Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Surf: Lots of breastfeeding & some crafts

Welcome to the Sunday Surf! Here are some of the best links I've read this past week.

I am once more in the throes of my state business excise taxes, which are just as horrific as they sound and which are due tomorrow. I will try to quickly compile the links I've got!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Big-sibling books to prepare for a new baby

I've wanted to tell you about some of the resources we've been using to prepare three-year-old Mikko for his new sibling, and I've decided to do this in stages. Here are some the books we have out from the library right now on the subject of new siblings and pregnancy and my mini-reviews of each.

I've included special emphasis on how attachment-focused the books are. This is not meant to be a nitpicky criticism of the books in question, but to help you find the books that are most relevant to your family, particularly since it's hard to find pictures and language in most kids' books that reflect an attachment lifestyle. Now, when I'm reading a book out loud that has a different term for a function or item than one we use, I simply change the language as I need to for my son to identify more closely with the story. In that way, you could change some language like, "Babies drink milk" to be "Babies drink nummies" (or your special word for nursing). That said, the accompanying illustration might be of bottle feeding only, so sometimes it's easiest to pick books that are already closest to your family's practices!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Breastfeeding mural


Japanese mural in McCaw Hall in Seattle

Closeup of breastfeeding mother and baby in Japanese mural in McCaw Hall in Seattle

I spotted this Japanese mural in McCaw Hall in Seattle
and couldn't resist sharing the corner!
Don't you love the twiddling detail?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Calling for submissions for the February Carnival of Natural Parenting!

We continue to be delighted with the advice and stories our Carnival of Natural Parenting participants share, and we hope you'll join us for the next carnival in February! (Check out January 2011 and the full list of 2010 posts if you missed them.) Your co-hosts are Dionna at Code Name: Mama and Lauren at Hobo Mama.

Life PreserverHere are the submission details for February 2011:

Theme: Parenting Essentials: I cannot imagine parenting without __________. This one is wide open: Do you have a natural parenting product that you can’t live without? Is there a book, family secret, or song that has been crucial to your transition into the role of parent? Is it a friend who makes all the difference for you?

Deadline: Tuesday, February 1. Fill out the webform (at the link or at the bottom) and email your submission to us by 11:59 p.m. Pacific time: CodeNameMama {at} gmail.com and mail {at} HoboMama.com

Monday, January 24, 2011

What to do with an older sibling at a birth?

brothers meet after the birth


I'm writing today to ask your advice. I'm hoping to gain some perspective from the writing itself and from your collective wisdom and experiences.

I had always assumed Mikko would be present at the birth of his sibling, due right around the time he turns 4 years old. We're planning a gentle home birth, after all, so why not?

Well, Mikko is telling us why not. He doesn't want to be at the birth, he says. He had a bad dream about the birth involving bubbles and a giant gash, and that was that. He wants the baby to stay inside. Barring that (since I've told him that's not an option), he wants to be nowhere near when it erupts.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Surf: Beneath the booth & blog hopping

Welcome to the Sunday Surf! Here are some of the best links I've read this past week.

For those interested in the other end of my Wordless Wednesday picture from this past week:

Upside down boy under restaurant booth


Cheers to joyful dining with kids!1

Friday, January 21, 2011

Writers & volunteers wanted for Natural Parents Network!

Are you a writer who's interested in natural parenting topics? Are you a dear soul who wants to volunteer to help a thriving community of like-minded parents?
Natural Parents Network tree logo
We need more fresh new content and volunteers for Natural Parents Network, a site that connects like-minded natural parents and parents-to-be.

Dionna from Code Name: Mama1 and I cofounded NPN last fall, and it has blossomed since — thanks to your involvement! (Read more about NPN's origins and intentions here.)

But we could always use more of your contributions. After all, it's not the Natural Parents Network without you!

WRITE!

