Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Normalizing the Natural

After Caroline was born, when nursing consumed much of my time and thoughts, (as if it doesn't now!) I was surprised at how often nursing was mentioned in the fiction I was reading and on television. Was it always there and I just didn't notice? A discussion came up recently on a listserv for breastfeeding counselors to which I subscribe, lamenting the lack of breastfeeding in fiction. The other list readers and I compiled this list of books that do have breastfeeding characters. When you put together a care package for a new mom, be sure to include oatmeal cookies and one of these novels. :-)

Books I've read:

So, What do you do all day? by Amy Scheibe
Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
Life Studies by Susan Vreeland
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maquire
The Lucky Ones: A Novel by Rachel Cusk
Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott

Books others mentioned:
Ten Big Ones, Janet Evanovich
Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
The Wandering Hill, Larry McMurty
The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck
Into the Forest, Jean Hegland
The Summer of my Amazing Luck, Miriam Toews
The Singer from the Sea, Sherri Tepper
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Lives touched by Breastfeeding ed by Boas, Hazell, and Casey
Strange Fits of Passion by Anita Shreve
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea


Series that include breastfeeding as a given for their characters:
Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel
The Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Skye O'Malley by Beatrice Small
Royal Diaries (young adult)
American Girl (young adult)

Authors who often included breastfeeding as the norm:
Nora Roberts
Danielle Steele
Catherine Asaro
Julian May
Teri Levitson
Susan Elizabeth Phillips

**I have not read all of these books myself. This list is a collaborative effort. If you have books to add, please email me or leave a comment. I'll edit to add them!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Modeling Love

I hadn't consciously done this, but I'm so glad that Caroline, with her amazing ability to learn, has understood that her parents love each other. Growing up, my parents were always affectionate in front of us. They would hug and kiss and dance. I want my daughter to grow up in a home seeing a loving, healthy relationship modeled. So, I was thrilled to see her pick up the "mommy" and "daddy" from her dollhouse and have them kiss each other and then dance with each other. Then they found the baby and kissed her, too.

Now, that's a joy!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday -- Toddler Nutrition

Toddlers aren't the best eaters. Most moms worry about their kids' nutrition. I don't stress over how many veggies my daughter eats or fight to get a lead-laden vitamin in her daily because I know she is getting a good dose of the nutrition she needs from mommy's milk.

(from Kelly Mom)
    • In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL (that's about 15 ounces) of breastmilk provides:
      • 29% of energy requirements
      • 43% of protein requirements
      • 36% of calcium requirements
      • 75% of vitamin A requirements
      • 76% of folate requirements
      • 94% of vitamin B12 requirements
      • 60% of vitamin C requirements
      -- Dewey 2001
This nutritionally-sound milk also protects my daughter from the germ-y world. She gets my immunities through my milk, and since she and I are usually together, we are exposed to the same things. Since a human's immune system isn't fully developed until two years of age, nursing is the best thing I can do to keep my daughter healthy now. The health benefits she gets now will continue with her for the rest of her life.

for scholarly research about the nutritional benefits of extended nursing, search Google Scholar.
for breastfeeding support and information, contact La Leche League.
I'm sure I'll be posting more about toddler nursing in the coming weeks and months, so check back here, too!
For more Works For Me Wednesday tips, visit Rocks in My Dryer.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Tackle it Tuesday -- Spice Cabinet

Tackle It Tuesday Meme


This week, I organized my spice cabinet. I moved rarely used things to the higher shelves, dusted off the shelves and the lids, and labeled the tops of the spices for easy finding. Then I put the less-often used spices in baby-sized shoe boxes and lids and left the more-often used ones in the front.

I'm not convinced this is the best method, but it will work for now. I had bought a lazy susan to use for the spices, but it didn't fit in the cabinet. I may look for something at the Container Store the next time I am there. I'm picturing three or four levels with the labeled lids facing out. I'm sure I'll find it.

BEFORE:
AFTER:

Monday, January 22, 2007

Saving up for a kid's wedding birthday party

Fox News reports today that kids' birthday parties are out of control.

