Thursday, February 26, 2009

Environmental Contaminants in Breastmilk

If you are concerned about environmental contaminants in breastmilk, I suggest you check out this post at The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog.  I was a bit shocked to learn that 78-93% of women would wean over concerns of toxins in their milk, but I was also relieved to see that Tanya pointed out that " Toxins are in the general environment, which means that they are in formula, too."  Additionally, breastmilk undergoes significant processessing, which allows for toxins and contaminants to enter in to the finished product (melamine anyone?).

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Co-sleeping: A quick quote

According to Unicef's Baby Friendly Initiative, "bed-sharing encourages intimate contact between mother and baby, which facilitates a close and loving bond. Successful breastfeeding and better sleep are more common among mothers and babies who share the same bed. Evidence suggests that bed-sharing is common among parents with new babies both in hospital and at home."

I first used this quote in October 2008, but it never gets old.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Babywise isn't Baby Wise, but Mama Is funny!

My friend, Kyle, posted a link to a comic by Mama Is and I could not help but laugh, not just because the comic itself was funny, but because I have felt that way each and every time someone mentions Ezzo's book(s).  I am shocked that parents don't know that the AAP has linked the practices in the book to failure to thrive, low milk-supply, and other medical issues for baby (and mama).

If you want to fail at breastfeeding, follow the advice in this book.

There are truly so many problems with the book, I cannot even go in to them all here, nor do I need to. A quick google search brings the problems to your web browser in just a few key strokes, but equally disheartening is the additional number of parenting books out there that instruct parents to spank on bare skin, adhere to rigid feeding schedules, and expect better behavior out of an infant than is practical.  

Anyway-- check out the comic. It made me laugh.

Sorry for the short tid-bit today. Life is up side down getting ready to go to Milan in March! :)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mathmatical Parenting

On Saturday, Erin posted about the percentage of her time that has passed with her children as dependants using a simple calculation from this blog. While I think the calculation itself is over-simplified, for a frustrated, over-tired or otherwise struggling parent, I think it provides a nice reality check. Even if you are not any of those things, it helps to make the case for being present in your child's/children's life/lives.
(2.17/18)*100 = 12.06%
Where has the time gone? For the most part, I think I have been able to enjoy it and think of the tougher times as passing moments, but sometimes I struggle too. I think we all do at one time or another.When I think of The Boy's life in mathmatical terms, it seems easier to wrap my mind around these struggles as feeting moments, which is the case with most quantifiable activities, but the quality of that time is also important to me.  I do not want to be here, but be distant. I am present in my son's life. What about you? Are you present for your child (or children)?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Parenting teaching the lessons of Jesus: Baking Cookies

There are so many aspects of parenting that parallel my Christian journey. Baking cookies is one of them.
For Valentine's Day, I thought it would be fun to bake cookies with my son. Yes, The Boy. Age 2. Baking and decorating cookies. Let me start from before that time though...
I love to bake, and I love to make perfect cookies-- from the perfect dough, perfect shapes, perfect done-ness,  and perfect frosting and decorations. I love doing it and have a bit of a reputation for my perfect cookies. Yes, this is a fault of mine-- one that has been corrected through parenthood. I used be obsessed with maintaining my reputation of having perfect cookies to the detriment of my friendships (Sorry Bethany!).
You might be wondering where I am going with this...but here it comes.
Often times I approach things with a prideful heart, whether baking cookies, parenting or studying the Word (nothing is truly off limits, is it?), and in doing so I hurt someone. I hurt friends' or family's feelings. I hurt my relationship with Jesus.

I must fight the urge with all my might to prevent myself from correcting The Boy when baking cookies. If the cookie is not perfect, it does not matter. It only matters when my own pride interferes. When I humble myself and approach the task with a modest heart, the imperfections of the cookie become a part of their charm, and the memory of baking cookies becomes something to cherish. I enhance my relationship with The Boy. When I approach life humbly and with a modest heart, I enhance my relationship with Jesus.

While I am able to continue to have perfect dough for some cookies, I allow The Boy stirring opportunities. The Boy helps roll out the dough, cut the shapes and apply sprinkles (I do the frosting while he adds sprinkles).  If we are not using sprinkles, he helps frost.

Our cookies, they are not perfect. The lesson he taught me... it will last a lifetime. To think this is just the tip of the iceberg... amazing.

Who ever said parenting was a one way street?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Late for the party!

This past week was a bit crazy, and in case you didn't know, I scheduled my posts out through most of the week with one day remaining-- Saturday. (It's now Thursday.)  Thank you President's Day for a week of scheduled posts. However, I am still behind in my reading, and when I finally got around to trying to catch up, I found out that I am the recipient of a nice award from a fellow blogger. That's right, 6 Happy Hearts made my heart happy too!

