Skip to content

Cooking and caution

November 17, 2010

So the other day, Little Frog decided he was going to make scrambled eggs… for real. When I asked him if he’d like to help me make scrambled eggs, he said “No Mama. Do it self!” In other words, he didn’t want my help – he wanted to make the eggs himself. He’d helped me do it before, and was confident that he could without my aid this time. I told him he’d need my help with a few things, but was willing to let him do most of it himself. I helped him crack the egg into the bowl, and poured the milk. He mixed it, poured it into the pan, added the cheese and salt and pepper, and stirred the eggs in the pan on the stove. He was upset when I wouldn’t let him slice the green onions himself, but I told him he doesn’t get to use the sharp knife yet. As I put the finished eggs into the bowl, he put his hand down – ever so briefly – on the burner coil. He’d been touching the cool burner and not listening to me when I told him not to do that, because sometimes the burner is hot. I saw him start to set his hand down, but before I could get anything out of my mouth, his hand had touched. Fortunately we hadn’t had the burner on high, so it didn’t burn as badly as it could have. No blistering, and only a slight raised area on one part of his palm, and two red stripes on his palm where he’d touched the coil.

I posted it in my status on Facebook (FB) later in the day (after he’d calmed down, had nursed and then fallen asleep for the nap that he’d cut short earlier). My sister was stunned that my two yr old was cooking at the stove, my mother was cautionary, and one of the other moms that posted was congratulatory that we’re letting him pursue the desire – even if it’s a little dangerous. The next day, I heard from my mom that I should probably not be posting stuff like that on FB, since it could come back to get me later, i.e. some one who took exception to it could report me to Child Protective Services, and then a whole huge investigation would ensue. Because my two yr old was cooking – with me supervising the whole time – and accidentally burned his hand. Older children have burned themselves while cooking (like my 10 yr old niece who cooked her first eggs the day before Little Frog burned himself), but no one thinks to warn parents that posting about it could warrant a visit from the government.

Since when have we become so fearful of our lives, and our childrens’ lives, that we’re willing to report anyone for anything? This little boy is very definitely not afraid of much, and wants to be involved in everything. He was unwilling to stand idly by while Mama had all the fun of cooking the food. If I help him achieve the things he wants, and he gains confidence in his abilities, how can that be a bad thing? Should I stop posting on FB, just in case a random someone should happen to hack into my account and read what I’ve written and decide to take issue with it and report me? Should I start living in fear that I will be reported for letting my children follow those desires, for encouraging them to take risks in a supervised manner? I think that sounds like a horrible idea… lack of quality of life.


What have I become?

November 7, 2010

When I was in my early 20’s, I remember the absolute certainty with which I held my ideals and beliefs. I was not above derisive feelings towards others who were doing things differently. Ironic, considering that when I was 16 I’d done an about-face in regards to my religious beliefs, and embraced a belief system that is frowned on by the predominant U.S. religion. I couldn’t understand why my aunt would want to homeschool her sons, why she’d nursed her youngest well past 6 months (past 2 years even – tho’ I’m not sure how far past), why people would be willing to pay the prices for organic, what the big deal was with vaccinations and not circumcising. Healthy food was all well and good, but did we really have to go to extremes with it?

Changing your ideals is very often a rocky path, but the view along the way is completely worth it!

I nursed Bro ’til he was about 8 months old, at which point, having already started drinking cow’s milk from a bottle more and more often (at the advice of his pediatrician), he self-weaned from the breast. At the time and I were living with my sister and her little girl, since my husband had just gone into boot camp for the Navy. I was going to stay with her til he was done with both boot camp, and the following 8-week school he’d be going to before his first station. One afternoon, my niece was crawling happily around on the floor, bottle within easy reach, so that whenever she wanted a drink she merely grabbed the bottle and drank from it. Bro, who was nursing but watching her very determinedly, decided that he wanted to be able to do the same thing, and that was that. He weaned that day, and never wanted to nurse again. Considering that most of the moms I knew at the time were nursing for 6 weeks or less, I thought I’d done pretty good getting to 8 months – but not carried it to excess like my aunt had done.

