Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Did You Do Anything Today?

As a matter of fact I did! I washed, dried, and folded 3 loads of laundry. I plan to put them away before bed - we'll see how that goes. I changed the sheets on the bed. Well actually I stripped the sheets and washed them and will return them to the bed, so I guess technically I didn't 'change' them. But then 'technically' I did 4 loads of laundry. I made lasagna. For someone else. Then I made dinner for our family. I cleaned the mudroom. I did two loads of dishes (this was a necessity after making lasagna). I played with my Tater. A lot. He discovered the stairs today. So I went up and down. A lot. I went to the bank, and to Target (love it!) and to Costco (aka the store that always costs me $200). And of course, I spent some time on Facebook.

I feel pretty damn good about what I accomplished today without a nanny or babysitter. I know plenty of people with babies that 'never get anything done'. And that brings us to today's topic...Did you do anything today?

What a silly question to ask someone with children. I feel it is exponentially sillier the younger the child or the more children someone has. I mean seriously. People who ask that either have ZERO clue what staying at home for an entire day with a child entails, or they are implying that while being home with said child one should also accomplish Martha Stewart style housekeeping. Pssh. Martha Stewart was NEVER this far behind.

Being a parent, at least at this stage, is all about chasing. If you're not chasing a toddler up and down stairs, you are chasing yourself, or your idea of acceptable hygiene, or your housework/dishes/laundry, or your normal sleep patterns, or your sanity. Or all of the above. Just having the baby means a 6 week hiatus from your normal life. Then after those 6 weeks the sleep deprivation hits you like a train. And as you start to climb out of your I-have-a-newborn hole and things start to get easier you look around and wonder how you're ever going to get the toilets clean again, or if your trash service is going to charge you extra to haul away the mess. And just when you think you might get back on schedule the baby starts motoring. Now comes the baby proofing. Walking into a different room becomes a two-hand job. Opening cabinets takes an engineering degree and serious concentration, and you can no longer go to the bathroom (if you ever got that far after the first 6 weeks) without careful planning because the toilet paper is stored in the childproof cabinet on the other side of the room! There is ALWAYS a baby underfoot. Unless of course the baby is in the other room in which case the baby is no doubt playing with the ONE ITEM that isn't actually child proof. When was the last time someone asked my husband to write a new piece of software at work while finishing a load of laundry and making lunch all while keeping tabs on his coworker who has a tendency to eat rubber bands? It doesn't happen in "the real world". But it definitely happens at home. A lot.

So today, while perusing the Book of Faces a friend of mine messaged me. She asked how I get 'so much done'. I almost laughed. But then I realized she was asking for advice. I had to stop and think. I guess it started a few years ago before I quit working and before I had a baby. It started with this book. I got into a routine. And my house was Martha Stewart worthy. Well on most days.

Then I got pregnant. Then we moved. Then I had a baby. And now hear we are. Tater is eating dust bunnies from under the kitchen table and I am unsure what's in the Tupperware at the back of the fridge. I've been out of it for months. Because in addition to having a baby I also had PPD. But I feel like the clouds have lifted. Actually I should say honestly that God has been merciful to me and has delivered me from my depression. But I am getting back to my old self. And with that, back to my routine of keeping a clean and organized home. And so, when my friend asked how I get 'so much' done I told her.
  1. I make a to-do list. I keep as many jobs on the list short and sweet. Less than 10 minutes start to finish. **Put a load of laundry in the wash. Unload the dishwasher. Clean the toilet. Then, I start checking them off. If Tater is playing in the living room I do the dishes. If I need to be upstairs I take him (and something else...see below) upstairs with me.  
  2. I don't leave a room empty handed. **Boo does not function this way. He starts cleaning in one corner of the room and doesn't leave until he's finished. I can't do that. Today I was cleaning in the bedroom and needed to put a shoebox away. The problem: the shoes for said box were sitting on the kitchen table. So I start to head down to the kitchen. But before I go I gather up the empty water bottles from our nightstands and the baby bottle that Tater deposited on the floor earlier this morning. No sense making a trip down empty handed.
  3. I don't stress if the to-do list is longer at night than it was in the morning. **Sometimes it's just not possible to do what I intended. Sometimes Tater just wants me to play with him. Sometimes Mom invites me to lunch in the park and I just can't refuse. Sometimes my bed calls my name at 10am when Tater is napping and sometimes I answer. 
There is no magic formula for how to clean house and cook dinner while raising a child. Every house, dinner, and child is different. The combinations are endless. The important thing to remember is that no matter what ELSE you did during the day you mothered a child. You fed, cuddled, chased, tickled, diapered, and loved a baby. Maybe not an infant, but still your baby. So tomorrow when I toss my to-do list into the trash to swing at the park for an extra 15 minutes I won't feel like I got nothing done. And you shouldn't either.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Baby Led Weaning

I run in some circles where Baby Led Weaning (BLW) is very popular.

In a nutshell it is an approach to weaning that skips pureed baby food and spoons and heads straight for biting and chewing. It promotes giving the baby food to feed him/her self instead of a parent feeding a baby. When I first heard of BLW I thought it sounded interesting. BLW is an alternative for parents who don't want to start solids early. It is a way to delay baby's diet a bit, and emphasize longer term (meaning past 6 months) breastfeeding for caloric intake. It is also a fantastic way to dodge questions about rice cereal and why you're STILL breastfeeding at 8 months. :) To me, putting more of the decision making into the Baby's chubby little hands, and letting him show me when he was ready to wean sounded like a great idea. But that was only when I first learned about it...

As Baby got older I started experimenting with BLW. At 6 months I gave Baby a slice of avocado big enough for him to hold in his hand. See how much he 'eats' on his own. It was hilarious. He looked more like the hulk by the end of the meal and had gotten 0 into his mouth. But he LOVED the activity. So we started down the BLW road. As we traveled along I learned a few more things about the BLW community. They have a little saying "Food before 1 is just for fun" to remind you that the majority of baby's calories should be coming from breastmilk. It's catchy don't you think? I thought so. It became my mantra. And Baby and I continued with our wonderful breastfeeding relationship well past 6 months.

Feeding him became a game, more than anything. I didn't really make an effort outside of dinner time. It was just easier to continue in the way we had been doing things without stopping to worry about bibs and high chairs throughout the day. At dinner Boo and I would give him some food to 'eat' so he would be entertained. It was great. He was in love with food. Would work and work for every bite, and when he got one into his mouth he would just beam. It was adorable. Eating seemed to be his favorite activity.

Around 8 months Baby started having some problems. Nothing major. And nothing outside of the ordinary. No poop for 3 days. Waking up several times a night to eat. Wanting to be held ALL the time. My generally happy independent Baby had become this sort of semi-detached limb on my body. He fussed constantly. We nursed and he seemed fine. He would eat at dinner and he would seem fine. I figured he was just teething. Teething can cause all of those symptoms. And the chewing and drooling had ramped up too. Teething seemed a good culprit.

Just before his 9 month 'birthday' Baby refused the breast. I was trying to nurse before meeting a friend for coffee, and he just showed no interest. Whatever, I was in a hurry to get going. Boo put him to bed with a bottle while I was out and all seemed well. The next morning we had our typical morning nursing gymnastics session. But throughout the day he seemed distracted and sort of disinterested in nursing. He would grab a quick snack, but no long lazy sessions like we usually had. And a lot of biting. Eh, he's busy exploring the world I thought. He doesn't want to sit still that long. Day 3 and there's zero nursing to be had. He will take a bottle of pumped milk just fine but not interested in nursing at all.

I kept my cool. A friend of mine had just dealt with a 6-day nursing strike. We can get through this. "He's not weaning. Babies don't wean before 12 months" my nursing friends told me. Do this. Try that. "If you nurse him in his sleep it will work." "Give him a sippy cup instead of a bottle." "Scale back on solids." "He is just distracted and will be back in a few days." So I leaned on them for support while I tried a million and a half things to get my Baby back to nursing. We couldn't be done yet, I was ready to nurse for as long as he needed. I pumped religiously every 3 hours. I was determined that when he was ready to come back there would be plenty of milk. Meanwhile he was getting all of his milk from a cup or bottle. Pooping became a once a week activity, and sleep became something we got in 2-3 hour naps around the clock. Waking up SCREAMING. Those damn teeth! Wouldn't they just break through already, they were ruining everything!!