Copying straight up from the presentee herself!

This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day.

With every blog award comes some rules, so here they go...
1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person that has granted the award along w/their blog link.
2) Pass the award to another 15 (give or take!) blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment. Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

I'm bestowing the honor on...

Erin at Married to a Baller
Annie at PhD in Parenting
Alexandra at Traveling Allowed
Rebecca at Life in Fast Forward
Melissa at Late for the Sky 

I know that's not fifteen, but these are the top five that fit the requirements, and I now need to go help The Boy pretend to bake cookies (i.e. rollout eco-dough)!

Friday, February 20, 2009

The power of one word: discreet

Breastfeeding and nursing language, especially how we discuss nursing in public, holds consequences for how nursing is viewed and women treated. Morgan writes an excellent post on breastfeeding and the language used. Read to the end, you'll be surprised.

(Thanks Amy for sharing the post!)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Fedelity: Don't divorce us

Stealing shamelessly from Melissa. She posted this video over the weekend.

"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Daily Affirmations

Does anyone besides me remember the Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley from Saturday Night Live? You know-- "I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And doggone it, people like me."  Well, this post is not about daily affirmations in the sense of SNL, but it is about repeating statements so people believe them-- primarily The Boy.

I have been spending time evaluating and re-evaluating what does and does not work for us-- what is and is not in our discipline toolbox. One tool that I have found working in wonderful ways for us is the use of repeated statements. It usually goes like this... I'll use our ongoing "discussion" on the use of chairs.

Me: Chairs are for sitting.
TB: Chairs are for sitting. I sit my bum down. (I can't remember his exact response, but he did say that yesterday.)

Me: What are chairs for?
TB: Chairs are for sitting!

Me: Chairs are for sitting.
TB: Chairs are for sitting.

You might be wondering if I only employ this discussion when The Boy is not sitting on his chair. The answer is no. We have these micro-conversations morning, noon and night. It started when he was an infant. I would describe what we were doing at the time... almost all of the time. The one way dialogue continued for a while, but eventually, he started chiming in.  In my evaluation, I noticed that in the cases where we use this dialogue, he is most well-behaved.

I have learned, however, that he takes it literally. I read in a book (Dr. Sears?? I can't remember where) that children take things literally until age seven or so. In other words, if you tell your child (or they see it in a movie) that the dog died, the child believes the dog died. The child does not fully grasp that the Beast on Beauty and the Beast is not real.  Translated in to this method of teaching and learning-- The chair and the couch are two different things and require two statements!

There it is...another way I set The Boy up for success. Daily Affirmations. :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Time Out Time In

I know I have been posting a lot about discipline, because it has been on my mind as I read through Dr. Sear's Discipline Book. His book is not perfect, but it does provide a lot of information. One thing that stands out in my own discipline style and writing is that I often times mis-use the term "time-out," and what I really do and should be referring to is "time-in."
I do have "time-out" as a tool in my box, for reasons that are truly meant to control me more than my son. My husband is out of the country for extended periods of time, so for most of the year, I am a single parent, which means I do not have someone to hand my son off to if I need a break-- from discipline or every day life. I am "it" for him. This point is not to complain about my situation, because I think from my writing, you can tell that I love my son and really do enjoy my life. 
The point is that there are days that are struggles-- for both of us-- and when I need a time-out that sometimes means that my son is in time-out in the corner. I reserve this technique for a) very dangerous behavior where I might need to change our physical environment (i.e. clean up glass, etc) or b) when I feel my own anger bubbling and I need to step away for a minute to regain my own composure. 
All of that said, our primary "time-out" that is really a "time-in" is far more effective for The Boy and me. I do not generally (see above) place him in a corner to cry alone. If we use the corner (which is often what we do at home), I sit with or near him. I use the first bit of time to reinforce with words that we are sitting there because of __insert misbehavior, and that we do not _insert misbehavior. We do/use _insert positive or appropriate behavior. Then we sit quietly for a bit. Usually, The Boy says that he is sorry (voluntarily, I don't force that either) and that he feels __insert emotion_. Due to his age, at that point I usually ask why he feels that way. The conversation is simple. Usually he does not yet answer why, but I ask follow up questions, and reinforce that he needs to use the appropriate behavior. We hug, snuggle, etc and move on.
This method is especially helpful and useful in public, because we can locate a bench or quiet corner just about everywhere. Also, in some locations, my arms or lap become a time-outin (my new name for it, because I think of time-in as positive time with mama...not discipline).
Some might say that The Boy uses this to manipulate me. However, we do not need to use time-outin often, because he generally follows directions well and uses his manners, and I give him all the loving mama time -in he needs and wants without having to use discipline to teach him. Of course, see paragraph two for my worse case scenario. It happens, but not often.
Time-out versus Time-In (Thanks for the link Annie)

