Getting it Together

I think that when you have children your perspective on life changes in so many different ways.  I had always thought my self-esteem was above average… I’m a fairly confident person in general, so not a whole lot really holds me back.  Post childbirth, though…  I stopped leaving my house and I refused to have my photo taken.  I was not in the shape I was hoping for prior to getting pregnant with Liam.  I had just started losing weight when I realized I was pregnant with Sylvi.  To be completely honest, I was really glad to be pregnant again because I could actually answer yes when people eyed my belly and asked for my due date.  I’d never been the “fat friend” and I really didn’t like being her now.

Additionally, I now have a daughter.  To be completely honest, when I stand in front of the mirror tearing myself down, it’s my mother’s voice in my head.  It’s her words about her body that I hear and I suddenly realized that if I didn’t get it together, my own child would be hearing my voice complaining about stretch marks and flab.  At the same time, a friend invited me to attend a session of Mommy and Me Fitness in late January.  Not only did she invite, she called, she texted and she was waiting for me outside the building that night.  I knew that I was out of shape and class was going to be rough; I hoped she would forget about me.  In that class, I was introduced to the Burpee.  Many, many burpees.  I cried most of my drive home.  In fact, I cried on the way home for a few classes.  About a month into the classes, I suddenly realized that I had done everything without a break.  I knew I looked like a fool grinning ear to ear as we counted our way to 200 jumping jacks, but in that moment, I saw progress and strength and I wanted more. Then, it was announced that one of the instructors was going to be offering personal training and I saw it as my chance to actually re-learn how to exercise.  I know how to exercise as an energetic college student working for a grade.  I know how to exercise to maintain weight, but not how to lose.  I didn’t know how to gain strength and endurance.  Through tears (yes, I cry a lot) I emailed Brooke and told her that it wasn’t so much about being a bikini model as it was about having positive body image for the sake of my children and finally feeling healthy enough to be a great mom.

The next week, I started my exercise plan, tracked my calories and attended class.  I lost 8 pounds the first week, but it came back in the form of muscle weight.  At the 9-week mark, I had lost an official 10 pounds and have currently kept it off for over a month.  However, my measurements are changing and dropping.  This weekend, I bought a shirt in a size I haven’t worn since before I had children!!  The point of this is that I feel strong.  I feel healthy.  And I love my butt.

I have set some goals for myself personally to achieve by October 14th and as added bonus, I found a group of bloggers who are looking to Go Green and Get Fit in the next few months.  The challenge officially begins June 18th, but I’m announcing it here now so that if you want to join in as a participant you have the time to set your goals and prepare yourself mentally.  GGGF has a Facebook page, Twitter feed and Pinterest boards to follow along with.

The goals for myself:

  • Continue to strengthen my core.  As a result of pregnancy, I have a serious Diastasis recti.  Through the core exercises, the space between my muscles is closing, but I still have a lot of work to do.
  • Continue to workout 6 days a week, with two days having twice-a-day workouts.  Tuesday is my main 2-a-day as I’m taking a running class in the morning and my regular class in the evening.  Some of my workout days will be lighter so I get a rest, but I am counting on Tuesday, Thursday and Fridays being my more challenging days.  (I am also willing to count a bike ride or hike on the weekend as a workout as long as I add in some weights/abs.)
  • Run and complete the Color Run in Columbus July 21st.  I’d like to finish in less than 40 minutes, ideally as close to 30 minutes as possible.
  • Run and complete the Mommy and Me Fitness 5k (October 6th) in less than 30 minutes.
  • Participate in and complete the Life Time Fitness Indoor Tri (October 14th).  I just registered myself this morning so it’s official… I’m committed and taking the challenge.  And my hands are shaking.  🙂
I plan to update here on the blog on a weekly basis.  I am taking precautions so that I don’t injure myself or over work my muscles.  Saturday morning, I walked a 5k (pushing a stroller) in 50 minutes and then later in the afternoon hiked 2 miles with the same child on my back or hip.  I was sore on Sunday and spent much of the church service stretching my feet and ankles.  Yesterday was my first running class and then M&MF class at night.  I am sore today and need to take the time to stretch this afternoon before I go to Crossfit.  I would remiss if I didn’t admit that muscles pain in my quads and calves didn’t wake me up in the middle of the night.  On the shopping list for the week: Arnica cream.
So how about it?  Are you willing to sign up for the challenge?  You goals don’t have to be as scary as mine, just pick something that pushes you to be the best you you can be.  Challenge yourself and I’ll be happy to celebrate along with you when your goals are met!

