Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday Fill-ins

I took a week off in order to enjoy having DH home. And I got really sick- fever of 102.5. No one else has gotten it, so maybe breastmilk really is magic. While that put a damper on our vacation time, it's better than being sick home alone with the kids. At least I had help.

1. I feel tired and a little congested.

2. Dance and song.

3. It's almost a New Year!.

4. This year was exciting and how.

5. On New Year's Eve _we're turning down a party invite in order to not infect our friends. I'll be knitting.

6. I've been spending time with meditation practice.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to sparkling cider, tomorrow my plans include doing nothing and Sunday, I want to do more nothing!

I'll be back to my regularly scheduled blogging next week. Just wanted a little break.

Happy 2011!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Last Christmas

I never heard the song, "Last Christmas" when I was a kid; I was too busy sobbing over the tragic idea of grandma getting run over by reindeer. So I first heard it a few years ago. I'm sure you all know the refrain.

Last Christmas I gave you my heart
But the very next day, you gave it away
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special
At first I was all, "Rock on! Don't let yourself get walked all over this year!"

Then the next year I heard:
Last Christmas I gave you my heart
But the very next day, you gave it away
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special
And I was all um ok. Try again, friend.

And then the next year:
Last Christmas I gave you my heart
But the very next day, you gave it away
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special
And the next:
Last Christmas I gave you my heart
But the very next day, you gave it away
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special
And am I only one noticing a pattern? Who's really the one with commitment issues? Who's changing partners every year?

It's just suspicious, that's all.

Hope you all have a worry-free, light-hearted Christmas!

ETA: In the comments, Katie mentioned the music video. Here it is in its full-feathered hair 80s glory.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Lack Thereof

I haven't caught up on my emails from the weekend yet; McKay's grandfather died last Sunday (what did I say about my birthday and family emergencies?) and the funeral was yesterday.

I spent a good portion of the funeral trying to keep Margaret from being so loud you couldn't hear the songs or speakers and 95% of the graveside service keeping her from dancing on others' graves. Literally. The guy who ran the mortuary said it was fine, but I was afraid someone in McKay's family would look over, see Margaret dancing, and decide my parenting skills suck if I can't at least teach my daughter a little respect for the dead.

But I did find some time to think. I remember looking over at the little tent above the grave that everyone crowded into (except those of us with 2 year olds). And then I imagined similar tents and gatherings around each of the graves in that cemetery. And I can't help but think we Americans might do well if we reconsider our grieving rituals. Or at least take a good look at them. Or something. Because in my 25 years of being American, I've only learned one things: death is really awkward and almost no one has the tools to deal with it.

My grandfather died when I was in junior high. It was rough on me. I spent days after the funeral playing the piano for hours. Until my dad poked his head into the piano rooms and said, "Stop it." And I did. And what I learned was grief is awkward and no one wants to be around someone who can't figure out how to grieve properly.

I guess I can't fault him for it much. I don't think American culture gives us much to go on with grief. We need more ritual. Or we need to talk about it more.

At one point, McKay came to sit down next to me and he mentioned that it was a strange experience to see his grandfather in his casket. I think that hit him hard. I know it hit me hard when I saw my own grandfather like that. I was young and it was my first experience with death close to me. My young self needed some ritual that was a little more meaningful than just look at my grandfather. I had to do something. So I did. And in the process, I accidentally touched my dead grandfather (that link is 5 years old! eek.) That was... an experience.

When deciding whether or not to marry McKay, his lack of experience with grief was something that concerned me. He had never lost someone close to him. I had, and it was intense and confusing and even left unfinished. I didn't think I could marry someone who hadn't had that experience. I thought I would need empathy.

So I was there yesterday. And trying to empathize. I was also trying to figure out my role. Was McKay going to cry? Or be "tough?" Was I supposed to hold his hand and be there for him? Or chase my children around so that the rest of the funeral party could hear something? And when he comes back from seeing his grandfather in a casket, do I calmly empathize that I've been there before? Or do I open my mouth with something profoundly awkward because death is weird and it's easier to pretend it just doesn't exist? Ooh that one! Pick that one!

"Did you touch him? And was it weird?"


Yeah. Go me. I was supposed to be the empathetic spouse here, the one with experience with dead grandfathers, and the only dead grandfather experience I could come up with was "Did you touch him?"

Death makes you say all the wrong things. And we need better tools do deal with death. Anyone have a favorite death ritual? How do you deal? Do you empathize better than I do? Probably. And any suggestions for how to teach ourselves to handle death better?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Fill-ins

1. What in the world  is this red fuzz doing in Isaac's diaper? Ok. Fine. It's from some fuzzy yarn. My fault..

2. Our CSA keeps us well fed.

3. Go shout it from the rooftops.

4. Words make sentences.

5. I keep forgetting to get our Christmas cards out in the mail.

6. Ready or not.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to the Christmas party at McKay's work, tomorrow my plans include a ward Christmas party and Sunday, I want to cancel all our appointments to take a trip to Sacramento.

I am so ready for Christmas break. Sleeping in, pajamas all day, sleeping in. Heck yes!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Battle Scars

These pictures don't do it justice, but my knee looks like someone took a large blunt object to it.

On Tuesday I fell while trying to unlock the gate to our apartment complex. I fell backwards, but somehow landed on my left knee and my right wrist- which also got some bleeding in.

I fell backwards while carrying the laundry on my back. And while wearing Isaac. And carrying Margaret. And trying to unlock the gate and then subsequently use my weight to pull the door open by the key. And then I lost my balance, fell backwards, and fell onto my knee and wrist.

