Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Fragments ~ My kids are such animals

A few snapshots from the last few days...

Before Eagle was born, I started telling Bear the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff, only I put in the names of our three boys for the three goat brothers... Tonight Bear asked for a story, so I started to tell him about the three brothers who were goats: The Wolf goat, the Bear goat, and...
Bear interjected, "I'm a cow."


Today we were in the car when the following conversation took place.
Bear: Mom, can you hear that noise?
Me: what noise?
Bear: the butterfly noise
Me: a butterfly noise?
Bear: yeah, the butterfly clicking noise.
Me: oh, no, I don't hear that.
Bear: I hear it. I think there's a butterfly back here.
Me: oh you do huh?
Bear: oh it's on me, it TICKLES!!!


Last night Wolf must have been nearly asleep when he came shuffling out to the living room. "Mom," he said "what family is the platypus in?"
These kinds of questions can keep one up at night you know. (It's a good thing mommy knew the answer!)
"It's a monotreme, which means it's a mammal that nurses its babies but it also lays eggs. There is only one other animal that's a monotreme and it's called the echidna."
"Wow, cool, ok..." and he shuffled back off to bed.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

No Middle Ground

There are a few foods in the world that people either love or hate. Some things do not seem to allow middle ground.

For example, mushrooms. I don't know anyone who is ambivalent about mushrooms. Either they love them or they won't touch them. I can't stand the things (in spite of the fact that they add great flavor to sauce). They are just so slimy and all I can think of is slugs...

My sister tells me that in Brazil they have Acai juice everywhere, and it's another love-it-or-hate-it thing. She hated it. Her husband loved it. Being that they don't live in Brazil at the present, I don't know whether their kids have had (or will have) the opportunity to decide which team to join.

I also can't stand pudding skin. I'd rather have an instant pudding with no skin, but my hubby's favorite part is the skin, so he likes to make a batch and then pour it into a really big pan so that it's only 1/2 inch thick but has the maximum amount of pudding skin. He mentioned this to his dad recently, and his dad's eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas. Apparently he is another pudding skin lover, because he thought it was a fabulous idea.

Tomatoes are another common one--although apparently that great divide can be crossed, because as a kid I hated them but in adulthood I came to love them. I don't know how that happens, but still there's no middle ground...I just appear to be a line-hopper in that case.

But now I admit to the weird one:
I like lumps in my cream of wheat.
Does this put my sanity into question?

Which side are you on? Can you think of any more?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Too Many Numbers

There is a scene at the beginning of a little film called "Why Man Creates." One character is asking the other a series of questions, to which each answer is a series of numbers (address, phone number, ID number, zip code, etc etc). After a few exchanges their conversation devolves into just a lot of numbers
Man 1: "7389456?"
Man 2: "934647393"
Man 1: "9374"
Man 2: "3934 8493988 738937!!"
It's a nice commentary on how we have turned everything about ourselves into a series of numbers...on the one hand it's terribly impersonal, on the other hand it affords some privacy I suppose...but in the long run, it's just hard to remember them all.

The other day I called my bank about something and they asked me to provide verification of my identity. I'm glad that they do this of course--I wouldn't want someone else poking about in my bank account information--but somewhere in the middle my brain crashed.
Teller: "last four digits of your social?"
Me: "[yeah right like I'd publish that!]"
Teller: "home phone number"
Me: "[or that!]"
Teller: "Home address"
Me: "[number, street, city] Alaska..." mental blue screen of death! "998...wait, that was my old zip, 99...shoot, I can't remember my zip code! I think it's 99***" (Which it's not by the way, I got two of the three digits right but they were in the wrong order.)
Thankfully I had known all the other stuff so she believed that I was me.
But really, who forgets their own zip code? Especially when they've had it for 7 months?
Me, apparently.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My Beliefs on Birthing Choices

I got some interesting responses when I posted my sister's story. Some I expected ("Those are familiar feelings!") and some not so much. They are all valid points though, so I wanted to take a couple of minutes to share why I shared her story here, and also to respond to my commenters.
First of all, I had pre-scheduled both her post and my response last weekend, and then my computer crashed for a couple of days (whole other story) anyway, I did not see any of the comments until this morning, otherwise I would have responded sooner.

The natural birthing community often spreads stories of 'painless birth' and even 'orgasmic birth.' They tout birth as a beautiful thing. I do believe that the entry of a child into the world is a beautiful event, but I know that not every woman experiences it as beautiful. I've shared my own stories so you probably know that my take is that "birthing is hard work, although it's totally manageable." My sister doesn't fall into either of those categories though--she has given birth in loving, supportive environments, and done everything 'right' as per being able to have peaceful gentle birth (hypno-classes, good support people, etc), and yet she describes her births with words like "difficult" "suffer" and "excruciating."
I shared her story here because I think it is important to share both sides of the natural birth coin--there are people who seem to glide through it, and others who struggle but still choose it because they deeply believe that it is a healthier, safer, better choice.