Updates before I disappear again…

Happy Friday everyone!  I’ve been working on a lot of pieces for other sites this week and haven’t spent much time here.  BUT, I thought I’d take a moment before running outside to play in the sprinkler with the kids to give you some quick updates!

I am featured in Best of the Web no. 66 this week!  Lots of neat blogs are featured and I’m so honored to be included.

This was my week to write at The Green Phone Booth and I wound up with a double header.  I wrote about Farmers Markets and Dirty Food… just in case you aren’t already a follower of the GPB (which you really should be!)

This was also my first week to post at The Natural Parents Network.  I wrote about the health of our children learning to say no.  Of course, this week in our home has been a lesson in practicing what I preach 🙂

I know this one isn’t from this week, but I had to share about our elders and the impact of mercury… this one is from Moms Clean Air Force.

In other news, I have a completely potty learned little boy who is a huge fan of his unders and loves to choose his character for the day.  I’m so proud of Liam for getting over his fear of sitting on our toilet… when Matt and I bought the new one we bought with our comfort in mind, never considering that a chair height porcelain abyss could be terrifying for a child.   Not to be outdone by her big brother’s skills, Sylvi has started to stand straight up from the floor without assistance and is determined to walk.  Holding on to her grocery cart, she does laps around the house.  Our garden is in and I *think* the beets are sprouting.  I’ve lost 2 of the 16 tomato plants, so I’m hopeful that the rest will survive…

With that, I wish you a wonderful holiday weekend.  I’ll be thinking of my younger brother who is serving in the Air Force currently in Afghanistan.  I’m so grateful to live in a country that exists because of the service of others and I pray for those men and women that they are protected from all the harm in this world.

 

Our solution to the nap wars

Now that my freezer is well stocked, I have more free time to funnel into projects.  Does anyone else out there have a list of projects for the home, the kids, self…?  Although, “time” is a relatively subjective term.  Lest you think I am a spoiled housewife with hours of leisure at my fingertips, let me remind you that I have 2 kid under 3 and only one of them naps.  The non-napping child is a wonderful little guy, but even I need a break from the wonder of him.  🙂  Honestly, I don’t think he’s really ready to give up his naps, but I also am not willing to spend 2 hours fighting with him to get him to sleep.  Eventually, I came on the idea of quiet time.

My mother instituted quiet time (QT) in our home while I was still very young.  I remember it being one my favorite times of day as it actually continued even while I was in high school.  My mother homeschooled us and was also a SAHM so she needed a break.  We all needed a break from each other. (I used the time to read and write in my journal) The thing with being the mom who is always the on duty parent is that you are tired.  I felt terribly guilty when I realized this at the beginning of last month.  We were in our third week of Matt not being home or available until after the kids went to bed.  Fourteen hours of just mom every day, every diaper, every tantrum.  QT was necessary since I had always relied on naptime as the moments when I ate lunch, showered, did laundry, exercised or even sat quietly outside.

This post isn’t Earth-shatteringly genius, I know.  But it’s what works for us.  I love my kids, but in order for me to be a calm parent, I need half an hour of quiet.  In order to accomplish this, I have four baskets.  They stay in my hall closet until Liam is ready for his QT and are brought out on a rotational basis.  I also have a large basket of library books that I find are the most interesting to him within the first few days of our trip.  I keep the baskets put away so that his interest is still there when I need them.  His favorites are the one with the wooden trucks and the felt book.  Actually, we haven’t done much beyond either of those two baskets, yet.  (I do have another basket that has a “mess free” paint set that I bought without realizing that just because the color isn’t going to show up off the paper, it doesn’t mean that a toddler can’t still make an epic mess with it.  However, it is very handy as part of our tot school activities, so it wasn’t a total waste.)  The total cost for me to do this project was less than 6 dollars.  I bought the baskets at the dollar store for another project, but didn’t wind up using them and the Curious George coloring kit was a stocking stuffer I forgot to give.  The clock was a birthday gift for Sylvi, but since she puts everything in her mouth, Liam is getting more use out of it.  Generally speaking, Liam will stay in his room anywhere from half an hour to 45 minutes depending on his mood and interest in the basket contents.

Periodically, I’ll have to change the basket contents, and I do really look forward to the days when I can put legos in them.  Liam and I spend a lot of time together reading, playing, doing his therapy assignments, talking and just being, but I think it’s good for him to have a break from me as well.  As of yet, I cannot tell if he’ll be more extroverted or introverted.  He really enjoys communication, but since he’s still learning how to talk about his feelings and how things make him feel inside, I have to work hard to get to the root of the matter.  Whatever the changes that come, it’s nice to have something that holds his attention so much that every now and then, he asks me for his QT basket and a closed door.