Small side note-- I signed my family up at the YMCA today, and on the YChild Watch pages it says:
The YMCA does not allow physical discipline while on the YMCA Property!
 I admit openly to grinning when I read that statement.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Articles on Corporal Punishment

I have been doing a lot of research and information gathering on spanking and the long-term outcomes. I came across, thanks to Annie, this article by Alan E. Kazdin. Dr. Kazdin is a professor at Yale University and was President of the American Psychological Association (2008). There are a lot of interesting points in the article, but the statements that stick out the most to me are related to how parents address science. (Emphasis mine)
Part of the problem is that most of us pay, at best, selective attention to science—and scientists, for their part, have not done a good job of publicizing what they know about corporal punishment. Studies of parents have demonstrated that if they are predisposed not to see a problem in the way they rear their children, then they tend to dismiss any scientific finding suggesting that this presumed nonproblem is, in fact, a problem. In other words, if parents believe that hitting is an effective way to control children's behavior, and especially if that conviction is backed up by a strong moral, religious, or other cultural rationale for corporal punishment, they will confidently throw out any scientific findings that don't comport with their sense of their own experience.
Annie also had this article in Mothering Magazine posted. The article cites research, not just personal experience. Most disturbing to me was (emphasis mine):
According to 57 percent of the 3,000 adults surveyed, children as young as six months old could be spoiled, a fact that has been disputed by many child experts and psychologists.
Another reason for continued spanking is that many adults believe that nonabusive spanking by loving parents is not harmful. While some studies have shown this form of spanking to be less harmful, the act hasn't been proven harmless.
Both articles raised issues in my mind, things that I have worked hard to counter-act in my own home. I try to read reasearch, even when I do not necessarily agree, in order to educate myself and make informed decisions in our home. The other, more notable issue, is that parents continue to set unrealistic expectations for their children. It is as though some want to train their children to fit in neat little boxes when in fact children are unique and need to be taught, not trained, at an appropriate developmental level. The more we ask judgemental questions, the more we encourage these unrealistic expectations. Simple questions that people take for granted in parenting-- Is your baby sleeping through the night yet? is one of the most common.
There are plenty of resources available online and in books that describe average behavior fnd development or various age groups. While these are great for average, each household must look at their own child to see where the child fits on the spectrum. My son is above average in some skills, but others he lags behind. This is normal in my mind (backed by research), so I do not have a problem with it.
The National Network for Child Care (NNCC) page on Toddler Development lists some activities to try (emphasis mine).
1. Take some time to watch toddlers playing. Notice the differences in their physical development: height, weight, how they relate to you and to other children, and their energy levels. Some children seem to never sit still, while others seem happy to sit down with a book.

2. Toddlers learn by exploring and experimenting.
Because I know this is how toddlers learn, I try not to interrupt The Boy from learning unless I need to secure his safety. His maniuplation of objects, desire to "check stuff out," and pesky but expected need to dump things from cup to cup are all a part of his learning style.
Before I end this, let me share a statement from the University of Nevada's Little Lives: A Parent's Guide to Development 25-26 Months --
No matter how good you are as a parent, your child will misbehave.
I know I need to be reminded of this at times. I often times absorb the lows as my own failure, when in fact, The Boy is acting his age, and today's percieved failures will become tomorrow's success.
Additional resources to check out, including a couple of my posts.
Special thanks to Annie at PhD in Parenting for sharing the articles that inspired me to finally get my thoughts in to a slightly more organized post.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Here I am, but how did I get here?

