Monday, April 27, 2009

Carnival Semantics

For those of you who want to join in the "This is what Nursing a Toddler Looks Like" carnival, I'd like for you to send me your blog posts by this Friday: May 1st. This is so I have a good idea of how many people want to participate. Also, I found that for the April Breastfeeding Carnival, the act of me sending in my post made it easier to have ready to post on time: cut and paste!

Remember your post can be just about anything: a fun story, a picture, how nursing a toddler is different from a baby, difficulties, triumphs, etc. Email me at itsallaboutthehat (at) gmail (dot) com by the end of the day Friday.

I'm really looking forward to this!

Sunday, April 26, 2009


I wanted to share a comment I made on a friend's blog a few weeks back.

I think the hardest part is differentiating between making judgment on an action and making a judgment on a person. When we judge a person "bad" we are essentially denying the ability of the atonement to save them. However, I think judging actions is different and we have to judge actions at some point. For example, it's fine to say "Murder is wrong" but to say, "That murderer is a bad person" is not.

This gets fuzzy when we start making judgments such as "spanking is no different than hitting." We have to be careful that we're not saying, "Parents who spank are bad parents." And as people on the receiving end of such statements, we have to remember to separate ourselves from the action. When people say, "Homebirth is risky and dangerous" we should remind ourselves that they AREN'T saying, "You are a bad mom for putting you and your baby in 'danger'."

Also, I wanted to clarify why I talk about unassisted birth, ECing, extended breastfeeding, etc. There are two main reasons:
  1. Because I found that these "alternative" lifestyle choices work really well for us and I want to share them- perhaps they'll work well for you. In the same way my in-laws and husband keep telling me that Disneyland is this cool place; I've never been, but they keep insisting, "Hey! We've been there! It's cool- you should go some day!"
  2. Because the people who make those choices can't find a lot of support sometimes- I want to give them that support. In the example of UCing, many UCers have no support from the people around them: friends, family. Their only support comes from online: reading the stories and blogs of people who've done it, too. I want them to have the support they need because I know I needed the same support. The same goes for "extended" breastfeeding: I want to have a carnival because sometimes we need to hear each other's stories and feel supported. I know one mom who feels very lonely because she's still nursing her 4 year old. I know another mom who tries to breastfeed her 2 year old less in public because she's worried about what other people are thinking.

I don't blog about these things because I think, "Neener neener neener- I'm way cooler than you!" And I try very hard not to come across that way. I hope that I'm doing better at that than I did a year ago and that a year from now I'll be better than today.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Fill-ins

1. Apparently there's some sort of weird dream bug going around. I've had crazy dreams lately.

2. Yesterday was a sunny day. I hope we have more next week.

3. 2009 has been the most productive year as far as my personal growth so far.

4. In the mail yesterday there was a card for Margaret and that was it.

5. For too long I've been stuffy nosed and sore throated.

6. I am not obsessed with knitting romance novels; I am not! But somehow, romance novelists like to write about knitting.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to having the house clean, tomorrow my plans include a natural living conference and Sunday, I want to actually be well enough to go to church!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

This is What Nursing a Toddler Looks like

I was at a friend's house, Margaret wanted to nurse, so I nursed her. Margaret was on my breast for a whole... 5 seconds? maybe? Then she wanted to play. My friend asked, "That's it?" "Yeah. That's it." Granted, Margaret very rarely has ever nursed longer than 5 minutes- only if she's very tired or not feeling well.

I was thinking about my friend's shock at a 5 second nursing session. It wasn't shocking to me because I'm used to that. But how often do you have the chance to see a toddler nursing? It's not the same as a newborn. Nursing already encompasses the comfort, frustration, and hilarity of life with a babe, but it's compounded and exaggerated in extremes with a toddler.

I'd like to have a blog carnival at the beginning of May: a "This is What Nursing a Toddler Looks Like" carnival. Blog about nursing your toddler: how is nursing different now? have a funny toddler nursing story? is nursing a toddler easier/harder than you thought it would be? Can your child nurse upside down and do you have a pic?

This is also open to nursing preschoolers and other children posts, too! My plan is to spend the week of May 4 dedicated to toddler nursing and I'd like to have the posts linked up on May 5.
I'll have more details later about how to link up. I'm trying to decide between Mr. Linky and the type of linkage from the Breastfeeding Carnival. Anyone with carnival experience have suggestions?

Birthday cake or breast? How is that a difficult choice?

