Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'm too tired to read more sexism

I used to talk about recent news articles on this blog, but I've fallen out of that practice. News happens so fast and it's forgotten about so quickly! But a part of me wonders if I should get back into that. So here goes!

If you've been around the Internet the past couple of days, you may have seen the JC Penney sexist shirt debacle. The shirt is no longer available, but if you'd like a screenshot of the online store page, you can find it here. The shirt said, "I'm too pretty to do homework, so my brother has to do it for me," and the item description said, "Who has time for homework when there's a new Justin Bieber album out? She'll love this tee that's just as cute and sassy as she is."

Ahhh- yeah.

Now, I was able to eye roll at the shirt: the world is full of shirts that are offensive and sexist and while I'd like for them not to exist, an eye roll was good enough for me. What was the zinger for me? The product description. The very existence of that description meant that someone looked at the shirt and thouht it wasn't sexist enough and continued the train wreck for a couple of extra sentences. And they got paid to do that. How many people at JC Penney saw this shirt and ok'd it as acceptable? I don't even want to know.

Now on the other hand, if it said, "I'm too unschooled to do homework," I think I would get it. Well, if it was second-hand; I'm trying to love the earth and not buy new right now. :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Calendar

I am not an organized person. In fact, I revolt against schedules and expectations like nobody's business. But I also know that kids like routines. In order to meet in the middle with this, we have a little calendar.

I found the calendar itself cost 50 cents last Christmas at Michael's. The picture each month is a black and white coloring page, so Margaret colors it at the beginning of each month. I will put a little picture in the box of the day showing what we have planned that day: swimming? I draw water. Playing with friends? I draw stick people. Birthday? There's a birthday cake sticker. Going to the aquarium? Fish sticker. Library? Book sticker. La Leche League? I draw a couple of breasts.

Then every morning at breakfast, Margaret will ask what we are doing that day and run to the calendar. We mark off the previous day and circle the current one. I'll mention the day of the week, the date, and the month so she can get practice with those ideas. She absolutely loves it. I give Margaret the freedom to choose what day she wants to do things. For example, I let her put a dinosaur sticker on the day she wants to go to the dinosaur museum. When she wanted to plant flowers, she picked the day and I drew the flowers in. I don't feel overscheduled since we only do one picture per day. And it can be simple: want to make cookies? Pick a day! And that's the only thing I'll have set for us that day.

We've found this calendar idea works well for us. I thought I'd share since I know the world is thinking about going back to school (or not back to school) and homeschooling and scheduling is on everyone's minds.

What do you do to organize your life with kids?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Deodorant and Mopping Solution

On Friday, I mentioned my Cast-on-a-thon that I'm doing on my knitting blog. Not all of my "casting on" of projects are knitting projects and I thought I'd share 2 on this blog that some of you might be interested in.

I use a natural deodorant. I had been using Funk Butter until I ran out and decided that I didn't really want to pay more for shipping. I've been deodorant-free for months; I really don't know how long, but I saved my old Funk Butter tin for future use.

I used the Instructables Deodorant tutorial and made some lavender scented deodorant for myself.  I use about a pea-sized amount per arm.

Also, for my cast-on-a-thon, I made some wood floor cleaner! I had been putting off mopping the wood floors because I wanted a cleaner. I made up my own recipe for this based on other recipes around the Internet:

1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
a few drops of tea tree oil
water to fill the rest of the bottle

The bottle came from the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse for a quarter and I also got a squirt attachment for the bottle for easy application on the floors. Now our floors have their own special salad dressing! I just need to remember to shake it well before use.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Donkey's Carrot

Last week, Margaret finished the summer reading program. We put the stickers on the chart for reading to her and in the end, we got a free ticket to the Lawrence Hall of Science (and the dinosaur exhibit!), a free pizza at Round Table, and a free ice cream at Fentons. That's cool and all, but I really struggle to make peace with programs like this.