We moved when my husband got his first station, and then two years later we were getting ready to move again. I started looking into homeschooling at that point, as a way to make sure that Bro’s education didn’t have the same weirdness mine did (I was a Navy brat, and spent a lot of time moving) – leave a school just before they start covering a topic, get to the next one that has already covered the topic and now you have a strange gap… or get there only to find them just starting on something you’ve already learned at the last school, which feels like a waste of time. So homeschooling would give him a stability that was missing from my education. I justified it to myself, and the rest of my family, that my aunt had done it with all five of her kids, so I should be able to do it with one. I got all kinds of reasons why I shouldn’t do this, but none were really compelling arguments – at least not to me. I did some reading about the state we were heading to, did some reading about homeschooling in general, got involved in online support groups, and then found that while the homeschooling idea itself was working, the practical side wasn’t working. We had battles about sitting down to fill out papers, battles about sitting down to work on things. When we sat down together and went over things verbally, he was spot on with his answers, but writing them down was an exercise in futility. I started doing more research, more reading, and came across the Unschooling movement. I read more, got involved in a couple of online unschooling groups, and the click of a perfect fit was almost audible when we put it into practice! I questioned it a couple of times over the next few years – usually do to pressure from family – but we’ve always returned to it, and after a little bit, I stopped questioning. Step 1 on the path of becoming that which I used to mock.

Along the course of Bro’s life, I started really paying attention to things that I’d taken for granted all during my life. Vaccinations, the additives in our foods (corn syrup included), green-living, locally produced foods, mass-grown livestock and agriculture vs organically and sustainably grown foods, carbon footprints – all of this came under fire as I learned more and more, and started questioning more and more. The FDA wasn’t the great protector I’d always grown up thinking it was. Vaccines were questioned and questionable – were they doing more harm than good, a question that can only have an individual answer. Could I live greener, and more lightly? Would I notice a difference in the taste of, and how I felt after eating, organic, sustainable foods? Was it really necessary to pump our cows full of hormones? All these questions, and the answers they begat, led to further questions regarding our use of plastics, our use of questionable chemicals in everything – from cosmetics and toiletries, to the stuff we use to clean our homes and cars, from the furniture in our houses, to the clothes we put on our backs. I was travelling further down the path – becoming even more tree-hugging, and earthy-crunchy than I had ever been as a younger person.

When my second husband and I started considering adding a second child to our family, and we really started to look into things that I’d not really considered before. Midwives, birthing centers, non-intervention, not circumcising, not vaccinating (or delaying them or being selective with them), baby-wearing, exclusive and extended breastfeeding, child-led weaning, gentle discipline, living as a family who loved and cared for each other and respected each other – something I never really felt when I was growing up. I’d had an intervention filled delivery with the Bro, and whereas I didn’t know exactly what I wanted with the second child, I knew what I didn’t want – IV’s, cesarean, all the machines that go “Ping”. Even though I did wind up having Little Frog, it was a completely different experience. Some of the things we’ve done with Little Frog are extended versions of what I did with Bro – I had a ring sling for Bro and wore him in it sometimes, and I did nurse Bro for 8 months – but many of them are things I would’ve never considered or things I didn’t find out about until after Bro was older.

 All the changes I’ve made, and the learning that has happened, I realized recently that I have truly become that which I used to mock – that and more actually. I’ve gone further down the path than any of my close friends, or any of the people in my family (at least to this point), which leaves me wondering where I go from here. Every now and then, when I start to feel like The Hubby and I are doing this alone, I remember the support systems that I do have – though at this point, they’re mostly online – the local ap forums that I’m part of, the moms whose blogs and twitters I follow, and mothering – both the magazine and the discussion boards. In a way, it’s appropriate that the majority of my support comes from online sources, since many of the topics that opened my eyes to a different way to parent came from discussions online. 

So to all of you who’ve come before me, who’ve been blogging about this longer than I have been, who’ve been forging the AP path consider this a big Thank You!

On differences…

November 6, 2010

"Not yooking me!"

Having a conversation with my sister-of-the-heart (SotH) the other day presented me with some interesting realizations about life and how we change, or not, as we learn more about life and what it takes to make us happy. We were talking about Little Frog and the intensely spirited person that he is. I brought up the way he reacts to things – when I tell him he can’t do something (like climb on the bookcase) and this is a something he really doesn’t want to hear, I get a response along the lines of “Not talking me, Mama!” and he points at me. This is definitely a thing he doesn’t want to hear, and I respect that he doesn’t like the fact that he’s being denied a thing that he really wants to do. I usually respond with “Okay, I’ll stop talking to you about it, but you still don’t get to do it.” It’s very hard not to laugh, because he’s so very indignant, and the look on his face is full displeasure – very much like a little emperor, and one of his subjects has just displeased him mightily. He’ll usually repeat that I don’t get to talk to him, and I remind him that he still doesn’t get to do this thing.

