Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Changes in Nursing

We've had 2 big changes in nursing in the past couple of weeks. Margaret is in full-blown toddler "I have opinions" stage and you can totally tell.

Big change #1: Margaret's twiddling. Margaret twiddles with the nipple she's not latched on to. I've mentioned before that this doesn't bother me much because I'm not easily "touched out". It can start to bother me in the evenings, so when I nurse her to sleep at night, I try to deter her from doing it. This reminds me- I need to clip her nails.

Anyway, the other night, I was blocking my nipple from her and was on my way to sleep when I noticed that she kept "jumping" at regular-ish intervals. I got up and found out that she was pulling her hair out. If she's not twiddling with my nipple she's pulling her hair out! I noticed it again the other night. So I gave up on the twiddling thing. We waited so long for her to not look bald, I do not want her pulling her hair out. So I gave her my nipple to twiddle. Maybe I'm totally vain about that, but I'd rather her twiddle. She does sign and ask "please" before she twiddles, though. So that's nice. And the extra nipple stimulation is good for my supply, right?

Big change #2: No more layers.
I've mentioned I usually use layers when nursing her. They bother her. It used to be that if I pulled up a shirt or undershirt, she'd grab the shirt and pull it up an extra 3 inches for me. It kind of defeated the purpose of the layers. Anyway, she's decided she doesn't believe in layers at all anymore. When she asks to nurse, I'll lift up the shirt, pull down the bra, and Margaret looks at my breast, waves, and says, "Bye!" and covers my breast again (this is our "no nursing now" signal). Then she'll pull the shirt and all my underclothes and bra up from the bottom so that my entire beautiful torso is showing and she'll latch on. She's ok with pulling down from the top as long as everything is pulled down- no little tank top layers pulled up! I don't blame her- I wouldn't want to eat with fabric near my face either and I always thought it was just easier to pull down anyway. And it's much less noticeable if I just pull down than if I sit there fighting her about the layers. So that's what we're doing now.

So yay. Twiddling and no layers. It's a fun party over here. At least she has her hair, right? :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Boo Nestle

This week is the #boonestle effort. We boycott Nestle all the time, but if you don't, please join in for just this week.

Last night we went Halloween candy shopping. We wanted to make sure we could get non-Nestle candies. One thing to remember is that even though Kit Kat is made by Hershey in the United States, Nestle owns the name, so to be safe, we made sure we bought non-Kit Kat varieties of Hershey bars.

It is just not about the unethical marketing of breastmilk subsitutes, but includes how they treat employees and to whom they outsource labor.

Companies won't regulate themselves against their own interest and profits so we as customers need to regulate where our money goes. Please don't support unethical business practices.

Baby Milk Action
The boycott on Facebook
The boycott on Twitter
Products to boycott (UK)
List from Crunchy Domestic Goddess

Monday, October 26, 2009


No one asked questions for Inquisition Monday last week. Many months ago before I started Inquisition Monday, someone asked about my hats. Here are some pictures of some of my hats. I was planning on taking pictures last night, but it was really busy, so instead you get old pictures.

My first hat was a straw hat. Unfortunately, it got stepped on in the middle of the night and being straw, it didn't survive. Here it is in Germany. I was 17.
The Pin Stripe Fedora.
I went a few years without a nice hat. My freshman year in college, I received a check from my grandad for my birthday, so I took the bus to the mall and found this. This is one of our engagement photos- he's leaning.
Bucket Hat
I got this hat for working at Think Ink, where I worked in the summer after my senior year of high school. This picture was taken around the time I conceived Margaret, actually. We hiked the Y.
The Wedding Hat
My mother-in-law bought me this beautiful hat. Due to the fact that I wasn't as assertive then as I am now and to the fact that I'm also very forgetful, it wasn't worn in any of the pictures. :( I do wear it to church, though. And for maternity pictures, obviously.

DI Hat #1
I get hats at DI occassionally. Here's a little white one.

DI Hat #2

DI Hat #3- one of my greatest DI finds EVER.
Winter church hat. I think I bought this at Dillards.

Santa Hat.
McKay insisted on owning a couple of these.

White cloche. I bought this at a yarn store.
Knit Charlie Brown beanie.
Sometimes I knit hats. In A Charlie Brown Christmas, Linus wears a green hat with a large bobble. I wanted to make one, but also wanted it to be identified as being related to Peanuts, so I added the standard Charlie Brown stripes.
Red Hatter hat.
I got this from my mother-in-law because she was destashing her hat collection. She owns more hats than I do.

Death Hat
This was the hat that killed me in Hat Wars this year.

Well, there you are. Some of my hats. I have more, but these are the ones I had pictures of on hand. I need to get good pictures of them all. If there are any here that you'd like a better picture of, let me know. Next time I do a hat post, I'll repost those shiny new pictures. Inquisition Monday is still in force if you have questions for next week.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Too Big

This week I am working on a project that is draining my mental and emotional capacities. I will probably not blog much.

