Saturday, January 31, 2009

Babywearing and maternity coat: the easy way

I stumbled across an ad for The M Coat while I was doing important research online (erm...playing Text Twirl, I think). It purports to be three-purpose: maternity with a long A panel zipped in over your bulging tummy, babywearing with the panel zipped in the other way around to allow for a little head to stick out near yours, and regular fashionable coat by leaving the panel off entirely.

The M Coat

For some reason, this coat gave me the giggles. Maybe it's the two-headed monster look that results when you put two bodies in one coat, like you have some sort of parasite.

But I started investigating, and sure enough, there are at least a half dozen such coats out there (updated January 2011).

There's a similar Mama Coat by Japanese Weekend (no longer available — here are other maternity coats at Japanese Weekend).

There's a Peekaru fleece vest that's a nice, streamlined option you could wear under a regular coat.

There's Suse's Babywearing Kinder-coat (and vest and poncho and...) -- this one was unique in allowing front and back carries...at the same time!

There's a lovely wool Mama Jacket that flows so organically that it makes you look less like you have a parasite and more like...I don't know, genetically conjoined?

And then there's always the P Sling New York option (no longer available) if you want to look like you're wearing a sleeping bag, which I'm told is all the rage in New York City.

Baby Ette has some beautiful babywearing ponchos that look fabulous whether or not you have a baby beneath.

Destination Maternity and Target have a variety of maternity coats and jackets — but be warned that if it says "wool blend," it's unlikely to keep you very warm, so look for 100% wool if you live in a cool-to-cold climate.1


Or, you could do what I did. You could wear your regular coat, only leave it open when you're pregnant and can no longer fasten it over your protruding belly. Wear a thick sweater underneath for long walks.

Once you have your baby, sort of pull it closed around his legs if he's in front of you. If not, well -- hope you bundled him up. Babylegs come in handy for those bare ankles.

Because, hey, I support any product that makes babywearing more accessible for the modern mama sans amauti, but sometimes you can just make do, you know?

Note: My tips might work only for those in Seattle or warmer regions. That said, it has been quite nippy during the winters I couldn't close my jacket, and I survived without frostbite or pneumonia. But today was a glorious 44 -- can you say walk on the beach? I can, and did.

What do you think? Did anyone spring for a specialty baby-and-mama coat, and did you love it? And how cold does it have to be to make it worth it?



1 One reason I keep wearing my 100% wool coat during pregnancy and babywearing is that I'm warmer in that than I would be in a cheaper maternity coat, even with my front uncovered!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I escape destination-based sales tax for the indoor play gym

If you want to stay sane, avoid this blog post and don't click on any of the links.

I have no choice but to descend into the void of the SSUTA, and I am slowly going mad.

accounting

Washington state, in an attempt to collect what it believes are "fair" sales tax revenues from online sales, began a destination-based sales tax last year in July.

SSUTA stands hilariously for Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement. If you want to take a gander at how streamlined, download the PDF of the agreement from this link. Honey, 142 pages and four appendices is not the definition of streamlined.

What this means for me is an accounting headache that makes migraines look like the gentle brush of a pussycat's tail against your cheek.

Last year I had to find all our Washington state sales, then send the Seattle sales tax rate (9%) to the government. OK, it's a chunk out of my pocket, since the venue we use doesn't allow us to collect the sales tax, but it was a mostly (ahem) streamlined process.

But this year, this year...

I'll spare you all the details, but suffice it to say that I have to comb our records for each transaction that was shipped to a Washington state customer. Then I have to copy the information about that sale into a spreadsheet, then enter the address into a state database to find the sales tax rate for that location. Not just the ZIP, mind you, because apparently it's more mind-numbingly complicated than that. Then I have to report each of those sales to the government, calculating the appropriate sales tax of each district and paying same. It's all in the 8-9% range, so you'd think I could just overpay it all at 9% -- but, no, that would be illegal.

All this would be easier if the venue we sell most of our DVDs through would allow us to (a) download a year's worth of order reports at a time or (b) search the orders by state. Neither is possible. Of course, it would be even more helpful if they'd let us collect sales tax in the first place!

