be a decisive person (and my family will agree with this- I'm the one they take along on shopping trips if they want to be sure to buy something). But I find myself partially paralyzed by parenting decisions. I research and read and agonize, and feel like I need to find the right answer, not just an acceptable answer. I have always thought my parents made some very good decisions in how they raised me, but I never understood how hard this was, and how they probably didn't know at the time whether they were making the right decision or not. One of the problems with parenting decisions is that you have to wait so long to find out whether you were right.

So this thanksgiving weekend, I am thankful primarily for my family. My amazing daughter. My husband, who is also a great father. My parents and parents-in-law, who are making wonderful grandparents. My sister and sister-in-law, who are both terrific Aunties. And the entire extended family, all of whom have welcomed Pumpkin with so much love.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Supply-Side Economics

I'm having milk supply issues for the first time. I have no idea why- it could be hormones, it could be stress, it could be my diet, it could be lack of sleep, it could be the fates laughing at me because I was just saying on Friday that I've had little problem keeping up with Pumpkin's bottle needs. Actually, I think it is that I got complacent and didn't always pump in the morning to replace the bottle Hubby gave her in the middle of the night.Now that she is mobile, it is hard to keep her from playing with the tubes or power cord while I pump in the morning, so it has just gotten more difficult from a logistics standpoint and I let it slide. Oops.

Hubby rightly points out that if would not be the end of the world if I had to give Pumpkin an ounce or two of formula a day. However, I am having a very hard time accepting that. I've made it so far, I think, surely I shouldn't give up now! There is also a small, irrational voice that says I'll be failing Pumpkin if I don't keep her "exclusively breastfed" (except for the solids she's eating, of course). I know that this is silly, but that doesn't keep the little voice quiet.

Luckily, it is truly a demand and supply system, so if I up the demand, my supply should go back up. I'm pulling out all of the stops to try to solve the problem. Here are the steps I'm taking:

1. I've added a pumping session before bedtime, and am pumping in the mornings, too.
2. I'm taking fenugreek three times a day (at least when I can remember to take the stuff to work with me- this is apparently yet another thing I need to keep in duplicates, so that I can just leave a bottle at work).
3. I am increasing my protein intake. This is fun. When was the last time you said "I really should have the cheeseburger for lunch?"

Next, I'll start drinking a dark beer every night. The B vitamins in beer are supposed to help milk supply. It will certainly help the stress levels, and it is another fun "requirement".

Pumpkin is helping out, too, by sleeping better. I got almost five hours of uninterrupted sleep last night, and two or three more hours of patchy sleep! Maybe the great sleep experiment is working? I'm almost afraid to type that out loud for fear of jinxing myself!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Zenbit: Upside Down Down Under

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Date: January 4, 2006

Friday, November 16, 2007

Fun with Shakespeare

I was surfing around while waiting for my Hubby to make me my nightly fruit (yes, I know I am spoiled), and I came upon a Shakespearean Quote Generator (via a blog called Geeky Mom). Here is my quote:

William Shakespeare

She's beautiful and therefore to be wooed;
She is a wandering scientist, therefore to be won.

Which work of Shakespeare was the original quote from?

Get your own quotes:

The web has such fun stuff.

Absence Makes the Baby Refuse to Sleep?

Why is it that everyone except for me seems to be able to get Pumpkin down for a nap? I tried twice today, and both times I ended up having to resort to the "push her in a stroller" method. I'll never know how long she would have slept the first time, because I had to wake her up to get a flu shot. The second time, she woke up almost as soon as the stroller stopped moving (even though she was really, really tired before she went to sleep and was tired again 30 minutes after she woke up). At day care, she routinely sleeps for 2 hours at a time. This is clearly not fair.

The least disheartening explanation I can think of is that Pumpkin doesn't get to spend that much time with me during the day, so when she gets the chance she doesn't want to waste it by sleeping.

Of course, that doesn't explain why her Daddy can get her to nap....

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pass the Fish

There is an interesting article and accompanying synopsis in PLoS Biology about a candidate gene for schizophrenia. The researchers actually looked for genes correlated with a schizophrenia marker called "prepulse inhibition", the phenomena in which a soft precursor noise will depress the startle reflex caused by a loud noise. Apparently, this is one of the "gating" mechanisms that our brains use to prevent sensory overload, and is disturbed in schizophrenia.

The article identifies a fatty-acid binding protein (Fabp7) as a candidate gene involved in PPI, and by inference also schizophrenia. This protein binds to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), one of the omega-3 fatty acids that you've probably heard a lot about. There is apparently some research that indicates that doses of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a precursor of DHA, may be helpful in treating schizophrenia (see this review). This, and the well-documented role of the omega-3 fatty acids in brain development and function (which is why we are all encouraged to eat fish and my baby's oatmeal has DHA added to it), make the linking of a fatty acid binding protein to schizophrenia a very nice, neat story.

