Saturday, March 28, 2009

What to Read (part 2)

So after I checked out all the knitting picture books in our library, I learned something: knitting isn't as popular as losing your first tooth when it comes to children's book themes.

Ok, I lied. I fully expected not to find many knitting books. I needed a new way to pick books out for Margaret.

We were at story time at the library and I was looking at books on the shelf, when suddenly I turned around an saw a book, one of the most wonderful books I have ever read to Margaret. It was

Brave Margaret by Souci and Comport. Now, I know you aren't supposed to judge a book by its cover, but HAVE YOU SEEN THIS BOOK? Look at it! There's a woman on a horse wielding a SWORD! Clothes blowing in the wind, hair in her face and a SWORD. Seriously. How could I not get this book? I'm a sucker for strong female characters. Yes, there is love: a handsome man comes and Margaret thinks he's attractive and talks her way onto his boat because she wants to see the world. They are attacked by a sea monster, she gets off the boat and kills it. Later, her attractive boyfriend tries to go slay a giant to free her from a witch. He dies. Seriously. Dead as a door nail. Margaret declares, "What fools we are for thinking it must be a man who slays that great, dirty giant!" and beheads the giant herself. Indeed what fools we are! This woman does NOT need saving. She does find a way to bring her boyfriend back to life and their wedding lasts for over a week, so you needn't worry about the lack of a classic happily ever after. But swords! Beheaded giants! Sea monsters! Burning bras! Ok. No bras are burned. But if you want a fairy tale where the damsel saves herself after her boyfriend gets himself killed, then this is it.

So after finding Margaret this great book about another Margaret, I wondered, "Do other books have a character named Margaret?" It turns out that they do. I found more intermediate readers and chapter books with Margarets than picture books, though. Here're a couple I've found so far.

Margaret by Dubow. The pictures are beautiful and simple, as is the writing. It's a short book that is about a girl who simply enjoys herself and her day. I loved this one and my own Margaret loved it too, and has requested it multiple times. The short phrases and quick page turning help keep her attention and the simple water color pictures are interesting for her to look at.

Margaret and Margarita, Margarita y Margaret by Reiser. I found this one with the Spanish picture books. It's about 2 girls: Margaret and Margarita who both don't want to go to the park because there isn't anyone to play with. They meet each other, and though there is a small language barrier, they play and teach each other words and phrases. For example, Margaret introduces Margarita to her stuffed little rabbit, Susan and Margariya introduces Margaret her her stuffed gatita, Susana. It's a really wonderful bilingual book. They both go home telling their mothers that they can't wait to go to the park the next day. I'm not great with the Spanish pronunciations, but I try. Also a great bonus: Margarita's mother knits on the park bench.

Need a book to read to your child? Look up her/his name. It was a lot of fun for us. I'm still on the look out for more Margaret books.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Friday Fill-ins

1. "In a hole in the ground there lived a Heather (I sometimes feel like a hobbit with our kitchen window at ground level)."

2. "We have things to do but that ain't no matter."

3. "After dark the rain began to fall again, soon it'll stop and by sunny and warm."

4. "I'm glad I don't have to rescue anybody from the hold of the Spanish galleon."

5. "There was a hand in the darkness, and it slapped me in the face as the baby toddler turned and latched on."

6. "Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, opportunity ambushes the prepared."

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to something- don't remember, tomorrow my plans include 2 birthday parties, a baby shower, and Dungeons and Dragons (something is going to have to give) and Sunday, I want to not do anything!

What If

As I was doing some dishes this morning, I was reflecting on the UCAN meeting and other birth stuff. I was thinking about myself a year ago and the affirmations I had written out for my birth; I got to thinking about "what ifs." When you plan a UC, you run into all kinds of "what if ____ happens?" comments.

I once found a list of "what ifs" on a forum or mailing list that I feel pregnant women should seriously consider. I can't find the original list, but I thought I'd put down here what I remember, and some I've added. I think we sometimes forget that these scenarios are just as or more likely than the ones we normally hear about.

What if...