Randy Smythe at My Blog Utopia! has a good idea for governments to just implement a flat internet sales tax and establish a national clearinghouse to distribute the proceeds to the states. I know, it's fun to get things online sales-tax-free, but it's actually illegal -- if you're not already, you're supposed to be paying use tax on all that jazz. A flat tax would actually streamline the process, for buyers and sellers.

All right, that's my home-business rant for the day. So that Sam could get some work of his own done this morning, I took the kidlet to an indoor play gym, where he cried and cried over a toy fire truck that apparently wouldn't do what he wanted. We left it behind and came home, and he went straight down for a nap, leaving me no choice but to tackle our state and city business taxes and the stupid, stupid SSUTA -- and it's all due January 31.

That's four days.

Eep.

Side note: When does possessiveness start? Mikko still looks at other kids like they're large furless dogs, amusing and interesting but not worth interacting with. toddler play gymHe enjoyed a ride-in fire truck at the play gym as well. (For those who don't know what an indoor play gym is, around here it's a regular old gym at a community center with a bunch of big toys scattered about and a $2 charge to get in.) Mikko spent most of his time in the ride-in truck until he left it behind for a second and a 2-ish-year-old girl swooped in. He sort of tried to get it back, but didn't seem fazed that she wouldn't get out. He just toddled away and began looking at the (communal) baby dolls she'd left on the ground when she'd seized his truck. He picked one up and brought it to me. Meanwhile, the girl kept reciting, "Mine, mine, mine," and then she said, "My baby," and came over to retrieve the doll from the floor near me. Again, Mikko didn't care and was showing no aggression toward her, and in a couple seconds the doll was once again on the ground since the girl didn't actually want it -- she just didn't want anyone else to have it.

Is it inevitable? Will he become the mine-mine-mine child in a few months? Is it innate, learned from parents, learned from peers? For now I'm enjoying his lack of selflessness (quite literal -- for I don't think he has a concept of self and other yet).

As a proactive encouragement, I'm trying not to be mine-mine-mine myself. Except for eyeglasses and liquor, kiddo, everything mine is yours.

Accounting photo courtesy of Vangelis Thomaidis on stock.xchng, and indoor toddler play gym photo from Seattle Parks -- that's a good link if you live in the area; if not but inclement weather similarly keeps you and your little ones off the swings all winter, see if your community has comparable drop-in programs

Friday, January 23, 2009

Babywearing the heavy baby: ring sling

This is second in my series on helpful baby carriers for the heavy baby. (Links to the other posts are at the bottom.)

Today I'll introduce you to the usefulness of the unpadded ring sling, and specifically the hip carry.




RING SLING:


Best timeframe: Newborn to toddler age, depending on carry; hip carry -- from ~4 months-12 months is most comfortable

Ring slings are a long swath of fabric again, but this time with two rings that you position in front of one shoulder, making the ring sling more easily adjustable than a baby wrap you have to knot on.


Tie one on

There are a bajillion different ways to wear your baby in a sling (here are some very basic directions from mamatoto.org), but the point of my series is how to wear the heavy baby.

So, for a heavy, slightly older baby, I recommend the hip carry. The timeframe for a hip carry is from whenever your baby can support his or her head, generally from a few months up, to whenever it's no longer comfortable to carry your little (big) one on your hip. Using the ring sling for a hip carry is like having an extra arm to support under your baby's bum. You can continue supporting your baby with your arm to keep the weight off the opposite shoulder, but you can also let go and use both hands when needed. I think of it as an assisted hip carry.



I've found the ring sling hip carry to be ideal for when I want to do something around the house that my baby wants to see. For instance, at a certain age, I was able to do the dishes with this carry. You have to be able to reach around your baby's body, plus keep grabby hands tucked inside the sling -- so it's not going to work forever! But you'll find other tasks you can complete with your baby looking along with you. It gives your baby the same line of sight as a front-facing carry, but having your hip (and, occasionally, arm) support the weight makes it a lot easier on your back.

Like any of these unpadded lengths of cloth, you can also use your ring sling as a blanket, a nursing cover-up, a burp cloth, a shawl, or a pillow. And it's easy to fold up to travel light in a diaper bag. There are padded versions of ring slings as well that might be more comfortable on your shoulder but aren't quite as portable.