The kids cried because they were scared by it, but I looked them over and the only blood spilt was my own and I took enough bruises for all of us.

I think the lesson is not to do my laundry anymore. It might have had something to do with the extra 70 pounds I was carrying as well.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Adieu, Hulu.

Remember my letter to For a while I was content with giving a thumbs down every time I a saw a Nestle commercial on there, so I kept watching. Lately, though, Nestle has gotten sneaky.

I could no longer thumbs them down. All the other commercials would have the option to say if you like them or not, but not Nestle. It got really bad the other day: Hot Pockets, Stouffers, Lean Cuisine, all in a row. And I couldn't thumb any of them down. Oh, and an Enfamil commercial showed up in the middle of it all (which I did thumb down). And that was all in one sitting.

So I looked up the connection, and apparently, Nestle has their own freaking hulu page (I went ahead and gave them 1 star).

So now I'm at a loss. I really enjoy watching our shows on the weekend after they show up in our hulu queue. But now, my awesome "I live in America so I get to watch TV on the Internet" benefits are sell outs.

So I'm just going to have to wait until 30 Rock shows up on Netflix next year. And we'll just have to order the DVD of The Office later.

Sorry, hulu. I'm not watching you any more. Stop killing babies and maybe I'll reconsider our relationship. Maybe.

Off to write a couple more letters...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Inquisition Monday: Thumb Sucking

Today's Inquisition Monday is directed to all of you.

Isaac sucks his thumb. When I've mentioned this to people I've gotten a couple of reactions, the first being "My child did/does that too." The other has been, "That must be great!"

In my head I think, "Great? Great? What's so great about not being needed?"

He's not even 5 months! He's supposed to still need me! If babies were supposed to self-sooth, I wouldn't have arms.

Margaret didn't suck her thumb. In fact, by 4 months, she had rejected any and all suckling tools besides my breast.

But Isaac. Well, I feel like I'm not there for him as much as I was for Margaret. That's a natural consequence of having to divide my attention between two kids. Sometimes I have to clean up eggs that were dropped on the floor and someone has to wait.

And I feel bad for not being there. And I worry about my supply. I know it's over-abundant, but Margaret's been nursing less and that plus Isaac having to wait and the fact that my period returned at 5.5 months pp with Margaret worries me. I'm really hoping to delay my period longer this time- and that means nurse nurse nurse nurse nurse. And take naps, which I don't do.

But then logical Heather tells me:
But some babies suck their thumbs in utero. It's not something you can prevent sometimes. And in 5 years, it won't even matter. Relax.

But... but... I'm his MOM. And he's so tiny still.

Have you had similar thoughts? I'm not sure what my question is today. I think I just needed to write these thoughts down. I asked about this at LLL a couple of months ago and people were nice about it. I'm human and can't do it all, I know.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I'm 25 today.

I haven't always had the best birthdays. Historically, ward Christmas parties always fell on my birthday. And family emergencies. And finals. And someone always got sick. December is just not a good time for birthdays. I remember getting a sled for my birthday... and the 2 weeks later my siblings got sleds for Christmas. Nothing was solely "mine." McKay has the same issue- his birthday is 2 weeks after Christmas, so we both experience the Christmas/birthday conundrum.

Today should be good though. They're canceling Sunday School and Relief Society today and we're having a 2 hour brunch party instead. Happy Birthday to me!*

And I can officially rent a car now. So I'm an adult now. Officially. Because all that other stuff I have done doesn't count, at least not to actuaries.

I've been around for a quarter of a century. I expect to live another 2 more, at least. The women in my family tend to live to their 90s. So I look at my life and think about living that 2 (and a half?) more times over. I accomplished a lot in my first 25 years, and I know I can accomplish a lot in the next (and next...).

For my birthday, I'm giving myself a birthday present: a new blog. It's a feminist Mormon blog dedicated to remembering our Heavenly Mother. This past week I've been posting on it so you can see some content and get a feel for what I'm trying to do with it.

So check out that blog. It's been fun for me to read and think about the scriptures and hymns in this light and I just wanted to share that.

*Fine. It's a Christmas brunch and not a birthday party, but at least it's not a family emergency, right? And no Sunday School! Can I get a BOO-YA?! Although, Sunday School in this ward is actually interesting and makes me want to do the reading ahead of time. I never thought that was possible.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Extreme Parenting

I've been thinking about Annie's post about parenting extremes and what is "good" parenting. Over the years I've gotten comments on my blog and in real life that indicate that I'm lacking in some aspect of good parenting- usually boundaries. And then I'll comment, "Well... I do have boundaries and... blah... blah...." because I feel like I have to defend myself and prove that I really do sit in the smiley face boundary (see Annie's post) of what a good mom is. Oh and I'll quickly clarify that Annie isn't saying that she thinks the smiley is the best, but that what she has observed is that our culture thinks the smiley is the best.

As I've thought about my impulse to qualify my "lack" of boundaries, I think about how I qualify a lot of things: I have unassisted pregnancies, but when asked about it, I'm quick to reply, "I check my urine for protein, glucose, and other things." When people ask me about Margaret still nursing, I sometimes feel like I have to add, "But it's definitely not as often as she used to," to show that we are actually headed towards weaning. On bedsharing with Margaret: "We've put some blankets at the foot of our bed and let her lay there" to show that we are going to have our bed to ourselves someday. Or even, "Yeah. I stay at home and knit, but I knit by commission and graduated in mathematics and plan on starting my master's when we settle down some place."