  • my baby lines up in the most ideal birthing position?
  • my body goes into labor exactly when the baby is ready?
  • my contractions are effective and move the baby along exactly as they should?
  • the sounds I make accentuate the power of the contractions?
  • my cervix thins and opens at just the right pace?
  • I find the best position to labor and birth in and the movements of my body amplify the effectiveness of the contractions?
  • the people and scene around me are full of faith and confidence and support?
  • the cord is tucked close to the baby and out of the way?
  • I get enough rest between contractions that I can handle the next?
  • I am up to the challenge of each contraction? what if I am strong?
  • my perineum is strong and flexible?
  • the baby's shoulders turn to be in the best position to slide out?
  • the baby is aware and has no problem with the transition to the outside world?
  • the baby latches on perfectly and suckles well?
  • my uterus claps down quickly and effectively to push the placenta out?
  • the placenta is birthed whole and is healthy?
  • the birth is pleasurable?
  • the birth is empowering?
  • I find a strength in myself that I never knew before?
One year ago, I was still not in labor, though I was "overdue." I'd be lying if I said I wasn't frustrated with that. Frantic and stressed, I wrote on a forum about how anxious I was to birth and that I was past 42 weeks. I was reminded to be calm and relax and welcome the baby. I received priesthood blessings reaffirming that I would have my baby in my arms soon. McKay and I spent those last few evenings before Margaret's birth lying on the floor listening to meditative music. I took warm showers and McKay gently combed my hair. Also, to prepare for my labor, I wrote out some affirmations that I read to myself. When I was in labor, McKay read them to me. They are personal, and I'm afraid that they show my weaknesses. Pregnancy and labor can be vulnerable times. Still, I'd like to share them just in case some of you pregnant women would like to hear them, too.

I am a good person. I am already a good mom. My birthing and parenting choices are made with God as my center.
I am strong. My body is physically ready and able to birth. McKay believes in me. God believes in me. Christ believes in me. I love myself and I am not afraid.
I am beautiful. My body is beautiful. I will not interfere with my body's birthing abilities. My body knows how to birth. God made my body in His image.
I will be comforted. Angels will lift me up.
I forgive myself. I am made to do amazing things. I am a leader. I am wise.
This home is safe. God, McKay, the baby, and I are a family- no one else's opinions matter.
Fear is not a good enough reason to do any thing.
This birth is in God's hands. It will be beautiful.
I am brave. I am calm. I am amazing.
"In All Her Power" by Cary York, watercolor

Birth, again

I have lots to blog about- I think there are 4 posts sitting there waiting for me to hit "publish." McKay and Margaret have been sick/allergy ridden this week, so I haven't been doing much. But instead of publishing those posts, I wrote another one.

Last night I went to a UCAN meeting. It was birth story night, so that's what we did. I love sharing Margaret's story, but I didn't get a chance to last night because there were so many other stories that were being shared. It's kind of weird to think that a year ago today, I was 2 and a half weeks "overdue" and having 3 minute contractions in the afternoon, but I wasn't in labor. That didn't happen until the next evening. This weekend is Earth Hour. I remember last year I totally forgot about it until the next week I wondered, "Where was I for Earth Hour? Oh right. I had just had a baby and I was NOT thinking about the Earth."

McKay jokingly said we should celebrate Margaret's birth by staying up from 10:30 on Friday night until her birth time at 6:45 on Sunday night. Yeah. Not doing that.

PhDinParenting blogged about the Canadian Maternity Experiences Survey and asked people blog their answers. Since I was thinking about birth anyway, I thought I would.