After two weeks of no nursing I was desperate. Sleep deprivation and the loss of our breastfeeding connection had left me a puddle of depressed nothingness. I couldn't seem to comfort my crying baby at all. He had lost 1 1/2 pounds and cried all the time. I knew he just needed to nurse. We both just needed him to nurse. It would solve so many of our problems. "He's not weaning. Babies don't wean before 12 months."

By the end of the third week I was so depressed I could barely do anything. I cried all the time. I had completely failed. I couldn't manage to get baby back to breast. I couldn't calm him. I couldn't soothe him. Everything felt like a judgement. Everything felt wrong. And on top of it my nipples were so sore and inflamed from the pump that keeping up with the baby was looking more and more impossible. I couldn't even give him breastmilk for a full 12 months. But I didn't want to give up. On Monday of the fourth week I went to my chiropractor and wellness doctor. He suggested that maybe the baby was just done. BLASPHEMY! When I said "but he still wants the bottle" he suggested this: "So take the bottle away. Give him food, and if he still needs nutrition from you he will get it from you. If he doesn't, he will just be done." For the rest of the day Monday I discussed this approach with the few people left that I thought were supportive. A plan was made.

Beginning on Tuesday morning Baby starting getting 3 square meals and a snack every day. Before each feeding I would offer to nurse. If Baby refused I would feed him food. Tuesday morning we started. After breakfast he was already so much happier! For his morning nap I offered to nurse, but he refused. I gave him a small bottle to soothe him to sleep, and he slept 2 hours. Up for lunch. By the afternoon he was back to his normal, happy self. He took ANOTHER 2 hour nap. That night he slept 8 hours. By Thursday he was pooping multiple times a day. Although still chewing on everything there was no more fussiness. No more screaming.

After about 15 more minutes of moping (the realization that I had been making the baby go around hungry for like 3 weeks hit pretty hard) I finally let go of all of the feelings and thoughts of having failed. This whole parenting journey isn't about doing what you planned, it's about doing what the baby needs. My Baby needed to wean. Forget the rules. Forget about 'other' babies. Forget all the plans I had for nursing past 12 months. Forget it all. The whole point of baby led weaning is letting the BABY lead!

I didn't fail. I listened to my baby even when he told me something I didn't want to hear...something that didn't even seem to make sense. And the two of us found our way through together. I'm sorry it wasn't to the place I envisioned, but it was a beautiful, bittersweet dance. 

I am so thankful for the experience. And for the realization that failure truly comes in pressing my own wishes and desires onto my son despite his needs. There is no failure in finding the right thing. There is only failure in not accepting. I desperately wanted things to go back to the way they were. But there is no growth in going back. I will always treasure the beauty of breastfeeding my son for 9 months. And I will be proud of breastfeeding him for as long as he wanted. I will cherish the baby he was but I will not hold him back from becoming the wonderful little person he's growing into. 

Looking back I am sorry it took me so long to hear what he was telling me. But with this experience behind me and looking forward...I feel like Super Mom.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Home Improvement Update

Back in July I posted this to-do list Things Are About to Get Real for the month of August.

Here comes my first update, although sadly, no pictures are included.

Things I can cross off the list:
  • Trip to Indiana
  • Backyard landscaping (It looks super nice with a new grill and patio set that I got at like 50% savings!)
  • Stripping of basement carpet adhesive (with several contact highs even while wearing a respirator)
  • Trip to Colorado (Baby's first airplane ride!)
While all of these things have been accomplished I believe only the trips and the landscaping actually occurred in August. These last 60 days have been a whirlwind of business and emotional breakdowns (read more about that later) and some things have been horribly neglected.

The family trips were great. Baby got to ride on an airplane, meet 3 great grandparents and Boo and I got to spend some time away from home and with each other.

Stripping the basement carpet and adhesive was a trip. First, the stripper is like rubber cement only twice as toxic. And it's not an easy task. Generally during home improvement projects like this Boo and I are ready to kill one another. But after about 16 man hours working together I was feeling pretty good. There wasn't a single time I felt like strangling him. When I made this observation out loud to him he smiled and said "Oh I wanted to kill you plenty of times". I'm glad we are making progress. :)

Another bonus, since I haven't been back to the blog in two months the new floor is also finished downstairs. It's AMAZING. It looks like glass, but isn't slippery. It has a design but is random as well so there's no repetitiveness to the pattern. It's simply awesome. And, the bill came in lower than I expected, so I feel like I saved money in the process! The painting is on hold for the time being because we found some mold in one of the walls and we need to do the drywall repair before painting. But I did find a killer color scheme for inspiration, and now that the weather is turning a bit chillier I may be able to recruit some help painting. I can't wait to post pictures of the finished project. I hope to have it done by Christmas, so Baby will have somewhere to toddle.

Speaking of painting I got one color (ie one wall) done in the guest room. The other color goes on the 3 remaining walls, but that's not a task to be done during nap time. It will have to wait for reinforcements. I think I should half cross it off the list.

All in all I'd say it's not a bad list of accomplishments considering the other life events I also conquered these past two months. Here's to continued progress through the end of the year.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Pets Are Not Kids

I made the statement "Only people without children really think the phrase "My pets are my kids" is legitimate. Let's get real. Pets are pets. Children are children. Period." and boy did I hear about how I had offended the entire pet-owning population on the internet. In addition I had apparently also alienated my non-parent friends (both pet owning and pet free) and as a bonus I managed to offend at least one person who neither has kids nor owns pets! 

Now if that's not multi-tasking I don't know what is. 

After some thoughtful consideration I have decided that perhaps the phrasing I used was slightly inciting, and that without any backstory the comment could have been taken the wrong way. So I thought I would take the liberty here of sharing my reflections, and then taking an opportunity to perhaps revise my original statement. 

Some of the reasons given for being offended by my statement were:
  • I love my pet as much as you love your child
  • My dog is smarter than your 8 month old
  • Saying "my pets are my children" is a way to brush people off when I don't feel like explaining why I chose not to have children
  • "My pets are my children" is accepted vernacular, it's not meant to be literal
  • Pets are helpless without humans just like babies - so they are the same
  • Saying "pets are not children" implies that non-parents can't relate to parents - having pets puts non-parents on the same level as parents so everyone is the same

I think I'll just tackle these one at a time.

  • I love my pet as much as you love your child 
My post said nothing about loving a pet is not like loving a child.
  • My dog is smarter than your 8 month old
And as with their respective guardians, one has reached their full potential and the other has a lifetime of potential waiting for them. 

  • Saying "my pets are my children" is a way to brush people off when I don't feel like explaining why I chose not to have children
Ok. I can kind of see that. But at the same time why not just tell the person to mind their own business. Or say, I choose not to have children. I do not see how it is productive to choose not to have children but then go through life defending yourself by saying you have pets that are surrogates for children. If you don't want children why do you still feel ashamed when someone asks about it? And if you do want children but are unable to have them yourself why have a pet instead of adopting a child? There are plenty of children in the world that need good homes. To this I have to call B.S. and say that if you are comparing a pet to a child the comparison has less to do with how you truly feel about your pet and more to do with your own insecurities about how society will view your choice to be childless. 

  • "My pets are my children" is accepted vernacular, it's not meant to be literal 
If it isn't 'meant to be literal' why are so many people freaking out when I disagree with it?

  •  Pets are helpless without humans just like babies - so they are the same
False. Pets are domesticated wild animals. Dogs are more than capable of hunting or digging in trash to find food, and foraging for water/shelter. Cats the same if their owners didn't tear out their claws to save the couch cushions. Birds kept as pets would be able to fly if people didn't clip their wings. I didn't know that the 'pet' breeds of snakes and other reptiles had been bread to only eat crickets served on silver platters. And smaller non-predatory animals (such as gerbils and rabbits and fish) would be more than capable of surviving if they were not confined to an unnatural habitat by humans. A baby can do all of that too?? Really. Wow. Because last I checked my 8 month old can't get his own food or water, and is helpless to escape danger on his own. 
  • Saying "pets are not children" implies that non-parents can't relate to parents - having pets puts non-parents on the same level as parents so everyone is the same
This one took some real thinking. But in the end having pets doesn't get a non-parent any closer to knowing what it's like to be a parent. I suppose some may take the statement "You're not a parent so you wouldn't understand" insulting but it is true. If you are not a parent you cannot know how being a parent feels. If I were a war veteran, and I said "You aren't a soldier so you wouldn't understand war" would you be insulted? Would it be acceptable to then say "Well, I've never been to war but I did stand in line at Wal-Mart on Black Friday two years in a row, so I do know how you feel". I mean, the comparison is ridiculous. And why is a true statement so insulting? Why do people as a group take the statement as the parent taunting the non-parent. In the veteran analysis nobody would

I'd like to rephrase by saying "Only people without children really think the phrase 'my pets are my kids' is legitimate. Let's get real. Pets are pets. Children are children. Period." 