In the meantime, here's a beautiful video. It made me cry happy tears.

Also check out New Zealand's new campaign to encourage breastfeeding.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Inquisition Monday: Toddler Nursing and Fertility

The Fun Carter Family asked, "How long do you plan on nursing Margaret? Do you find that you get a lot of "odd" looks because you're still nursing?"

At the moment, I plan on nursing Margaret as long as she likes. I'm not easily "touched out" at this point, so I don't have any objections to continuing to nurse. I do feel more "touched out" around the time I ovulate because of hormones or when I'm very tired in the evenings, but that happens only a couple of times a month, but 95% of the time, it's working for both me and Margaret. If it's not broken, don't fix it, right?

As for odd looks, I don't actually get many. Or any. I think most people I interact with read my blog, know of it, or at least know my opinions on breastfeeding. I think my lack of odd looks is due to the fact that everyone knows this is important to me and I'm not going to be menaced into weaning by odd looks or even a verbal confrontation or anything less than Margaret no longer needing it. The only times people have asked me about it were simple curiosity. For example, a couple of months ago a lady at church asked me if I was still nursing Margaret, but I think it was because she hadn't seen me doing it in a while.

Seth and Brittney asked, "I have been wondering since you posted on it about how your breastfeeding interferes with your getting pregnant. I know this is more of a women's health question but can you explain that more? What makes it difficult when you are nursing the way you are--baby with access to the breast at night, etc.-- to get pregnant?"

In general, it's because of the hormone prolactin. Every time you nurse and your nipple is stimulated, prolactin is released. It's responsible for your milk supply, but also keeps your eggs from maturing and being released. This is why frequency and duration of breastfeeding have a great affect on fertility.

But what about people like me- I've had regular periods for over a year and have been consistently ovulating for over half a year (before that I wasn't taking my temps, so I can't be sure, though I found some notes the other day that indicate I was having fertile mucous from the very first cycle). My prolactin isn't doing its "don't ovulate" job.

Currently, I'm in what kellymom considers to be the 2nd phase of returning fertility, "Ovulation without luteal competence." What this means is that the time between my ovulation and my period is too short for a fertilized egg to implant and give the "Hey you're pregnant" signal. My body goes into period mode too soon, so even if I do have a fertilized egg, I never know. I could be having a miscarriage every month and not know it. From what I've read, luteal phase isn't related to prolactin, but progesterone- and I don't seem to have enough.

Lack of progesterone is actually good for my ability to make milk. From what I picked out of this lengthy, technically-dense article, progesterone and prolactin fight for the same receptors on the aveolar cells, meaning more progesterone can mean less prolactin- and less supply. This is why the progesterone-only "mini-pill" birth control can have an affect on supply, especially if supply hasn't been established prior to starting the pills. It doesn't have the same great affect as estrogen, but it has some.

Highlights from the kellymom page I linked to above:

The amount of time that it takes for the transition to full fertility varies from woman to woman. In general, the earlier that your menses return, the more gradual the return to full fertility.

Many moms can conceive without deliberately changing their toddler's nursing patterns. There is no "magic" threshold of breastfeeding that will allow you to conceive -- every mother is different. Some moms need to stretch out nursing frequency and/or shorten nursing sessions to make it easier to conceive -- babies naturally do this themselves as they get older, so one of your options is simply to wait a bit.

Changes that are more abrupt tend to bring fertility back faster (e.g., cutting out one nursing session abruptly, rather than gradually decreasing nursing time at that session) --even if you continue to breastfeed a great deal-- this is why many mothers experience the return of fertility when their child sleeps through the night or starts solid foods. If you decide to make changes to your nursing pattern, the time of day that you make the change (e.g., cutting out or shortening a nighttime nursing session as opposed to a daytime nursing session) should not make that much of a difference. Current research indicates that nursing frequency and total amount of time at the breast per 24 hours are the most important factors, rather than the time of day that the suckling occurs.

I think that for many moms night weaning is easier than day weaning, so it gets suggested a lot. Also it's an easy time to go without nursing for a few hours. I have heard of moms day weaning and nursing only for naps and night time in order to get their fertility back.

Am I going to do anything to lengthen my luteal phase like trying Vitex? Not right now. It's been quite a journey from nightmares of Margaret weaning a year ago to getting used to the idea that "if you have periods, you should assume that you are fertile" and thinking I might get pregnant any day. Going from using 3-4 pregnancy tests a month to giving up on that and just waiting has been a bit of a let down. Then I look at Margaret and see how small she still is and how much she needs needs the breast. I don't know when my full fertility will return, but right now it's just not supposed to happen for whatever reason.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tomato Soup

We made this a couple of weeks ago and forgot to take a picture, so I made it again tonight. I was really excited to find a tomato soup recipe that actually uses tomatoes as opposed to cans of tomatoes!
6 tomatoes, chopped
2.5 cups of vegetable broth
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 potato chopped
1 length of celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
olive oil
4 tbsp milk
salt to taste

Cook up the vegetables in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Mix that with the broth, paste, tomatoes, and spices in a big pot. Bring to boil, then turn down and simmer for 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and blend the soup until it is smooth. Add the milk and heat until bubbly. Eat!

