Friday, August 31, 2012

How to breastfeed while babywearing in a mei tai

Welcome to the August edition of Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Breastfeeding.

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting. As August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month, our participants are writing about this exact subject! Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Breastfeeding hands-free while babywearing is possible and simple — if you figure out the right carrier and technique that work for you!

With Mikko, I had the hardest time figuring out how to breastfeed with a baby carrier. I tried a ring sling and a wrap with instructions on how to recline a newborn within them, but he got anxious when I was trying to arrange him while he was hungry, and he absolutely hated having his head covered. It wasn't until he was a somewhat older baby that I tried breastfeeding him upright, in the mei tai and ERGO, and found that made things a lot easier. From there on out, breastfeeding when we were on the go was entirely possible.

When Alrik was born, I had a brainstorm (that others have had before me…): My newborn could nurse in the mei tai just the way my toddler had: upright! We were off and running.

How to breastfeed in a mei tai

Here's a short video of how I breastfeed on the go in my mei tai:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Low-spend month: Halfway update

So far our low-spend month has been a mix of frustration and adventure — and mostly successful. Here's a little update nearly two weeks in.

I know this is long, so I've added subheads so you can skip around to what interests you. See, I'm giving things out for free even though we're saving at home!


The joy of a score

I was really thirsty walking down the beach and wishing I could stop in somewhere for a cold drink. I steeled myself to wait till I got home and could have some (ugh) water. When before my eyes, what should I see but a father and little girl coming toward me with Fuze juice bottles in their hands? Full, and large, and I was immediately thinking, I bet a father wouldn't buy a separate bottle of expensive juice drink like that for such a young kid.

My eyes scanned ahead. Aha! There it was: There were testers giving out full-size, free bottles of Fuze from coolers to everyone who walked by! Score!

I had my ice-cold drink, and I hadn't spent a cent.

That's the kind of thing that makes you feel good during a low-spend month or any personal economic downturn.


Warehouse shopping for cheapskates

We went to Costco, and it ended up being the perfect low-spend outing. Seems strange since it's a warehouse store and all, but all I needed was floss and birthday gifts for the twins' birthday party we were attending the next day. If they didn't have something appropriate and affordable there, I would have to go elsewhere, but I was hoping, and I found some cute books + activity kits for both of them.

Meanwhile, we hit up all the sample stands. I got half a sandwich on pretzel bread (oh, my gosh, delicious) with Wholly Guacamole (that's what they were actually sampling, which I love), ham, and cheese. That's like half a lunch right there!

Mikko ate some ravioli, which pleasantly surprised me, because he's usually wary of pasta that has anything more than butter going on.

Alrik couldn't get enough of the whole foods juice (spinach plus fruits) that the blender company had made. He ended up crumpling the paper cup to try to squeeze out the last drops. I almost went back for another round, but frankly, I was tired of trying not to spill green liquid on my mei tai.

On our way to checkout, we passed through the candy aisle, and there was a sample person handing out fun-size candy bars from a variety pack. Some were from a forbidden brand, but I figured that was allowed since they were free so we were actually costing the company something. (Wink, wink.) Mikko couldn't decide which flavor, and the lady gave him one of each — just kept piling them into his hands! I couldn't believe it. It was like Halloween squared. I love when you get free things like that when you're trying not to spend money, because it makes the treat that much sweeter. Don't worry — we didn't eat them all right then and there; I tucked them away to dole out and share later on.

Then we ate dinner there, which was a fun treat. Hot dog plus drink is $1.50, the same price (inexpensive at the time, too) as when Costco first opened in the early 1980s at the very location we shop at. I was reading the photo captions on the wall, and when Costco first opened, they asked all the employees to please park near the door so people would think it was popular. That one made me chuckle.

The only low-spend fail was that Mikko begged and pleaded for a vanilla frozen yogurt, which comes in a huuuge serving for some reason, for $1.35 — not a big deal, but he had a few bites and decided he didn't like it. I didn't really want it, either, so it melted in the car and we threw it away when we got home. Well, another potential fail was that we dropped our hot dog on the ground before we ate it (and by "we dropped," I mean a certain five-year-old), but fortunately the people behind the counter gave us a fresh one without a murmur.