**Of course, he spent the morning busy as a bee with me, did his QT and then asked to watch a movie.  I put on a set of read aloud Scholastic dvds that is barely animated and not very busy… he’s out cold on the couch.  He’s just beautiful.

 

 

May freezer cooking extravaganza

Perhaps “extravaganza” is a touch overstating things.  I really enjoyed all the freezer cooking I did last year, but hadn’t restarted once Spring hit and my weekends were just too full to set aside time to do more than a few meals.  I don’t know about the weather where you are, but here it is glorious.  Glorious enough that since the backyard is now safely fenced in, the kids and dogs and I can run wild all afternoon and not once do I worry about anyone getting hit by a car!  However, far too many nights we have been outside playing with nary a thought to supper until Matt pulls in the drive and we are all too hungry to wait for me to cook and off to Burger King we go.  *hanging head in shame*  No more.  I knew my grandmother was going to be in town this week, so I asked if she’d come over and help out; chopping veggies, browning meat, doing dishes.  Turns out, having the extra body in the house made my cooking experience a breeze.  We finally collapsed on Monday afternoon with a freezer full of food and only a little bit to do the next day.

Beef meals:

http://onceamonthmom.com/italian-flank-steak-pinwheels/ (not frozen… Mother’s day meal that I will make again and again… this is the recipe I used for inspiration)

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/cube_steak_milanese.html (not prepped at all, it’s a very quick meal though)
Chicken:
http://www.slenderkitchen.com/slow-cooker-thai-peanut-chicken/ (meal over the weekend, ingredients from this shopping trip… tasty, but not Earth shattering)
http://www.thyhandhathprovided.com/2009/07/bang-bang-chicken.html (not prepared, all ingredients together in a bag for when I am ready to make, though)
http://www.sweetpeasandpumpkins.com/2009/02/next-to-boiling-water-this-could-be.html  (this is how I cook the whole chicken for the pizza and tikka masala)
Pork:
Ground pork and sweet potato tacos from Clean Eating
Vegetarian:
Meals for the next 2 weeks in the upstairs freezer. The rest are stored in my deep freeze.

This month’s cooking will last until the middle of June.  I have planned for 2 out-to-suppers and a few vegetarian meals that will have to be made the nights they are planned for.  This I suppose is important to note: I ONLY cook for suppers.  I know a lot of the monthly planners calculate in for breakfast, lunch and supper, but I don’t.  Reason being that it’s just me and the kids most days.  I plan lunches on the weekends, but they are typically very simple since we are either playing or traveling.  I made a few breakfast casseroles a week or so ago and froze individual pieces so for breakfast here we’ll do that or cereal or muffins and yogurt.  I usually do french toast or  pancakes on the weekend.  Lunches here are typically whatever Liam is wiling to eat that day, eggs, mac and cheese, leftovers… pretty much whatever appeals to us.

This shopping trip cost me $221.57.  This is all the meat, staples, frozen veggies, dairy products and fruit.  I did pantry/freezer dive right before with the goal of using as much of those items as I could.  I will have to go back to the store in between and buy fruit, salad greens, milk, eggs and cheese, but those trips aren’t too bad.  Once I get my garden going, I will only have to go for the dairy products since I am still not allowed to have a cow or chicken.  I’m hoping to keep the food budget under $350 for this time.  All the meat is from MaryAnne’s (local, grass fed, etc.) except for the chicken which I got at Kroger’s ON SALE.  I do ask Matt to drive out to Planktown for the eggs every other week since the holy grail of eggs is only $1.89 and 15 minutes from his office and they are almost 4 dollars here in town.

I’m thrilled with how this went and fully plan to continue this throughout the summer.  I will soon be canning the garden’s bounty (if I ever get the plants in the ground…) and will be extra grateful for meals all ready prepared!