Now I want to respond to my commenters.
Liz spoke of being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and rape. She--after careful thought and consultation with her provider--decided that the intensity of birthing sensations in the vaginal area would probably trigger all kinds of horrific emotions for her. She chose epidurals for her births, and I think that sounds like a very wise choice in her situation. I believe in something which BFW refers to as "the compassionate use of epidural" which is essentially that it's not healthy to make medication the default choice, but it's also not healthy to rule it out entirely, because there is a time and a place for it. I think Liz's situation is certainly an appropriate place for the compassionate use of an epidural.
I know a young woman whose first baby died in utero just a few days before her due date. She had planned to birth naturally, but once they learned of the baby's death she then was coping with the intensity of grief on top of the intensity of birthing. She also chose an epidural. I think this was another appropriate and compassionate use of epidural.
Another woman I know has twice tried to birth naturally, and both times had a very long, very painful labor with minimal dilation, and both times has ended up having to transfer to the hospital for a c-section. She is now expecting her third child, and has decided that this time she is going to try laboring with an epidural, to see if the reduction of pain will allow her to relax enough to dilate and give birth vaginally. Again, I see an appropriate use of an epidural.
Where I have a problem with epidurals is when the woman doesn't take the time to consider all the options. When she isn't willing to consider trying. When the intervention becomes the default and no one stops to question it. Liz concluded her comment with this thought: "I shouldn't ever have to justify my reasons for choosing to have an epidural. But I share the reason for my decision because it's a different point of view and might shed some light on the deeply personal experience that is birthing." and she's right. She should not have to justify her reasons to anyone except herself. But there again that is the key--she does have reasons for her choice, it was not just going with the flow or doing what everyone does, it was a carefully-thought-out choice. It's true that it is a deeply personal decision, but I (we) share our stories not so much to condemn as to stimulate critical thought. Because "Birth is not merely a means to an end, it is an event that [is] imprinted on a woman's life forever. The memories of their children's births are among the most vivid memories a woman will ever have."  So these choices should not be made lightly.

I also want to respond to Nicole. As usual, she has some perceptive thoughts to share. Thoughts that may be hard to hear, but which are valid all the same. She thought that the post seemed self-righteous, judgmental, and unkind. "This is exactly the attitude that bothers me about some women who choose to give birth naturally," she wrote. "I've given birth both ways, and I respect other women for whatever they choose to do. My ego or sense of self-worth is simply not based on how I chose to birth my babies." Her comment is a good reminder that no matter how strongly we may feel on a given topic, no matter how confident we are in our own views of the issue, the way we express our message is going to influence people at least as much as the message itself. Yes, I do genuinely believe that it is better to birth without medication. I don't see it as a choice between two equals (just as I feel about breastfeeding vs formula feeding). I do believe that there are valid exceptions to the rule, but that they are few and far between. But we must also remember that, as they say, "presentation is everything."

"We lived our lives in fear"

This was my immediate gut response to what my sister wrote (which I posted yesterday)

I think 'fear' hits the nail on the head. I think we live in a culture of fear, and that it drives many people's choices. We fear pain, thus we take medications and use epidurals. We fear work, so we use elevators and cars and automatic mixers and other labor-saving devices without thinking about alternatives. We fear sickness, so we over-vaccinate and take medications for the smallest symptom. We fear death, so we refuse to talk about it, and then when it happens we try to make it into a big deal with lavish coffins, "lifelike" embalming, and over-the-top funerals. We fear truth, so we lie to others--and to ourselves.
But fear is the opposite of faith.
And a world full of fear can only happen in a world void of faith.

Monday, February 22, 2010

My Choice

Today I share a guest post from my sister. She has also chosen unmedicated birthing, but her experiences have been quite different from mine. Here she shares some of her thoughts and reflections on her birth choices.

My friend and neighbor had her fourth baby on Tuesday. She was induced one week early and had an epidural, just as she did with her other three kids. She just likes it that way. The whole idea of scheduling a birth, going to the hospital without any labor pains and having a baby a few hours later, just boggles my mind. It is so strange to me that I can’t stop thinking about it. I know that it is very common for women to be induced as well as for women to have epidurals, but this time, with this friend, it bothers me more. What bothers me? It’s hard to say. I have had many conversations with this friend and we agree about many things, but we do not agree on birth methods, and somehow that is a big thing. It is such a big thing that it’s almost as if it drives a wedge in our friendship, distancing us and preventing us from some more complete measure of friendship. This is the case with other friends as well. The opposite is also true. Many times I have learned that a new friend or acquaintance has natural births and immediately there is a connection, a pull toward friendship. There is a feeling of “you have felt it too!” For some reason birthing methods makes a big difference in the strength of understanding and friendship for me, probably because it’s something I am passionate about.

Yet there is something else that bothers me. What is this feeling that I get when I learn of someone’s medicated birth? Is it a feeling of self-rightness, a sense of “I’m right and she’s wrong”? No, I know women have their agency (and I wish more of them would use it instead of letting “health care professionals” make personal decisions for them! But that’s another topic). It’s not right and wrong; it’s just different. Then what is this feeling? Is it jealousy? Am I jealous that she had an easy, pain free experience when giving birth is so difficult for me? Is it that it’s not fair? But I know I have the choice, too. It’s just that I’ve done the research for myself and I know it’s statistically safer to do it naturally without intervention, and that is what I have chosen. Is it self doubt? Do I doubt my choice? I find myself thinking, “am I insane?” Why do I choose to suffer when there is a pain free option? I remind myself of the many reasons, but then I wonder if it’s worth all the fear that I feel. I never want to go through that again, and I think about it every day. Have I really made the right choice?

