Monday, June 27, 2011

Inquisition Monday: Race

Inquisition Monday this week is a question for you all: How do you talk to your three year old about race?

Or more exactly, is it offensive if Margaret says that a person is "chocolate" and do I need to talk to her about that and how do I do that?

On one hand, it's absolutely normal and age-appropriate that she's noticing and pointing out the differences in people: some are boys, some are girls (and sometimes she's wrong about who is which!) and some people have blue eyes and some people wear red dresses, and some people are fat and some are skinny, and some people (in her words) are "chocolate." And she wants "chocolate" hair and insists to me that her hair will grow chocolate when she gets bigger.

But on the other hand, I have no idea what's going to offend. When I was in elementary school, we were told to NEVER refer to black people as "black;" they are "African American." Then in high school, we were told "black" was fine and "African American" can be offensive because not every "black" person is from Africa. And recently I've heard "people of color" more. And I have no idea where "chocolate" fits in this discourse except that I'm pretty sure whatever term is chosen pick, someone will take umbrage.

And then, how do you talk about it? I don't remember my parents talking about race at all when I was small- and the few things I heard, I repeated, only to find that it was racist. Because of this, I have patience with kids who are repeating things they've heard at home, but absolutely nowhere to start talking about race as the adult.

I don't want to ignore it because race is a very important part of a person's identity and culture. And I can't pretend that race doesn't matter. It does.

So my friends of color, is "chocolate" ok? I usually say, "Yes, his skin is brown" or "Yes, her hair is black." Is that enough? But it doesn't keep Margaret from using "chocolate" because she uses "chocolate" to refer to brown even with her crayons or pant color. How do you discuss this with a 3 year old?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Guilt Suck" is now an official phrase

Quick! Both the kids are asleep! Write a thoughtful, poignant blog post now!


Four years ago, I read Laura Shanley's Unassisted Childbirth while preparing to go head-first into this unknown world of motherhood. Early, in the book Shanley states,

We can retain our self-conscious personalities while at the same time becoming aware of our inner selves. Tod o this we must first rid ourselves of the unnatural emotions of fear, shame, and guilt, for they are like clouds preventing us from seeing who we are and what we're capable of doing. This can be accomplished through love, forgiveness, and understanding. Ture religions was designed to eliminate these undesirable emotions and reunite the separated self-counscious ego with its inner self. Most organized religions today fail to do eithr one. They not only perpetuate beliefs in fear, shame, and guilt, rather than alleviate them; they also encourage dependence on external authority rather than internal authority. Shanley, Unassisted Childbirth, pp. 8-9

Over the past few years, those three: fear, shame, and guilt, have come to my mind as I have gone about my life.

When I first read this book, I was 100% onboard with the eliminating fear aspect. I was preparing for my own unassisted birth and fear was the big monster I was fighting. I was regularly faced with "What if... what if... what if..." And when the big day came, I was not afraid those entire 44 hours of labor.

And I think I did a good job of keeping that up: Without fear, I blogged openly about that birth. And I crept into a new stage: No shame.

About a month after Margaret's birth, the upset comments and emails about my birth nudity came pouring in. Eight months later, I was standing in front of Facebook headquarters with signs and responding to reporters and newspapers with questions all summing into one: Have you no shame?

To which, I replied, "Nope!" And good riddance, too!

And the shame was not limited to shame about my body and how I use it. I was supposed to be ashamed about my mothering: "You're not going to be one of those mothers who is nursing her 3 year old on her front porch, are you?" I was supposed to be ashamed of the state of my house (it's not messy, it's full of awesome). And things I've written on my blog or posted- but what I wrote was how I was feeling at that time and I'm not going to rewrite my history, and who reads old posts, anyway?

But through all of this, I held on to guilt. "Guilt is important," I reasoned, "because if I don't feel guilty about something I've done, they how will I know to change?" I couched guilt under he guise of being god-fearing and having "godly sorrow." Guilt was something I thought I needed, something that was even noble. But now I look at that question and ask myself, "If I feel guilty about something I've done, how will I have the energy to change?" Guilt sucks away energy. It disempowers. It sucks me into a hole and then I feel guilty for being in that hole and get sucked down further. It's the hole of guilt suck. And when I get in that hole, I'm not using my energy to make reparations for wrongs or rubbing the toes I've stepped on, I'm sucked in the guilt and it just keeps going.