If you like to write about natural parenting, please hook us up with some original posts to feature on Natural Parents Network.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Feeling fat during pregnancy

I've been surprised how much gaining weight (and girth) during pregnancy has bothered me, considering:

  • I was fat and mostly complacent about it before pregnancy.
  • 39 weeks pregnant, first pregnancy 39 weeks pregnant with Mikko, and may I say, Bwahahahahaha!
  • I really do like looking pregnant.
  • I know all about the health benefits of gaining weight during pregnancy, even for those of us who were overweight to begin with.
  • I gained 33 pounds last time I was pregnant and lost it all within 2 weeks of the birth — even though it was over the so-called recommended amount for fat women to gain.
  • I think it's ludicrous that weight gain recommendations don't take relative height and size into consideration — or, you know, current research. I think they're ludicrous just at face value as well.
  • My midwife doesn't care how much I weigh.
  • I know it's not getting fat; it's being pregnant. There's a baby in there who needs this weight to grow.1 (And, to go along with my first point, so what if I am getting fatter?)

So why does it bug me so much to step on the scale and see that I am now so much heavier than my husband? Why do I gaze at my naked pregnant body and see the lumps and rolls instead of the swell my baby makes?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Restaurant etiquette


Upside-down legs in a Steak 'n Shake booth

And this is why we don't eat out at nice places.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Going car-less with kids

This is another in a series of guest posts by other bloggers. Read to the end for a longer biographical note on today's guest blogger, Rachel Jonat from The Minimalist Mom. Rachel shares her real-life experiences of family life without the family car.

Family bikes


Guest post by Rachel Jonat

When I announced I was pregnant with my first child one of the many follow-up questions I received was, will you be getting a new car?

We had a 12-year-old vehicle at the time that, while not exciting or new, ran just fine. Our emphatic answer was no. At that point I knew very little about the demands of a newborn, but I did know that our son would not care what car we were driving.

Fast forward a year and a few months and we decided to get rid of our car altogether. This news was met with congratulations from some and shock from others: How can you have a child and no car?

It’s pretty easy. I’ll tell you how.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Surf: On hot tubs, over-blogging, and much, much more

Welcome to the Sunday Surf! Here are some of the best links I've read this past week.

I just spent some hours trying to reconstruct the links I was going to share with you, because once again my browser has crashed repeatedly and taken my saved links with it. I really should become more conscientious about sharing them in my public reader feed before that happens, huh?1 The good news is, I got to read some more as I was poking around in my history and Google Reader.

mama and son touching pregnant belly bump 18 weeks
Eventually, he'll actually be feeling something under there.
The other good news is, Sam has now felt the baby move! That gives me such a kick (so to speak). Now I just have to wait till it's consistent and strong enough to bring Mikko into the experience. There's no way he'd keep his hand on my belly for five minutes the way Sam was persuaded to!

For months after Mikko was born, I'd feel funny twinges in my belly — from muscle spasms or gas or food digesting or whatever it was – and I'd think, "Oh, it's the baby!" And then I'd remind myself, "No, stupid, the baby's on your lap. That's a fart." And I swear, I now have to keep reminding myself, "No, it is a baby now."2 How surreal to have an entire person inside me, frog-kicking away.

  • "The Power of 10" from Code Name: Mama: An insightful viewpoint on discipline — putting into perspective how fleeting your child's behavior is, and how lasting your responses can be.
    "For anyone still on the fence about giving yourself a chance to calm down before you come back to your child (after your child has done something you believe is inappropriate, etc.), consider this:

    Will your child’s behavior matter in 10 seconds? 10 minutes? 10 hours? Will it matter in 10 days, weeks, months, or years?

    How about your response – how will the punishment you choose affect your child in 10 seconds? 10 minutes? 10 hours? How will the way you choose to punish your child matter in 10 days, weeks, months, or years?"

Friday, January 14, 2011

Big fat hobo mama house (and I quote)

I should totally go live here. Only $350 a month!

(Click images to view them larger.
You might have to click again in the new window to zoom.)


room in a big fat hobo mama house text


Favorite lines:
We dont use heat besides the fire place and individual electrical heaters every now and then when it's getting too cold to move a finger. We're not vegan and we smoke but we recycle as much as we can, cook a lot, brew our own booze, avoid using plastic bags, trashy/pre-made food and chemical detergents, soaps, cosmetics... and well we dont wash all that often in the first place ha.

room in a big fat hobo mama house pictures


This is a current listing, brought to my attention through my Google Alerts search for "hobo mama," so jump on it if you're interested. The room's available first of the month! I'll see you there.