The first time we made this we only had carrot and onion. This time we only had potato and celery. It was very good once we got it salted to taste. The original recipe didn't mention salt at all. Also this time I ran out of vegetable broth, so I used mushroom broth to make up for it. McKay loved it and Margaret tried to drink what she couldn't spoon from the bowl, so it got toddler approval.

I promise this won't turn into a recipe blog. We'll be back to our regularly scheduled Inquisition Monday tomorrow morning. :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Foil Wraped Salmon

We had this a week ago and it was very good.

olive oil
spinach leaves
1tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsps soy sauce
6 oz. of chopped tomato

Preheat oven to 400. Take 12 inch squares of foil and brush them with olive oil. Lay a layer of spinach leaves on them. Put a fillet on top of the spinach. Mix a tablespoon of olive oil with the vinegar and soy sauce in a bowl. Crush a garlic clove into it. Add the tomatoes to the mixture and put on top of the fillets. Fold the foil into pckets and back 15-20 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and eat!

The recipe also adds green onions when you add the tomatoes, but I forgot to buy some. Salmon was on sale, so that was a plus.

This recipe is also approved by my husband and toddler. We were joking about how some kids don't eat spinach, but Margaret was eating it up. Of course, when we tried the spinach we realized that it did taste really good. Best tasting cooked spinach ever. Maybe salmon is spinach-enhancing? If more kids ate spinach cooked with salmon, there would be a lot less spinach hate in the world.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cauliflower Curry

Because of last week's series of themed posts, I'm behind in our reviewing of meals.

Last night we had cauliflower curry. See my sad attempt to take a picture of it:
The lighting in our house is very poor especially in the evenings when there is no natural light.

1 inch of fresh ginger root cut up into tiny tiny pieces
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic
coriander (also known as cilantro)
1-1/2 cups of vegetable broth
1/2 cup red lentils
1 cauliflower, chopped
1 sweet potato, in 3/4 inch cubes
1 can of coconut milk
1 tbsp lemon juice

The recipe also called for tumeric, but I didn't have any so we left it out. It was still good. In fact, it was approved by both my husband and my toddler. It wasn't all that spicy; it could have been spicier.

Saute onion in sunflower oil for 3 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, cumin, and coriander and stir them all up. Add the vegetable broth and lentils and bring to a boil. Lower and simmer for 10 minutes. Fry the cauliflower and sweet potato with sunflower oil for 5 mintes constantly stirring. Add to the big pot of lentils and broth with the coconut milk. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice. Mix with the rice. You're done!

We lucked out; it's the season for sweet potatoes and such. I was able to find organic sweet potatoes and cauliflower on sale! Plus a couple of weeks ago, organic vegetable broth was on sale (really, really on sale) and so we had that on hand, too!

The recipe only called for a cup of coconut milk and a can is a cup and a half, but I figured it wouldn't matter much if we did the whole can. Plus I didn't know what we would do with that extra coconut milk. Next time I'd like to make sure we have tumeric- and there will be a next time! We were all fans- though it needed a little salt. I'm not one to add salt to my meals, but this one needed a little bit.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Inquisition Monday: Cleaning and Naps

Becky asked:
What kind of cleaning products do you use around the house? (I am guessing you use something natural and/or homemade. I am thinking of making my own, but I'm hesitant to invest a lot of money into it at first, and I've heard essential oils are kind of expensive. Do you have any simple recipes?)

As an all purpose cleaner, I'm currently using up a bottle that my mom gifted me from this company. I don't recommend them, though. While the stuff smells nice and works, I received the two bottles in a large box filled to the brim with Styrofoam. Their bottles say "waste less" but their shipping doesn't prove to be that way at all. Actions versus words.

I also use Simple Green. I bought a bottle before we were married and it's highly concentrated. It's 100% not natural, all chemicals, but it is biodegradable, so that's something, right? Well, I tell myself that anyway.

For Margaret's ECing misses, we use a spray made of vinegar and water. That's it. When we steam clean the carpet, we use a cup of vinegar, water, and some tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is antibacterial, antifungal. One website claimed it was antiviral also. That wikipedia page I linked to claims it can even help against MRSA. Wow. It is expensive but I can usually find it on sale and you don't need to use much at all. Four ounces can get us through a year easily, though that might be a reflection of my laziness when it comes to cleaning.

I'll put a few drops in our cloth diaper washes because of the antieverything properties. Because it can damage the fabric of the diapers, I've heard it's best to put the drops on a cloth instead of putting it straight into the wash. I just put some in on a flat diaper; I figure it won't get too damaged. Just a few drops in the steam cleaner and the smell completely overpowers the cup of vinegar. You only need a few drops ever. It's not safe to ingest, so keep it out of reach of children and pets. It can even be a bit of an irritant if put directly on skin (diluted is ok for ringworm, athlete's foot, yeast, etc).