There were two nice guys sharing the table with us who were in these padded overalls that sort of looked like fisherman overalls but much thicker. Mikko wanted to know what they did for a living, so I had to screw up my courage to ask. Turns out they work in the freezer storage! So that was interesting to learn and would be right up Mikko's alley — his favorite place to visit at Costco is the freezer room where the milk is kept. I found out later Mikko thought they might be astronauts.

Other than the food, I was pleased I resisted all of Costco's allures. I didn't even bother browsing the tables full of adorable Carter's outfits, and I didn't grab the enormo-bag of barbecue Kettle chips. (That took some momentary willpower.) I was glad I didn't feel the need to decide if we should stock up on more sunscreen, or bandages, or frozen foods, or whatever, and just wheel on by it all without a glance.

I made Mikko take this picture of me looking sad.
Clearly I am a born actor.
But what killed me — killed me — to leave behind was this human anatomy kit. I saw it when I was looking for presents for the girls. Well, there were two of them actually, one for about $10 and one for about $50. They were human anatomy lessons and figures. The smaller one had cards with each part of the body on a see-through film. I thought that would be perfect for our unschooling with Mikko, because he's been so interested in skeletons and nervous, circulatory, and digestive systems and so on, so to see them each labeled and be able to lay them on top of each other in a tangible way would be excellent. I took a picture and hope they'll be around after this month is over. The $50 one looked even cooler (of course), because it had an actual plastic figure inside a bubble, and then was a huge book around it. I didn't look too closely at it, because I was trying not to get too excited… But it also showed the different internal parts of the body and looked so dang cool. Sigh. (I think it's this one although it was cheaper at Costco; Amazon also has a smaller version by the same author as well as this squishy one that looks fun. Clearly I like dream shopping.) Costco also had large laminated maps of the U.S. and the world that would be perfect for Mikko's room, since he's fascinated with geography right now as well.

That said, once I told myself firmly, "No, you're not allowed to get that, because it's low-spend month," it was kind of a relief because I was off the hook for deciding, and because I knew I'd feel guilty if I spent the money "just this once" and "for a good cause." It would be a slippery slope, I was sure.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Arr … the pirates have landed!

Avast, we be sailing again upon the stormy seas:
mama and baby dressed up in pirate costumes — Seafair Pirates Landing Alki Beach Seattle summer 2012

boy in pirate hat and costume — Seafair Pirates Landing Alki Beach Seattle summer 2012

man as growling pirate with beard — Seafair Pirates Landing Alki Beach Seattle summer 2012

baby pirate boy in sand — Seafair Pirates Landing Alki Beach Seattle summer 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

On having two kids & not playing fair

The Taboo Carnival
Welcome to the Taboo Carnival. Our topic this summer is PLAYING FAVORITES!

This post was written for inclusion in the quarterly Taboo Carnival hosted by Momma Jorje and Hybrid Rasta Mama. This month our participants reflect on favoritism in relationships with children, parents, siblings, and more.

Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

When I was growing up, if I protested about some perceived privilege my older brother got that I hadn't, my mom would invariably respond, "That's because we like him better than you."

If my brother protested that my parents were easier on me because I was the girl, my mom's response was the same: "Well, we like her better than you."

I credit my mom's unflappable refusal to get drawn into arguments of fairness and any sort of hierarchy of affection for my own even-keeled confidence that I would be able to love multiple children according to what they needed from me — without any worries about loving one more or one less.

It's not how I think of love, for one thing. I don't rank my loves and in fact abhor making favorites lists of anything — movies, books, foods, colors. Why can't I like them all? And why can't which one is dearest to me at the moment be in ever-shifting flux?

I mean, sure, I love my family more than I love strangers. And I took more care of my children and husband than I did my cat. But, then again, my cat needed less of me than my husband and children do, and there we come back again to the crux of fairness and favorites. We parent the children we have, in the moment they need us — not based on some external notion of what's extrinsically equitable.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Surf: Sangria, housekeeping, and women's voices

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

baby toddler bellying up to sangria cooler

We have been partying hearty lately. When my friend Rachel was visiting, we were at a birthday celebration, and Alrik didn't think it was fair that the adults were hogging all the sangria. If he'd actually developed the finger dexterity necessary to push that cooler button, I think I'd have let him reward himself with a gulp…

Here are some links for you this fine week:

