Category Archives: Parenting

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em…

Last night I was thrilled to go to my first-ever LLL meeting.

I’ve practically lived breastfeeding for the last 3.5 years. I started researching and learning when I found out I was pregnant. I breastfed Puddin’ as well as I could. I’ve kept researching and learning since she stopped.

But I literally had nothing good to contribute to the conversation.

I pride myself on gathering information, putting it together, thinking it through critically, and then forming an opinion on X, Y, or Z.

Last night I was corrected on every point I made. If I said X the answer was X *and* Y. If I said the answer was Y, it was really Z instead…

How many other times do I just completely miss the point? How often do I lose important pieces of information? How often does my brain discard half of the answer, only to leave me with the second half?

I’ve made all my breastfeeding posts private now. They’re still there… but I certainly don’t want to chance giving someone some information that could either booby-trap them or information that just wouldn’t help them at all.

I think I’m also done with anything else requiring brain power. No more political discussions. No more activism. If I can’t get my facts straight and present those facts to others, then what’s the point? Cause more confusion? That’s never been my passion… I know that I’ve never been a teacher – I’ve never quite been able to clearly relay to others what I’m thinking or how I came to a conclusion – but my god, you guys… I can’t remember the last time that I’ve been so blatantly proven wrong. Repeatedly. On a subject about which I thought I was knowledgeable…

I’m tucking my tail between my legs and apologizing. I’m sorry if I mis-lead any of you; that certainly was not my intention.

As for this blog… it’ll still be here, and I can assure you that it will still be a hodge-podge of whatever has me thinking that day. I also promise that it still will not make sense, but at least I’ll keep my posts about my feelings and life events… at least I don’t have to worry about hurting anyone with those.

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A lesson in mindfulness

I feel as though it was a lifetime ago that I walked expectantly into my one-hour-per-week yoga class on campus, extremely thankful it was offered. I wouldn’t have been able to take another grade school or high school PE class.

I wanted to rid myself of extra pounds. I wanted to rid myself of stress. I wanted to rid myself of guilt. I wanted to rid myself of. . . memories.

So many memories.

I believe it was the second time we met that the yoga instructor sat us down in a rather large freaking huge circle. I was curious and open-minded. She got out a box of raisins and I wondered silently, “How the hell are raisins supposed to help me lose weight and get more flexible?” While I’m still completely uncertain how raisins can do those two things for you, I do know how they can help you become a healthier and happier person.

Please allow me to share this lesson with you. And please help me remember this lesson when I’m feeling low.

The yoga instructor had us all choose a golden raisin from the box and then return, quite perplexed, back to our seats.

“I want you to close your eyes and put this raisin in your mouth. Do not chew it. Just place it there. . .” she began. “Roll it around. Feel its texture. Notice the sharp ridges and rounded sides. Feel the weight of it on your tongue.”

She spoke in a soft, slow, welcoming, and warm voice. I felt my shoulders begin to relax.

“Allow the raisin to plump in your mouth. Feel it accepting its surroundings, taking in the moisture, becoming fuller and rounder.”

I began breathing more softly.

“Slowly begin to chew the raisin. Feel the skin pop. Taste its simple but bright sweetness. Try and realize every thought, every feeling, every motion, every sensation it gives you.”

I was suddenly much more enthralled with a raisin than I’d ever been in my life. I may have been more in tune with that raisin than I had been with anything else in my life. And that was the point.

She had us slowly open our eyes and re-tune to our surroundings. I had never enjoyed a raisin so much in my life. I’d never realized so much about the tiny little fruit; nor had I ever known that there is so much to experience – just within a raisin.

The level of pleasure, enjoyment, education, and understanding about a person or situation depends upon how mindful we are of it.

When is the last time you sat to watch something on television but couldn’t remember what you watched as soon as you got up from the couch? That’s because your mind was elsewhere. I’ve had the same happen while driving to and from my daily destination. My mind starts wandering to other places and completely forgets to enjoy the current moment.

I don’t want my life to be a series of flashes and barely-memorable experiences. I want to enjoy and truly appreciate each moment as it’s given to me.