When I finish up those other all-purpose cleaners, I'm going to definitely make most of my cleaning products with a baking soda base. I "starred" this tutorial in my Google Reader.

AnnEE asked
I saw in your post from yesterday that you nurse Margaret to sleep. Do you plan on nursing her to sleep for as long as you breastfeed, or do you plan to transition her to falling asleep on her own sometime? Does this mean that you pretty much always must be with Margaret? Does this ever make you feel trapped or frustrated?

I nurse Margaret to sleep because I'm the laziest person on the planet and it only takes 10 minutes. She can, and has, fallen asleep without the breast. If she's really tired, she'll just fall asleep on her own. If she needs help and breast isn't available, she can fall asleep with some rocking. I've held her while bouncing on the exercise ball because there have been times when breast isn't enough. McKay will just walk around and pat her back and sing to her if I'm not around. We even use the car still if nothing else is working.

I am with Margaret a lot. McKay is either at school or work during the day, so I'm always with her for her naps. There have been a few times when I've been out without her and I've come home to find that McKay put her to sleep. "How did she fall asleep, McKay? You don't have breasts!" "I sang to her." "Oh, right."

I don't mind nursing her to sleep most of the time. I can usually be on the Internet or read a book while doing it. I also don't worry about her becoming dependent on it. I figure she won't be needing the breast to fall asleep a decade from now. If it falls into the "Well, she won't be doing this as a teen" category, I don't stress myself about it. This goes for breastfeeding, cosleeping, and even throwing her food on the floor. She won't be on a date at 17 and have the irresistible urge to throw her food on the floor because I didn't stop her when she was 1, you know? So I don't worry about it. It's just a phase and she'll grow out of it eventually without any pushing from me.

But I digress. I do pretty much always have to be with Margaret, but again, I don't mind. In fact, I feel naked without her. I like having her with me. She's funny and happy and exciting. She's definitely one of the "cool" kids that people like to be around. And I pretend that being around her makes me cool too.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Fun Theory

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook this morning. I thought it was pretty relevant to parenting and my post last night.

How do you get people and children to do things? Make it fun.


The phrases in bold are my personal mom-reminders. If I had these tattooed to my arms, I'd be a much better person.

I talk out loud to Margaret during her tantrums. Margaret doesn't understand the things I'm saying, nor do I expect her to. I say these things out loud because I need to hear it and remind myself. Between the two of us, the person who needs discipline is myself.

I do think it's possible to talk Margaret to death, though, so I'm trying to give myself these reminders in my head. She probably doesn't want to listen to me lecture myself about how what she's doing is age appropriate, especially when it sort of sounds like I'm lecturing her. Reminder to self: do, don't say. It's better to tell myself these things in my head and act on them instead of saying it all out loud.

"You're feeling disappointed/frustrated/etc. It's hard to show frustration when you don't have words for it, so you use your body and volume." The first part "You're feeling ____" is to give Margaret a word for her feelings- I try to give her the vocabulary for her feelings; some day she'll be able to reference that vocabulary (I hope!). The rest of that is what I tell myself in my head to remind me not to get upset at her. She is communicating the only way she can. I also remind myself to respond to her and listen to her to encourage her to keep communicating. I want her to know that no matter how angry or frustrated she gets, she can tell me about it. I actually learned this from elimination communication: I need to respond to her signals so she knows that it's worth it to give me those signals. If I ignore her signals, she'll stop giving them. In tantrums, I want her to know that it's worth it to try to communicate with me, that I do want to listen to her and that her feelings are important to me. I feel that if I were to send her away in a "time out" she would get the impression that I don't want to listen to her problems and that I only like her when she's "good." And that's not true at all; I love her unconditionally.

"It's ok to not feel good/be angry/to cry." I try very hard to make sure that I don't give her the impression that it's bad to be upset. I don't want her to think she has to hide her emotions and that negative emotions are "bad." I also need to say this out loud to remind myself that it's ok, too. I think I sometimes don't know how to handle her negative emotions because my own emotions were suppressed so much as a child. Telling myself that it's ok for her to be upset helps me relax about the situation. Negative emotions are a part of living and we need to learn how to deal with them in a healthy way. For me, hiding and being ashamed of negative emotions is not healthy.

Another thing I ask myself is, "Is it that big of a deal?" It's a "pick your battles" thing. And pretty much, unless it's a safety issue, I let it go. While frustrating, does it matter that she likes to completely strip her entire bottom half (socks and leg warmers included) when she goes potty? No. Does it matter that took all the DVDs out of the drawer? Not really. That she wants to wear 5 necklaces to the store? Nope.

From what I understand in LDS theology, the transgressions of children before their age of accountability fall to the parents because they are responsible for teaching. I never really "got" this. I think I understand it better now. When Margaret is doing something "wrong" like playing with scissors or running around the parking lot it's because I didn't keep those scissors out of reach, I didn't make sure she was safe. Her lack of impulse control is no one's fault- it's even appropriate and good for her because it facilitates learning and growth. When she "transgresses" it falls on my head because it was my responsibility to prevent those "bad" situations.