This is timely because just this week I called the Cedar Parks Parks Department to see about reserving a pavillion at the Brushy Creek Park for Caroline's 2nd birthday party (keep in mind, it is now January, and her birthday is the last day of May!). The Brushy Creek Park has a great sprinkler play area and a nice playgroup, so I thought it would be great for a hot, summer day. Reserving the pavillion costs $75. Not a deposit. That's the cost. And it is already booked for the Saturday after her birthday, but it is available on the day of her birthday. Doesn't matter -- I said no. I know that is paltry amount compared to what many pay for party locations, but Caroline is only going to be two! We have a really nice neighborhood pool, so we'll have her party there. For her first birthday, we went to the park and had cake. We invited many friends, and I think there were about 15 kids there, but half of those were relatives. We requested no gifts, and we gave out no goody bags. I think we'll go with tradition this year, though, with gifts and goody bags. And since I've been fed at most of the parties I've been to, we'll cook burgers and hot dogs as well as have cake. Simple compared to many, but more than the birthday parties of my childhood.

An interesting grass-roots movement has started in the Midwest -- Birthdays without Pressure. They have some nice ideas.

Friday, January 19, 2007

To Mop, or Not To Mop ?-- that is the question.

I do a different household task each day, and Thursdays are my "hard floor" day. That means on Thursdays I Swiffer the tiled parts of the house and then wet mop them. I wet mop using a flat cloth diaper wrapped onto the Swiffer pole, wet in a mixture in my sink. The mixture varies -- either vinegar and water, Pine-Sol and water, or bleach and water -- depending on what I think the floor needs. This has become my least favorite housekeeping task of the week, not because I dislike mopping, but because I must do it while Caroline naps. It's too hard to keep her off of the wet floor, and she slipped a few months ago on the wet tile and freaks out now if so much as a drop of water is on the floor. When she took two naps a day, doing housework while she napped was the plan. Now that she naps once and enjoys helping so much, I do my housework while she is awake (and while away the hours reading blogs and such during naptime).

Apparently my floors don't get too dirty. I hosted my Tuesday playgroup here last week. Keep in mind, this would be two days before "hard floor" day, so five days since I'd mopped last. I was outside with some of the kids when a mom came out laughing saying I had to see something inside. I walked in and another mom was holding up a wad of white papertowels. Somebody had spilled some water on the floor, so she grabbed some papertowels to wipe it up. When she looked at the papertowels after wiping, they were clean. The moms were amazed, and I have to admit I was pretty surprised myself (and so thankful!)

So yesterday, I skipped wet mopping. I went over all of the tile with my new favorite gadget, The Shark, my Christmas present. Then I Swiffered. I guess I should keep this my dirty secret, but I'm going to try just mopping every other week. I can give up twenty minutes of "me" time every fortnight to mop, I think. Is my house going to become a stinky pig sty? I hope not.

I'd love to hear how often others mop. (I'm betting that at two of you mop daily -- RS and EW.) Leave a comment and let me know how often you mop.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday


I have learned (and am learning) so much from and been inspired by other moms in the blog-o-sphere through carnivals like Tackle it Tuesday and Works for Me Wednesday, that I've decided to give back to the web, in a way, and join in. You've seen two weeks of Tackle it Tuesday so far -- that's for inspiration and accountability -- now you'll see Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by Rocks in my Dryer, for ideas to use at home or with the kids.

Babysitter's Club
Stay-at-home moms of toddlers need a break every now and then, so some neighbors and I formed a babysitting swap. Since I'm not interested in regularly leaving my daughter in a paid childcare situation, like a Mother's Day Out, and I want Caroline to have fun time with other kids rather than sitting at home with a babysitter, this option works really well.

Four neighbors and I, all with kids between 13 months and 19 months, switch off sitting every Tuesday afternoon. Two moms are "on" each week while three are "off." We chose one house as the host home, and we bring the kids there after naps, around 2:30. With five moms, we rotate so that you're "on" one week, and then off for one or two weeks. We plan a few months in advance so we can book doctor or hair appointments during those times. It's a great chance to get lots of errands taken care of. We've all been amazed at how much we can get done in 2 1/2 hours when we aren't getting a toddler in and out of the car sear, in and out of the shop, etc.

We have a binder that travels each week that has a sheet for each of our "precious ones." It has the parents' contact information -- mom's cell, dad's number at work, home number, the child's birthday, allergy information (my sweet child is the only one with allergies so far but others have foods they are avoiding), and any other things we need to know about the kids.