**In case you are interested, here’s the timeline for Mondays’ cooking:

630: up and taking care of house/kids/self for day…
830: Slow cooker Asian Pork meals prepped and packed into ziploc bags, instructions for cooking taped to the outside of the bags.  Whole organic chicken (Krogers!) in the crockpot for 5 hours on high.
845: Bang bang chicken ingredients organized and frozen.  Recipes printed.  Action plan written out.  Drama with children.  3 trips to potty. 2 Diapers changed.  Laundry in wash.
1000: Grandma arrives.  I’m browning the ground beef for The spicy beef lettuce wraps.
1030: Beef for wraps cooling, I make the meatball mixture and hand it to Grandma to make… 6 dozen meats from 4 pounds of ground beef.  I freeze the other 2 pounds of unused meat for later.  I make the filling for the eggrolls and set aside to cool.
1130: Lunch for Sylvi.  Bag and label the spicy beef wraps filling.  Sylvi for nap.  Grandma still rolling meatballs.
1200: Lunch for Grandma, me and Liam.  I hang laundry.
100:  Grandma begins cooking meatballs.  I prep for the pork and sweet potato tacos.  Veggie mix made for Sweet and Sour Meatballs.  Sweet and sour sauce made.  I make all the egg rolls.
230: Egg rolls in the oven.  I made beef taco mix.  Pack the meatballs with veggies, label and freeze.  Pork taco mix cooked, cooled and frozen.
315: Egg rolls cooling.  Sylvi up from nap.  Snacks made.  Grandma shreds up the chicken.  We decide we are done for the day and go outside.

Portrait of a Homebirther

This post has been swirling around in my mind for quite a while.  Both of my children were born at home and often, people are shocked to hear this.  I think that since homebirth is something that isn’t trumpeted in Ohio, most people don’t even know that it exists.

We chose to have a home birth because I was afraid to go to the hospital.  It’s true.  I wanted an unmedicated birth because I was a biologist and I have a working knowledge of how medications are transported across the placenta.  I wanted to do my best to avoid any and all medications, but I know myself.  Sometimes, no matter my resolve, I will cave when miserable and presented with an alternative.  I also know the way I handle pain and lying in a bed was going to be awful for me.  I had thought about going to an actual birthing center with the soft lighting and the romanticized care, but that would involve a long car drive.  Even switching hospitals would involve a drive longer than 5 minutes.

In the end, I didn’t want my babies to be born where I didn’t live.  I wanted to be at peace while in labor and as someone who hates leaving her home, I knew I’d be most comfortable in my bedroom.  I wanted to curl up with my newborn in my own bed, with my own pillows.  I wanted to watch episodes of Friends and cuddle with our pug in the early stages of labor.

I had a plan for my births.  I knew what I wanted to do.  I had a trained midwife and her apprentice at my side.  We were in walking distance of the nearest hospital.  We were prepared for a variety of situations.

As we all know, the human body doesn’t always get the memo on my plan.  Liam’s birth was harder than I had anticipated.  Sylvi’s birth was in my bathtub when I had planned to just sit in there and get some relief during the contractions; who knew I was fully dilated?!  I learned that with birth, a time table, a plan, an outline doesn’t work for me.  My goal from now on is simply to have a healthy baby.

We’re educated and well read.  I had planned a career in medicine, but wound up in research.  My husband is a very talented  graphic designer.  We took classes, read the literature and watched the documentaries.  We were prepared.  Birth wasn’t something we took lightly, despite what many people thought.  We knew we had made the decision that was best for our growing family.

I had decided I wanted a home birth before we were even married.  Truth be told, I had read an awful lot of Wild West novels and I kind of romanticized the idea of a pot of hot water and some clean towels.  However rosie-eyed I was about birth, I just knew a hospital birth wasn’t going to work for me.  I wouldn’t trade our experiences for anything and will welcome the chance to do it again if the opportunity presents itself (not pregnant by the way).  Home birth made sense for us and after waking up snuggled under my favorite sheets with my baby, less than 24 hours old I can’t imagine doing it any other way.

Enough.

Enough.  Just enough.  Yesterday could have been deemed the Apocalypse with the release of the newest Time magazine cover.  I’m not one for confrontation, so I just read and didn’t comment.  Yes, you are more than welcome to call me a wimp.  However, this morning, I was talking about the whole drama with a friend during a play date and felt the need to get this out.  This article could have been an amazing, well-written piece on the choices some parents make to keep their children close to them, regardless of the convience for them.  It could have raised awareness for breastfeeding and helped push past the stigma of nursing an older child.

Instead, this article appears to have been written to do 3 things: create yet another mom-to-mom battle (Are You Mom Enough? is the official title of the piece.), create the notion that parents who choose to parent their children in an attached method are nut jobs and create a windfall of magazine sales.  So far, I’d say all 3 goals have been met.  So pardon me while I address each one.

