Thursday, June 23, 2011

PPC: Marching to the beat of his own drum

(at the Princeton parade. Today he was wearing his rainbow monkey hat.)

Joe was playing softball well into the night in Freeport (a land far far away) so I decided to take Truman to the Milaca parade which goes by Joe's office.

I knew we would have his office as a home base and friends to help.

He was hanging out with other kids, sitting, watching, laughing until several marching bands went by and he decided he, too, would like to be in a marching band.

This wasn't the type of decision that warranted an announcement, he simply took a dum-dum, a new trusty flashlight he has not separated from since discovering it last night at Menards and started walking to the beat of his own drum.

Did I mention he was walking IN the parade?

I tried to contain him. I asked him to stay. I said he could drum here.

But t here was no stopping him (aside from explicit physical entrapment, which, really, never ends well).

So, I shrugged it off and thought, what's the harm in following him.

We walked the whole length of the parade route that was left drumming along.

Maybe some parents would have felt embarrassment -- either because they were in the parade or because they couldn't control their child. Or maybe that is just what I think "normal" parents would think.

But I smiled the whole way. I felt a sense of pride knowing that my son is so willful and exuberant that he was willing to just join in a parade.

After a while floats threw candy, which he collected, then gave to kids along his route.

People smiled and someone said he was the cutest float in the parade.

This could have ended badly, with me dragging him to the car screaming that he wanted to go in the parade, but I suspended all in-grained training of what is "supposed to be" and listened to my instincts about what is really okay and what was motivating my child and went with it.

The gift for doing this for my child is clear, but there was a gift for me, as well. I got to see a pure glimpse of my son in all his glory with all of his outstanding characteristic shining the way they are meant to.

Breastfeeding is normal: Why I won't stop doing "that" in public

Well, it finally happened.

After over three years of continuous lactation I was confronted about nursing in public.

And you would think that three years of La Leche League, nursing in public, knowledge of laws and a general feeling of well being about breastfeeding would have left me lioness-like, ready to defend my child's right to eat without a blanket over his head.

We were watching my older son take his first swim lesson, beaming as he carefully listened and followed direction, giggling a bit as he tried to figure out the more difficult elements of swimming.

Keen needed to nurse, so I lifted my breast quickly out of the top of my shirt as I almost always do and popped him on. I cuddled his arm up near his face as he usually does anyway to offer a bit more cover.

When the lesson was over we were told that he was actually in the wrong class and I stood up with Keen attached to talk to the lady with a clipboard to make sure we got in the right class.

Then she asked me if I could please use a blanket to cover up while I "did that" or suggested I could use the locker room (where there are no seats but toilets and benches in the shower room that are usually wet).

I have supported so many women when they have talked about this happening to them and I thought it wouldn't bother me. But, honestly, when she said it my stomach sank. I got the feeling you get when you are pulled over by a cop and have no idea why. I was in trouble for doing something I knew wasn't wrong.

I also felt like my actions would affect the way my older son would be treated while taking his swimming lessons and was kind of in shock. What could I say?

I knew what I should say but I just wanted to recoil.

I looked at Joe and he recognized my slip into shyness.

He stood up for me.

He told her there were laws protecting our rights.

She looked surprised and almost relieved. She said she didn't have a problem with it, but sometimes people complain, then hinted that those parents don't like their kids seeing women breastfeed.

Then they complain to the lifeguards and it causes them problems.

We said we would print out the law and bring it in and we will.

What I think is particularly interesting about this encounter is the shaming language that was used. Despite her stated comfort with breastfeeding, she called the act "that" and then sought to protect, not the rights of the child who was doing an act she was comfortable with, but the rights of others who were probably swimming showing as much as or more skin than me.

I like to find consensus -- solutions that work for peace between those with different views -- but really is it ever okay for someone to tell me I can't feed my son in public because it makes them uncomfortable? Should I have to change how I act to help them find comfort or should they change their view as the law suggests?

I understand that everyone has different comfort levels with nudity and that many cultures prize modesty. But there is nothing immodest about breastfeeding.