The study's authors speculate whether increasing the DHA intake of pregnant women deemed at risk of having a schizophrenic child would be beneficial. This is an interesting question, which will probably be studied at some point. It is also a case of the more things change, the more things stay the same: once upon a time, over-bearing mothers were blamed for schizophrenia. Now, apparently it is mothers who don't eat enough fish.

In general, I find the data about what pregnant and nursing women should and shouldn't eat a little bit annoying. I know that this is unfair. The researchers are just trying to understand human development and also provide some advice to help women have healthier babies. However, it can be a bit overwhelming when you are trying to figure out what you should eat. No peanuts- you might cause an allergy! Is your baby gassy? Try cutting out milk products. Eat fish- Baby needs the omega-3s. Don't eat fish- it is contaminated with mercury! I think most mothers are like me. I do my best, but please don't heap on the guilt if I get something not quite right. I'm a person, too, and I have more things to do during the day than research what my optimal diet should be!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Great Sleep Experiment Begins

I doubt anyone will be surprised to find out that simply moving Pumpkin's bedtime 30 minutes earlier did NOT solve all of her sleep issues. She did, however, sleep in until 7:30 this morning (thereby making us both late to work). She seemed a lot less tired today, and her day care log showed that she napped better, so I consider putting her to bed early a good thing even if she still woke up five times last night.

Here are her sleep stats from last night:
Asleep time - 7:15 p.m.
Awake time - 7:30 a.m.
Total wakings - 5
Longest sleep span - 3 hrs 15 min
Total sleep - 10 hr 15 min

This is very sad for me to read, because just a few weeks ago she was regularly sleeping 5-6 hours in a stretch, and only waking once! Wishing that her sleep was still as good as it used to be won't make it so, though, so we are now embarking on the No-Cry Sleep Solution. I'm a bit discouraged because we were already doing a lot of the things suggested in the book. However, we have fine-tuned our sleep plan, picked a strategy to try for the next ten days, and are ready to go. I'll post her new stats in ten days. Wish us luck!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Curves Make You Smart and Babies Make You Sleepy

This story made me feel a lot better about the extra curves on my post-baby body:

I'll have to go look up the original research and write more about it soon. Tonight, I'm too tired.

Pumpkin's sleep issues are really getting to us. I can't stomach the "cry-it-out" methods (which is no comment on parents who choose those methods), but we have to try something. I'm afraid that if we don't do something, we'll get to the point of desperation where letting her cry will seem like the only thing to do. I don't want to make parenting decisions out of desperation- at least not yet! So I left work early today, and went and bought The No-Cry Sleep Solution, by Elizabeth Pantley. I also got home early enough that I could start Pumpkin's night time routine a little early, and got her to sleep at 7:15 instead of 7:30-8. If the earlier bedtime doesn't magically solve her sleep issues (hey, a girl can hope) I'll try the No-Cry Sleep Solution, and I'll post on our progress with it.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Zenbit: Rarotonga Sunrise

One of the advantages of jetlag is the chance to see sunrises.

Location: Muri Lagoon, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Date: April 18, 2005

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Speed of Parenthood

I came across a quote today in the comments to one of Ask Moxie's posts that perfectly captures the weird time warp of parenthood: "the days are long but the years are short." This seemed particularly appropriate today, as Pumpkin crawled for the first time. I can't believe my little girl is already crawling! At the same time, at 2 a.m. when I'm trying to get her back to sleep, I can't believe how slowly five minutes passes.

Apparently I am not the only one who likes this quote. When I tried to Google it to find out who first said it I got a slew of hits, none of which actually attribute the quote to anyone. I guess this was a meme a while back and I have just been living in a cave or something and missed it.

It is still a perfect phrase for the parental time warp, though.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Working Mum: Pumping 101

I have a love-hate relationship with my breast pump. I love to nurse and I love to work, and my breast pump is the contraption that makes these two things not mutually exclusive. However, I am not a huge fan of pumping. It is not painful, and I have no problem pumping reasonable quantities of milk out... but there is always something I'd rather be doing. I realize I am being silly. I am one of the lucky working moms who has a private office (with a door that locks!) so , with the help of my hands-free bustier, I can read email, type documents, and generally get work done while pumping. But I still dislike having to interrupt whatever I'm doing, get out all my equipment, and hook up and pump three times a day. I'm such a wuss.