  • How much choice did you have when it came to finding a prenatal care provider? Lots of choice? Or was the choice made for you?
Hmm. I really really wanted to have an unassisted pregnancy, and I got that, so I guess I can say that I had lots of choice. There are definitely OBs in Provo- no problem with finding one of those. There are also midwives- though with our insurance (BCBS) only CNMs are covered. We could have put out the money for a DEM if we wanted. Money really wasn't an issue at all. We saved enough money when I was pregnant to be able to pay straight up for a vaginal birth in the hospital if we did have insurance problems- and midwives are definitely cheaper than that. You could say I had a lot of choices available to me.
  • Where did you go for information when you were pregnant?
Internet and books. I first started at the BYU library which I thought would be a good start since it's one of the largest, if not the largest, university library in the country. I remember checking out Laura Shanley's Unassisted Childbirth, Grantley Dick-Read's Childbirth Without Fear and a couple of midwifery textbooks. I also went to the forum at Laura Shanley's site for information and support. We did hire a birth educator to come to our house a couple of times: once to talk about pregnancy and once to talk about labor. She recommended Simkin's The Birth Partner for McKay. I think he read a little. We both also read Gregory White's Emergency Childbirth which I have as a PDF if anyone would like a copy.
  • Did you know about the importance of taking folic acid prior to conceiving? Had you heard about the new research about the role folic acid can play in preventing preterm birth (if you take it one year before becoming pregnant)?
I hadn't known about the research concerning folic acid in preventing preterm birth- but I did now its importance and started taking it as soon as we started trying to conceive. I had one infertile month after getting off of birth control (never taking those dumb pills again- I hated what they did to my body) and then we conceived the next month, so I had been taking folic acid for a month and a half before conception.
  • Did you feel you had adequate choice in terms of a place to give birth? Did you wish you had more options?
I think I had adequate choice, but I'm kind of an anomaly. I wanted a UC- and no one can stop you from doing that. Even in places where DEMs or CNMs can't attend births in the home, no one can say, "Hey! You're in labor! You must leave your house THIS INSTANT!" They just can't. And who's to say the birth didn't happen so fast you couldn't get to the hospital or the midwife didn't make it on time? (hehehe!) It would be impossible to make unassisted homebirth illegal because there are women who just have fast babies and women who don't know they're pregnant. Now, had I wanted a CNM or DEM, I may have been more limited.

I'll be reflecting more these next few days on my own about Margaret's birth. Maybe I'll even blog about it. Who know? The sockness in the house has thrown me off.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

What to Read (part 1)

I really want Margaret to enjoy books. We have lots of books lying around and in January she started showing a lot of interest in books. I also started to take her to story time at the library regularly.

Now, I'm 23. My experience with children's books happened a while ago. I, myself, have a hard time picking out fiction for myself let alone for someone else. I didn't know where to start. Then I wondered, "Well, what do I like?"

The answer was clear: I like to knit.

Do you think there are children's books about knitting? Oh yes.

So I searched for knitting at our library and wrote down all the call numbers of picture books that mentioned knitting. Here are some of what I found.

Knitty Kitty is probably the favorite of the bunch. There are only a few sentences on each page, so Margaret didn't get bored of it- we could keep turning pages. My favorite aspect of this book include how kind the mother cat is to her kittens. She knits her three kittens a scarf, a hat, and mittens, but instead of using them to keep themselves warm, they use them to decorate a snowman. She doesn't get upset about this even when later they complain that they aren't warm. She simply says, "Don't worry, I have an idea," and they all go to sleep snug and warm together. Maybe I like it because of the cosleeping, but really I like it because of Knitty Kitty's calm reaction to their complaints. I think too often as parents, we'd say, "Well, if you hadn't been playing with that hat that I spent all morning making for you, you'd have it now and be warm- I guess you have to deal with the consequences!" I love that she is so patient with them.

Knitting Nell is also wonderful. Margaret also loved this one a lot because you could turn the pages quickly. Nell knits. A lot. She's shy, though, because a boy in her class once made fun of her voice. She knits every second she can get- she knits scarves and hats and mittens for the children's home and for other needy people. She also knits herself a sweater and enters it into the county fair. Not only does she win first place for her sweater, but she gets an award for her acts of charity. All the kids at school are impressed and she overcomes her shyness by teaching them all how to knit for charity- even the boy who made fun of her. I love that Nell overcomes her fears and that she's just so kind. It also makes me want to enter stuff into the county fair.

A Bumblebee Sweater was also pretty cute, but I didn't like it as much as Knitty Kitty. Nellie is going to be in the spring play as a bumblebee and her grandmother knits her a huge striped sweater for her role. However, Nellie wears it to parties and baseball games and gets it dirty. After repeated washings, the sweater shrinks to size- and then accidentally too small. It ends up that Nellie is a flower instead of a bee, so it all works out. Maybe that deus ex machina at the end was too much for me. Also, I didn't like how Nellie's mom was so disgusted with how dirty the sweater kept getting (and that she didn't know how to take care of a wool sweater). She's a kid, kids get dirty.