Bottom line up front, my path has not been straight, nor narrow, but it is still mine.  The memories I have of going to church and religion growing up primarily are not pleasant.  My parents divorced when I was young, and my mom dutifully delivered me to Wednesday night religion classes, but we did not really go to church. as a family. I would go with my grandparents, but I really do not remember going with my parents. Truth be told, it is not her fault. She was not really welcome, from my understanding, in the Catholic Church post-divorce, and also unfortunate is the way people treated me because of it.  None the less, I made an effort for a while. Once old enough, I would walk the mile or two it was to church, sometimes through the snow, cold and who knows what else.
As I grew older, the situation did not really improve, and I was rather difficult to deal with in religion classes. I had a lot of questions, and no one wanted to give the answers. I did not fit in the box. I did not want to sit and memorize the beliefs of the Catholic Church without explaination to their Biblical explanation. On top of that, a lot of the Catholic Church is based on traditions as much as Biblical teachings, which I struggled to wrap my head around. I wanted to know the Biblical basis as to why we needed to see the priest for confession instead of praying to God. 
In some ways I was very angry with God and not mature enough to deal with that anger.  I did not understand a lot of what was going on, and like many teenagers, I was a little self-absorbed. In the end, I believe I went to Confirmation, because it was pleasing to my family and I could stop going to Wednesday night religion classes. I was torn, but didn't want to upset my family.
I bounced to a few different churches during my high school days, visiting and trying to find where I thought I was supposed to be and to get answers to some of my questions, but I was embarrassed by my lack of Biblical understanding. I always felt behind and afraid to ask the questions I needed answers to, so I went back to the "comfort zone" (the Catholic Church). While I was comfortable, it didn't seem quite right.  I went through some extreme highs and lows as far as religion was concerned. I believed strongly in God, but I was struggling to find my path with Him. I wanted the knowledge, but I didn't know how to find it.
In college, I did the same... stuck with the Catholic Church, but I was finding the answers on my own. Away from home, I felt more freedom to question and find the answers. I was not confined by the real or perceived expectations of others. I became less concerned with what others thought, but I was still afraid to break away from those expectations completely. 
Some find comfort in the traditions of the Catholic church, and that is great. There are parts of the tradition that do bring comfort to me too, but there are other parts that I am not comfortable with in the interpretation of scripture, use of apocrypha, the role of the Sacraments in salvation...The more I dug deeper, the more I found huge gaps.
These days, I march to the beat of a different drummer in so many ways. I study the Bible, the history, the stories behind the stories. I feel more confident in doing what is right for me and my family, and in doing so am more comfortable exploring and searching. I have a thirst, and I have finally figured out how to quench it. Fortunately, I have a very knowledgeable husband I can ask questions of  without worry of  sounding stupid and a supportive church community in the Disciples that allows the exploration without judgment.
To answer my own question, we are all right so long as we study the Bible, pray, and discern God's purpose for our lives. We seek to follow Jesus' teachings-- the commands to love God and one another-- and while denominations and journeys might divide us, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and we all are right in our own ways. I am no longer wondering who is right, but am I doing "it" right by the standards God and I have set in my life. 
Am I studying and praying faithfully? Am I approaching the word with an open mind and heart? Am I reading Jesus' words and praying to discern their purpose and application in God's vision in my life? Am I faithfully searching and executing that purpose for my life?
Those are the questions I am going to be asking myself in this journey.
Do you have questions or statements that guide your study and journey?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Setting The Boy Up