I think the biggest thing with discipline is to model behavior. She has learned to fold her arms for prayer, bring me her dinner plate to clean, and even put her folded clothes in her drawer by example. I've never actually shown her how to do any of those; she did them on her own. The other day she signed and said "please" and I have no idea where that came from! I'm really bad with using "please." Of course, sometimes she doesn't do these things, and that's ok, too. Sometimes I don't do all the dishes or vacuum regularly. I need to remind myself to be merciful with her. She's a young little person and she's acting exactly how she should.

Tangental note:
I think it's interesting that Luke's interpretation of the "Be ye therefore perfect" invitation in the Sermon on the Mount is "Be ye therefore merciful." Perhaps what will make us perfect is giving mercy to each other and ourselves.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Power Struggles

When I was trying to get Margaret dressed this morning, I realized I forgot to mention "power struggles" in my "In the Moment" post.

This morning was one of those mornings where Margaret put on a coat and thought she was dressed enough to go outside. "Margaret, you need something on your butt! Let's get some pants and socks and shoes!"


Oh fun times. Well, I try to make them fun.

In one book I read (I want to say it was Pantley's The No-Cry Nap Solution, but I looked through it and couldn't find it), it talked about bedtimes and getting kids to sleep. It talked about the reaction of saying "No" and running away to a "Let's get your pajamas on" suggestion. It said something on the lines of "Why not take a 5 minute break and indulge your child in a game of chasing? Play a little game of tag and then when your child is "tagged out" put the pajamas on her." This was kind of eye opening to me. Why not? Margaret does this all the time; she likes to be chased by us. Why don't I turn her "No!" into a game?

So I've been doing that. I think it's normal for kids to want to play tag. Of course, this happens at "inconvenient" times like in a parking lot or while getting her dressed. If I can and if the safety of the situation allows it (obviously not in a parking lot), I try to indulge her. She wants me to chase her down? Why not? She just wants to play.

It's not always tag and chase. When I put her socks and shoes on, we do the Hokey Pokey, "You put your right foot in, so we can go out, you put your right foot in, and we shake it all about!" She seems to respond to the song and movements very well.

One blog post I came across in the Interwebs (couldn't re-find this one either) suggested making the wanted item "talk." For example, at dinner time having the dinner food call the child, "Eat us! We're yummy!" or moving the diaper like a puppet, "I want you to wear me!" It sounded really dorky and lame... but it works. McKay's tried it a couple of times when Margaret's been against wearing a diaper for bed. She won't come to me or him, but Margaret totally comes over and lies down for the talking diaper. It's actually pretty hilarious.

I'd like to read more about turning discipline into games and read the book Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen, but our local library doesn't have it. Interlibrary loan will soon be my best friend.

In the Moment

This is actually not a tantrum- this is Margaret being tired. She was playing with my buttons and then decided to lie down and rest. "Hey, Mom, I need breastmilk and a nap!"

I've talked about lifestyle and nutrition choices, but despite our best efforts, we can't avoid tantrums and struggles 100% of the time. What do we do?

Here's my basic frustration recipe: get down on the ground with her, offer a hug or breast or distract her in another way. "Oh! Look over there! Blocks!" If I start playing with the blocks she'll usually come to play with me.

Sometimes that doesn't work, so I usually just stay with her until she feels better. I'll get down to her level and wait and offer to hold or nurse her if she'd like. Sometimes she wants something right away, and sometimes she wants it a few moments later. That happens when she's really tired: her body is just not working at its best and needs to de-stress. If it's nighttime and we're getting her ready for bed, we'll turn off the lights and McKay will hold her until she calms down. He gets to do this because he's the more patient one. We pretty much wait them out. I feel that once Margaret gets to the emotional point where tantrums occur, it's better for her to release that energy, so we hold her and stay with her until she's done telling us how upset she is.

Baby Proofing
One thing I forgot to mention as a preventative measure is baby proofing the house. If there's something she can't have, it is easiest to simply keep it in a place where she doesn't know it's there. Out of sight, out of mind. A big one for us is scissors. I use scissors a lot with knitting and she's just fascinated with them. I definitely have to keep those up out of sight to prevent frustration. If frustration can be prevented, I go with that route.

Out and About
It's harder to keep cool when I think everyone is watching me. One suggestion I've tried is preemptively leave before a tantrum. If we're at the park or at someone's house and I know she'll get to the tantrum point soon, we'll leave before that happens. This allows us to have a change of scenery and get home for a nap or snack. Also, if she does have the tantrum I predicted, I get to handle it in my own environment instead of in public or at someone's house. This makes it much easier for me to stay calm.