I may wear a shirt with a tank top under it next time, which will allow for more coverage. But I hardly think the top of my breast is what was offensive. After all, we were at a pool where almost all women were wearing clothing that showed part of their breasts. This makes me feel that anyone uncomfortable with me breastfeeding at that moment in that setting was not, despite what they might say, upset by seeing a breast (breasts were everywhere). They were upset by seeing BREASTS FEEDING and that is not okay.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

PPC day?: Distractions

This feels like a very apt title for a post about how I have been moving at Truman's pace in order to help him over come some of his fears about change.

He has a really hard time with transitions. I think this behavior has intensified since Keen was born, probably because the birth of his sibling incited whatever part of him is fundamentally resistant to change.

He loves his brother and does not take any of this out on him, which is wonderful, but he has had a really hard time going places, leaving places, getting dressed, getting undressed, etc.

Moving at kid pace, then turning off the TV for good during the daytime has meant a lot of distractions for me.

Things I used to be able to do rushing Truman along or relying on the TV to entertain him for a while I now have to do with interruptions. I used to think this was a terrible thing and that I needed the concentration to be able to complete a task, but you know, when I stopped making excuses and actually tried to do things interrupted without letting my mind panic about it I found it wasn't so bad.

In time I have gotten used to it.

So I have been distracted, continually, from every task I have been doing.

I have also been distracted from this blog. While I have continued taking pictures of the kids almost every day I have a hard time getting them online. I sit down at the computer and find myself letting my mind wander into my own self motivated distractions on Facebook, reading articles, etc.

Following Truman's distractions has been satisfying. When I really take the time to have no schedule and pause when he wants to it is amazing what we find to do. Nurturing this is helping him with other transitions (Saturday we went to church for what ended up being 3 hours, out to eat, grocery shopping and to another store and Truman was content, helpful, non-combative. He never once had a tantrum, even peeing while out.)

If I look at the clock I am always amazed at how long it takes to do something, but when I stop watching the clock I am always in awe of how much can be done in that time.

These years are few. I see that now that I see Keen growing and think about how it wasn't that long ago that Truman was that small and it won't be that long before Keen is as big as Truman and Truman is even older.

I have to embrace this time now in order to quell the fears every mother has that their children will grow up and leave them, never returning. There is nothing that can come of embracing that fear except keeping mindful of the present and appreciating every moment I have with them while they are my babies.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

EC Files: 7 weeks

Elimination Communication is an ancient practice of attending to a baby by listening to their elimination cues and helping them to pee or poop outside of diapers. EC Files is documentation of this journey with my second son. Find them all here. Learn more about Elimination Communication here.

Today Keen held his pee for 4.5 hours while we were out and through a nap at home. While I remember Truman gaining a lot of bladder control early with EC, it's still surprising. I fully expected a wet diaper, but hurried him to the potty when I realized he hadn't gone.

Last week he out grew the bucket we were using and I bought him his first little potty. It's pepto-bismal pink because my choices were that or a very drab tan. It's like a baby bjorn little potty but a strange knock-off found at Kmart. The baby bjorn little potty was nowhere to be found and I didn't want another big one or the two-piece one.

I opted for simple.

Truman is still very attached to his baby bjorn big potty but I figure that by the time Keen outgrows this one his brother will likely relent.

Around 6 weeks he started transitioning from pooping every time he peed to pooping multiple times a day coinciding with me realizing that broccoli was not his friend.

He still cues by kicking and sounds and the poop face and arm movements still accompany poops.

He still sleeps diaperless on prefolds, snuggled next to me.

Today I am finding that he is able to pee without waking fully, which is a skill that will helps us nighttime EC and during naps.

Truman did well being taken to the potty at night for a long time, though now we are having nighttime misses that I think are more related to a physiological change in him at 3 than other things.

The change in our family has caused him a few regressions and I think this is one of them.

Perhaps he is learning to love another as we are and that growth in love is distracting him from the potty in the way crawling, walking or teething did when he was young.

Emotional growth can be just as affecting to children as physical even if it is harder for us to see.

I am loving prefolds and covers and am not sure I will want to go back to the Bum Genius diapers we have.

Somehow when he is in a diaper we are both more aware and able to communicate so I keep him in a diaper a lot. I like fitteds with no covers, but we only have a few of those and it is not that hard to put a cover on a prefold.

