6.27.2011

If the FDA seizes birthing tubs, then my kids will have nowhere to swim

When it's hot outside and the chil'rens need relief, they jump in the pool to cool off. Now, you might be envisioning a lush blue swimming pool complete with lounge chairs and palm trees, since I'm in Southern California and all.

Um, not quite.

Ok...an above ground pool, maybe?

Think again.

The chil'rens love to swim in--wait for it....their birthing tub.

When I was pregnant with Cyan (baby #4) and planning my second homebirth, I thought it would be much more economical to just buy a birthing tub instead of renting one like I did the first time. My midwife assured me they were inexpensive and easy to find, since we lived near a rural horse community.

You see, these "birthing tubs" are really just large troughs to feed/bathe your livestock. Did this little tidbit bother me? Not in the slightest. I wasn't too excited about the puffy, plastic birthing pools that were out there. They just didn't provide enough support for a big mama like me, who needed something sturdy to lean on during labor. And using a kiddie pool? You've got to be kidding.

Squatting and bringing forth life just doesn't sound very dignified in a kiddie pool.

There were only two problems with it. One, it was black, which made it difficult for the midwife to assess the amount of blood loss. She also had to use a flashlight to discover my baby's head was about to come out. And second, it doesn't have a drainage hole. Yes, that means after each and every birth, my dear husband had to empty out the birth water with a bucket.

Do you have any idea what's in leftover birthing water?


Lots and lots of assorted bits and pieces that come from a laboring woman's vagina. And other places-ahem! Now, if that ain't love, I don't know what is.

After we had Xixi, I couldn't bear to get rid of it. Not that I had a choice because the minute summer rolled around, the chil'rens found themselves the perfect swimming pool. Which was cool when my older boys were four, five and six years old. Not so cool now that they are ten, twelve and almost fourteen. But they still use it, even if it means they just sit on the edge and splash each other. However, it is the perfect size for my daughters. The photo above are my little ones "swimming" last Saturday.

I love to hear the chil'rens splash and giggle and tell each other, "I was born in this tub!"
"Me, too!"
"So was I!"

And the mere fact that they aren't weirded out by that knowledge in the slightest makes me...happy. Content in the choices I've made. I'm just glad I wasn't hassled about the purchase of my tub because from what I've been reading on the interwebz, the FDA is seizing birth pools because they are claiming they are unregistered medical equipment. What a pile of manure. Seriously.

If anyone needs to borrow a birth tub, you know who to come to.

6.18.2011

Bob Marley portrait

My boy Sol is at it again. His uncle commissioned him to paint a few music portraits for him, and this is his finished Bob Marley piece.

Lots of people are amazed that a ten year old boy could pull off something like this. I have to admit, I'm impressed but then I'm not impressed! This is just Sol being Sol. He makes things like this look easy. I can talk to him as a fellow artist, meaning we'll discuss techniques and I know, with complete confidence, that he understands what I'm saying. I wish working on fractions were as easy for him. He is very observant--most of us in the family call this: being nosey--and he is constantly studying things around him. He is usually the one working alongside Michael outside, so I have no doubts that he learned a lot of his skills from his daddy. And me, too.

Mama ain't too shabby.

In exchange for his paintings, his uncle builds us wood panels. All of us here at the Cortes house like to paint on wood panels versus canvas. Personally, I don't like the texture of canvas and I don't like the fact that you can puncture a framed canvas piece. Couple a sturdily built wood panel (which consists of leftover wood scraps) with practically indestructible acrylic paint and you've got artwork that is archival and eco-conscious.

So far, he's painted three Bob Marley's. He has a Zach De La Rocha in the works and my Pops mentioned he wanted a Jimi Hendrix painting last night. Personally, I want a shot at that one because it sounds ridiculously fun and I've always wanted to do one.

I'm looking forward to working alongside my boy this summer as we work on our own independent projects. He's such a cutie, with his pompadour 'do that my baby bro hooked up.  l love the fact that he's an artist. I knew there had to be at least one out of the bunch.

6.13.2011

Custom-painted TOMS with hearts ♥

As you can imagine, I don't get much of a chance to do anything creative while my kids are in school and play sports. But every now and then I can squeak something in and get it done.

My most recent project is pair of really cute black TOMS shoes for a friend's little girl. I wanted to do something simple and wouldn't take me hundreds of hours to complete. In the past, I've painted everything by hand with a paint brush but since I love to work with black ink and create patterns and designs, I decided to introduce a handy dandy DecoColor paint marker into the mix. It gave me those nice, fine black lines and I didn't go blind in the process. Loved it and it came out fab.

After I created the initial design, I worked on these shoes in the car while my sons had baseball practice. I know, the glamorous life of an artist!

I lay out my sketch using a white watercolor pencil.  For this project, we decided on simple red heart shape with wings. Then, because I am painting on what is basically black canvas, I primer my original design with white (sorry, don't have a picture for that step).


The finished product. A simple, one color design. I want to snag a pair for myself. Sometimes I forget that I can paint my own shoes if I want to! Heh. I guess it's sort of like the construction worker living in a home that is falling apart. He works on everyone else's home but his own.

Preach.

If you are interested in getting your own pair of custom-painted TOMS painted by me (woohooo!), please e-mail me at pearmama@gmail.com and let your request be made known. For reals. ♥

6.06.2011

Talking about race and dark skin


We have lots of talk about race in my home.

Inequalities.
Stereotypes.
Racism.