(This is with the exception, perhaps, of giving birth to Tori – I’m glad to remember her delivery but I am also thankful that I remember very, very little of the pain I breathed through while I labored.)

I want to enjoy each day for its own scenario – for that day’s extreme heat, or extreme cold, or for that day’s perfect breeze while I walk. Each song, each story, each task. . . I want to enjoy it for its own simplicity or complexity. Either way – I want to recognize it. It’s amazing that, when I slow down to recognize each moment for what it is, it usually results in me walking away with a smile on my face.

Try it.

Dear Tori: You’re killing us, kid.

I remember the weeks following your birth like they were yesterday. I couldn’t snap enough fuzzy pictures (while trying to avoid blinding you with the camera flash) while you were sleeping.

Or had your eyes open.

Or were simply being.

There for a little while the amount I bragged about you made me feel a little overwhelmed and I’m sure that everyone I spoke with tired of hearing the wonderful things my baby did.

But kiddo, I have news for you. . . that was nothing. You’re killing us with your cuteness.

You are absolutely *the* most polite two-years-and-two months-old little girl. When you ask for something there’s rarely a time that you don’t ask politely, but when you do forget, all we have to do is give you a look and you’ll enthusiastically bust out with “PWEEEEEEEASE?!” When you’re handed something you promptly say “Tanks!” When we thank you for handing us something, you say “Ou wew-come!” Don’t get me started about sneezes. If anyone sneezes you say “Bess ee!”

You’ve said “Uh-oh” for the longest time – but the last couple of days it’s transformed to “Oopsy-daisy!”

You’re killing us kid.

You don’t walk anywhere. You either run or trot. Your long hair bounces behind you while you run from one side of the house to the other (usually toward your bed or ours where you dive directly into the mattress to “hide” and then start giggling).

You can’t help but giggle when you’re pretending to sleep. Between little “snores” you giggle. We tell you “Wake up!” and you giggle. If the roles are reversed and you tell us to wake up, you giggle. But my favorite is when we ignore your wake-up calls and you bend over sweetly, give us a kiss, and say “Night-night!”

I hear you bounding to the door from the outside when I get home from work in the evening. “MAMA! Ou’re BACK! Wook! (look)” Then you start telling me about your day as best you can in your broken two-year-old-English.

If we’re busy doing something and you remember something you want, you hold your tiny index finger in the air and say “Wait! I back!” You run to grab the whatever it is and come running back to us saying “I back! See?!”

Everything is new and bright and fascinating and funny to you. You’re (mostly) all smiles (you know, between those two-year-old temper tantrums). I truly am seeing the world through brand new eyes – and Tori – I thank you for that.

But seriously – if you get any cuter I’m going to OD on cuteness.

At least that’s a happy way to go.

I’m thinking of you.

You’ll be moving far away to make new friends soon.

Your three-month-old baby boy passed away a few short weeks ago.

You’re not sure how you can live without alcohol.

Your little brother passed away this weekend.

You’ve just embarked on a new life on your own.

You’re currently battling breast cancer.

You’re unsure about your future.

You’re battling the effects of having a brain tumor removed.

You just met your brand new baby boy last weekend.

You’ve been unemployed a long time and you’re unsure how you’ll keep going.

You’re leaving your husband to make a better life for yourself and your children.

You’re quitting a 17-year cigarette habit.

You don’t believe you’re strong enough to survive without a man.

 

You. . . all of you. . . I love you and I’m thinking of you. And I’m not the only one. Hang in there. You can do this.

And Then She Was Two.

Hi

Hi!

The past couple of years have been such a learning experience for me. I always knew there was more to learn, but Tori gave me truly interesting subject matter. I’ve watched her start as a soft, squishy lump and then blossom into a miniature girl with big hair and a bigger personality. We’ve reached an incredible number of milestones – so many that I curse myself for not spending more time carefully writing down each one.

Around Memorial Day we took the paci away. I thought it would be a huge fight, but to be honest, Tori never looked back once we took it from her. We were concerned that taking her pacifier may impede the progress she was making through TEIS with Project Help and with her Occupational Therapist, but she lost the paci and never skipped a beat.