I watched my friend return home from the hospital today. I felt a great distance between us, despite the close proximity of our physical persons. I do not understand what she just experienced. And she does not understand what I have experienced at the most excruciating, life changing moments of my life. As I see it, she has not experienced the culmination of being a woman. She is choosing to miss it! The birth of my babies will be forever etched in my memory; moments of pain, yes, and also of relief, strength and power. I am a woman. I birth my babies the way God intended it to be. That makes me powerful. I watch my friend walk with her baby to their door. No, I do not comprehend what she just experienced, and I guess I never will.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Frugal Friday: Ye Olde Wool Sweater

Have you got any old wool sweaters laying around? Perhaps it's something you love but realize you'll never fit into again. Perhaps it was an amazing deal at a thrift store. Perhaps it's gotten a hole. Perhaps it's just too scratchy to really wear.
Well it certainly doesn't need to be sitting in the back of your closet tempting the moths! Here are a few things I like to do with wool.

*Any regular 'hand-wash' wool can be felted. If the wool is scratchy, I always recommend felting it. This means wash it in a hot soapy wash a couple of times (with lots of agitation) until it shrinks up and gets thick. You can cut/sew it before or after felting, but I recommend doing it afterward because you never know exactly how much it will shrink! (Please note that washable wool does not felt...however once it's been fully felted, your formerly hand-wash-only wool will be machine-washable in cold water.)
  • recycle the yarn~not all sweaters can be unraveled, but many will unravel quite easily. just snip a little into the neck or cuff, and start pulling gently at the yarn. It will pull out into a kinky but long piece of yarn. Gentle washing and hang-drying will get the kinks out, and voila, you're ready to use it for a new project!
  • recycled longies~felted or non-felted, best made with soft wool with tighter stitches. If you want it for diapering purposes, do not use a washable wool~whether you cloth diaper or not, wool pants are a nice winter option for the kiddos. They are great for playing outside in wet/snowy places because they have a degree of water-resistance to them. Of course if you DO cloth diaper you probably already know how amazing wool can be for that! Here is a tutorial that uses the sleeves as the legs of the longies. Here is another that is a pattern cut from the front/back of the sweater (for this latter one, the maker tells me that she's added about 1" to both the length and width of the pattern shown since making the tutorial).
  • storage for cast iron pans~especially if you use them for camping, a 'pan sweater' will keep the pan from getting wet or dirty from outside sources (the wool will absorb moisture that may head its way), and inversely it will also protect everything else from getting black smudges from the cast iron! I made mine using the body of a felted sweater--just cut it off at the armpits, sewed across the top, and left the bottom open for sliding the pan in and out.
  • hot pads/pot-holders~felt the wool, cut it to size, sew two (or more) layers can make it fancy (turned and topstitched) or just zig-zag around the edges to hold the layers together. (The one downside of these is that if they get wet they will not protect you from heat...but that is the nature of most hot pads, so I don't see it as a big deal.) If you are feeling ambitious, sew the layers on three sides but leave the last side open so that you can use it as a that case I recommed an extra layer for at least one side of the mitt.
  • cast iron handle covers~felt the wool, then make a rectangle that is the length of your pan's handle and about 5" wide. Fold in half, sew across the end and down one side to make a closed-ended tube, and turn it right-side-out. (Depending on the thickness of your felted wool, you may want to double-layer it, but I prefer not to as that becomes bulky and difficult to work with.) Slide it right onto your pan handle and keep it there--no more grabbing for slippery pot-holders when you need to shift your cast iron pan, the hot pad is already right there!
  • (felted) quilt squares~if you have a lot, especially if you have some fun colors or patterns, consider felting it all, then making it into a lap quilt. It will probably be a bit heavy, but will be toasty warm!
  • (felted) rug~The same idea as the quilt...just look what my friend Joy did for her entryway! (you'll need to scroll about halfway down the post). My goodness I need to make me one of those!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Feelin Feminine Challenge

Christina at TheStoryOfUs shared this challenge recently, and I decided to give it a go. The original challenge is to wear skirts/dresses every day for a week. I have had periods in my life when I did this, but at present it is a bit difficult because 1--I am nursing so dresses/jumpers are out. 2--many of my skirts are summery and it's winter in Alaska right now. 3--some of my skirts still don't fit around my post-baby body. So I decided to do what I do with so many things, and adapt it for myself.
For the last week I have made efforts to be more feminine in my appearance--but not necessarily just by wearing skirts--and to observe how it affected how feminine I felt. I made an effort to actually comb and style my hair every day, not just pull it up in a quick bun (which is what I often do). I wore earrings. I made an effort to be feminine in my behavior--thinking about my role as a Keeper At Home, taking pride in doing what I do well, and also trying to be gentle and patient and those other traditional virtues.

Here are some photos from the week:

Day 1 (Photo courtesy of Wolf)
Nothin makes ya feel fat like wearing your favorite skirt--that used to be slightly loose at the waist--and having to wear a waist cincher to even get it zipped up...and then still looking pudgy anyway. *sigh* I decided to put this skirt away again for a few more months. I can't bear to get rid of it though--not unless I know I won't fit it again--because I made it and like I said, I really love it.