P.S. I'm not making fun of these people; I just think it's the height of awesome that they called it a big fat hobo mama house and couldn't resist posting. Cheers to nonconformist, community-oriented, not-at-all liberal frat houses and hippie dens!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Unschooling is How Adults Naturally Learn at The Mahogany Way

Pottery Class


I have a guest post today over at The Mahogany Way on "Unschooling is how adults naturally learn."

It was a concept that occurred to me when I first started hearing about unschooling. See, I'd originally moved to Seattle with a stated intention of attending a graduate school/seminary program out here — and the more I didn't go back to school, the less I wanted to. I was having too much fun learning to be educated!

Sam went off to try West African drumming and draw cartoons. I took a hatmaking course where I blocked four hats in the traditional style and spent way too much on watercolor supplies for my painting class. Every quarter, a new catalog [of adult-education classes] would come, and we would dog-ear the pages, marking up what looked interesting and trying to prioritize based on the time and money we had available.

I had been considering continuing on to grad school, but it was almost as if these new classes helped convince me not to go. I had been a very good student throughout my traditional-schooling years — teacher's pet, straight As, the whole deal — and what I loved about my adult education classes was that all the rules had changed. In fact, there was no game at all anymore, no rules to keep or break. It was just learning, for its own sake. I was not going to become a hatmaker, a painter, a ballerina, or an actress. But I could go to the classes and learn and absorb, research more on my own, and enter into that new world for as long as I wished.

I hope it's reassuring for you if unschooling seems tempting yet mysterious to realize that you already do unschooling every day in your adult life, so it's more just a matter of applying that philosophy to your time with children. I hope you'll click over and join me in the comments over there.

While you're at The Mahogany Way, take a look at the joyful unschooling Darcel does with her three children, like a recent child-led time at the bookstore and an acknowledgement that playing is necessary. I always enjoy seeing how she documents unschooling in action in a real-life family, and I appreciate her wisdom and experiences with attachment parenting as she writes about breastfeeding, babywearing, and her most recent homebirth.

If you're interested in guest posting for me or having me guest post for you, let me know.

Catch you at The Mahogany Way!

Photo courtesy simplifies on flickr (cc)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Siblings


mama and son touching pregnant belly bump 18 weeks

mama and son touching pregnant belly bump 18 weeks

18 weeks on the inside and 3.5 years on the outside




In honor of Wordless Wednesday, I've put up a wee tutorial over at LaurenWayne.com on "Setting up thumbnail linkies & choosing the right dimensions" for those of you who already do or who wish to host thumbnail linkies, like mine below, from LinkyTools.com, whether for Wordless Wednesday, a giveaway link-up, or other blog hop fun. I've noticed some issues with title character length as I've used thumbnail linkies elsewhere, so I thought I'd just point out how Linky Tools guides users through choosing the appropriate combination of image size and character length for the title. If you already know this, carry on!

Find sites to link up your Wordless Wednesday post
at my super-cool collection of Wordless Wednesday linkies,
and let me know if you have one to add.
You can also link up a thumbnail from your post below!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Beyond the questions lies the answer


Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning from children

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 the many lessons their children have taught them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.





mother's first look at newborn in hospital bed
My first bewildered look


Before we had children, Sam and I considered it all very logically and asked a lot of meta questions.

What if we had a child just like one of our siblings? for instance. Would we be content with that? What if we had a wild child, when we're laid-back? What if we had a party-loving butterfly, considering we're socially awkward homebodies? What if we had an athlete, when we're uncoordinated and sedentary? What if our child loved camping when we both dropped out of Scouts?

But, more, what if we just didn't like our kid? What if our child, especially as he or she grew, embodied values we found distressing or unapproachable in adults — like lack of a sense of humor, or extreme clinginess, or failure of introspection, or intolerance of differences? What if our child, as an adult, repudiated all the choices we had made, prioritizing earning money over being with family, joining the opposite political party, and embracing all the belief systems we had rejected?

newborn baby poutingWhen Mikko came out, all 11 pounds and 13 ounces of him, I looked down at his squishy Neanderthal face and had a moment of disconnect: So this is what you look like, huh? This is what has been beating inside me for nine months? Who are you?