We have had success out as we did with Truman but the noises of the bathroom, especially flushing, scare him.

I sing to him to sooth him. At first Death Cab for Cutie's Bixby Canyon Bridge was a cue for pooping, now I sing that or this lovely song, often replacing negrito with other phrases that fit to keep it fresh and because I always feel weird calling my very light-skinned child negrito.

These songs are also our lullabies and he does not seem to eliminate while being rocked to sleep. I think he knows they are soothing songs.

He is very soothed by the sound of our voices singing.

He likes to eliminate in the sink because he can look in the mirror. We study each others faces and smile at one another. He is very aware of us and connected.

Friday, April 29, 2011

This Week in Facebook

New feature!

I post day-to-day blurbs about the kids on Facebook but it always bugs me that I don't have an easy way to look back at those memories, so, I will round them up every week and post them here for posterity and future embarrassment.

Okay, I don't WANT to embarrass them but I am sure it will happen:

April 28: Truman decided to go into his own room to go to bed tonight. He is on a camping mat under the glow of his nightlights, with a pair of sunglasses and a flashlight hopefully falling asleep right now. He's growing up.

April 27: Brooke Walsh wonders what is the etymology of Truman's new word, "coocoobuya!"

April 26: Breakfast done; baby asleep; time to get these kids dressed and head to the Y for yoga. I have one hour. The goal is to make it there in a peaceful enough manner that I do not need the yoga simply to ameliorate the getting there adventure. Isn't that always the goal?

We did it. Getting there was relatively easy. I was late but Keen slept the whole time, Truman had fun and my mind is less permeable to whining.

April 25: Do you ever send intentionally vague emails to your spouse about inside jokes hoping they get it? These usually consist of a subject heading clue and link. Will he discover the joke or just think I am nuts? Find out ...

By which I meant this.
Joseph J Walsh Ah, McVitie. You're a first-rate jerk. But you make-a the good digestive cookie. And, apparently, biscuit cakes for royal weddings.

April 24:
Happy Easter! Wish me luck in church. I am earning my take-two-kids-to-church-by-myself merit badge.

Joe is singing.

It was pretty good. Getting there involved a few tough moments but we did it. Happy Easter to all!

Joseph J Walsh discovered together with Brooke Walsh that my son has five levels of consciousness today: 1. awake; 2. tired; 3. over-tired 4. over-over-tired 5. "I'm a kitty. Meow."

April 22:
Happy Earth Day!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

PPC: Revelation!

This week has been my first real week with the two kids by myself.

I had part of a few weeks before but there was always a visitor, a day off work, or something to help me.

It's been fun to be able to get everything back in order the way it runs when it is just the kids and I, but also a challenge to do everything.

Mostly to do things for everyone at the same time.

But I have figured that out by being stronger about prioritizing my time.

The real mystery has been the dreaded late afternoon when my sleepiness combine with my non-napping 3 year-old's sleepiness to create two demanding people who end up yelling at each other.

Okay, some combination of whining and yelling.

After such an incident Monday I resolved on Tuesday and Wednesday to not yell at my child.

That was my utmost goal.

And I failed each day.

Today I realized that this occurs at the same time of day when I am starting to check out a bit because I am tired.

So, I realized:

Instead of checking out if I reinvest I can avoid the spiral into a puddle of mutual frustration.

Today at 3:30 when Truman became almost impossible to please just as I was thinking of taking a break I reinvested. I took a minute to think of something for him to do that would be new, exciting, refreshing.

In this case it was a movie my mom had brought for him when she came that I had hidden away. I pulled it out.

He is watching it, I am resting, whining is at an all time low and yelling non-existent.

We did it.

I don't think it's possible or healthy for me to try to never yell at my son again. It will happen. But I will keep analyzing situations to meet our needs better so we can live peacefully in this family.

When it is warm we will spend these moments outdoors but for now we have gotten over the rainy day hump.

And look, the sun is out. Spring are you there?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Barefoot, earth loving, hippie children

PPC day ninety three: Truman's Zen garden

It's easy for me to write off my child as wild and give up on trying to take him outdoors.

