Friday, August 13, 2010

Call the Spell Check Police...

I just couldn't let this go. 

The other day on one of the social networking sites that I am on, someone posted about a friend who was excited to be going to college.  That friend had misspelled several words in her original post, including the word 'college.'  Several people went on to poke fun at the original poster and her obvious lack of intelligence.  They also questioned her ability to learn and her place in a facility of higher education.

Several people said (paraphrase) that colleges let anyone and everyone in and not everyone should be allowed to seek a college education.  That made me fuming mad.  How dare they say something so demeaning of others?  Have we become so elitist that we would deny the freedom to better our station to those of us that we deem unworthy?

I am the parent of a child who was labelled 'learning disabled' at a very young age.  We were told she'd be 'average at best' and not to expect her to be accepted into college.  Well, guess what?  She's going to college and she's better than average.  She's been given a chance to succeed even though there were those around her who would see her just survive.  She can better herself and her world, even though she could not read much beyond preschool level when she was in the fourth grade.

A couple of days passed, and I just couldn't let this go.  It's amazing to me that, in the land of the free and the brave, we have other people willing to say that not everyone deserves the same chances as everyone else.  I agree that not everyone WILL go to college.  Some simply do not care to and others who want to will not get the chance because they feel that a college education is out of their reach financially.  Others who want to go may feel that they are constrained by life circumstances (family, children, job) and  can not commit to spending time to get a higher education.  Still, it's encouraging to know that the doors to knowledge are flung wide for those willing to pursue education beyond high school.  

So how dare someone insinuate that simply because another has some spelling errors in a post online that that person is not worthy of education?  If that person truly can not spell some words, perhaps the best thing for her would be to go to a place of higher learning and to be challenged to learn to spell correctly.  Would we deny her that opportunity in order to keep her ignorant?  Why?  It seems to me that educating our citizens to the highest of their capabilities would be a boon for our society.  The more people we educate, the more mind power we have to care for and grow our society properly.  This is the land of opportunity, of free-markets and freedom from tyranny and oppression.  Isn't it?   

There was also accusation of public school failure in the responses.  I'll give ya that the public education system in this country needs a redo.  If only we could backspace and delete over some of the stuff that DOESN'T work (No Child Left Behind), and insert smaller classroom sizes, more teachers, better facilities.  Things that do work and do foster better learning in our children. 

We also need to re-insert the parents and other caregivers into the equation.  It seems that schools have become a 13 year (or longer) on-going daycare facility.  Parents can just drop their kids off and go to work.  Easy.  Peasy.  Then, the kids get home and mommy and daddy are still at work, so they do what they will until their exhausted parents come home and feed them some fast food and send them to bed.  People, we've got to get back in the parenting business.  Working for a living is a reality, but so is the need for parent interaction.  I've heard it time and time again:  Teachers aren't teaching our kids the 3 R's, they are teaching them social skills and basic behavior skills and manners.  Things that should be taught and reinforced at home.

And speaking of teaching at home, some people think that home schooling is the answer.  I guess that would be the epitome of parent involvement, but homeschoolers seem to think that a complete 'check out' of the system is in order.  We can not fix something that is broken by ignoring it.  If a natural gas line on my property breaks and leaks natural gas into the air, I can't just go on about my day ignoring it.  Eventually, the neighborhood will be on fire.  So how is keeping our kids away from public schools, and therefore society, going to help us fix the public school system or society itself?  Someday, those kids will have to be integrated back into society if they want to live and flourish in that society. 

I'm sure some of you will read this and find a typo or twelve.  And I'm sure some of you are reading this and going, "Yea, but what do you think will fix it, Ms. Smartypants?"  I don't have all of the answers, but I do know that being involved with my children and their school and making sure that they are learning not only their ABC's but also how to love, respect, and cherish others is a start.  Learning begins at home.  I hope I'm giving my kids the best head start I can by staying at home with them while they are little.  But I don't have all the answers and all I can do is try to make sure that my children go out into the world prepared to make it a better place.  And if they can not spell?  Well, at least they will know that they CAN change the world, one mispelled wurd @ ah thyme. 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

With a heart: Poetry for my babies

To the one I lost and to the one she finally became.

With a heart

With a full heart
And open, waiting arms
I welcomed you into this world.

With a heavy heart
And sad, crying eyes
I said good bye as you left.

With a joyful heart
And pink, dazzling lines
I knew you had finally come back to me.

With a grateful heart
And happy, smiling tears
I held you in my loving arms at last.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

DDouble DDuty?

Wondering through the web-o-sphere like I do on occasion, I came across a very interesting photograph of a woman breastfeeding.  Duality, by Rachel Valley portrays a mother and a lover, nourishing her baby and her relationship with her partner.  At first glance, this photo may seem a bit extreme;  some even described it as "weird" and "over-the-top." 

At first I was inclined to agree that the photo was grotesque, but upon further ponderance, I began to understand the implications.  This isn't the photo of a two-headed woman (although we all know that women have it going on in the brains department) but of a woman who can be those things, in those instances, that she needs to be.  She can be mother when baby is hungry and lover when her partner hungers for her.  Beyond that, she can be woman and be comfortable in her role as such.  I really began to see the beauty of the photo, the beauty of the woman, and realized that it stirred in me a passion to be all things to all those that I love and cherish. 

I also began to wonder why Rachel Valley had decided to do this photo.  Was there a need, a niche, where a photo such as this was warranted and appreciated?  I found a link to the photo on a forum intended for women (and some men) who are breastfeeding aware and supportive, yet some of the comments were less than cheerful in attitude or favor.  Obviously the photo did not say the same thing to all people, even those who might be best equipped to understand the 'duality' of the woman and the breast. 

Then I read about a mother being discriminated against because she is breastfeeding her child in public.  The stories are astounding.  Mothers are being harassed at baseball games, at public parks, in restaurants, at the YMCA.  The list goes on and on.  These mothers are simply fulfilling their rolls as mothers,  yet they are being asked to move to the restroom or to otherwise hide the fact that they are feeding their children.  I couldn't believe that people would be so rude and hateful and thought that surely it was either ignorance on the part of a few employees, lack of training on issues regarding dealing with the public and the law, or both.  Perhaps there were a few squeaky-wheel patrons at these places who threw a tantrum because they thought they might have seen a peek of skin while the mother was latching her baby.  But as I read the comments sections of the articles, I began to see that there was an overwhelming amount of people who harbored hate for women nursing their children.  

As I read these stories, I began to realize why Duality was such a needed piece of artwork.  People in this society really do lack a true understanding of the purpose of the female breast, and of the female body in general.  We've been told that our bodies are gross.  We hear it at church, in school, from our friends, family and in magazine, on T.V. and on the Internet.  When the subject of vaginas comes up in those venues, it's usually in a strictly sexual context.  Breasts are lumped together with vaginas because they, too, can be used as avenues for sexual gratification.  The female form, in all it's incarnations, has been vilified as a sexual tool since biblical times.  Forget the fact that, since before biblical times, vaginas have been used to birth our children and breasts have been used to nourish them.  Twats 'n' boobs are simply sexual, end of story, now go and repent for even thinking about them. 

But what if we could see the beauty in both the sexual aspect of a woman's body and the wonder that is a mother growing and continuing the species?  After all, at the very basest of thinking,  babies are a product of a sexual act.  My babies, my children, are the bi-product of love and caring and an animalistic urge to nurture and grow.  Sure, sex got them started, but love and my body grew them.  My body birthed them into this world and my body gave them nourishment when they were young and vulnerable.  There was a time in history when a child who lived to the age of 5 was revered as strong and capable of carrying on an enduring blood-line.  During those times, it was common-place for women to breastfeed, so it just goes to suppose that breastfeeding helped that child survive and thrive.