Part of it was the swelling and molding of vaginal childbirth, but part was that the most salient features, full lips and wide nose, were all from Sam's side of the family in those early weeks. I couldn't see a trace of me there.

And then those early months were so hard, so hard. The crying and bouncing and waiting for a sign that he understood who we were, that he cared at all, that he could communicate back some of the love we had been lavishing on him. Sam and I often wondered what we had given up to become parents — our carefree and us-centered lives, now focused on one small person.

So here we are, three and a half years later, and Mikko has grown into chubby cheeks I remember from my childhood (and in to my twenties…don't mock) and his eyes, so slitted and slate at birth, have morphed and settled into my dark green. But, you know, that's not the point. The point is what I've realized — this child never was me. He never existed to fulfill my ideals for what his character or future should embody. He is himself.

mother and son film photo stripBut, even more importantly? I've learned that I like him. That I cannot help liking him.

No matter who he is, no matter who he becomes, he's my child. My love for him is overwhelming and instinctual and not something I had to reach for. It just came upon me, inevitable.

I am pregnant now with our second child, and every once in awhile, I have a gasp of fear. What were we thinking? What if this is the child we cannot like? How will the two of them together get along? What new things will we be giving up to have two children rather than just one?

But, mostly, I am calm. Because I know now — it's surreal at first to meet your child, and it's hard those first months (year…), but — it gets better. You familiarize yourself with this little one, and your heart opens and swallows up every little detail down to the ringlets over the ears and the dimples dotting each knuckle. You get to know this person as he or she grows, and it's just right. This one belongs with you, and there is no doubt anymore.

That is what my child has taught me, and what my unborn child is already teaching me. That our hearts are bigger than our minds, that we were designed to love our children just because, that all our rationalizations disappear under the onslaught of cute and chubby and drool and toothless-to-toothy smiles. That, no matter what and no matter how old we both get or how much they change, we will always smile when we see our child's sweet face come into view.

boy in snow




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 January 11 with all the carnival links.)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday Surf: TSA crackdown on mothers & many a resolution

Welcome to the Sunday Surf! Here are some of the best links I've read this past week.

I am officially halfway through the pregnancy. If I believed in due dates and artificial time constraints for birth, which I don't. But, still. Halfway! It's amazing how fast a pregnancy can go when you're not obsessed with every day's progress because you already have a child and, you know, a life.

I was lying in bed last night thinking about the movement mileposts from last time. I had flown out by myself to visit my family after one of my mom's surgeries and was flying back around 20 weeks. I had been feeling movement on the inside for several weeks, but Sam hadn't been privy to it yet. Alone on the airplane, I put my hand on my belly and felt a kick from the outside. I was so eager to get home, to have Sam put his hand and feel his child for the first time. So last night, I was lying there thinking, When's that going to happen this time around? Come on, already. And wouldn't you know it? Kick! Right under my hand.

Sam and Mikko haven't felt it yet, but now I know it will be soon.

On to the links:

