Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Target Nurse-in

This morning, I participated in the Nationwide Target Nurse-in. I was at the Emeryville Target since it's the closest one.

The link about the nurse-in above has a FAQ about it. I went for a couple of reasons. First, was solidarity. Breastfeeding women should not be harassed or segregated from the public and I wanted to stand against the bullying Michelle Hickman experienced.

Also, I wanted to stand against Target's corporate breastfeeding policy. On one hand, it's great that they have a corporate policy: it means that breastfeeding is something they've thought about in upper management. That's great! But what's not great is the policy itself, which I pulled from here.

"For guests in our stores, we support the use of fitting rooms for women who wish to breastfeed their babies, even if others are waiting to use the fitting rooms. In addition, guests who choose to breastfeed discreetly in more public areas of the store are welcome to do so without being made to feel uncomfortable."

Fitting rooms are great for moms who want that. I don't believe it's a workable solution for all instances: for a baby whose mom is in a long checkout line, for when there are no dressing rooms available, for children who aren't going to nurse longer than 10 seconds (like mine).

The other hot button issue is the word "discreet." What is that supposed to mean? I personally know someone who gets unnerved by breastfeeding even if it's under a blanket, in a separate room, with the door closed. Just knowing that there's a mouth on a nipple is too much for them. And for me, just nursing where I am is more discreet than going up to someone and asking for a dressing room, drawing attention to myself, and having to put my cart in a corner and hoping that no one takes it while I'm in there. Plus I'd be in and out of that dressing room every 2 minutes for 20 seconds each time. Not feasible and not conducive to shopping and giving them my money either.

This is what I look like breastfeeding in Target, for reference:

The other big thing: for some reason Target thinks they get to supersede the law. In many states, breastfeeding women are protected from indecent exposure laws in public and private. Period. Expecting women to hide in a dressing room or be "discreet" is contrary to the current provisions of the law. It's discrimination. And it's wrong.

So I went to Target today to support breastfeeding moms and to say, "Hey Target, your breastfeeding policy is not enough."

And here are some pictures!


McKay representing supportive partners everywhere.

Nursing only Margaret.

Nursing only Isaac in the mei tai.

Our group gave flowers and a thank you card to the manager of Target to say, "Thanks for managing a store that hasn't had breastfeeding issues!"

A wide shot of some of the group. Couldn't get everyone in.

And some Target breastfeeding humor at Mama Is Comic.

And in the next day, Annie at PhDinParenting will be sharing a video with some pictures from nurse-in locations across the United States. I'll link it for you all.

Fun fact: It was 3 years ago that I was in Palo Alto for the Facebook nurse-in.

Monday, December 26, 2011


I wanted a coherent post for today, but with the holidays, I figure no one's checking blogs, so here's a hodge podge of things I've seen recently on the Interwebs.

First, a video that I'm actually in. I'm in the red skirt, Margaret is wearing an orange shirt, and Isaac is wearing green and McKay his holding him. This was Saturday the 17th at the Bay Street outdoor mall in Emeryville, CA. Because it's not enough that I rabble rouse myself, I have to get my family involved in my illicit activities. The group in the video that put this together is mostly people from the local unschooling group and one of the boys put it together.

And now, in no particular order (ok, fine, the order listed on my G+ page):
Judge weighing whether Mormon bishop should stand trial for failure to report abuse. The answer is YES he should be. The whole thing is disgusting. And telling the young woman that her attire was at fault for the attack? Yeah. No. Also, do not read the comments if you don't want to read rape apologists defend overlooking abuse. Seriously. This has been a hot topic in the Mormon feminist realm lately.

GAPS-friendly Peanut butter cups by a friend of mine who runs Our Nourishing Roots. I know some of you readers are on special diets and thought you'd like to see that recipe.

Margaret insisted on watching this almost 10 times on Friday:

Star Wars Times Square Flash Mob

Battlestar Galactica by Portlandia

A Proposal in Internet Memes

My Christmas post at the Exponent II blog, Feeding the Multitude.

Don't tease nature.

March of the Emporers

Feminist Ryan Gosling

Handmade Ryan Gosling

Angry Birds Theme by the London Philharmonic Orchestra

For those East Bay-ers: Berkeley Enough.

This Wednesday, there is a Nationwide Nurse-in at your local Target store. FAQs here.

That's enough to keep you distracted from the sweets and troublesome in-laws, yes?

Happy holidays!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

This afternoon while I was cutting out figures for my nursery class's Christmas cards tomorrow, McKay and Margaret were designing and cutting out snowflakes. After a few, McKay made one that he was particularly proud of and laid it out for me to see.

Do you see the profiles of babies getting ready to latch on?

He added sparkles to the nipples and declared, "They are tandeming!"

 Best. Snowflake. Ever.

Have I ever said how much McKay rocks? He rocks.

Breastfeeding snowflakes!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Miss Representation

Last night I saw a screening of the new movie, Miss Representation. It was screened by the Bay Area Girls Rock Camp, which is now on my radar for something we might let Margaret do in the future.

Behold, the preview:

It was dark and I was knitting, so I didn't take many notes, but I'll share my reactions.

Reaction 1: Depression. The amount of eating disorders and self-harm among girls and young women is depressing. Violence against women in the media and in real life is depressing. The lack of women in politics in America is depressing. The lack of women in decision-making positions in the entertainment industry is depressing. It's just depressing. As well it should be. It isn't happy stuff.

Reaction 2: Community. Watching it as a screening surrounded by other people who were having the same reactions to the movie I had was validating and community-building. I'm usually off on my lonesome here. Yes, I participate in various feminist online communities, but at the end of the day, I don't normally interact and discuss feminism with other people in person (except for McKay whose ever patience with my frustration at the world is endearing). I'm not alone!

Reaction 3: I must protect my babies from EVERYTHING MEDIA. Except that's not really helpful. At all. Talk about the best way to not prepare them for life! As much as I'd like to hide them away, I can't. They're going to see women objectified. They are going to see bad things. What I can do is teach them how to think critically about it: Why does she wear that? Why do they think that about her? And I can start now while Margaret and Isaac are still very much in their own selves and don't care about what other people think about them.

Reaction 4: This movie is not making me want to go into politics. As someone who's experienced sexual harassment at work and while just out on the street, the section about the 2008 election was triggering for me. Palin and Clinton were put through the ringer: sexually harassed on public television over and over. Why would I want to go into politics and put myself through that? Of course, a few seconds after I thought that, the movie made the point that such crap keeps young women from wanting to participate in politics. Um... Yeah.

Reaction 5: I'm actually doing pretty good in my media intake. We don't watch many movies, we have Netflix, so the movies and TV we do watch are ones that we actively choose and aren't just "something that's on." Plus no commercials. And we have mostly cartoony video games like Mario- not a lot of gore, though some turtle-killing violence. Although, it would be nice to play Maria and Luigia once and a while. As far as audio media- I listen to a lot of knitting podcasts, which are mostly independently made by women. There are a few male knitting podcasts (yay!), but in general, the media I listen to isn't objectifying women. And the male knitting podcasts don't objectify women- they talk about knitting. So yeah. And I'm an active thumbs-downer and feedback-giver when it comes to advertisements on the websites I visit.

After the screening there was a panel that included Jill Culton from Dreamworks, Brenda Chapman who did some directing on Pixar's upcoming Brave, Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency, Carey Fay Horowitz from Bay Area Girls Rock, and someone representing the Miss Representation people (I forget his name). It was very interesting. Jill and Brenda talked about the times they've wanted to add a character to a story but would come across, "What if we made that character male?" but have never come across the question, "What if we made that character female?" Very interesting stuff on the entertainment side. Unfortunately, I had to leave early because McKay was texting me that Isaac was not going to sleep and needed breast.

Basically, see this movie. Oprah bought the rights to it and will be showing it on her network again in 2012, so if you have cable, you might be able to find it that way. But going to a screening is great, too. Like I mentioned above, the community aspect of watching it with other people is really fun and encouraging.

Also, in the back of the room some groups had tables set up so you could donate and support local pro-girls efforts. One group was selling onesies that said, "I <3 Math," and "Princess? Call me President!" Very cute. If I can find out what group that was, I'll link so you can see/buy the shirts.

ETA: The shirts was from Handsome in Pink. Also at the back of the room was a table for Girls Moving Forward.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Margaret absolutely loves mazes, so for Christmas we decided to get her a book of mazes that she can do with a pencil or crayon. Maze books apparently fall under "educational," so when I was admiring the maze book we picked out, handwriting and math workbooks were staring at me and got into my thoughts.

"Hmm. Maybe she does need a book for handwriting. She can write letters, but probably needs practice for clarity and extra control of the pencil."