The Red Wolf is a new fairy tale about a princess, Roselupin, locked in a tower because her father thinks the world is too dangerous for her. On her seventh birthday, a present arrives at the castle: a bejeweled golden box full of yarn that says, "Knit what you want." The king laughs at that notion: "Knit what you want! Knit something for me!" and makes fun of her gift. She knits a fox costume and puts it on and turns into a giant fox and runs and frolicks and enjoys the wild, scary world. The king thinks the fox ate his daughter and tries to appease the fox by giving it lots of cake and sweets. She goes out to play in the woods and gets lost. The villagers go looking for the fox and find a strand of red wool leading up to where Roselupin is found sleeping. The villagers praise how smart she was to defeat the fox leave a trail to find her. Her dad, however, takes this as a lesson that the world REALLY is as scary as he thought and builds a bigger, taller tower to keep his daughter in and again laughs about her making something for him. While she's in that tower she knits a mousy brown pajama suit for her father- who subsequently turns into a mouse and she's never bothered again. I loved this story because the heroine is so creative- it's also very reminiscent of Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. I loved it. Strong female characters are my favorite.

One Little Lamb was also a quick page-turner. Margaret requested it more than once. :) It goes through the steps of making a pair of mittens: from shearing the sheep, to combing the wool and spinning it and dying it and knitting it.

Nonna's Porch had fun rhythm and repetition which Margaret really liked and was a great good night book. It doesn't focus on knitting as much as the others, but in almost every picture, you see Nonna knitting or her knitting basket or yarn. I loved the onomatopoeia- it was a lot of fun to read out loud.

So if you're ever stuck and don't know what books to get to read to your kids, find something you like and see if there's a picture book on it. I didn't know knitting was all that popular of a theme- and if you like something like baseball, you'll find tons more than I did!

Next Saturday, I'll share another fun way to find books to read to your kids.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sleep Routines

We don't let Margaret cry-it-out. She's only done that once- in the car, with the sun in her eyes and I was in traffic so bad that pulling over was impossible. If I could have pulled over, I would have; we were both in tears by the end of that. Never again. If my mom-sense is going off that badly, then there's a reason. I kind of feel like my mom-sense is like the Spirit- and if I start ignoring it, then I'll lose my ability to sense it. I also don't want to ignore her cries because I don't want her to learn that I don't care to communicate with her. Right now crying is all she's got (except for "hi!") and ignoring her primary form of communication doesn't sound kind.

So what do our sleep routines look like? I thought I'd share. We have 3 basic routines: 2 nap ones and a night one.

Basic Nap Routine
When it's about time for her nap, I turn out all the lights, close the blinds. Sometimes I put on music: our iPod has a "baby" playlist with instrumental primary songs and such. I'll stand up, put her to the breast and rock her. If I don't have music playing, I sing. Sometimes she's so very tired that she tenses up and starts throwing herself back- I have found that holding her upright on my shoulder in a burping position relaxes her when she's throwing herself like that. I'll pat her on her back- and lately, she'll pat my (or McKay's) shoulder in return. Sometimes after being patted on the back, she'll turn down towards my breast and I give her more of that. She'll flip flop between breast and shoulder a few times before she falls asleep. The whole routine takes somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes. If it goes to 20 or more and she's not falling asleep, I put her down and play with her for another 20-30 minutes and try again. Usually trying twice is enough. Once she's asleep I transfer her to the bed- sometimes a little more breast is needed, but not much and not always. McKay can successfully get her to sleep like this (minus the breast) at church or other places, which is helpful.

Nap Starting in the Car
Sometimes we go out in the morning and she misses her morning nap. On the way home, she'll either fall asleep in the car or simply get very drowsy. This nap is the easiest. When we get home, I'll transfer her from the car to the sling. Then I grab everything else (laundry, groceries) and bring everything in the house. I drop everything at the door, except Margaret, of course. I take Margaret to the bed. About half the time, she's still so asleep that a small amount of breast is needed. The other half of the time, she's awake, but wants to sleep badly. When I put her on the bed, she starts making "Ah ah!" sounds. That means she wants to nurse. As I get my breast out, sometimes the "Ah ah!" sounds turn into little giggles: "I know what's coming and it's so so yummy!" I love those giggles. Then I give her the breast and she'll fall asleep in like 2 minutes. I can then return to the stuff I dumped at the door.