In my post on Discipline in Attachment Parenting, I wrote that I take some extra time to set The Boy up for success. I thought I would share a bit more on what we did and didn't do in order to help him along. 
  • First off, like Erin, we did not completely childproof our home. I moved the things that could injure The Boy or that I did not want to see broken.  We did not cover the electronics or move them up, move the games or video consoles, etc. I did, however, stick those plastic plugs in the outlets. Electricity is no joke. In the kitchen, the cabinets on his level that contain glass or chemicals are childproofed. Same with the bathroom. 
  • In each room, The Boy has a drawer or cabinet that is "his" or contains things that he can explore. In the kitchen, he retrieves his own bowl for snacks out of a drawer. In the bathroom, he knows which drawers he can and cannot open, and which one has the items he can play with (bottom drawer in both rooms). 
  • I try to take him to the park often, so he has ample climbing opportunities.
  • When weather permits, I leave the back door open, so he has ample opportunity to explore outdoors (I can see from the kitchen or go out with him) and burn off energy.
  • We have kids furniture in the house now, but before he had his own table and chairs, he had a small chair that matched our couch, and we'd leave activities on the coffee table for him. I still do this a lot, because his "playroom" is still a work in progress.
  • We try very hard to be home at nap time and bedtime. I do not believe his entire day needs to be structured from wake-up to bedtime, but I do believe in the consistency of naps and bedtime. That being said, I am not so rigid that BAM, it's 7. Bedtime. There are days/nights when his sleep time needs to be adjusted slightly for his own tiredness or lack there of. I'm not always tired at the same time, nor is he, and I respect his body's function as much as my own.
  • I schedule activities at times I know he is consistently in a good mood. For example, his pictures in January. I know at 9am, he is awake, happy, fed and in a good mood, so that is when we scheduled his photos to be taken. 
  • I watch for my son's cues that he is hungry, thirsty or sleepy, and then I respond to those cues. Sometimes he has to be put off (i.e. driving and we've run out of water, etc) for a few minutes, but overall, I try to respond in a timely fashion.
  • Be prepared! This means I keep a snack, drink, and diaper with me each time we leave the house. I also am prepared by planning so we aren't out during a sleepy time!
  • I give The Boy attention when we are together. I might not want to color or finger paint or read the same book a million times, but if I give him attention, he does not need to act out to get attention. Seems simple enough to say, but not always easy to do!
  • I involve my son in my day. This is another easy to say, harder to do activity. I know I can do the laundry more quickly, make perfect cookies and do a multitude of tasks more thoroughly without The Boy helping me, but I find that involving him makes both of us happy! Most of the time, he helps happily. Every once in a while he'd rather color, and as long as he's helped me in other ways, I am happy to let him do so. This might sound harsh, as though he has assigned chores, but he does not. I look for ways for him to help around the house so he knows he needs to and should contribute.
  • We started young with helping him learn the things we expect from him. For example, from the time he was able to walk basically, he has been helping clean up his toys. At that age, he might have put two in the basket while I did the rest, but he was expected to help. 
  • I don't ask him to do something that needs to be done. In our house, if I ask The Boy a yes or no question or ask him to do something, it leaves it open for him to say no, so if I need him to do something now, I don't ask. I tell him. Instead of "Do you want to lie down on the carpet and get your pjs on?" I say, "Lie down on the carpet." (not exactly how it goes, but you get the drift)
  • I communicate on The Boy's level. Yes, that means I get down on my knees, use his name, and look him in the eye when speaking.
  • I use simple sentences appropriate for his age level.
  • I acknowledge him when I am speaking to others. If he asks for my name, I will make eye contact. If he is persistent while I am in the middle of talking, I will ask him to wait a minute. At the same time, he is two, and a minute is a description of time that he does not yet comprehend. We are still working on interruption, and I have started giving him a gentle squeeze (like you might do to your neighbor if you're holding hands for a prayer) to let him know that I hear him and will talk to him as soon as I am done with my current discussion.
  •  I count. I once read (and now can't find the citation) that little people move at half the pace as adults do, so if he is walking at his normal pace, but I am being impatient, I tend to get frustrated. To stop this, I count to ten in my head. If he is still not making progress, then there is a problem. Usually by six or seven he is doing what I needed him to do.
I am sure I do plenty of additional things, but I wanted to share some that I do. Dr. Sears' list was quite influential. What do you do to set your child up for success? 

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

In and Out

This week is a bit crazy with moving the family blogs to their own website, work, and a playdate (for mama), so if posting is sparse, bear with me. I'll be back!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Staying Healthy

In spite of some of the bugs that have visited our home, I wanted to share some of the things we have been doing in the interest our our health. Some of the things I have written about-- nursing, avoiding plastics, reducing our chemical burden in our bodies, organic foods-- and some I have not. When Erin posted her list on Sunday, I went back to thinking about what we do, don't and should be doing.
In no particular order, what we do.
  • Chiropractic care
  • One a day vitamin for me! (Organic and plant derived, not chemical)
  • Eating superfoods in their raw, unprocessed state
  • Working towards an almost completely raw diet (not sure if we will ever make it to completely raw or not)
  • No bleach
  • Natural cleaners-- usually baking soda and vinegar, but we do use some commercially available products.
  • Minimize and avoid plastics in our home
  • Avoid products with undisclosed ingredient "fragrance"
  • Paraben free shampoos, soaps, etc.
  • Organic foods
  • Use the skin deep database when looking for products to purchase
  • No hormonal birth control
  • No disposable menstrual products (they dry the vagina, TSS risk, etc)
  • Exercise (including stretching)
  • Recognize stress in my life and find ways to release the tension or eliminate the stressor
  • Intellectual stimulation-- I find if I am not challenging myself to think, my health deteriorates
  • Taking the medication prescribed for my thyroid condition
  • Making and keeping routine maintenance appointments (teeth, eyes, body)
  • Continuing to seek God and develop my friendship with Jesus
  • Force time to relax-- reading a book, dinner with friends... overall enjoyment activities
  • Getting enough sleep. I need 8 hours or close to it each and every night
  • Don't smoke
  • Monitor all items in our life for their chemical load, potential toxins, etc
  • Limit dairy intake
This is not so say we never stray from the bullets above. For example, The Boy and I have a Sunday morning tradition of arriving at church early for a donut. A donut. Not ten. I have occupied The Boy with donuts in the car before as well. We eat out at restaurants that do not serve food like I would make for our family, and we eat at others homes without imposing our diet restrictions.
What I'd like to do better
  • Eat more raw foods
  • Eliminate all four legged meat from our diet
  • Exercise even more
  • Garden in pots so I have better control of our food
  • Reduce our dairy consumption overall-- fewer cheeses, etc.
I am sure there are more. I always think of more when I hit "publish post!"