I remember participating in summer reading programs and getting a gummy worm for each book I read, and my stomach hurt so much every week. I remember in third grade, we got a sticker on a chart for every 20 pages we read. I was so proud (in the obnoxious, goody-goody sort of way) that Mr. Felty had to add 3 more charts to be able to include all my stickers. I remember being promised candy every Friday in early morning seminary for every scripture mastery memorized and each day of reading completed.

And I remember receiving my first report card in high school. It was the beginning of a new semester in January and I was in a new biology class. I was anxious to see the report card from the fall semester as the teacher passed them out. I opened it, glanced down to the bottom and saw my class rank: 2 of 385. And at that moment, I thought to myself, "Well, I'm done. I can give a mediocre effort from here on out and I'll still be in the top 10 percent of the class and get scholarships. I'm done." And I was.

By the time I was in high school, I was done with the reward system. And as an adult, as soon as an incentive is put on something, I immediately question if it's worthwhile to even bother.

A few weeks ago, McKay's siblings all started this healthy-living game where you get points for exercising so many minutes and eating so many veggies and everyone puts $20 in and after it's done, whoever has the most points gets the money. I quit after just a couple of weeks because I just can't do incentives. It wasn't motivating me to do anything, in fact I resented it and got sick to my stomach even thinking about it.

This is what an incentive (whether grades, money, or other rewards) says to me:

"I think so little of your ability to make goals and keep commitments that I feel like you need X to get you do this." Or really, "Here, I'll dangle this carrot in front of you and treat you like an ass." And as soon as I hear that message, I quit. I refuse to play that game.

Now, I'm not against goals. I ran a 5k this year because I made that a goal and I worked for it, but no one needed to bribe me into it, and had they, I would not have done it. I'm not against tests. I have to take the California driving exam in order to get an California license when mine expires this year, but I see it as a means to an end, not as something that ranks my worth or value.

But rewards as bribery irk me so so much. So much, in fact, that every year the library reading program starts, I question whether or not I want to sign Margaret up for it.

I want Margaret to read because she loves it. I want her to read because it's fun and useful and it will allow her to do the things she wants to do in life. I don't want her to read because for every 15 minutes, she'll get a sticker on a chart.

I tried to not connect the reading with the chart for her. When we read together, I would make a mental note "Hmm. Two stickers today," and then some hours later offer, "Hey, how about we pick out a couple of stickers!" But even that made my stomach fall.

I know I can look at it in a more uplifting light: the chart is a means to the end of a free museum day! That's actually pretty cool!

But it still felt like bribery. And I don't know if we'll do it again next year. It pains me.

Have you run into this in your own life? Your kids? How do you frame these situations? Do you worry that your children aren't internalizing goals? Or am I just jaded from my personal experience with bribery and rewards?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Fill-ins

1. It's fun to meet new friends.

2. Homemade deodorant is easy to make.

3. I like to be with my family.

4. Why people feel like they have to tell me to put shoes on my children, I will never know! (But I usually just smile and say, "We're hippies. We don't wear shoes," and they leave us alone.) Also in my arsenal: "We're protesting the poor labor conditions and insufficient employee compensation in the footwear industry."

5. Something I'm very much excited about is finally connecting with the local unschooling group.

6. The time spent sewing my new temple outfit was well worth it.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to going out for our anniversary, tomorrow my plans include yard work and Sunday, I want to make stuffed peppers!

So over on InfiKnity, I'm  doing a 30 day cast-on-a-thon where I start a new project (knitting or otherwise) every day for a month. Yesterday I made deodorant using the Instructables directions. I also sewed a new temple outfit (pictures up at InfiKnity later today or tomorrow). I would still like to add some embroidery to it, but it's usable. I'm excited to start new projects as the month progresses! I also have a few blog posts in progress that I just haven't gotten around to. I've been in a blogging ennui slump.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Pool

Well, it's about time we got the birth pool out again!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Breastfeeding with Community

Last Saturday I got a haircut. Check it out!