I know. I know. I spent a lot of time considering that edit.  


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Things Are About To Get Real

So Boo and I have lived in our house for just over a year, and since the day we moved in we have been a bit at odds about 'housework'. Not the day to day vacuuming and dusting. Those tasks fall firmly in my court. But about things like remodeling, and landscaping, and changing the decor.

You see, the first house Boo and I bought was what you might call a fixer-upper. Sure some would have called it a burner-downer, but we like to see the glass as half full. Besides, it's what we could afford :).

Needless to say we fixed it up. And it took 3 months of living with my parents, and working 40 hours a week at our real jobs and 40 hours a week at our house. And it was brutal. So we both agreed that we were never doing that again. This time around we bought a beautiful move in ready traditional two story home.

And it is beautiful.

It is also beige. And it has carpet in the master bathroom. And carpet in the basement. Well I should say HAD carpet in the basement :). At any rate it was most definitely move in ready on a level that our previous home wasn't. But now after a year of living in someone else's decor I'm ready to put my mark on the place.

So here we go.

We have already torn out the hedges from the front of the house, removed the nasty outdated lava rock and landscaped with something more to my taste. Now we are on to the backyard where we removed a ton (haha get it...) more lava rock and some more bushes. The plan being that we will be transplanting some rose bushes, building ourselves a sweet privacy screen, and decorating with new patio furniture and a sweet new grill. But the planting has to be done before the weather turns chilly, and that means more landscaping before September gets here.

We also tore out the carpet in the basement to replace it with an epoxy floor covering that is nigh on indestructible. But before the new floor can be installed we need to remove the carpet adhesive and paint the walls. And the flooring is getting installed in early September.

Also on the agenda as a small side project is new paint for the guest bedroom. It's currently yellow and while my bright orange floral bedding set goes nicely with the existing paint, I think it's time we toned it down to something a little more my style. And I scored an awesome new dresser to put in my new room, but it needs refinishing. Plus, the room is in DESPERATE need of a new fan.

Oh, and I've finally been inspired for artwork in Baby's room, so I'm on the hunt for that as well. 

So, here comes August and on the agenda so far for this standard 31-day month are:
  • Trip to Indiana to see the family
  • Backyard landscaping etc
  • Stripping of basement carpet adhesive
  • Trip to Colorado to see the other family
  • Painting of basement walls
  • Painting of guest room
 On the back burner, to be squeezed in if/when possible are:
  • Refinishing of new-old dresser
  • Procurement and installation of art for Baby's room
To say this is an ambitious list would be the understatement of the century. And I couldn't be more excited about it. I can't wait to see how close we actually get to crossing all of these things off the list!

Updates and pictures to come!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Royal Baby

I know news outlets everywhere are talking about William and Kate's new baby. And I know that thousands of people waited outside Buckingham palace for a chance to glimpse the little tyke. I'm not one of those people. I think I heard off-hand that Kate was pregnant, and that's the last thought I gave to the matter.

In light of her recent delivery I would like to say this to Kate Middleton: Thank you.

Thank you for choosing a vaginal birth. Thank you for standing publicly on the knowledge that your body was made to deliver a baby, to deliver your baby, and that an elective cesarean was not necessary nor wanted.

Thank you for breastfeeding. Thank you for choosing what is hard, and dedicating your time, your body, and your mind to your son. Thank you for taking a stand about what you feel is right, because in the public eye your stand can have a vastly wide impact on what is considered popular or normal.

Thank you for showing your post-partum belly. I know it isn't easy to get dressed those first days/weeks after giving birth. And I know it's got to be that much harder to do it in front of a nation of cameras. But you have given women everywhere a confidence boost by coming home from the hospital looking natural, instead of rail thin.

Thank you Kate, for being the mother you are choosing to be. I wish you all the best, and success in everything you put your mind to for your son.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Becoming a Mother, Staying Human

In December I became a mother to the most beautiful, precious, wonderful baby. I'm sure every mother in the world feels the same about their own child(ren). Since then, I've enjoyed every moment and every event that being a mother has brought me. Well, almost every moment.

Now, 7 months later I still marvel at my beautiful son. Every day he is doing something different. Every day he changes and grows and it is an incredible thing to witness up close. So many days I just find myself marveling at him. But not every day.

For the last few weeks I have been struggling to get through each day. Baby has been sick, and teething which makes him clingy and fussy and needy all of which are a departure from his normal happy content playful self. Every moment seemed to be a battle of some kind. When I picked him up he would immediately flop over my arm toward the ground making it impossible to carry him, so I would set him down. When I set him down he would cry and crawl over to my feet and try to climb back up. He would refuse to nap, even when he was exhausted. So I would nurse him to sleep. I would nurse and he would sleep. But if I moved, or sneezed, or the dogs shook their ears he would wake up. And so we went, all week long, in this never ending dance of up and down, asleep and awake, nursing and crying. Days ran together with nights. Sleep became something I used to do, and I think I showered maybe four times in two weeks. Saying the chores I normally accomplish while he plays or sleeps didn't get done would be an understatement. Even simple tasks like making the grocery list or turning the dogs out became battles. Let me tell you, it's not easy to write a list with a 7 month old on your lap trying to chew the pen.

Don't get me wrong, not every single moment was terrible. He got a new tooth! And he started crawling up on his hands and knees instead of on his belly. And there were still plenty of heart-melting smiles and time-stopping giggles. Those are the wonderful moments. But sitting on the couch holding a sleeping baby when you're really just desperate to use the bathroom is not wonderful.

And after days and days with no time to myself, I found that I was really starting to resent my son. And in turn, my husband. And basically my life. I resented not having 5 minutes to myself. I resented the baby for getting his needs met while mine went by the wayside. I resented his ability to cry when he is upset or lonely, while I must devote my time to him regardless of how I feel. Then I started to resent my husband. I resented that he would come home and after 10 minutes ask me to ''watch the kid" so he could use the bathroom. What a novel idea: using the bathroom while someone else comforts the fussy baby...I resented his daily shower, and his full nights of sleep, and how nice it must be to come home after a long day and have someone else cook you dinner. I was just resenting life.

Then, of course, the guilt set in. As if feeling resentful all day every day isn't bad enough. I felt guilty for not having the house cleaned up or the laundry done. I felt guilty about not getting out to run errands and for having no groceries, and for not cooking dinner. Guilt for not taking the baby to the park. Guilt for feeling selfish about needing a shower or to go poop. Guilt for resenting life.

Last Wednesday things finally took a turn for the better. Not because Baby is less clingy or fussy. Not because he's napping more or we are back to our normal routine. Because I discovered that I'm still human.

Wednesday afternoon I was relegated to another day trapped on the couch with nothing but bad daytime T.V. while Baby slept. I looked longingly at his baby quilt, trying to dream up a way to move him onto it without waking him. The dogs were whining at the back door to go outside. The kitchen table had no room to eat for the crap that had accumulated there. And don't even get me started on the kitchen floor...As I sat there blaming all of these things on my peaceful sleeping baby I just began to feel like a complete failure as a mother. I wondered why I couldn't just enjoy holding my son, or forget about the other things and take a nap. But I couldn't. And then more guilt for those shortcomings. As I was willing myself out of resentment and guilt and into sleep it hit me: I'm human. Yes I'm a mother, but I'm still just human.