If it goes further than that, and he persists, I’ll physically remove him from the thing (or the thing from him depending on what’s going on) and redirect the need to “do a thing” to something that is okay. My SotH says that she would have laughed at him, to let him know just how silly he was being, and said she spent a whole lot of time laughing at her son when was little and being frustrated over something. She thinks he should have to deal with the embarrassment of being reprimanded and having everyone look at him (everyone can actually be a pretty good number of people if it happens on gaming days) – which actually causes him to shield his eyes so that he can’t see anyone. She was telling me that part of the “disciplining” is the acute discomfort and embarrassment that causes you to think twice before doing something that will get you in trouble again.

All this prompted a discussion about why we treat our children differently than we treat, or expect to be treated, ourselves and other adults. As adults, if we have to discuss behavior that needs changing (whether in the workplace or at home) we generally do it away from everyone else. We don’t want to cause embarrassment, we want to effect change… and we realize that making someone angry or uncomfortable isn’t the best way to go about getting that person to make that change. Yet, we’re totally okay with humiliating a child, in front of the people who supposedly care very much for that child, or in public in front of total strangers. I don’t understand that dichotomy. It’s not okay to humiliate adults, but it’s totally fine to humiliate children in the name of discipline and correction.

Little Frog is very uncomfortable with large amounts of attention – having everyone sing Happy Birthday to him was almost more than he could take. So if something happens in front of our weekly gaming group (which is part of his family as far as he’s concerned) and everyone stops to stare at him, it’s almost like someone hit him. When he’s embarrassed (and it happens when it’s either The Hubby or me reprimanding him too), he’ll close or cover his eyes with his hands and stand completely still. If we keep staring, it makes him so uncomfortable that he gets angry, and will tell us “Not yooking me!” (his “L” comes out as a “Y” right now)getting madder and louder the longer you stare. We learned this early on, and so after we say something, if it causes the withdrawal behind his hand, we’ll avert our eyes – not completely, but enough to give him time to compose himself. Usually after a couple of minutes, he’ll come over and apologize, or he’ll redirect himself to something that he knows he can do. The anger and embarrassment have disipated, and he’s absorbed the lesson to be learned here – sometimes less perfectly than others.  🙂

I know for my SotH, much of this is how she was raised, and so she is perpetuating the “my parents did it, and I turned out fine” mistake. I did much of that myself, with the Bro. I was younger, less aware of loosing those shackles – the ones that bind you to the past, like it or not. In the almost 16 years between the two boys, I’ve educated myself (and continue to do so) on what needs to change in my thinking regarding parenting and how to raise the caring loving children that will inherit, and change, our world. Spanking is no longer a viable option for me, but it’s a constant struggle to fight that fallback (my parents were spanked, and spanked my sister and me when we were growing up). Subjecting children to derision, condescension, humiliation in order to make them do what you want – this seems like a good way to cause problems later. Sure you’ve gotten them to do things the way you want, but have you done it in a way that causes a deeper connection, or is the way you chose going to cause fear, deep-seated resentments, and during the teen-aged years avoidance, anger, and out-and-out dislike?

Call me soft, but I’ve decided my children need to grow up in a loving, peaceful house (as much as I can help maintain the peace by controlling my own temper), not in a house where fear of parental reaction to every little thing rules their decision making.

Two years ago today…

August 26, 2010

I was in a hospital. Not the place I’d wanted to be, but circumstances had forced me into a place that was going to push me to confront those paper tigers once and for all.

I had risked out of the birth center, but not because of complications. My blood pressure was right where it had been the whole pregnancy, the heartbeat was fine, the activity (the baby’s not mine) was active – especially at 4 am as the karate kicks against Dad’s back began – like it had been since I started feeling movement. No, it was an overlong pregnancy that caused the risk-out, and left me with two options: go to the hospital, or see if I could get an at-home midwife to take me on at this late point – which if I went past a certain point would be denied me also and then I’d be back at the hospital option. I was heartbroken, and felt betrayed by my body.

My first pregnancy had ended with all sorts of interventions during labor, and it was only by sheer will that I kept the doctor from doing the c-section that he’d predicted I’d need in the latter month of pregnancy (“This baby is measuring large, and anything over 8.5 pounds we usually have to deliver by c-section.”) With that in mind, when The Hubby and I discussed having a baby, I told him about the delivery, and had him do some reading to help him see where I was coming from – I wanted another child, but I wasn’t delivering in a hospital – not unless there was some serious medical need to do so. We found out there was a birthing center – the first licensed free-standing birth center in Colorado – not too far from us, and they had open houses. It was an option, one that allowed a compromise between his need for medical care nearby in case of dire emergency and my need to deliver in a better atmosphere – one free of unnecessary interventions. Right after we found out we were pregnant, we went to an open house, and we were both convinced this was what we wanted. So our visits to the birth center began. It was fantastic, reassuring, comfortable, and friendly. We joined their doula training program, which they were just starting, since it seemed like a great way to help out. Since we were giving birth at the center, I didn’t figure the doula was going to be a necessity, but it was something I’d been interested in (still am) and was intrigued to get to learn more as I worked with one. Our doula was fantastic, well matched with us, and all was going great.