  • | Today I am Disappointed in LLL 

    On Trevor McDonald’s bid for LLL leadership being turned down because he’s transgender.
    One of the issues that LLL raised in their response letter, as posted on Trevor’s website, is that some women may be uncomfortable receiving breastfeeding support from a man. They say that a leader must be able to help all women with breastfeeding. This seems patently unfair to me, because it places the onus on a potential leader to be non-offensive. Would we respond in the same way if, for instance, a woman of one race was uncomfortable receiving help from a woman of another race? What about if a potential leader had a lot of tattoos? Those make some people uncomfortable. What if she had a disability? While a mother certainly has the right to seek support from someone she can communicate effectively with, it’s discriminatory to exclude someone from a volunteer role simply because someone else may be uncomfortable.

    This is the crux of things for me. I understand that Trevor’s application is pushing the boundaries, so to speak. I understand that some people hold strongly-held beliefs around gender and sexual orientation, and may struggle to receive support from Trevor. If that’s the case, I would hope that they would contact another leader. But this doesn’t change the fact that a secular group that seeks to be welcoming to all breastfeeding parents must be prepared to adapt. If you believe breastfeeding is important, then it’s important for all babies, not just for babies with parents you approve of. You simply cannot say that you’re supporting LGBT parents, while excluding them from certain roles. That’s not a supportive action.
  • My Frugal Baby Tips: Make-Your-Own Frugal Cloth Menstrual Pads 

    In this low-spend month, I’ve been so glad to have my DivaCup and cloth stash for my period so I don’t have to worry about buying menstrual products. If you want to make the switch to cloth but want or need to make your own pads, this pattern looks like a good one that would be fairly simple and effective and could be made with materials you likely already have.
  • Participation without coersion. Phase 1. - Clean. 

    Rachel’s family’s continuing adventures in creating a cooperative environment of participation in household tasks — without coercion, punishments, or rewards. I’m so excited to hear how things are going and thinking wildly about how we might adapt her family’s ideas.
    This story gave me hope for how Mikko might (eventually) respond. Sage is a little older (turning 10), but I know Mikko already has plenty of resistance to the very idea of chores.
    Sage was feeling the shift away from endless free time and into more participation.
    He (very politely) complained about it. “Mama, I don’t really feel like I have any free time anymore.”
    So he and I came up with a plan. We each made a chart. We divided our activities into three categories: chores, free-time, and work/homeschooling. Then we kept track of how we spent our time throughout the day.
    At lunch time we totaled up each column and compared our charts. Sage was both amazed by how his own days balanced out and also by how little free time I took that day.
    I didn’t say a word. He looked it over, noted the surprises, and tossed the charts. He hasn’t brought it up since. Because he saw how much free time he still has. He understood that he is both helping out and chilling out. It’s all in balance.
  • Why Alysia Montaño wears a flower in her hair during every race : Stltoday 

    I loved (and miss) the Olympics. I love seeing these athletes push themselves to the limit of what the human body can achieve. I love seeing all the different body shapes and learning which type of body works best for which sport.
    I tend to stay away from negativity and cattiness with regards to the athletes, but I did happen upon some trollishness about certain female athletes not looking “feminine” enough. That makes me mad, because what does that even mean? Feminine looks like a lot of things, yo.
    So I was happy when I heard athlete Alysia Montaño’s reason for wearing a flower in her hair when she runs. It was a sign to the kids who used to mock her that, yes, she was a girl, and yes, she could still run fast.
  • Nike: “Voices” (by NikeWomen)
    It’s possible I am a total sucker for getting emotional over Nike commercials. But seriously — love this look at 4 women athletes who know that being a girl can also mean being tough.
    “They used to say, ‘That girl is crazy.’
    “But then I just kept winning.”
  • Big Bed | The Honest Toddler 

    Daddy, this post is specifically for you as I can tell you are struggling with your place in this family during the night hours. The question looms every single evening: Who does mommy belong to?

    It’s easy for me to point out the obvious fact that she and I are blood relatives while you two seem to have some sort of contractual relationship, but I want to acknowledge your emotional problems. Who wouldn’t want to snuggle with her? She’s soft and smells great.
  • How FlyLady and Montessori Help Me Keep My House Clean | 

    Deb linked to this archive article recently comparing how both FlyLady & Maria Montessori help her keep her place clean and organized. I love the connections she’s made and the reminders it’s given me for simple ways to improve my own sense of order.