If I'm not able to prevent that public tantrum, I try to block out the fact that there are people around. If we're in a place where a screaming toddler isn't appropriate noise-wise, I try to move us to a better place. I also consciously remind myself, "My relationship with Margaret is more important than my relationship with these random people." It helps me focus on helping Margaret more effectively. If I'm wondering what other people are thinking about how I'm handling the tantrum, then I don't handle it well.

Non-tantrum discipline
When it comes between telling her do not do something or to do something, I try to go with the "do something" option. This means instead of "No hitting" it's "Let's be soft" with a demonstration of what "soft" is. "Don't drop all the crayons on the floor" is "Let's color!" with a demonstration of the appropriate way to use crayons. It may even be "Let's pick these up!" I know I'd go crazy if I was told all day not to do things, so I try not to do that to her. I've found almost every "No" or "Don't" can be turned around to "Do ___" "Let's ___." I very rarely say "No." It's only used for immediate safety situations when I don't have time to think, "Let's put this into a pro-active sentence." The pro-active phrasing also helps me to remember to play with her. "Let's ___" takes me away from whatever distraction I was occupied with and places me back in the moment with her which I really like. Sometimes I need that reminder and she needs the attention.

I'll spend tomorrow focusing on other mental reminders I give myself. How do you handle your toddler's stressful times?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Preventative Discipline through Nutrition

Unfortunately, I don't remember what she was eating here.

Yesterday I talked about lifestyle. Today is nutrition. I have adopted these nutritional changes in both Margaret's and my diet. I figured if it helped her mood, it would probably help mine too.

High-Protein Breakfast
I mentioned this before, but I'll mention it again. Protein helps keep your blood sugar levels steady longer. Less jumps and dips in blood sugar means less mood swings for both me and Margaret. Lately, we have been having eggs, but we've also done peanut butter on toast, cottage cheese, or yogurt. For green smoothies, I've heard that adding a protein powder helps. When I was doing green smoothies, I got hungry so quickly- I wonder if protein would have helped me stay full longer. Quinoa also have lots of protein if you're looking for a cereal with protein. I'm going to try it in the future.

Eliminating Red #40
I've already witnessed how Red #40 makes me mood swingy and irritable. It turns me into the Mommy from Hell. Since it has such an influence on me, I've decided not to allow Margaret to have it either. Also, eliminating Red #40 eliminates a lot of sugary foods in our diets which also helps with mood swings.

High Fructose Corn Syrup
With HFCS I worry about its affect in our bodies. I am also concerned with the fact that items with HFCS have a good chance of containing mercury. When we do have sugar, it's real sugar, not HFCS and not fake sugar substitutes like sucrolose. This means I have to make all our sweets from scratch- which is a lot of work but in turn means we don't have it too often. I'm trying to use other sugar alternatives like honey, but I'm not really a fan of it. I'm open to sugar suggestions, though!

Gluten, Allergies
We haven't removed gluten from our diets because all of the above seem to keep us pretty mellow. It does show up as a tantrum-prevention suggestion in mom-circles regularly, though. I'd consider this or other allergies if the above suggestions weren't enough for us.

Of course these ideas won't prevent all tantrums, so tomorrow I'll talk about what I do in the moment for tantrums.

Are there other things you've done nutritionally with your kids to improve their mood?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Preventative Discipline through Lifestyle Choices

At 18 months, the majority of "discipline" for her involves me trying to prevent and ward off tantrums in both me and her. I've tried to align our days and weeks around making it easier for us to be in better moods.

Breastfeeding fixes a lot of things at once: it removes a child from a stressful situation, it addresses thirst and hunger, and it can facilitate a much needed nap. If Margaret is cranky and I breastfeed her- she often falls asleep within 5 or 10 minutes. Sometimes it's even faster- 30 seconds to a minute!

Margaret will occasionally comfort nurse. She used to never accept the breast when she was hurt, but now it's a great way to calm her down. Once at story time at the library she tripped on the steps and started screaming. Immediately I thought of what I could do: take the screaming toddler through the library and out into the echo-y hall, and hope she calms down or I could just pull my shirt down and breastfeed her. I chose the later and in less than 10 seconds she calmed down, nursed, and was already off my breast ready to go listen to the story. As tempting as the echo-y hall sounded, I don't think it would have fixed the problem that quickly.

Breastfeeding is also beneficial to me because it requires that I stop everything I'm doing and sit down for a couple of minutes. It gives me time to collect my thoughts and gain control of the situation. Often it's not Margaret that needs discipline, but me.

Breastfeeding is a wonderful tool for discipline. If you're interested in how breastfeeding can be used as a distraction for toddlers, or just want something funny to read, I highly recommend Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan. It's long, but totally worth the time.

Sunshine is good for my moods and for Margaret's as well. I try to make sure Margaret gets outside for some part of the morning. This is getting harder now that it's colder, but I still try to get her outside. Besides making Margaret a happier, vitamin D-filled child, it helps her take better naps. Better naps lead to less mood swings and tantrums. Blog posts that made me think more about how much Margaret needs sunshine include PhDinParenting's Gentle Baby and Toddler Sleep Tips and The Parenting Passageway's "Social Experiences" for a Four-Year-Old. PhDinParenting's suggestion of doubling outside time and her example of going from 2 hours to 4 hours of outside time shocked me. Four hours? Wow. That's a lot. Do kids really need that much? Then I read that post from the Parenting Passageway and I thought more about how spending time outside can help a child. I think I really need to step up our outside time. I also plan on reading and reviewing Last Child in the Woods this winter.