Make your own

If you're feeling crafty, you can always make your own. Just be certain to get sling rings that can support a large amount of weight, for safety. (The rings at craft and fabric stores are not sturdy enough.)

Jan Andrea has a no-sew version that requires only a length of fabric and two rings.

She also has a host of sewing options featuring patterns and step-by-step tutorials for one-layer and reversible slings, as well as this FAQ on materials.

You might consider adding helpful extras to your custom design, such as a zippered pocket on the tail for tucking a diaper and wipes. You can dress up the fabrics you use, too, and make an elegant formal sling for a special occasion.


Buy online

If you don't want to make your own carrier, the images in this post link to various commercial versions on Amazon.

I bought a few ring slings off eBay and from consignment shops. Ring slings are some of the most popular baby carriers out there, so they're easy to find gently used, or custom-made from a work-at-home mama.


Carry your baby every which way

Give the hip carry a try for heavy babies with good neck control. The younger the baby, the higher the fabric should spread over the baby's back to lend some support.

You can also swing a hip carry around to be a back carry if you need your baby out of the way momentarily, such as when cooking. (Practice this one carefully.)

For other carries, check out ZoloWear's instruction gallery, which includes videos as well as step-by-step photos.

The video below is from that gallery, and it shows how the hip carry is also an easy position for an older baby or toddler to nurse in while you go about your business:








For long walks and extended time wearing a heavy baby, it's best to go with a two-shoulder carrier rather than a one-shoulder like the ring sling. Spreading out the weight is easier on your back. Look for more two-shoulder options in the next posts in the series!

Posts in this series, in order:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Breastfeeding resolutions

Welcome to the January Carnival of Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding Goals

This month we're bringing you posts on the topic of New Year's breastfeeding resolutions. Be sure to check out the links at the end for the other participants' posts.


*******

Mother and Child 1893, Mary CassattI don't know that I've ever had quantifiable breastfeeding goals, such as "breastfeed till X months old." Certainly, when my son was born, my goal in general was to breastfeed, period. I stuck with it through a rocky beginning because it was so important to me.

Now that Mikko's 19 months old, I hadn't really reconsidered my goals for breastfeeding. I think it might be that I've never been attuned to the word "goals" in terms of breastfeeding, because it sounds like feeding your baby's something to accomplish, something about the mother's success or failure. I guess I think of my goals for breastfeeding as more of a vision. Even before giving birth, for years I've had a picture in my mind of breastfeeding my baby whenever and as often as he desired and for as long as he chose.

That vision has always informed my practical goals. To breastfeed successfully long term, I knew I needed certain elements in place, so I put in the time and arranging needed to meet these goals:

     * I checked out books from the library on breastfeeding and watched videos online, since I hadn't had much chance otherwise to see breastfeeding in action or understand the facts and mechanics. (Here are some good online resources: kellymom, Dr. Jack Newman, Ask Dr. Sears, and here are a couple of the many excellent books on the subject: The Nursing Mother's Companion, by Kathleen Huggins, and The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers, by Dr. Jack Newman.)
     * I read supportive blogs (see some of my favorite blogs in the links at the side, or visit the other participants in the carnival below) and joined online forums of like-minded parents (such as mothering dot community) to start off with positive impressions about the breastfeeding relationship and to have any concerns and questions answered.
     * We chose midwives to attend our birth who encourage breastfeeding, one of whom is a lactation consultant.
     * Sam and I traded in our queen-size bed for a king-size mattress on the floor, ignoring our families' well-meant suggestions to buy both a bedframe and a crib. We knew exclusive breastfeeding would mean feeding at night, and I wanted the baby near so it would be convenient.
     * So that I could keep getting good sleep, I found resources in books and online that showed me how to breastfeed lying down, along with guidance from the nurses and midwives. (Here are an instruction sheet and a video.) That way, I can just roll toward my baby, barely waking either of us up.
     * I practiced ways to nurse comfortably in public, not covering up but not making myself feel embarrassed at baring more than I'd intended. That way, I could feel calm when Mikko wanted a meal while we were out, and I didn't feel confined to home, or the car, or a restroom.