Monday, April 20, 2009

How to be Comfortable Around Breastfeeding

I recently learned that there is a monthly breastfeeding carnival and thought I'd join in this month. This month's theme is "How To." As the day continues I will edit this post to link to the other posts in the carnival. Welcome April Carnival of Breastfeeding readers!
Would you believe that while I was pregnant with my daughter, I wasn't comfortable around breastfeeding moms? It seems strange to think about now, but I wasn't. My experience with breastfeeding was little to none. My mom didn't breastfeed my siblings and the one time that I saw a woman breastfeeding when I was preteen, it was my neighbor across the street breastfeeding her toddler on her porch. While now I'd like to go find her and say, "Good for you!" at the time, my opinions where shaped by my parents: that it was disgusting and gross to breastfeed in front of other people- and especially a child who could talk.

When I was pregnant, I discovered lactivism by reading stories of women breastfeeding and their being "asked to leave" establishments or receiving rude comments. I came to understand that expecting a child or a mother to leave to cover up is to segregate them from their friends, family, and society in general. This is discrimination. But I still was uneasy around breastfeeding moms. I got over that- and this is what I did.

  1. Be around breastfeeding moms. This is probably the single most important step. I started going to LLL meetings and to a playgroup when I was pregnant. Even in Margaret's early days, I was still nervous being around breastfeeding moms, but the playgroups helped. As I saw their confidence, mine grew.
  2. Question why I was uneasy. I knew intellectually that breastfeeding wasn't obscene, wasn't indecent, wasn't wrong, yet I still got emotionally tied up. In my mind, I tried to approach those feelings. Is it because I was struggling with my understanding of modesty? Am I still sexualizing breasts? Is it because I am uncomfortable with my own body and breasts and their function and I'm imposing my own discomfort on the breastfeeding mother next to me?
  3. Eye contact. Like a friend of mine said, "It's like when you're with a friend at an ATM- do you try to look away when they put in their pin or do you continue facing them in conversation?" I was afraid that the mom would be nervous if I was looking at her. Would she be uncomfortable if her baby popped off and I saw a millisecond of nipple? I realized something though: if she's comfortable to be breastfeeding in front of you, then she's comfortable with whatever you might happen to see, so just keep talking and enjoying yourself. Would you turn away if she was handing the child pieces of fruit or crackers?
  4. Become a breastfeeding mother yourself. I know there are lots of people who can't do this step, but it was helpful. A lot of times when people are uneasy around breastfeeding, I know their opinions will probably change if they get the chance to do it themselves. Sometimes experience is the best teacher. Learning what it's like to be on the other end helped me be comfortable in my body and in my breasts and has helped me be comfortable with other moms' breasts.
It's not hard, but yet there seems to be so many invisible mental barriers. It took me some time, but I did it and I know you can do it too.
Photos taken by McKay, featuring Emily, Ruby, Margaret and me. And isn't Margaret just the epitome of good position? Don't worry- she was well supported. That girl can nurse upside down.

Friday, April 17, 2009

How to Talk, How to Listen

So I read Faber and Mazlish's How to Talk So Kids WIll Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. I had heard a lot about this book and lots of praise for it. And overall, it definitely adds some techniques to your bag of tricks. I liked the examples of writing down children's concerns and working them out with them and a lot of the suggestions were compassionate. Lots of good little tips spread through out the book.

But at some points this book drove me crazy- particularly its suggestion to use notes- especially since the examples were just too passive aggressive to me.

As a child who's been on the receiving end of a parent's passive aggressive note, I feel that the note was an attempt to manipulate me. It felt demeaning to me; I would have much rather been treated like an equal and just spoken to instead of manipulated with a note. In the book, the example of a note on a mirror, "Help! Hairs in my drain give me a pain. Glug, your stopped up sink" was just too reminiscent of this site. If I had been on the receiving end of that note, I guarantee it would have been ignored and I would have been thinking up some sort of passive aggressive retaliation. I do think notes would work with children if it was agreed upon ahead of time such as, "I don't think you like me nagging you about everything, would it be better if I left a note of what I expect when I go run errands on Saturday?" In that way, the child is still spoken to directly and treated with respect. But the passive aggressive aspect of some of the examples- no thanks.

This is probably a book I'll have to look at later and review it again at that time- most of the suggestions wouldn't work for a child under the age of 5 or so and not having an older child makes me at a disadvantage to rate some of the techniques. And just like most parenting books, take what you want and leave the rest.