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Religion is a Journey

I do not post a lot on this blog about religion, because if there are two ways to turn people off it is religion and politics. 
OK, that is not the real reason. 
Mostly, I do not post a lot about it, because I think of it as ones personal journey to and with Christ. It is no wonder then that I disagree with so many of my fellow Christian's methods relating to discipleship. Many are convinced that their way is the right way to follow Christ and the lines are black and white with no gray. Of course my openness to many ways is just as much a thought on the "right" way as their narrowness, so I am equally guilty.

In my Sunday school class, we have been discussing the foundations of the Christain Church (Disciples of Christ), and I have learned a lot about Disciples history and the history of other churches, and one thing remains perplexing to me-- the idea of a personal journey (or relationship) with Christ versus a dictated relationship. In other words, if you are in a different place in your journey than I am, what could possible be considered right or wrong? Or if Scripture has a gray or blank spot, one denomination speaks for that hole, while others are silent and each person must decide. 
Yes, if one is stealing from your neighbor and sleeping with your friend's spouse, that is wrong. 
But who is to say my relationship with Christ is wrong or not good enough? Or that one person's teachings or one's journey is superficial? 
The superficial of one might be the deep spiritual journey of others.  We each are inspired to learn more, absorb more, by a variety of people, methods and statements. Some choose Beth Moore. Others John Piper. Or maybe Max Lucado. Some were probably inspired to dig deeper by the DaVinci Code. 
If I commit myself to Him, then who is to say that where I am, what I read, or my journey is wrong? How is anyone's wrong? We each have been drawn to Him for different reasons and moved to action by a different series of events.  

Are we stuck in a world of Comparison Christianity? It seems to me that we each have a "unique calling," but in dictating that there is one right way, are we destroying the uniqueness of our relationship with Christ? I have Christian friends on all ends of the spectrum from what I and others would define as liberal to conservative Christian behavior and belief.  I do not believe any of them are any better or worse Christians than the other, nor is it my place to judge their journey. Is it possible we are all right?

No matter how hard I pray or be still, this is one topic I am waiting for an answer on from Him, but I realize I might never know Who Is Right?

Oh, and I am now devoting Sunday posting to the thoughts accompanying my journey. I hope you enjoy this ride too. If not, skip on Sundays. :)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Rounding some things up

My post on ditching hormonal birth control brought some interesting resources and information to me, and I am grateful for that. I have been using Fertility Friend to keep track of my temperature and cervical mucus. I am no professional... yet! However, I am going to write more on why women bear a greater environmental burden than our male counterparts-- biologically and through socio-economic factors.


My son carries on entire conversations in his sleep. I think he is dreaming, but he used to do this only before developmental milestones. I wonder what is coming up!


We're having some naked time this weekend to start potty training. I'm not sure The Boy is ready, but we're going to find out. If he's not ready, we'll try again in a few weeks.

Friday, February 6, 2009

I couldn't have said it better myself

I wish I had written this myself-- Attachment Parenting is Keeping Us Up At Night: Why We Haven't Gone The Cry It Out Route. Jennifer (the author) included some great resources on sleep and its impacts, including some thoughts on how cry-it-out is not learning to self-soothe, but rather is operant conditioning. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Best Breastfeeding Advice I was Given

Every once in a while, I am asked what is the best breastfeeding advice I was given.

It came from my midwife, Katherine. I was struggling to nurse in the early days, because The Boy would gag every time he latched. He had latched at birth, but had not really nursed since then. Katherine told me, and her assistant repeated a few days later--

"Just relax."

Once I started doing that, I was much less stressed and enjoyed The Boy a lot more.

Honestly, I did not count wet or poopy diapers.

Every cry was not a cause of panic.

Bumps and bruises made me sad, but did not freak me out and cause me to race to the emergency room.

Every fever does not require Tylenol.

Every ounce lost in the beginning did not require formula. (As a side note, my "free stuff" pack from the hospital included nursing teas, but no formula. :) )

Thanks to the blog Blacktating for posting this story and reminding me that relaxing is key to enjoying my son and breastfeeding successfully. :)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Discipline in Attachment Parenting