I have needs, and when those needs aren't being met I can grin and bear it for a time. But after that time it is only natural to feel resentful or selfish. Wishing I could have time for myself doesn't make me a bad mother. It makes me human. And on the contrary, I believe it is evidence that I am a good mother, because I will still meet the needs of my son before myself, even when that's not what I WANT to do. As I pondered this, the resentment and guilt seemed to melt away. My needs didn't melt away. Neither did the mess in my house or the piles of dirty laundry. And to own the truth, the resentment still lingered a bit. I still wanted to set the sleeping baby down so I could go pee, but the guilt was gone.

And then, as if God was just reinforcing my new epiphany the most beautiful thing happened. As I sat there, resigning myself to another hour on the couch something startled Baby from his sleep. His eyes flew open and he looked scared. His face crinkled up and he drew in his breath to cry and then, he looked at me. His expression changed from fear to recognition. He give a tiny whimper as he let out his breath, but then he gave a tiny smile and closed his eyes. He snuggled in a little closer and drifted back to sleep.

As I sat in awe of the silent conversation that had just passed between us I was so thankful to be trapped on the couch with nothing but bad daytime T.V. It wasn't a waste of time to hold my sleeping son. Vacuuming the kitchen floor was not more important. What really mattered was that when he woke up I was there, to look down at him and whisper 'shhh'. For him to see that he was not alone, and that he was safe. So that he would know.

On Saturday morning Mom came over to tell me about a meeting she had just been to. I took the opportunity (as Boo was at the movies) to ask her to watch Baby so I could take a shower. She of course agreed. I took a long, hot, leisurely shower. As I toweled off I could hear Baby crying downstairs, so I dressed and headed down. I scooped him up off the floor and sat down to nurse him to sleep. And I realized, though I may resent it at times, this is a privilege that no other person in the world has.

These last weeks have been tough. But they have reinforced what I already knew: that becoming a mom is ongoing. Sure I became a mother the moment my son was born, but I'm still learning how to be his mom. I also learned something new: that becoming a mom doesn't replace being human. There will still be days when I have needs, and days when I wish those needs could come first. So I will work on voicing those needs and taking the help that is offered. And in the meantime, I can enjoy the excuse to sit on the couch and watch T.V.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

We Are So Bass Ackwards

Last night I was surfing Facebook as I rocked Baby after his bedtime feeding when I came across this article in a small private group I am a part of.

Mississippi Stillborn Manslaughter Charge Raising Fears

The link was accompanied by a post from a woman who recently miscarried a baby, and is obese by the medical definition. She expressed her concern that this kind of precedent could mean she would face legal consequences in addition to having lost her baby.

After reading the comment I was intrigued, and so, I read the article.

After reading the article I was incensed.

Where do I even begin?!? Ok, I get it that the lady was using drugs while she was pregnant. But really, I would wager that happens a lot more often than anyone wants to admit. But seriously, there's no way they could ever prove that the drug use is the only reason she miscarried. And what? The police/prosecutors in Mississippi don't have anything better to do than track down women who may or may not have been 100% healthy during their pregnancies? I guess if I go check the crime statistics for Jackson every category other than 'poor prenatal behavior' is going to say 0. Doubtful.

And let's talk about the semantics. In the article the prosecutor says "I've got a dead child here" and "We are dealing with one case...the death of child." but the article clearly states that the child was stillborn. Last I checked the rest of the U.S. defines the unborn as 'fetus' until it takes a breath. Don't get me wrong, I think a baby is a baby regardless of which side of the uterine lining they are on. But we aren't talking about my views, we are talking about the law. So what this prosecutor is saying is that Mississippi law applied to this case defines the baby as a child, and therefore seeks to prosecute the baby's 'killer'. I sure hope if I search abortion statistics for Jackson I also get 0.

I mean what kind of ass backward world do we live in where a woman can drive to the clinic and pay a doctor to abort her child but a woman who has the misfortune to lose her baby naturally is then charged with a crime?!? Seriously America?? Since when do we say "a child isn't a person" until we decide that we have a vendetta against the mother and then we turn around to say "the child is a child and we have a duty to avenge their death".

W. T. F.


Friday, July 12, 2013

It Works!

A few weeks ago I had the following conversation with an acquaintance of mine. 
Acquaintance: You look great! Can you give me some tips for working on my legs/butt and my arms.
Me: Sure. One of the best exercises my trainer has given me for my butt is this: lay on your back with your calves on a yoga ball. Then lift your butt into the air and roll the ball in to touch your butt and then back out. Roll the ball in/out 15 times before you put your butt back down. Do 3 sets of 15.
Acquaintance: Great. I want to lose my baby weight, but I need something that will work super fast so I don't have to spend hours working out.
Me: :-/

Here's the thing...MIRACLE WEIGHT LOSS AND FITNESS PLANS DON'T EXIST!!!!! If they did, everyone would look like supermodels!!! But I digress...

Allow me to give a little back story. I had a baby in December. Before my pregnancy I was lazy and never worked out ever so I was about 40 pounds overweight, and I didn't have an ounce of muscle on my entire body. Then, during my pregnancy I bought into the "I can eat whatever I want because I'm pregnant" fallacy, and I gained 50 pounds. When I had Baby I did lose about 30 pounds in the hospital. That's what happens when you birth Eleven Pounds Baby. (Someday I'll get around to explaining that name...). Anyway, for all you math majors out there that meant I was still 60 pounds overweight.

In April I decided to seriously do something about it. Boo, who is always wonderfully supportive, gave me a smile and a check and sent me off to the personal trainer. On June 11th I celebrated the loss of my final pregnancy pound. Woot! I remember the day because I was so excited that I did it in under 6 months. Since then I have lost maybe 2 more pounds, but I always knew this would be a long hard journey.

The point is, when someone says "Great. I want to lose my baby weight, but I need something that will work super fast so I don't have to spend hours working out" I want to strangle them. Seriously?!? Are you kidding me right now?!? Don't look at me and say I look great and then insult all of my hard work by implying that I did this overnight with minimal effort. No. I've worked my ass off. Literally.

I have sacrificed my evenings with Boo to go to the gym. I've cut out all junk from my diet, and eat so much protein every day that I wouldn't be surprised if I turn into a chicken. I've sweated, and cried. I've made a complete ass of myself at Zumba. I've been so sore that I can't go up the stairs in my house while carrying Baby. I've had days where I struggled and days that I succeeded and on nearly every one I called my bathroom scale a bastard. But I am more than 30% to my goal and that feels really really good.

Then, I had an experience with It Works! Body Wraps. Please don't take this post as a product endorsement in any way. It's not.

The premise of these wraps is basically this: wrap this really really cold slimy thing around your trouble area (in my case my midsection which was recently demolished by Eleven Pounds Baby), wrap some cling wrap over top, bake for 45 minutes, remove the wrap and voila! your problem area will be transformed!

About a week after the previously referenced conversation was my body wrap extravaganza. My friend recently became a distributor and in an effort to expand her network invited me to try a wrap at a party she was hosting. In an effort to be supportive, I went. And I'll admit, part of me was really hoping that this magic wrap could make me lose 9 inches around my waist in 45 minutes. Because really, who doesn't want those kind of results?!? 

Let's just say my results would never make the commercial unless they were categorized under "results may vary". At first I told myself it was fine, because I never really expected it to be some kind of miracle wrap anyway. Then, I was angry that I spent $25 on it. Now finally, after a few weeks, I've just accepted the simple truth..."It" doesn't work. "It" doesn't make you fit or thin or in shape or anything. "It" doesn't do anything. YOU do it. I DO IT.

What works isn't some magic pill that you take once a day, or a powder that you sprinkle on your french fries. It isn't a fad diet or one trip to the gym in January. What really works when it comes to fitness and health goals is a lifestyle that includes fitness and health. What really works for weight loss is commitment, dedication, sweat, and effort.

So I'm going to get that firm flat stomach and I'm going to lose those inches off my waist and hips. And I'm going to do it the good old fashioned way. I'm going to pass the fast food joints on my way to the gym. And I'm going to be honest with other people.

Acquaintance: You look great! Can you give me some tips for working on my legs/butt and my arms.
Me: Sure. One of the best exercises my trainer has given me for my butt is this: lay on your back with your calves on a yoga ball. Then lift your butt into the air and roll the ball in to touch your butt and then back out. Roll the ball in/out 15 times before you put your butt back down. Do 3 sets of 15.
Acquaintance: Great. I want to lose my baby weight, but I need something that will work super fast so I don't have to spend hours working out.
Me:Well, I don't know what to tell you. It takes work. I lift weights 3-4 times a week and do 3-4 cardio workouts plus an hour of yoga.