Why does it have to be one or the other?  And why do breasts, and the female body, get to only be used for sexual gratification?  What if, at the very least, we all put aside our own fears, short-comings, or anxieties and showed kindness and gentleness towards the smallest and most vulnerable of our species? 

I want to close with some advice for those of you who read this and who get a bit squeamish when you see a woman (or even think about seeing her) breastfeeding her baby.  To you, I ask for just a small amount of tolerance.  When those sirens go off in your brain and your internal dialogue is screaming "WARNING SEXUAL OBJECTS BEING EXPOSED," how about just turning your head and tending to your own business?  If YOU have an issue with the mother nourishing her small and innocent child, try to use discretion with yourself and your actions and words.  And if you can not understand the woman, try at least giving some respect for the mother who is just doing with her body what nature has intended.            

Monday, July 12, 2010

Nursing in Public: Debacle of the Delusions

I've been reading a great deal lately about people who are against nursing in public (NIP).  My Facebook fanpage, NIPPA sports a few of the links and stories I have come across.  What I've found are that there are a few commonalities amongst those who find NIP offensive.  Following is an FAQ of sorts to help dispel the delusions that seem to be rampant both online and out in the real world about nursing a child in public.  I decided to address the Top 5, so as not to bore you and go into novel status here on SPM. 

1.  "No one wants to see that, so cover up."  This phrase could be applied to a plethera of public activities, but we are speaking of feeding a baby here so I'll attempt to keep on topic.  If you have ever breastfed a baby, you will know that covering is either something you do to help yourself feel comfortable or something to try and keep the baby focused on the task at hand.  Once a baby reaches a certain age, the cover generally becomes a bigger distraction than a bicycling poodle who juggles flaming torches.  I have attempted covering in public and I would rather wear a neon sign and a big fuzzy clown wig.  Besides, most breastfeeding mothers are sensible, modest women who rarely, if ever show anything and I've actually been approached with the 'awww, sleepy baby' comments while my nine-month old is actively nursing.

2.  "Can't you do that in the car (restroom, dressing room, at home, etc.)?"  Sure, I could.  But can't you also go hide in those places so you aren't offended by me breastfeeding?  Some places do have lovely nursing suites, but I've yet to see one that I would feed my pet slug in so I'll be nursing my child in arms while I'm shopping or chatting with my friends or husband.  It is 100 degrees + right now in my car and I refuse to be relegated to my home simply because my baby likes to eat and I have errands to do.  As a consumer and a citizen, I have as much right to be at the mall as the next person. 

3.  "You can pump and/or bring a bottle."  I have to take a second and clean off my screen every time I read this sentiment.  I do that snortle thing where all of my Coke gets spewed out onto the keys and the nursing baby's head.  Obviously, anyone who says this has never breastfed because what's the point?  If I'm going to spend all of my time pumping and bottling, I might as well just feed my baby formula to appease everyone else in the world.  Breastfeeding is feeding, but it is about so much more than JUST feeding.  There is bonding and soothing and nurturing that go into every nursing.  Bottle-fed babies are much the same in that they crave suckling and comfort from their feedings.  Pumping is mechanical and it is not easy to do.  I began my current nursing relationship with a cold and unfeeling pump as my baby lay in the NICU struggling to breath.  I saw other mothers who worked with their pump for hours daily to then squeeze out tiny milliliters (it takes 30 mL to make an ounce) of breastmilk.  I was fortunate in the beginning because I made nearly four times daily what my baby ate but now I could not pump an ounce if my life depended on it.

4.  "You can feed your baby at home, THEN go out in public."  This is another comment that is laughable, at best.  With that sort of logic, YOU could eat at home and THEN go out in public, saving everyone from having to see you wolf down your Mickey D's or your chai latte with tofu infused bagel.  Restaurants everywhere will be singing your praises.  Seriously, babies are surprising little creatures.  You can feed them and I'll be a rabbit in a fox pen, those little dickens are hungry again in 20 minutes.  When I picture a breastfeeding mom trying to nurse at home, race to the store, do her shopping and get back home before her babe is screeching for another feed, it calls up images of illegally parked Fed-Ex truck drivers in crop pants toting a diaper bag.  Or maybe the Gino's pizzeria delivery guys with frayed pony-tails and smeared lipstick dragging little Suzy by the arm trying desperately to be on time. 

5.  "Breasts are sexual."  Sometimes, yes they are.  But so are fingers, tongues, toes, heck even noses and ears for some people.  How dare we go exposing our sexual organs out in public.  I demand you cover up those erotic digits before I have thoughts that I can not control.  As a breastfeeding mother, I assure you that my partner and I can distinguish between the sexual use for breasts and the natural, biological use for breasts.  If you can not, or you just can't stop thinking about that mother over in the play palace at the mall sticking her BOOBS in her babies mouth, I suggest therapy with a highly-qualified shrink. 

So there you have it, my Top 5 Delusions of the Deluded, debacled and de-valued.  I dare say that I have covered all of the lunacy or that one person will ever be able to dispell all of the madness that surrounds a woman breastfeeding her infant in public, but it is what it is.  My grandmother gave me excellent advice in regards to seeing things that I don't want to see.  She told me that if something offends me, the first thing I need to do is to turn my head.  Until someone grabs your face and smooshes you into her boobs to FORCE you to watch her nourish her child, I suggest you take Nannie's good advice.  Or there's always the standard, STFU.  Your choice.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Raising the Challenging Child -Part 3 "It Really Does All Work Out in the End"

I know how difficult it can be at two in the morning when your child wants to scream because you won't get up and play with her.  That was us two nights ago as our youngest decided that she had had enough of being in bed and wanted to get up and play.  When she found she could not get up and play and that she really was tired, she wanted to nurse non-stop.  We didn't get it right;  we got frustrated and snippy with each other.  One thing that we have to remember as a parenting team is that we have to go forward and that this WILL all work out in the end.  We are just starting the Challenging Child journey with this, my fifth child, but we know that the long nights will one day lead to huge grins as we enjoy a child who is comfortable with where she is in the world. 

Child One recently graduated high school and is going to college on an athletic scholarship.  When she was a screaming, demanding infant, I never dreamed that one day she would be a well-rounded member of this family.  I do remember feeling that I had somehow failed her and I knew from that day on that I would strive to help her turn out to be all that she could be.  She has grpwn into a good person, a great basketball player, and the best big sister and daughter a family could have.  Most of the credit goes to the fact that she has decided to be a decent person, but I'd like to think that some of the time we took to help her readjust and re-enter the family as an attached member were beneficial to her sense of belonging.  Eventually, she will be entirely responsible for herself, but I would like to know that the skills she learned as a child help her in her daily life and that she can pass those on to her own family.

Child Four will be attending pre-school in the fall and we are all excited for her as she begins her school career.  Like her challenging sister before her, she is bright, precocious, intelligent, and eager to learn new things.  Unlike her sister, she has had attention and responsiveness to her needs and demands from the moment she enter the world and she will begin school with a better understanding of who she is and her place in her family and in her world.  I wish I had been able to give that to Child One from the beginning.  Even though it took us until she was in the third grade to realize how to help her grow, she turned out better than okay, more than average.  It will be interesting to see how Child Four and Five turn out.  Our first Challenging Child is setting the bar fairly high for her siblings.  Let's hope that they can all achieve their goals and live to 100% of their own potentials.     

Friday, June 18, 2010

Raising the Challenging Child -Part 2 "Coping Techniques"

Congratulations!  You have a challenging child! 

Your life will be filled with excitement and never-ending wonder.  Oh, sure, there will also be a great deal of frustration, and all that trials-and-tribulations stuff, but count yourself lucky.  Your child comes at life full-on, no need to motivate or inspire.  Those traits are inborn in the challenging child, but so are other characteristics such as high-energy, demanding, attentive, inquisitive, precocious, self-assurance, and high-drama.