Friday Fill-ins

1. Join me in taking a little walk.

2. Put a little dance music in your day!

3. Happiness is waking up to a sunny day and having the windows open.

4. It's ok to start off disoriented and confused.

5. I'm waiting for the sunshine to stay.

6. The pull of the Internet is hard to resist.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to something... I know it's important, but I've forgotten what it is, tomorrow my plans include possibly a baby shower if I get over this sickness and Sunday, I want to go to church (how original)!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


We've given some thought to how we'd like our children to learn. Knowing that we'll probably end up in California and after what I've heard of the California school system, I'm not that impressed. Of course, schools are different in different areas and maybe our local school district will be a great match for our kids, but I thought I might as well prepare for homeschooling.

Last week at the library I checked out a book on different homeschooling methods. I read about classical, unit study, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Thomas Jefferson, Waldorf, eclectic, and a few others. I think each method has a worthy treasure or two, however, as I read one thought kept coming in my head, "This is way too structured."

I think I'm going to unschool. I checked out The Unschooling Handbook and while it's odd to think that unschooling needs a handbook, it's a great introduction to unschooling.

It's easy to see how young children are excited to learn- and then somewhere near the end of elementary school, they lose that excitement- and I think it's because the schools squelch that excitement and it disappears. The key to unschooling is trusting that your children will want to learn. I think we get it in our brains that kids won't learn unless we shove it down their throats. I feel that, as children of God, the desire to learn is something that's innate within us. If as parents, we demonstrate that we love learning and don't squelch that desire in our children, then they will want to learn and become lifelong learners.

And I figure unschooling is going so well already. In recent months, Margaret's learned to walk, sign "potty," to communicate more effectively with pointing, to get off the couch safely, the words "ohhh" and "hi," which books are her favorites, and more. Unschooling is going great- why change?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Why I chose Attachment Parenting

When I was a teenager, I knew I didn't want to parent the way my parents did. I didn't want to yell. I didn't want to hold my children back. I didn't want to be passive aggressive. And I didn't want to smother their emotions.

From what I understand and from what I remember, my parents valued silence and not showing emotion. I believe the idea was that if you were really comfortable with the people around you, you didn't need to fill that space with words or sound, so to show your comfort, you were quiet. Of course, this makes for a pretty uncomfortable life, especially when you're a human and not a Vulcan, and especially when you have lots of strong emotions and no one helps you deal with them.

And I have strong emotions. And strong hormones. Sometimes those hormones amplified my emotions, and sometimes I was simply very emotionally invested in something and didn't need extra hormones to enhance my feelings. But all too often I was told, "It's just hormones. You're too out of control."

This hurt. Sure, perhaps my emotions were heightened because of hormones, but they were still my emotions. Somewhere inside me I really felt that way even if it only appeared once a month. I vowed I'd never tell my kids anything on the lines of "it's just hormones." It's too hurtful on the receiving end.

Then I grew up, got married, got pregnant, wanted an unassisted birth. I went to an LLL meeting and met some people- the first people who fully supported me and my birth. And they also invited me to their AP playgroup.

I had heard of "AP" when I was on unassisted birth forums, but didn't look that much into it. When this AP playgroup was offered to me, I knew I wanted to be with these women because of their support, so I figured I'd check out this new acronym.

I read books, the Internet, and asked these women about their parenting. And for the first time ever, I found a parenting style that I wanted: oe that gave children the ability to feel sad or happy without shoving those feelings away, one that didn't involve yelling, one that didn't involve coercion or manipulation.

The moms there aren't perfect. And I still hear myself saying things like, "She's just tired" to excuse Margaret's emotions which hauntingly echoes "It's just hormones," but I'm trying to do better. All the women there are trying to do better- I don't know a group of more dedicated, proactive moms. Some have spanked and some have yelled, but none feel that these are acceptable ways to communicate with children and all are consciously trying to do better. They are always trying to support and preserve the dignity of their children.

I chose to be an AP parent because I want my children to know that it's ok to be sad or happy or angry. Those emotions are part of the human experience and are a huge part of who a person is. I don't want my children to hide in their rooms because they are afraid of me. I want them to know that no matter what they feel or do, I actively love them and that will never be withheld.

Some of the moms at my house for New Year's:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Fill-ins

1. Anonymous comments aren't allowed because too often the name "anonymous" is synonymous with cowardice.

2. Reading is a yarn-less pasttime. Someday I'll figure out how to do both knitting and reading at once.

3. Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, because hugs make everything sweeter.

4. The warm days and being able to go to the park is what I look forward to most about Spring.

5. Who needs therapy when you have knitting, books, and girlfriends?

6. Nothing MUST go into the Easter Basket!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to sewing and knitting, tomorrow my plans include grocery shopping and Sunday, I want to sleep in!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Play Day

PhDinParenting's Carnival of Play is going on until the 15th! Check out the other posts!