These were all my personal preferences and goals for breastfeeding. My vision for the future of breastfeeding is personal as well as wider reaching. I want to continue feeding my child until he decides to stop -- gradually and peacefully and hopefully not sadly for either of us. I want to continue being responsive to his needs to nurse, for comfort as well as calories, and to trust him to know his own needs. I want to be unashamed and confident in breastfeeding a toddler. I want to continue to encourage other parents and potential parents to consider breastfeeding, particularly exclusive (in the early days) and extended breastfeeding.

For the wider world, I want breastfeeding to become (again) normal. I envision every mother trying to breastfeed and almost all continuing to do so, for months or years. I hope for no more dirty looks or quiet suggestions to move along when women breastfeed in public. I see laws being passed in every necessary district to allow breastfeeding, but it will become an act so normal that no one will care. In time, people will look back at the laws and laugh at how archaic they are, and marvel that there was ever a society that needed to be told that breastfeeding is natural and acceptable. Daughters and sons will grow up watching their mothers, aunts, and neighbors feed their young and will pass the wisdom on to their own children when the time comes.

Dream with me, and it will come true. Here's to a happy New Year and a new start for all of us.

*******

Please read the excellent posts from our other carnival participants:

Secrets of Orual wants to encourage other mamas with her experiences of overcoming tough breastfeeding starts
The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog has a slew of incredible lactational support resolutions, including distributing breast pumps to WIC and finishing a book for breastfeeding consultants working with Spanish-speaking mothers
Zen Mommy is learning how to apply Reiki to pregnancy and breastfeeding
Beautiful Letdown resolves to be present and responsive as she tandem nurses
Milk Act looks for ways to stay healthy while continuing to breastfeed her toddler
Breastfeeding 123 lets go of a goal for introducing solids and makes a new one to listen to her children's cues
Blacktating continues to take breastfeeding as a working mom one nursing and pumping session at a time
Mama Knows Breast is going to post breastfeeding information and stories to make women feel comfortable breastfeeding anywhere
Breastfeeding Mums is determined to get her breastfeeding book published this year -- but wants your vote on which way

Painting is a Mother and Child, by Mary Cassatt

Monday, January 19, 2009

Babywearing the heavy baby: stretchy wrap

I've been wanting for some time to do a roundup of best baby slings, baby wraps, mei tais, structured carriers, and the like for all you fellow mamas and daddies out there who want to carry your very heavy babies. This might be, as is my case, because your infant was heavy from birth, or it might be because you still have a wish to carry an older child. Babywearing blessings on all of you!

I present my credentials: Mikko was born at nearly 12 pounds, and he just grew from there! Two months in, he weighed 20 pounds, and at a year old his weight was in the 90th percentile...for 3 years olds. For his first few months out of the womb, all he wanted was to be carried. We were happy to oblige, but it meant a steep growth curve in our arm musculature. We weren't allowed to sit down or stop bouncing him -- have you ever bounced a 20-pound weight for several hours? I have, and I needed the support of a good carrier to make it possible.

I was very excited about the benefits of wearing your baby, and I stocked up on various ring slings and cloth wraps, even making my own, before Mikko was born. I read instructions for how to put them on, and I practiced (don't laugh!) with my old teddy bear. (You can laugh a little.)

And then came baby. Some of what I thought would be perfect wasn't, and some of what I hadn't considered was ideal. Every baby is different, and each parent-baby dyad has unique preferences, but here's what worked for our family, and what's still working at 19 months and 36+ pounds!

I've decided to break up my recommendations into several posts and highlight one carrier per post. The stretchy wrap gets its turn today, since that was the first carrier we enjoyed with our newborn! (Links to the later posts have been updated at the bottom.)




STRETCHY WRAP:


Best timeframe: Newborn to 4-6 months old (or up to ~20 pounds)

We started off with a long cloth wrap made out of a fabric with some give to it -- a stretchy, fuzzy brown velour.


Make your own

I followed the instructions at mamatoto.org titled encouragingly "Make a No-Sew Wrap." The instructions involve buying fabric and cutting with scissors. Ta-da! (Psst: mamatoto.org is a wonderful source of babywearing info.)