So I've been making a conscious effort to not feel guilty. I try to remind myself that when my kids are "acting up" it's because they physically can't act a different way at that moment: perhaps they are sleep deprived, or their blood sugar is low, or I haven't shown them a better way of handling the situation, or whatever: their brain isn't firing the way it could. A friend of mine told me the other day, "You know how kids are doing their best for their situation? When does that stop? We're still doing that as adults!" And suddenly so much guilt went away.

Yes, I could feel guilty about those Oreos I ate yesterday and how I just really wanted to get away from my kids at that time. I can get into the guilt suck, but will that change how things went down? Will it change how I handle a similar situation in the future? No. I'll just be in guilt suck. The tears happened, the sugar crash happened, and that's over and no more guilt.

So now, years later, I think I'm on board with Shanley's list of emotions to eschew. I'm going to try to not give into the temptation to shame and guilt myself and my kids. It's tempting, especially since it's so easy to fall back onto old habits.

And oh crap- the baby is stirring, so naptime is over and I have to end here. I hope this made sense and is somewhat coherent. The sun is high; have no more fear, guilt or shame! Have a beautiful solstice, my friends!

Monday, June 20, 2011

While I wrote this, a meltdown happened because I wouldn't play with the horse puppet.

I was going to write a deep, reflective post today, but instead I locked myself in the pantry so I could eat Oreos and get away from my kids.

You know how a week ago, I wrote a post about how I didn't get very touched out because of the three hour naps? Yeah. We're on day 4 of no naps for Margaret and I am so very touched out that I just locked myself in the pantry again so I could blog. Go ahead and judge me.

I need a game plan for the afternoons. And I need my me-time. I'm not used to needing to entertain a 3 year old for an extra 3 hours every afternoon. When am I going to knit? Blog? These things are important for my personhood and recharging my batteries and resetting my touched-out-o-meter. When McKay is home, finishing his thesis and needs his spare time to be child-free, so that means mine is child-filled. When is my me time going to happen? Oh you know, after the kids fall asleep at 10:30 (Isaac goes to bed at 8/8:30, so it's mostly Margaret). Because it's not like I need to sleep any time.

Somewhat related: read this post on Feminist Mormon Housewives written by a SAHD.

Oh crap. My alarm on my phone is going off which means I have to open the door of the pantry and stop hiding so I can turn it off. That and Isaac is trying to open the door.

And now I'm in the kitchen. Why is it that as soon as Margaret stops napping, Isaac did too? He needs to sleep so much, but he won't go to sleep. And food has not been good for his butt. I'm taking him off solids because he got a terrible diaper rash. I was thinking, "He's almost 1, we can do more foods!" but that's not working here. He went from pooping once every 36 hours to 4 times in 6 hours with a bad rash that smelled really yeasty. We going to re-introduce solids slowly again to figure out what he's being sensitive to (probably milk and wheat). He's only allowed raw foods right now: carrots, peas, etc.

On the plus side, we did go out to a playdate today, which Margaret had a melt down at. Wait... that's not a plus. The melt down means she's overtired, but she won't go to sleep. Isaac's walking, that's a plus. Or is it? And despite my desire to lock myself away, I haven't locked the kids away or used the TV today. That's good, right? Probably not since it means I haven't gotten a break.

This piece of non-coherence is brought to you by a really crappy night's sleep. I need to go lock myself in the pantry again. There are Oreos there.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Splurging on Pine Nuts

I very rarely buy pine nuts because of how expensive they are, but last week, I came across the opportunity to use two recipes with pine nuts in them, so I went out and bought some.

The first was purple carrot cake. I didn't get a picture because we ate it all up so quickly!

Purple Carrot Cake alla Romanesca You can get the recipe at the link, but for grocery list purposes, the ingredients that aren't normally in carrot cake were: purple carrots (yay CSA), pine nuts, and mascarpone cheese. The recipe says to use a 9x9 pan, but I think it makes enough for 9x13. McKay had to modify the icing recipe; I'll come back and add that on when he gets back to me about those details.