Then I looked at the book in my hand: mazes. For clean lines and extra control of the pencil. And it's fun and what she likes. I smiled to myself: I can get the same results without boring her with letters (I tried once and it lasted about 5 seconds). We left with only the maze book. She's only 3 and a half. There's plenty of time before she needs to write legibly, and if she never learns that skill, she can be a doctor!

Unschooling: because repetition is boring.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bedsharing on Vacation

We just got back from a trip out of town for my birthday this past Monday. Bedsharing is one of my favorite things about vacations: despite being in a new place, Mommy and Daddy are still there and the environment is close to being "the same." We rarely have issues with getting the kids to sleep when we aren't at home.

We ran into some new sleeping issues, though. It's been a while since we've stayed in a hotel, so I forgot how high hotel beds are! We have a mattress on the floor, so I never worry about babies falling out of bed. Also, at home, our bed is big enough for all 4 of us to sleep in it if need be (Margaret has a bed next to ours that she uses some nights as well). We did not get a room with the big bed, though. We had 2 smaller beds and a pull out couch. The solution of putting Isaac between McKay and I to keep him from falling off the bed was not possible. The hotel supplied us with a pack 'n play, but I can't fit myself in one for nursing, so the whole bedsharing-makes-travel-easier-because-you-are-the-one-constant-in-your-baby's-sleep benefit wasn't going to work.

If I was going to be with the kids, I couldn't have McKay in the bed. Originally, the plan was to get the kids to sleep in one bed and then I would magically get out of the bed without waking the kidlets and join McKay. It turns out that I am not that magical.

But we were able to rig up a solution for the falling out of bed issue: a pillow under the bottom sheet. Hotels give you a lot of pillows, so we took an extra and was able to keep Isaac from falling 3 feet to his doom. Like this:

The bulge on the right side of the picture is the pillow under the bottom sheet.

Note: he is almost 17 months old, so he can have pillows and extra bedding that a newborn can't have (in fact, he insists on it! Margaret was fine without pillows, but Isaac is a bedding connoisseur). If you are travelling with a newborn, they are probably small enough to be between mom and dad without having to kick dad to the extra bed.

Margaret ended up sharing a bed with Isaac and me, though we tried to get her to sleep with McKay.  I was a little worried about her falling off because of how crowded it was- and at one point, I had to rearrange her or else she would have!

So yes: if you are out and about and need a quick no-toddler-falling-off-the-bed solution, try sticking a pillow under the bottom sheet. It works!

And McKay got to have a bed to himself, lucky duck. And it wasn't his birthday. Oh well. We are all back safe and sound and without any bruises from falling off the bed.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Sometimes when Isaac latches on in the middle of the night, he's not fully awake.

Sometimes when he latches on in the middle of the night, I'm not fully awake.

I love that even while we are both unconscious, he can know that I'm there for him.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

You Don't Have to do Anything

I've had many parenting mantras in the past and this is my current one: You don't have to do anything.

I'm not advocating permissiveness in this mantra. I'm advocating a breather.

There have been times when I've intervened in an upset for the umpteenth time and I just don't know what to do. And nothing I done so far has solved it. And yes, it's probably because they didn't get enough sleep, but that doesn't help in the now? And every parenting book advocates consistency. My brain starts to think, "And so you've got to do something, anything, so you..."

You don't have to do anything.

I don't. Seriously. In fact, it is probably better to do nothing than to do what I really want to do, like sell the children on ebay.

You don't have to do anything.

If the choice is between doing anything and nothing, choose nothing. Because anything is vague. And often mean and violent and not something you're going to look back on with fondness. Take a breather, and come back with a solution on how to handle the situation in the future. It's ok if for a few times, you don't do anything.

Yes, kids thrive on routine and consistency, but consistency doesn't have to mean that there is a consequence every single time something happens. Frankly, in life there isn't always a consequence. Sometimes people do things, even "wrong" things and there's no one around to punish them. And it's not going to lead them into thinking they can "get away" with things.

Sometimes I don't do my chores. My bed goes unmade, the piano goes unpracticed, the dishes are dirty. No one comes and "makes" me do it. It happens and I try better in the future. I don't think I'm "getting away" with things just because I failed to do something and no one was around to punish me.

I've run stop signs. It's illegal. No one was around: no pedestrians, no other drivers, no police officers. Nothing happened. I didn't mean to and I've actually pulled off to the side of the road when I've done it to catch myself and re-focus. But no one came around to give me a ticket. It's dangerous and I don't think to myself, "I'm going to start running all kinds of stop signs because I can see I can get away with it!" I don't. I try harder NOT to do that again.

Sometimes I've said mean things to people (including my children) and no one comes to wash my mouth with soap or put me in time out.

The point is: sometimes nothing happens. And that's ok. I'm not a serial stop-sign runner. I'm not a serial non-dish-washing person. I try not to be mean.

So as the parent, there are times when you don't have to do anything. Consistency in breathing, patience, and mercy might be even better than consistency in consequences.

Sunday, December 04, 2011


A couple of months ago, Isaac started hitting, or really, patting really hard and in places that aren't very comfortable like my face. Also, Margaret has started more pushing/kicking in order to keep Isaac away from her and her things (see last blog post).

I know this is where some people come in and advocate spanking because it "shows the child that hitting hurts." This doesn't make sense to me. If someone turns around and treats me badly because I treated them badly, I don't think, "Hmm. Maybe I shouldn't have done that." I think, "JERK FACE." I think kids think similarly.

But I do think that it's true: Isaac didn't know what he was doing hurt. He didn't know his own strength.

I took piano for many many years. I made the most progress under a teacher who instructed us to split each new piece into small sections and practice each section 10 times daily. In a row. You couldn't do 5, eat dinner, then finish the other 5 repetitions. She said that the first 5 (or so) times, your fingers were getting used to the notes and order and feel of the song. The second 5 times, muscle memory was developed. And after doing this for a few days (or more, depending on the piece), it would be in your muscles and then you could think about musicality.

But back to hitting. One year old Isaac doesn't know his own strength. His muscles do not know what it feels like to be soft with another person. But like my muscles needed to get used to the new note patterns in a new song, Isaac's muscles need to get used to being a person and soft with the people around him. So when he hits, I will take his hand and demonstrate with it how to be soft by using it to pat or caress my arm or hand. I think taking his hand is important because children are very much inside their bodies and their bodies need direction. Eventually, he'll learn how it feels to be soft and how much force is appropriate for interacting with other people. It'll take repetition, but eventually his muscles will commit safe patting to memory. We've been doing this for a few months and already he does more "patting" than hitting and it hasn't been on my face lately.

Of course there are issues in which this will be difficult. I know some kids have sensory issues and crave high-impact force. It's like their brains can't feel something unless they really feel it with a lot of oompf. Handling the sensory issues with a therapist trained in such issues will be important.

But it's not all Isaac. Like I said above, Margaret's been doing more kicking and pushing. Because she is verbal, we do more verbal cues. "You are the bigger person, Margaret. You can walk away from him." But sometimes the kicking comes from a place of pent-up frustration. I've tried a lot of things like stomping with her. Once I even said, "I think you can scream louder than that," to help her get the energy out. It turns it to a game and the upset passes.

Usually the kicking stems from another issue: Isaac won't leave her or her stuff alone. So addressing the original issue helps.

And as sappy as it sounds, asking, "How big is your mad? What color is your mad?" really helps. It would probably get an eye-roll from a 9 year old, but from a 3 year old, I get, "It's green and pink and chocolate. Chocolate chip! Ice cream mad!" "That sounds really sad." "Yeah." And then she's done and distracted from what she was upset about and able to start over.

In the past, I've taken her hands and have said, "Hands are for helping and loving." Maybe I should start that with Isaac, now that I think about it.

And we do the breathing I mentioned in the previous post.

Lastly, there are times when I don't intervene because the kids to like to wrestle. I try to watch to make sure that when someone is done, their wishes are respected. Multiple times a week, we actively practice saying, "Stop!" and getting a parent for those sorts of situations. I actively enforce the "stops," when they wrestle. Additionally, each time we practice "Stop!" I explicitly remind them that they should even tell mommy and daddy to stop if we are hurting them and then to tell the other parent about the incident.

As far as where we are right this moment, we've actually had a pretty bad week this past week. Many meltdowns and bodies not knowing how to be soft. Kids were sick, Daddy went out of town for a bit, we didn't go out and get our sunshine, sleep well, or get enough exercise. This next week, we'll try to get more sunlight and exercise and see if that helps. I think the winter is already getting to us- and it's not even that cold! I'm just bad at finding the energy to have outings.

I plan on doing another post of links to more ideas and books/websites that help. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


This is probably the most common disagreement in the house. Someone wants something another person has. Over and over and over.