You see, you have to look well-rounded. You can't look like the extremes. And even though I hate qualifying my actions, I still do it.

But Margaret does sometimes nurse as often or more often than Isaac. I didn't check my urine in pregnancy on a very regular basis or chart it. Those blankets at the foot of our bed? Once. And it lasted 10 minutes. And I really don't think kids need more boundaries than general safety issues and the physical limitations that are innate to children: height, dexterity, language, etc. And I do stay at home, adding no monetary income to our family, learning nothing in a formal course of study, and enjoying a lot of knitting time that benefits no one but myself.

And even now, I feel the impulse to quantify it and shout, "But I'm well-rounded and normal! I'm not extreme! I'm doing everything 'right'!"


Do you quantify your life? I do. And I feel guilty about it- why can't I just accept it an move on? And why does it matter to the random strangers at the grocery store if Margaret is holding my hand 100% of the time in the parking lot? Comments welcome.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Inquisition Monday: Circle Time

Jenni "Bee" asked me last week about our Circle Time.

After having Isaac, I watched a lot of TV during my babymoon. Incidentally, Margaret watched a lot of TV as well. She also had been having some struggles getting used to having a baby brother around. And as the weather has gotten cooler, we've been going to the park less and less. All of these combined into a strong force against having the healthiest lifestyle for a while. Our days were really off and it was hard to get back on track. We really needed a better rhythm in our day.

This is a Waldorf-inspired blog that I subscribe to. I think she has lots of good gentle ideas. Something that gets mentioned is "Circle Time." I couldn't figure out exactly what it is from her blog and I my google skills have been hurt as of late (sadness!), so I made it up.

Every morning after the diapers and dishes are done, I announce, "Circle Time!" Margaret goes to hunt down our circular blanket and we put it on the floor. Then we alternate songs and books until I my attention span dies (about 20-30 minutes). Today's circle time was 35 minutes long, but I was "done" way before then.

We always start with a Good Morning song. Then I ask Margaret to look out the window and check the weather. We'll sing a song related to the weather- like Rain Rain Go Away, You are My Sunshine, etc. If I can't remember a song, we'll sing "Rain is Falling all Around" but with alternate words (ie. wind is blowing).

After the first songs, we'll read a scripture story. Today I read in the Book of Mormon Stories Reader and in a picture book of the nativity story. After those, I ask Margaret to pick a few songs. Today we sang Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, the Snowman song, and the Cuckoo Clock song. Then I ask Margaret to pick out some books from the shelf and I'll read those to her. By this point, the structure of Circle Time is pretty much dead and she'll go off and play on her own.

Margaret loves circle time and it keeps her from starting the day with TV- which usually makes her attitude worse later on. She also gets some time and attention from me, so she needs me less later. And when every day is different (errand day, library day, playgroup day), this gives every day a sort-of rhythm, which I think is good for her.

So that's Circle Time.

Sunday, December 05, 2010


I'm working on a major project right now, so if I haven't emailed you or given you a high five lately, that's what's going on. In fact, yesterday I was so absorbed in this project that I wasn't attentive to broken community washer that our clothes didn't get full spin dry. I have to watch the washer to make sure the spin happens- and I was just not thinking at all. So now all our clothes are hanging in our apartment because 2 runs in the dryer wasn't good enough.

I turn 25 in a week.

We put up our Christmas tree yesterday. And made homemade biscotti.

Last night I dreamed about attending UC Berkeley for my grad work. Happy dreams.

McKay got the job and it looks like we'll be staying in the Bay Area. It also looks like I'll finally get to go to the dentist for the first time since we've been married. And maybe McKay will take a vacation day or two so we can get the car looked at. We haven't done that yet because if the car ends up staying in the shop overnight, McKay would have no way to get back and forth to work. Oh and we're going to buy a cell phone that actually has a working speaker and doesn't need to be put on speaker phone in order to work. Maybe we'll upgrade to an apartment with a washer and dryer that's not communal and broken. And a yard. Oooh!

I'll try not to let the fanciness get to my head.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

WIP Wednesday

Sometimes on my knitting blog, I do a WIP Wednesday. WIP is "Work in Progress." Usually, I only post FOs (finished objects), but on WIP Wednesday, I'll show the things that are on my needles, but aren't quite done yet.

I've been thinking also how I am a work in progress. This blog is a work in progress. My children are works in progress- works that I try to have some influence on, but concede that in the end, my influence is ultimately limited and dependent on if they still like me in 20, 30, 50 years. My marriage is a work in progress, my testimony is a work in progress. The books I haven't finished reading and the essays that are waiting to be written: works in progress.

Sometimes I feel uneasy about blogging my progress because I am a constantly changing person and writing about it here sets me up for your judgments and comments.

One thing I find very beautiful about Mormon theology is that we believe that even after we die and receive exaltation, we will continue to progress and grow forever. Heavenly Mother and Father are works in progress. When all is said and done, the end goal is to be a work in progress. (psst... it's almost like there is no end goal, hmm. will need to think on that one...)

So really, I've achieved that goal, and isn't that wonderful? Yes, I make mistakes and I'm not the expert on a single thing, unless you count putting your foot in your mouth something you can perfect- because I'm pretty much guaranteed exaltation if we're going to use that as a celestial goal. Twinkle me now!