Last Friday we went out around 2 and did not make it back until 6:30. That story is for another post, but was fresh in my mind when Truman asked to go play in his sandbox today.

We don't have a fence so this leaves him open to the world, which in that other post I am going to write is a great thing even if it means more work or worry for me.

But I am learning not to worry.

The thing about my willful child is if I chase him he will run.

This is either because he thinks I am playing a game or because I am putting out the expectation that I think he will run. I am not extending trust and he won't exert the energy it takes to return that trust by staying in a safe radius of where we are.

Today I sat still while he ran and asked him not to go too far.

And he didn't.

While he was playing in the sand I had several more revelations about his behaviors. When I watch him playing calmly — which is to say in control of his behavior, not so much that he is quiet or still, but isn't frantic — I realize that getting him to a place where he is willing to cooperate means guarding him from the activities that lead him to be out of control.

Lots of young children need protection from dangers — from climbing too high, using sharp objects, from the cold, or stairs, or hot things — my eldest son is not like this.

He has a good sense of natural consequences but no innate desire to follow rules. He is fiercely independent and self sufficient.

When he was born I was expecting a baby. I was expecting someone to protect, to guide, to journey with. I am doing these things with him, but it has taken me this long to really see what it is he needs protecting from.

I think it is with simple activities — with slopes of sand, splashes of water and thoughtful building with blocks — that this child finds peace within himself.

And so his sandbox is his little Zen garden.

And it is when he is in these places that I become aware and find my own understandings about who he is and what he needs. It is in these moments that we communicate quietly and without words what we need and find a common ground on which to stand.

I think, too, that having a baby that is what I expected a baby to be, needing protection from the cold, loud, crazy world, I realize that Truman isn't just sloughing off these feelings. He doesn't have them.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Swaddle-baby and his friend the engineer

Some fun details: Keen in his mama made blanket. Truman in his Pam made shirt. Grandma and grandpa's birthday present to Truman.

Unplugging for peace

The title makes it sound like I am about to start a long journey of getting people to turn off the lights to save the world and create peace.

Maybe someday ... ;)

For now it's just for me and I am not talking about lights.

I am talking about this blinking box.

In the weeks leading up to the birth of Keen and in the second week after he was born I spent a lot of time on this thing. I was trying to rest by sitting in a big recliner snuggling my baby and I was using the computer to keep me company.

But then I realized I needed to create more rhythm and actually stick to it.

So I got off the computer and got into being with my boys.

And you know what? It's blissful.

Now when I check my email or facebook I find I am overloaded with the amount of info I have to catch up on and I will have to find a way to manage that.

But for now the most important thing is these little guys and keeping the peace within us all and collectively as a family.

I made a huge list of all the things I think we each need and how we can get these and you know how people say if you write down your goals you will achieve them?

Well, it is working.

My mother in law helped me finish cleaning the basement and I am about to have a home simplified to only the toys we really want that we can actually keep clean.

The flip side of this is that I probably won't be spending as much time keeping up with people or blogging; I will still be doing the project and will update whenever the time I have to do so meets the desire I have to do so.

I also want to get back to my roots. I am trying to take a picture of my boys every day and there is no better place to put them then right here.

Friday, April 1, 2011

EC Files: week three

We are nearing the end of week three and EC is really going well. Just when I thought it was kinda hard and contemplated just putting him in a diaper and forgetting about it things began to click.

I should say that putting him in a diaper and forgetting about it is not really even an option now because Keen doesn't like pooping in diapers.

He doesn't really even like peeing in them, but he will if he needs to.

Mostly, though, he just tells me when he has to go even if he is in a diaper and holds it until I help him.

Yesterday while I cooked and cleaned he slept in the swing and I thought it would be a terrible EC day. Me not being skin to skin would mean he wouldn't be able to tell me and we'd go through tons of prefolds.

But, no, the entire time Joe was at work we only used one prefold. And it only was peed on after 4 p.m. when I was holding him skin to skin.

It reminded me that this process is not about me training him but about him telling me.

This is baby cued not parent cued.

This is nothing I am doing but listening to my child and helping him to use a receptacle instead of a diaper.