So how do you cope?  How can you channel all of that energy and still keep up with the demands?  What follows are my real life experiences:  what worked, what failed miserably and made me feel like the worst parent on the planet.  I do not pretend to hold any degrees in anything, especially parenting skills or the like, but what I do possess is almost 18 years of experience as a parent of challenging children.  Additionally, I can not tell you how to raise your child and I do hold to the AP-style of parenting as a personal preference.  The following are tips based on my experiences and I do not demand that you use them or know that they are right or wrong or even the best.  You will have to learn your child and what works and what doesn't.  Parenting the challenging child, I have found, is a guessing game at the best of times and a survival technique at the worst.  You decide what works for you.

Child One was my introduction to parenting.  She came out of the womb demanding our attention and all of our time and energy.  She needed very little recharging and sleeping was sometimes a non-issue for her.  I was so exhausted that I stopped listening to the instinctual urges for parenting and started taking the advice of well-meaning friends and family.  My husband and I thought that we were failing by using a gentle approach with her and we believed Aunt Betty when she said that our child needed a firm hand.   

While we were busy trying to catch up, she was busy getting on with the next mess or the next tantrum.  Sometimes her tantrums would get so out of control that we felt like sitting on the floor and screaming right along with her.  Our frustration levels were high, and out of anger, we would spank Child One.  This seemed to work for a while, but the tantrums escalated and so the spanking escalated.  It felt wrong to spank her, but nothing seemed to work the way that all the books said it should.  Technique A had failed and I was on Technique Z and feeling like a parenting faux pas. 

As we tried harder and harder to gain control of Child One, so she tried harder and harder to have things her way.  Even when we tried lax parenting -giving in to her every whim to quiet her and console her and not doing any real discipline but allowing her to take the reigns completely- she responded with ever increasing misbehaviors.  We feared that Child One was on the short path to becoming a psychotic criminal and we had no idea how to veer the course.

One night while my husband was away on business, Child One decided that she did not want to go to bed.  By three a.m., I was an exhausted mess.  We had three children by this time and Child Three had medical and developmental issues.  I tried to force Child One into going to bed and all that did was add fuel to her fire.  I spanked her to the point of anger and felt I was losing control.  I left my children home alone that night because I could not control myself enough to parent them properly.  It was the bottom for me;  the lowest of lows was achieved that night and I think it was a turning point in my parenting career.

The next day, I called and got us in family counseling.  Child One was also diagnosed with an entire alphabet of abbreviations from ADHD to ODD to OCD to SID.  One of the diagnoses that stood out in my mind was Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).  Basically, when Child One was born, she did not become attached to anyone and was feeling like she was just floating along all alone in the big, old, sufficating world.  We knew she could form relationships, but we also knew that she treated those relationships as fleeting and worthless, depending on her mood. 

She did not fit all of the RAD profile, but Child One did seem unattached to anyone in particular so we decided to help her get attached.  By then, the internet was up and running, so I did a search on 'attachment' and I ran across information about Dr. and Mrs. Sears and their Attachment Parenting theories.  They were saying to parent from instinct and from your heart.  If what you were doing did not feel right or if you were miserable, change what you were doing so that everyone felt like they were doing the right thing.  To put it simply, they were saying to parent like you would want to be parented and to keep things simple and easy.  Additionally, Child One needed to be re-attached or bonded to her primary caregivers so that she could form a trusting relationship and be able to give a little instead of taking all. 

But I knew that my child was not simple or easy.  She was demanding and high-energy and hyperactive.  I had tried using gentle parenting techniques and she responded by trampling on me like a doormat.  At this time, we were also involved in parenting classes and family therapy.  I ran the 'parent from your gut' and the re-attchment ideas by one of the therapists and he said it felt like a great idea and to give it a try.  What did I have to lose?

So, we gave it a shot.  And guess what?  She responded positively and made incredible strides towards becoming a more patient and calmer child.  Child One was needing us to show her that we trusted her in order for her to trust us.  We had come at parenting with the 'I am the boss and you have to mind me or else' attitude and had felt like a mere child was manipulating and controlling us.  It was the battle for control -on our part to control the child and on hers to control her surroundings- that nearly lost us in a parent vs. child struggle.  Following are the steps we took to help our daughter bond with us and then help us parent her in a less controlling but more effective way.

Love the child and show love.  This was and is a difficult thing for me because I was raised in a totalitarian household where the father was the supreme ruler and he showed little if no affection.  The mother was supposed to show the children the affection, but our mother was never shown much affection and did not know how to be geniuine in her attempts at showing love.  It was also difficult because we had had years of a bruised and battered relationship with Child One and we were going into this ordeal with baggage.  We loved her, but we had difficulty showing love and she had difficulty accepting it.  What finally worked was to view her as a child and nothing more.  She was not a sum of her actions or her behaviors, she was a child who deserved and deperately needed love. 

Become an active parent.  Parenting from the sofa never did us any good.  Yelling, screaming, and hitting are not the activities one needs to initiate, and usually get the opposite of the desired result.  Instead, go to your child and participate.  Remember when I said I felt like dropping to the floor and having a tantrum with my child?  Well, I did that one day at a very crowded mall and my then 11 year old Child One was mortified.  There were no more tantrums from any of them in the store!  I had shown them that I was not beyond participating in the situation in order to get them to understand my side, too. 

In addition, I became involved in all of the aspects of my children's lives.  I started volunteering at school and became a Girl Scout Leader.  I let my kids see that what they did and what they cared for was important and that I wanted to be a part of it. 

Control the situation, not the child.  You can keep the situation from getting dangerous or out of hand.  We learned a wonderful parenting skill called 'redirection' and used it to help Child One see that sometimes things could not be controlled and so we changed how we reacted or what we were doing to make us feel better.  Redirection works for busy toddlers who are deconstructing an entire room in thirty seconds and for teenagers who are having drama melt-downs at the speed of sound.  If little Billy is using his Tonka truck for a battering ram against your new T.V., it's easier and more effective to give him something else to channel his energies instead of trying to make him stop doing what he's doing without giving him an alternative.  Before long, Billy is back at misbehaving because the situation was not changed and his need for releasing his feelings was not met. 

Learn your child and their behaviors.  In your efforts to control the situation, you must also try to learn what your child is really trying to say or accomplish.  Watch your child and their behaviors and try to figure out what she's really asking for.  A melt-down in Wal-Mart occurs because you said no when your child wanted an oil filter wrench (yes, this happened!) may not mean that your child is wanting obscure car tools.  It may be that she's wanting something but can not put in to words what she needs.  Maybe it's attention, a nap, something to eat.  By observing her behaviors and seeing what she responds to during certain situations, you can begin to learn to read the signs and get a feeling for what she's trying to tell you when the words (or actions) do not necessarily mirror the situation.

Forego control.  Control is an illusion.  We can only control our own reactions to certain things, people, places, and situations.  Attemping to garner control over your challenging child will eventually lead to a battle of wills and puts you in the position of totalitarian parent mentioned above. 

Change the situation, not the child.  As I've mentioned before, you can only control your reactions so why not try to set yourself up to react positively?  If little Billy is doing something you do not like, give him something else to do.  You can be the judge of when the situation is getting out of hand and needs changing or when it's time for your challenging child to start being able to maneuver through a situation enough to turn it into a positive event.  Redirection is the key to calmer parents and more satisfied challenging children because they seem to thrive on moving and doing and get bored easily.  More often than not, I've found that my children misbehave because they are bored and not because they are simply trying to be bad or get more attention.  And giving them something else to do does not have to be a major production.  Just give them a safe toy if they are playing with something that you would rather they not play with.  In extreme cases, you might want to move to a new locale, but my challenging children usually become more at ease with small and simply changes and larger changes may set them up for another tantrum.