Friday, June 28, 2013

Is He Walking Yet?

Baby is 6 months old. When the hell did that happen?!? More importantly, how do I make it stop?

People are often anxious to ask and/or hear about a baby's development. When your baby is topping off the growth and development charts people seem even more enthusiastic. Baby just turned 6 months old, but he looks much older. I often get the question "is he walking yet?".  Usually I simply answer with "no, he's 6 months old" however often times this just leads to a scaled back inquiry of his developmental milestones. Is he crawling yet? What kinds of foods is he eating? Does he have teeth? The list is endless.

The older Baby gets, the more pressure I feel to answer the questions 'correctly'. What does that even mean? IDK. Anyway, now that he's 6 months old, I don't want to answer wrong and leave someone thinking 'oh that baby is kinda slow in developing'. So I try to make the answer sound as developmental milestone-y as possible. "No, he's not crawling yet, but he really moves quick on his belly'. Or 'he has been eating some foods at dinner time, but not really any meals or anything'.

Today, or maybe yesterday I'm not really sure when because time seems kind of blurry lately, I realized that in my haste and eagerness to give the 'right' answer I am wishing away some of my favorite moments.

When someone asks "What kind of foods is he eating?" I am eager to tell them we've tried this or that so that they will know he is eating solid food. But at the same time I'm emphasizing the carrot stick he chewed on, I'm not relishing that he hasn't really shown any desire to wean. I don't want him to wean. I enjoy breastfeeding, and often I wish we could go back to the drowsy lazy nursing of his first months. So why do I wish it away by talking up the food he isn't really eating.

When someone asks "Is he crawling yet?" I talk about all the ways he is almost crawling. He gets up on all fours. He army crawls on his belly. He can roll all around the room. He is only days away from getting the hang of it...But really, what's the rush? Won't he have his whole life to be on the move? Do I really need to push him into this go-go-go world? He's just a baby, and he has already traded in sitting on my lap and snuggling close for looking out the window or reaching for anything he thinks he can get his hands on.

I'm not sure what it is about that desire to meet the implied standards of family, friends, or complete strangers. I'm not sure why someone can say "Is he walking yet?" but what I hear is "He should be walking". But as of today I'm going to recognize the pattern, and I'm going to do my best to put an end to the cycle. Baby isn't in a competition with anyone. Not with my friend's baby, not with the Gerber baby, not with the average baby on the pediatrician's growth chart. His development need only be as fast as it is. And given my emotional state lately I'd say his rate is plenty fast enough for the both of us. I'm not quite ready for him to be crawling. I don't want him to start eating more food and nursing less. So I'm going to give my best effort to stop wishing the time away.

Is he walking yet? No. And I hope he will give me just a little more time before he starts.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I'll Be Your Warrior of Care

"I'll be your keeper for life as your guardian. 
I'll be your warrior of care. Your first warden.
I'll be your angel on call. I'll be on demand. 
The greatest honor of all as your guardian."
-Alanis Morissette "Guardian"

I believe the one thing every parent has in common is the duty to protect their child. I know everyone would say that they would die for their child, or do anything to protect them from physical harm. And, to that point there is clear evidence for support. As parents, and particularly as mothers, we spend countless dollars on car seats and baby gates, and endless nights worrying about bumped heads and little coughs.

But what about protection from less obvious risks? What about protection from words.

We all know the age-old rhyme "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me". While I appreciate the sentiment I must say I completely disagree. I think words are much more hurtful. Plus, when was the last time some kid in a high school used a rock to bully a child? Or when was the last time a stranger in Wal-Mart lashed out about your parenting with a stick? No, words are the real danger.

It breaks my heart to hear the moms I know relay the things others have said about their children. And sometimes it breaks my heart to hear what parents say about their own child. Recently a mom was wondering about the appropriate response to a stranger who said "Your child is destined to be a terrible child because she has red hair". She did not respond to the person immediately, but rather was asking for advice later. Why didn't she respond at that moment??

Nothing I have ever experienced (including high school) is as taxing on my self-confidence as being a mother. Forget the fact that my body image has been completely destroyed. I spend half of my day wondering if I am making the right decisions for my son. And those are just the times I'm second guessing myself. Throw on top of that all of the negativity and outright contradiction to my choices that I face from family and friends. Everything I do seems under the microscope. And I have been working hard lately to find a way to parent as I deem right for my family, without pushing my parenting decisions on others. I do try very hard at times to remain silent. At times, silence is the kindest and most appropriate response.

I cannot say the same for direct comments about Baby.

When he was a newborn, my brother in-law referred to my son as 'demon spawn'. I know he was joking, but I do not take the matter lightly. A negative word is a curse, and I will not allow someone to curse my son. Ever. I IMMEDIATELY told him never to say it again, and not to speak about my son 'like that'. I was not rude. I did not belabor the issue. I was short, and firm. I am his mother and his gate-keeper, and made it known that I will not tolerate it.

I know that I am standing in a small crowd (if not alone) because I will openly defend my child. Some parents may be upset by a comment, but stand silent. Some might even brush it off as a joke. And I think most would agree that a 7 day old baby will not remember it, nor know what was meant by it. But if I had not checked the behavior at 1 week old, I believe my BIL would have continued 'joking' in that manner forever. And I am sure at some point my son will start to remember.

I know rhetorical questions are generally not productive, but I have to ask some anyway. What is it about us as people/parents/women that we don't feel comfortable defending our children? Why do we allow others to be so blatantly rude while we are busy minding our manners at the expense of our children? And what on earth makes us think that silence is the best option?!?

In my friend's circumstance I know that her daughter is having a difficult time through her toddler years. And my friend and her husband are doing all they can to stay the course of parenting that they believe is right for their daughter. Whatever those decisions may be, and however they may manifest in a place like Wal-Mart, strangers do not have the right to pass judgement. And certainly my friend need not feel guilty that she has a typical toddler. In her case, she held her tongue for the sake of manners (I imagine she'd have had a hard time saying something nice to that woman). But what about her daughter? Is a 2 year-old old enough to remember someone calling her a terror? Is she old enough to understand what it means? And most importantly, is she old enough to know that when someone said something negative about her her mother just stood by in silence? Will she be forever changed, even slightly, by thinking her mother will not always defend her?

I believe more and more that as parents we have a responsibility to our children. A responsibility to demonstrate that we are for them. We may disagree with their actions, or be disappointed in their choices, but our love is unconditional, and regardless of how we parent, we MUST demonstrate that we will tirelessly defend them. The word defend: to drive danger or attack away from; to maintain or support in the face of argument or hostile criticism; to take action against attack or challenge. It's a brilliant word. It is also a verb. To defend is to take action, not to stand silently by and be angry about later.

We as parents have a duty to protect our children. Let us put aside our fears of being rude and let us be defensive. Not defensive of our choices or our own actions but of our children. Let our children grow up knowing they are safe because we stand guard for them always. Let us be courageous and diligent, even if that means setting aside our own frustrations to remind the woman at Wal-Mart that she has forgotten her manners.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Some Honest Advice

Boo and I have been together a little over 5 years, and as with any relationship we have certainly had our ups and downs. Over the course of the past month I've heard several of my friends talking their way through their own rough relationship spots. It's refreshing in a way, to find out that other couples have rough days, but it is also very hard to see friends struggling in their dating relationship or marriage.

As I was sharing some of my own experiences with a close friend I realized that I am extremely blessed to have someone to give me honest advice even when it is hard. And I'm blessed that God is faithful to change me if I am willing to be changed. Without those two things I don't think I could be happily married.

I can't make anyone else want to be changed. But I can share the advice that has helped me so much in my marriage, and I can say for certain that if you ask God to change your heart He will be faithful to do it.

The path to this knowledge has been long and winding. And I know that these are not all of the answers. This can be taken for advice in your own situation, but really this is a reminder to myself; an entry in a journal to be read and reread when I forget what I've already learned.