It's incredibly simple and natural but also amazing to me.

PPC day eighty: sometimes they know better

This morning Truman wanted pizza so I thought of a plan to take a tortilla, cheese, carrots he could chop himself and some chicken, stick it in the oven and: pizza.

This made me realize that in all the time I wasn't cooking in the last six or more weeks I didn't notice that Truman really likes to cook.

So what used to be taking time from him, making a mess, cleaning a mess, finding something else for him to do -- often making a mess in the kitchen -- has become a win-win.

So I planned to make these pizzas open face because that is what a pizza is, but Truman wanted a tortilla on top, then while I wasn't looking, another tortilla on top.

If I was looking I would have told him that he didn't need three tortillas in his pizza. That is a lot of tortilla.

But while they were cooking I got distracted and burned them. Well, guess whose pizza turned out great?

The one with the safety tortilla.

I just pealed the burned tortilla off and there it was a perfectly good quesdadi ... I mean ... pizza.

He knows best sometimes. I need to remember that when I am looking and in situations that involve things more important than pizza.

And the rest of our lives is deciding when to trust him and when to trust me.

Wish us luck.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

PPC day seventy nine: I made dinner

That, my friends, is a huge task.

I usually end up waiting until 4 or 5, then am forced into some kind of boring or non-ideal dinner, which for the end of pregnancy meant Joe would be greeted by a very round, hungry lady and a stir-crazy 2-year old zooming toward bed time.

Then I would request to go out because, frankly, the idea of cooking was exhausting. Or we would eat something prepared simply. Nothing exciting to the soul.

I am lucky enough to be part of a community that sent me food after Keen was born and oh were the home cooked meals delicious.

Thank you Nikki, Sally, Meredith, Jen, Vanessa (who was compelled to make "Keenwa" (quinoa) salad), Amy (who had a baby just 10 days before Keen was born) and Katrina (who was kind enough to bring them right to me).

Yesterday I started thinking about all the things I want to do and got pretty overwhelmed. I made a list of needs each of us has and a loose outline for each day.

Then thought, "I can't do all this, ahhh."

But after sleeping I felt there was only one way to find out.

So I tried.

And here I am about to feast on the fruits of my labor.

And it was something Truman and I could do together. He likes to chop and stir.

Instead of feeling the need to escape the house at the end of this day, I feel excitement to sit down with my family (of 4!) and eat a meal we made in peace with love.

And some yelling. I am not going to lie; there was definitely peace and love, but also yelling.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Breastmilk and webprint

I was thinking about how dramatically the Internet has changed the stay at home mom role while I was entering my freelance work today, snuggled in the big recliner as Keen enjoys his breakfast.

When I became a mother I had no idea I would be typing one handed milk-sloshed sentences sent out into the real world of stain-free folks who spend little time thinking about poop or how amazing it is that the letter Z is involved in the word Zebra.

But here I am in my second freelance job and finding it lovely.

Sometimes I wonder if making the small amount of money I can bring in is worth the time sacrifice away from my children and the adjustment to a working mind but then I realize that there is something to be gained from the sense of duty that is involved in knowing someone else is reading something I have written.

It doesn't matter how small it is or how insignificant, it cuts the edge off the feeling of isolation that can sometimes overwhelm the stay at home experience.

It is the "if a tree falls" concept of the recognition of existence. I know that others know that I exist as a person outside of this experience of motherhood and that feels good in any capacity.

And at the same time I wouldn't want anything more than what I already have because these moments with my children are precious and every moment I spend validating my identity outside of this is a moment I lose embracing this.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

EC Files: week one

Keen hasn't worn a diaper since we left the hospital. He lays on prefolds and as we snuggle we learn from each other.

I caught a poop the first or second night, our first pee yesterday and a few more today.

I am amazed to see the way he is learning to use the few actions with which he can communicate to say he has to pee, poop or burp.

He wiggles his feet at night to let me know his prefold is wet and I add a new one. He tries to latch but won't when he needs to poop or burp and when he needs to pee he wiggles or kicks.

Often he will communicate before he really has to go then wait and I have to watch for the second EC.

He likes to pee a little, poop, then pee more and he responds to our cue psssss.