I don't believe in "making" kids share. I feel like kids ought to be able to play with something and have a little sense of ownership without someone coming in and saying, "You have to give that to so-and-so. It's sharing."

In general, our rule is, "If someone has it, you can't take it. Wait until they are done with their turn and when they don't want it anymore, you can have a turn." Kids will lose interest in something eventually, though it does mean that sometimes someone gets a long "turn."

Sometimes I don't know who has something first and sometimes they both "take turns" in taking the desired object. Ha! When there's a big fuss, I'll ask everyone to breathe and then say that the object needs a break and can return to playing after things cool down. Breathing is big at our house. It's my answer to almost all out-of-control situations. Yelling? Whining? Fighting? Stop, breathe, then tell us what you want. I demonstrate the deep breaths with them. It took a little while for Margaret to "get it" and actually breathe with me, but consistently reminding her to breathe has helped. Now whenever she gets whiny, I ask her to breathe and immediately the whine is gone! Magic! Isaac doesn't get the breathing thing yet, but I trust that with repeated practice, he'll get it.

Isaac used to not care whether or not he had something in his hands. So Margaret thinks everything is hers. But most of our toys and other items in the house are communal. There is no "owner." We share a bed, we share the couch, we all can play with the toy food, blocks, animals, books, etc. But because everything is communal, nothing is hers, and like I said above, I think kids like to have ownership. Unfortunately because up until the past few months, Isaac didn't care about ownership, nothing is his and Margaret thinks everything is hers.

I'm hoping to remedy this at Christmas time. They are each going to get something that is solely theirs. I'm not sure what, but it'll be something. Margaret has a doll that I made her that is hers, I may make Isaac a similar doll.

In a similar vein, I can't really explain it, but I have the gut feeling that if we get rid of a lot of our stuff, there will be less fights over it. I'm currently de-cluttering a lot of the toys for this purpose.

I think "sharing" is going to be an issue for a while. We are going to be breathing a lot over the next few years.

What do you do for "sharing?"

Monday, November 28, 2011

Inquisition Monday: Santa

Betttina asked on Twitter,

Inq Monday: (no rush!) How do you teach your kids that Jesus is real but Santa isn't? Thank you!

Before I get to the question, I wanted to share what prompted this question. I bought Christmas stamps and tweeted that I got the Madonna and Child stamps of Raphael's Madonna of the Candelabra. Sadly, the Christ-child isn't nursing on the stamp, but he is sticking his hand down Mary's shirt. That's a sure sign of a nursing toddler! Also, I'm pretty sure Isaac has the same hair and chubbiness that the Christ-child has in this depiction. Anyway, yay for nursing toddlers.

So onto the question.

We actually teach about Jesus and Santa in the same way. Jesus was a real, historical person. As was St. Nicholas. There is truth to both stories. And both of them have myths around them that are probably false. Was Christ born anywhere near December? No. Does Santa really come down our non-existant chimney? No. But is it fun to pretend Christ's birthday is in December? Yep! And is it fun to pretend that Santa comes? Yep.

We actually have it pretty easy. My father-in-law is a mall Santa and so we tell the kids, "Grandpa dresses up like Santa. It's fun to put on costumes and pretend!" About stockings I tell them it's a fun game that Mommy and Daddy play to put presents in stockings. I don't think it detracts from the "magic." Kids love pretending and the fact that your imaginary friends aren't real doesn't mean those hours of playing were wasted.

When the kids get older, we'll mention the history of St. Nicholas. I might even do the shoes-out-for-St. Nicholas Day-tradition this year if I feel like being on top of things. I know one mom that does all of the Santa stuff on St. Nicholas Day so Christmas is just for gifts from friends and family. This separates the Santa tradition from Christmas. I don't think I'll do that, but it's an option if you're interested.

As far as teaching about Jesus and other biblical figures, I'll definitely say that I don't believe the Bible or even the Book of Mormon to be historically accurate. Take the Gospels: there is good evidence that some of the Gospels were written using other Gospels as a base and that there was artistic license taken by the authors. Does that diminish the truth of being kind and loving? I don't think so. I believe that the scriptures can be inspiring and uplifting without needing to be strictly accurate. So when we talk about scriptures stories in which historical accuracy is in question, I am careful in my words. I'll say, "In one story, Jesus...." or "In the book of..." I also do this when I teach nursery at church or when giving talks. Maybe the semantics aren't very important, but I like to be as truthful as I can.

I know some of my readers also teach the Santa tradition is a fun game as opposed to the idea that Santa really comes. What parts of the traditions do you keep or toss? Also, when I taught computers at an elementary school, during the week before the winter break, I let the younger kids play on this site about St. Nicholas. If you are interested in celebrating St. Nicholas Day, that might be a fun place to get ideas!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Blue Potty Seat Incident

This is for Mallory who wanted more stories of parenting. This one is kind of cheating because we don't run into issues like this very often. Most of my parenting intervention stems from someone not wanting the other person having the thing they want. That will be its own post. Today is the Blue Potty Seat Incident.

I was on the computer doing something. McKay was busy doing something also. Margaret was on the potty. Alone. With a pen. And this was the big potty, not the kiddie one, so she was sitting on one of those little potty cushions that you put on the toilet seat so that small kids don't fall in.

McKay found her with pen marks all over her legs and pen holes poked into the cushion of the potty seat. We have two such potty seats, and of course she was on the her favorite one: the blue one. The other one has ducks on it. Ducks are just not as cool as the color blue.

Well, when McKay found her, he came to me wondering what we should do about the potty seat. My brain did this:

Pen on her legs? Not a big deal. It just washes off. It's her body anyway.

But the potty seat. Hmm... She didn't really do anything "wrong." It's not like we had a rule of no-pens-on-the-potty that we could point to and say, "Hey! You broke this rule, so X needs to happen." She's being 3. And it's not a sin to be three. I probably would have poked holes myself! And the fact that she had a pen? Our fault for not catching that.

But it's not really useable. Well, it is. But I like to clean the toilet and all the potty seats weekly and having holes in the foam part is going to be an issue. I don't think I could get it clean like I like it anymore. 

So what we decided was to tell her that the potty seat was broken and couldn't be cleaned anymore and that she needed to throw it away. McKay led her out to the garbage can for that and with lots of crying, she threw it away. It was her favorite. It really was.

I spent some time holding her while she sobbed about the loss of the potty seat. Part of me wanted to say, "Get over it! It's just a potty seat! You have another!" But I didn't. She wanted to be heard, so I would interject things like, "That was your favorite blue seat; you liked it a lot," in order to show her that I understood why she was upset. When she was done telling me how bad it was, she did move on and has since happily used the ducky seat.

My only second-thoughts about the potty seat are related to whether or not it really need to get thrown out in the bin for the landfill or if it would have been better to figure out how to repair it and be a little more eco-friendly. I could have used an old plastic flannel-backed tablecloth and reupholstered it. But it was just a little potty seat, probably not worth the reupholstering.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Relationships are Hard

This was spurred on by the comment discussion from Saturday's post. It made me think about communication in general and what we say and what we don't and why. For some, commenting on anything parenting-related is a major faux pas and immediately offensive. For others, not so much- they're glad for suggestions or input. And I think everyone falls into those categories at different times.

In general, I like people being upfront with me. But I know there are cultures and people who don't like that. I see it when we have people over for dinner: there are some people who have dinner and then chat for hours because it would be rude to leave too quickly. Then there are people who have dinner, and then feel like they are being rude by taking up our time and so they leave. I'm one of those people who ends up turning a 30 minute visit into a 3 hour day trip and I know that this irks some people and I actually really appreciate it when someone tells me I've overstayed. I really don't want to put them out, but I also really like talking and connecting with people. I also don't want someone to feel put out but then feel like it's rude to ask me to leave. In the end, they might not tell me and spend time later begrudging me and my over-talking. I don't want to be the source of negativity in someone's life. I really don't.

But navigating those waters is hard. To be honest, there are times when I'd rather not know that someone thinks I'm out of line. Want to tell me I'm causing psychological problems by nursing my children beyond what's culturally the norm? Yeah, I don't want to hear that. But do I appreciate it when someone comes to me and directly talks about something that I've done that is bothering them? Yes. I do. I'd rather that than find out someone had stewed on it or even talked about it with other people. Please just tell me.

Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself. (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Relationships are hard.

You know how when you go back to your parents' house you start falling back into the same parent/child relationship you grew up with even though you're an adult? That's how all relationships work. I could spend the next 7 years in meditation and reach Nirvana or be translated or whatever, but then when I run into a person that I haven't seen in 10 years? The relationship seems to go back 10 years.  Because it does. I hadn't seen that person in a decade and so the relationship hasn't gone anywhere. Relationships take work and it hadn't been worked on in 10 years. They take being vulnerable and saying something completely offensive and hoping that the other person will be willing to work it out with you later. And sometimes it takes accepting that the other person doesn't want to work it out and you just have to let that relationship go. And that sucks sometimes. Other times it's really freeing.