August got here, and we approached our gestation guesstimation date 😉 – August 6 came and went. But it was no biggie, surely the baby would be born soon. I was hugely pregnant, and having contractions and discomfort and all the things that let you know that labor is coming soon to this space. My mom called daily, since she was trying to figure out when they’d need to leave California to be here for the birth. Finally, I told her to just come out… if nothing else we’d get a good visit in while we waited for the birth, even if they had to go back home before the baby came. We had a great visit – marred only by the 4 trips to the birthing center… that resulted in us leaving the center babyless. Yep, false alarms all of them. We tried everything to get the contractions to stick around – primrose oil, Black & Blue, castor oil milkshakes (the chocolate ice cream really does help disguise the castor oil), a foley bulb… none of it worked. Baby wasn’t ready to come… but it was weird, because sitting in certain positions would cause good strong contractions.

Finally, on Thursday August 21st, as yet another false alarm sent us (by ourselves this time – told our parents and Bro that we’d call if it was actually happening) to the center, we were told to take the next day off – find something to do that was so totally not baby-centric and enjoy ourselves. Maybe getting my mind off “labor” would relax me enough that it could happen. However, we were also told that if Saturday morning arrived without me being in labor, at which point I’d be at 42 weeks, that we’d risk out – so we needed to have another plan in mind. Our midwife told us that she had a couple of ideas, and we’d talk more on Friday after she’d put everything together. I cried that night, cried hard. I felt like my body had betrayed me, that I couldn’t even go into labor on my own, deliver on my own – without being forced into it. It wasn’t the first time during the past two weeks I’d felt that way, this was just the worst time.

Friday morning, we went to the Fourney musuem. My dad is a huge train fan (one of his uncles worked on the trains in Chicago, and my dad spent a lot of time riding them when he was a young man), as is Bro, and the train museum was a great place to go walk around. While we were there, we got a call from our midwife, outlining our options. Since the birth-at-home option left us a short window before risking out again, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to take that again, we decided to go with the nurse-midwife at the hospital. We set up an appointment to go talk with her on Saturday. I spent the rest of the day with a cloud over my head. This was not what I’d wanted… and now I was going to have to adjust to a different person right at the end of the pregnancy. Saturday’s meeting went well, and I liked her, and as we talked about what was going on I realized that no matter what, I was in danger of risking into a c-section because of the advanced length of pregnancy. When we’d arrived that morning, we had an ultrasound done as part of the non-stress test – making sure that all was well with the baby. Everything was fine, but there were a few calcification lines on the placenta, indicating advanced age and that it was not going to be getting oxygen to the baby all that well. Not enough to cause extreme worry, but just to put us on guard. The gal doing the ultrasound was astounded that we wanted to wait over the weekend – to see if labor would happen spontaneously – but said it looked like everything would be okay for that long.

The weekend came and went, and no labor. Monday afternoon, we checked into the hospital. We had talked about it, and I wanted to have as intervention free a labor as was possible to have in a hospital, and if we waited it might not work. Adding to our weird situation was the fact that our doula was leaving for her honeymoon on Tuesday morning (she’d gotten married on Saturday, and we had a back-up doula just in case), and so she might not be there for the birth either. So at the last minute, our entire cast of support players was changing, and I was left feeling like the ground was slipping away. We sat in the labor room, me hooked up to the machine so they could get some starting readouts, the two of us and the two doulas, when we were given an option of things to try to get the labor truly started – a pitocin drip which while it would guarantee contractions wouldn’t help the cervix at all, breaking the water which was something I didn’t want to do having experienced that before, or possibly using a very small dosage of cytotec which would help ripen the cervix also. After being given the options, our midwife left so we four could talk about it. I was given the pros and cons of all them from my doulas, and eventually we decided on the cytotec. I hadn’t had a c-section before, so the chance of uterine rupture was very small, and as that was the biggest concern against it (that and the fact that it’s not intended for bringing on labor) we made our choice. Because of that, I had to have a hep lock put in – in case of something going wrong. It was compromise, since they’d wanted to do an I.V. but I was adamant against it, and promised them that I’d stay well hydrated during labor. I had a hard enough time with the hep lock, and was aware of the damned thing the whole time.