It Takes Two to Tango. Have you ever seen a tango where one partner was dragging the other around the floor? No. The effort comes from both partners. But I know that's not how most people look at their own situation. It is easy in a marriage (and I would categorize any serious relationship thus) to expect 'the other person' to do all of the work. Easy for a woman to think "He needs to be a better husband" or "He doesn't put my needs first". Easy for a man to think "She needs to be a better wife" or "She never considers what I want". But if we can be so brave as to look at our own behavior we could make sure that we are doing our part first. Before I look to what Boo is lacking, I must first look at myself and ask if I am doing my part. Are there things I can change about myself to make the situation better? I've found that if I can ask and answer those questions honestly, that there is plenty for me to do on my own end. And, focusing on correcting my own shortcomings tends to take my focus off of Boo. :)

Compromise is not a four-letter word. We often, as people, think if we are forced to compromise we are forced to lose out on something. Especially in America, we view compromise as defeat. To be faced with a compromise is a challenge. What we need to do is change our perception of the outcome. To reach a compromise is not defeat. To reach a compromise is to rise up and accept the challenge, and to conquer our own selfishness. Learning to compromise is learning to sacrifice for the better. You don't lose in a compromise. You lose if you demand to have things your own way.

You married who you married. On the day you said "I do" you said it (presumably) to an adult. Not to a child who still had growing up to do. Not to someone who still needs parenting, or who hasn't quite discovered the person they want to be. If you said those words thinking "I'll love you when you change all the things I don't love about you" you're going to be sorely disappointed. There is no requirement for change after a wedding. As a matter of fact, I think men and women alike treat the wedding as the end-all, and everything after that is just downhill. A wedding is just the beginning. And while a marriage takes work and compromise from both partners, the only person you have the power to change is yourself. Stop waiting or expecting your partner to change. You married who you married. If you want things to be different, change yourself.

Have a change of heart. You can't change yourself. You can alter your behavior and you can make new habits, but if your heart doesn't change your efforts will not endure. The good news is, God can change your heart. If you desire to work at making your marriage great, and you are willing to learn how to compromise and you want to be satisfied with the person you married ASK GOD TO CHANGE YOUR HEART. He will give you unconditional love in abundance; for yourself and for your spouse. If you will be humble God will be faithful.

These points above apply to anyone, in any relationship, not just marriage. But this last point is for the women.

Remember 1 Peter 3. "Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that , if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." As a woman, and as a wife, if you will do as Peter says here your own husband will be won over by your behavior. If you're dissatisfied with how your husband acts or treats you, look to God to make you the wife of 1 Peter 3. Ask God to use the way you love your husband as an example to him of how he may love you. And then see if a change in your own behavior doesn't have a remarkable effect.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Eco Emi - May Box

I have recently begun the gentle conversion from 'mainstream' products to more 'natural' products.

For me, this is a very slow and laborious process. It is hard to sift through the marketing, lobbying, bullying and misinformation to get to actual facts, and even harder to sort out those facts into something I want to make a decision based on. And after the decision is made there is quite a bit of defending to be done to other people who happen to be on the other side of that particular fence.

And even after I've decided, and defended my position I must find the money to support the purchase and use of 'natural' products which generally run 2x-3x the price of the main stream alternative. And what happens when I buy the organic all natural body wash only to have my skin break out in some crazy rash because I didn't know I had an allergy to mumbi-bumbi root?!?

Recently I found a solution. It's a company called Eco-Emi. Eco-Emi is a great way to test the waters on green, organic, natural and eco-friendly products. For a small fee you can get a monthly subscription for samples of eco-friendly natural products ranging from food to beauty products to household cleaners. So, I got myself a subscription to see what it's all about.

May was my first month to receive a box. Here's how it looked and what I got:

Nail Polish - by Suncoat
Shimmer Eye Shadow - by Lauren Brookes
Mongo Kiss Lip Balm - by Eco Lips
Aqua Sport SPF 30 Sunscreen - by All Terrain
Seaweed Bath Powder - by
Pomegranate Bar - by Athena Bars
Herbal Armor Insect Repellent - by All Terrain
Shampoo - by Beauty Without Cruelty

Also in the box were coupons/discounts for some of the products (like the eyeshadow) if I wanted to order online.

The card that was included in the box also contains information about each product, including if it is certified as vegan, or specially sourced (the lip balm ingredients are sourced from Africa as part of an endeavor to raise the standard of living in some rural villages). It even gives details on how much the product costs in case you are interested in buying the full version.

I unpacked my box and read about each product on the card. As I went down the list I realized that I had not received the mascara listed on the card. This was disappointing at first, but I simply sent an email to Eco-Emi and within 2 days I received the missing mascara along with a personalized note and another free sample of the nail polish! I'd say for customer service that's top notch.

Boo ate the Pomegranate bar and declared it to be quite good. And I've already tried the lip balm, nail polish and the mascara. The lip balm is great; it moisturizes without being too heavy or shiny, and the vanilla/honey scent is really pleasant. The nail polish dries fast (which is great considering Baby doesn't really ever let me sit for 10 minutes for my nails to dry) and doesn't have any fumes at all. My toes are looking quite stylish in a snazzy, sparkly shade of pink, another plus :). AND I'm in L-O-V-E LOVE with the mascara. It coats better and stays on longer than my 'traditional' mascara, and comes off completely with only water. I'd have to say my old mascara probably isn't going to be making the cut anymore.

It's been cloudy a lot lately, so I haven't had a chance to test the sunscreen, but I'm hoping to have a chance in the next few weeks. It would be nice to find a natural sunblock that isn't harsh on skin. Baby is for sure a product of Boo and I, and therefore being in the sun with no sunscreen is not an option.

I just put the shampoo in the shower for tomorrow. Maybe something more natural will help with my sensitive skin issues...who knows! I'm saving the bath powder for my next killer workout. The card promises a relaxing and therapeutic bath experience which I will need after N tries to kill me this week. :)

All in all I'd say this box was well worth my $15. Even the decorative felt underneath the products made it into the craft basket. I'm sure I can turn it into something. For $15 I got samples that would have cost over $85 to try the full size version. Plus, if I decide I don't like something I don't have to throw it out (wasting even eco-friendly products isn't my favorite) or feel bad that I spent a lot of money on it.

I'm really looking forward to what's coming in the June box.

If you're interested, check Eco-Emi out for yourself at or on Facebook at 


Monday, May 20, 2013

Gentle Parenting

I've noticed lately a lot of my blog posts are coming in response to other blog posts that I've read. Some solely because of what the post was about, and some in conjunction with other situations I have observed. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the other parents and bloggers out there who give me so much food for thought.

Today's reflections are on "Gentle Parenting".

Last week I met a friend of mine for lunch. She is also a new(ish) mom, and her little one is just one month older than Baby. As we were catching up she was telling me about life, and juggling a baby and a new part time job. As is common when you have an infant, the topic of baby sleep came up. She asked how Baby was sleeping (to which I replied "just fine") and then told me about her own situation. Her son's sleep patterns changed drastically at 4 months when they could no longer swaddle the baby to sleep. At the end of their rope she and her husband hired a baby sleep consultant who put them on a strict bedtime and naptime routine. It seems to be working well. But she mentioned that sometimes her boy doesn't sleep during nap time. He just lays in his crib, sometimes crying for the whole 90 minutes. She checks on him every so often, but per the consultant's advice she does not remove him from the crib until nap time is over.

I have a second friend who's daughter is about 15 months old. She and her husband have just enrolled their daughter in a montessori daycare beginning in August. My friend was telling me they will have to work very hard to meet the minimum requirements, which include walking, and DD being able to sit in a chair (albeit a child sized one) by herself and feed herself with full size silverware. These requirements for enrollment allow the daycare to 'teach' children to be self sufficient from a young age.  

On Saturday I read an interesting blog post about 'gentle parenting'. The post was advice on how to better reason with a small child/toddler so that a parent wouldn't have to 'resort to spanking'. The author suggested phrases such as 'I won't let you do XYZ' rather than simply saying 'No' or 'You can't do XYZ'. She also said right out that patience and love would allow you to be a gentle parent without spanking. From which I inferred that being a gentle loving parent and using spanking as a form of discipline are mutually exclusive. 