Night time
Margaret is usually naked-butt all day for ECing except when we go out, so diapering her is our first part of our routine. We also all get undressed and get into bed. We say our prayers and Margaret goes to the breast and we turn the light out. Sometimes she'll want to play and she'll try that for a little while, but after a couple of minutes playing in the dark, she goes back to the breast and falls asleep there. When she gets to the point where she unlatches on her own and turns onto her back, we know she's asleep. If it's early and we still have things to do (homework, dishes, blogging), we'll turn on a small light. Once she's down for the night, she's good. Sometimes the light or noise will wake her up, and a little bit of nursing puts her back to sleep. She usually goes to bed somewhere between 8:30 and 10:30 depending on our evening plans and sleeps until 8 or so.

That's what we do. It helps that I'm a stay-at-home mom . I don't have any pressing matters so I don't feel rushed in getting her to sleep- if she needs an hour of cuddling and rocking, then I can give her that hour. Usually, though, it's 10/15 minutes. She gets about 3 hours of naps in a day- either in one big nap or 2 smaller ones. I figure if it takes 15 minutes to get her to sleep for two naps- that's 30 minutes. And what's 30 minutes? A sitcom?

I know our routines might seem involved, but I know it won't last forever. I'm sure by the age of 15 she's not going to need to be rocked to sleep- she'll simply grow out of it at some point. And since I have the time- why not? Plus, who REALLY wants to do dishes when you can rock your baby? Not me!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Friday Fill-ins

1. Why do we have to return the library books?

2. Margaret's post-car naps are now habits.

3. I have 5 unpublished posts sitting in my queue.

4. I had never heard the phrase "I love your guts" and it is kind of weird.

5. I guess I'll read at breakfast the way I always do.

6. How was I to know being a mom would be so wonderful?

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to a relaxing date night, tomorrow my plans include McKay's presentation at the Spring Research Conference and Sunday, I want to cook a yummy dinner!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

WFMW: Good Food, Good Price

I've lately been trying to make sure that the food that we eat isn't poisonous. McKay's on board- in fact, last Saturday when we needed to make pies (pi day!) quickly, I was tempted to buy some pre-made pie filling. However all of pre-made fillings had high fructose corn syrup. If you hadn't heard, some foods with high fructose corn syrup also have mercury. Here you can find a list of which products were found to have mercury. We've been HFCS-free for a little while, now, but it is amazing how many foods have it.

When we went HFCS-free, one of the first foods I noticed that we had to find substitutes for was jelly. At the grocery store, almost ALL the jams and jellies had HFCS- and the ones that her HFCS-free cost $4/jar. We definitely needed a substitute. Enter the dollar store.

Our dollar store is amazing. We found jelly without HFCS! (see pic!)
Our dollar store is also awesome in that they will carry organic foods. And on Tuesdays, they have 88 Cent Tuesday! It's quite the deal.

So, try the dollar stores. You might be surprised at what you can find. Dollar stores work for me.
To see more WFMW, click on the icon above.

167 Years of Relief Society

Today is Relief Society's birthday. I am a great fan of Relief Society. If you could wave a spiritual "RS is number 1!" foam finger, mine would be a meter wide and bouncing to the beat of the AC/DC-rock version of "As Sisters in Zion" that I made up in my head this morning.

So of course when I was at the BYU bookstore and saw a book titled, "A Woman's Choices: The Relief Society Legacy Lectures" in the used LDS book section, I bought it. It's a collection of talks given in 1982 to celebrate the 140th anniversary of Relief Society. Today I read the first one by former Relief Society General President Barbara S. Smith and wanted to share some of the quotes from it.

"This is a new era for women, a time of greater opportunities for women, of more possibilites for expanding the reaches of the mind and the heart. There is a new sound in Relief Society, with sisters today from many nations speaking multiple languages. There is a new urging for each sister to commit herself to a lieftime of learning. Relief Society can serve to motivate and to help in the learning."

"Relief Society is a story of many dimensions. It is a story of dramatic events. It is a story of humble people in humble homes. It is a story of individual triumph and tragedy, of plodding drudgery, and of magnificent dreams. It is a story of faith. It is a story of women. It is a story of partnership and solitude, of nurturing and caring and sustaining on eanother. It is a sotry of personal, spiritual stretching and growing. It is a story of charity."

"I feel sure that it is no accident that Easter, the time when we commemorate His resurrection, is so close to the anniversary of Relief Society. It may well be our reminder that it was to the women that Christ appeared after His crucifixion, and that His heavnly gift to all women should cause us to rededicate ourselves to the principle of love,which directed their lives and His."

