Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: First birthday for Alrik!

baby at first birthday party
Can you believe my baby turned one?

baby and boy opening present at first birthday party
Mikko was ever so helpful when it came to present opening.

baby and boy opening present at first birthday party
Although Alrik did get to pull some paper.

baby eating robeez shoe present at birthday
Robeez! Nom nom.

baby eating wrapping paper at birthday
This paper is quite good, too. (Why do we buy babies toys??

baby smiling
Now we attempt to get a photo of him smiling showing all his teeth. He’s been doing it for a few weeks but never in front of a camera.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pros and cons of tandem breastfeeding

Welcome to the Carnival of Tandem Nursing

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Tandem Nursing hosted by Mommying My Way. Our participants have shared their personal stories of the highs, the lows, and information on what to expect if tandeming is in your future. Please read to the end of each post to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

I was always intrigued by the idea of tandem breastfeeding but never thought I'd participate in it myself. We were going to have a large spacing between our children, after all — I figured the older one would naturally have weaned by the time we decided to get pregnant again.

I didn't count on my older son's tenacity!

My younger son was conceived when Mikko was three and born when Mikko was four. Mikko continued to nurse through the pregnancy, despite a lack of milk, and they've now been tandem breastfeeding for a year. Alrik is one, and Mikko is almost five.

Here are some of the upsides and downsides to nursing through pregnancy and going on to tandem feed, as I've experienced them. Remember that everyone's experiences are different, though, which is why I'm glad there's a whole carnival on this topic!

Tandem breastfeeding allows you to meet the older and younger children's needs.

When we were considering pregnancy, Mikko was still breastfeeding several times a day, to sleep for bedtime, and occasionally during the night. Younger nurslings would have even more nutritional, health, and comfort needs. I know a huge part of the reason I didn't want to wean Mikko before or during the pregnancy was to give him the chance to continue receiving the nurturance and nutrition he'd come to expect from breastfeeding.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Attachment parenting is about respect

I Am Mom! Enough! Carnival buttonWelcome to the I Am Mom! Enough! Carnival hosted by Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama and Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children.

This Carnival is dedicated to empowering ALL parents who practice and promote and peaceful, loving, attachment parenting philosophy. We have asked other parents to help us show the critics and the naysayers that attachment parenting is beautiful, uplifting, and unbelievably beneficial and NORMAL!

In addition to the Carnival, Joni from Tales of a Kitchen Witch and Jennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy are co-hosting a Linky Party. Please stop by either blog to share any of your posts on the topic.

Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. Post topics are wide and varied, and every one is worth a read.

I have to admit to some confusion when people bash attachment parenting, as in some of the public comments during the recent TIME magazine outcry. To me, being attached to my children means treating them with respect, and what is there to bash about that?

I breastfeed my babies because I can, because I choose to, and because it's what's best for my kids. (I put it that way, because some parents cannot or choose not to breastfeed, and that's what works for their families.) I respect my babies' needs for nutrition and comfort and respond as I am able. I continue to breastfeed as long as it's mutually desirable for us, because I respect my growing children's continued needs for feeding, health, and connection.

I respond to my babies when they cry, because I respect that crying is a signal of communication. Particularly as they grow, I can't always respond immediately or stop every pain or discomfort, but I can try to be there and work through it with them. This isn't being on my children's leash; it's acknowledging my role as one of the people they feel comfortable with to share their intense feelings.

I sleep near my children because we choose to, because it works for us as a family, and because my children sleep best with company. I fully understand this, since the same is true for me. I respect other people's right to arrange their family sleep the way they want, and I respect my children's needs to feel secure at night.

I carry my babies with me when I can, because I know that being less than a couple feet high means you can't see much otherwise. I also know that babies appreciate the motion and warmth of being cuddled in a familiar caregiver's arms, and I use baby carriers that allow me range of motion while respecting my baby's desires. It ends up being easier for me, because the baby is content, and I can still continue my day. As my kids grow older, I rely on hugs, roughhousing, back scratches, hair rubs, and eye contact to continue our physical connection, because we never outgrow our need for loving touch.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Surf: Holiday weekend

I need a week off, my dears. But feel free to link up still if you're surfing, and have a restful and honoring Memorial Day if you're celebrating.

boy wearing swimming goggles
No particular reason for this photo.
Just: How could I not share it?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Natural learning

Mikko's engineering — it all even rotated!

Baby doodles at nine months

We've instituted a new bin-a-day system. Each bin has a good mix of toys both teeny (vehicles, action figures) and larger (cash register, children's computer), as well as activity bags and puzzle books. We have dedicated bins for dress-up, crafts, and dolls. (Read more about the system here.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Calling for submissions for the June Carnival of Natural Parenting!

We continue to be delighted with the inspiration and wisdom our Carnival of Natural Parenting participants share, and we hope you'll join us for the next carnival in June 2012! (Check out May, April, March, February, January, and a summary of all our 2011 posts if you missed any.)

Your co-hosts are Dionna at Code Name: Mama and Lauren at Hobo Mama.

Here are the submission details for June 2012:

Theme: Embracing Your Birth Experience: It seems like there is so much pressure in the natural parenting community to have the “perfect” birth, but everyone’s definition of the “perfect” birth is different – and it certainly isn’t what happens for many women. This month we want to celebrate the miracle of birth no matter what it looks like. Pick at least one part of your birth experience that you can hold up and cherish and share it with us!