Our morning outside time is part of our whole routine. It's not set in stone, but it does make the day easier. In the morning we go out: to the park or on errands depending on the day. In the morning, Margaret is rested and able to handle the busyness. Around lunch time we come home and I immediately nurse Margaret down for her nap. This is probably the most important part of the routine. She expects this and usually falls asleep in about 10 minutes. I can then eat my lunch while she naps and that's my "me" time. Margaret usually stirs twice in her nap and needs to be nursed back to sleep. If she doesn't get nursed back to sleep at those times, she is much crankier later; she needs somewhere around 3 hours of nap, give or take. Then she wakes up and McKay comes home and we have dinner and fall into our night time routine. This is working pretty well for us, but I think I need to add more outside time in between her waking up and McKay coming home.

Those are our main lifestyle choices for limiting moodswings and tantrums: breastfeeding, sunshine, and a routine. Tomorrow I'll touch on some of our nutritional choices.

How do you use your routine to help your toddler's day run smoothly?

Week of Discipline

A couple of weeks ago, someone asked me what I do for discipline with Margaret. "You're probably doing something now at her age."

I think I stared at her like she had a third eye. I had to think, What do we do? We definitely don't do what most people consider to be "discipline"- time outs and spankings and all that. I didn't know how to answer. After some probing on both our parts, I think I figured out what she was asking. I thought I'd share some of those answers this week. We do a lot of what I'm calling "Preventative Discipline." I try to make sure that both Margaret and I are feeling our best so that our crankier sides don't take over our moods. When we're well-fed and rested, both of us are able to avoid tantrums and handle each other's tantrums in better stride.

Here's my outline for the week.
Tuesday: Preventative Discipline through Lifestyle Choices
Wednesday: Preventative Discipline through Nutrition
Thursday: Discipline in the Moment
Friday: The Things I Remind Myself

Monday, October 05, 2009

Inquisition Monday: Simply Give Birth

Today we have Heather Cushman-Dowdee answering your questions from last week. Don't forget to check out her new book, Simply Give Birth.

Hi TopHat and all the readers of her blog!

Thanks for throwing some questions my way, I'll try and answer them, as briefly and succinctly as possible. Mostly because my dearest husband had his first day off today in over a week, so I'm doing the "hang with hubby" thing and don't want him to think that I'm spending too much time on the ol' computer box. We're planning to go to the beach and do some surfing (I just watch, with the baby) and then go to our favorite restaurant, Wahoo's Fish Tacos. Yum, yum. So, Oh yeah, AND I have an Urban Homesteading fair to go to, if I can fit it in. It includes a seed swap and a blessing of the animals. Me and the kids have yet to decide whether to take their rats, of all the pets I wonder if they might need the blessing the most.

So, on to the questions!

AzĂșcar said...I love Heather! I'm so excited! I'll be back if I can think of a question other than "How are you so awesome?"

Well, I'd have to say that what really makes me so awesome is my incredibly charming humility. It's as you may well know, difficult these days to find someone as humble as myself...hee hee, I kid. Me and the kiddies were just talking about books that changed our lives- after listening to "this American Life" today, and I was telling them that it was "Are You There God, It's Me Margaret" for me, when I was 12. But now that I'm waaaaaaay past 12, it would have to be the Continuum Concept. What a paradigm shift. If it hadn't been for that book, and La Leche League (and my first daughter), I would have been a wean-by-6-weeks kind of gal. Maybe. Unless I had it in me to do all this without the book, and the meetings and my daughter. But, who really knows?

Holly said... She may have answered this before somewhere, but I'm curious about what her advice is on talking to pregnant mothers who are interested in breastfeeding, but have bottle fed babies in the past by choice or necessity. How do we stay positive about breastfeeding without making them feel guilty or judged?

Holy cow Holly, if I had the answer to that question I'd be a millionaire. Or at least a very successful cartoonist, the kind that gets to go on Oprah and talk endlessly about their work, smugly sure that pretty much everyone has their book on the back of their toilet and they all 'get it' or at least pretends like they do. I have no idea. I think humor helps, I think comics can help. Lots of pregnant mothers write to me that my work helps them 'get it' without feeling judged, but then again sometimes I hear that my work is really judgmental, so who can say. I believe guilt and feeling judged is an internal emotion, and if someone feels that way there's really no way to talk to them, being careful isn't really helpful.

Maybe the answer is straight-talk and look for what is really important to them, and sell them on breastfeeding because of that one thing and just go for it. If they're vain tell them "they'll lose weight faster" and really push it, find pictures of breastfeeding celebrities, etc.
That's all I can think of.