All through the night, contraction off and on. When they slowed to almost nothing, I was given another small dose. That dose carried me into the morning and early afternoon of Tuesday. My doula left for her honeymoon, and since labor was not imminent, the back-up went home for a bit to get her kids settled before coming back. We walked the halls, with a portable monitor… I lost count how many laps we did. Finally, the day wore on with no real changes – still contracting, but not getting anywhere. We called our back-up doula, since the midwife had said she wanted to present some other options. Once our doula was there, we discussed what to do next. Pinholing the sac was talked about – a way to release some of the water in way that more closely simulated the way a sac breaks – not the sudden gush, but trickling out. Our midwife said she had a suspicion that I had so much water that it was keeping the baby from engaging in the cervix except in very specific positions (like me sitting up straight, feet pulled in with soles touching – sort of a relaxed lotus position), and that releasing that might get things moving. It was the last thing I wanted to do, but by this point, the laboring that wasn’t was getting to me. I knew something had to happen. The warning of “must deliver within 24 hrs of breaking the water” was given, and understood, and I was laid back on the bed so the procedure could be done. All of  a sudden, I started to cry – this was it – the paper tiger I hadn’t confronted before this, one I’d resolutely pushed away instead of dealing with. This was way it had started before; break the water, insert the monitor, baby sunny-side up, excrutiating labor, cervix being manually pushed over the baby’s head, an epsiotomy and horrible tearing that resulted in stitches and infection, cord around the baby’s neck which meant being given oxygen instead of being given to me. It was a cascade that only just barely avoided becoming a c-section.

Then I was told to sit up – and the entire scenario faded. That had not happened before. I wiped my streaming eyes, felt the trickle of fluid between my legs, and talked about what had just happened – why I’d been in tears. Someone said something, and I laughed, and the trickle became more of a stream. I exclaimed about it, and laughed again, this time harder, and the membrane holding back the waters broke like a dam under pressure of a serious spring thaw. Waters flowed everywhere, soaked the sheets, poured off the bed, puddled on the floor, and I felt something I hadn’t actually ever felt before. I felt the baby drop into place. Our midwife commented on it, and the pleased look on her face let me know her suspicions had been confirmed. So much water to float around in kept the little one from staying in place, so labor wasn’t proceeding like it should have. Since I was dripping, and chilled now, I decided this was a good time to get in the tub. Before I got in, our midwife came up and told us her shift was over and she’d be going home, unless I wanted her to stay. She didn’t have to work tomorrow, so if I wanted her, it wouldn’t interfere with her next shift. I very quickly told her yes. She was fantastic, and I loved the idea of not having to get used to another midwife now.

Hubby had filled the tub while I talked with the midwife, and the warm water beckoned me. I hadn’t labored in a tub the first time around, and didn’t realize how much different the contractions would feel buoyed by the water. It was an incredible sensation, and I just stayed there, leaving only when my bladder (I had been drinking the whole time) let me know it was time to be emptied again. Then back into the warm cocoon, nestled into the place I’d constructed – the river we used to camp near during my childhood summers… a huge boulder that jutted out into the river, with a flat top, sun-warmed and the perfect place to escape, the only sounds were the the wind through the pines and the river rushing by. That was where I went when I got into the tub – that quiet place, where it was just me and the baby. As we moved from contraction to contraction, my breath came out in deep sighs, low quiet moans, that were almost “om” like. It was that and the sound of Hubby’s voice that kept me only peripherially aware of the world around me. Then there was nothing but sleepiness, and I think I dozed for a bit, and then things changed. Pressure, building up and pushing down, and the rock was no longer what I needed. I needed the calm cool waters on the lee side of the rock, where the river rushed past, but only eddied on this dark side of the granite boulder. There, in the cool dark safety of the river, I transitioned into pushing. A sussurus of sounds, as my mother and mother-in-law whispered with the midwife and Hubby, and all was lost as I continued pushing.