Remember the KISS method.  My dad taught me the KISS method.  Keep IT Simple, Silly.  Remembering this has saved me a mint on frustration and energy.  When my challenging child seems to be running in circles and demanding my time and energy and I am trying to engage in something else, I think 'what would be the easiest way to get both of our needs met?'  Elaborate games or frilly toys never seemed to hold my child's attention and were usually a waste of time, effort and money.  If I am in the kitchen needing to cook supper and Child One was berating her sister and knocking over furniture, I simply asked her if she would like to cook the supper.  Then, I chose something that she could either prepare solely or with minimal help and that is what we ate for supper.  Even toddlers and babies can 'help' in the kitchen as long as they are given a safe place and their own age-appropriate equipment. 

Be willing to change.  I once told a mommy friend of mine that I was so flexible that Elastigirl (from The Incredibles) has nothing on me.  Isn't it funny that Elastigirl became the care-worn housewife, trying to cope with the increasing and ever changing demands of the modern family?  She was flexible and she knew how to change to meet the situation. 

What worked today (or 30 minutes ago) may not work again.  In addition to flexibility and simplicity, you are going to need to be creative.  Defusing a situation with one solution may be a full-time fix or it may be that you got lucky and that fix was a one-off.  Realize that your challenging child is an ever changing child and what worked on the tantrum o' the moment earlier in the day may not work again, ever, or it may just need to go back into your bag of tricks and wait to be recycled on another occasion.

Stop the seriousness.  Parenting is not a job to be taken lightly, but it never hurts to lighten up.  My kids and I have "Silly Sessions" where we just act silly for a little bit.  These are especially helpful when you are attempting to de-stress a situation. 

Just breathe.  I used to hate the "this too shall pass" advice but I'm beginning to find out that it does.  And de-stressing is a great way for you to help your challenging child see that you are taking things a little easier.  When you are aggitated or aggrivated, you send your child a message and he will most likely begin to mimick your behavior.  I've found that the most stressful situations are eased when mommy starts a giggle fest.  Laughing is a great de-stressor and I have been so close to a personal breakdown that laughing seemed like the craziest AND most sane thing to do at the time.  And, you guessed it, it worked like a charm and the rest of the situation went more smoothly.  It also seems to be a domino effect.  De-stressing during one situation or event helps to make the rest of the day go better and everyone seems a bit happier at what they are doing. 

Coming up next, Raising the Challenging Child -Part 3 "It Really Does All Work Out in the End"


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Raising the Challenging Child -Part 1 "Introducing....Your Challenging Child"

When you are awaiting your bundle of joy, you get loads of advice.  Some helpful, almost all given with a sense of duty towards giving the parents-to-be a better understanding of what it means to be the caregivers to a new human being.  My personal favorites are 'don't wake a sleeping baby' and 'cherish every moment because it goes so fast.'  There's also the well-meaning 'if you hold her, you'll spoil her' but usually the people giving that advice have either never had a baby or held their baby ad infinitum to keep her from screaming all night. 
I've gone through the advice and admonishments from family and friends six times and no one has ever been very helpful when it comes to parenting a challenging child.  To this day, I can ask one of my seasoned parenting relatives and friends for coping strategies and mostly all I get is 'this too, shall pass' types of responses.  Either no one knows how to parent a child who is needy from Day 1, or this information is only leaked to the most seasoned and die-hard of parenting professionals and is on a need-to-know basis only.   

Sure, I get the unwanted and oft unfriendly 'you are just spoiling her, let her cry,' and when I try to explain that this philosophy doesn't jibe with our attachment parenting approach, I then get the 'don't be a lazy parent' diatribe.  Attachment parenting (AP) does not make challenging children.  Rather, AP style gives an otherwise needy child the reassurance that the parent will respond to their needs.  Even calm, cool, collected babies (babies my husband has termed "easy babies", but is there such a thing?) will respond positively to being parent instinctually and individually instead of by the book.  I get that giving her every thing she wants is spoiling her;  giving her love and attention just lets her know that I'm willing to do the job I signed up for.

I also don't understand why it is that, when a person tries to vent about having a challenging child and is at a loss and needing a hug or possibly even a valium, others try to minimize their frustrations.  "You're just over reacting and over parenting.  You need to let her know who's boss."  "It really isn't that bad, is it?"  "She's got control and is running you."  Really?  My lovely baby of almost nine months is controlling me?  Wow, we need to get this kid on Oprah because she's gonna be a prodigy!

So, what is a challenging child?  I have birthed and am raising five children, one of them a recent high school graduate and a challenging child, and I can only describe them like this.  Child One, the aforementioned grad, was always demanding something.  Time, energy, stuff, attention.  She was in high gear from the minute she came into this world screaming and seemingly ticked-off at being here.  I didn't realize that there were other types of children and then comes Child Two.  She was a dreamy baby, the kind that dozes after her meals and seems content just to be here and watch the world go by.  Child Three, an NICU baby of only 30 weeks gestation, was also an 'easy' baby and only fussed when he was at the absolute boudaries of uncomfortable. 

I was beginning to think that Child One was a fluke, when out comes Child Four.  She made me think that Child One was an easy baby.  Number Four was not only demanding, she was also serious in those demands and would not sway no matter how long we tried to hold out.  Anytime she cried and was not responded to immediately, the wailing intensified until she would be in such a state that she would vomit and would then be unconsolable for hours on end.  We learned very quickly that any instance of discomfort would lead to an all out melt down in T-minus .05 seconds if we did not respond. 

With Child One, we could delay picking her up or feeding her and she was resourceful enough that she would get her needs met otherwise and would allow for some bending of her rules.  Not so with Four and we learned to anticipate and actively participate in order to save our sanity.  We're currently parenting Child Five and she's giving her older sisters a run for their money.       

The challenging child is not trying to control the adult.  What she is doing is trying to control how the world responds to her and, more importantly, this child demands that her needs get met and will not take no for an answer.  I believe Dr. William Sears and his wife, Martha Sears, RN, when they say that parenting a high need child (their terminology for the challenging child) is difficult, but doable.  In their The Fussy Baby Bookthe Sears' tell of their own fussy, challenging child and how raising her caused them to re-evaluate what they did as parents, professionals, and people. 

Further, they also suggest that parenting the challenging child is more about controlling situations than about controlling the people involved in those situations.  Fussy babies might not like Aunt Hilda's advice on swaddling and prefer a more free-range form of sleeping with just a thin night gown or sleeper on.  Challenging children will insist that their needs be met and it is up to the parents or other caregivers to meet those needs by assessing the situation and adapting it to the needs of the child.  My own challenging children have definite preferences and have make those preferences known with little to no hesitation or misunderstanding on their part.  What is difficult is knowing how to change the situation and not wanting to simply change the child to meet the situation. 

***Coming up next, Raising the Challenging Child -Part 2 "Coping Techniques" 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Braggity Brag Brag

Garsh, I've been busy!  I rarely take the time to post unless I'm peeved at something so I thought I'd try to do a positive post (love ya, Connie!).

I really do have the best kids on the planet.  I know, I know.  YOU think you have the best kids on the planet, but you are free to think that if you want because, as a parent, I'm sure we all think our kids are either the best or the worst depending on how many cell phones we've dug out of the toilet today.   But seriously, my kids are showing the world just how great they are and I'm sitting back basking in the after-glow.