Sometimes life feels like I'm running around and bumping into other people at random. And then I'm constantly cleaning up all the spills from the bumps.

So I guess what I'm saying is this: thanks for the comments. I learn a lot from them. Because I'm human, I'm probably going to be offensive in the future, but I hope that in the end, I get a hang of this communication and relationship thing. The Internet has taught me a lot. Now to go work on some relationships!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Inquisition Monday

Betttina on Twitter had a couple of questions for Inquisition Monday. I'll save the other one for next Monday.

Inq Monday: how do you take in enough calories to nourish two children through pregnancy and tandem nursing? #breastfeeding

I remember when I was pregnant with Margaret, I read that during pregnancy you need an extra 300 calories a day. I thought to myself, "That's just an extra candy bar! I can do that!" I was being a bit facetious, but for me, getting extra calories hasn't been the problem. The problem has been getting nutrient-dense calories.

When I was pregnant with Isaac, I found the nutrition section in Adventures in Tandem Nursing tob the most helpful section of the book for me. Most of the book felt wishy-washy, "Well, some babies wean during pregnancy and some don't. And some moms experience discomfort while nursing during pregnancy and some don't." And there's good reason: you really can't predict those sorts of things. But the nutrition information was more concrete and more satisfying to read. Unfortunately, my copy of the book is currently lent out, so I don't have it in front of me. But I do recall reading that while your breastmilk is generally the same stuff no matter what your diet, the aspect of breastmilk that changes the most is the type of fats in it. I'm not very good about eating fish and other omega-3s in my diet, so I took (and still take) a cod liver oil supplement, taking care of vitamin D and the omega-3s at the same time. Almost everyone is vitamin D deficient, so I figure it doesn't hurt to team those up.

Right now, I also take extra vitamin C while I patiently wait for our CSA box to start overflowing with oranges again. I try to focus our meals around our veggie box because I feel like eating in season is good for us. Lately, we've had lots of winter squash! I also find that using the box means that we get more creative with our meals, which is fun as well.

In addition to Adventures in Tandem Nursing, I found the website to be helpful and they have a section devoted to tandem and pregnancy issues as well as nutrition. The Kelly behind Kellymom is an IBCLC and tries to include citations for the information, so you can go and double-check everything suggested, which I like.

I hope that helps!

Also, I did the math and next week, Margaret turns 44 months old and Isaac is now 16 months old. That's a total of 60 months of nursing. 5 years. And I was seeing colostrum 4 months before Margaret was born, so I've been lactating for even longer. Unbelievable.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

When to Speak Up

A couple of days before Reese Dixon's post, JoePa and the evil of apathy, I was at our church book group listening to the discussion of Richard Wright's Black Boy and the shock about the violence Wright witnessed, was a victim of, and participated in himself as a child. But then, a woman spoke up and said that it's not like in our times children aren't hurt and then went on to talk about times when she saw children kicked down an aisle or even smacked on the head in church in our ward. I was completely aghast and kept thinking, "Why didn't anyone say, 'Hey! It's not ok to do that!'" But I do know. Sadly, I do.

I've been thinking about the times I've witnessed violence and did nothing. I believe that I would absolutely get the cops involved and stop the rape of a child if I saw it. But I'm no angel, and I've looked the other way at times.

A lot of things constitute as violence. I absolutely love the book, Non-violent Communication because it has shown me how even a conversation can be toxic and violent. I need to memorize that book, I really do. And it's given me the courage, especially in online conversations in various fora, to say, "Hey, it wasn't right for you to say that." I'm not very good at it in person. And it's hard. Because violence is so varied. Personally, I think that some ways "time out" is instituted is violence. Spanking is violence. Yelling can be violence. Calling someone names is violence. Routine infant circumcision is violence. Road rage is violence. Bullying is violence.

But do I speak up? Not always. Should I? I don't know. Or I'm afraid. Mostly that last one.

I once was in a restaurant eating dinner with people and a mom in our party told her son to stand in the corner with his nose to the wall. In public. I felt this was violence: the public shame and embarrassment was cruel. I didn't say anything.

I once was at a house where a little boy about the age of 3 or 4 needed to change his clothes. As he was, his parents and another couple catcalled at him, "Take it off! Ow Ow!" because he was doing it in front of a little 3 year old girl (not his choice, just the circumstance). I didn't say anything.

I was at a playdate when a little boy had a hard time being soft with other people and so his mother spanked him. I didn't say anything.

I once let my parents yell at a sibling for something I had done. I didn't say anything.

When I walk around town, I sometimes hear people yelling at each other in the streets. I don't say anything.

More than once, when I was in school, including in college, I heard people bullying another person. I didn't always say anything. I only remember speaking up 3 times, each time was very difficult for me and I'm proud of that, but it's such a miniscule number to the many other times I let it go.

Most regrettably (and please, don't send me emails about how bad I am for this, the shame of my conscience eats me up every time I think about this), I once woke up while camping in Provo Canyon hearing a woman scream over and over. And I did nothing. It was faint and far away. And dark. And I was scared myself. But those excuses feel so pitiful to me. I think that's the one thing I truly regret in my life and I hope that if I ever hear something like that again, that I not go back to sleep.

So yeah. I really want to delete that paragraph, but that doesn't delete it from my life.

I want to say that from here on out, I will always speak up against violence that I witness. But I know I won't. I have noble friends who I'm sure would have spoken up against a mother spanking her child. My policy is that I will never do a play date at that woman's house and if spanking ever happens in my house, I tell the person that they have to do it outside off the property because my house is safe for everyone, even young people. Luckily I've never had to tell a parent that. But what do you do when you're not in your own home? And the person is someone you are going to see for the next many years over and over and you worry that saying something will burn bridges? What do you do if you hear something and a weapon might be involved? What if it's violent words and no one's physically being hurt?

I don't know. I could have been the spanking parent myself because, after all, that was what I knew. If I hadn't chosen an unassisted birth, I would never have heard about attachment parenting and started studying it. Well, I might have, but not as early. If I hadn't gone to my first LLL meeting, I might not have found the local-to-Provo AP playgroup to watch other moms parent. I learned so much from them and am very grateful for their examples. So when the spanking person could have been me... I don't know. Spanking feels mild when compared to sexual assault. But it's still violence. We need someone to show us how to be nice to each other, we really do. But stepping in and calling out an already violent situation is uncomfortable, painful.

I don't know where I'm going with this. I know I'm not perfect (see above). I don't know where the line is for stepping up and saying something. Or is there no line and I should call out all violence when I see it? How do you handle those situations?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Let me sum up

I had a really busy end-of-the-week last week. Last Monday, we found 2 boxes that we hadn't unpacked since our move. We found homemade knitted toys that I thought we lost forever! I also found my knitting notebook that had my notes from a pattern I designed that I promised I would write up. But the lack of notebook meant I couldn't duplicate my design and write it up. So when I found it Monday, I vowed to write it up as quickly as possible. After all day Thursday and Friday re-knitting the pattern and writing it up, it's done and you can now buy my Deena Mitts pattern on Ravelry for $3.

Meanwhile, in the snotty nose realm, both the kids fell sick with a cold. Margaret had it first and was congested. Co-sleeping gets a little old when your toddler is snoring. She has her own bed, but is still in our room. Breastfeeding was hard, too. Because she couldn't breathe through her nose, her latch changed to accomodate her body's need to breathe with her mouth. And oh my, that latch drove me crazy. It was a catch-22: I didn't want to nurse her because she was sick, but she needed to nurse to get the antibodies to get over her sickness. She's mostly down to nursing to bed and one at 6 am, so I tried to be patient and let her nurse as long as I could stand it. But yeah.

Isaac got it about 4 days after Margaret did. His nose was so stuffy that his body didn't know how to handle it dripping down his throat, so her threw up once each day: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. It was a party. He and Margaret stayed home from church with McKay and when I came home, Isaac was warm with a fever. I woke up Monday to a baby on fire. Monday afternoon around 4:30, his temperature was 103.18. We slept with out fireball baby who woke up at 102.79. So it's gone down. Barely. Luckily he has kept all his breastmilk down the past few days. He's staying hydrated and is currently sleep nursing in my lap as I type this. I am grateful for breastmilk.

So in all, we've been watching movies while trying to sit where the sun can reach us and give us some vitamin D. I'm personally feeling fine (knock on wood). I'm taking supplements, but for some reason, 3 year olds don't like cod liver oil.

Also: McKay's going to defend his thesis this month!