Anyway, what I want to say to the Internets and myself is this: You're a work in progress. And sometimes progress goes backwards or stagnates. That's cool, too. You've been doing this for a long time and you'll be doing it for a lot longer. Be easy on yourself. You won't ever be a finished object, even after this life and the next. And isn't that wonderful?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tweet Ups and Eat Ups

Last Saturday, I got to meet MarfMom of Musings of a Marfan Mom. You should read her blog because she's awesome. Isaac thought so:
She was planning on going to the Christmas Lighting Ceremony at the Oakland Temple and wanted to know if I wanted to come. Incidently I was going to be up on Temple Hill for something else at the same time, so I snuck away.

The program bigger deal than I thought. There was singing, ballet, orchestral music. And Santa doing the Mambo.

Here's Margaret with the lights.

In other news, I baked pies last week.


Mint Chocolate Cheesecake

Key Lime

Butternut Squash Pies

French Apple

Not Pictured: The two pumpkin pies I made last Sunday. Not baked: Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie. I'll get around to that one in December.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Long and Weaning Road

This was prompted by a comment from Jane.

It was 2 years ago that Margaret ate avocado for the first time and started the weaning process.

Now, at 2 and a half, she eats meals, snacks, and nurses up to 8-10 times a day. Two of those times are longer (10-20 minutes) than the others because they are for sleep. The others (and there's sometimes more- I don't count) are less than 5 minutes, most less than a minute. She nurses for owies, sleep, and when there's a disconnect.

While she does nurse often and full weaning is not a goal for us right now, we do employ some weaning techniques.

Don't ask, don't offer
This is when I don't offer the breast, but if she asks, I let her nurse. When we're out, she's usually too busy to think about nursing and since she doesn't ask for it, she'll go hours without nursing.

Changing Scenery
Margaret likes to nurse on the couch. If I don't want to nurse her, I direct her to the playroom where she doesn't have the couch to tempt her. Going for walks also helps.

Yes, Later
A few weeks ago we were having dinner at a friend's house. Margaret asked to nurse and I responded with, "We're going home soon. We can nurse when we get home." She doesn't like this answer, so I held her, to reassure her that she would get breast at home. I also use this when I know I'm going to need to be hands-free soon. The other day we had the missionaries over for dinner and I knew they were going to leave in 5 minutes (mission rules- 1 hour max for dinner appointments) and I'd have to get up and shake hands, so I told her that she would get breast after they leave.

Singing a Song
When I was big and pregnant, I lamented to an LLL leader about being touched out in the middle of the night and she suggested I tell Margaret, "I'm going to sing a song. When the song is done, nursing is done." This allows for the option of choosing a long song or a shorter one depending on how touched-out I feel. At that point in time, I didn't think Margaret was ready for that technique- especially since the issue was in the middle of the night and I didn't think a 2 year old would honor a deal I just introduced at 2 am when she's not even fully conscious. The whole rational thinking thing is too much. But for the past couple of weeks, I've been using "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" on the nights that I'm touched out. She's mostly respected the boundary and will turn over and away from me when the song is done.

Cuddles and hugs
A couple of months ago, when I unlatched Margaret at night I would say, "Cuddle me?" and in the day I wouldask her if she wanted a hug. Not long after, Margaret would sometimes opt for the night cuddles, asking, "I want to cuddle you." Just last week, she unlatched in the day and requested a hug. I wasn't always consistent about not giving her breast after offering cuddles because some situations did necessitate more nursing, but I was always consistent in offering a hug or cuddle option. It took a while, but she does sometimes choose the non-nursing option, which is definitely another step towards weaning.

Sometimes the cuddle option turns into the daddy option. This usually happens when Isaac needs to nurse and I can't nurse 2 kids at the same time. It also happens at the end of days that I really really need a break.

Lately our connection issues have been my fault. I'll be knitting and concentrating on counting stitches when suddenly someone will come tug on my yarn. Or move the ball of yarn. This irritates me so much (I'm concentrating here!) that I tend to snap, "Stop!" "Don't touch!" a little more harshly than I need to. That just reiterates the lack of connection and when she would have been satisfied with a story or hug before my outburst, now only breast will give her the connection she was looking for. The other day this happened 3 times in a morning. So I nursed her. Denying her wouldn't have been nice- and I was obviously needing a way to decompress as well.

Neither of us are ready to wean. I still do occasionally offer the breast when she doesn't ask. But I do employ some weaning techniques and set boundaries. Will she be weaned next month? Doubtful. Next year? It's possible. In 10 years? For sure.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Breast as an Object

This post is a musing. I don't have a conclusion, it's kind of just a theory. Your thoughts are welcome.

When I took Women's Studies, there was a unit on media. One of the topics we studied was advertising. One of the ways advertising uses women's bodies is to use only parts of a body. For example: a leg here, a hand there, a butt, breasts, hair, etc. A nice small summary of this can be found at 2:47 of this video, Killing Us Softly. She talks about dismembering the female body so that it can be objectified and dehumanized and used as a tool for selling stuff.

With that background, let's go into my musing:

A few weeks ago I bought my first nursing shirts ever. I decided that after over 2 and a half years of nursing, a few nice nursing shirts would probably be a good investment. Mind you, I did have a gift certificate- there's no way I'd actually pay $40 for a shirt.

Anyway, when I went to sit down and nurse Isaac, I moved the fabric out of the way and latched him on. Then I saw the fabric there, separating him from me. There was a line of brown fabric: my breast was on one side and I was on the other. I had gotten so used to just pulling down and nursing that this set up it was kind of shocking for me. And then I remembered how dismembering a body can de-humanize it. And it made me wonder something.