Discipline has long been a challenge for me. Since I first considered having a child, I have thought long and hard about what I would do. I do not have all the answers... obviously... and I am reading Dr. and Mrs. Sears' The Discipline Book to better understand how to discipline my two year old in age appropriate, attachment parenting friendly styles. In the book, the Sears' address not only how to discipline, but the developmental stages of children and what they can and cannot understand. They do talk about Christian principles and the adage of "Spare the rod, spoil the child," and I agree with their application of scripture. (See #6 on this list for a basic summary. If there is more interest in how I got where I did regarding Biblical teaching and the use of a rod, I can post separately on it.)
The first book I read on discipline was Elizabeth Pantley's No-Cry Discipline Solution, which by the way does include crying, but also a lot of techniques to prevent melt-downs, tantrums and crying.
First and foremost, I do not spank or hit my child-- especially his hands. For young children, hands are a tool of exploration, and instead of slapping his fingers, I redirect them to activities that are acceptable. I have noticed that if my son becomes bored, he starts touching things that are not to be touched-- even in our own home. As such, when he starts "getting in to things" that I would prefer he did not, I redirect him to an appropriate activity.
In my opinion, and the opinion of many researches and authors, hitting does not teach respect, even in households where parents spank with love in their heart and soft hands, and while it might teach consequences, there are many other positive ways to teach consequences of actions (or inactions).  Spanking does teach fear, and I do not want my child fearing that I will hit him if he does something wrong. I want him to know he can come to me, and while there are consequences, violence is not one of them, and we can and will work it out together.
I respect my child, and he respects me back. That's not to say that he does not test the limits, because he does, but by using more positive discipline techniques, we continue to build a bond through attachment parenting rather than violence and threats. A lot of times this includes matter-of-a-fact statements on my part, and in the worst cases some time in time-out to think about what happened.
Many misconstrue this in to the idea that we do not discipline or have rules/boundaries at all, which is completely false. There are rules and boundaries and expected behaviors, but in shaping those behaviors, we do not use violence or threatening language (verbal violence).  Different situations call for different discipline, but our primary focus is on time-out, communication, and confirmation statements for positive behavior (i.e. He says, "I did it." I reinforce-- "You did do it!").
I am amazed at what my two year old can understand. For example, we were having some issues with couch jumping. Rather than spanking or threatening him, I reminded him for a few days that couches are for sitting.  It was a simple statement, and after a few days,  he climbed up and told me "couches are for sitting." On the other hand, I have to be patient as well. Two year old children move considerably slower than I do, and I must remind myself that he does not need to be disciplined or "have a talk" for taking an extra five minutes to pick up all the toys or an extra minute to lie down to have his diaper changed.
Do I make mistakes? Yes. I slip up, but I also apologize to my son just as I would expect him to apologize if he makes a mistake.
Non-violent discipline is NOT the easy way out. It is truly a learning experience-- for parent and child-- and requires a lot of creativity. However, attachment parenting does make non-violent disiciplining easier, and I spend a little extra time setting The Boy up for success, so that he has opportunities to learn in a setting that is appropriate for his development level.

If you are interested in learning more on this style of discipline, Dr. Sears has some great information available free online, including 10 Reasons Not to Hit Your Child.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

More on co-sleeping

When I reflected on the first six months of motherhood, I listed as number five on the list of things I never thought I would do:
5. Put The Boy in my bed. Sometimes the path of least resistance can save ones sanity.
My how things have changed. I was one of those mothers who SWORE my child would sleep in his own bed. That is where a baby belongs, I would tell people. Six months in to parenthood, we were a happy co-sleeping bunch. I realize co-sleeping is not for everyone, but it is for me and a lot of other families.
Recently, in parallel to writing about night time parenting and co-sleeping, I have been getting quite a few emails that have the following statements in them.
"I would never tell anyone else, but..."
"I feel like I can't share this with anyone else, but..."
The part after the "but" is always the same-- I/we co-sleep. Some do it on a full time basis. Others keep it to part-time. Some have a unique arrangement that works for their family.
I love hearing that others are co-sleeping, but I can not help but wonder why they decide not to tell people. It truly is no one's business, and some people are private. Others do not want to hear harsh critics or listen to others spread false information.
As I was sitting in the pediatricians waiting room Monday with my sick son, I overheard two families talking about their children sleeping with them.  One father said, "She's three, so I suppose she should sleep on her own, but she still comes to our bed at night and we allow her to join us." I smiled knowingly to myself... thinking... she's three, not thirty. There's no reason to feel guilty that you allow your three year old in your bed!
Then I looked around, and what did I see? Posters. Several of them. All advertising babies sleeping alone and my smile faded. It is no wonder that parents feel guilty for allowing their child to sleep with them. No one advertises how to do it safely or the benefits. At least not in the places it would impact the most people-- pediatricians offices and other public places. 
PhD in Parenting (hmm... one of these days, I'll write your name... LOL!) asked yesterday on twitter for examples of advertisements by public authorities that are anti-co-sleeping, and they were all over my pediatricians office. If I had had more time, I would have snapped pictures of them. Next time... but we'll keep on co-sleeping. In the year and a half, we've been going there, our pediatrician has known we co-sleep and never says anything about it. I suppose my "don't mess up our nice relationship by giving me parenting advice" attitude helps.
Have you seen anti-co-sleeping advertisements? If so, let PhD in Parenting know. Her email address is on her blog.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hormonal Birth Control

I am often times asked what I am doing in regards to preventing pregnancy, and over the years the answer has changed many times. Erin recently wrote about her own choices, and in doing so, motivated me to write about what I am doing.