Since starting services with TEIS and playing with Sue and her friends at Project Help, Tori’s language skills have grown by leaps and bounds. I mean – absolutely exponentially. She now spontaneously counts to six. She regularly calls for her malk (milk), book, Towi’s toys (Tori’s toys), fwends (friends), and knows how to say pwease (please) and tanks (thanks).

Stylin'

Stylin'

She absolutely understands us when we’re speaking to her. If she starts throwing a tantrum we tell her “Tori, that’s fine if you want to throw a fit, but you can throw a fit in your room.” You then hear little elephant feet stomping toward her room where she wails for a couple of minutes until we go in to check on her. When we get to her room we’ll ask “Have you calmed down?” She’ll nod “uh-huh.” We’ll ask for a hug and she’ll gladly give one while she says “hug” and then she comes out to play again.

This is the little girl that calls for me in the middle of the night when she learns that I’m not in the bed with her anymore. When I come to her room and snuggle in bed with her she cuddles up against me and smiles a sweet smile before falling fast asleep. She also wakes up the next day, rolls over to see me, smiles a sweet smile, and then gives me a morning hug and kiss.

When I walk in the door for lunch or after a long day at work, Tori will run to me when she hears me walk in the door. “Mama! Hug.” Then she starts jabbering. I’ll be able to pick out words like school, water and Dad amongst other unintelligible jabber – but I can tell she’s sharing her day with me.

I’m telling you – all personality.

This little girl has laughed, cried, played, slept, and warmed my heart. And now she’s two. Time flies. I can’t say it enough. Time absolutely flies.

Happy 2nd Birthday Tori!

Happy 2nd Birthday Tori!

Tori Story

Just a funny little story to share in honor of World Breastfeeding Week. . .

Last night when I came home from work, Tori joined me while I changed clothes – as per usual. When I took off my bra, she pointed to my breasts and exclaimed, very excitedly, “Bow-bows!”

I chuckled at her.

Then she stuck both hands out in the classic “I’m gonna grab ’em!” pose, scrunched up her nose, and started giggling.

Silly girl. It may have been forever since she nursed at this point. . . but she’s never forgotten the “bow-bows”.

Thinking of You, Beautiful Amy.

Yesterday after 5:00 in the evening, my amazing friend Amy introduced this world to her beautiful baby boy. I’m so thrilled that he’s here. If that little one is anything like either of his parents, this world will be greatly blessed just by his presence alone.

My friend Amy needs a bit more healing time before she’s feeling quite 100%, but her dear husband is keeping us updated about her progress.

Here’s to you, Amy! Happy Mother’s Day! We love you very much and can’t wait to meet your adorable son.

Have you tried Swagbucks yet?

Search & Win

I know a lot of you have tried the “Do Surveys for Money!” and “Submit for a free sample of blah!” gimmicks out there. If you’re like me, you haven’t had a lot of success with actually getting money or free samples from these sites.

Well here’s one that actually works.

I get the most Swagbucks from my searches. When I’ve got a lot to search the web for, I head straight for Swagbucks’ search engine. (It’s powered by Google but you have to look below the link to see if it’s a sponsored ad or not.) You get awarded Swagbucks at random for searching. I even use my Swagbucks search engine when I’m going to familiar websites like WordPress, Facebook, and Yahoo. I just type that into the search bar and then go to the site from there.

You can also do surveys on the site, take a daily poll, do tasks, things like that. And you’re actually awarded Swagbucks, unlike those other survey sites that say “Hey, we’ll give you a dollar!” and then, twenty minutes later, you find out you haven’t qualified for their survey.

Ahem.

Back to the point, just give Swagbucks a shot. Click here and go look around. I’ve already redeemed some of my Swagbucks for music prizes, and I’ve got a lot of other things from the Swagbucks store on my wishlist – things like a Wii, a Keurig Single-cup Coffee Maker, and a Dali poster.