We also made pesto. I don't normally use pine nuts in pesto, so it was fun to use a "real" pesto recipe. I just used a basic pesto recipe and used our greens instead of basil and real pine nuts! Then, because we're kind of getting sick of all the pesto around here, we tried something we haven't had in a long while: twice baked potatoes with pesto. The potatoes were from our CSA, as were the greens.


This morning I went out to pick blackberries from our bush. I was only able to get 6. Most of them aren't ripe yet and/or out of my reach. I hoping to make jam and pie. Yum! Happy eating!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Tandem Nursing

This weekend, I'll hit 11 months of tandem nursing, unless you count the pregnancy as tandem nursing- and some people do. Then it'll be 20 months. I've been nursing for 38 months straight total. Wow. That's almost longer than I was in college.

Early on, tandem nursing was difficult: I had thrush. I was healing from a birth in the early days and needed help just maneuvering. The first while when McKay went back to work, getting two kids to sleep was an adventure. But then again, mothering in general was an adventure and nothing got done.

And now that I've been doing this for almost a year, it's not a big deal. Nursing is a part of the mothering package for me right now and I feel like I've got a handle on both nursing and mothering. That plus the fact that I'm in better shape and we're almost moved in, I feel like we're doing pretty well!

I do get touched out. I never felt that way with Margaret until the pregnancy and I've never completely lost that sensation. For example, to put the children to sleep for their naps in the afternoon, I nurse Isaac until he's full, then I turn over and nurse Margaret. Ideally, Isaac will fall to sleep on his own at this point. Less ideally, he'll climb onto my head. Then, just when I start feeling touched out by Margaret's nursing, she'll either be asleep or asleep enough  that I can say, "Margaret, it's Isaac's turn. You'll get a turn when he's done." And then I go back to Isaac. Most of the time, Margaret ends up falling asleep before Isaac's done. And my touched-out-o-meter resets with Isaac because his latch is different and he's on the other side, so the touched out feeling isn't an issue. Then once they are both asleep I get 2-3 hours to myself, excluding the 1 or 2 times Isaac stirs and needs me to nurse him back to sleep: 1 if he's not teething, 2 if he is. The whole nursing to sleep process takes a little over half an hour, during which time I read and try not to get diverted by my smart phone.

I don't nurse both kids at the same time very often. It takes extenuating circumstances like injuries to bring that on. I have nursed both at the same time in public, but only a handful of times. Isaac gets lots of public nursing experience whereas Margaret doesn't get quite as much, but she does nurse once in sacrament every week and once at library story time or the park or wherever we go out for the day.

So that's tandem nursing right now. I'm not any more tired than I would be having two kids. And it doesn't keep me from doing all my normal activities except when it takes an extra long time to get the kids to sleep, but even if I wasn't nursing, they'd be extra needy those days.

I've brought up the idea of weaning in conversation with Margaret a few times just to get her used to the idea, though I don't feel like weaning is necessary yet. Just a few, "When you're big, you won't nurse any more" comments. She knows she'll grow big like Mommy and Mommy doesn't nurse. It's out there as a vague idea for the future.

But she loves breast. Last week, I asked her what it tasted like.

"Chocolate."

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Testimony Garden

I haven't mentioned it here yet, but I'm now a panelist for the new podcast Daughters of Mormonism. It's going to be a weekly-ish podcast that covers various Mormon topics from women's perspectives and experiences. I was first on the Finding the Divine Feminine panel because of my Mutual Approbation blog and I'm going to be on various future panels! So to introduce me to the listeners, Sybil interviewed me about my life story. I talked about lactivism, unassisted birth, some eco-friendly endeavors and some other stuff. It was recorded over a week ago and I keep remembering things I should have mentioned but left out! Alas! That's why I have Inquisition Monday here, though, right?

One of the things I talked about was an analogy of Testimony Gardens. It's an analogy I came up with last winter when I was approaching my testimony in new ways and I thought I'd elaborate here. On the podcast, I was a little disheveled: we had just moved and I hadn't had time to make notes or an outline!

The idea of looking at a testimony as a garden originated in Alma's discourse about faith being a seed- and that it can be a tiny little seed of just wanting to believe.