Teryn has graduated and is heading off to college soon.  She's spending the summer playing at THREE All-State tourneys and working out/running and keeping in shape.  I'm so stinking proud of her for keeping focused through all of the Senioritis and partying that usually accompanies the final spring of highschool.  Here's an article about her game at the OGBCA All-State tourney.  She so totally rocks :)

My son is participating in summer basketball camp at the school.  He didn't want to go, but I talked him into it.  He's feeling sort of left behind by his sister's 'fame' and I hope I helped him through that.  Ricky felt like he would never live up to Teryn's abilities and I told him he wouldn't.  He WILL live up to his abilities only if he goes out there and works his butt off.  Who knows?  He might be the next Michael Jordan!  But we won't know if he doesn't go out and try his best to be his best.  I told him there is absolutely room in this family for more than one basketball star.  He was ready to go 30 minutes early today :)

Kalyn has been a phenomenal help to me these past few weeks.  About a month ago, I had a tooth surgically extracted (YEOWCH) and she helped make sure that I had soft food to eat.  I am currently recovering from a surgery to remove three hardened lymph nodes and some of the muscles from my shoulder and neck.  Kalyn has been extremely helpful to me and everyone in this family.  Last year at this time, I was on bedrest and trying desperately to hold on long enough to have a living baby and Kalyn stepped up to help then, too.  She is a rock star at laundry and cleaning up Bill's messes in the kitchen.  One day, some incredibly lucky guy is gonna snag her away from me.  Until then, I'm so lucky to be her momma and have her help glue our family together.

Natalie went to her first day of summer reading at the local library today.  The topic:  Water Safety.  She sat quietly through a (boring) video showing kids how to wear life jackets and be water wise.  After the movie was over, she told everyone within ear shot about water safety and how to wear a life jacket properly.  Gotta love that she's four and a sponge!  She came home and told her daddy that he must never go swimming alone because he can't call for help on his cell phone.  They don't work if you fall in the water!!! 

Millie Rae, dear sweet baby that she is, has been through the ringer lately.  She got an ear infection and a high temp that resulted in a viral rash that made her miserable all last weekend.  Through all of that, she has learned a new 'trick.'  Bill calls it the 'butt scoot' but I like to refer to it as 'upright crawling.'  She can kick her legs and, while remaining in a sitting position, scoot herself all over the floor.  Regular crawling is just too unimaginative for her;  she is most definitely her father's daughter.  Why do things the normal way when you can make your own way of cruising so as to utterly destroy the place?  Ordinarily, I'd be sad at the thought of her growing up, but with my achin' shoulder and neck, I'm happy that she's keeping herself busy shredding the magazines and eating everyone's shoes.  GOOO Millie.

And, lest you think that all of these accomplishments are but a figment of my overactive (and percocet laced) imagination, I got the best compliment a mother can get.  Yesterday at McDonald's (yes, I take my kids there occasionally, so no negativity :) an older woman said that I must be an 'excellent' mother because my kids were so well-behaved and polite.  She commented that Natalie was so 'calm' and she had 'never seen a better behaved' toddler, especially at McDonald's.  I know that I recently got my panties in a wad over a blog about restaurant etiquette, and McDonald's is usually the place you expect to see children not exactly on their best behavior.  But I got that complement.  So, Heather W., stick that in your pipe 'n smoke it!  :)

Okay, my shoulder is painin' me, so I'm off to medicate.  Go ahead...brag about your kiddles, too! 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Up at 4:30 a.m.???

Why?  Shouldn't I be sleeping peacefully alongside my infant daughter (who resfuses to sleep without mama)? 

I woke up for mommy and daddy time.  We have been reduced to waking in the wee hours in order to get quality time together.  And boy, do we need it.  I've been very crabby and yesterday, I, er, um stated my displeasure in a not-so-appropriate way.  It really is amazing how much just living life and not stopping to smell the proverbial roses takes out of a person.  Bill and I get caught up in making a living and we forget to make a life. 

So, we woke up and interacted (yes, that IS code) and then I got on the computer for mommy time (aka reading all the insane stories of women being hounded while NIP) and he got in the shower and got ready for work.  I feel better going about the day, but I am NOT a morning person so I'm not sure how the rest of the day will turn out. 

We may get a nap later, in between going to the park, eating, running errands, cleaning house, cleaning out the car, eating some more, etc.  When people see me, I must look frazzled because they say stuff like, "Wow, you look tired!" and "Is there a fire?"  Then, they start counting kids.  Yup, I'm tired and most likely, supper is on fire, so I gotta run!  Seven.  You can see them say the number again and again in their minds.  Sometimes, they even mouth the word 'seven' soundlessly as their eyes grow to the size of serving bowls.

Seven sounds like a large number, but seeing, and indeed smelling, really is believing.  Five of them are at or above normal-adult size so sometimes seven feels like thirty-five.  We drive a really long truck (thank you, Natalie) and we just barely fit.  There are a few of us who, unfortunately, are not fully grown into our odors and when you get them all in one place, it starts smelling like a skunk convention.  If you see us coming, you might think that a bunch of adults got together and went to the zoo.  Nope.  That's me and my five almost-but-not-quite grown kids.

Someone invaribly mistakes the younger ones as the children of one of the older ones.  Recently, IN ONE DAY, I had three different people ask me if Amelia was my grandbaby.  Wow.  I realize I've aged in the last 30-something years, but give a girl a break!  I'm just barely old enough to be the mom of a high-school graduate;  I am not ready for grandparenthood!

All of this ranting comes on the heels of a much needed mini-vacation.  Nothing too outlandish, just some time with our extended families.  But traveling with the kids, even just 'his' or just 'hers' (which includes a mixture of 'theirs') is a feat that is not taken on lightly.  I'm dreading it.  I've already packed the DVD player and the extra strength deodorant.  Six hours in a car and stopping at gas stations is not too appealing when you are going with four children.  There comes a point when you just jump in the car and go before you drive yourself  insane wondering if one will have to pee 10 minutes into the voyage or if the baby will scream her head off for hours at a time confined to her infant carseat.

We have a LOT of people living here, randomly, but still overwhelmingly at some times.  We make it work.  If you are fortunate enough to be on my friend's list on Facebook, you will see on my profile this quote from a recent visit to the grocery store:  "Yes I have 7 (seven) kids.  Yes I know about birth control."  I actually said that to someone.  Someone who was gawking at us when I was overly tired and overly stressed and overly annoyed with people gawking.

Therefore, daddy and I decided that with all the goings on around here, we have to have some us time.  It's difficult to have us time in the midst of teenagers who comment (un)accordingly.  It's also difficult to be 'alone' when your infant, otherwise known as 'the cling-on,' wants to nurse and snuggly and have mommy all to herself or ELSE.  I'm not too sure that getting up at 4:30 a.m. was a great idea because my eyelids are already starting to droop four hours later.  I might be a grouchy, tired mama later, but at least I still know how to 'fry that bacon up in a pan.'  (Yes, more code!)

Monday, May 24, 2010

BHG Magazine Suggests Throwing Breastfeeders in the Toilet

***There is also an apology available on the blog and at BHG's Facebook page***This has changed on the website.  It now reads "9 Commandments of dining with little kids."  They so graciously backspaced over the breastfeeding commandment.  The best I could do is a print screen, because the original link now goes to the "9 Commandments" article.  If you are as PISSED about this as I am, join this Facebook group and find out how to sound off!

"Stolen" from the Facebook page, Boycott Better Homes and Gardens:

Amanda - "Just because it's a 4-star restaurant doesn't mean their patrons take 4-star shits.  Their poop stinks as bad as someone taking a poop at McDonalds..."

Friday, May 21, 2010

I Blinked

This was written a few months ago and I wanted to publish it in recognition of Teryn's graduation last night. 

I've been doing a lot of 'spending quality time with' the kiddles lately.  The oldest will be graduating high school in May and it's made me realize that this is all so very fleeting.  Before I know it, I'll be a G word (ain't gonna say it, nope, can't make me!).  I am really proud of my #1 we (aka Teryn) and I'm hoping that she stays close to go to school and be a basketball star.  She has been offered several scholarships at some two year colleges and one at a university.  Let's hope she listens to mama and takes the scholarship at the university, which just happens to be close to mama and a warm meal and a free washing machine!!!