Also, I really miss the comics! (But I can't even imagine how much work it must have been to put out, and would like to thank her for all her efforts!)

Aw shucks, I'm an approval junky and you made my day, thanks!

Questions from TopHat: Do you have your breastmilk bread recipe written down? I'd like to try it myself.

The first I heard about it was 11 years ago there was a story in Mothering magazine about adding breastmilk to a sourdough starter and keeping it forever making bread in perpetuity. Kind of brilliant. Then I found a hippie book about just taking about a cup of hot water a tablespoon of yeast and as much flour as you wanted and knead and rise and knead again and bake. Add other stuff if you want. It had all of these groovy line drawings and was hand written. I loved the idea that bread was so simple. When I was baking bread for my art shows I would just add a splash of breastmilk to the hot water/yeast phase. Sort of ceremonial. I was always surprised how many people ate the bread. and I never let on how little was actually in there. (at one point 150 people tasted the bread;o) So really, there isn't a recipe, just an artist who doesn't know how to cook wingin' it!

Also, what are you most excited about with this book release?
Ah, this book! I'm so excited about this book. So many great, great birth stories, at least 30, really wonderful stories. Yours included! I'm so excited that there will be a book of birth stories out in the world without any sensational, crazy, traumatic outcomes. (well, the surprise twin is pretty sensational, but it's the way the stories are told. You'll see, and I'm sorry you don't have the book yet. soon!

Are there going to be lots of comics in this book too or will it be mostly stories?
There are about a dozen comics, older ones, about birth.

And do you have any other "big" projects in mind for the future?
I think I'm going to be bundling the comics (already created and yet to be created) into books, magazines, comic books, etc. I have one coming about quitting cyber space for the real world. Soon. I really really have a great idea for a book about...ooops. I almost said too much.

I know you're giving yourself a well-deserved break right now- do you have future goals you'd like to tackle 5, 10, 20 years from now?
Well, there is my date with Oprah...

Thank you so much, Heather! I'm so honored to have my story in your book. I've been jumping up and down with giddiness for the past year!
I'm giddy too, and so excited about the book. Don't forget to go to the site everyone:

Heather aka Hathor aka Mama

That was a lot of fun. When I get a copy of the book, I'll review it here!
I am now taking questions for next Monday! Lack of questions will result in a boring post, and boy, do I know how to bore people!

Thursday, October 01, 2009


No 'Poo
Last week, my hair was shampooed for the first time in 4 months for the hair cut. An organic shampoo was used, so I felt (slightly) better about it. How has No 'Poo gone since then? Pretty great.

I was really excited to cut my hair short. One of the things that has always concerned me about washing my hair is how weak hair is when its wet. I'm afraid to scrub a lot because of damaging it. However, when it's short it doesn't get caught in between my fingers and I feel more at liberty to be more rough with it. I'm still using baking soda and lemon juice, though I'm not conditioning it with lemon juice at every wash. I've only washed it twice since last Tuesday (last Saturday and this Tuesday). This morning I showered the rest of me and got my hair wet, but I didn't do my No 'Poo routine- just water.

Having short hair takes this experiment to a new level: homemade pomade and gel. When my hair was longer, I didn't use product in my hair. Now, I would like to be able to spike it and faux hawk it and such without chemicals in my hair, so I got book from the library on natural body care recipes. Unfortunately, all the hair gel recipes have gelatin. I don't like to use gelatin- its origin gives me the heebie jeebies. On Facebook a few people recommended sugar water as hairspray, aloe vera gel, egg whites. I'm open to any more suggestions. This will be quite the experiment.

Elimination Communication
Ah, good ol' EC. Margaret is pretty much done with pooping in diapers. I think it's probably 1 or 2 poopy diapers a month. She's even getting better at recognizing when she needs to go. When we're out, usually she'll sign and say potty "pee!" and lift her shirt or dress up to indicate she needs to be undressed. Unfortunately, she does this after she has already gone in her diaper. It does mean she recognizes the sensation though.

There are some special times when she actually indicates that she needs to go potty before she goes. Those are always exciting. At home, it's wonderful- we just take her to the potty and read a book to her there and she goes. In public, it's a little more difficult. Public bathrooms aren't sized for toddlers and it's hard for her to sit on the toilets. I also think small stalls make her claustrophobic. We did have a wonderful success last Saturday at the Relief Society broadcast, though. During President Eyring's talk, she signed, said potty, and lifted her dress so I walked her to the bathroom. I went for the accessibility stall since it's bigger. I held her on the potty- and she went! And her diaper was dry! Woohoo! I have also started taking her to the accessibility bathroom at church instead of the regular women's bathroom because of the small space issue. I think using the bigger stall helps a lot.

She's definitely not done potty learning, but she is working towards it. I need to remember to offer the potty more. I assume she'll tell us and so I forget to remind her. Almost all of our misses are due to the fact that I'm not paying attention to the clock. She's still a very little person and I need to remember that.