Truman likes to join in and cue his brother.

I am more relaxed this time, my mantra is: nurture the relationship, respect the needs of the child, enjoy the catches, forget the misses, stay focused on the present.

... this is why my children don't wear pants ...

Friday, March 18, 2011

PPC day sixty four: delayed gratificatiion

Keen is fussy at night. At least for now there is about a two hour period each night in which he initiates nursing but will not latch and if he gets frustrated enough kicks, screams, wiggles.

The first night of this I felt lost. Truman needed me all the time but I could fix everything with milk. Keen needs more than that. He needs me to help protect him from getting frustrated.

So last night I did. For two hours or more we switched position every time he got frustrated and it helped.

I was waiting to eat a small piece of chocolate until he fell asleep and while this may have added to my frustration my snack of water and chocolate in being delayed seemed to amplify the pride and love I felt when he was asleep there in my arms, lulled by diligence, presence, patients and love.

Monday, March 14, 2011

PPC day sixty: the nest

Sometimes I realize that just because my priorities align with the adult world of how things should be done or what they are fore doesn't mean Truman has ideas that are any less valid or important.

This helps me create peace b looking at the effect of choices as they affect the whole family not just one member.

What am I really talking about?

Our second night with Keen Truman I got up to potty and gave Truman the task of holding the boppy.

When I returned he had claimed it as his nest and had no intention of giving it back ever.

Thinking its use value was so much more important to me than to him I took it back.

Screaming. Tears. Negotiations.

I finally just asked Joe to take him downstairs because Keen was waking up. Then as they headed downstairs I changed.

I grew suddenly and beautifully as a mother of two.

I realized that my need for the boppy in the short period of time Truman would be awake paled in comparison for his huge desire for it and the over arching need for peace as a family.

They came back up; I gave it to him; and know what happened?

Truman gave it back.

It seemed he had grow in the same way. We grew together as a family.

Then we built him a nest where he slept.

And then there were two

Keen Victor * 3-13-11 * 7 pounds 10 ounces * 4:42 a.m.

Two boys. 2 boys. TWO boys. =)

Oh the adventures to be. The peace to discover. The love that has already emerged.

Friday, March 11, 2011

What I have learned from this winter

It wasn't the coldest winter and it doesn't seem to be the longest but it was the snowiest since I moved here. And I had a KID.

Well, I had a kid the two previous winters, but he was small enough that the craving for outside time, the absolute NEED to go outside, was not strong enough to drive either of us crazy.

It was this year.

And what was our backyard full of right out of the gate? Snow. So much snow that if he stepped on it he would sink to his waist or more.

Lots of snow + pregnant mom = not a lot of outside time this winter.

And now that it is almost spring we, and everyone else in the state, are crazy.

I thought I was just antsy for the baby to arrive but I realized yesterday that while I know a lot of people expecting babies right now I know far more who aren't who are just as antsy. We want melt, we want green, we want warmth and the ability to step in our backyards without sinking to our knees.

And we will get it.

No one knows when but we will get it. And the baby, too.

So here is what I have learned for next winter:

  • I need to take more time to appreciate winter for what it is. To enjoy indoor activities, hot cocoa, tea or cider, to venture out bundled up and just embrace the cold. We did fairly well this year, except the going out part. I picked up knitting and crafting, made hot meals, warm drinks and let myself pause in wonder at the magic of snow in different temperatures, hoar frost and the soft warm snowflakes of the last few days. I even towed Truman around the block a few times on his sled up until a few months ago. But next year I want to head into winter with this in mind and really focus on loving the season.
  • I want to celebrate more holidays headed into the winter and during it, building more light and joy into the season. Waldorf has been introducing me to all kinds of ways to celebrate the season that I hadn't thought of and showing me how to make meaning out of celebrations I never paid much attention to because they seemed commercial before.
  • I want to go out almost every day into the cold world and feel the renewal of fresh air.
I am all about goals I can actually accomplish so that is all for now.

I am going to tag all of these posts about embracing life "in pursuit of happiness." Some of them will overlap positive parenting posts, but will mainly focus on other life things approached mindfully with reverence to their state.

In other words, appreciating winter and my dirty house.