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!