Each of these examples have given me pause for consideration over the past week. When my friend offered me the contact information for her sleep consultant I politely declined. When my friend was talking about the hassle of finding a daycare, and finally settling on one she and her husband thought best for their child I was thankful that Boo works hard so that I have the privilege to be home with Baby. But the blog post really got me thinking.

I grew up in a home with spanking. And I truly believe I am a better person because of it. But I would also say that the discipline my parents enforced was both loving and gentle. But on the other hand I know plenty of people who grew up in homes where discipline included hitting that was neither loving nor gentle. But I think there is a huge difference between hitting a child and spanking a child. I also believe it is possible to be a loving, gentle parent and believe in spanking and to never raise a hand to your child but not be loving nor gentle. So I have taken issue with the implication that spanking = unloving and no spanking = loving. I have observed so many parents call their child a name without raising a hand. But that is no less abusive than hitting outside the realm of discipline and love.

I have always thought that I would be a gentle parent. And I knew that I would need to work on being a bit less Type A and a bit more patient but I want to be a good mom so those were challenges and self-growth that I looked forward to. I knew I would need to learn to be a parent, and I am still determined to learn to be a gentle and loving mother. When Baby was born, I had no idea how quickly I would need to learn. I think by the time he was 2 weeks old I had ditched the day planner (well mostly) and had stopped caring if my floors had little dust bunnies. And I have found that I am so much happier because of him. And oh the patience I have now. I never would have thought I could be so calm. What a wonderful teacher a baby can be! But every day presents new challenges, and my role as a mother is constantly changing.

Baby changes every day. Last week I didn't need to know how to teach him to be gentle because last week he didn't bite at the breast or pull my hair. This week is different. Who knows what lesson he will need to learn next week. I certainly don't. But I do know that parenting challenges will arise. And I know that in everything I do I want to communicate love to my son in a way that he understands and that will help him grow.

Mom says "You can always learn from every situation. You can learn what to do, or you can learn what not to do". I choose to let the examples above teach me. I do not think my 5 month old baby understands that naptime is from from 9-10am everyday. Therefore letting him cry in his crib for an hour even though he is not sleepy does not communicate in a way he can understand. That is not the kind of gentle parent I want to be. I do not want to rush away his baby moments to hurry along to the next milestone of walking or feeding himself. I want to cherish every moment that he is dependent on me because I know they will already pass too quickly. My kind of gentle parenting has a different way to teach him independence. And if or when it is necessary I will spank my child. I will teach him the rules and the consequences, and I will be faithful to follow through with discipline in a gentle and loving manner.

Just because I believe in spanking does not mean that I cannot be a gentle and loving parent.  To me gentle parenting is not the absence of spanking. Gentle parenting is teaching, guiding, disciplining and raising a child in love. Always in love. If I am thinking anything other than 'this action is what is best for my child, and I will do this because I love him' I am not being a gentle parent. The beauty is that my brand of gentle parenting could never be used universally. No other person could love another child in the exact same way that I love mine. And, I am sure I will have to learn a new way of being gentle when Baby gets a little brother or sister because there is no doubt that two different children will learn and understand differently. I don't take issue with the idea of gentle parenting. I take issue with a single definition to define every parent and child.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Eat Organic or Die!!

I'm sure this particular post will not make me popular in some of the circles I have been running in lately, but I have to write it anyway. And by write I mean rant.

I am so tired of being preached at about 'eat organic or die'. Seriously.

I understand the benefits of organic food, really I do. And even more, I understand the necessity of supporting small independent farms. But I have to say this: eating something that isn't organic, or was grown from GMO seed does not qualify as a crime against humanity. The fact is, without GMO crops, and subsequently GMO derived food products millions of Americans (not to mention people around the world who depend on US exported foods) wouldn't be able to feed their families. And I'm not just talking about poor people or the homeless. If GMO foods were banned (as many all-organic activists lobby for daily) food prices for everyone would skyrocket. It is simple economics; price is driven by a balance of supply and demand. Demand is high because people are hungry. When supply is plentiful (ie when GMO crops have higher annual yields because they are resistant to disease, drought, and famine) prices are reasonable. If supply plummets, prices soar. It is how the world works.

On a more personal note, I don't give two anythings about whether or not someone chooses to eat organic foods. What I do care about is any person directly or indirectly judging me because I don't. Truth is, whatever evils you think they may have, if I'm the one eating them what do you care?!?

Two months ago I stopped eating dairy. It wasn't an action for animal rights, or because I stopped liking cheese. Let's be serious, I love cheese. It was an experiment to treat a skin rash on Baby through a change in diet. It wasn't (and isn't) easy, nor is it really enjoyable, but I am doing it because I believe it is best for my baby. But I didn't make a sign and start beating people over the head with it. It's a personal decision, and therefore I don't see the need to press others into following suit.

About two weeks ago someone (in a group setting) asked me to tell them about it, and whether I had observed any improvement in Baby. I told them about the struggles, and how I had to wean myself slowly, one dairy product at a time. I also mentioned that I had switched to soy milk, and that surprisingly I quite enjoy it. Almond milk, not so much. At this point in the conversation a third party IMMEDIATELY 'warned' me that I shouldn't be drinking the brand of soy milk that I had chosen, and that I should be REALLY careful about soy products because soy is the #1 GMO crop. Today, several weeks later, I am thankful that I said nothing in response, although I was quite irritated. (I have to rejoice in the moments when I really do think before I speak, because they are few and far between). I don't care if the soy is a GMO. That particular soap box doesn't rile me up. Well, not the first poke anyway...

But then this morning I read another blog post in which a woman called out Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo as containing a known carcinogen, and said that it was a 'mommy fail' to use those products on a baby. Excuse me?!? Don't even get me started on the number of other everyday products that I'm sure have known carcinogens. I hope that blog writer doesn't drive a car, drink diet soda, steal little bottles of shampoo from hotels, or eat in restaurants. Ever. A stance as rigid and extreme as 'eat/drink/breathe/live organic or die' is nonsense. I'm sure that woman isn't as big a natural saint as she seems on her blog.

What really gripes me is that the natural/organic movement is so negative and judgmental in their delivery. I mean honestly, if they want people to go organic and live greener don't you think it would be more productive to advertise the positive aspects of the organic item, instead of posting a picture of the mainstream item with a tag like "POISON" or "BAD SHIT". The post about Johnson & Johnson didn't cite a single source of information about the scientific evidence of carcinogens and I suspect you'd have to drink your body weight in shampoo every day for the next decade to be at risk. Nor did the post provide any real comparison between the two products. What are the merits of the 'natural' product that make it soooo much better? She didn't cite any, most likely because she doesn't know. She just knows the word 'carcinogen' is scary. This woman didn't further the cause at all. All she did was piss me off by saying I'm a bad mother. That was productive.

The truth is, for 90% of the population eating organic and going green is as much a fad as the Atkins Diet was in the early 2000's. For those people, 'organic' didn't exist before 2010. They never considered that even before crops were genetically modified they were sprayed with pesticides and fertilizers. No, for the masses it isn't about being natural or organic, it's about being on trend. And when you're just doing it to fit in the science or reasoning behind any of it isn't important. As is the American way, they just fall in line and spew whatever anti-GMO propaganda comes their way. For the other 10% being natural/organic is a way of life for socioeconomic or medical reasons. And in my experience it is rarely that 10% that is pushy about their choices.

I rant all that to get to this: just leave me the hell alone about your choices and your opinions about mine.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day

Yesterday was my first ever Mother's Day as a mother. Much like birthdays of late I wasn't really anticipating feeling any different than I do every other day. And, while Boo got me a very sweet card and cooked dinner and let me do whatever I wanted all day, it was pretty much the same as every other Sunday.

As usual, Mom and I made plans to head to the grocery store. That is one chore that I don't mind doing alone, but is infinitely more enjoyable with her company. However, as she and I were discussing the day we came to a sad realization. For every note or acknowledgement that we had seen wishing a mom "Happy Mother's Day" we had seen another implying that one 'way' of mothering was better than another.

Let me give an example. I saw (as did Mom) posted on the internet a sign reading "Good moms have sticky floors, dirty ovens, and happy kids." While I have no doubt that there are good moms out there with all of the above I would wager there are equally as many out there who manage to have clean floors and ovens and equally happy kids. It didn't end there. Posts about stay-at-home moms loving their kids more than working moms. Breastfeeding moms loving their babies more than formula feeding moms. Moms with vaginal births being better than moms who delivered by cesarean. And those are just topics about moms!!