"Our story will continue with every act of love and every deed of compassion performed by a Relief Society sister. It is a divine love story that will never cease to be."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Guest Lecturer

Last night I had the opportunity to be a guest lecturer on breastfeeding with a friend to a Women's Health class at BYU.

A little while after the Facebook controversy, I was contacted through the grapevine. The TA for the class saw my name in the paper and knew my friend through church and contacted her and invited us to speak. We were asked to talk about why we chose to breastfeed, community support, and a little about the Facebook issue.

I started with a quick (and as I re-think it, insufficient) run down of the Facebook nurse-in. I showed the removed picture, explained Facebook's strangely changing policies, the legal aspect of nipples and areolas being seen in public, and the problems that come to a society when breastfeeding is supposed to be hidden. Then we (my friend and I) discussed why we chose to breastfeed. And for me, that led to a discussion of LLL and community support. At the end, I also discussed "modesty" since it is BYU and I can do that there.

I think overall we did well. I also feel like I didn't have enough time to really cover the issues and looking back, I think of things I should have mentioned, but didn't. In fact, I didn't even get through all my notes that were in front of me. I also wanted to get pictures, but McKay was holding a sleeping baby the entire time I spoke, so he didn't get to take any pictures. Alas!

And while I have lots to say about what was said in the class discussion before and after we guest lectured, right now I would like to talk about the actual experience of speaking in front of people.

I've always wanted to be good at speaking in front of people. When I was a kid, I'd give lectures to myself while I cleaned the bathroom or did other chores.

When I was 10 I was terrified of and yet drawn to public speaking. I always felt that it was a skill I'd like to have, but my knees shook and my fingers twitched. I also was strong-minded and decided that the only way to fix my fear was to speak in front of people despite that fear. How does a 10 year old LDS girl to that? Testimony meeting.

The first Sunday of most months is called Fast Sunday and instead of prepared talks by assigned speakers, the pulpit in LDS churches is open to whomever wants to go up and "bear their testimony." I decided that if I wanted speaking practice, I'd take advantage of that. I was 10 and scared, and yet every Sunday , I forced myself up to the stand as the first speaker.

After about 2 and a half years, I learned something valuable: I wasn't ever going to get over my fear of public speaking, so I stopped. I was just as scared the 50th time as I was the first. I stumbled and stammered just as much every time. Then I learned about being more strong willed: the first Fast Sunday that I decided to NOT go up and be the first to the pulpit was hard. I sat in my seat, I gripped the edge of my pew and the chapel felt hot. It was as if 300 stares were trying to pry me out of my seat because, well, everyone expected me to go up there. But I didn't. So there! Ha!

I did speech team for 1 year in high school, just in case my fear of speaking was just a pre-teen thing. Nope. I floundered through talks and speeches in both church and school for the next decade. Sometimes I hit gold and spoke well, but mostly the only word to describe my efforts was FAIL. Even last summer, I spoke in church and floundered amazingly- in fact the only reason I actually got through that talk was a voice in my head saying, "You had a UC and you're afraid of 10 minutes of speaking?"

After the class was over last night, I realized something: I wasn't scared this time. I don't know what it was- but I was comfortable up there. Now whether or not this will be indicative of future speaking engagements, I don't know. But it was nice.

(photo from wardomatic)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Friday Fill-ins

1. When I look to the left, I see pillows.

2. The kitchen is the room that has the best view in my home.

3. Let it work the way it should, not necessarily the way you want it to.

4. Dirty Deeds done dirt cheap!

5. Taking care of our Earth's environment is a responsibility that all qualified citizens must share.

6. If you have any inhibitions feel free to leave those at the door- this is a party house.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing, tomorrow my plans include pi day and Sunday, I want to sleep in!

The Beginning

The other night McKay asked me about the origin of "itsallaboutthehat" and "the bee in your bonnet" and "TopHat."

When I was 16 I tried on a straw hat at a store. I looked really good in the hat. I had the perfect face shape for that hat, so I bought it. I wore it all the time. Here's a picture of me in Germany (I was 17 here). The straw hat hung on my back when I wasn't using it (I was trying to get the sun to bleach my hair lighter). Also, as you can see, I turned around quickly just for this pic- that's my pony tail being flipped around as I turned- just so you all know.
When I was 17, I got my first email account. I wanted an account that didn't have all those crazy numbers at the end, so I made one up that was so long that it wouldn't be taken: itsallaboutthehat.