The instructions tell you what fabrics work and what don't. You basically need...um, fabric. About 5 or 6 yards of it. To make it stretchy, get fabric with stretch to it (could you have figured that out for yourself?), but you can also use non-stretchy woven fabric for a different kind of wrap. I found the slightly stretchy kind to be perfect for newborns, since you can pop them in and out more easily without untying your handiwork. You can also adjust things a little more easily as you're getting used to wearing your baby.

Scour the aisles of your local JoAnn's and see what fabric is on sale -- and what's attractive to wear! Because, just as a side note, be conscious that you will be wearing this, not your baby. Choose a fabric that will make you feel stylish; if an opposite-sex babywearer is in the picture, make sure it suits the other half as well! Perhaps leave the pastel bunnies print to the nursery (unless that makes you happy).

For my thrift sisters out there, you might have a suitable large swath of fabric lying around the house already. Even an old bedsheet (jersey knit would be ideal) can be made into a wrap.


Tie one on

The easiest and most popular wrap for a stretchy baby carrier like this is Front Wrap Cross. It puts your baby tummy to tummy with you and the wide cross of fabric over your back helps support the weight in front. For a little baby, pull fabric over the back of the newborn's head to support it. You can tuck a very small baby's legs in, or leave an older baby's wrapped around you outside the wrap. The upright position can be soothing for any infants who have trouble with reflux. You can also cuddle your baby down farther and sideways into the wrap -- experiment and see what seems comfortable for you both.

Here's a similar version of the front wrap cross for nursing: Super Easy Newborn Hands-Free Nursing. Caveat: I never did convince Mikko to nurse while his head was covered, so upright still worked best for us, but these instructions look like you could breastfeed out and about with no one the wiser.

Here are videos for the carries, offering demonstrations along with tips.

You can also use your big length of soft, stretchy fabric as a blanket, a nursing cover-up, a burp cloth, a shawl, a pillow. There are no rings or padding to get in your way. By the same token, it's simple to tuck into a diaper bag. Several yards of fabric is still bulky -- don't get me wrong, but no bulkier than a comfy baby blanket.


Buy online

If you don't want to make your own carrier, the images in this post link to two commercial versions called the Moby Wrap and the Sleepy Wrap. Here's Moby Wrap's set of helpful instructions for how to wear it. 



Carry your baby every which way

Don't be scared by needing to learn how to tie it on -- it's easy. Just practice on a teddy bear...or go straight for experimenting with the baby!

You can wear a wrap in a variety of ways: front facing in, front facing out, on your back, on your hip, upside down, on your head. Not really on those last two -- just seeing if you were still paying attention. You can even carry more than one baby at a time!


Here John Oliver* shows you how the front wrap cross is done:

*I think I'm joking, but I'm not sure.




With a heavy, growing baby, eventually you will feel the knit fabric stretching a little too much for your taste, or for the comfort of your back. That's when you know it's time to move on to a wrap or carrier with a little more structure. More reviews of such options to come!

Posts in this series, in order:


Friday, January 16, 2009

In Defense of Food: nutritionism and breastfeeding

In Defense of FoodI've read the introduction to In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, by Michael Pollan, so I think that qualifies me to start reviewing it.

I was struck by how much of what he deplores in the Western culture's attitudes toward food echoes Western culture's recent attitudes toward breastfeeding -- that a manufactured artificial infant meal can substitute for the whole food of breastmilk if the right nutritional components are present, and that food is about ingesting calories and has little to do with the pleasurable act of eating.