I know more people are going to be ok with a scene like this:

than a scene like this:

Why? I wonder if it is because that bit of fabric visually separates the breast from the person. In the first, my breast is separate; it is an object, a tool for feeding. But in the second picture, it is a part of me: there is no break between my breast and my face. In the first, it is easier to mentally distance my person from my breast and maybe that is why that makes others more comfortable. In the second picture, more mental gymnastics have to be done in order to separate me from what I'm doing because my breast is visually attached to my face (through my neck, of course. A breast attached directly to my face would just be freaky weird).

In the first picture, my breast is nursing Isaac. In the second picture, I am nursing Isaac.

Now, I'm not trying to set up pulling down from the top as superior. I know that having that fabric there can be very advantageous to the mother. For example, in the cold, it allows for more warmth and in the summer it prevents sunburn. I nursed with fabric on the top of my breast for 18 months until Margaret decided that she didn't like it. In fact, yesterday at church when I wore the above shirt, she insisted that I pull down instead of using the layers built into the shirt because that's what she likes.

I wonder if it helps her feel closer to me since there is no visual separation for her. Lately, it has been very clear that when she nurses at times other than naps and bedtime, it's because she's trying to connect to me, so it's something that has been on my mind.

Anyway, I know that some people consider nursing from under the shirt or fabric instead of over is more discreet- and I wonder if it has to do with this.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Obscentities? What do you think of this? Do you think people (the mother as well as those around her) are more comfortable with fabric on the top of the breast because it sets the breast up as an object, something separate from the person nursing? Am I totally making this up? Probably.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Day in the Life

I saw another blogger do a Day in the Life Post the other day and thought I'd do it since my blogging juices aren't at their peak at the moment. This was my Thursday.

I got up at 6:30 to go "running."

I was supposed to be done with the C25K program this week, but because we were sick last week, I never finished week 8, so I'm repeating it. I did a whole 2 miles in 28 minutes. Yes, it is slow. Yes, I can walk faster than that. But I blame the hills. We live on the top of a hill, so no matter what route I take, I must run up a hill at the end to get home. It's murderous and I'm slow, but oh well. Using, here's my elevation map from the run yesterday as proof (click to enlarge):
Here's my post-run sweaty face. (7:20)

Then I took my shower. I clean the bathtub for 2 minutes every time I shower since I use baking soda for both myself and the tub. I pick a new place I haven't cleaned in a while and clean it. This way I never have to find a 20 minute chunk of time without kids to clean the tub all at once. When that was done, I put the diapers outside to dry. McKay washed them during my run.

And Margaret and I had scrambled eggs for breakfast. 7:45)

I took McKay to work at 8:45 so he could get there at 9. Then I went to the grocery store and bought all the food we need for the next week. This was a big trip because I have 8 pies planned for next week. I love Thanksgiving.
When we came home, we were greeted by our guard spider.

Then I put the groceries away and took a picture of one of my fantastic finds. (10:00)
Then it was circle time time. I read to Margaret and sing songs. Here's "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes."

Here's Isaac in my lap eating the camera strap. I don't remember Margaret putting everything in her mouth, but she probably did. We read the Abinadi story from the Book of Mormon Stories Reader along with some other books that Margaret picked out: Caps for Sale and The Pig Who Wished.

Margaret helped Isaac practice sitting up. He can do 2-5 seconds without me.

I let Margaret play and then at noon, I made up the leftovers from Wednesday night and we had a picnic on our circle time blanket.

Isaac took a nap.

Since it was still too early to get Margaret to bed for her nap, I thought I'd go to the bathroom and take pictures of my new looks. Here's the haircut McKay gave me last Saturday. I would prefer it shorter (like pixie), but at least it's off my neck.

And the new pair of glasses I bought the day before Halloween. Margaret destroyed my glasses a year ago and I was down to one pair of contacts left, so I needed to do something. Luckily there was a sale for $100 off frames.

Plus a free pair. This is my "nerdy dress up" pair.

After I got Margaret to sleep, I had to get Isaac to sleep again because his nose kept being stuffy and waking him up. I spent the rest of the afternoon holding him upright in my lap while he slept in order to keep his nose from getting clogged.

I did try to start a knitting project, but I didn't get very far.

5:15, everyone in the car to pick daddy up from work.

When we got home, we checked the mail and we got a package with some hair clips for Margaret. She's holding them here. Yay etsy.

I didn't get any more pictures, but we had an AWESOME dinner. We had turnips and onions braised with some greens we got from the CSA. Delicious. And some upama. It was good. After dinner, I went to my visiting teaching group (our ward considers the handbook to be more of a guideline than a rule). That was fun, but I forgot my camera so no pictures. Isaac came with me, but Margaret stayed home with McKay. And I finished the day by nursing my two babies asleep.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Green Documentaries

A week ago, McKay was sick and I held off the majority of the sickness until the weekend. So I've been busy getting better and also doing nothing. Enter Netflix. It was wonderful to have postpartum. It's also wonderful while sick. Because of Netflix, my cultural knowledge has expanded. Yes, I was one of those people who had never seen Hairspray and didn't know that Ricki Lake was in the first one. But now I know! And I've seen Hairspray!

I was excited to discover, though, that there are documentaries on Instant Play. There are a bunch of National Geographic documentaries and many environmental ones. I've seen No Impact Man, The 11th Hour, Dirt! The Movie (style reminiscent of Bill Nye), King Corn. On my list to watch there are Food, Inc., The Future of Food, The Botany of Desire, and Food Matters.