But that's not what this post is about. This post is actually about something my hairdresser told me. This is what she told me: "I sent someone to your blog yesterday because they are nursing their 15 month old and are getting pressure from friends and family to wean and I thought about you."

So with the prospect of someone new reading (hello, mystery person!) I thought I'd talk a little about what has helped me in my toddler nursing journey. You can read books and blogs, and those are really helpful! I did enjoy Mothering Your Nursing Toddler when I read it the first time and I have a reader full of breastfeeding-related blogs. But lately I have been feeling really lonely as a mom nursing a 3 year old. On one of those days a few weeks ago,  I realized what I was missing: other nursing moms.

Now, I do have some moms I hang out with. Our local LLL group has a playgroup and there are a couple of other nursing toddlers Margaret's age. We go to that playgroup, but it feels like everywhere else I go I'm the odd one out- and I live just a few blocks out of Berkeley! You'd think there would be nursing toddlers on every corner or something.

In Utah it was so easy to nurse Margaret. There were definitely not nursing toddlers on every corner, but I had a close knit group of friends and role models to look to. Moms there nursed their 2, 3, 4, 5 year olds. When I felt out of place nursing an 18 month old in other places in my life, I just looked around and saw that my 18 month old was just a baby.

We've been in California a little over a year and I do have some friends who nurse their children for many years, but Margaret's at that age when even her nursing friends are slowly weaning. She's not anywhere near weaning. Well, she might be. It really depends on the day. Two weeks ago, she was nursing 5 times a night and now she's already down to once and sometimes not at all (I've actually woken her up to nurse because I'm full and need her to nurse!) But the way she begs and begs me to nurse during the day, I'm pretty sure we'll be doing this for a while yet.

It's like we're in nursing limbo. It's really strange. Anyone else in this boat with me? And can you come over for a playdate?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Fill-ins

Haven't done fill-ins in a while! We've been busy here with days of win and fail. Yesterday was a fail day, but I think the weekend will get better. It had better!

1. The only question is are you ready?

2. We went to the library, grocery store, and painted all in one day.

3. Three things on my desk: my knitting, my laptop, and library books.

4. Going to the park is the one thing I HAVE to do today!

5. I love playing with my Margaret and Isaac.

6. Having two non-napping children overwhelms the senses.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to pizza night, tomorrow my plans include a new haircut and Sunday, I want to teach nursery!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sufferin' Succotash

We've been drowning in summer vegetables for the past month and plan on drowning for another month or more. This recipe came with our CSA box and we've eaten it 3 times already, so I thought I'd share it, just in case you are drowning in vegetables as well. So here's some succotash!

1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
2-3 ears sweet corn, cut off the cob
4-6 tomatoes, cut in fourths
1-2 cups green beans, de-stemmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
2-3 pieces of summer squash, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
4-6 cloves minced garlic
salt and pepper
crumbled feta cheese

Saute the chapped onions in the olive oil in a large skillet until translucent. Add the quartered tomatoes, flattening them as you add them to the onions to release their juices. Toss in the chopped green beans. Add the summer squash. Then add the sweet corn. Add the minced garlic. Simmer covered until all the veggies are tender, about 20-25 minutes. Top with crumbled feta cheese.

It's very yummy and easy to make. You'll feel good about using up your vegetables before they go bad!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Inquisition Tuesday: Babywearing and Nursing

Last week, llamaofdoom asked, "How do you nurse in a sling/mei tai/wrap carrier? I can't seem to get the positioning comfortable enough to nurse while slinging, and so I end up taking the sling off and sitting down and nursing."

It takes practice. I never really got the hang of it in the wrap because I use the wrap primarily for the newborn stage and newborns just can't do the head control thing. The picture last week was in the mei tai and I have to let it sag down enough for Isaac's head to be at the right level. The same goes for the sling right now because he's often on my hip in the sling. I just slide it down enough so he is on my hip and can be at nipple-level. Because he has good back/neck control (he's 1 afterall), he can scrunch and scootch himself down if he needs to. Also, his weight

But with baby-babies, I had to try something different. I'll demonstrate with a doll and a sling.