Then I got stuck… terrified that I couldn’t do this. The head wasn’t moving, it was just hanging up in the birth canal, and I couldn’t do this, please help, I need help! I can’t do it. The head is there I was told, reach down, you’ll see. No! Too afraid to find out it wasn’t true. Then I did, and oh, the feel of the downy soft hair, the head crowning! Then a contraction so strong it torqued my body out of the water. I heard the shouts that I needed to get back into the water, to relax again, and to keep pushing as I’d stopped and the head was only partly out. Several more pushes, and then oh the delicious relief to be done pushing as the baby slid into the water, free from my body at last – five hours after the waters had broken. Our midwife helped me scoop the baby out of the water and cradle this new little life to my chest. Only then did I check, and introduced the Hubby to his second son. After a few moments, cord still pulsing ‘tween Little Frog and me, I was told to rub him gently, get him to take a breath. I did, he did, and he pinked right up. We delayed the clamping til the cord stopped pulsing, and then got out of the tub for the warmth of the bed. I was checked – not a single tear or rip or bruising – and he was checked. We remained firm on our non-circumcision and no-vaccination stand and denied them the use of the ointment in his eyes. Finally, after giving himself a hickey by sucking on his arm, he was returned to me so he could start nursing, which he did with gusto. Oh, and the placenta was checked, and not a single trace of calcification was found. Our midwife said it looked like I might just gestate longer than average – because both placenta and Little Frog looked to be exactly term, and had none of the indicators usually found in an overdue pregnancy.

Now came the final hurdle… getting them to release us early. At the birthing center, we were to go home 4-6 hours after the birth, but the hospital wasn’t sure they liked the idea, and the nursery nurses were staunchly against it. Our midwife vouched for us though, and we left the hospital at 4:30 in the morning on Wednesday morning. Bed was very inviting, and we snuggled down into it, and slept.

This is the first time I’ve told this story, but the story needed to be told, it’s been pushing me for a while. So here it is.

Happy 2nd Birthday Little Frog!

Where are the words?

August 18, 2010

I know today is Wordless Wednesday, but since I accepted Amy’s BlogHer10 Writing challenge (doing 20-30 mins a day, each day) I figured I’d forego that this week. Instead I was going to write about Little Frog’s sleeping habits. Then I changed my mind, and decided maybe I’d write about the upcoming move – well, upcoming in 6 months, so not impending, but definitely looming. After thinking about it, I thought I’d save that for another day – maybe one where I don’t know what to write about… wait, that would be now, wouldn’t it? *laugh*

This is precisely why that challenge is so important. Days like this, I look at the screen, fingers on the keyboard, and just sit there… my brain as blank as the page in front of me. Impatiently, hoping I guess to drum words to the front of my brain, I tap my fingers on the keys, not hard enough to make letters appear on the accusing whiteness of the empty space. Just hard enough to make noise, to remind me just how futile it is to do this action. What does it accomplish, this tapping of the keys? It doesn’t bring the recalcitrant words to the surface, to be nabbed like a tickled trout, grasped quickly and gently, lest they escape into the ether of Mama brain once again. It doesn’t make me feel better in any way; rather it frustrates me – no words, no letters… no nothing… just emptiness.

Perhaps the blank canvas of the waiting page is too much. Perhaps I should compile a list of ideas, things to write about when there’s nothing right there begging to be put on screen. Maybe that would help, so that when I have those days of too many ideas, or not enough ideas, I can turn to the ever helpful notepad, and pull from the first idea on the list. That way, there’s no day where I can’t find something to write about. Perhaps it will help… or perhaps it will only exacerbate the problem. Instead of having words spring to my fingers, in anticipation of being given life in a crisp font, maybe the pre-chosen topic will send the words and letters and thoughts scurrying into the darkest recesses, dimly lit, webby places in my mind, where they will cower in the fear of being plucked out and sent into the brightness of day, forced to be viewable, like so many animals in the travelling circuses of old.

Funny, I didn’t intend to write so much about having nothing to write. Reminds me of when someone gabs on and on about being speechless. 😉

Little Frog loves Legos!

August 17, 2010

I live in a house of Legomaniacs! The Hubby and Bro have been lego fans since they were young, and have never stopped building. They’ve joined a fan group here in Colorado, and have participated in a couple of  public builds done at the Lego Store in the Colorado Mills Outlet mall (they helped build an 8′ tall R2-D2 and an equally tall Buzz Lightyear) and a couple of big fan displays also at Colorado Mills. One portion of our basement is set aside as the Lego building area, with a huge re-organizing underway, as they try to find a way to sort, contain, and organize the very sizable brick collection into something that’s easy to use and put away. I, while not a fanatic builder the way they are, can appreciate the total free-playability (not a word, I know 😉 ) of these brightly colored plastic pieces, and have even built a few things over the years. I have always been aware of the inevitability of Little Frog’s exposure to the wonderful world of Lego – whether boy or girl – but didn’t know whether Little Frog would embrace Lego the way his dad and brother have.