I was on "the pill" for a long time, but when we wanted to get pregnant, I went off it. We were pregnant in the second month. Nice, eh?

After The Boy came, I went to the doctor for my six week check and before I could say anything else, he wanted to talk about pregnancy prevention. I was a bit taken aback, but his answer was "What? You want your babies back to back?" I told him "No thank you." Sometimes the straight forward nature of the Germans works in ones favor.  I started taking the "mini-pill" because it was compatible with breastfeeding for most women. (For some women, it can decrease supply.)

When Kevin left in 2007 to go play, I decided to stop taking any hormonal methods. I figured for three months during the summer, I could either start up again or we could use condoms. Well, I tried going back on the mini-pill, but it impacted my supply this time, so I stopped. Condoms it was, only the decision was not that simple.

Honestly, religion did not weigh in directly. The reasons are long, and I won't write about them here, but my primary reasons are related to my health and the long-term issues related to messing with ones hormonal balance.

Right around the time I was trying to decide what to do, I had several friends in adulthood have fairly significant health issues as a result of taking "the pill" and a wide variety of pills. It was not just one variety causing the problem.

While I was weighing the benefits and risks of birth control methods, I was also working hard to reduce the chemical load in our family-- primarily by increasing our consumption of organic foods while decreasing artificial chemicals and pollutants.

I am sure you can see where this is going.

Our family was working to be more natural in all aspects of life, which for us (me) included eliminating unnecessary medications. For us, that included chemical birth control methods. I did have the added benefit of nursing delaying the return of ovulation, but once that was gone, we turned to condoms.

I am not particularly fond of condoms though, because you must send them to the landfill. This brings me to where we are today... well, will be once Kevin returns.

This past month, I began charting my fertility using my basal (resting) temperature and other fertility signs. My purpose was not entirely for family planning. I first wanted to start because I was tired of trying to figure out my post-partum cycles! I have not been really regular since my period returned, and I wanted to understand better what was going on with my body. My secondary purpose was (is) to figure out when I am fertile to aid in preventing pregnancy.

I realize that it will take a bit to use this method as birth control-- at least until my cycles are more regular in my opinion-- but I am happy to gain the increased understanding in what is happening with my body in the mean time.

And when I am fertile... we'll still use condoms. :)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Info on Sleep Associations

PhD in Parenting has a great post on sleep associations today. One thing that stood out in my mind is that I have also chosen to have my son's sleep associations primarily around me, and as I posted last week, I am cool with it. There was a period when I tried really hard to introduce a lovie, but he simply was not having it. In the summer, he does well with Kevin too... after a few weeks.

Check out her post if you are curious about sleep association. :)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Greening myself in 2009

I set some goals, but this is what I have been up as far as greening 2009.

My indoor compost storage pail was giving me fits. It is hard for me to remember to empty it during the day at a time when I can take it out, bring it in, wash it, etc. I hate going out at night, so I bought some compostable liners to try. These aren't exactly it, but pretty much are the same thing. We'll see how that goes.

I purchased a deodorant/anti-perspiration crystal. I have wanted to do this for a while, and in the mean time was using Tom's of Maine Sensitive Care stick in unscented, but I finally remembered to pick up a crystal at Whole Foods. So far, I like it.

The dryer is fixed and function so much more efficiently! I have noticed it takes half the time to dry stuff as it used to, which means a lower electric bill and less energy used. I am still going to buy my outdoor line for the spring, summer and fall, but I feel better knowing the crap-tastic dryer isn't quite so crappy.

I'm still on the five minute shower! We've ditched disposable napkins, and I use paper towels only when we have bacon. We also cloth diaper at home, and I don't dry them, so that saves too.

We renewed our CSA Membership for the summer of 2009 with Three Springs Farm. I am also looking in to the Oklahoma Food Co-Op as an option for buying more local food and other items.  At first I thought it wouldn't work, but I discovered that they have a drop-off in Tulsa very near to our home.

Last, but not least, our vehicle received a tune-up. A problem was discovered, but the efficiency has improved since the tune-up, so that's nice too.

How are you greening your life in 2009? Each small bit counts!

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