This site really works! Try it out! (And if you join from these links, I’ll get a referral bonus when you use the search!)
Search & Win

Sweet Sighs, Stretches and Gentle Night-Peeps

In the wee hours of the morning I watched you sleeping;

relaxed, contented, softly dreaming.

I wondered what thoughts your beautiful head was keeping.

.

I saw you stretch, reach and search for my arm.

You wondered if I was there to keep you safe and warm.

Fear not, my love, I’ll keep you safe from harm.

.

I feel our days softly waning, soon you’ll sleep with me no more.

I’ll miss your sweet, soft cuddles – and yes, even your snore.

These words I’ll read in my diary one day and they will read like lore.

.

But right now, Sweetheart, we’ll cuddle and sleep.

I’ll enjoy your sweet sighs, stretches and gentle night-peeps,

forever grateful you’ve shown me love this deep.

Struggling with Advocacy

Welcome to the April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they advocate for healthy, gentle parenting choices compassionately. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

***

I’m still struggling to find my place within advocacy.

I’ve cared about issues before, but I’ve never been this passionate about them. I feel as though my eyes weren’t opened to the truly important things until I got pregnant with my daughter. (It may be because before the birth of my daughter, I was more than just a little selfish!) Just as soon as I saw her – small, beautiful, and perfect – I knew that I had to be her advocate. She had not the voice to be her own. Suddenly a fire was lit beneath me.

Breastfeeding Symbol

Breastfeeding Symbol

The two issues about which I’m most passionate are breastfeeding and anti-circumcision (yes, even though I had a daughter). My mother breastfed me for 18 months and told me many stories as I was growing up, so I was raised thinking of breastfeeding as normal, natural, and a perfect time for bonding. My passion for anti-circumcision has much younger roots; when I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband said he didn’t have the choice to be circumcised. He wishes the choice was his own. His statement led me to do my research. I found out that the “pros” people list as pros are either a really long stretch to believe or they have no scientific reasoning behind them. They are merely aesthetic.

That being said, I still don’t know exactly how to advocate for these causes. It helps if you know a little bit about my personality. I’ve gone from the younger version of April that used to talk constantly and never censored a word that came out of my mouth to a new April who listens twice as much as she talks, would rather not hurt anyone’s feelings, and who would certainly not ever want to be involved in confrontation if not absolutely necessary.

Whenever I advocate for breastfeeding I don’t want to hurt the feelings of anyone who made an educated decision not to breastfeed and I certainly don’t want to hurt anyone who tried but was unable. When I advocate for the end of circumcision, I don’t want to offend people who have done their homework and still made that choice for their sons.

In short, I don’t want to tell anyone “You’re wrong for doing that! You were given breasts to please your husband, and then feed the baby that results from that pleasure! And while we’re at it, foreskin is not a birth defect, so why are you giving your son cosmetic surgery?!” I believe that even though I happen to think that breastfeeding is the primo way to go and circumcision doesn’t have any medical benefit, what I think may be wrong. I’ve been wrong before. Why couldn’t it happen again? How do I have any room to judge? I know I make plenty of parenting decisions that 100% crunchy moms wouldn’t agree with, but I still do these things because I’m positive that my child will not be harmed. I’m sure that the parents who do not breastfeed and the parents that do circumcise their sons feel the same way.

Preserving Genital Integrity

Preserving Genital Integrity

Because I want to step so softly, how do I advocate these days?

I write. I write in a public forum where everyone and their mother can see the thoughts going through my mind. I write stories about the reasons I’ve chosen to do things, rather than the reasons you should not choose the roads I have decided not to take. I try to give useful information in my blog and post information on my Facebook page that will facilitate a mother’s ability to breastfeed if she wants, and I try to provide information that lets people know how I came to the conclusion, with my husband, to not circumcise our son if we had a boy. I let mothers-to-be know “If you’re interested in breastfeeding and you want more information on circumcision, let me know!” and leave it at that. Honestly, I’d rather just plant the seed and allow the mother to come to her decision on her own rather than beating someone over the head with information until they’ve decided they’d rather avoid me than have to listen to my ideals.