Thinking back on when I got pregnant with Teryn, I can't help but remember some epiphany I had just after her arrival.  I was 18 1/2 and scared to think that 'adults' had actually let me take this little life home with me to care for all by myself!  What the hell were they thinking?!?!?  And what the hell had I been thinking?  I mean, seriously, could I possible care for, nurture, protect, positively influence and otherwise raise this child alive to the age of 18?  That was how old I was and it seemed like an eternity. 

Needless to say I am shocked and awed that we're there.  She will be 18 in lees than 2 months and it blurred by, in a millisecond, the proverbial blink.  I get teary all the time now just thinking about how fast it's gone and how soon she'll be a grown up and doing grown up things.  Teryn played on a traveling basketball team last year, just before she turned 17 and I was a terrible wreck over it.  My to see the world.  They made it as far as New Orleans.  I held my breath the whole time.

I remember the little imp that started talking full on sentences at 9 months old.  She was such an adolescent even at the tender age of 2 when she would walk up to people and say stuff like "hey did you know my mom has a really wrinkly butt."  I also remember her struggling to read in the 4th grade and all the many hours in tutoring, vision therapy, and doctor's offices we spent trying to assure ourselves that our child was more than average. 

I remember racing to the E.R. one Thanksgiving night thinking she was choking and just knowing that she was dying in my arms.  She was so lifeless and her lips were tinged an eerie blue.  I'll never forget being made to stand outside while she got her X-rays because I was too hysterical and they needed to be able to work on her.  There was a feeling of relief out in that lonesome hallway and somehow I knew we would get a second chance. 

Teryn was fine;  her brain was not.  She was diagnosed with Benign Rolandic Epilepsy about 6 months later. She took meds and had several more scary seizures where she would go limp and convulse, then writhe as if in pain and pant until she would lose control of all of her bodily functions.  She would then "awake" and start freaking out.  We would hold her and calm her down and clean her up.  It was surreal, beyond scary and it took a toll on us all. 

The big seizures happened in the night;  the smaller ones were happening all day and we didn't realize it until she came home with an F in reading.  Turns out that kids with BRE can have break-through seizures that are so mild, they mimic symptoms of ADD.  We were told by the school officials to put her on ritalin and a tranquilizer to get her to sleep.  They knew about her seizures and when I mentioned that she might be having petit mals during the day and that her sleep was disrupted by the grand mals, they reiterrated the need for meds to "control and contain her behaviors."  We were also told that the school didn't remediate kids after 3rd grade and to just expect her to be on meds forever.  The principal said, "She'll just be average at best."

I was pissed.  How dare they say those things about MY child.  She was sitting at 4 months, walking and running at 9 months, speaking in paragraphs at 1 year.  Everyone always complimented us on how smart she was and how agile and athletic.  "When she grows up, she'll be a rocket scientist basketball star," they all proclaimed.  How could someone say that she would never be more than a fry cook or a dishwasher?  She was not average and I would prove it!

We took her back to the pediatric neurologist and he confirmed our suspicions on the petit mals.  Teryn's meds were changed and her teacher noticed an immediate change in her awareness.  Where she once seemed like she was daydreaming or unable to focus, she was now more alert, attentive and interactive.  We also got her into 3 hours of tutoring a week and 3 hours of vision therapy to help correct tracking and visual processing deficits that were a side effect of the seizures.

That all seems like a distant nightmare now.  It was nearly eight years ago that we started working with her.  It took Teryn five years to become grade level appropriate in reading and to catch up and surpass her peers and to leave all of the meds behind.  She had a rough freshman year after her father and I divorced, but she has since been an A-B student.  She will graduate with an ABOVE AVERAGE GPA and will go to college on a basketball scholarship.  I don't think she'll be a rocket scientist, but it won't be because she's just average.  She wants to study athletic ministery and be a coach and mentor to kids who want to play sports and keep to their faith.

As graduation approaches, I keep asking her if there's anything I can do to help.  I think she's just as much in denial as I am; these past 18 years weren't enough for either of us.  We both want more basketball games and algebra homework and staying up late on a school night to watch a sappy movie together.  I relish the time I spent growing this child and I don't want it to be over with the flash of a camera as she walks down that aisle to receive her diploma.  Now I realize that I want to be there forever, and it will not be nearly enough time to let her know that I am grateful someone chose her for me and let me take her home and protect and raise her.  I want her to know how proud I am and how very much I love her.          


Monday, May 3, 2010

Sorry, I'm Broke...

...and I really mean it!  I've got $12.34 to my name right now and 7 kids who need (and want) a bajillion things.  Sorry, I'm broke kids so you'll just have to live on sunshine and happiness!

Are you broke, too?  Really?  Then why the hell are you out there, complaining about being broke, and then taking your kids to ballet lessons?  You go on and on and on about how you can't afford diapers and formula but then tell me that you just enrolled baby in a Momma and Me gymnastics class.  I really love it when you tell me you've spent all day down at the Department of Human Services office trying to get them to give you food stamps, housing assistance, and utility payments and then light up one of your $6 per pack cigarettes. 

You're broke?  So why is it that my kids are over here eating bologna while yours are eating steak that you bought with food stamps because your husband got laid off and he is too good to go to work for some 'stupid, demeaning' $7 per hour job?  You beg to get some money to pay your car payment so that it won't get repo'ed and your kids can have a way to get to school, yet you were parked in said car at the casino Saturday night.

I only have this to say to you:  GET A JOB.  If you want ballet lessons for your kid, but can't afford to buy your own food, get a job to cover the food and the ballet.  You want to smoke cigarettes and go through a premature and painful death while driving up the cost of MY healthcare, get a job and when you get emphasema, pay for your medical AND your current living yourself.  Got your eye on the slots?  Then get a job and work and save your money by walking some places instead of always driving that car with the fancy gadgets and then take a little break at the casino.

I've got $12.34 to my name, but my husband worked for it.  Heck, I worked for it cleaning and cooking and making sure my kids know the value of a dollar and that they were fed with it.  If you want to complain to me about the weather, politics, the state of the state, I'll be more than happy to comiserate.  But if you want to bitch and whine about not having any money for the things your family needs and then tell me about your new iPhone...GO GET A JOB.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Sanctity of Life

This post is prompted by the recent passing of new legislation in regards to abortions.  If you are sensitive to such materials, this is your fair warning not to read further!

Yesterday I heard a news story on NPR about Oklahoma's state congress overriding a gubernatorial veto on abortion laws.  Brad Henry is a Democrat and I have voted for him twice.  I couldn't imagine him being irrational enough to veto something that was reasonable and that would protect the rights of children.  He is a father, a Christian, and I have agreed with him on about 90% of the decisions he has made for our state. 

Looking for answers, I found a few news articles calling the legislation "strict," "ridiculous," and "a violation of women's right to privacy."

I must take a moment to let everyone know that I am pro-life.  My stance comes not from my religious leanings, but from the miracle that is my son.  When I was pregnant with him, some of the testing that indicates birth and other defects came back questionable.  On ultrasound, he looked healthy, but the doctors and specialists said that could be misleading.  The issues could be with his brain and how functional he would be after birth.  My (then) husband and I were given statistics and percentages and then were asked what we planned to do as far as keeping the pregnancy.

By this time, we had gone through several rounds of blood tests, multiple ultrasounds, and were being asked if we wanted a procedure called CVS.  We went home and talked, cried, screamed, considered and basically wore ourselves out over what to do.  By dawn the next day, we knew what to do:  we would follow through on the natural course and just see what happened.  We would forego any further testing, aside from growth ultrasounds or maternal/fetal monitoring during labor.