We've had to deal with things of this nature before. I realize how much more aware of these things I am now than I was say, five years ago. Needless to say, Michael and I don't shy away from these topics.

Yesterday, I saw this preview for an upcoming documentary called Dark Girls and it made me so sad. It's about "deep-seated biases and attitudes about skin color---particularly dark skinned women, outside of and within the Black American culture."

The part that really brought me to tears happens around 2:18, when a teacher shows a young black girl a drawing of five little girls, in various shades of color. When asked, she quickly points out the "smart, good-looking child" is the white one--light-skinned as the little girl calls her. The "dumb, ugly one" is the black child. It just broke my heart to think this little girl would consider the little girl that looks just like her is the "dumb and ugly one". Which made me wonder....did she have a low opinion of herself? Or did she just not even identify with the black child, preferring to think of herself as white, just like Claireece Precious Jones in Sapphire's book Push?

Which is very unsettling.



It's easy to say, "black is beautiful" and the "blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice" but do we really believe it? Sometimes our bias occurs and we don't even notice. I'm not black, my skin is not dark...yet I still manage to partake in these attitudes toward dark skin. When I say I prefer to have my hair straight because it feels "neat" and I feel "put together",  does that mean that curly, nappy hair is the opposite?

Just last Friday my brother commented on my tan, courtesy of camping and being out in the sun for four days straight. I scrunched up my nose in distaste. Too much sun makes my freckles go crazy. And my makeup becomes invisible.

"Ugh. I hate when my face gets dark. I look dirty."

It wasn't until days later that I took in the veiled meaning of my words. People that are dark are dirty. The fact that I contribute to this type of thinking disturbs me. I think we all do at some point but just don't realize it. And so we do it unwittingly. But it's still wrong.

Solomon was sitting beside me when I watched this video. He asked me a simple question, "What did Jesus look like?" I assume he asked me this question because he was trying to decipher what this documentary was about. We talked about how God created man in His image, and that is was good. Black, white, brown, red or yellow.

His head and His hair were white like wool, like snow. Revelations 1:14 Is it safe to say Jesus had a nappy 'fro going on? And when the Bible describes it as white, I believe it has everything to do with purity and not so much about color.

His feet were like burnished bronze. Revelations 1:15
Burnished bronze? Could that also mean a deep brown color?

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. Isaiah 53:2
Regardless of the color of His skin, Jesus came into this world as a simple, humble man--a carpenter's son. If Jesus' appearance wasn't of great importance, why must we focus on our own looks so very much?

Let's not forget that Jesus was a man from the Middle East. He most likely had dark skin. I told Solomon this. I wanted to convey to my son that light skin and light colored eyes shouldn't be the ideal. God, the ultimate creative being, saw fit to make us all unique from one another. There is divine beauty in everyone, whether they are white as snow or black as coal, and those of us who fall somewhere in between.

6.01.2011

Surviving a camping trip

I just got back from a four day camping trip in San Diego, at Campland on the Bay. It's a pretty cushy place to camp. There are paddle boats on the bay, warm showers, a skate park, two swimming pools and jacuzzis, an arcade, an ice cream parlor, fireworks at night and a dance party with a DJ on Friday night. Once you drive out of the campground, there is a Starbucks, Target, Chipotle, Trader Joe's and various sushi joints not more than five minutes away. Not exactly what I'd consider roughing it.



But my kids love it and so do I.

It usually takes me about a day to relax my control issues. Sand inevitably lands on the air mattress, no matter how much you shake it off. Feet do not stay clean, no matter how many baby wipes you have available. Even though I tried to get my children to keep their belongings together, I still had to do a regular prowl around the campsite, gathering stray flip flops, beach towels, t-shirts and swim trunks.

The chil'rens didn't take a "real shower" for two days. That's right, two days.

I also came to the realization that a shower rinse right after getting out of the pool and/or the ocean works just as fine as gathering up seven kids (we brought my nephew Elijah along with us) and showering them with real soap and shampoo.

In the end, no one smelled. I didn't see any flies buzzing around them. They survived.

We camp with the fam bam, so that means there were about fifty people coming in and out of our campsite. I counted about 26 kids. There was always someone to laugh with, munch on s'mores, ride scooters and walk together to the restroom for a midnight pee run. And food, there was tons of food including homemade tortillas.

Something happened on Saturday that really threw a monkey wrench in my sanity. This.


I'm pretty sure he started out his day with a fully intact front grill. Sigh. Really, Diego? Your front tooth? While swimming, he managed to hit his mouth on the edge of the pool. Who does this? Diego, obviously. The chil'rens teeth are very important to me. Whenever they fall down, my first thought of panic is,  OH dear Lord baby Jesus puh-leeze don't let anything happen to their teeth!!

Because, you know....we only get two sets.

And they are expensive to replace.

My mind began to drift to a bad place...root canals, a brown tooth, thousands of dollars to fix, etc. etc. But I didn't want to put a damper on the rest of the weekend, so I tried not to make a big deal about it.

In the meantime, Diego entertained himself by taking bites of food and marveling at the odd shape it created with his chipped tooth. That and rubbing his tongue on it, something I caught him doing over and over again.

When we got back from vacation, the first thing I did was schedule him an appointment with his dentist. Thankfully, they saw us right away and he didn't damage the nerves and/or the root. They were able to bond a piece over the broken tooth at no cost to us.

Whew. That was a close one.

I'm happy his tooth was fixed. But I don't see any corn, apples, ice or beef jerky in his future.



My baby no longer looks like a hill-billy. All is right in my world again.
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