Overall, my intent is to provide information about these issues in a loving, informative, and non-judgmental way. I hope that in doing this I can be a voice for those who are too small to speak their own minds. I hope I’m being a strong advocate for my daughter; not only for right now while she can’t speak, but also so that she knows she can grow a voice of her own later. And I hope that in the meantime I’m not being unreasonable or condescending in my tactics.

To be honest, I’m still not sure if I’m doing this right or not. I’m not sure that I shouldn’t be picketing. I’m not sure that I shouldn’t be shouting from the rooftops and via all the electronic media we’ve been given today. I’m not sure that my advocacy is strong enough. At the times when my voice is weak. . . I hope the life I lead tells my story for me.

***

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo 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:

  • Natural Parenting Advocacy by Example — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction uses her blog, Twitter and Facebook as her natural parenting soapbox.
  • You Catch More Flies With Honey — When it comes to natural parenting advice, Kate of The Guavalicious Life believes you catch more flies with honey.
  • From the Heart — Patti at Jazzy Mama searches her heart for an appropriate response when she learns that someone she respects wants his baby to cry-it-out.
  • I Offer the Truth — Amy at Innate Wholeness shares the hard truths to inspire parents in making changes and fully appreciating the parenting experience.
  • Advocating or Just Opinionated?Momma Jorje discusses how to draw the line between advocating compassionately and being just plain opinionated. It can be quite a fine line.
  • Compassionate Advocacy — Mamapoekie of Authentic Parenting writes about how to discuss topics you are passionate about with people who don’t share your views.
  • Heiny Helpers: Sharing Cloth Love — Heiny Helpers is guest posting on Natural Parents Network to share how they are providing cloth diapers and cloth diapering support to low income families.
  • Struggling with Advocacy — April of McApril still struggles to determine how strongly she should advocate for her causes, but still loves to show her love for her parenting choices to those who would like to listen.
  • Compassionate Advocacy Through Blogging (AKA –Why I Blog) — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how both blogging and day-to-day life give her opportunities to compassionately advocate for natural parenting practices.
  • A Letter to *Those* Parents — Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares how to write an informed yet respectful reply to those parents — you know, the ones who don’t parent the way you do.
  • Why I Am Not A Homebirth Advocate — Olivia at Write About Birth is coming out: she is a homebirth mom, but not a homebirth advocate. One size does not fit all – but choice is something we can all advocate for!
  • Why I Open My Big Mouth — Wolfmother from Fabulous Mama Chronicles reflects on why she is passionate about sharing parenting resources.
  • Watching and Wearing — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life advocates the joys of babywearing simply by living life in a small college town.
  • Compassionate Advocacy . . . That’s The Way I Do It — Amyables at Toddler in Tow describes how she’s learned to forsake judgment and channel her social energy to spread the “good news” of natural parenting through interaction and shared experiences.
  • Compelling without repelling — Lauren at Hobo Mama cringes when she thinks of the obnoxious way she used to berate people into seeing her point of view.
  • I Am the Change — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro describes a recent awakening where she realized exactly how to advocate for natural parenting.
  • Public Displays of CompassionThe Accidental Natural Mama recounts an emotional trip to the grocery store and the importance of staying calm and compassionate in the storm of toddler emotions.
  • I will not hide behind my persona — Suzi Leigh at Attached at the Boob discusses the benefits of being honest and compassionate on the internet.
  • Choosing My Words — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom shares why she started her blog and why she continues to blog despite an increasingly hectic schedule.
  • Honour the Child :: Compassionate Advocacy in the Classroom — Lori at Beneath the Rowan Tree shares her experience of being a gentle and compassionate parent — with other people’s children — as a classroom volunteer in her daughter’s senior kindergarten room.
  • Inspired by the Great Divide (and Hoping to Inspire) — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis shares her thoughts on navigating the “great divide” through gently teaching and being teachable.
  • Introverted Advocacy — CatholicMommy at Working to be Worthy shares how she advocates for gentle parenting, even though she is about as introverted as one can be.
  • The Three R’s of Effective and Gentle Advocacy — Ana at Pandamoly explains how “The Three R’s” can yield consistent results and endless inspiration to those in need of some change.