Plus there are a lot of other documentaries. It's been fun to watch and learn. Though I'll admit my eco-conscience reminds me, "Hey. Read that book from the library. You don't need electricity to do that!" And sometimes I do read that library book. I had a week to cram for this month's book club in a week.

But if you've got Netflix and a free afternoon, look into the documentaries.

Now excuse me as I go back to getting everything in order again post-sickness. I have a CSA box of veggies to put away and a 4 month old whose nose is stuffy.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Fill-ins

1. When pigs fly I'll put on my ice skates and head on over to hell!.

2. Amazon, seriously?!

3. Call me if you need me.

4. I need to buy more yarn, if you know what I mean.

5. The most entertaining person in my life is Margaret because she's 2 and that's a hilarious age. The other morning she wanted to nurse, so I got my breast out and she declared it "BIG!" It was the side that didn't get much attention in the night. McKay had just commented on how lopsided I was, and apparently Margaret noticed as well.

6. Alright, who's next?

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to not much. Date night was cancelled due to sickness, tomorrow my plans include family pictures, perhaps? and Sunday, I want to _make almond biscotti!

Oh date I mourn thee! McKay has been home sick since Wednesday, so I get to sit around and sigh while thinking, "I could have seen OK Go tonight!" Of course, he doesn't get sick on purpose. But it was going to be free! And we had someone offer to watch Margaret. It was going to be AWESOME.

Sigh. There's always youtube.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Monday, November 08, 2010

Captain Planet

They showed us films of landfills and gave us lessons on reduce, reuse, recycle for Earth Day. I was 8 and came home from school insisting that we recycle. It didn't happen and I was pretty sure my parents hated the earth.

A year later each student was given a tree to take home and plant for Arbor Day. Mine died under the care of a neglectful bishop while we were out of town. It was a Maple tree.

After we moved to the Chicago area, I joined the elementary school's recycling club. We just gathered up the paper from each classroom's recycling boxes, but I felt like I was doing something, even though I was basically providing the school with free custodial labor.

After that, I didn't do much. The environment wasn't really on my radar. Yes, in Provo, I gathered our recycling and drove it to the recycling drop-off. We slowly incorporated other less footprint-ridden practices like No 'Poo, cloth diapering and EC, family cloth, and our CSA box.

But I want to do more.

I read the new book Hope Beneath Our Feet, full of essays from various environmentalist writers. I loved the essays about the small things we can do and was inspired about the big things that people have done. Then, fellow blogger, The Organic Sister started her new Sustainable Baby Steps site. Another friend showed me this link about Berkeley's EcoHouse. Meanwhile, my gospel study kept bringing me back to the earth and caring for it.

The Universe has been telling me something. And I've caught caught the bug. I've been actively choosing non-meat meal options more often. Our family milk consumption has gone from a quart a week to about a cup a week (it used to be 3 gallons a week before we had kids!) I'm walking more. I've stopped the junk mail. In my Being the Change post, I mentioned growing a tree from a seed because that's been on my mind. There are a couple of organizations out here that I'd like to investigate as possibilities for environmental volunteerism. Yay for living near Berkeley!

I really want to make sure us humans will be able to live here without depleting our resources. It's guaranteed that the earth will be around for a few more million years- but will we?

Is the environment on your radar? If it is, what have you been trying? And you do remember this theme song, right? (skip to 1 minute)

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Being the Change

This was the post I tried writing until Perfect Heather took over the last one. Let's try again.

When I first heard Ghandi's quote years ago, "Be the change you want to see in the world," I saw it as a nice little quip. Ok. So be nice to everyone and the world will get nicer. Gottcha.

But then I started applying it. And then it grew.

Want less hate in the world? Stop hating. Want people to be conscientious voters? Be a conscientous voter. Want people to recycle? Recycle. Want women to confidently breastfeed in public? Confidently breastfeed in public. Want people to stop beating themselves up about their messy homes? Stop beating yourself up! Want to participate in a blessing? Just do it.

And then as I look at my life, it keeps growing. Suddenly all sorts of barriers I had put in my way come tumbling down. There's no Life Police who are going to come in and say, "Wait a minute! Did you make sure that was ok?" Sure, people think they are those life police and people are going to freak out about some barefeet at the store. Roll with the punches and turn into the spin.

Maybe it's because the big 2-5 is coming up next month. Quarter-life crisis? But I'm starting things over. This month is NaNoWriMo- and while I'm not going offline in order to write a novel, I'm going slightly offline in order to chase my dreams unfettered.

I want to grow a tree from a seed.
I want to finish my kusudama mobile.
I want to limit what new things we bring into the house and enjoy the stuff we have or find a new home for it.
I want to spend time reading all these library books before I have to return them.
I want to have my life and I'm not going to ask permission any more.

And I'm doing it because I want more people to live this way: doing what you want instead of waiting for permission. I want people to enjoy life now instead of later. So that's what I'm doing.

I'll keep you all posted every Saturday. This is going to take a while, but I'm ready for it!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Perfect Heather

I know I've renounced housekeeping in the past sometime, but on Monday, I thought I'd give it one last go before giving up completely. Remembering Tamsin's 30 days of 29 and her "Best Self" day, I thought I'd try that. I called it "Perfect Heather." My mind was busy writing a commentary.

Perfect Heather wouldn't fret about gaining 3 pounds over the weekend. Of course, Perfect Heather wouldn't have gained those pounds to start with."