Turns out, my water broke at 26 weeks gestation while on a mini-vacation in Texas.  I was hospitalized until I was stable and then allowed to drive back to Tulsa where I went into the hospital with pProm  and cervical dilation to 2 cm.   Once again I was stabilized and my body held on to the pregnancy until 30 weeks, 3 days gestation.  Our son was born weighing 3lbs 6 oz and measuring 16 3/4" long.  He had respiratory distress, transient tachypnea of the newborn, jaundice and some other minor preemie issues.  What he didn't have any signs of were mental or physical impairments.  Later, he was diagnosed with mild hypertonia and has just in the past few years been able to overcome his muscle issues and run like a real boy. 

By the way, he's almost 12.  He's on the academic bowl team, plays a mean game of basketball, loves to play (and beat) video games that I can not even understand, and is going through his very first crush.  He's normal, healthy (after some issues with asthma, that are barely even a blip now) and alive.  When I was given the option to terminate, I was also given the option of not terminating.  We saw him on ultrasound;  we heard his heart beating.  We knew the life that was in him.

My fear for women getting abortions is that they will not be afforded the same opportunity.  Costs are high and over half of the abortions performed in the United States are for women who are low-income.  Will those women be allowed to have an ultrasound because someone else, like Planned Parenthood, is paying the bill?  How many abortions could these places do in a year and still be financially viable if they have to give ultrasounds to every woman?  Would a state law ensuring an ultrasound to every woman seeking an abortion drive the abortion clinics into financial ruin?

The short answer is, I don't really give a crap about the financial gain of the abortion clinics or doctors.  But the reality is, if they aren't there to perform the abortions, desperate women would seek back-alley abortions and not only kill their babies but possibly even themselves.  I've known a couple of older women who got illegal abortions before the time of Roe v. Wade, and their experiences were scarring and not just in the physical sense.  Of the women I know who have gotten abortions, most were not overly traumatized by the procedure itself, when performed in a clinic by a clinician and staff trained and licensed to perform abortions. 

I also know a few women who have gotten legal abortions and they say that if they had been able to see the baby on ultrasound, they would have reconsidered.  One of these women did reconsider and has a beautiful five-year-old son.  Sure, there are those of you out there who would not have changed your mind and are comfortable with the decision you made.  But the more I talk to women who have undergone an abortive procedure, the more I get the feeling that society, rather than self, was the motivating factor in their decision.  Also, it seems that women who get or contemplate abortions try to separate themselves and life from the baby they are carrying.  One woman I spoke to told me that she didn't kill a baby;  she had only gotten rid of "tissues of pregnancy" and "she couldn't afford a baby and all the things a baby needs" and she would not ever regret the abortion.

The law, as it stands, is not appealing to me simply because it is so very restrictive.  I would like to see ultrasounds offered and given.  I don't want to see women forced to shame over trying to seek medical advice or procedures and I do not ever wish to completely outlaw abortions (see above).  My concern, though, is for that unborn child, the one that doesn't get a say in any of this.  That unborn child who doesn't need $300 car seats or expensive outfits and toys.  Babies do require a certain amount of money to raise;  believe me, I know, as I have seven of my own!  But our society makes women believe that without certain advantages, babies are too costly and women just aren't ready. 

There are over 1 million abortions performed in this country annually.  If an ultrasound, given but not forced, saved 1% of those babies, the benefits would outweigh the costs infinity- fold.  You certainly can not put a price on human life.     

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The true face of NIP (nursing in public)

After my last entry on breastfeeding, some of my more modest friends commented on the blog letting me know that they felt like I had misrepresented NIP (nursing in public).  Even though that entry was intended to be a bit over-the-top, I thought it best for the cause to come back and show NIP for what it truly is. 

You can google 'nursing in public' on google images, and come up with a variety of pictures of women breastfeeding in public.  Here are a few of my favs...

This is one of my own.  I was nursing Millie and Natalie was "helping" take care of her sister.


gotta love this one ;)

And a facebook page dedicated to showing a historical view of NIP

I also referenced a nurse-out in my other entry and would like to link to the pictures of that here so that you can see what it looks like to nurse in public, en mass.!/album.php?aid=14167&id=112296455456403

I also love this blog post about NIP.  Really on point and just tell-it-like-it-is enough so that there's no wading through sentimental B.S. or the BF vs. FF wars topics.

To my fans (all 4 of you!), I really DO wish to portray breastfeeding in a positive light, but there are only so many hours in the day and most of mine are filled with raising my little family.  If you really want to see what NIP is like, come follow me around for a day and you'll see (or not) how much of me I put out there when we are NIP.  I'm too embarrassed to wear shorts in public after having birthed five children, so there really isn't all that much to see.

In closing, I'd like to remind people who are offended by even the thought of a woman NIP that we are in control of our eyes and our minds.  See what you wanna see, do what you wanna do, be who you wanna be...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Oh no she didn't!?!?

That's what I said this weekend when we were back in the play area at Barnes and Noble.  Natalie had been playing at the Thomas the Tank Engine play table with some rowdy kids.  (Those kids acted like they could tear up a concrete block!)  They were there with their grandfather, mother and two older sisters.  The youngest was a boy of about two years and he was "all boy" as my grandmother would say.  Once, the little boy got rough with his older sister and the grandfather grabbed the boy and told him to "get over here and rough up grandpa."  Then the older man commenced to punching the little boy until the younger started to cry. 

As I watched the kids play, I made sure Natalie was the gracious one as long as she wasn't being a complete doormat.  My internal dialogue was off and racing by this time.  "I would never let my kids act that way," I assured myself.  And I sat back and gloated in the fact that my child was behaving well and had been raised properly.

The oldest sister comes over to play and I'm just waiting for her to rough Natalie up.  Sure enough, she starts taking all of the trains and is not letting Natalie play.  I steel myself to get onto the older girl for being too big to be over there when Natalie turns to her and says, "Are you fat?"

I just stopped cold.  I had no idea what to say and I was floored that Natalie had asked such a mean thing, even if that girl had been being mean to her.  You can bet that at that moment my perfect mommy image quickly deflated and I felt like a hair on a toad! 

I pulled myself together enough to ask Natalie to apologize and then told her about being polite and not pointing out if she thinks people are fat, ugly, etc.  We continued to sit there until Bill came over and I told him what had happened.  He was mortified and he restated our position on proper play to her.  Natalie didn't really understand what she had done, but she was very sorry that she upset us and hurt the girl's feelings.

And here I thought I was being such a wonderful parent.  I stay home with them and take them to play dates.  I breastfeed and we Attachment Parent and selectively vaccinate them.  We have read the books and the research and we avoid the "training" and try to parent from the heart and with a steady hand.  Where had we gone wrong?

But had we gone wrong?  After we got home, I remembered a story I read about a mother taking her three-year old into the ladies room at a store.  While in there, the kid made all sorts of funny comments on what his mother was doing.  It was a cute story, but then again it wasn't me in the bathroom with my kid telling everyone in there that I had to wipe 12 times and I still had poop on my butt.

I'm not saying that what Natalie said was cute.  What I do believe is that what she was saying is that she's just a very curious four-year old.  She was simply wondering if the girl (who wasn't really fat, but did have some roundness in her features, aka 'baby fat') was fat because she was bigger than Natalie.  We still need to teach her public appropriateness, but we have to find a balance so as not to squelch her inquisitivity. 

So, does anyone know how to teach a kid how to be curious without being hurtful to others?  I can't recall having this issue with the other four!  I guess all I can do is to try to teach her what is nice to say out loud and what needs to be kept to internal dialogue.  It is a damn good thing I didn't say "Wow, I must be the world's most awesome parent because my kid is behaving perfectly and I don't discpline with force" to those people.  I HAVE said that before, online, and now the virtual crow is just as fowl (pun) as I supposed it would be!    