To begin with, do we really need another reason for competition between moms?  I submit that we do not.  What you think about my parenting decisions is none of my business.  I don’t need to know.  I don’t care if you think I should have traded in my boobs for bottles months ago.  Quite frankly, I don’t see why you care… they’re not yours… you aren’t the one feeding my child.  Just a thought.  Additionally, breastfeeding gets a bad rap because of covers like this.  If you go to the actual write up on the behind the scenes in Time, you’ll see photos of gorgeous, comfortable, loving mothers (including the cover model, Jamie Lynne) with their children.  These women, participated in the shoot because they desired to raise awareness about the normalcy of breastfeeding and how does go hand in hand with attachment parenting.  Not because they felt like being treated like an oddity.  Breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone’s family.  It didn’t work for us when Liam was little.  I wanted it to, but it didn’t.  It didn’t work because I didn’t have any tools, information or support.  I though that all you had to do was drink lots of water and buy a supportive bra… nature would do the rest.  In my case, nature did not even try to do the rest.  With Sylvi, I set micro goals of getting through the first month, then the first 6 weeks, then the first 3 months and so on.  I did not make a plan other than to try and make sure she was healthy and growing.  This time, I had the support and the education.  And I wasn’t afraid of failure.  This time, I would have happily participated in a campaign to raise awareness for breastfeeding!

Attachment parenting is far more natural than people realize.  “The essence of Attachment Parenting is about forming and nurturing strong connections between parents and their children. Attachment Parenting challenges us as parents to treat our children with kindness, respect and dignity, and to model in our interactions with them the way we’d like them to interact with others.”  Please, I ask you, tell me how this would drive someone to an extreme.  AP is something that seems freakish because our society doesn’t want to slow down and listen to our children.  We want them to hurry through their development and meet the next standard.  We want then to grow up so we can move on with life and get out of this inconvenient stage.  We are taught that our children should perform and be perfect, when we ourselves are not perfect.  AP isn’t about meeting a set of standards or following a rule book of crunchiness… one of my closest friends is an excellent example of AP; she co-sleeps, responds with more sensitivity than you would imagine possible, and respects her children’s individual needs both emotionally and physically.  She doesn’t breastfeed.  She has a situation that doesn’t make it practical for her to do so; instead she bottle feeds with more care and attention than most women I’ve ever watched.  Even though we don’t see eye to eye on many issues, her parenting challenges me everyday to be a better, more sensitive parent to my children by listening to them and truly understanding their needs.

Sensationalism.  Money.  Sales.  Quarterly goals.  Whatever the reason for presenting this article the way that they chose to, for shame!  Time magazine should be ashamed of their editing, their focus and their manners for creating a hailstorm of ignorance surrounding parenting of the attached variety.  I’m grateful that Dionna Ford of Code Name: Mama chose to participate in not only the photo shoot, but also several interviews by her local media.  I’m grateful for the Natural Parents Network for helping to educate and support parents who desire to parent their children as closely as they can.  I’m so grateful for the La Leche League International and Certified Lactation Consultants… without them, my second breastfeeding experience would have also been a loss.

When I first heard about this article, I was so excited.  I could hardly wait to get my hands on a copy of Time.  Yesterday, I was sad and disappointed.  Today, I can see this as a positive as so many people are starting to ask questions.  I can only hope that they keep asking and find the answers that make sense for them… that’s why groups like Natural Parents Network, La Leche and others exist… to take the mystery out while simultaneously creating a community of support for mothers, fathers and children.  In the end, we are all “mom enough” because we care enough to give up ourselves for our children… let’s just not start a fight about what methods we employ to achieve that goal.

 

Dear Children

Welcome to the May 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting With or Without Extended Family

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how relatives help or hinder their parenting. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

To my dear children:

By now, you have grown and started the path to your own families.  You’ve felt the thrill of a positive pregnancy test and heard that sweet first heartbeat over the Doppler.  Or, you’re still trying and working and praying for these things.

Whatever the reason why you’re reading this, I have a reason for writing.  This letter is solemn promise to be with you as much or as little as you need me.  This letter is my promise to support you, to stand by you, and to care for your needs how you need them cared for.  This letter is my promise to never leave you feeling alone in this world of parenting.

I’ve already been here.  I’ve already cried tears of loneliness.  I’ve already felt as though there was no one who wanted to just listen to me.  I don’t want you to feel as though I don’t care, because I do.  I care more than you will ever know.  Your hurt is my hurt, just as your joy is mine as well.

In my early days of parenting you, I could not have felt more alone.  The choices your father and I made were not championed by our families and many of our friends.  Home birth?  Foolish.  Breastfeeding?  A waste of time.  Cloth diapers?  A fad.  I would say to your father that I wished we weren’t so alone.  I would say to your father that I was pretty sure there was something we were supposed to be learning from the ache of loneliness when there was no one we could be candid with about our lives.  He would tell me that perhaps it was for you.