  • Passionate and Compassionate: How do We do It? — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares the importance of understanding your motivation for advocacy.
  • Sharing the love — Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about how she shares the love and spreads the word.
  • What Frank Said — Nada at miniMOMist has a good friend named Frank. She uses his famous saying to demonstrate how much natural parenting has benefited her and her family.
  • Baby Sling Carriers Make Great Compassionate Advocacy Tools — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey shared her babywearing knowledge — and her sling — with a new mom.
  • Everyday Superheroes — Who needs Superman when we have a community of compassionate advocates?! Dionna at Code Name: Mama believes that our community of gentle bloggers are the true superheroes.
  • Words of advice: compassionately advocating for my parenting choices — MrsH at Fleeting Moments waits to give advice until she’s been asked, resulting in fewer advocacy moments but very high responsiveness from parents all over the spectrum of parenting approaches.
  • Peaceful Parenting — Peaceful parenting shows at Living Peacefully with Children with an atypical comment from a stranger.
  • Speaking for birth — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud soul-searches about how she can advocate for natural birth without causing offense.
  • Gentle is as Gentle Does — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares how she is gently advocating her parenting style.
  • Walking on Air — Rachael at The Variegated Life wants you to know that she has no idea what she’s doing — and it’s a gift.
  • Parenting with my head, my heart, and my gut — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares her thoughts on being a compassionate advocate of natural parenting as a blogger.
  • At Peace With the World — Megan at Ichigo Means Strawberry talks about being an advocate for peaceful parenting at 10,000 feet.
  • Putting a public face on “holistic” — Being public about her convictions is a must for Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama, but it takes some delicacy.
  • Just Be; Just Do. — Amy at Anktangle believes strongly about her parenting methods, and also that the way to get people to take notice is to simply live her life and parent the best she knows how.
  • One Parent at a Time… — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment believes that advocating for Natural Parenting is best accomplished by walking the walk.
  • Self-compassion — We’re great at caring for and supporting others —from our kiddos to other mamas — but Lisa at Gems of Delight shares a post about treating ourselves with that same sense of compassion.
  • Using Montessori Principles to Advocate Natural Parenting — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells how she uses Montessori principles to be a compassionate advocate for natural parenting.
  • Advocacy? Me? — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers that by “just doing her thing,” she may be advocating for natural parenting.
  • Feeding by Example — Mama Mo at Attached at the Nip shares her experience of being the first one of her generation to parent.
  • Compassionate Consumerism — Erica at ChildOrganics encourages her children to be compassionate consumers and discusses the benefits of buying local and fair trade products.
  • The Importance of Advocating Compassionately — Kristen at Adventures in Mommyhood acts as a compassionate advocate by sharing information with many in the hopes of reaching a few.
  • Some Thoughts on Gentle Discipline — Darcel at The Mahogany Way shares her thoughts and some tips on Gentle Discipline.
  • Compassionate Advocacy: Sharing Resources, Spreading the Love — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle shares how her passion for making natural choices in pregnancy, birth, and parenting have supported others in Dominica and beyond.
  • A journey to compassion and connection — Jessica at Instead of Institutions shares her journey from know-it-all to authentic advocacy.
  • Advocacy Through Openness, Respect, and Understanding — Melissa at The New Mommy Files describes her view on belief, and how it has shaped the way she advocates for gentle parenting choices.
  • Why I’m not an advocate for Natural Parenting — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog delivers the shocking news that, after 10 years of being a mum, she is NOT an advocate for natural parenting!
  • Natural Love Creates Natural Happiness — A picture is worth a thousand words, but how about a smile, or a giggle, or a gaze? Jessica at Cloth Diapering Mama’s kids are extremely social and their natural happiness is very obvious.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy — Even in the progressive SF Bay Area, Lily at Witch Mom finds she must defend some of her parenting choices.
  • A Tale of Four Milky Mamas — In this post The ArtsyMama shares how she has found ways to repay her childhood friend for the gift of milk.
  • don’t tell me what to do — Pecky at benny and bex demonstrates compassionate advocacy through leading by example.
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