Day 2 (Taking my own photos now--thank you mirror!)
I went for a feminine shirt (my sister got it for me in Brazil), upswept hair, and pretty (etsy) earrings...with my jeans. I liked it. Someone asked me for a tutorial on the hair--I'll try to remember to post that soon. I just wanted something besides a regular old I made a glorified version of a regular old bun. ☺

Day 3--no photos, whoops! I wore an embroidered peasant blouse (which my sister got me from Mexico--go sis!!) with the jeans and some pretty earrings...

Day 4 (Sunday)

A rare non-dangly-earring day, but it was Valentine's, so I figured hearts were in order, besides which these earrings were a gift from Wolf a couple of years ago. ♥
Hair up a la day 2 again.

Day 5
Oh my word I forgot to wear earrings.
I think I get a bonus point for this day though because I made both the blouse and the skirt...

Day 6
These are the earrings I wore on Day 3... (handmade--bought from a street fair vendor when I was in college). Even a blue button-down shirt can be feminine...I think...

Day 7--no photos, but I wore the stripey green skirt again with a tan t-shirt. I didn't sleep very well the prior night and didn't do anythign interesting with my hair or earrings...but I wore a dress. So I still get my points, right?!

Day 8--today
Another peasant blouse (this one I bought in Turkey--note the lace bit in the middle of the sleeve too--I love that part *sigh*) These earrings I bought at a street fair at least 15 years ago. They were on studs which eventually got ikky, but I switched them onto some nice french hooks and they are still my favorites...they have seen more ear time than all my other earrings combined I think. But how can you go wrong with a simple dangle that matches everything?!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So now we get the exciting "let's analyze our feelings" part of the post. ☺ Here are things I noticed this week:
  • A lot of the things I did this week are things I do anyway--baking bread, making dinners, sewing--but when I was thinking about them as part of my 'role' rather than part of my 'dumb stuff I gotta do' list they seemed, I don't know...less drudgery and more noble I guess. I mean, kneading bread is still kneading bread--and I don't mind it--but there's something about kneading it with love instead of kneading it with hurry I guess. 
  • A lot of people chop off their hair when they have kids. If you like short hair, go ahead and have a short haircut...but I think it's sad to get 'mom hair' just because you're a Mrs, you know? I find that a pretty up-do is youthful and elegant and feminine, and it can add a dash of glamour to everyday jeans...
  • All my best stuff is either handmade or from a foreign country. Hmmmmmm.
  • Earrings can dress you up or frump you down. 
  • Femininity is as much about attitude and actions as it is about outfits. Maybe moreso.
  • ...and I no longer own any pants except jammies/sweats and jeans. This is Alaska, after all--and I've lived in the bush for the last two years. I decided that this summer I need to buy a pair of slacks or corderoys so I can have something between 'jeans' and 'church' to wear.

The Value of a Person

Unless you've been living under a rock somewhere, you probably heard that last week olympic luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died during training, before the opening ceremonies were even held. He was 21 and from the eastern European Republic of Georgia.
The news was shocking and sad of course, but what was even more shocking and sad to me was the way the news was delivered on a local radio station. "There has been a death at the Olympics," the DJ said. Then he added quickly "Not an American or a Canadian though..."

Not a member of our team, oh and not a member of the home team, so therefore he's less important? We don't know him personally (we can barely pronounce his name) so, you know, his death is news but we're not emotional over it.

Since when is one person less of a person than another?

Oh yeah, since forever. The person who looks different. The person who doesn't speak your language. The person who is handicapped. The baby that isn't born yet. Many people are marginalized and for many reasons. But these are all people, and in God's eyes each person is equally important with each other person.
How is it that humanity is so inhuman?!
And what can I do to be the change I want to see--need to see--in this inhuman world?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sleep, Glorious Sleep!!

It's the plague of the mother with young children--the lack of sleep. It's the reason that books about teaching children to sleep become bestsellers. It's the reason that things like letting a baby "cry-it-out" are considered acceptable. Mom has to be able to get her sleep or she won't be able to function.
Trust me, I understand. In the average day I need to prepare at least one large balanced meal (lunch is usually leftovers from prior days, and breakfast is typically simple, but I generally spend a good hour on dinner). I chase a toddler around all day. I break up world war III (or IV or V) between my sons on a regular basis. I clean the house. I sew or knit. I may have errands to run or people to see. And yeah, I spend some time online chatting with friends, commenting on their facebook statuses, and attempting to enlighten the world via my blog. Yes, I need my sleep as much as anyone.
But I don't believe in leaving a baby alone to cry. I think it's psychologically damaging to a young infant to abandon them like that. (Go ahead, feel offended, this is my blog, I'm going to give my opinion!) ☺

So what is my solution? Simple: co-sleeping.