As long as I am alive, you have someone to come to.  I will listen.  I will empathize.  I will offer advice when you ask.  I will be sensitive to your needs, the needs of your spouse, and the needs of your children.  Even if I disagree, I will respect you.  I dreamed of this as a new mother and it is my gift to you.  Never feel as though you cannot share whatever burdens your heart.  There are no questions too stupid; I’ve probably already been the first person on the record books to call their pediatrician at 4 in the morning because I was certain you were dying of liver failure.

I love you.  I support you.  Between us is a safe space; one that I hope you will always feel comfortable to enter and call on my (and your father’s) experience, strength and devotion.  We love you.

Mama

***

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon May 8 with all the carnival links.)

  • Dealing With Unsupportive Grandparents — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, The Pistachio Project tells what to do when your child’s grandparents are less than thrilled about your parenting choices.
  • Parenting With Extended Family — Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy shares the pros and cons of parenting with extended family…
  • Parental Support for an AP Mama — Meegs at A New Day talks about the invaluable support of her parents in her journey to be an AP mama.
  • Priceless GrandparentsThat Mama Gretchen reflects on her relationship with her priceless Grammy while sharing ways to help children preserve memories of their own special grandparents.
  • Routines Are Meant To Be Broken — Olga at Around The Birthing Ball urges us to see Extended Family as a crucial and necessary link between what children are used to at home and the world at large.
  • It Helps To Have A Village – Even A Small One — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses how she has flourished as a mother due to the support of her parents.
  • The Orange Week — Erika at Cinco de Mommy lets go of some rules when her family finally visits extended family in San Diego.
  • One Size Doesn’t Fit All — Kellie at Our Mindful Life realizes that when it comes to family, some like it bigger and some like it smaller.
  • It Takes a Family — Alicia at What’s Next can’t imagine raising a child without the help of her family.
  • A new foray into family — As someone who never experienced close extended family, Lauren at Hobo Mama wrestles with how to raise her kids — and herself — to restart that type of community.
  • My Mama Rocks! — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment is one lucky Mama to have the support and presence of her own awesome Mama.
  • Embracing Our Extended Family — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares 7 ideas for nurturing relationships with extended family members.
  • Doing Things Differently — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares how parenting her children far away from extended family improved her confidence in her choices.
  • Snapshots of love — Caroline at stoneageparent describes the joys of sharing her young son’s life with her own parents.
  • Parenting with Relies – A mixed bagUrsula Ciller shares some of her viewpoints on the pros and cons of parenting with relatives and extended family.
  • Tante and Uncles — How a great adult sibling relationship begets a great relationship with aunt and uncles from Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy.
  • Tips for Traveling With Twins — Megan at the Boho Mama shares some tips for traveling with infant twins (or two or more babies!).
  • Parenting passed through the generations — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about the incredible parenting resource that is her found family, and how she hopes to continue the trend.
  • My Family and My Kids — Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders whether she distrusts her family or if she is simply a control freak.
  • Parenting with a Hero — Rachel at Lautaret Bohemiet reminisces about the relationship she shared with her younger brother, and how he now shares that closeness in a relationship with her son.
  • Text/ended Family — Kenna of A Million Tiny Things wishes her family was around for the Easter egg hunt… until she remembers what it’s actually like having her family around.
  • Two Kinds of Families — Adrienne at Mommying My Way writes about how her extended family is just as valuable to her mommying as her church family.
  • My ‘high-needs’ child and ‘strangers’ — With a ‘high-needs’ daughter, aNonyMous at Radical Ramblings has had to manage without the help of family or friends, adapting to her daughter’s extreme shyness and allowing her to socialise on her own terms.
  • Our Summer Tribe — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger shares a love of her family’s summer reunion, her secret to getting the wisdom of the “village” even as she lives 1,000 miles away.
  • My Life Boat {Well, One of Them} — What good is a life boat if you don’t get it? Grandparents are a life boat MomeeeZen loves!
  • Dear Children — In an open letter to her children, Laura at Pug in the Kitchen promises to support them as needed in her early days of parenting.
  • Yearning for Tribal Times — Ever had one of those days where everything seems to keep going wrong? Amy at Anktangle recounts one such day and how it inspired her to think about what life must’ve been like when we lived together in large family units.
  • I don’t have a village — Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama wishes she had family nearby but appreciates their support and respect.
  • Trouble With MILs– Ourselves? — Jaye Anne at Wide Awake Half Asleep explains how her arguments with her mother-in-law may have something to do with herself.
  • A Family Apart — Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings writes about the challenges, and the benefits, of building a family apart from relatives.
  • First Do No Harm — Zoie at TouchstoneZ asks: How do you write about making different parenting choices than your own family experience without criticizing your parents?
  • Military Family SeparationAmy Willa shares her feelings about being separated from extended family during her military family journey.
  • Forging A Village In The Absence Of One — Luschka from Diary of a First Child writes about the importance of creating a support network, a village, when family isn’t an option.
  • Respecting My Sister’s Parenting Decisions — Dionna at Code Name: Mama‘s sister is guest posting on the many roles she has as an aunt. The most important? She is the named guardian, and she takes that role seriously.
  • Multi-Generational Living: An Exercise in Love, Patience, and Co-Parenting — Boomerang Mama at The Other Baby Book shares her experience of moving back in with Mom and Dad for 7 months, and the unexpected connection that followed.
  • A Heartfelt Letter to Family: Yes, We’re Weird, but Please Respect Us Anyway — Sheila of A Living Family sincerely expresses ways she would appreciate her extended family’s support for her and her children, despite their “weird” parenting choices.
  • The nuclear family is insane! — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle is grateful for family support, wishes her Mum lived closer, and feels an intentional community would be the ideal way to raise her children.