We started with five moms, then lost one because her son was having some separation anxiety, but we found another interested neighbor and are back at five. Discipline hasn't been an issue, really, but may be something we'll have to discuss in the future. I know some of the other moms use "time-outs" which I'm not planning to use with Caroline. We have given toys time-outs, though, which is fine with me and has worked with two 19-month olds are intent on dominating the toy vacuum cleaner (or whatever.)

I was reluctant to leave my daughter at all, but after having a few Tuesday afternoons to myself, I have fallen in love with the BABYSITTER'S CLUB (and the mommas and kiddos I'm working with.)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

BEFORE





AFTER



Tackle It Tuesday Meme


This week I tackled the refrigerator. It wasn't too bad, really. The worst thing I found was a box of pancake mix that expired in November. I think I've used it since then, but it was in the fridge and we obviously didn't get sick from it. It's nice to have such a central part of the home organized, even if it won't stay that way for long. Notice the big plastic bag on the lower shelf. That's a skinned wild turkey my dad killed on my uncle's ranch. I'm going to make tukey-au-vin today with it.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Running with Scissors

My book club's choice for this month is Augusten Burroughs's memoir, Running with Scissors. I'm not a huge memoir fan, so I didn't vote for it the numerous times it came up in our polls, but after I saw a preview for the movie, I decided I might enjoy the book. It won our latest poll without my vote, regardless. I was even more intrigued to read it when I got this message from the paperbackswapper sending me the book:
"Hi Amanda,
I mailed your book this morning.
Normally I end my messages with 'enjoy'or 'happy reading' but this book is so sick, twisted and disturbing that neither of those seem appropriate. So instead I'll close with this...
Don't read this book while eating,
L"

Contrary to her message, I did "enjoy" the book. She is right, it is sick and twisted and disturbing. This guy had some really messed up adults influencing his life, but he survived with his sense of humor intact and has gone on to be successful. The concept of resilience is an idea that really stuck out in my mind during graduate school. We talked often about resilience being so important in social and emotional development, especially in gifted individuals -- it being a key in moving a gifted person to the talented level. I'd say Augusten Burroughs would made an excellent case study.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Boob Tube

For the next five months, the television in my living room will remain either unplugged or set on dvd mode so that a blank screen appears when it is turned on. I have decided to follow the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that children under the age of two watch no television. Unfortunately, some tv-viewing over the holidays has brought out a little TV addict in my darling daughter.

I am proud that the half a dozen Baby Einstein videos I was given as baby gifts remained unopened until Caroline was 18 months old. I traveled with my dad to OKC to see my sister and took advantage of his in-vehicle dvd player to entertain Caroline on the drive. One movie would end and she would sign for "more." She was hooked! She was given a Rudolf dvd for Christmas, so we let her watch that on Christmas Eve, and a few other times in the past weeks I turned the TV on for a minute for various reasons. Caroline has been able to turn the TV on and off for quite some time, and that is just what she would do. Turn it on. Turn it off. Turn it on. Turn it off. She wasn't watching anything. Lately, though, several times she has turned on the TV, crawled onto the couch, and sat staring. She even did this with a house full of kids the other day. Not OK!!

I have several reasons for postponing television viewing. I don't want her exposed to the commercialism and over-consumption portayed on commercials and in shows. I would rather have her actively involved in something *real* rather than observing something *false.* And there are numerous studies that point to detrimental effects of early television watching -- increases in autism and obesity, shortened attention spans -- even if there is no definitive evidence. I watched a few minutes of Sesame Street the other day. I did not grow up watching Sesame Street, but my husband has fond memories of it. I was repulsed by Elmo's baby talk and the Cookie Monster's atrocious grammar. This is *educational programming*? I have an on-line acquaintance who used to work in educational television programming who admits that they consciously put in the minimum amount of educational content allowed to be able to call a program "educational."

Still, I do see the merits of educational programming for preschoolers and school-aged children. I see some of the concepts my niece has mastered from these shows. Caroline is still far from a preschooler, though, so for now, her time is best spent helping mommy, playing with friends, reading books, and dancing.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

No Tackle it Tuesday this week

I had my Tuesday playgroup and Babysitter's Club both here yesterday -- about twenty kids in the house over the course of the day. Needless to say, I didn't get anything organized (unless you count the toys that I picked up.) :-) Tune in next week for...THE REFRIGERATOR.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Happy 12th Anniversary, John!