Co-sleeping can mean several different things. It might mean bedsharing (where the infant is in bed with mother). It might mean having a sidecar bed (where the infant's bed is adjacent to mother's). It might mean having the baby in his own bed across the room from mom--but still in the same room. The point is not the exact sleeping arrangement, the point is that they are sharing sleep.
Many breastfeeding mothers choose bedsharing because they can literally just half-wake, slip the breast into the baby's mouth, and drift back to sleep. Bear shared our bed until he was past 2. He also didn't night wean until then. Both Hubby and I would have preferred to have him move into his own bed (and nightwean) a little earlier than he did, but every kid is different and that was just what Bear seemed to need at the time.
Some people have difficulty with bedsharing because they get 'touched-out' and need some space in order to sleep soundly. My sister is one of these people, and my little Eagle is another. My sister puts her babies in their own bed near hers, so that she can attend to them when they need her, but she can still sleep between times. Eagle enjoys snuggles during bedtime, but once he's asleep he stays asleep much longer if I put him in the sidecar crib rather than keeping him nestled next to me.
Here is our current arrangement: 
If you look at that and think "gosh, you have to climb to get into bed" then you're right, I do. But that's how our room is laid out, and you know, it's ok. For one thing, since Eagle is breastfed then when I wake up with him I don't have to get up, I just wake up enough to feed him, then lay him back down. Yes, sometimes I go back to sleep with him snuggled in next to me, but sometimes I don't. One of the nice things about having the sidecar there is that it's available if I want it, but it's convenient to have him in bed with me too--and because of the sidecar being right there I don't worry about him falling or rolling off the edge of the bed.
(And no, we don't usually make the bed--you're right that is a bit of a hassle with the crib there--but we didn't usually make it before anyway. Today I made it specially for taking this photo for you. Don't you feel special?!)
You can see that my bed is scooted right against his, and that they are the same height. I have a few things in the bed there with him too. First, a small pillow (to keep him sleeping on an incline, so that he doesn't get stuffed up). I lay a cotton blanket out under him (over the pillow) and then I grab a crochet blanket or two to put over him--I like using them because they are warm but they are also full of holes--so I don't have to worry about him accidentally pulling it over his face because he would be able to breathe through it.
One thing that has proven to be very convenient about the sidecar arrangement is that I keep a little box there. It has my water bottle and chapstick, gripe water, diaper cream, the binkie, a burp cloth or two, plus some wipes and my nighttime diapers. They are always right at hand so I don't have to clamber out of the bed for anything during the night. If you look back to the first photo, you can see that there is also a pair of wool longies hanging over the end of the crib...I often put them there to air out because I always use them at night.

Eagle seems to like the arrangement ♥

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Things I ♥ about my Honey

  • Seeing him read with the boys and snuggle them at bedtime
  • He was excited to catch our babies as they were born
  • He is supportive of me, even in my wilder ideas
  • The way he insists on taking me out or getting me little presents, even though I tell him I don't really need it
  • His teaching me to be more spontaneous
  • His dimple (just one!) and the fact that he gave dimples to some of the kids
  • His curly hair
  • His gorgeous blue eyes
  • He works hard to provide for the family
  • He likes to tell other people how cool I am, or how neat something I made is
  • He's a good cook too, and likes to take his turn in the kitchen
  • He's a careful thinker, and has opened my eyes and gotten me thinking on a number of topics (political, social, moral, and philosophical) over the years.
  • He loves me, even on the days when I'm not terribly lovable
I had to take digital photos of the prints in our wedding album because we didn't have any photos of just us together (we had a few family shots but that's it). 

♥ Happy Valentines Day Honey ♥

Friday, February 12, 2010

Little things I ♥ that make me happy

  • The bubbles that show that my yeast/water mixture is growing and ready to be added to the bread dough.
  • Putting a diaper on my baby and knowing that *I* made it.
  • Watching any member of my family use or wear something that I made for them.
  • Holding an armful of warm, clean, soft cloth diapers straight from the dryer.
  • Baby smiles
  • Toddler laughs
  • Hugs from my kids
  • Cuddles with my Honey
  • When my Hubby says "It's your call, I'll support whatever you want to do" ♥
  • The smell of bread baking, and eating freshly-baked bread
  • The sense of accomplishment when I finish something--making a meal, baking bread, sewing or knitting something, etc.
  • Hearing that someone loved something I made for them (whether it was a business transaction or a gift).
  • Using my glass bowls & pans, bamboo cutting boards, stainless steel utensils, pans & measuring cups, wooden spoons, or other quality kitchen tools that my Hubby has been giving me at almost every birthday and Christmas since we got married.
  • Using my bernina sewing machine. Having a good quality tool makes the work so much nicer.
  • Using my knitpicks options knitting needles.
  • Going to unload the dishwasher and discovering that someone else did it for me.
  • Waking up and realizing that I've just slept for 4 continuous hours.
  • Getting comments on my blog posts.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Some things I ♥ about living in Alaska

  • The Permenant Fund Dividends 
  • The way that most folks here walk to their own beat
  • The way that most folks here are comfortable with everyone else walking to their own beat too
  • Many of my 'hippie' ways (such as unmedicated childbirthing) are common
  • That most everybody has a dog that's a member of the family, and therefore most hotels allow dogs
  • The government here mostly has a 'hands-off' attitude
  • The way that the rest of the country forgets we are here and leaves us alone
  • No state income tax
  • It's actually possible for a family to live on a teacher's income here
  • Awesome berries
  • Huge vegetables (thank you midnight sun!)
  • The midnight sun
  • The northern lights
  • The wintertime sunrises (which aren't until 9am so I get to see every one of them) (photo taken from my porch)
  • The way that people take care of each other
  • Knitting is a worthwhile endeavor here because we can wear our nice wool sweaters 11 months of the year
  • Living on the Last Frontier--one of those rare places that actually still has wilderness
  • The views (first photo taken from my porch again, the other an hour from here)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What I ♥ about Breastfeeding