After an imperfect weekend, which does Perfect Heather tackle first? The dishes in the sink (and 3 countertops and table)? The laundry drying on our make-shift line that's strung between the office and the bedroom?

Does perfect Heather tackle all the projects she's put off during nap time (like thank yous and calling old friends) or does she nap with the children in order to promote her lactation amenorrhea?

One of the things on Perfect Heather's mind was putting things away as she or the children used them. You see, I had read a blog post a few months back that had the attitude, "Keeping your house in order is easy- what's so hard about putting things away as you use them? People who say that's not possible are just being lazy."

Because that had been under my skin, and because putting things away as you use them sounded like something Perfect Heather would aspire to, I tried it.

So I actually made the bed once we were up. I washed the diapers first thing in the morning. I even did circle time with Margaret and read my scriptures! And after eating breakfast, I cleaned the breakfast dishes. I put my dirty clothes in the hamper and rinsed out all the wet diapers thoroughly in preparation for cleaning them the next morning. I even did my dishes plus some extra at lunch. Perfect Heather was on a roll!

Except she wasn't. You see, while she was doing those dishes and putting things away as she used them, there were 2 other people NOT doing that. For example, in the time it takes me to unpack and put away the diaper bag, a naked toddler can make her way into the bath tub and get water everywhere. And after I dry her off, she goes back in and gets the bathroom wet again. Oh, and the little boy needs to nurse and has 2 poop explosions.

I realized that besides the fact that "Perfect Heather" was a myth, it was physically impossible for me to have a continuously tidy home. At the end of the day, my legs hurt from all the ups and downs and all arounds. And the house was still not perfect. The dinner dishes didn't get clean right away because I simply could not do them.

Now I will officially write off that "what is everyone's big deal about not being able to just put away things as they use them?" concept. I was going to anyway, but since I had sincerely tried it out, I didn't feel so bad about rejecting it. It is physically impossible to keep my home neat.

Whew! That guilt is gone. Maybe I'll try that goal later in my life, but right now I'd rather do things I actually like to do, so I'm just going to do those instead. A tiny part of me used to think that I was just not applying myself and that I still needed to have "good housekeeping" as a worthy ideal. I thought that goal that would actually be achievable if I just tried harder, found the "perfect" weekly cleaning system and re-dedicated myself. After all, I was a Mother Who Knows!(TM). But now I know something more: it wasn't ever achievable. I was setting a goal that no matter how much energy I put into it, would never come to fruition.

So I can honestly say to myself: I tried. And I failed. And so I'm not going to keep trying. I heard something once about doing the same things and expecting different results. And I'm not going there anymore.

Homemaking can suck it.

Wordless Wednesday: Happy Trees

Monday, November 01, 2010

Inquisition Monday

Lisa asked, "What are you fave carriers for babywearing?

Oh I like them all. It really depends on what my needs are at the moment.

If I'm running errands and I need to get in and out of the car quickly, I like the sling. I also use the sling a lot at home because I can put him down easily if he falls asleep: I just need to lie him on the bed and slide myself out of the sling.

If I'm going for long walks, I like the wrap. That includes big outings like the museum. If I'm going to be up and about for a long time, having a two-shoulder carrier is really nice.

I have been using my mei tai for a few trips, but only because he's big (16+ pounds). If he were smaller, he wouldn't be able to wrap his legs around me. Sure, I could fold his legs up like a frog, but I'd worry he would slip out the bottom. For more about which baby carriers I've found useful at different ages, go here.

I like my pouch sling for church because it can fold up really small. Most of my bag is devoted to things for entertaining a 2 year old, so space is important!

I like back carries for working: I can bend over in them and the baby isn't in the way. Isaac zonked out this morning while I was doing dishes. I needed to tuck his head in.

For starters, I would recommend a wrap because that seems to be what most newborns prefer. Plus, they are warm and with winter coming, that's a wonderful benefit. I wasn't able to get a good fit in a ring sling until I learned how what a good fit in a well-fitted pouch sling felt like. Well-fitted is important for pouch slings. Because they can't be adjusted, the fit is essential.

I hear that the Ergo is awesome, but I haven't tried it yet. The cost frightens me and since I already own so many carriers, I don't really need one.

Don't worry about it being complicated. I find that whenever I warn people, "Oh- it took me a while for me to get the hang of that," about anything (knitting, babywearing, nursing in public, etc.) the person takes to it like a fish to water and leaves me in the dust. I think I have a hard time being human in general.

Everyone- share your favorite carriers!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Fill-ins

1. While the cat's away Margaret gets sad. She likes to see the cats that live on the other side of the fence..

2. When you get great ideas, you feel like everything is fabuloso!

3. Children are referred to as "blessings" here. Is this a California/East Bay thing? Almost every time I go to the grocery store, someone will say, "Look at all your blessings!" with a nod to my children.

4. I nurse my babies down when I get home from work or shopping or what have you.

5. This may seem odd, but I don't have a costume for Isaac and I think we might skip it altogether.

6. Every day is a new start and that seems like a fine idea to me!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to pizza night, tomorrow my plans include Halloween festivities and Sunday, I want to build a play house out of newspaper!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Inspired by Rixa. As soon as I saw her pumpkin, I knew we needed to make a breastfeeding one. McKay insisted on the "scary" border.

ETA: Carving in action pics found here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Blessed my Son

It is traditional for little Mormon babies to be given a name and a blessing through a special priesthood blessing usually spoken by the father. Other men may be invited to participate to stand in the circle. Like most priesthood prayers, the participants are exclusively male.