 

For the mothers we don’t know

May is a month filled with emotion for me.  With so much focus on Mother’s day, I am filled with gratitude for my own precious children and the opportunity to be a mother.  At the same time, I am often filled with sadness as my own mother passed away 4 days after Mother’s day in 2006.  I wish she would have been able to see my children.  I wish she could have held them in her arms.  I wish she were still here.

This year, in honor of my children and in memory of mother, I am joining with Adriel of The Mommyhood Memos and supporting Bloggers for Birth Kits.  Both of my children were born at home with a midwife-provided birth kit.  I had simple, uncomplicated births.  My children were strong and healthy.  But there are women all over the world who are not as fortunate.  Were you aware that every minute a woman dies from complications related to pregnancy and birth?

In rural Papua New Guinea 1 in 7 women die in childbirth.  Not only is this mortality rate unacceptable, it’s preventable.  If these women just had the clean birthing supplies, those rates could have the chance to drop.  If these women just had the chance to survive, they would also have the chance to continue loving their babies.  No different from you and I, these women dream for the day they get to hold their own healthy, thriving babies in their arms.  Bloggers for Birth Kits is about raising the awareness, the supplies and the money necessary for these women of PNG to realize their dreams.
The Mommyhood Memos Bloggers for Birth Kits

How can YOU help?

1. Make a birth kit. Assemble one yourself or gather a group of girlfriends, a moms group, work associates, or a church group to make a box full of them! Mail your kits to: Adriel Booker, Bloggers for Birth Kits, PO Box 6221, Townsville, Queensland, 4810, Australia. We will distribute the kits in some of the poorest regions of Papua New Guinea on our Medical Ship.

2. Donate for a birth kit to be made on your behalf. ($10 will buy 5 kits!) All donations for B4BK go toward the assembly and distribution of birth kits, as well as maternal care education. Make your online donation here. Please be sure to write Bloggers for Birth Kits in the “additional comments” box so the funds will be allocated properly.

3. Help raise awareness by posting about the cause on your blog, facebook, pinterest, and twitter. (Please use the hash tag #B4BirthKits!)

4. Add the Bloggers for Birth Kits button to your blog.  (Here’s the code: <a href=”http://themommyhoodmemos.com/bloggers-for-birth-kits” target=”_blank”><img alt=”The Mommyhood Memos Bloggers for Birth Kits” src=”http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m223/adrielmc/bloggersforbirthkitslogo125.jpg” /></a>)

Last year, this intiative raised over 2000 kits!!  Do you realize how amazing moms are?  Moms just like you and I saw a need and filled it!  My birth kit contained gauze and gloves and clamps and herb bath packets, a hat… it was an entire garbage bag full of items.  These birth kits contain only a few simple items:

1. Soap (for the birth attendant to wash her hands). Use a hotel-size soap or cut a regular bar of soap into 1/8-sized pieces. (Microwave the bar of soap for 30 seconds to soften it for cutting).

2. One pair of plastic gloves (for the birth attendant to wear).

3. Five squares of gauze (to wipe the mum’s perineum and baby’s eyes). Gauze pieces should be about 10×10 centimeters or 3×3 inches.

4. One blade (to cut the cord). You can buy individually wrapped sterile blades at the pharmacist or buy utility blades (much cheaper) at the hardware store. We teach the women to boil the blades for sterilization, so utility blades work just fine.