Twelve years ago today, at about this time, I married the love of my life. We were just babies, really, and we are so fortunate that we have grown up *together*. John and I were talking a few weeks ago about some aquaintance's drama. I don't remember who or what, but he said something about being glad that neither of us were into drama. I think that is a huge part of making our marriage successful. We choose not to create drama. We choose to be happy. We choose to love each other.

Having such a great guy for a husband does help, I admit. John gets better looking every year! He's a wonderful father and a good provider. He's grown into the spiritual leader in our family. He makes me a better person. I love you, babe!



Thursday, January 04, 2007

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

Often, how quickly I finish a book is an indicator of how much I liked it. This was not the case with Wicked: The True Story of the Wicked Witch of the West. While I usually devour books on roadtrips and over holidays, life with a toddler doesn't allow the same level of voracious reading. This book took me a good three weeks to read, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

I have a love / hate relationship with The Wizard of Oz. I really enjoy the movie and the songs, but I have strong memories of it because it prompted my first nightmare. Eerily, I had a dream while reading Wicked that was partly inspired by this book, too.

The story is just what the title says. Every person has a story, circumstances that shape who they are and how they feel and act. In our lives, we are usually just concerned with our story and maybe those of the ones we love and are close to. In fiction, it is the same. We all love Dorothy and know her story. In this book, Gregory Maguire gives us Elphaba's story. Yup, the Wicked Witch of the West has a name! (L F B, L. Frank Baum's initials, get it?) In fact, she's not even really a witch, she was just born green to the consternation of her parents.

I like seeing things from a different perspective, and here we get to see the story leading up to the infamous tornado, the tornado, and what follows.

I recommend the book and look forward to seeing the Broadway production someday.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Tackle it Tuesday -- getting started

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

It's actually, Wednesday, I know, but since Monday was a holiday, my week's schedule is a day off. My housekeeping schedule is Monday: bathrooms, Tuesday: organization, Wednesday: living areas or bedrooms, Thursday: tile floors, Friday: vacuum. The idea of Tackle it Tuesday, hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom, fits perfectly with my schedule. Each Tuesday, I'll tackle an organizational project and post the details here.

This week, I worked on the LLL library. We have three bins full of books, but I'd say only three or four titles are regularly checked out. I weeded through and posted about twenty of our books on paperbackswap. Nine have already been requested, so I have those packaged up to take to the post office tomorrow.

Paperbackswap is a great resource for readers (and declutter-ers)! You list books you want to get rid of. When a book is requested by another user, you pay the shipping ($1.59 media mail) to send that person the book, and you get one credit in your account. You use your credits to request books you want. You can keep a Wishlist of books you want and be notified when those are posted or even have them automatically ordered for you. It's totally free, except for your shipping expenses.

(If you happen to sign up, please mention me as your referee -- I'm ajfowle on paperbackswap.)

Monday, January 01, 2007

Joys of the Season

Happy New Year! I really enjoy Christmas. The days after Christmas Day are my favorite part of this Holy season. The rush of parties and shopping is over. The constant commercial-bombardment of the "holidays" is over. These twelve days of Christmas, the period of time between when we observe Jesus's birthday and the magi arriving with their gifts, are special to me. I can sit back and enjoy John's company, as he takes off work the week after Christmas. I can continue to enjoy my Christmas decorations. Now that I have a child, I can enjoy watching her enjoy her new toys. In the past, this was a time John and I usually traveled since I was not due back at school.

I have a tiny idea in the back of my head to rearrange my Christmas celebration a bit in the future years. I think that I may go ahead and "do Santa" with Caroline on Christmas morning but save a gift to give to her on Epiphany, or Three King's Day. That would serve two purposes, as I see it: spread out the toy fest to allow Caroline to truly enjoy all of her gifts and give her an awareness of the whole reason we exchange gifts during the Christmas season -- following in the steps of the wisemen who presented their gifts to the Christ child.

Our rector is on vacation this week, so our associate rector was scheduled to preach. She was ill, though, so one of our assisting clergy, a retired priest, stepped in to deliver the sermon Sunday. His words are exactly my thoughts on this time of year. You can listen to his sermon here. (the Dec. 31 sermon)