And some linkage I woke up to this morning:
A Letter to my Children, on Occupy Wallstreet by Arwyn at Raising My Boychick
Fun with Analogies: Cosleeping and Knives, Car Travel and Guns by Annie at PhD in Parenting
Of Babies and Habits by Amber Strocel at

And Betttina, I'll get to your Inquisition Monday question later. I hope that's ok. I have laundry to do.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

EC and Gut Issues

It might not seem like elimination communication and gut issues in a baby might be connected, and I don't think they normally are, but Isaac's life has been an interesting mix of the two.

Early on, we had thrush. It was bad and took weeks (months?) to get over. Because of that, I kind of stopped ECing. One thing at a time, I thought, and breastfeeding comfortably was a higher priority for me. During the early rough thrush times, he was naked butt a lot because he had yeast in his diaper area, but as that cleared up, I didn't work on it so much.

Then 6 months came around. Food gave him bloody stools. I slowed down the pace on the foods and still, at random times, I needed to take him off solids. I wasn't always very strict about it because he LOVES food and I can't seem to keep it from him.

Now he's eating a lot of food. I would say he's still getting 90+% of his daily volume of food from me, but it does seem like he's eating a lot more, at least compared to 9 month old Isaac. For the past few weeks we've been fighting diaper rash and bloody scabs on his scrotum and bottom because his gut just can't handle solids. And my mind keeps going back to the thrush.

A couple of weeks ago at a playgroup, some moms were talking about food sensitivities and I mentioned Isaac's issues and wondered out loud if maybe it's related to the thrush he had early on. His gut didn't get time to establish itself in the beginning and now I'm fighting to keep it happy. Then yesterday, Denise Plunger posted about Gut Integrity- or the importance of breastmilk being the only substance that goes into a baby in order to protect the intestinal walls. Synchronicity, much? Maybe. I really think Isaac's body needs time to re-heal itself. Once again, I'm going to go back to just breastmilk for him for a few days or a week and then reintroduce foods slowly. It's going to be hard because he LOVES food.

And back to elimination communication. Because of the scabs and sores and bleeding on his bum, Isaac has been going around naked butt more often. Yesterday he sat down on the potty by himself and peed. Another time he started pooping on the floor (yay for wood being easier to clean than carpet!) and I got him to the potty where he finished. So while thrush was one of the reasons we didn't spend a lot of time ECing, it is inadvertantly one of the reasons we are catching eliminations again. Silver lining.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Inquisition Monday: Faith

I don't normally blog about my beliefs because I don't think the majority of my readers care that much. And to be honest, the way someone connects to God/dess/the Divine/the Universe/the Force/the Flying Spaghetti Monster/etc isn't usually relevant for most conversations and daily interactions like grocery shopping or blogging. That's not to say that I'm indifferent to how belief and religion are an important part of someone's identity and life story. It's just I don't write about what I actually believe very often because I'm not interested in turning my blog into Heather-preaches-it-about-God. It's already enough of Heather-preaches-it-about-her-life! I incorporate religion when it's important to understand a story or perspective of mine. So with that in mind, I guess I'll talk vaguely about what do and do not believe.

On last week's post on obedience, I got this question from Anna, "On a side note, do you disagree with anything the LDS church tells you and "disobey" their rules? There are many teachings/rules that seem to be a bit taboo to non-LDS members; do you follow all of these regardless because of your trust in the church, or do you ever question and do what you feel is right, even if you may alienate yourself from the rest of the church? You seem to be a very strong-minded spicy girl, so was curious your take on this."

Yes, I disagree with the LDS church at times. Sometimes it's often and sometimes it's not. My beliefs and personal faith has changed dramatically in the past 6 years of this blog, but similarly, my beliefs and personal faith changed dramatically in the previous 6 years and I anticipate that it'll continue to change because that's how the human condition works. I can definitely say that in some ways, my faith was stronger 5 years ago, but I can also say that in other ways, it's stronger now.

In my Daughters of Mormonism interview, I spoke about faith in the very Mormon terms of being a seed and as a garden. My belief garden is full of lots of plants, but sometimes I give a certain plant or two more attention than the rest. I think that's really normal. I can recall times when I felt very strongly about things like Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, prayer, fasting, tithing, etc. But I don't feel strongly about everything Mormon all the time. And sometimes I decide that I don't want to feel strongly about certain things. I take what I want to focus on and leave the rest. That probably makes me sound like a cafeteria Mormon, but I would argue that every Mormon is a cafeteria Mormon. You simply can't be 100% in because all the "rules" are going to get in the way of each other and even contradict each other at times. Take obedience: sure, you can follow everything a leader says, but Mormons are also strong believers in personal revelation. What if it contradicts what a leader says? Then what?

I think that is ultimately the big Mormon question. For a religion starting with a boy who said he saw an angel/Christ/God (depending on which version you read), we've really gotten away from finding our own personal connections with the divine. I know in the past, I've put things between me and God: my parents, my leaders, my husband, my church, my friends, etc., but I'm working on tearing those walls down. But it gets complicated.

For example the "rules" are complicated. There's doctrine, there's practice and policy, there's personal opinions, etc. And it's hard to figure out what is what. There are things that were once doctrine that are now looked at "oh, they did something and it was weird, but it wasn't really doctrine." The most obvious of that is polygamy. In the late 19th century, it was certainly taught that polygamy was essential to salvation. Fast forward more than 100 years, and the President of the Church, Gordon B. Hinckley, denied that it is doctrine in an interview with Larry King. 100% confusing. But 100% exciting. Because the LDS Church claims to be a "living" church, that means things can change. And they do and will continue to do, even if it's at a snail's pace or sometimes in directions I don't like.

I give myself permission to believe, to not believe, and to outright reject some of the things taught over the pulpit and elsewhere. I give myself permission to do or not do all the Mormon things. And I'm ok with that.

Ideally, I would always, always follow what I personally feel is right. And I think I'm doing much better at that these days, but there are times when I sigh and let things go and accept some things in the meantime. No person is an island. I won't lie- I do follow some of the "rules" for the sake of relationships. But there are also other rules that I throw out and figure that if people take issue, then well, I guess they take issue. I've butted heads with family, leaders, other ward members, friends, and anonymous Internet people over various Mormon issues. I'm not always ok with it, as it's anxiety-inducing, but there's a point where you just can't please everyone and you have to take a deep breath and worry about yourself. And that was like 4 years ago.

On the other hand, I am privileged to live in a special corner of the LDS church. People in my ward (congregation) are not afraid to disagree. I've sat in Sunday School and listened to people talk about their concern of how women in the church aren't referred to "President," despite the title of their calling. I remember a Relief Society lesson in which the parable of the talents was described and when the teacher turned to the class for comments, the first one was, "I think this is a terrible parable. I don't like it at all. The master sounds like a jerk." I go to church with women who have openly aligned themselves with the cause of feminism and they are leaders in the stake and ward. I personally know people who went to the stake president during Prop 8 and said, "I can't contribute to this," and was told that they was totally ok and there would be no pressure either way. Mitch Mayne, the man who was called to be in a bishopric in San Francisco because he is gay and who, while not currently in a relationship, has been upfront in saying that he's not opposed to the possibility of finding a partner in the future, came from the ward I go to. I was privileged to hear his "farewell" talk in person. What this means is that the people who declared him "worthy" to be able to take a prestigious position like that are the same people who have the power to "talk to me" or "ask me to pray" about things or keep me from having a calling or take the sacrament (communion) or from going to the temple or even kick me out, but they don't. Similarly, Carol Lynn Pearson, a very well-known Mormon poet, writer, feminist, and LGBT ally also lives in my stake. This past spring, she spoke about our stake president's talk in stake conference last fall about making the Mormon tent bigger and being more inclusive- if you are Mormon, listen to her talk, it's amazing. What this means for me is that I have a lot of freedom. I can start a Heavenly Mother-focused blog or speak about Heavenly Mother over the pulpit without worry. In church, I can wear pants, be barefoot, nurse openly from the top of my blouse, and all sorts of things that seem counter to the Mormon culture and the ward still welcomes me every Sunday and has never said anything, well, except some of the older ladies worry about the temperature of my feet in the winter. I am really blessed to live here. And admittedly, I don't know if I would still be as active and gung-ho somewhere else.

And before I make my ward sound like the most universalist Mormon place in the world, I'll admit there are Sundays when I  close my eyes and mentally sing "LALALALALA" during a talk. And I get mad and angry with the patriarchal system. It's not perfect. But I'm grateful that there is room to stretch and try new things out here.

I'm not always the best Christian or Mormon or feminist or tree-hugging hippie or Oaklander or Californian (haven't even gotten my new diver's license!) or American or human being. I don't even know what I believe moment to moment sometimes: my view of God has shifted probably 7 times in the process of writing and pausing and thinking about this post. And it'll probably change up 30 times tomorrow. Or something like that. Can't be too boring!