He was fascinated by the sounds and colors of Lego, so we broke out Bro’s old Duplo set (we’ve kept it all these years so that visiting friends’ young children have something fun to play with) when Little Frog was about 6mos old. He played with them, mostly banging them together, and seemed to enjoy them. When he was almost a year old, the Legos were broken out in anticipation of a build, and Little Frog was completely enthralled. The Hubby put together a bin filled with bigger pieces, and sat on the floor with Little Frog – it was love at the first clinky noise! With that in mind, we bought him a Duplo set with farm animals, people, a tractor, and a few building pieces for his birthday last year, and he loved the animals, the people, and the tractor, but the blocks were met with less enthusiasm. Pretty much ignored actually, except as neat things to throw on the floor and listen to the noise they make when they hit each other. Then another Lego build loomed up, and Little Frog simply couldn’t get enough of the studded pieces that The Hubby and Bro were messing with. He occasionally would try to put pieces in his mouth, but since there was no unsupervised play with Lego, we caught him whenever he tried it. He started putting things together, displaying amazing determination and dexterity with the smaller (than Duplo) pieces. The first thing he put together was a cell phone – mind you it was simply four same-sized bricks stacked on top of each other – and then he walked around the room “talking” on it. Then he put together a “gun”, and ran around going “Puh Puh Puh”, mimicking the sound of one of Bro’s nerf guns.

His latest obsession is the “Yego Room” (he has trouble saying “L”). It’s the first thing he asks about when he wakes up… well, almost. When he wakes up in the morning, boobie is still the first thing he wants. Waking up from naps, though – or anytime he’s not occupied doing something else –  and the first thing he wants is to be granted entrance to the Lego Room. It’s taken on an importance in his life previously only occupied by cereal and orange juice with Dad on the weekends. I’ve declared it to be an off-limits area for Mama for a couple of reasons – 1) it gives him a way to connect (pardon the pun) with The Hubby and Bro, a bonding that will create life-long memories, and 2) if I took him in there, I would get absolutely nothing else done during the day since he will spend literally hours in there playing. He has some Lego that he can play with when The Hubby or Bro aren’t home, or are otherwise busy… but it’s just not the same thing.

I know there are some who will have issues with the fact that I’m letting a young child, who is not even 2 years old yet (that happens later this month) play with small toys, some of which are small enough to present a choking hazard. Yes, they are small toys, but he doesn’t have unsupervised time with them, at least not yet. We know he’s not above putting pieces in his mouth, so we watch him whenever he has Legos around. However, I’m also not willing to stop him from exploring a world that is so very much a part of both his dad’s and brother’s lives.

I do wonder how long this love of Lego will last. For The Hubby, who got his first set for his 5th birthday, it’s lasted 31 years so far. Bro got his first actual Lego (as opposed to Duplo) set when he was 4 years old – almost 13 years ago now. Little Frog has gotten a much earlier start on his absorption with the small plastic blocks from Denmark… will it last a lifetime?

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2010

August 4, 2010

Little Frog turns two this month… a fact which is completely stunning me right now. I can’t believe it’s been that much time already. So much about him has changed, but one very big thing hasn’t. He’s still breastfeeding. Yep, almost two, and very much in need of the breastmilk – sometimes it’s the only thing he wants to eat when he wakes up in the morning. Other days, he wants a sip or two and then wants “nona an yoguht” (granola and yogurt). He still nurses to sleep, and nurses for comfort when he’s completely upset by something or when he hurts himself pretty badly. Some days, I love that my littlest one still nurses – but if I’m going to be totally honest, there are other days when I wish he’d be done. I’m glad he’s displaying more and more interest in food – and actually chewing and swallowing it. We likened him to a slot machine for a while. Put in a small bite, get a slightly chewed bite back. He loved the flavor, but apparently didn’t care for the rest of the whole process.

The hardest part of still nursing is the summer heat and humidity (which is nothing like it could be – I’ve lived in south Texas during the summer and that was heat and humidity!) – when he wants to snuggle and nurse, and I’m looking for as little to touch me as possible. At night, when we’re trying to go sleep, and the mugginess still hasn’t gone away, and he scootches closer to nurse, I sometimes wonder if I can just kneel next to the bed while he nurses and then slide him over so I can get back in once he’s gone to sleep. I never do… he sleeps too lightly for that.