  • "TSA X-Rayed My Breastmilk" from Anktangle will get your blood boiling. I started shaking just reading this. Why won't the TSA follow its own rules? What can we do as citizens to follow up and bring attention to their cavalier behavior in regard to breast milk?
  • "Problems Only Toddlers Have" from ChildWild: This actually gave me some compassion when I walk in and find the same scenario. Maybe he honestly doesn't know how it got like that.
  • "Goals for this Work-at-Home Mother" from The Variegated Life: As far as real resolutions go, I need to borrow some of these and craft my own as well — for writing/business, for housekeeping, and for parenting.
  • "My One New Years Resolution 2011" from 6512 and growing: And, via that last link, this one. Aw.
    "This means, when I’m reading The Lorax to the kids for the eleventy-fifth time this week—overdue and accruing library fines like dust on our ceiling fans—that I won’t be plotting e-mails or dinner plans. I will be attentive enough to notice how Rose’s eyebrows rise into crescent moons when the Lorax first appears. I will breathe in Col’s childlike awe, his marveling at the pure wizardry of reading."
  • "Breast-feeding benefits academic performance 10 years later" from Los Angeles Times: Interesting if small long-term advantage, particularly for boys, if breastfeeding lasted six months or more. I thought it was helpful that they controlled for factors that could influence school performance, such as family income, education level, and how often the child was read to. (P.S. Don't read the stupid comments.)
  • From Strocel.com:
    • "Of Parents and Poop": Ha ha ha ha ha…so true! I used to swear I'd never be one of those parents who talked about their kids' poop — yeah, that lasted approximately zero days. And I wonder when the next time will be that I consistently get to go to the bathroom by myself.
  • "A European perspective on routine infant circumcision" from Write About Birth: Interesting to hear what someone thinks, from an area where male circumcision is not routine — on how caring for an intact penis is not considered a chore, and the foreskin is seen as an important and functional part.
  • "Natural Childbirth: Changes In Sex Life" from Diary of a First Child: Honest exploration on the subject of postpartum sex with contributions of real-life experiences, including mine. I have a draft on the same subject that I really should finish one of these days, if only to remind myself what to expect again this next time around.
  • "I sometimes fail; I can pick myself back up." from Domestic Chaos: Someone else not afraid to admit to our occasional (but regular) parenting failures.
    "But by doing it -- by getting on here and laying it out -- I can process it. I can understand why I was so frayed, what it was I could do differently. And also, I can admit it: I am a human. I am not perfect, and I make mistakes. I also love my child, and recognize my limits."
    I've been there. So many times.
  • A couple fun giveaways at Natural Parents Network:
    • Modest Middles nursing tank top $30 {1.14; US}: If what you hate most about Modest Middles nursing tank top adnursing in public is the squeamish thought that someone might see your tummy and stretch marks (raises hand), this cami is for you! What I love about it especially is you can wear any nursing bra with it, so it's perfect for large-busted ladies in particular who won't do as well in a typical nursing tank top (raises hand again).
    • Playful Parenting (Paperback or CD) $19 {1.29; US/Can}: Playful ParentingWin the paperback or CD of Dr. Larry Cohen's #1 parenting book. This is a phenomenal book to get you down on the floor, communicating with your children in their most natural way — play! Playfully parenting can help ease discipline issues, smooth sibling rivalry, and foster trusting connections between parents and children. The book gives you specific ideas to put play to work for you and your kids.
                For a thematically related post, go to The Mahogany Way to read "The Importance of Play" (picture from Darcel's post below). I'm not great at play. I've said it before and I'll say it again — I get bored playing. But I can see, especially as Mikko gets older and can verbalize this to me, how very, very important it is that he play — and that the people he loves participate in that play, on his terms. Today, for instance, we did multiple rounds of "presents." He would hide trucks, trains, and a stuffed octopus in an empty cracker box, and I would exclaim and pull them out, naming each one. Then he would promise me that he could "share" them. Well, of course, kid. He also delighted in giving me the box empty and cracking up over my feigned dismay when I opened my "surprise." What does he need from this play? Who cares. It was his choice, so we played it. Over and over. And over.
  • Did you see our Carnival of Natural Parenting — 2010 year in review? Dionna compiled the full blogroll (with Facebook and Twitter links) of every 2010 participant, Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mamaand she also calculated some intriguing stats. For instance, we had 117 writers, and Dionna and I spent about 240 hours putting the Carnival together! (Wait a second, why aren't we being paid more?) We also each selected favorite posts from throughout the year, so check in to read on our top picks, and make sure you're on the blogroll. If you're not, that means only one thing — you should participate this year! Stay tuned for the January edition this Tuesday, on learning from children. It's a sweet one!


You can find more shared items during the week at my public Google Reader recommendations feed.

Check out Authentic Parenting, Baby Dust Diaries (on hiatus), Maman A Droit, Navelgazing, Momma Jorje, pocket.buddha, Breastfeeding Moms Unite!, Enjoy Birth, A Domesticated Woman's Adventures, This Adventure Life, The Parent Vortex, and A Little Bit of All of It for more Sunday Surfing! (If you also participate in a regular link list, whether on Sunday or not, let me know and I'll add your link.)