"Together, and with some crucial help from the government, [scientists and food marketers] have constructed an ideology of nutritionism that, among other things, has convinced us of three pernicious myths: that what matters most is not the food but the 'nutrient'; that because nutrients are invisible and incomprehensible to everyone but scientists, we need expert help in deciding what to eat; and that the purpose of eating is to promote a narrow concept of physical health. Because food in this view is foremost a matter of biology, it follows that we must try to eat 'scientifically' -- by the nutrient and the number and under the guidance of experts." (p. 8 in my hardcover library copy)

The rise in formula's popularity was due in part to trust in the authority of science over culture. There were always going to be women who could not (or chose not to) breastfeed, but the marketing of formula as similar to and just as good as breastmilk allowed it to gain preferred status in the Western infant's diet. Scientists began to analyze human milk and break it down into its constituent parts. Most formulas are based on cow's milk, which has the wrong kind of fat and too much protein, so it has to be processed, having its fats removed and then different ones added back in, to be suitable for a human infant. Scientists and formula manufacturers have had to play around with the ingredients and ratios, trying hard to make a processed food imitate a natural food.

Pollan says the same about scientists dealing with Western processed, industrial food:

"Nutritionism prefers to tinker with the Western diet, adjusting the various nutrients (lowering the fat, boosting the protein) and fortifying processed foods rather than questioning their value in the first place." (p. 11)

The latest fad in adult diet is the same as in baby diets: omega-3 fatty acids, which are now added to formula in hopes of replicating breastfeeding's effect on IQ scores. Previous attempts were adding maltose and dextrin, nucleotides, and iron. Iron is present in much lower doses in breastmilk than in formula, but the iron in breastmilk is absorbed much more readily by the infant. And even though formula has many more sugars added, breastmilk continues to taste sweeter. Like so many differences between the two, why breastmilk is so superior remains a mystery.

Formula is a safe substitute to nourish an infant who otherwise cannot have breastmilk, but it so far doesn't replicate the intangible qualities that breastmilk possesses. Here's a quote from an interviewed nutrition professor in the article "Hot Milk": "We are still unable to make formula that comes very close to human milk and, for me, that’s a disappointment. We try to break human milk down into its components and put it back together again, but it really doesn’t work that way.”

Back to Pollan's basic claim:

"But I contend that most of what we're consuming today is no longer, strictly speaking, food at all, and how we're consuming it...is not really eating, at least not in the sense that civilization has long understood the term." (p. 7)

As a culture, we seem to have forgotten that food is not just about calories and nutrients, and eating is not just about ingesting. If you look at science-fiction shows from the 1950s (or maybe earlier), you can sense the excitement that science and nutritionism will one day do away with the messiness of being an omnivore -- that in a bright and shiny future all our food will come in pill form.

Why on earth would we want our food in the form of pills?

There's so much more to eating and food than the simple act of ingesting a certain number and percentage of whatever science is telling us is essential today. I remember when Scott Adams, the Dilbert cartoonist, first announced that he was making a line of nutritious and convenient vegetarian burritos that contained a multivitamin's worth of your RDAs for the day. Enjoying his cartoons and some of his early books, I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. If you're in a hurry, sure, better to grab something easy and tasty that also has a bunch of nutrients. Forget that they didn't taste all that great after all -- is it even possible to reduce our food needs down to vitamins wrapped in a tortilla?

An infant's need for nutrition is more than a bottle of vitamins, fats, and calories. Besides all the mysterious qualities that make breastmilk more of a food than formula (in the same ineffable way that an apple is more of a food than a Dilberito), there is the other side to the food equation: the act of eating. Formula allows babies to be propped up with bottles, held facing away from the warmth of the parent with little skin-to-skin touch. It allows babies (or so we've been told) to sleep long stretches with full tummies instead of having continual, restorative contact throughout day and night with their mothers. There's the difference between rubber nipples and plastic bottles potentially leaching chemicals vs. a warm and soft breast. There's the interaction that must take place between specifically mother and child when breastfeeding that is not mandatory when bottle feeding, and there are benefits there that are as little understood as the apparent magic of breastmilk's ever-shifting composition. It's attitudes that negate those benefits that lead to experts deriding comfort nursing with tsk-tsks about becoming your child's pacifier. As if that's not exactly what breasts are supposed to be!

I haven't read the rest of the book yet -- getting through fifteen whole pages is quite an accomplishment for me lately -- so I can't say exactly what conclusions Pollan will draw, but I can guess from his first three (sorta) sentences: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." I imagine he won't make tightly restrictive recommendations and prohibitions about enjoying some of what the Western food industry has to offer (an occasional Dilberito can't hurt, right?), but that as omnivores and as humans, our bodies would do much better on whole foods and our souls would do much better with conscious eating.