I've also noticed that the whenever I talk to other Moms who plan to go back to work but haven't done so yet, their questions are about one of two topics: how we're doing with day care and how I handle pumping. So, here are my words of wisdom (or at least experience) on pumping, in no particular order:

1. Definitely get the hands-free bustier. I've heard of some women using an old sports bra and cutting holes in it. I think this would work fine, too, but the important thing is that you use something that you can get on and off without also removing your shirt. It is weird enough to sit in your office pumping without having to go completely topless.

2. I pump three times during the work day day, for roughly 15 minutes each time. Sometimes, this doesn't produce enough milk to send with Pumpkin to day care the next day. On those days, I also pump before I go to bed and/or first thing the next morning.

3. Save up some extra milk ahead of time. Your supply fluctuates with your cycle, the amount of sleep you're getting, your stress levels, and your general health. It is better to have some extra frozen bags so that you can handle the inevitable low milk days without freaking out and/or chaining yourself to your pump.

4. If your supply drops too low and you want to try to increase it, you might try fenugreek. This is an herb that is actually also used as artificial maple syrup, and will make you smell like maple syrup- that is how you know you're taking enough. Really.

5. I found that I got terrible dehydration headaches my first few days back at work, until I got smart and started drinking an insane amount of water. Now I keep a water bottle on my desk at all times.

6. Supplying all of the calories and nutrients for another person, even a little one, is hard work. I found that I got very tired my first few weeks back to work. Eating lots of protein helped.

7. Sleep deprived moms trying to adjust to a new routine are prone to bouts of forgetfulness. Or at least I am. It is very, very annoying to get your pump out and discover that you're missing some crucial piece. I have shown up at work without the cord for my pump, without the flanges, without the little cooler bag with the bottles, and just today, without the little membranes that make the pump actually work. I have found two solutions for this problem so far:
(1) I'm not a morning person, so I restock my bag at night. Of course, it helps if I actually check that the pieces I'm putting in the bag have all of the required attachments (I didn't do this last night).
(2) I try to carry back ups for as many of the pieces as possible. I have a battery pack that I can use if I forget the cord. I have some bags that I can use if I forget the bottles (Medela sells some that tape right on to the pump). Clearly, I also need to put some extra membranes in my bag.
I have also considered leaving extra supplies at work, but I haven't done that yet.

8. Speaking of extra supplies... buy them! It sucks to have to do the dishes before you can pump, particularly when you just want to get everything done so that you can crawl into bed.

9. I don't think you have to pump at the exact same times every day (after all, the baby doesn't eat at the exact same times every day). However, you should probably try to space the pumpings out during the day. I try to pump every 2-3 hours. I have a job that involves a lot of meetings. Some days, I have back-to-back meetings for most of the day. This has led to the occasional need to pump during a teleconference while my phone is on mute. This feels really, really weird, even more so when I have to turn the pump off, go off mute, and say something. I now put "meetings" in my calendar if I see a day getting booked up. This helps protect my pumping times.

10. I have trouble with milk dripping out of the flanges while I am disassembling the pump apparatus. I finally came up with the idea of taking a large cloth napkin in my bag to use to keep my pants from getting milk spots. I also use this to wipe down the pump parts- I wash them each night, but not between the pumpings during the day.

As I said at the top, I don't really like to pump. However, it does break up the day nicely. And it allows me to keep breastfeeding Pumpkin, which I love. It is worth the hassle.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or a lactation expert, and nothing in this post should be construed as medical advice.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Cranky Little Zen Master

Pumpkin is in the midst of a "sleep regression", which is a fancy way of saying her sleep has gone all wonky and we don't know why. When I am sitting in her room, trying to rock/bounce/beg her back to a deep enough sleep to last when I put her down in her crib, I often think that I should use the time spent holding my mostly asleep baby to meditate. It really is a perfect opportunity: I need to sit still in a dark room without any stimulation (i.e., no books or TV). So far, though, my attempts to "go within" and "follow my breath" are quickly interrupted by thoughts of how much I want Pumpkin to go back to sleep and/or "Farmer in the Dell" running through my head. I keep trying, though, because there is nothing else to do and it would be really swell if I could get to a state of Zen acceptance about my enforced sleeplessness.

Babies make excellent Zen masters. I don't mean this in the sense that the baby has reached some advanced Zen state. I don't think that someone who cries hysterically when her mother leaves the room to go to the bathroom can claim to have mastered the art of acceptance. However, a baby does nudge his or her parents towards learning the art of acceptance. Most of the really annoying parts of parenting, like the sleepless nights and the poop explosions, are not something that the parent can really change. (We may think we can change the sleepless night part, but all we can really do is try to influence the baby into changing it for us.)