I know of two schools of thought on this. First, some feel that it's nice to let the father have this special time since the mom was most involved in pregnancy and birth. Others feel that since so many milestones are priesthood/father-driven (baptism, any priesthood blessing, priesthood ordination, etc), it would be nice if there was just one thing that is solely feminine: pregnancy, birth, and a child's welcome to the world. I'm of the thought that I would like to participate in some way because McKay and I share our responsibilities: even with birth he has had a pretty active role as baby catcher.

The disparity in my participation felt very poignant to me when Margaret was to be blessed. I wasn't versed in the hot button topics of Mormon feminism at the time- I just was someone who had a tendency to push the envelope. I noticed that our ward at the time often used a deacon to hold the microphone for the blessing. Because I couldn't see any real reason that the microphone holder couldn't be someone else, I asked if I could hold the microphone for Margaret's blessing. I was turned down. I was in shock for the rest of the day. Really? Really? The microphone holder has to have a penis?

Sure, after the blessing, whoever was conducting the meeting asked for me to stand up to be recognized for my "large" role in Margaret's existence. They did that for all the moms as a way to "include" them. I secretly thought it was an underhanded way to poke at the size a woman takes on in pregnancy.

In the two years between Margaret and Isaac's birth, I found Mormon feminism and started reading in the bloggernacle about women with similar experiences and feelings. I found one story of a couple who would write down the things they wanted to bless their child with before the blessing so that the mother could participate in some way. This appealed to me and a week ago, I started mentioning to McKay that I would like to talk about what I would like to bless Isaac with. I told him I'd think about it all week and we could discuss it Saturday before Isaac's blessing.

Last Friday afternoon Margaret took a long nap. Because I don't play with Isaac much, I decided to spend some time playing with him. I even took a video of some cuteness.

Then, without thinking and acting on instinct, I picked him up in my arms and looked into his eyes. His eyes are like mine- a dark blue.

"Isaac Todd Farley, as your mother, I hope so much for you and wish to bless you with so many wonderful blessings. Your Heavenly Parents love you, as do I, and I hope you live so that the Spirit will be with you in your life. It will help you make decisions in your life and comfort you when things are dark. I don't know the turns your life will take, but if you will have the Spirit in your life, those turns will not matter and you'll have the approval of your Heavenly Parents."

Then I stopped and realized what I was doing. Alone in my house, with tears in my eyes, I looked around sheepishly like I had just breached a forbidden line. Suddenly the moment was gone and I looked at Isaac who was smiling at me. I went back to the couch and nursed him and continued with my day.

When Sunday came, we dressed Isaac in his new outfit. He was asleep when McKay took him up to the front of the chapel to bless him. I dutifully copied down the words of the blessing McKay gave him.

I didn't try to participate this time.The shock I had felt the day Margaret was blessed never occurred because I didn't feel left out. Isaac had already received my blessing.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Truth About Babywearing

When you wear your baby, you can just go about your day and be able to do everything you use to be able to do.

And you also can't.

That was something I ran into when I started babywearing with Margaret. Everyone had said, "Just pop the baby in the sling and go!" But it's not quite like that. For example, laundry has a special place in hell because sitting down and folding it while wearing Isaac isn't possible. If he's being worn, I need to be moving, not sitting.

A lot of my cleaning is tidying up and picking up things: toys, piles of laundry, whatever else fell on the floor. I usually use my other hand to steady Isaac in the carrier, so it's not as "hand free" as it sounds.

But the chore that gets the inner circle of hell is dishes. We don't have a dishwasher, so we have to do it by hand. I'm pretty good at being on top of it and I've finally come to a place in my life where not having it done doesn't put me in a downward spiral of "the house is filthy and you aren't as good as all those other 'put together' moms out there." I really don't care anymore. It's nice to have it done, but having it completed 100% of the time is for a different decade of my life. Maybe never.

But I digress. Dishes with a baby in front:

Lots of reaching and it's awkward and hurts my arms after a few minutes.

Baby on the hip allows me to be closer to the sink and not worry about getting Isaac wet. Unfortunately, I really only have one hand.

Because using two means more reaching:

Swinging him around to my back is the best.

You can also reach down into a washer with a baby on your back, so that's helpful.

He looks content here, but he'll get fussy and want to snuggle...

...because I don't have breasts on my back.

Now, I love babywearing. I do. And I do it a lot around the house- almost all day.

And it's true: I can do most everything I used to do- except I do it slower because I am also focusing on our balance. And there are interruptions by 2 year olds and babies who want to nurse. I went into babywearing as a new mom with Margaret expecting to be able to do everything and fit it all in my day.

But I couldn't. Why? Well, because babies take a lot of your time- babywearing or not. You can't do everything you did before because your work load has increased. Babywearing can make it easier to do many things- especially if your baby needs to be held a lot. Babywearing does mean I can take Margaret to the park easily. And it means I can grocery shop and vacuum and do my laundry and dishes. But if you're trying out babywearing and finding it's not making your life the bliss you expected it to, that's ok. It takes practice and experience. I can do things faster than I did when wearing Margaret as a baby. While it's easier than not babywearing, it's not as easy as it used to be before I had children.

Babywearing is a great way to be there for your baby, but relax and do what you can and don't stress about not getting it all done. It's ok. I promise. You won't even remember that you didn't have all your dishes done by this weekend 10 years from now.