"A child's job is to play."

I don't remember where I heard/read that, but I do remember that when I did first come across that idea last year, it was life-changing for me. It doesn't sound life-changing, I know, but it did. It has made me a much more relaxed mom.

Since then, when Margaret gets into various cabinets making a mess, pulls down all my books from my shelf, scatters all the junk mail, and unravels all my yarn, I remember this: what she is doing is EXACTLY what she's supposed to be doing. It's easier to not get frustrated when I use this perspective. She's supposed to get into things and have fun. It's her JOB.

And she's rather good at her job.

So today I did a little experiment: I wondered what would happen if I played with Margaret the entire day. I expected my day to just be a never-ending energy sapper, but I quickly learned that Margaret really does enjoy her free-play time. In the morning after some play time, I noticed that she was more interested in my wide variety of knitting needles than me, so I decided I'd back off and let her play with those on her own, but I would sit nearby available if she needed me- and she did come to me when she wanted to nurse. I observed these periods of playing by herself over the entire day, and I discovered I had a lot of free time- more than I thought I would.

I don't know a lot about play and the scientific studies around it, but I'm going to assume that her individual play time without me is normal. It's either that or a sign that I've been ignoring her too much. I'll have to read Playful Parenting.

I also watched McKay with her in the evening. I was working on cutting up some vegetables for dinner and she was at my feet indicating that she wanted to be picked up by tugging on my pant legs. I asked McKay to come get her and instead of just coming and getting her like I expected, he turned it into a little chase game where he sneaked up and stole her away. She has a lot of fun with her daddy.

I also learned more about where she is at developmentally. She loves to mimic- even trying to snap during a song. She brings books to me to read and once I've done reading it, she'll flip through the pages mumbling to herself- I assume she's reading. She's also fascinated with whatever book I'm reading and will flip through my books despite the fact that there are no pictures. She also loves to sing and dance with songs. Also, we had more EC success since I was so attentive to her all day. At one point, I went to help her off the potty and she signed "potty" and made the potty sound telling me she wasn't done, and sure enough, she wasn't!

Our Play Day was a lot of fun- and it wouldn't take much to make every day a Play Day and still get some of the chores done especially since I don't really get them all done on normal days. It was a great little experiment and I think I'll try it more often.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Unconditional Parenting

Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason by Alfie Kohn was an amazing book. Somethings are easier to swallow than others: it's easy to accept that time-outs and spankings don't work, harder to accept that "good job!" and stickers for good behavior are damaging. But the concepts of this book are mind-blowing.

One of the most important things that Kohn points out is that it doesn't matter when, as parents, we say, "Of course I love my child unconditionally!" if our child doesn't get that impression through our words and actions. I see this all the time. I have lots of friends who as adults struggle with their relationships with their parents- go to counseling, some even have cut off their contact all together. I wouldn't be surprised if my friends' parents are wondering, "Why are they cutting me off? I love them! Can't they see that?" But, I wonder, if their actions really showed that when they were raising their children. To a child, knowing emotionally that your parents love you unconditionally is more important than knowing it intellectually.

This book isn't full of, "This is what you should do if ____ happens." Kohn repeats that he doesn't know your child and a parenting book like that would be useless. He gives some examples from his own life and some suggestions for ways to deal with various problems, but it's definitely not all-inclusive.

The first part of the book might be hard to get through: he presents studies which demonstrate how harmful punishments and rewards can be to children. It might seem like he never stops with that, but he does. I think Kohn felt that he had to fully refute punishments and rewards before he got on to his philosophies and suggestions. If you get through that first bit, it will cause you to really question, "Why?" to everything you do as a parent.

He admits that his unconditional parenting approach is time-intensive. If you want a quick-fix, this isn't the book: he questions whether or not our quick-fixes have the long-term effects we want them to.

Personally, I found his unconditional parenting approach most like how I think Christ would parent. He emphasizes patience, unconditional love, not using bribery or fear, not worrying what other people around you think of your parenting. However, like I said, it's not a "How To" book. It's a "change the way you view your relationship with your children" book. I've heard that a great follow-up book to Unconditional Parenting is Faber and Mazlish's How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and How to Listen So Kids Will Talk which I hope to get my hands on in the future.

Yes, it can be hard to swallow, but I would definitely recommend it. You will think differently when you're done. I could write a whole lot more on this book, but I'd end up just transcribing the book onto my blog, and I obviously can't do that for copyright reasons. Check out the book. It's good.