  • It releases oxytocin which helps the uterus clamp down after birth, drastically reducing the likelihood of postpartum hemorrhage.
  • Oxytocin is the 'love' hormone--it helps facilitate the bond between mother and child, as well as making her feel warm fuzzies.
  • That it's convenient--always available, never left behind, always the right temperature, always enough.
  • It's ready right now, no making a hungry baby wait.
  • It's FREE!
  • It's easy at night. 
  • Breastfed babies don't have nasty or stinky diapers.
  • That it's the perfect nourishment for a child. 
  • The supply adjusts to the baby's suckling--so I have more when he's in a growth spurt, and less when he's not, and I don't have to try to figure out which phase we're in because it happens automatically.
  • That the nutrients adjust to the needs of my child as he grows and changes. 
  • That it bolsters the baby's immune system by sharing my antibodies.
  • That it delays the resumption of my menstruation.
  • It lowers my risk of breast cancer.
  • It lowers my childrens' risk of breast cancer and other cancers, including leukemia.
  • That 'nursing' is so much more than just feeding my child at my breast--it is developing a relationship of attachment and love.
    Eagle at about a week old
    See his little hand holding on? 
    Even then he knew what the good stuff was!

    You might also enjoy TopHat's "Top Ten Cool Things about Breastmilk"

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010

    What we ♥ about cloth diapering

    In honor of Valentine's Day, this week I am posting a few "why I love ____" lists. Starting today is cloth diapers--this was collected from the mamas on the etsy cloth diaper team--a list of why we (as cloth diaper makers) love using cloth diapers for our little ones. ("LilBees" is me)

    We love...
    • Knowing that my baby is comfortable in soft fabric rather than rough paper or sticky plastic. (LilBees)
    • How soft they are on my babies bum. (PudderPals
    • Two words: "Bamboo velour." If you've ever touched it you understand! (LilBees)
    • That they aren't made of paper products ☺(Suzanne'sSpecialKids
    • That they are not crinkly or smell like fake baby powder (WinkyDinks)
    • That they don't smell like chemicals when they pee in cloth diapers. (LittleMooseDiapers)
    • That I can use the same diaper over and over, even for multiple kids. (LilBees)
    • That they are a conversation starter (WinkyDinks)
    • How cute they are - its another part of their outfit (WinkyDinks
    • How cute and fluffy it makes my little one's bum. (PudderPals)
    • Having something cute on their buns ☺ Disposables are not cute... (3MonkeysClothDiapers)
    • That I get to be creative and make whatever I think is cute into a butt cover to use over and over and over...(Chelory Boutique)
    • Having a favorite diaper, and getting to use it over and over and over... (LilBees)
    • Being able to pick and choose which cute item they'll be wearing on their bum! (LittleMooseDiapers)
    • That they like their diapers and choose which one they want to wear next. (3MonkeysClothDiapers)
    • That even though my diapers are OSFM (one-size-fits-most) the absorbency isn't. I can have light absorbency one day and then bump it up the next. (PudderPals)
    • That it doesn't matter if the baby pees/poops mere seconds after I put on a new dipe because I can just toss it in the wash, I'm not out 50cents for 5 seconds of use. (LilBees)
    • That since I have twins, can I just tell you how much money I have saved by cloth diapering???? (3MonkeysClothDiapers)
    • That since I've had one or another in diapers for the last 3 years, with another one coming soon...all the money we've saved has allowed me to stay home with the children! (LittleMooseDiapers)
    • That I don't ever run out of diapers! (PudderPals)
    • That I don't have to plan ahead to make sure that I never run out of diapers...if I'm running low I just throw them in the wash. ( LilBees)
    • That they can be made to look like real undies (Suzanne'sSpecialKids)
    • That they can be completely customized for my special needs child (Suzanne'sSpecialKids)
    • That they add a bit of "typical" to a special child's life ☺(Suzanne'sSpecialKids)
    • That I have made my children's diapers with my own hands...there is a sense of independence and accomplishment in that. (LittleMooseDiapers)
    • I am always super proud to say, yes I made that!! (3MonkeysClothDiapers)