Feel free to add your recommendations in the comments. Happy reading (& playing)!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Hobo Kitchen: Yummy stuffed mushrooms

stuffed mushrooms cut open on a plate


We had stuffed mushrooms as part of our New Year's celebration, so I will share the deliciousness with you.

Gather your ingredients:

     • large mushrooms — as many as you want to eat!
     • garlic and/or onions
     • chives
     • black pepper
     • spices — anything else you think would taste yum!
     • bread crumbs
     • cream cheese
     • parmesan cheese — shredded and/or grated
     • paprika

Put it all together:


Preheat the oven to 350.

stuffed mushrooms — pull out stems

The larger the mushrooms, the easier to stuff. Make as many as you'd like for your diners. Carefully pull or cut out the stems and chop them up finely. Place the mushroom caps on a lightly greased (I use a toweling of olive oil) dish or baking sheet.

stuffed mushrooms — sautee onions

I usually use garlic, but we didn't have any. I wasn't going to let a little thing like lack of ingredients get in the way of cooking what I wanted to, though! I happily discovered that onions work just peachy, as long as they're chopped finely. I added a little garlic powder for flavor. Feel free to use just onions, just garlic, or a combination of the two. Whatever your choice, start sauteeing them in a little butter or oil.

stuffed mushrooms — sautee mushroom stems

Once your onion/garlic is pretty well cooked (onions become clear), add the finely chopped mushroom stems.

stuffed mushrooms — brown and add spices

Add chives, black pepper, and/or whatever spices and herbs you desire. If you wanted spicier mushrooms, for instance, you could put in some chili powder or cayenne pepper. If you had some fresh dill to use, you could add that. Feel free to get creative!

stuffed mushrooms — turn down heat and add cream cheese and parmesan

Turn the heat down and add dollops of cream cheese and some shredded or grated parmesan cheese. (See how precise I am about mesaruements.) For our six mushrooms, I ended up using two big spoonfuls of cream cheese (twice what's in the picture). But how much you use will depend on how many mushrooms you have and how big they are. You can always add more cream cheese after you put in the breadcrumbs if the mixture feels dry, and you can add even more shredded cheese as you're stuffing the mushrooms if you realize you're running out of filling — it just makes for cheesier mushrooms, which is never a bad thing!

stuffed mushrooms — add bread crumbs

Add bread crumbs. We use panko; another good option is a pre-flavored variety, which would add even more flavor. If the mixture feels too dry and crumbly, add more cream cheese. The end result should be moist and clump together. I find that keeping the heat on low helps melt the cheeses as you blend, but then remove the pan from the heat entirely.

stuffed mushrooms — stuff them

Now eyeball your mushroom caps and your stuffing, and start dividing the stuffing among the caps. Make sure your hands are nice and clean for this step, because you'll probably end up using your fingers. Mound the stuffing inside the caps to keep it stable. If you're running out of stuffing, add more cheese and breadcrumbs as needed. I usually am OK with what I've got — you can redistribute as you go if you discover that some mushroom caps have more or less than they need. Shake grated Parmesan cheese over the tops (optional).

stuffed mushrooms — sprinkle paprika

Sprinkle with paprika (optional but pretty).

stuffed mushrooms — bake at 350 for 20 minutes

I always take a picture of the stove so I remember what I set it to! :) As it seems — bake at 350 for 20 minutes. (NB: I cleaned up the stove in Photoshop since I apparently cannot manage to do so in real life.) Check on them and see if they're slightly browned and if some juices are leaking out the top. That means done.

stuffed mushrooms — all baked and ready to serve

Yum!


Dietary concerns: This is a vegetarian recipe in the sense that no meat is used. However, many parmesan cheeses are made with rennet. For a truly vegetarian recipe, you could substitute out the cheeses you use for a different but still delicious taste. I don't know how to make it vegan! If you're gluten-free, you could skip the breadcrumbs and maybe add more vegetables (celery, perhaps?), or a light, gluten-free grain or flour of some sort. Just be aware of the moisture balance as you're mixing, and feel free to experiment.

