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.