I always imagined lying my babies in the sling like this and nursing them from the breast on the side that the sling went over the shoulder. Unfortunately, my babies come out pretty big and the sling always squooshed their heads and they didn't like the scrunchiness that it caused in their tummies. This did not work for me at all.

As you can see: this could only work for a very small newborn, if it even does work: scrunchy tummies can be rough with reflux-y newborns. Because the entire baby from head to toe is in the sling, long babies won't really fit comfortably.

Where I found success was using the other breast. The sling holds the weight of the baby at the baby's butt. The feet and legs of a long baby hang out the bottom, and the head of the baby is at the breast. You might need to support the head and neck with your hand or use the sling up over the head. The baby is lying down long-ways and is not scrunched up.

Isaac is around 24 pounds of baby and this particular pouch sling is a little small on him, but you can see how it works here. He's trying to get down to play, so it's not the best position, but I hope you can see how it works.

One of the downsides to this feeding position is that you won't be able to nurse in a sling so that the baby's head is completely covered by sling fabric, if that was your goal. Holding the baby's head and neck can also be a downside if you were hoping to nurse completely hands-free. But I found that I used my sling a lot more once I started using this nursing position and I typically nurse so that my more dominant hand is the free hand.

I hope that answered your question!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Tandem Nursing Dolls

Another one taken with my phone.  Nursing Margaret to sleep at naptime. Margaret wanted the "big" breast and her doll got my "little" one. My right side has always been the bigger one since puberty. After Margaret was born, I tried to get her to nurse more on the left in order to encourage it to make more and even them out, but it just wasn't able to keep up with the right side. I think the right side simply has more ducts and breast tissue. Anyway, Margaret has called dibs on the "big" side and Isaac gets the little one. During the day he gets whichever one I offer, but that's the sleeping arrangement.

This is the last day of World Breastfeeding Week. Yesterday, I participated in the Big Latch On. We were to nurse for a full minute all together. I knew Isaac would not put up with that, especially in an environment where everything is new and exciting. The only way I can get him to nurse longer than 20 seconds is to nurse him to sleep or when he's really hungry. If he's neither of those, he's a latch-and-go child. I assumed Margaret would love the chance to nurse for a full minute since I'm usually limiting her nursing time with counts to 10 or the Itsy Bitsy Spider, but I latched her on about 15 seconds before the minute and 10 seconds later, she was done. I was able to convince her to get back on for the minute, but she really didn't want to. My children just prefer to explore!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Two Lying Down

We don't do this position often, but has been helpful if they both are upset at the same time. As they fall asleep, their latches get lazy and teeth get involved, so I do try to only nurse one to sleep at a time.

The unspoken benefit of nursing 2 babies at a time: they create great cleavage. Push up bras got nothing on tandem nursing. However, due to limited lap space and balance, it's usually only done at home. This one was taken with my camera phone.

Friday, August 05, 2011


This was taken by my friend Gail yesterday at the World Breastfeeding Week Walk in downtown Oakland. Isaac in the mei tai! You can see us in the second to last picture here during the walk: Margaret is in blue and Isaac is in the mei tai. Margaret loved the kid races and had fun, too!

Thursday, August 04, 2011


Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Space Management

Nursing at the keyboard (NAK), Isaac is standing up by the couch as I lean towards him. This allows me to not worry about baby feet kicking the computer while I NAK. The super hero mask is fun, too. Margaret's sandwich is a peanut butter, jelly, and turkey sandwich.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Side Lying

Taken with my phone. Isaac's curly hair is the best.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Cradle Hold with a Toddler

and a baby staring at the camera.

I tried really hard to get a cradle hold with Isaac, but as soon as he sees the camera, he's off! So I got one with Margaret instead. I am usually pretty adamant about her not having her hand on my breast, but this time I was ok with it. It's usually while nursing her down to sleep that her hand bugs me. Happy World Breastfeeding Week!