A fond farewell to Vegetarian Foodie Fridays at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! Linked up at Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum, Frugal Food Thursday at Frugal Follies, Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade, Food on Fridays at Ann Kroeker, Friday Favorites at Simply Sweet Home, Cooking Thursday at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom, Mouthwatering Monday at A Southern Fairytale, Meatless Mondays at Midnight Maniac, Tuesdays at the Table at All the Small Stuff, Just Another Meatless Monday at Hey What's for Dinner Mom?, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday at Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free, Tasty Tuesday at Beauty and Bedlam.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Why I am not as fabulous a parent as my blog suggests (and why that's OK)

I wrote this post draft, in its entirety, in July. I then started thinking about it even more and wasn't sure it was truthful enough. I wanted to add further ways I screw up, so I put off posting it. Also, it's hard. It's hard to tear down the veneer that writing from behind a computer gives — and yet, it's such a necessary process. Necessary for the readers, and necessary for the author. I try to be honest as I write, but sometimes I think it gets glossed over. I mentioned my recent breakdown over nighttime sleep related to our changes in nursing, but I'm not sure if people really experience it the way it happened — the fear and the yelling and the meanness and the overreacting. Here is a post to say it again: I am not a perfect parent. And also: Oh, well.



We went to an outdoor concert (ZooTunes at the Woodland Park Zoo, to see Great Big Sea, an awesome Celtic band from Newfoundland, if you're interested in the deets) with Mikko this past week, and it was much more successful than our latest indoor movie attempt.

With the exception of the first ten minutes, wherein Mikko screamed non-stop for some odd reason.

No, I know the reason; I just can hardly take it in.

Sam had packed us a lovely picnic, using our new Easy Lunch Box that I won, which has (BPA-free) plastic containers with Easy Lunch Box at ZooTunesthree compartments and a lid. To save on space, Sam combined some like items in some of the compartments.

What a terrible idea, thought the three-year-old, who promptly began screaming — screaming — that the bunnies and the chips were touching.

We had come late anyway, and kind of shoehorned our way in between several other families on blankets, so we were feeling a little … obvious.

And a woman nearby caught my eye as I was trying so very hard not to do any such thing, and she smiled, cuddling her own daughter on her lap. And I felt better. Because: We've all been there. Sometimes your child starts off a concert by hollering at the top of his lungs, and it is what it is.

She kept looking at me, through sidelong glances, and I kept looking at her, equally covertly. I noticed she had an ERGO and her hair was a stylish but easy-going short crop. She looked like my kind of people.

I started having these flashes of (egotistical?) panic that perhaps she had seen Mikko's pictures on my blog and was trying to place us. Perhaps she was wondering how a parenting blogger could have a child who screamed so very much.

Despite the fact that I knew it was a bajillion-to-one chance she'd ever stumbled across my blog, it started me thinking about how glad I am not to be attending BlogHer yet and bringing my real self into contact with my virtual friends. Particularly if they see me parenting at the same time. Because maybe it would blow my cover.

Sam always seems particularly unimpressed by my parenting. He likes to make fun of me for losing my temper so easily, and he's been known to warn Mikko, half- (and only half-) jokingly that I can't be trusted alone with him right now.

I guess when people know you in real life, behind the mask and seeing all the warts and wrinkles and internal yuckiness, that they don't so much buy into the blogger mystique that writers somewhat inescapably build along with their words. In some ways, you think more highly of your partner than anyone else does — but in others, you see most clearly, and therefore approach with the least degree of worship. There are no secrets, and the failures leave a lasting memory.

I've been thinking about this a lot recently, so wouldn't you know, other bloggers have, too?

Witness Arwyn at Raising My Boychick:

Yes, our parenting choices matter. No, not "anything goes." Yes, kids deserve so much, and no, a lot of kids aren't getting what they need. But who can possibly sustain a Very Best Effort at every moment for at least 18 years? I'd say no one can. I surely can't.

Witness Kelly Hogaboom:

I write because I'm sorting through this stuff – me. It's my journey. I am not putting down parents. I am a parent! I am doing this work! I am failing, daily, in eschewing limited and harmful practices! …

But I am in the position to improve and to do better; to resist the passed-down traditional tropes most people I know adhere to. … Mistakes don’t concern me; we all make them. It's the traditional parenting schemas that I question and analyze … .