When I think about Testimony Gardens, I see the different things we can believe in as different plants. And I don't think it has to be Mormon or even religion-related. You can have a belief that prayer and meditation is good for your body and spirit without needing someone/thing to pray to. You can believe in exercise or good food. You can believe that you time needs to be spent doing things for others. This garden represent the mores and beliefs on which you build your life.

In Mormon terms: a person might have a really strong testimony plant of tithing because they've had experiences that affirm the truthfulness of tithing. Another person might not have the same testimony- maybe their plant is just a seedling or the seed is still in the packet. That's ok. They might have a strong fasting plant. Or scripture-reading plant. Or a prophet-following plant. Or anything else. And that's ok. I know that there are times in my life when I spend a lot of energy on only one part of my testimony. In early 2005, I did a lot of study about the concept of faith and what it meant for me- and if you had been in the ward I was in at the time, almost every comment I made in a class had to do with what I was discovering about faith. And other people focus on other plants in their gardens at different times. It's ok.

When you are a child, your parents and the adults around you help you plant your garden: they might feel like honesty is really important, so you have an honesty "plant." Or that prayer is important, so you have a "prayer" plant. Or any number of things. And that's good. It's helpful to have people who show you how to live and give you ideas of good habits and beliefs to focus on and develop as you grow.

Over the past few years and especially this past winter, I looked at my testimony garden and saw that it wasn't something that I liked. It represented what my parents and family thought was important, what my teachers thought was important, what my friends thought was important, but it didn't represent what I thought was important. I needed to figure out what I actually believed. So I started tearing it up a lot of it. I am going to believe in things that I want to believe in. And my garden has changed dramatically over these years: if you knew me in high school, you might not recognize me on this blog. Well, you would, but some of my major beliefs about the world has changed- I mean, I had my babies without any medical attention! I can guarantee you that in high school, my attitude was, "Give me the drugs!" And it's not just my attitudes about what my body can do- my beliefs about the gospel have changed. And I've uprooted a lot. Last December, I straight-up told McKay, "Love, I'm uprooting my testimony garden and it's going to look like I don't believe in much of anything for a while, but I'm keeping a few of the plants to hold on to (maybe, sometimes a fresh start sounds nicer) and I'm re-planting everything how I want it to be and it'll be good in the end. If everything looks like a mess in the meantime, it's because that's the nature of gardening and life."

And now, it's spring in my life and I'm planting things again. And I'm hoping it'll be a garden that I can recognize as my own. There are plants I really want- things I really want to believe in. And it surprised me that there are plants I do not even want to touch- beliefs that I do not want a testimony of. And I think that's ok, too. It's my garden and I have big dreams for it.

What I love about this analogy is that it allows for differences. We don't all need to have identical gardens. In fact, we shouldn't have identical gardens. Some of us live in a lush metaphorical "California" and some of us look out at what life has given us and only see Arizona. That happens and you need to plant accordingly or drain all the water from 4 other states so you can have okra. Either way works, but one is going to take a lot more time and work. And hey, if you have that time and okra is important to you (it is for me!), then do it.

So that's my analogy. Don't judge your neighbor's garden. It's ok to just have a few seedlings and it's ok to have a forest of oak trees. And it's ok, and even necessary, to burn your prairie every couple of years.

And check me out over at Daughters of Mormonism from time to time. If you like it, subscribe, if you don't, then don't. The readers of this blog are very diverse and at the moment, I'm not going to use this blog to plug every podcast I'm on because I'm sure some of you would rather I talk about other things. Like breasts.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Green green everywhere

We're still in the unpacking stage and I haven't found my camera cord, so all the pictures in this post are from my phone. And since the house is in disarray, all the pictures are from outside. It's been overcast and cloudy for the past week or so, but check out some of the features of the yard!

Overgrown grapevine arch. The grapes are supposed to be jelly grapes. I also want to read up on grapevine pruning for next year because this arch is a little ridiculous.


Citrus trees. There are three new little citrus trees that need constant watering, so Margaret and I are going to make sure they stay hydrated.