I still use that account for spam and bulk stuff (Freecycle), but if you try to email me there, chances are you won't get hold of me. I only check it once every fortnight or two.

When I went to BYU, I discovered the 100 Hour Board. Everybody had a secret psuedonym and it was kind of cool to have a secret identity, so I signed up to the Board site and used "TopHat" as my identity when I asked questions because I liked hats. In fact, the "I like hats and I'm pretty awesome, so I am TopHat, the toppest of hats" line was created at that point in time. I played around with names like The Top Hat, Top Hat, but settled on the no-spaced TopHat after a while.

the bee in your bonnet
When I wanted a title for this blog, I wanted it to be hat-related. I went to a thesaurus and looked up different hats. I liked bonnet and the phrase, "the bee in your bonnet" so I used it. It's surprisingly accurate for my blog now even though it wasn't at the time.

In some places, I throw an "8855" to the end of TopHat (like Twitter). I do this because TopHat is kind of generic and there are other TopHats running around the Internet. Why the 8855? Those were the last 4 digits of my highschool ID number. I thought it was fairly general and not identity-compromising, so I used it.

So there you go. That's the story. :)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Gentle Discipline

I've spent a lot of my time lately on the Internet looking for information about Gentle Discipline because all the books at the library are checked out and I'm on waiting lists for hold items.

I know a few people who have decided that parenting books aren't needed, but for me, they are. I know that my exposure to parenting is limited and I know that there are things that my parents did with me that I do not want to do with my kids. I also know that if I don't find alternatives, I'll end up reverting to what I was brought up with. I want to know other options. I want to know what else there is. If you don't know your options, you have none.

However, it takes a lot of time to develop a habit. I know that if I read a book just once, it won't stick in my head. I have to return again multiple times or else, once again, I'll revert back to what I grew up with.

So I've found a couple of articles lately I thought I'd share.

Understanding Temper Tantrums This was in the LLL's New Beginnings Magazine Issue 5, 2008 and I really liked it. Usually I throw out (recycle) magazines because I'm against having extra stuff in the house, but I kept this issue because of this article. Of course, now that I found it online, I can de-clutter. :)

Cry for Connection: A Fresh Approach to Tantrums I found a link to this one on a forum last week and enjoyed it, also.

Fair is Fair This one talks about forced sharing. I struggle with the idea of forcing behaviors in our children even if it seems like a good idea like the command, "Say 'I'm sorry'!" I'm still looking for more information on this. I just doesn't seem right to me to force good behavior, but I also know it's good to demonstrate kind behavior. I'm still looking for ideas on this.

One thing I do actively try to do is ask myself, "If Christ were Margaret's mom, how would He handle the situation?"

Sunday, March 08, 2009

IWD: Violence against Women and Girls

Today is International Women's Day. Because the United States didn't pick a national theme for the day, I'm going to go with the United Nation's:

Women and Men United to End Violence Against Women and Girls

While a little over a year old, I ran into this article recently, "The judge in a child sex assault case being heard in the Northern Territory Supreme Court has told reporters in the courtroom not to use the word 'rape' in relation to the case." While this particular case is about a boy, I've been thinking about how we use language especially in cases of sexual harassment, assault, and rape. When the offense isn't labeled, it is lessened.
Last year I ran into this article about how one student took a stand against sexual violence by labeling the act for what it is.

Tyler Jones was tipping back a couple of beers with friends at a Dinkytown bar when he suddenly had to take a stand.

"Hey, see that girl over there?" Jones recalled an acquaintance asking, nodding toward a woman he wanted to take home. "She's almost drunk. Not quite drunk enough. ... What shot should I buy her?"

There was a time, Jones says, when he might have laughed off the remark. Not anymore.

"You want to buy her something really strong to like, basically knock her out?" Jones, a University of Minnesota senior, recalled saying. "Man, that's not right. That's rape. That's sexual assault."

The acquaintance looked stunned. "Whatever," he mumbled, and walked away.

By labeling the act as rape and sexual assault, he was an instrument in preventing it.

I feel that this is probably one of, if not THE best ways to prevent sexual violence. I've thought about the times where I was the recipient sexual harassment- and while words aren't physically violent, they are emotionally. I've been harassed while jogging, in a job interview (didn't take the job), at a different job, just walking down the street. In most of these instances, I was a teenager and didn't know how to handle it so I just ignored it, but by ignoring it I feel that I was being permissive of it. What I should have done is stopped and said, "That's sexual harassment. I am going to_____(call the cops, the Better Business Bureau, etc)."

