Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Commemorating the end of breastfeeding

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After eleven years of breastfeeding three babies, with part of a year off for one pregnancy, I have officially weaned: myself, my babies, my body. I no longer lactate. I have no nurslings. I am done with my breastfeeding time.

Breastfeeding the third and final nursling

Of course, this is bittersweet. I thought a lot about what I did and didn't want to do to commemorate this change in my life. I didn't want to know when the exact last nursing was, for instance. Karsten petered off around age three and a half, and I let that be vague in my mind. I didn't want to know: This is how it ends. I didn't want to worry it wasn't the bestest nursing session ever or wonder if it would repeat. I don't know when the last time was, and that's fine by me.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Brothers by the autumn tree

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Every autumn, we take photos in front of
a sweet maple tree outside our home
as the leaves change colors.

Mikko: 12 years
Alrik: 8 years
Karsten: 4.75 years

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

What I learned about parenting from my midlife crisis

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I might as well have put it on my calendar. I turned 40 and immediately fell into a funk about who I was and how little I'd accomplished with my life. Maybe it was the contemplation of (unattended) school reunions when I could see on Facebook that former classmates were now doctors, lawyers, nurses, professors, scientists, and successful business owners. Maybe it was watching blogging disintegrate after I'd poured more than a decade of myself into it. Maybe it was all those unfinished and unpublished manuscripts hidden but not forgotten across various hard drives. Maybe it was that my husband had slowly, as we added each new child to our family, taken over more and more of our mom-and-pop business to where it was mostly pop.

I started assessing who I was and what I had done with my four decades on this earth. I saw a lot of titles that were currently in the past — student, blogger, musician, writer, business owner, leader, friend — and not much to speak of from the present: mother, wife, homeschool parent. Mother is not an exclusive title. There's no glory there, particularly if you feel like you're not doing much special and are average at best. Wife is easy when you're married to Sam, believe me. I didn't feel like I was pulling my weight there. And I'm sure everyone homeschools more assiduously than I do. We are at heart lackadaisical. Throw in some learning disabilities we've been navigating, and it's prime territory for fretting I'm not doing enough or the right things.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The jolt of genetics

This makes me laugh.

I'm on the right in each collage,
and Karsten is on the left.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

On raising children as an introvert

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Before I had my first child 12 years ago, I worried about how I would balance my need for quiet alone time with the care of a baby. I have my skepticism toward those personality tests that purport to tell you who you are for all time, but I will say that every time I've taken one, the slider is always the full way over toward introversion. There are few people I feel wholly comfortable around, people I can sit in a room with and feel my batteries recharging rather than draining. By the time I had Mikko, I was down to one: my husband. How would a child fit into this system?

As it turns out, things were fine — for a while. Babies don't require a lot of back-and-forth. You can still have your thoughts while cooing their direction, nursing in long moments of stillness, changing diapers and giving baths.

It's more once they talk that you have to weigh how your conversational styles mesh. Do they enjoy long pauses? What toddler or preschooler does? Do they need time away from YOU? Very few little kids would voluntarily choose so.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Keep your kitchen scraps in the freezer: Prevent fruit flies & odors

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I was lamenting fruit flies on Twitter several years ago, and Teacher Tom stepped in to save me.

Seattle had decreed that all food and yard waste needed to go in the compost bin rather than the garbage. This was a change I could get behind as an eco-friendly ideal.

But the small kitchen waste bin the city handed out for collecting our kitchen scraps had two distinct problems: The smell of rotting food seeped out into our kitchen, and fruit flies gathered to feast. It didn't seem to matter how often we emptied the little container, and we even bought a fancier one with a locking lid and filter, with no accompanying improvement.