I recommend reading both those pieces in their entirety, but for now, that second part of the Kelly Hogaboom quote — that is what my blogging is. I'm questioning the established culture's ways of parenting and looking at children. I'm questioning my own ingrained hard-heartedness and immaturity. I'm questioning my own current screw-ups, of smaller or greater proportions.

And if you want to read about a screw-up in detail, click on over and read my comment on Kelly's post, and weep for me. I will repost it here so you don't miss the horror:

I appreciate, also, your clarification in the comments that sometimes what you say isn’t the point; it’s how monstrous you are. I had an incident the other day that still makes me ashamed of myself. There was a supermarket meltdown, and I won’t even try to figure out who or what was at fault there, if there is a scapegoat in all of it. The result was a kiddo screaming at the top of his lungs, me rushing through the shopping with gritted teeth, refusing to make eye contact with the other shoppers, and then we had a car ride home wherein my child screeched at me to listen to him and I just as obstinately refused to answer (because I’m soooo mature sometimes).

Ok, that part’s bad enough, but when we got home, he asked where his ballet shoes were. We had bought new ballet shoes that day in anticipation of starting dance classes, and he was so proud and happy with them that he’d carried them into the store. I said, quite factually and so meanly, “You left them in the cart.” Because it was true. He had, and I had had to remember them there and pick them up and put them in the car to take home, all of which I had done. But I wanted him to feel bad, and the result was all my monster self could have hoped: instant, sorrowful wailing. Because, clearly, I was saying that to imply his shoes were lost forever because he was bad. I had to rush to make it up to him and produce the shoes ("no, no, don’t worry, they’re here"), but wow — what a jerk I was. I can’t see his adorable little black slippers now without feeling a twinge of guilt.

Sorry to use you as therapy. Apparently I had to get that off my chest.

I just think you’ve really hit the nail on the head when you say you write (as one of the reasons) to resist the traditional schemas and suggest new ones. That’s what I try to do, in myself, each day, and my writing is an offshoot of that. I fail (boy howdy, do I fail), but the putting forward of better ideas — within my own family, within myself, and then out to others — seems like good work. And as you say, I like the results so far. I like who my child is; I like who I am (and who I’m becoming). One reason I so enjoy reading your posts is because of the way you challenge the accepted ways of looking at children and parenting. Changing how we parent ideally starts with changing how we think about parenting and about children and about what is necessary and right. Or at least, so it seems to me as I try to navigate it all.

When I say, don't berate your children into performing some script of manners, I'm reminding myself what it means to be respectful toward my child. When I enthuse about finding the right attitude toward night waking, it's true in the moment and yet also a reminder for me the next time I heave a big sigh on hearing my child awake when I'm trying to relax. When I speak about gentle and child-honoring ways to discipline, I am trying to heal from my own experiences of discipline as a child and not revisit my deep-seated — and, yes, theological — misapprehension of sin and punishment on my own child.

When I write, I feel like I write maybe too prescriptively, and as if I have this all figured out — and, more, as if I actually fulfill all of this all the time. And I don't! I don't. I'm trying, and I keep trying harder, but I'm not there yet.

It's how I can co-host a carnival on healthful food choices and then run two cooking posts about Muddy Buddies and french fries. Because: We're still in process. I'm still in process, and I'm going to guess you are, too.

And I wish I were better than I am, but I'm not, not yet. Maybe not ever. The wishing is part of the growth, but even if it's all there ever is, that's OK, too. We're trying.

Not our very hardest all the time (heaven knows), but we're trying.

I'm trying.

So if you were sitting next to me at ZooTunes, snuggling your little girl, and you wondered about the kid with the curly hair who was screaming something about bunnies and you thought to yourself, "What kind of parent is that?"

Well, now you know. An imperfect parent, with an imperfect child, but we're both pretty good, too.

clapping along to the music at ZooTunes — Great Big Sea

I'm not alone in this, am I? How do you hide your parenting imperfections or feel you should?

With props to Futurama for the title.