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Don't Panic

There's so much stuff out there.  It's like a buzzing in my head all the time and I want to swat at it, make it fly away like some bothersome bug on a damp summer's day.  It drones on and on and on and I find myself taken over by it.  What is it?  Why do we bother? 

"IT" is the warning that "X causes Y."  We are bombarded with it;  IT is ubiquitous.  So how do we know what to listen to and what is total whooey? 

I am pondering these things as my youngest child reaches that magical time in her young life when people start demanding that I feed her solid foods.  They will atoll that breastmilk is either deplete of nutrients or just plain weird after six months and insist that they all fed their four-month-olds bacon and eggs for breakfast and they turned out fine.

But did they?  What have we done to ourselves by eating what we eat?  And what has been done to us? 

The worry (and possible hysteria) that drives me is the fact that baby food comes in plastic containers.  I don't know if any of you have watched the news or listened to NPR or caught glimpses of the warnings via yahoo mail, but I am personally concerned about a little molecule commonly referred to as BPA.  Bisphenol-A is a molecule in some plastics that leaches out when said plastic is heated.  Baby foods in plastic containers have microwave instructions printed on the labels, so you can begin to see where I'm going with my panic.

To steal a phrase (from my 14 year old daughter), I'm not the brightest crayon in the box, so I'll give you a link to information on BPA and let you decide which information you'd like to believe.  BPA is controversial, as are most things that our government decides to study and put out recommendations on.  It seems that our government feels that small amounts of BPA as an individual contaminant are "okay" and we really shouldn't worry about something that is so tiny and insignificant.

So why am I worried?

I came online to resolve my panic when I found that at WIC we are going to receive baby foods for our six month old.  Upon checking into their program, I then discovered that the foods they gave were of only one brand and were packaged in plastic containers.  After doing a small amount of looking online, I contacted the manufacturer of the baby food (a VERY popular brand I'll refer to as "G") about the possibility of BPA contamination from the plastic baby food containers.  I received no response.

So I went looking and you know what I found?  A press release, dated November 2008 about how the government had looked into BPA leaching into things like baby foods and their recommendations that a little wouldn't hurt.  Seems that, at least obscurely, brand G wasn't too concerned about the leaching of BPA because the government wasn't concerned.  Oh, they would be making their bottles BPA free to follow current market trends, but they were confident that the food containers they were using were bisphenol free.

If that's the case, why didn't I receive a response from the folks at brand G?  I did get put on their spam mail list.  Guess that's my answer?

After more looking around, I found some articles about BPA-free bottles leaching BPA.  Sure, it's PPB (parts per billion) but how much is too much?  When does the BPA molecule start binding instead of passing through our body?  How many days, months, years of exposure to PPB does it take to start affecting our immune systems or our fertility?

So now I pose to you this question:  What do we worry about?  I'm having a difficult time figuring out whether I should worry (okay, obsess) over the possibility that my children are being exposed to BPA, in minute amounts, in plastics, aluminum cans, and on cash register receipts (?).  We worry about EMF's and over-exposure to violence on television.  I don't let them stand too close to the microwave or drink too much juice.  I do worry about the big stuff, without question, but how much of the parts per billion or trillion do we even know about and which ones are worth our time and energy to be concerned about?

I have decided to take a deep breath and just go with the flow.  Sort of defeatist, I realize, but what else can I do?  I just hope that our bodies can evolve into processing some of the mutitudes of things that are around us that are impossible to worry about or that we stay ignorant about all of the junk and just plug in and plug along. 

Friday, March 5, 2010

Maximizing Our Potential

Bill and I were discussing this Wednesday night.  Several things were on our minds and we started talking about how each individual person could best maximize their potential whether it be at work, at school or just simply at life in general.  We mostly agreed, as we often do, that a great many people do not live up to or work up to their full potentials.  Present company (meaning ME) included.  I know I have so much to offer, but I like to skid by on the path of least resistance, especially lately. 

One of the reasons we were pondering this is that Bill's co-worker's child was born in January with Spina Bifida.  She is in need of surgery and was in the hospital for a while after her birth and then re-admitted when she contracted RSV shortly after coming home.  We are hopeful and prayerful for this little one.  We want her to be healthy and be able to achieve her maximum potential, but are worried that neither will be the case.  Said co-worker (we'll call him A) is, to put it as gently as I can, a lazy bastard who thinks only of gorging himself and playing video games on his Playstation. 

Two days after coming home from the hospital, the sick little one was taken out to a company function in order for her parents to get a free buffet-style meal.  Both parents are morbidly obese and their 3 year old weighs about 65 lbs.  (For comparison, my 4 year old weighs about 33 lbs, a little on the skinny side, but still on the charts.)  A lives on the path of least resistance, only bothering to get off the electric steps when it involves loads of food, especially if it's free.  He and his wife were featured in the Enquirer a while back for being feeders. 

What brought us to this discussion was Amelia's impending first visit with the Early Intervention Specialist.  Amelia has torticollis  and at first we were very concerned at what this would mean for her future.  I had a difficult pregnancy and Amelia came five weeks early.  She stayed in the NICU for 17 days and while there, we were told she has Osteopenia of Prematurity and she initially tested positive for Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia.  She was later cleared of the CAH, but her alkaline phosphatase levels continued to be elevated, assuring a diagnosis of OOP.  When the pediatrician noticed Amelia's head cocked to one side and the fact that she was 3.5 months old and couldn't hold her head up, we were referred to the EI program through the state.  We thought, "Haven't we been through enough?"

But we were lucky, and A's baby was just one example of how lucky we were that Amelia was well and alive.  Amelia will no doubt reach her fullest potential and be able to maximize that potential as infinitely as she wishes.  With caring, attentive parents and a loving and healthy environment, we know our baby will grow and thrive.  Her torticollis is mild and the exercises and play therapy we have been doing with her have already improved her ability to hold up her head straight and for longer and longer periods of time.  Her first EI visit was rather unremarkable because the therapist couldn't really find anything to add to what we were already doing.  We figure Amelia will only need the twice monthly visits for six months or so.

We worry for A's baby.  Her parents seem annoyed by her condition and put-out that they will have to stay at the hospital for 16 hours while she has surgery.  They take her out in public during the height of an RSV outbreak.  A has scheduled an MRI for HIMSELF because he now has torticollis, but he couldn't be bothered to go to his daughter's last MRI.  (Bill told his co-workers about Millie's tort.  Can you say hypochondriac?)  A has even said he feels the surgery for his daughter is "minor."

Will she live up to her full potential?  Will she then be able to maximize that potential or is she doomed to slip- slide along that easiest path? 

Another reason we were discussing maximization of potential was this blog.   I cannot even begin to tell you how inspiring this woman's journey is.  Just read it.  And have some tissues handy.  I want to maximize like this woman has and does.  I want to meander off that path and know that I'll be okay because moms like Kelle are out there tearing down the walls and the brambles and forging a way. 

I want to go scoop up A's baby and run with her.  I want to give her the same potential that my child and Kelle's child have.  I want her to know that someone out here really cares for her and hopes that one day she can look around and be proud that she had to travel the path less taken and she's all the better for it.  I want her to feel unconditionally and uncontrollably loved and cared for.  I want all kids to know what my Millie feels...okay to be who she is, but not quite satisfied with the mundane!!!       

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Park Day!!!!

Finally, the weather is cooperating and we are soaking it up!  Here's a picture fiesta of our day at the park.

Getting ready to go (check out Millie's new longies...Yup, made them myself :)

This kid loves swinging!

Can you say IMP?

Playing in the sand.

This is one beautiful kid!

French fry face (no, I am not one of those moms that makes a picnic)!

Love this face (she was pooping hehehe)!

Natalie building sand mountains.

My precious girl.

Hope you enjoyed the pics!  Now I'm too tired to blog.  Too bad because I had a nice rant worked up and now I can't even remember what I was angry about!