I'm not sure if I answered the question well. I appreciate and welcome comments, but Internet rules apply (be nice!), along with "Bloggernacle" rules: you cannot attack someone's testimony or connection with the divine in the comments. I understand the touchy and sometimes painful and disgusting parts of Mormon history and doctrine, please don't come in and try to pronounce Mormons as bad and evil. No anti-Mormon stuff. But similarly, I'm not going to allow calls to repentance. No one gets to judge another person's journey. Well, you can, just not here. Keep it in your brain.

Thursday, November 03, 2011



I don't believe in obedience. At all. While it's nice when my children do what I ask, when they don't, I'm secretly rooting for them, "Keep up that fighting spirit. Don't give in when you think something is unfair!" And I often join their side.

But I know some of you, my readers, feel that obedience in children is a good thing, and I'll admit that it is nice when my children take my suggestions. These are the questions I ask myself:

When do I obey? When do I follow the instructions or advice of another person?

I think there are times that we obey other people out of fear. Thousands (tens of thousands?) of people daily take off their shoes when going through airport security out of fear that if they don't, they'll be called aside for who knows how long, miss their flight and be out $500. Fear and threats work. Over and over even. And I can try that as a parent, but just as I don't know many people who think of the TSA with endearment, I don't think a parent/child relationship based on fear is going to be very amiable.

So think of the last time someone suggested something to you and you did it: that new restaurant  you tried out, that suggestion at work your boss gave you, the medical advice from your doctor, the decision to put in a firewall or build a new roof on your house. Why did you do those things?

Because you trust the person who gave you the advice. You trusted them to have special knowledge or experience that would help you make a decision.

You want your children to obey you? Then you need to be trustworthy. Can they trust you to keep their confidence? Can they trust you to keep your cool when something doesn't go as planned? Can they trust you to be excited for them when something does go well?

Think of the people you don't trust: why is that? I know I have a hard time trusting people who use passive aggression, bribery, and other manipulation. If I want my children and other people to take my advice, then I can't be the person who manipulates. I need to be honest, I need to be forthright, and sometimes, I need to be vulnerable. I need to apologize when I'm wrong.

People revolt and protest when they no longer have trust in a person, organization, or value. That's why there are people on Wall Street right now. It's why that student in your science class ditches the lab period. It's why people walk away from political parties, religions, academic institutions, society in general.

Earning the trust of other people will do more for obedience than insisting on it. It's not going to get obedience 100% of the time, but I think it'll do lots of good.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Human milk for human babies.
Nectar for butterflies and bumblebees.

Since it might be hard to see: Margaret was a butterfly, Isaac was a bumblebee, and I sewed flowers on my shirt and cut a slit in it to nurse. :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

From the Archives: Out to Eat

This post was published in September 2008. It was actually one of my very first posts about lactivism. I think about it a lot and thought I'd re-publish. In this edition, I took out the footnotes of the original post, but the message is the same. I didn't even fix the grammar and verb tense issues, though maybe I should. It's grating on me.

One sentiment I've noticed with some people's issues with breastfeeding in public is, "I hear breastfeeding is this private, bonding time. If it's so intimate, don't do it in public."

You know what? You're right. Breastfeeding can be a very wonderful bonding time. But it's not always and it doesn't have to be every single time.

Imagine you're having dinner with someone you love: a friend, a sibling, a spouse, whoever. That can be a very sweet, bonding time. You can go out to a fancy place and have a candlelit date, or stay in and spend some time talking and catching up. A beautiful bonding time.

But you can't have dinners like that every day. It'll wear you out if you try to make sure you're always intimate every single time- it takes energy and thought and planning. Sometimes, you're tired and just need to throw a pizza in the oven or you have a lot of errands and you need to grab some fast food.

Breastfeeding is the same. You can bond, but sometimes, you need to eat on the go. And expecting that every time you breastfeed it's going to be this magical connection...that's setting yourself up for disappointment, or at least frustration- because your baby's going to want different things out of breastfeeding, too. Sometimes they want comfort and bonding, but sometimes they're just thirsty or tired or are more interested in something else, but are still hungry. And sometimes I think they just want to show off how flexible and agile they are. "Look Mom! I'm eating AND standing on my head!" "Look at me! No hands!"

So conclusion, although breastfeeding can promote bonding between a mommy and baby, it also can simply promote food in a baby's tummy. And it can be that simple and doesn't require intimacy.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Breast Cancer and Breastfeeding

Last night I gave a talk at an Oakland church that was putting on a breast cancer awareness and community education night. I was asked to speak about how breastfeeding reduces breast cancer as well as the options for a mom who is going through diagnosis of cancer and treatment. My audience was primarily black women. It was really fun. I especially loved that after I made a point, the pastor and audience would say, "Amen!" We need more of that. And if McKay hadn't been texting me, "Isaac cries every time he sees a picture of you on the computer," I would have stayed for all the speakers. I also think, that for the audience, it would have been better to include more stories. But hindsight is 20/20. Here is part of it:

It might not be immediately clear why breastfeeding would be brought up in discussions about breast cancer. However, the American Institute for Cancer Research has included breastfeeding in their Ten Recommendations for Cancer Prevention List. We know that breastfeeding sets a child up for a healthy life and that breastfed children are less likely to contract childhood diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and cancer including childhood leukemia and it also reduces the child's chances of getting breast cancer. Breastfeeding is not just for the child, though. Breastfeeding reduces a woman's chances of getting breast cancer.

In the Nurses' Health study between 1997 and 2005, over 60,000 women were studied. They reported that women who had a mother, sister or other close relative with breast cancer had a 59 percent lower risk of developing the disease if they had ever breastfed. Women experience a greater decrease in their chances of breast cancer if they nursing lasts 1 and a half to 2 years or more. In fact, nursing one child for one year will do more for decreasing your chances of breast cancer than nursing 2 children for 6 months each.

Does it make a difference as to what kind of breast cancer? There are two types of breast cancer: there is a kind that depends on estrogen or progesterone for growth and that one is reduced through breastfeeding because the breastfeeding hormone of prolactin keeps progesterone and estrogen levels down like birth control does. There is also a kind that is more aggressive and is not dependent on hormones and it disproportionally affects African American women. Amazingly, in a study of 47,000 African American women that was done between 1996 and 2009, published this past August in the journal Cancer Epidemology, it was found that while an African American woman increases her chances of that cancer when she has more than one child, breastfeeding 2 or more children causes that risk to decline considerably. It is believed that breastfeeding affect the immune response in such a way that this aggressive form of breast cancer is less likely to take hold.

In all, breastfeeding your baby will reduce both yours and your baby's risk of breast cancer.

Now, we know that early diagnosis greatly increases your chances of beating breast cancer. Tests such as X-rays, mammograms, MRIs, and CT scans are safe for breastfeeding. The radiation from those tests does not collect in the milk. There is no need to stop breastfeeding or to pump and dump for these procedures, though you'll probably be more comfortable if you have recently nurse and your breasts are more empty. A well-experienced radiologist should be able to tell the difference between cancer and normal functioning milk ducts, so if you are told to wean before a mammogram, then you might need to find a new radiologist. The agents used in imaging procedures are not absorbed in the breast milk, so they are breastfeeding safe.

However, there are some diagnostic procedures that use radioactive isotopes and particulate radiation. Those aren't breastfeeding safe, so you can pump and dump until the milk is clear of the radiation. That can be tested in the hospital and can take from hours up to a month to clear, depending on the agent used. Working closely with someone who knows a lot about these drugs and lactation will be priceless. If you know that such a procedure is coming up, you can store up milk to feed your baby while you wait out the radiation.

Procedures like biopsy can affect the nerves related to breastmilk production and release. Before a biopsy, it would be wise to tell the surgeon that you are breastfeeding and ask that they keep as much of the tissue intact as they can. If you imagine the breast is a bicycle wheel, cuts that are in the direction of the spokes are more likely to keep nerves and ducts intact as opposed to cuts that go through those nerves and ducts. Depending on the situation, it may not be possible to do that.

If cancer is found, or if you've recently had it removed and you're lactating, you might have some questions. First, your baby can't get cancer from nursing on an infected breast. It is possible for a breast's ability to make milk or the baby could refuse the breast because of the changes in it. Breastfeeding might also be painful. But it also might not be. You are the one going through all of this, so follow what feels right: if you feel like weaning is necessary, there are ways to wean that will minimize the impact on your child and your breasts. If breastfeeding isn't bothering you, then you can keep on nursing for as long as you want.