    Monday, February 8, 2010


    The most simple, most basic philosophy behind my parenting beliefs comes down to one word: respect.
    I believe that every person, regardless of age, is a child of God and worthy of respect. My children have been sent to me for instruction and guidance and love, but not as pets. They are my equals as people, even if they are currently behind me in the progression of education (which, as many parents can tell you, is a questionable assumption anyway).
    As John Holt said "be wary of saying or doing anything to a child that you would not do to another adult..."
    So today I'm just sharing a little list of some specific ways that I try to practice respectful parenting.
    • There are foods I don't like, so it should be ok that there are foods that my kids don't like. (They aren't allowed to have an opinion about a food until they have tried it, but once they have given it a chance, then it's ok to conclude that they don't like it, and I won't make them "eat just one bite" every time.)
    • I try to avoid patronizing phrases like "What do you say dear" or "because I'm the mom that's why" (although I firmly believe in teaching my children manners, I do so by example or the occasional "please say 'please.'" Just now as I was typing my toddler asked me to kiss something better, then said "sank oo, sank oo, sank oo!")
    • When applicable, I apologize to my child (eg: "I'm sorry that I yelled at you Wolf. I was very frustrated that you did XYZ, because it's not acceptable for you to do that, but I am sorry that I yelled. I will work on responding more gently, I need you to please work on XYZ...")
    • I expect my child to respond when I call him, but "just a second, mom" is a valid response (after all, I say it to him too).
    • It is always ok to ask "why" in our house. As in, "why do I have to brush my teeth every night?" or "why is my bedtime earlier than yours and dads?" or "why do I have to do ____ that you just asked me to?" Depending on what they were asked to do, they may need to hurry and get it done (taking the dog out for example) and THEN I will answer the question. But I think it is always valid for a child to ask a question. For one thing it helps him develop good habits for the right reasons (ie, we brush our teeth to keep them clean and to avoid cavities, not just because mom says so).
    • Another reason that I like questions is that they help me to question myself--is this an unfair request/demand I am making of him? Is this something necessary, or is it just convenient for me, or is it just habit for me? For example Wolf dislikes the transition of having to change his clothing. So he rarely wears pajamas--most nights he just sleeps in the t-shirt (and sometimes even jeans) that he plans to wear the following day. He says he is comfortable, it spares him a bothersome transition, and hey, why should I really care what he sleeps in, so long as he is warm enough?
    For what it's worth, I find that children are little sponges. Whatever kind of behavior they see and experience is the type of behavior that they then practice. Therefore I think that one of the best ways to have respectful kids is not treat them with Machiavellian domination, but rather to respect them first.

    Saturday, February 6, 2010

    The Sound of Silence...and the Stillness of Noise

    Last night after the bigger boys were in bed (and the baby was mellow), Hubby said "did you want to do something tonight? We like to get TV series' from netflix, and we often watch an episode or two of something together after the kids are in bed. However, last night we were in that in-between stage where we had finished our current disc but had not received the next one yet.
    I glanced at the clock, and noted that it was just a little after 9pm. "We could go to bed I suppose," I said, "but I admit I like to sit up for a little while and enjoy the quiet of the kids being asleep."
    Hubby started laughing. "Funny that you should say that you want to enjoy the quiet," he said, "when you just started that noisy dryer."

    It got me to thinking about how "quiet" and "stillness" are not necessarily synonymous with "silence." The people who make those white noise CDs for sleeping have known this for a while. Sometimes true silence leaves our minds too busy as they try to fill the void with something--anything. But we can have internal calm and quiet amid quite a few decibels.
    I think that God's command to "be still" does not necessarily require us to sit motionless. Sure, there is something to be gained from silent meditation, but even in the midst of busy kids and buzzing home appliances, I can have peace in my mind and my soul.

    Friday, February 5, 2010

    Friday Feel Up

    First Friday of the month
    Breast self exam time
    Give yourself a good grope. ☺

    Thursday, February 4, 2010

    Innocense...Lost (repost)

    Originally published Feb 2, 2009
    I recently ran across this post and decided it was worth a re-post.

    Recently as I've been writing about my miscarriages again, it's gotten me to thinking about loss of innocence. Not in the dirty sense (geeze, what do you take me for?!), but in the sense of a specific event that was a turning point--a point at which you changed, and could never go back to who you had been before. An event that made you older in a way that the simple passage of time cannot.

    For my mother it was losing her baby to SIDS. It's easy to pinpoint if you look at photographs--in that year her face aged. She began to get wrinkles. Her eyes showed that she knew something more. Her body lost it's youthful resilience. She looked more tired.
    One might credit those changes to the fact that she had 4 other small children, or that she turned 30 that year, or that after a 5th pregnancy the body just doesn't bounce back so well anymore... but I can attest that it was not those things; it was the loss of innocence. I know, because my loss of innocence occurred when I was only 22; it was my first miscarriage.

    What was yours?
    Or are you still innocent?

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    Why I Nurse in Public

    Since posting about my breastfeeding in church dilemma, I have been thinking a great deal about why I nurse in public, and about why I have always done so without a cover.

    I nurse in public because I believe strongly that breastfeeding needs to be normal, and therefore needs to be accepted. I want to nurse in places where people will see me doing so, and will know what I am doing. I strongly believe in normalizing breastfeeding, and also in the good that I can do by being an example to other mothers and future mothers--and their husbands and sons.
    With that said, I am a pretty modest person. I have never wanted to be flashing breast at anybody. I have always tried to keep my skin to myself when nursing in public, and used walls, layered clothing, and the baby's body as shields. I have used the tail of my sling a few times too. The reason I nurse without a blanket is that blankets are a hassle--they are heavy, stifling, and slip off.
    On this topic, my dad shared this thought:
    "I was always taught that modesty, and manners, are the art of making the next person comfortable. If the crowd is comfortable naked, then I guess naked is modest. But the principle is probably to do what the leaves the best taste in the audience's mouth, unless it contravenes God's commandments, and then to follow God."
     There is nothing like a blanket over your shoulder to shout "hey everybody, I'm nursing over here!" So in the interest of modesty (of not attracting undue attention), I felt that uncovered nursing was my best option.