Deadline: Tuesday, June 5. Fill out the webform (at the link or at the bottom) and email your submission to us by 11:59 p.m. Pacific time: CarNatPar {at}

Carnival date: Tuesday, June 12. Before you post, we will send you an email with a little blurb in html to paste into your submission that will introduce the carnival. You will publish your post on June 12 and email us the link if you haven't done so already. Once everyone's posts are published on June 12 by noon Eastern time, we will send out a finalized list of all the participants' links to generate lots of link love for your site! We'll include full instructions in the email we send before the posting date.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Prelude to weaning

Welcome to the Carnival of Weaning: Weaning - Your Stories

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Weaning hosted by Code Name: Mama and Aha! Parenting. Our participants have shared stories, tips, and struggles about the end of the breastfeeding relationship.

mikko breastfeeding m4yo
My view.
My older nursling is turning five next month. I haven't been writing much about our tandem breastfeeding (mis)adventures lately for a few reasons.

One is that it was going relatively poorly, sorry to say: major nursing aversion. And I felt bad about that.

One is that I had this external sense that Mikko really should wean. I happened upon a discussion of people talking about me behind my back, and that was the consensus. I know — you never hear good things when you're eavesdropping, right? It stuck with me, and made me feel sheepish and low. I kept telling myself, What do I care what other people think? But I do…obviously.

Just look at the recent hubbub over the TIME cover. That kid's a three-year-old. Mine's almost five. I know there's hate out there.

I felt bad that I was feeling this external pressure to stop nursing, and bad that the internal pressure due to the nursing aversion was exacerbating and emphasizing it.

I wanted the end of our nursing relationship to be one of gentleness, peace, and mutual respect — a wistful bittersweetness with more sweet than bitter. I didn't want an abrupt end with me screeching, "I can't take it anymore!" and forcing him away from me.

Calming the nursing aversion

I read a couple articles that Amy Phoenix wrote as guest posts for Code Name: Mama about nursing aversion. I had tried techniques before (calming techniques, hypnosis techniques, deep breathing and relaxation, distraction), but nothing had made the toe-curling sensation go away. If nails-on-a-chalkboard had a feeling, nursing aversion was it. But this time, when I read Amy's articles (this was a couple months ago now, I think), I concentrated on this item: "I am choosing to breastfeed."

It was so simple, and it worked. It felt magical that first time, and I was scared it would disappear. It wasn't magical, because I would still feel nursing aversion from time to time afterward, but it was amazingly helpful, because it was much abated from those earlier levels.

I also participated in a private conversation with Amy (where I doubt she knew she'd have this much effect on me), where she said something about how she wished we lived in an environment where nursing pairs could continue as long as they wanted without any inappropriately placed shame. That and seeking out other mothers of older nurslings took a huge weight off me and reassured me on this most basic level: My kid and I are doing something that's totally normal and fine. I realized it had been the aversion that had caused a lot of my psychological discomfort, because it made every nursing session feel so off to me.

I now felt able, since I wasn't dreading each nursing session or feeling guilty about breastfeeding an older nursling, to contemplate weaning on a more logical, loving level.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday Surf: Beachin' & attachment parenting

Welcome to the Sunday Surf, a tour of the best blogposts I've read throughout the week.

baby crawling on the beach
I think he doesn't seem as old to us as Mikko at that age because of the marked differences in hair volume.
We've been beachin' it up around here. That's a verb Mikko coined, and I will now use it liberally.

The boys have been wanting to hang out and dig in the sand every day. Well, Alrik doesn't express this verbally, but he cheerfully sets off crawling once he's let down on the sand. He digs with the little shovels (whichever one you're trying to use), slithers into any hole you're trying to dig, smashes through any castle you're trying to build, and then scoots away on grand 11-month-old adventures. At least he's stopped eating the sand.

Speaking of 11 months. I had to emphasize that while I can, because: Tomorrow — tomorrow! — my baby turns ONE.

How did that happens?

Links to read!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Daily toy bins: A storage & play solution

We were stumped by how to organize and disseminate the ever-growing collection of toys: Mikko's preschool playthings, and Alrik's baby amusements. But mostly Mikko's. That kid gathers toys to himself like black cat hair to a white sweater.

We have that iconic IKEA Expedit bookshelf with cubbies in our small play area that was formerly a dining nook. We tried placing some toys artfully on the shelves, one or two to a cubby, in a sort of Montessorian tableau. But that worked only for bigger toys, and was better when he was younger. Now that he's four and three-quarters and has umpteen teensy plastic whatsits, it's hard to contain the chaos.

So we started dumping everything into bins that fit into the cubbies. Only, then it was impossible to find what he needed on any particular day. ("No, the purple truck! With the lightning bolt!") Plus, like things didn't always end up together, so you'd have a naked doll but no handy doll clothes.

Next, I tried sorting things by purpose: one bin for action figures, one for vehicles, one for dolls, and so on, which made cleanup easier. But when I looked at how Mikko actually played, it was through an incredible, inspiring mishmash. A doll would be pulling a vehicle by a shoelace, and a dinosaur would come over with a screwdriver to help. Separating toys by likes cramped his style.

Enter: Bin a day.

Prepare for binning

This was Sam's idea, and it's worked a treat.

We picked out seven bins, and Sam left me to start organizing with my own special system.

First, of course, there was purging. That's always the first (also middle and last) step in any sorting project: decluttering. We let go of anything broken, missing important pieces, needlessly duplicated, or unfavored. What was left supplied each bin without stuffing any of them, leaving room for new items that would need a home.

Next was grouping like items together — but in multiple piles. I used a lot of plastic food-storage bags for the little things, the kind with the zipper so they're easy for Mikko to open and close by himself. (If anyone has a more sustainable idea for see-through storage, let me know.) So, considering we have, oh, a decabazillion tiny metal vehicles, I made seven separate baggies of them, and tried to toss an assortment in each one.

For things that aren't as plentiful, like our Mr. Potato Head family, I placed all the parts into a single bag.