Unfortunately, breastfeeding during chemotheraphy is not safe. The chemo drugs are very literally poisons and will transfer to your milk. You can pump and dump through treatments, but you can also choose to wean as chemotherapy is extremely draining. Know that you are doing a great job and making hard choices about keeping you and your baby well and healthy. You know your situation better than anyone else and you'll make the best choice for you.

So that's a lot of technical information. The take-away from this is: breastfeeding prevents breast cancer in both your baby and you. Most procedures used for diagnosing cancer like mammograms, MRIs, CT scans, and ultrasounds are 100% compatible with breastfeeding and you don't have to wean. If you do have cancer, chemotherapy is toxic and so it's not safe to breastfeed your baby, but you can pump and dump to keep up a supply and breastfeed when the treatment is done, if you want to. Having a good breastfeeding support person is vital. This can take the form of a good doctor or midwife, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, or an LLL leader.

Information without reference links is taken from the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, 8th edition.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Friday Fill-ins

1. Old me would let ideas eventually fade away; new me would go out there and implement the ideas.

2. I'm not happy with the way things are, so I'm taking responsibility.

3. a way I'm turning over a new leaf.

4. And new beginnings are fun, right?

5. The big difference is that I'm researching the ins and outs of owning a business and looking at the logistics of all that.

6. Because I want to do what makes me happy.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to Halloween birthday party for one of Margaret's friends, tomorrow my plans include _playing soccer with the kids (we've promised Margaret) and going minimalist on our boxes and boxes of stuff and Sunday, I want to speak at this event about how breastfeeding prevents breast cancer and what the options are for a survivor or fighter when it comes to breastfeeding!

I've started a couple of posts this week, but I end up trashing them because I'm just not into it.

A couple of evenings in a row this week, McKay has had to remind me to be nicer to the kids. It makes me wonder if I'm really the best person to be home with them. He's the one with infinite patience. If there were an interview for the stay at home position, he'd beat me out in qualifications for sure.

And then that leads me to wonder if I should pursue a career. There's my plan B career, which is math-related and lucrative. That sort of soul-sucking thing. I really don't want to. It's plan B for a reason. NOT my plan A, but my anxiety part of me thinks I should take some of the exams and get that under my belt just in case.

And then there's the thing I really really love, but I'm intimidated by the industry: knitting and designing. But I think I'm going to step more into that soon. Of course, everything's working against me. I can't find my knitting notebook! I have a pattern written down in there that I need to write up and turn into a pdf. CANNOT FIND IT.

So I think this weekend, I'm going to go through everything and declutter the house. Less stuff = more likely to find my notebook and less mess for the kids to make.

Also, this week, we bought a play kitchen from Craigslist. The kids love it and the house is full of play food right now. We need to figure out how to control that mess as well. Also, I have boxes of baby clothes and maternity clothes. Since a new baby is not in our plans for the foreseeable future, I'm tempted to get rid of all of that. What do you think?  I have already limited the baby clothes collection to 7 outfits per size, but even those take up space.

I finished the kids' costumes. Margaret's a butterfly and Isaac is a bumble bee. And I'm wearing a green shirt with fake flowers sewn on it. I have strategically cut away part of the shirt it so I can nurse my butterfly and bee: they can get "nectar" from the flowers! Pictures will be forthcoming. Yay breastfeeding-friendly costumes!

Also, I love the Occupy Movement. It's definitely wrong that people are without money, healthcare, homes, and jobs when corporations aren't paying any taxes. There have been tensions in Occupy Oakland and Occupy SF, and so I can't actually go down and occupy. Risking arrest while I have small children isn't judicious. But I can knit! There is a Ravelry group dedicated to knitting hats and other warm items for Occupiers as the weather gets colder.

So that's what has been on my mind. Halloween! Knitting! You can say I've been keeping myself occupied. Haha!

Monday, October 17, 2011


I am drowning in all that I have to do: knit Christmas stockings, make Halloween costumes, knit Christmas presents, and other day to day things like filing, emailing, doing all the things.

So you get linkage today!

I have friends!
A friend of mine is starting a site called Our Nourishing Roots. It's about nutrition. Give her some love!
Another friend of mine writes sci fi.

Why my Son is Not Circumcised at the Whole Network
Bad Science Doesn't Justify Male Circumcision at Sexis

What I missed seeing/sharing
International Babywearing Week was last week.
Somehow I lost the RSS feed to Nursing Freedom and I'm going back and reading old posts and wanted to share the link to Nursing Freedom with all of you again.
I'm trying to get back into Tweeting again. Link on the left hand side.
If you are LDS and a birth professional, there's a directory you can add yourself to.

I'm a nerd and I want this pumpkin and dress.
I'm not blogging as much because I want to knit more.
We cut Margaret's hair for the first time ever. She wants it shorter, but McKay doesn't want it very short and I don't know about my hair-cutting skills with a wiggly 3 year old. Isaac still has his rat tail, no worries.
I initially made this post just to share the circumcision links, but fleshed it out because I'm a very wimpy intactivist. That's not to say I don't want to share the other stuff! Go see my friends' stuff! And check out the rest! But also, keep your boys as intact as you keep your girls. They're important, too.

ETA: Just saw a link about how breastfeeding doesn't mean your baby isn't getting good sleep.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Community Breastfeeding Support

Today, I just wanted to give a shout out to those in our community who are supportive of breastfeeding. This past summer, two of the local hospitals cut services to women, including free breastpumps for mothers of newborns in the NICU. Upset about this, a local RN group hosted a bake sale to raise money. Last night, I was witness to them using some of the subsequent money to support local community breastfeeding support. It warms my heart to see people caring about the nursing relationship like this.

I love where we live: I've never once had anyone mention anything about me breastfeeding anywhere since moving to California. Our local WIC is huge on breastfeeding and organized the World Breastfeeding Week Walk we went to this year. I know there is an Oakland hospital that is actively working on receiving Baby Friendly status.

Because we are generally healthy as a family, we don't really run into healthcare professionals all that much. It's easy to read sites like myOBsaidwhat and get the impression that good support for breastfeeding from health care providers is rare to non-existent. No, we're not there yet, but we're getting closer.

Also, don't forget to buy non-Nestle candy this Halloween.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Inquisition Monday: What do you like?

I've been in a blogging rut lately. Life is happening and blogging isn't keeping up, and I think that's a good thing, but I do love the outlet that blogging gives me.

So for Inquisition Monday, I want to ask all of you, "What do you like?"

Do you like life updates? Friday Fill-ins?
Do you like the tree-hugging natural living things (no poo, gardening, cloth everything?)
Do you like the parenting things (breastfeeding, gentle discipline?)
The activisty things (feminism, lactivism?)
Do you like the birthy things?

What do you want to see more of? Less? I won't be able to comply with everyone's wishes, but it would give me a little direction.

Go to the comments and discuss!

Monday, October 03, 2011


It's that month for raising awareness of an evil that harms families, children, and costs more than $5.8 billion each year. Less than 1/5 of victims seek medical treatment. 85% of victims are women, with women in the 20-24 age range at greatest risk. One in every 4 women will find themselves a victim at some point in their life. And it is 100% preventable.

It's Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

I don't know if the fact that this is completely preventable is something hopeful or disparaging. It's disparaging because... wow... It's really bad. Just think of the women in your immediate family as a sample size. 1 in 4. Or on your street, or at your knitting group or church group or on the bus, or in the line at the grocery store. 1 in 4. But on the other hand, there is wonderful potential to bring those numbers down to 0. Every incidence is preventable.

So take this month and donate to your local women's shelter, as shelter services decrease the incidence and severity of future violence (in the 3-12 month period) more than court or law enforcement or moving to a new place. Check yourself for abusive behavior. Learn and practice nonviolent communication; if we can speak without violence, we can act without violence. Plant a tree. Teach your children that it is never ok to hurt another person and how to report abuse to you or another trusted person. Love, love, love.

Between Friends YPG - Ribbon Tying (Domestic Violence Awareness Month)
Image by National Domestic Violence Hotline on flickr

Sources, Resources, and Links
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Domestic Violence Awareness Project
Domestic Violence Fact Sheet
Domestic Violence Resource Center (Oregon)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Seen and Heard

A couple weeks ago, The Exponent II blog had a poll about children in sacrament meeting at church. In late July and August, there was a lot of talk surrounding restaurants with anti-child policies and airlines segregating children from first class.

I wanted to tackle the topic then, but I couldn't without a lot of frustration and incoherency. The best I came up with was my comment on the Exponent's post,

These sorts of conversations really irk me because they tend to turn into an us vs. them. Those “other” parents over there aren’t being attentive enough, proactive enough, etc.

The thing is, though, I don’t know a single parent who actually wants their child to disrupt a meeting and annoy every one. I don’t think that person exists.