    I am now finding that perhaps my 'no cover' standard is in need of review. Bear loved nursing, held on with gusto, and was easy to nurse without much ongoing attention from me. I could get him latched on and then arrange my clothing so that nothing really showed. Eagle, on the other hand, is somewhat of a 'lazy' nurser--which is to say that he often loosens his latch on me, causing him to slip out to the end of the nipple. Sometimes he lets go altogether which generally results in a wild spray of milk in his face and/or down my shirt and/or across the room. Often he is distracted and tries to look around, sometimes he just seems bored with nursing. Regardless, I can't just hook him on and go, I usually need to make frequent re-adjustments, which requires me to use both hands and be able to see what I am doing. Even if I'd started with a blanket, and even if I tried really hard to pull it back into place regularly, it is quite inevitable that I'd still be flashing people. But even when I stick to my old standard--wearing layers and nursing without a blanket--I am finding that I'm not able to be so modest as I'd like to be.

    So I am seriously considering purchasing a nursing cover. I am realizing that it fulfills both my goals--being very public about nursing, and keeping my skin to myself. Yes, it is one more thing to carry around, but who are we kidding, I already carry a diaper bag pretty much everywhere anyway. And as one of my always-used-to-nurse-uncovered-but-recently-converted-to-covers friends pointed out "I don't have to worry about pulling the whole breast out while I nurse...I use my cover now because it is convenient for ME. It is cool, covers me like a tent, and lets me nurse while enjoying sacrament and letting my baby get a nice little break. My stress level is lower. I can wear a wider variety of clothing. I don't have to layer as much. And, if I forget it, no big deal. I whip the boob out and no one is surprised."
    There are several etsians who make nice covers with a stiff bit of boning around the top so that it stands out, allowing mom to see the baby while still keeping everybody covered. Sure, I could make something like that, but I'd have to buy special materials for it, so I'd just as soon get it from someone else.

    <--- I kinda like this one. Nothing like a camo nursing cover to say "you can't see me, but you know I'm nursing over here!"

    What do you think?

    Dad did conclude with the comment "I guess you need to cover up, or move to Latin America or Eastern Europe, where folks are either more enlightened, or less inhibited."
    Who's up for Norway?☺ heeheehee

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    January FOs

    These were the Christmas jammie pants but since I neglected to post them then, here they are now.
    Unfortunately I can't post photos of them in use because (as was inevitable) Eagle has already outgrown his.

    And here are the FOs (finished objects) for January:

    For self/family:

    • 1 fleece vest for Hubby
    • 1 diaper (upcycled from a towel that was dying...another one is cut out but I haven't made it yet...can you believe that Eagle is moving into medium diapers already? He's right on the border between small and mediums right now, so this is a medium with a fold-down front to bridge the gap...) 
    • a bunch of velour diaper liners (Eagle's skin reacts to synthetic fabrics, including all the microfleece I'm making some new ones, but using liners in the meantime). (I'm in the market to sell/trade a bunch of microfleece pocket diapers by the if you're interested in details. )
    • 2 snack bags (tutorial here) (they are pretty sweet, I lined them with nylon so they hold up to sticky or damp things, and I'm going to make a bunch more I think)
    • 3 'wash bags' (aka mesh 'lingerie bags,' but I use them for nursing pads and cloth 'nuggert wipers' aka kleenex)
    • 1 pair longies for my secret sister
    • 1 pair of crutch pads for Hubby (covered in the camo fleece leftover from his hunting vest. Oh yes, I made him manly crutches!)
    • most of 1 sleeve of Wolf's sweater (yeah, I still have a few rows left...)

    For etsy shops:
    • 3 sun hats
    • 1 diaper
    • 3 sets nursing pads
    • 1 set pantyliners
    • 1 set diaper liners 

    Sewing Fail (and a vest tutorial)

    A couple of years ago one of Hubby's Christmas presents was a hunting vest...or rather, the fabric which I was going to sew up for him.
    Yeah, it took me a while...
    Anyway, I was determined to get the thing finished for his birthday this year, but something went massively wrong:

    (Do I really sound like that? Eww. My voice sounds so much better in my own head.)
    I had made reversible vests before, but clearly I had forgotten how to do it. Take heart ye beginners, even we professionals have massive fails sometimes.

    In case you ever want to make a reversible vest, here is how to do it right (so that you don't end up with over an hour of unpicking like I did!) Admittedly this tutorial is partly for me, so that I never do this again!!

    Sew across the neck, around the armholes, down the fronts, and across the bottom. Do NOT sew the underarm seam, not any part of it.
    Reach into one of those long slits where it's left open. (blue arrow)

    Then reach through the shoulder section and grab the front panel (yellow star) and pull it out through the shoulder and out the side slit (yellow arrow). Reach through the same side slit and pull the other front panel out.
    Voila, the vest is now right side out.
    Flatten it all out. Iron things pretty and flat (unless you're working in something like fleece which doesn't iron).
    Now pull together those side seams, and sew the 'outsides' together (or, in teh case of a truly reversable vest, rather than just a lined one, choose the side that will show hand-sewing the least and make that the 'inside'). If you are careful and use a few pins, you can sew around the arm seam and the bottom edge seam, and thus close up part of the 'inside' edges by machine too. Of course you'll end up with a gap of a few inches, and that will need to be hand sewn.

    See, it's pretty huh? Camo on one side, orange on the other, reversible zipper AND pockets from both sides. Trust me those were not fun to figure out, especially with the open sides thing... but Hubby likes pockets so I made him pockets. He'll wear it more with pockets.

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