I am certainly not the first person to note this. Before Pumpkin was born, I read a book called The Tao of Poop that describes this. I remember thinking it was a cute idea. Now I think it is the secret of happiness for new parents. They may not call it Tao or Zen, but the happy parents are the ones who have learned to enjoy the ride their little bundle of joy takes them on, and not wish that they were on a different ride instead.

Now it is time for me to go to bed. I suspect I will have more opportunities to practice meditating later tonight.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Missed Opportunities

The pharma/biotech blog world is buzzing about Andrew Grove's rant about the pharma industry. Derek Lowe, at In the Pipeline does an excellent job explaining much that is wrong with Mr. Grove's logic, so I don't see any reason to add my comments. However, I will share one funny moment from my morning read through my inbox: not long after I received a message from a coworker linking to Mr. Grove telling pharma that (among other failings) they don't try to learn from their mistakes, I received another message telling me about the ongoing analysis into the torcetrapib debacle. If this doesn't constitute trying to learn from a mistake, I'm not sure what would.

What I find most sad about the whole thing is that there may well be something the pharma industry could learn from the semiconductor industry, but now we'll never know about it, because Mr. Groves couldn't be bothered to learn how the industry he was critiquing actually works. Heaven knows that the pharma industry could use some bright ideas right now, so it is too bad that this opportunity has been missed.

I got one other interesting tidbit in my inbox today: a link to the BBC writeup on a study that found a gene that determines whether or not breastfeeding will have a positive impact on a child's IQ. Or rather, whether or not NOT breastfeeding will have a negative impact, since really, we evolved to breastfeed. It has long been known that, on average, breastfed babies end up with a slightly higher IQ than formula fed babies. (I want to emphasize the "on average" bit- the differences aren't huge and I'm sure that there are plenty of very smart people who were fed formula as babies.) Now the FADS2 gene has been identified as determining whether or not the breastfeeding choice impacts IQ. The FADS2 protein is involved in metabolizing fatty acids. It was previously known that certain fatty acids are important to brain development, and their presence in breast milk has been hypothesized to be the reason that breastfeeding is linked to higher IQ.

All in all, this is a nice, neat story. Since 90% of the population have the allele that apparently makes the baby susceptible to an IQ boost from breastmilk, it doesn't change the standard advice that "breast is best". There are a heap of other benefits to mom and baby in addition to this one, too- ranging from fewer ear infections for the baby to faster weight loss for the mom.

So why don't all mothers breastfeed? I think it is because breastfeeding is surprisingly hard for the first time mom. The baby knows how to suck, but not necessarily how to feed, and the mom doesn't really have a clue how to help. You're worn out from delivery, suddenly sleep-deprived, on a wild hormone ride that makes you cry for no apparent reason, and now you can't even feed your baby. You thought breastfeeding would come naturally, and the people around you just want you to feed that baby so it will stop crying. All of this makes it easy to give up on breastfeeding. This is a shame, because once you get through the hard bit at the beginning, breastfeeding is a wonderful experience. Not only is it good for you and the baby, but it feels good, too. My advice to new moms is: don't be discouraged that it is harder than you thought it would be. It is no reflection on you as a mother, and doesn't mean you don't have enough milk or "can't" breastfeed. Almost all women can breastfeed- afterall, that is what breasts are actually designed to do. Get help from a lactation specialist, the La Leche League, or a support group (most hospitals seem to run these now). Don't miss out on this opportunity.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Hello, World (take two)

It has been far too long since I've posted. What happened? I got pregnant, had a baby.... Pumpkin is 7 months old now, and I have finally started to find time for things not directly related to either the baby or work.

I have been experiencing strong urges to blog, but not about our "big trip" (maybe I'll get back to that later). I've been reading a lot of science blogs (from friends and strangers) and occasionally think I should write something about science. But mostly, I've been wanting to write about the wild ride that is working Momhood. I've had some specific questions come up, and have turned to the web to find answers. Instead, I've found whining, hateful rants from the "child-free" (don't call them "childless"- more on that in a later post), and Pollyanna-type articles with no useful information at all about anything a Mom working in the real world might care about. I've also found some useful info, but it has been overwhelmed by the cruft. So, in the sort of act of supreme egotism that the blogosphere makes possible, I've decided to fill the void.

However, I've also decided that a "theme blog" just won't work for me. I am too opinionated on too many topics to limit myself to travel stories or posts about expressing breastmilk in weird places. So rather than start a new blog, I've decided to repurpose this one, and use the label feature to help anyone who might read the blog find the sorts of posts that are interesting to them. I'm also going to abandon my Zenbits blog, and post my little tidbits of Zen here, once a week. Hey, it is my blog. I can do whatever I want.