I work with a lot of newly postpartum women and I guess when I see a parent who isn’t responding to a “rowdy” child (a description that varies person to person- how is a parent supposed to know what everyone’s definition of a “good” child is and meet that kind of standard?) I wonder what the extra circumstances are. Maybe the mom put clothes on for the first time in a week that morning in order to come to church and is just trying to make it 20 more minutes because it’s the first time she got to hear an adult talk to her in days. Maybe the father is alone with 5 children, one who needs a diaper change, but can’t leave to do that because the other 4 won’t have someone to watch them. Maybe a child just has really loud happy screams and isn’t upset at all.

As a parent, the attitude that you just have to deal with not being able to be in sacrament meeting for the decade or so of having small children is a punishment. “Sorry, we don’t want you to participate in our Zion. Zion isn’t for children or parents with small children.” Or it’s a “well, we had to deal with it, so now you have to” vengeance.

If there is a parent who truly is ignoring an upset child, it seems to me it wouldn’t be by choice but by physically being unable to: whether there are other children needing attention or the parent has mentally “checked out” due to not having the extra patience in their own emotional cup or a mental panic attack or other. Whatever the reason, that parent needs help, not eyes of judgment and people telling them they and their family aren’t wanted there. Church is about making the tent bigger, not throwing people out into a foyer.

I am a firm believer in children being allowed in public. It's part of why I'm a lactivist: children and mothers should be allowed to be everywhere everyone else is. I don't know why that's such a point of conflict for others.

It's actually a reason why I want to homeschool. One of the greatest downsides to public school for me was ingraining the segregation of ages. As a second grader, I thought first graders were "below" me. I always wondered why a sophomore would talk to a freshman- they were lowering themselves! It took me years to figure out that my professors in college had office hours, not just to appear helpful, but to actually help the lowly undergrads. Apparently they wanted us to do well in their classes! Today, I still find myself thinking on those lines: I really struggle to know how to talk to elderly people and I find myself caught in the thinking, "Yes! School's back in session so now all those rowdy kids won't be on the playgrounds when I'm there with my kids!" I'm working on fixing this.

If you know Margaret, you know she's the most friendly person ever. She remembers faces and names remarkably well and if you show up at a park or come over to our house and she recognizes you, she can't contain her excitement. She jumps up and down, shouts, "_____ is here! _____ is here!" and runs over to greet the person. She greets babies, toddlers, children, parents of her friends, elderly people at church, family, etc., all this way. I am afraid that the age segregation at school would kill this beautiful enthusiasm.

I want my children to know how to talk to the elderly, and adore younger children, like the boy pictured below. I was at an unschooling activity when I realized Isaac had gone missing. I found this little boy (9? 10?) playing with him on his skateboard. There were plenty of other boys his age, but he was having fun with Isaac. I thanked him for playing with Isaac and told him he didn't have to watch him, but he continued to play with Isaac for a while longer. It was adorable. And better than me. I would have tried to ditch a baby for older "cooler" playmates at that age for sure.

That's the kind of socialization I want for my children, people skills that they can't get in a classroom of peers 6 hours a day. But for them to get that, they have to be welcome everywhere: the library, the post office, the restaurants, church. After all, they can't learn what they can't practice. I know I didn't.

A homeschooled boy playing with Isaac. He's older, but not
too cool to play with a baby on a skateboard.
So yeah. This post is everywhere. Somehow it got off on homeschooling when I started it with children in church. This is why I hadn't posted on this yet! I feel very passionately that children are people, not nuisances, even though I have to remind myself that sometimes. Definitely haven't reached perfection over here.

Love your babies, hang out with your babies, bring your babies in public places.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Autumn Tree

I said on Friday, I'd post what we did for the equinox on Saturday and I didn't. But I am now!

Inspired by the Tree of Thanksgiving, I decided to have an autumn tree. I actually won leaves made by Lynn in the Rhythm of the home giveaway! Friday Morning, Margaret finger painted with red and yellow and I used the leaves we got as stencils and traced some more to add to our own tree. I also plan on using leaves that we find on the ground for this tree. Our grapevine in front makes a beautiful large red leaf that I think will work beautifully.

Every day, we let one leave "fall" to the bottom. We're definitely going to need some more, but I'm hoping that by Thanksgiving they'll all have "fallen" and then we'll be able to decorate the bare tree with paper ornaments as an Advent calendar. And then when spring comes, maybe we'll add a flower or small leaf to the tree each day and use big green leaves for summer. I think that will be fun. Margaret loves the tree, too. Isaac likes to run off with the "fallen" leaves.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Inquisition Monday: Cleaning

Cassie asked, "You said you at least clean the toilets on Monday. Do you have a house work/laundry type routine? And how does it go with the little ones. We are trying to have a little more routine house work around here but it's difficult with a two year old and almost 4 month old. (I mean routine in a very relaxed way...)"

So did I ever tell you about the time I was gossiping about the lady who had 6 kids under the age of eight and when I babysat for her, I was appalled at all the cereal on the floor and toys and everything everywhere. Yes, I did sweep her kitchen and do some dishes for her because I was an awesome babysitter like that, but I did tell the person I was gossiping with, "I will NEVER have a house that looks like that. EVER."


(gasp for breath)


Oh man, that is some funny stuff! When we first got married, I really felt a lot of the weight of doing the house on my shoulders. Yay social conditioning! And I kept telling myself that if I only worked hard, scheduled my life better, had more self-discipline, THEN my house would be clean.


And then I got pregnant with Margaret and heard the Mothers Who Know talk and told myself that when I was no longer working and I was home all day with my kids, THEN my house would be clean.


Oh boy! This is some great stuff, yeah?

It was only a couple years later that I realized that maybe it wasn't that I didn't have enough discipline to stick to a schedule, but that my methods were wrong. I kept attacking this problem in the same way and cycling into deep guilt. I was a bad mom. And I'm not as good as So-and-so and her blog over there because she has the self-discipline to be serious about her housework and look at it like a job and she finishes everything on her list every day before 10am and I'm still in bed at 10am (this was when Margaret would sleep that long, and not something that happens anymore at ALL). All because I am not disciplined enough and not good enough. BAD BAD BAD BAD.

This is when it really hurt to add "HAHAHAHAHAHAHA" but it deserves to be there. Because I am good enough. That entire last paragraph was what my lying brain was telling me and it was all lies. LIES. LIES.

I've mentioned it before, but I did an experiment and did everything "right" one day. I gave it 100%. There was not a second that I wasn't cleaning the house, putting things away right after using them, cleaning dishes! And you know what my house looked like at the end of the day? The same as what it looked like when I was doing only 20% or 10% (or less). I realized I had 3 options:

1) Continue what I was doing. Do a little cleaning to try to combat the guilt and have the house look like a mess. Sure, I got my homework or writing done, but it was done while the voice in the back of my head was telling me I was a bad person.

2) CLEAN ALL THE STUFF ALL THE TIME. And get absolutely no homework or writing or knitting or anything I love done. And have the house look like a mess.

3) Throw myself into what I love and do the cleaning as it comes up and not feel guilty about it. And have the house look like a mess.

And I chose 3. It's hard to de-program that guilt-inducing voice. It's still there sometimes. But I try to remember to trust myself. If it's important to me, it'll get done. I kind of thought of it like unschooling: if it's important, you'll learn it because your goals for yourself are such that you'll want it. Not because the people around you want it for you and not because you "have to," but because it's part of your vision for yourself.

So you wanted to know what I do now. I have a mental list (because physical lists get lost too quickly) of the important things for me:

1) I like the toilets and potties clean weekly.
2) I like the kitchen sink to be devoid of dishes for one moment in a day.
3) I like randomly picking things to do because it makes it fun for me.

So I clean the toilets every Monday. And at some point in the day, the dishes are done. If that point is 10am, then I don't fret over them not being done after lunch or dinner. And sometimes they aren't done until 4 pm or 7pm. And I'm ok with that. There was one moment that they were clean and that's good enough for me.

I do have the Motivated Moms iPhone app because it's a way to randomly come up with things to clean. Since I didn't make the app, I don't know what's next for the week, so I actually like doing it. It's surprise cleaning! But there's a lot of stuff on the app I ignore, too. I mean, seriously? Who cleans their bathroom sink daily? A good baking soda scrub once a week is good enough for me.

And after I do everything on my "list," I refuse to do anything else. That's my favorite part. It doesn't matter that the dining room is filled with stuffed animals, I'm DONE! I'm going to knit instead.

And at the end of my day? It looks like it would have had I spent the whole day cleaning. Or if I had spent the whole day feeling bad about myself. Plus I got to knit and blog and go to the park. And not feel bad.

So that's what I do. And don't do.

What's worked for the rest of you out there?