In the same way, I'm not out to bash the very existence of formula. It was originally created to help babies whose mothers were trying even more inadequate methods of feeding them, and it's now the only acceptable substitute for babies who have no breastmilk to drink for whatever reason. I'm also not trying to decry bottles, which can be necessary for working and adoptive mothers among others. But I couldn't help but see the parallels with the situation he's writing about and our reliance on an imperfect food substitute and an imperfect method of conveying that comestible, when there's a perfect and whole baby food abundant and available.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Two big new resolutions

splits

As an addendum to my post on New Year's resolutions, I offer two biggies that I came up with at a belated Christmas potluck. Our small group Bible study's celebration had been snowed out, so we moved it to this past week, and I was musing with our friends there about our goals for this still fresh new year.

I told them that in my adult ballet class, we always end the stretching time with the splits, both front and side. Now, when I say "we," I mean anyone but me. Because, my friends, I cannot do the splits. Either way. And feel that perhaps I was not made to do them.

I floated this idea out to my friends -- that God had stitched me together with tighter inner thigh muscles than was strictly necessary, and that splits were therefore out of my purview -- but they cajoled and cheered me on and got me to resolve that 2009 will be The Year I Do the Splits.

It's strange, because I'm very flexible in every other stretch, but when it comes to the splits -- bupkes. I can touch my knees and my nose to the ground doing the butterfly, but stretch my legs into a narrow V, and I go into spasms.

So I have been scouring the interweb for such how-to gems as gymnastics articles and ballet videos, but I think what it will mostly come down to is time and practice. Very much like my previous encouragement to practice breastfeeding positions before assuming that they're impossible, I will point my advice homeward and try, try, try again. I will just have to get into split position, however far I can, until I can get lower and lower.



If all else fails, and it's December 2009 and crunch time, I can apparently cram the rest of my flexibility training into three weeks.

So that's #1 to add. Number 2 is...

Doing man push-ups.

video


Now, my friend who suggested this is going for 10 of these whoppers. I would be pleasantly surprised with one, myself, since I can so far do 0.5 of the wussy kind. But I have agreed to this resolution in sisterly support, so that is another thing I will torment myself over and over with this year, until I get it right.

Wish me bonne chance, stretchy thighs, and strong triceps!

Joyous photo courtesy of Bob Knight on stock.xchng

Friday, January 9, 2009

Bosom Buddies

I was over at ProMom.org, enjoying the selection of breastfeeding art. I decided to further research one of the showcased artists in the Fine Arts section, Petra Finkenzeller.

Bosom Buddies - Finkenzeller

If you go to her site, you can enjoy all the images from her 2006 Bosom Buddies collection promoting breastfeeding. It's a beautiful set of breastfeeding photographs!

Check out the eyes on this guy, and I love the composition here.

FYI: Here's are previous posts featuring breastfeeding art:
Breastfeeding in Pictures
Breastfeeding in Art

Friday, January 2, 2009

Taking responsibility

railroad tracks

Here's some additional musing on my New Year's resolutions.

I've found an overarching theme to my desires for the year, and it's to choose responsibility (hence, the unimaginative title up there).

In the past, I've excused myself from doing something I want to because no one else was doing it, or I've blamed someone else's lack of participation on why I couldn't follow through.

My NaNoWriMo experience, where I wrote a novel in one crazy month, taught me that it was up to me to make the choice to finish or not to. My husband was telling me I didn't need to kill myself writing it all in one month -- but I'm not making him the Satan of this piece. If I had listened to him and let that excuse me from finishing my novel, that would have been my choice. It would have been my fault that I hadn't finished, no one else's. Fortunately, I realized that and made my choice to power through on my convictions.

In other areas, I hadn't had that revelation. There have been parenting ideas and ideals that I've had that I've been half-hearted about. I haven't talked about it much, but I have a goal to raise Mikko bilingual in English and German (along with the sign language!). Since Sam speaks kein Wort Deutsch, he's understandably not been able to support me in that vision. I've let that corrode my own ambition to follow through, but that's my problem, and only I can resolve it.