Labeling the violence removes the blame from the victim. It doesn't matter what you wore, where you were at, how intoxicated you were: rape is still rape and is not your fault. Date rape is rape. Incest is rape. Unwanted groping is assault. Cat calls and whistles are verbal assaults. And it's not about sexuality; it's about power.

I've thought about this more recently as a mother. I want my children to label sexual violence as such and not explain it away as something lesser.

Just a few months ago, I was with a couple of other parents. One of the families had a little boy, 2 years old, who was still in pajamas and needed to change into his play clothes. Another family had a little girl just under 2. While the parents of the boy were changing him, the parents of the girl edged her on to say, "Take it off, (name)!" The girl repeated what her parents told her to and both the boy's and girl's parents laughed thinking it was all in good fun. I didn't say it at the time because I was too stunned to put my feelings into words, but if I ever run into this again I will not hesitate to label this, "That's sexual harassment."

That incident still haunts me: why didn't I speak up? I really regret my silence, but I try to constantly ask myself, would the words I use encourage my children to see other people or themselve as sexual objects instead of human beings? Do they see and hear me treating others or myself as sexual objects?

Sites I browsed while looking this up and wanted to share:
Jackson Katz: Violence Against Women Is a Men's Issue
Ten Year Old's Aren't "Asking for It," Judge
This is Not an Invitation to Rape Me

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday

So I thought this week I'd join this- I read a few blogs that regularly do Works for Me Wednesday. I never could think of something that ever worked for me, but as I was tidying up the house on Monday, I realized something does work for me:

Random Number Generators

There's a part of me that likes things tidy and then there's another part of me that can't stand order. The first 3 weeks of 2009 were strange for me. When the house is perfectly picked up, I feel out of my element. Order and I just do not get along well, yet a messy house nags at the back of my mind.

It's quite the conundrum. Part of the issue is I don't know where to start. And if I start by the door, I know I'll never get over to the kitchen and vice verse. What do I do?

This is where the Random Number Generator comes in. I number a list of all the surfaces that need tidying and de-cluttered. It usually looks like this:
  1. Table
  2. Counter 1
  3. Counter 2
  4. Counter 3
  5. Counter 4
  6. Sink
  7. Oven
  8. Dresser
  9. Bed
  10. Couch
  11. Chair
  12. Desk
  13. Floor by my side of the bed
  14. Floor in front of couch
  15. Floor by desk
  16. Front entrance
Then I go to They have a "sequence generator." I put in my smallest value (1) and my largest (16) and then it generates the order in which I tidy the house. Usually each "spot" takes 5 to 15 minutes (depending on if counters 1 through 4 have dishes on them).

With this, I'm not stuck in the kitchen for an hour. And I don't spend my time only in the living/bedroom while the dishes don't get done. Everything gets done. I get to see progress right away, "Look! The couch is all clear!" And I'm not confining myself to order.

It's silly. It's kind of nerdy (once I did this with a D20 when a number generator was too boring for me). But it works for me. I owe my clean home to atmospheric noise.

Click on the Works for Me Wednesday icon to go see everyone else's tips for today!

Sock Winner

So I sent the jury out on this, and by that I asked McKay for his opinion.

And he said he liked Emily's response,

But if I was in a dramatic mood, I would start going on some long, drawn-out, completely made-up story as to why my poor baby didn't have socks, take the money, then go buy a candy bar:

"Oh I'm so glad you stopped just now! My poor baby has no socks. You see, I was given this coat 3 years ago by my grandmother, the day before she passed away. I tried to sell it to get more money this winter for socks, but I couldn't bear to be parted with it in the end. And as you can see, I can't even afford a stroller. So I was on my way to go clean a woman's house to earn enough money to buy her socks. I was so worried about her little feet being too cold, but what could I do? I even called my mother, who lived in Northern Michigan, to ask her advice. She used to be a registered nurse, before she had her accident...."

and so on, until they get bored or get the point.
So Emily, you get baby socks! We can arrange the details off-blog. I can make them as frilly as you like.

And thanks to everyone's ideas. That was a lot of fun. Now I can go out better prepared today as I run errands with my sock-less daughter. To the grocery store!