The best parts are the silly things that happen during the day when he nurses, and the looks he gives me. He used to space out while nursing, followed very closely by falling asleep on me. Now, he plays peek-a-boo, or “beeps” my nose, or will start to nurse and then get so excited by my face that he starts pointing to and naming all the parts. Sometimes he’ll start blinking at me – he hasn’t mastered winking yet – and then start grinning. Watching him try to grin and nurse at the same time is actually pretty funny, so I’ll start to laugh, and then he laughs and then we’re both laughing. It makes up for the heat and humidity issue.

It’s a far cry from the beginning. I had nursed Bro for about 8 months, but by 6 months, at his doctor’s recommendation, had started adding cow’s milk to the breastmilk bottles he got (the one’s his dad fed him) so that he’d start to get used to it – increasing the amount of cow’s milk to breastmilk until it was only cow’s milk in the bottle. The thinking was that there’d be no need for formula that way, and I was okay with that. I didn’t want to give him formula if there was no need. At a little over 8 months, he decided he was done. He saw his cousin (who is two days younger) down on the floor, crawling around, stopping to drink from her bottle when she wanted it, and that was all he needed. He nursed a couple more times that day, and then no more… he turned it down flat when I offered it, preferring the bottle. Since we’d decreased his nursing over the last couple months I didn’t suffer engorgement like I probably would have if he’d gone cold turkey while exclusively nursing, but I didn’t really think anything else of it. At that point, I didn’t know much about attachment parenting, nor had I really done much reading about the benefits of long-term breastfeeding. I’d nursed a lot longer than many women in the early 90’s in the U.S. were doing, and felt good that I’d been able to nurse him that long.

When Little Frog came along,  I’d done a whole bunch of reading, researching, and had gone through a big shift in my thinking of what I thought family should be and how I wanted to parent. Fortunately, The Hubby had listened to me as I read things to him, things that were changing my long-held beliefs about parenting, things that hadn’t affected him as much since Little Frog was his first. We talked and read, discussed and read some more, and formed the framework of what our parenting would be about. One of the things that was talked about, a lot, was breastfeeding and its importance to this new little life. About how it was important not just for the first six weeks, but for much longer – if possible all the way up to two years or more (according to the WHO’s website). This was something I wanted to do. No supplementing, no cow’s milk in the bottles with the breastmilk. I wanted a good breastpump so that The Hubby and Bro could give Little Frog a bottle every now and then, but there’d be nothing but Mama’s milk in that bottle.

As we got started, I wasn’t entirely sure we were going to make it long-term. He was so very noisy, and nursing hurt more than it had when I nursed Bro. When I went in for my 6 week postpartum check-up, the midwives asked if I had cracked nipples or any blood, asked if he was getting enough milk – all because of the noise, since it seemed to signify a poor latch. No, there were no cracks, no blood, but I was incredibly sore sometimes. My doula asked the same thing when she came to visit, for the same reason. He was gaining weight just fine – in the first week gained back whatever he might have lost, plus some, and never lost after that. I went back to my favorite online breastfeeding info site Kellymom and looked for “noisy latch”, and was able to find a cause for the noise. A little time, and regulation of supply and demand, and the noise went away. I was glad for that, since this child refused to be covered up while he ate, so being discreet while he nursed while we were in public was nigh impossible between the lack of cover and the noise (much smacking and snorting while he ate!).

So here we are, two years later, still nursing. I was adamant right after birth that he not be given anything but my breastmilk. The hospital nurses weren’t pleased with that, because he was large and they worried about his bloodsugar levels. When his bili count was high, and the pediatrician wanted me to give him formula to get the liver working faster, I explained to him that Little Frog had been nursing steadily since he was born, and that my milk had already started to come in – only two days after his birth – so could we please just keep nursing. He okayed that, and got a bili-blanket sent to the house so that hospital wouldn’t be necessary. We made it through that with flying colors (pardon the pun *grin*). When Little Frog’s teething started, I experienced my first real trepidation about extended breastfeeding. I had stopped nursing Bro way before teething was an issue. Now, I had to worry about biting, and being hurt, and was I really going to be able to go through with this. The reality was, yes, I did get purposefully bitten a few times – a sharp “Ow! No biting!” would startle him, and then he’d stop and we’d go back to nursing, which was the same tactic we used when he bit anyone else. There have been times when I feel his teeth more than others, and it’s uncomfortable, but it doesn’t hurt – and is nothing like the first few days as the whole nursing process is starting.

We’ve nursed everywhere, at restaurants, on planes, at museums, libraries, even the Drums Along the Rockies. Our family and friends have gotten used to it, but I do still get strange looks from some of the family members. It’s okay though. This time is short, and once it’s over there’ll never be another chance, so I’m enjoying it… mostly.