As we discussed this common attitude of 'better than' we, rather I, began to realize that it is not exclusive to any one topic. Upon reflection I realized that people are all too willing to express their own opinions and ideas as 'better than'. In the last 3 months I could list a dozen instances right off the top of my head, and that's without thinking too hard.

Perhaps Mother's Day was just the culmination of a series of those instances where I have observed this attitude. Unfortunately for me, I know that some of those were instances in which the opinions were my own! Have I not at least thought that my way is better. My way of mothering, of living, of ? My political views, or religious views? My ideas about diet and exercise, or of health and wellness? And I'm sure the list of my opinions doesn't even end there. I think a lot of it stems from a desire for someone outside the situation to validate the way a person chooses to live. If the rest of the world could just recognize that I do things 'right' then I will be confident in the way I live.

As Mom and I were walking into the grocery store I said to her "I would just like to find the way to have my opinions, beliefs and way of doing things, without needing to give offense to people who do things differently."

Today I spent quite a bit of time pondering if that statement will ever be possible. Can a person believe something, without implicitly implying that the opposite is wrong? After a day of thinking the best answer I can come up with is "I don't know". That's not the most impressive conclusion I've ever drawn, but I do think I can use it as a starting place.

I can consciously choose to change the way I think about other people's actions. I can indeed believe that the way I do things is right, so long as I qualify it with 'for me and my family'. And I can choose to hear the caveat "for me and my family" when someone else expresses their opinions to me. And if this does stem from a need to be vindicated in my choices, I can certainly look to God for fullness, instead of to the world. Perhaps then I will truly be confident in my decisions, and at least I personally will not need to express or defend my thoughts and opinions.  

I'm looking forward to the challenge of judging less and loving more. And I think if more people could take on the challenge we would all be a little happier and a lot more satisfied. 


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Diaper Cake - A Tutorial

As promised here is the tutorial for how I made my diaper cake. This cake is a little different from the first, but the process was the same.

Things you will need:

  • Diapers - whatever size you choose, ~75 for 3 layers  or ~100 for 4 layers. You may want to ask ahead if your mom/dad to-be have a diaper preference. If not, use something you like, or is affordable. In this case, I used Target brand Up&Up diapers. It's what we put on Baby and I think they are wonderful.
  • Receiving Blankets - 40"x40" work best, but smaller will work too. You need 1-2 per layer.
  • Ribbon - 1.5" to 2" wide in a coordinating design.
  • Decorations - On the previous cake I used slippers and hair clips. On this cake I used an assortment of toys.

I also started with supplies I didn't use, such as burp cloths and the cow/blanket. I like to buy things I think might work, so I have options when I'm decorating the cake. I just return any unused items after the cake is finished.

Other supplies:
  • Cardboard base - I cut mine out of my used diaper boxes, although other cakes I have seen use actual cake board from a craft/hobby store. I'm just cheap, so I don't want to pay for cardboard. I also cut mine to 12"x12". You can make whatever size you want, just be sure the cake will fit. :)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Curling ribbon
  • Rubber bands. Lots and lots and lots of rubber bands. You need some really large ones, so it's best to have the pack of mixed sizes. In my opinion.
  • Baby wrapping paper
  • An empty wrapping paper tube - you could probably substitute paper towel rolls if necessary...
  • Cellophane bags - I like to buy the biggest one and make it work. I had these on hand from other crafting adventures.

Now, on to the good stuff.

Step 1: Construct the support for the cake.
  • Start by making sure your base is sturdy. Because I cut mine from a box it has weak places/folds, so I cut two squares of the same size and glued them together to start.
  • Once you have a sturdy base, cover it with the baby wrapping paper. **If you chose to buy a decorative base of some kind, you can skip covering it...
  • Take the empty wrapping paper tube and cut about 3" slits in one end. It should look vaguely like a fan.
  •  Hot clue the tube to the center of the base. Be sure to measure to find the exact center so your cake isn't offset when it is finished. Apply the glue to the flaps you made in the wrapping paper roll and press down securely.

Step 2: Roll your diapers. - This step is a little tedious, so I recommend a good Spotify playlist, or something from the DVR to help get you through it. 
  • Stretch the diaper out. Starting from the back (where the tabs are) roll the diaper into a roll. Try to make the rolls the same size, whether you roll the diapers super tightly or a little bit more loose. They just need to be uniform.
  • Secure the rolled diaper with a rubber band. You want the rubber band to be snug, but not overly tight.
  • Roll on. And on. And on. And on....

This was only the first half...
Step 3: Build the layers of your cake.
  • Take a large rubber band and put it over the tube. 
  • Make a ring of diapers around the tube, and secure it with the rubber band.
  • Once the first ring is secure, repeat the process to make a larger ring around the first. Secure with another rubber band.
  • And another larger ring...

  • Keep going until the layer is as large around as you like. I like to make the base layer have one ring for each layer in the finished cake.
  •  Repeat step 3 to create a new layer on top of the previous one. I subtract one circle of diapers from each layer. Continue until your cake is as tall as desired.  
  • Each round should have some amount of diapers less than the one below it to give your cake tapered tiers. But whether you remove one or two rings is up to you! 

Step 4: Trim the wrapping paper tube.
  • When your layers are finished you need to trim the wrapping paper tube so that it supports all of the layers but doesn't stick out the top of the cake. 
  • Remove one diaper from the top layer, and cut the tube just below the top of the cake. Once the tube is cut, replace the final diaper.

Step 5: Cover the cake layers.
  • When you have as many rounds as you like, take the first receiving blanket, and fold it to be the same height (or just slightly taller) then the rolled diapers. I like to iron mine, but that's probably not really necessary...
  • Wrap the blanket around the cake layer, and secure it with curling ribbon tied in a knot.

  •  Trim the ends of the curling ribbon close to the knot.
  • Cover with the decorative ribbon. You can tie the decorative ribbon in a bow, or simply tape the ends together with scotch tape.

  •  Repeat step 5 until all layers are covered.

 **A few tips/variations of step 5 are: if the blanket doesn't completely cover the layer, you can use two blankets, so that you won't have diapers showing on the back of the cake. Also, on smaller layers you can use burp cloths/cloth diapers/towels to add another item to the cake. On this one I layered baby hats over the blanket on the top layer.**

Step 6: Decorate the cake!
  • This is the fun part! Add your toys/accessories as you see fit! Just have fun and make the cake look however you like!
 **I added a baby toy blanket, rattle, rubber duckies, hand-made pacifier holders, and the stuffed monkey.**
 **I also used plain white satin ribbon, jungle themed ribbon, and yellow baby ribbon to keep it interesting.**

Step 7: Package up your cake. There is obviously no rule for how to package/deliver your cake. If you are hosting a baby shower you can even use it as a centerpiece. For ease of transport I like to use a large cellophane bag.
  •   Open the cellophane bag, and fold from the top down until the bag is resting on the table (or floor) with the sides folded to a manageable height.
  • Set the cake in the bag, as flat as possible.
  • Unfold the sides of the bag up over the cake.
  • Twist the top and tie tightly with curling ribbon.
  • Trim any excess bag, leaving a cute little topper.
  • Add ribbon or bows to your liking.
  • If you have excess bag sticking out from the sides of your cake at the bottom you can just fold the bag over itself and tape it together. I do this, to give the bag the same shape as the cake. 
 ** I added one last piece of jungle ribbon to tie it all together. Well, really because I had already cut the ribbon but it was too short to use on the cake. Oops!**

Tada! You're done!

All in all I think I spent about $70 on this cake, which included everything, even the ribbon (which I have some leftover) and the supplies for the pacifier holders (which I also have some leftover). The cake includes: 100 size 1 diapers, 4 receiving blankets, 2 newborn hats, 2 pairs of newborn mittens, 2 pacifier holders, 3 rubber ducky bath toys, a frog rattle, a lion baby blanket, and a monkey stuffed animal.

I hope you take a shot at making a cake like this. It is fun, and I find it to be a great combination of practical baby gifts and pizazz!