My basil. This was in a cup in our old place. It's graduated to a pot and will get to go in the garden once it's a little bigger. Right now the ducks are eating all the seedlings, so it's not safe for the basil to be there.

Figs. There are two fig trees in the back yard and it's almost fig season! As soon as these get droopy, they'll be ready!

The garden. You can see the compost pile in the back there. Because California has a year-round growing season, as we harvest what's there, we'll be able to plant new vegetables.

Ducks. They usually stay in their pen, but are let out on rainy days so they can eat the snails and slugs.

Blackberry bushes.

Walnut tree. This will make a big mess later this year.


There's also an apricot tree and I think I remember the landlord mentioning plums. As soon as we finish unpacking, I'm going to read up on the growing seasons out here and start planting!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Moving in

We've moved! But I can't find my camera cord; it's still in a box. So no pictures yet. This week has been quite busy.

Friday
Packing packing packing. Margaret throwing up with residual food poisoning from Thursday when she couldn't keep anything down. Spent the evening arranging furniture and boxes so the move into the truck would be easy.


Saturday
Moving day! Got the truck, loaded it up. I spent the time making sure small children weren't squished. We had a lot of great help and we are very grateful. When it was time to be done loading the truck, mastitis hit- my breast was sore and had clogged ducts and I was suddenly fatigued. The stress and my activity made me forget to nurse regularly. I spent the unloading time directing where things went and praying I'd get some time to take care of myself. When everyone was gone, I nursed Isaac and Margaret in various positions to work out the clogged duct, massaged it, and lied in bed. Our landlords wanted to do a dinner together, so I mustered up strength for free dinner (we contributed asparagus from our CSA box). At the dinner, Margaret threw up again, the first time that day. I think the stress of moving was causing her tummy to stay upset. Also, we weren't eating very well.

Sunday
Mastitis was overcome. No more chills, fatigue aches, or fever. My co-teacher was out of town for the long weekend, so despite my tired state, I got myself to church. It was just Isaac and me because we weren't sure if Margaret was well yet. I finally started helping McKay unpack. With the mastitis, I had left it all to him on Saturday.

Monday
Spent the morning cleaning the old apartment out and figuring out how to transfer our Internet over to the new place. Went to the Apple Store and Ikea for a few things, but I'm going to have to take them back today. Internet worked in the evening! Woot! Oh, and Margaret threw up in the parking garage at the Apple Store. And I went over my new local yarn store. While I was gone, Margaret had diarrhea**, so McKay called frantically looking for me and I had to cut my yarn store shopping short. I did take advantage of the sale, though. No worries.

Tuesday
Woke up to Margaret having peed the bed. And nightmares that included weeping angels. I had a hair appointment at noon, but because of Margaret's lingering upset stomach, I had to cancel the babysitting I had scheduled. McKay came home to watch her for my appointment during his lunch so I wouldn't have to cancel my appointment. It's nice and short for the summer! I'd show you but I don't have my camera cord, remember? And a friend of mine came over with her two kids and the kids hung out and fed snails to the ducks in the back yard. Big accomplishment of the day: books in the bookcase!

Wednesday
Planned on going to the park, but it started raining as soon as we stepped out the door. Margaret went on a hunger strike and refused any solid food until she got to go to the park- so she finally had some bites of sandwich around 5:45 that evening. Seriously. I had a scheduled Skype call at 2, which went for 2 hours. And I did the laundry finally (see peed-in-bed above). Got the CSA box for the week (yummy!) and also did some quick grocery shopping (eggs and milk). Big accomplishment of the day: organized the pantry.

Thursday
Today was going to be a big day in one of my volunteer capacities, but I got a call last night saying I wasn't needed because the work I was going to do was accomplished already. I'm glad that all worked out. So I think we're going to go to Ikea to return the area rug and shelves we bought on Monday. They don't actually work in our new place. I also need to try to find a 2mm crochet hook so I can finish my lace shawl in time to enter in the county fair next week. I've paid the registration fee, but I need to bind off, block, and the take it to the county fair people by the 10th.

That's it. I'm going to start posting regularly soon. I'm still catching my breath!

**ETA: McKay remarks, "Monday when Margaret had diarrhea, she was also throwing up. And that had happened after Isaac woke up screaming."