5. Three pieces of string (2 for tying the cord, 1 for “just in case”). String should be about 30 centimeters or 10 inches long.

6. One plastic sheet (for a clean birthing surface). Sheet should be approximately 1×1 meter or 1×1 yard and can be purchased at your hardware or paint store.

7. One sandwich-size ziplock bag (to pack the contents).

This Mother’s Day, I urge you to think beyond Hallmark and brunch.  Think about women you don’t even know; ones you will never meet and consider giving them a special Mother’s Day gift: a clean, safe birth to welcome their child into their family.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Just for fun, this recipe takes a basic meal and spices it up just a bit for Cinco de Mayo!   I tried cooking it in my crock pot for the first time yesterday and it was a revelation of ease.  Apparently I am the last home cook on the planet to discover cooking meatloaf in a crockpot. 😛  Because of the salsa, the meat loaf stayed moist even after cooking all afternoon.  I served it with peas and chipotle sweet potato fries.  A simple, run-of-the-mill supper was made just a little bit more exciting just by changing the flavor palate!

Fiesta Meatloaf

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup shredded Colby jack cheese (optional)
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp. dried cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
Mix together the spices and the bread crumbs thoroughly.  Beat the egg with the salsa and add the ground beef.  Sprinkle the bread crumb mix over the meat and blend well.  Form into a loaf and place in a casserole dish.  (I do not grease my baking pan as I find that the runoff from the cooking meatloaf coats the pan well enough that additional fats are not needed.)  Bake at 375 for 1 hour 15 minutes – 1 and a half hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 150-160 degrees.
*Note: To cook this in a crock pot, follow the instructions as above, place in the crock pot and cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 4 hours.

On teething and it’s relief

When we had our first baby showers for Liam, I read on the list that we needed things for the medicine cabinet, specifically mylicon and oragel.  When Liam had gas, I dutifully gave him the recommended dose of Mylicon.  For us, it was a very disappointing waste of 8 dollars.  In light of this experience, when Liam started showing signs of teething, I didn’t want to spend a fortune on a numbing gel that I envisioned being all over my child’s mouth.

I have always used homeopathics to aid in the healing of bruising (Arnica) and the settling of anxious nerves at night (Chamomilla) so I contacted our local health food store and asked for advice.  Since I have always been a pleased customer and the very happy recipient of reflexology treatments in the final weeks of my pregnancy, I was more than willing to trust their instructions.

Initially, I purchased and swore by Hylands’ Teething Tablets.  I would see a change in Liam almost as soon as they dissolved in his mouth.  I felt like I was safe giving him those tablets and I loved that we weren’t going through as much Tylenol as some of his little friends were just to make it through the day.  Liam got his first six teeth in the space of a week and I’ve never been so grateful for homeopathics!

Of course, the FDA got involved right as Liam’s 2 year molars were coming through and I bought every available bottle of the teething tablets before they were taken off the market.  Thankfully, you can purchase the individual ingredients and so we keep Chamomilla and Belladonna on hand.  Chamomilla serves to help with the irritability and Belladonna to give comfort for the inflammation (and redness).

With Sylvi, I have bottles of either the newly formulated (and FDA approved) teething tablets from Hylands, or Chamomilla stashed around the house, diaper bag and even the car.  She has been working on teeth for months and this morning her third tooth finally popped through, number 4 looking as though it will join us soon.  (In the interest of full disclosure, we did try some Oragel this time since she seemed to be so miserable.  However, I discontinued it’s use when I accidentally got some on my lip (this is what happens when you are exhausted and forget what you have on your fingers at 3 am…).  My lip was oddly numb and tingled for 2 hours.  I couldn’t sleep because of it and decided that if she was really in pain, Tylenol would have to do.  So far, it’s been used even less than it was with Liam.)

I also purchased an Amber Teething Necklace for Sylvi when she was just a few months old.  I’m not certain what has helped her the most, but I think that I can say this teething experience has been much less worse than Liam’s.  It’s seemed to take longer for her teeth to break through, but she’s not been as miserable.  Her sleep patterns haven’t really been impacted, thank goodness, and she’s only moderately fussy during the day.

I’m currently trying to teach myself more about Homeopathy so that I can use it with more confidence.  My friend Sara has written a wonderful post on why she uses Homeopathy and lists her favorite remedies at the bottom.  I’ve ordered the book she recommends and really look forward to it’s arrival!  If you are interested in more information specifically on teething, check out this post.  Little Mountain Homeopathy blog is written by a classical homeopath, so it has a wealth of information!

What about you?  Do you use Homeopathy in your home?  If so, what are your favorite remedies?