Archive for October, 2007
Those are Jack’s major functions these days: walking and talking. He’s quite good at walking and we are seeing slightly less face plants lately. He has moved on to climbing, although so far he’s kept the scaling focused on the couch, the bed, and his food seat (the kind of “high” chair that doesn’t have legs and belts onto a dining chair). He loves to wear socks and shoes now, and knows what it means when we say “Let’s go!” If we don’t let him out of the door, he throws a tantrum. Walking is fun! Apparently.
Jack seems to say new words every day. This weekend brought socks, good, and kaka (uncle in Gujarati, which is my SIL’s other language). I think I was finally able to decipher what he calls my boobs, which is “nana.” Here is a list of things he can say in addition to those I posted last time:
shoes (it’s so cute, he says “shh shh shoooooes”)
bye bye you (he’s been saying bye for a while but added you a few days ago)
Wicket (“hicket” – our cat)
nana (“nawnaw” – his word for breastmilk)
Drea (daycare provider’s name)
bottle (bah bah)
He can also make the following sounds:
miaow (his favorite, apparently)
Saturday night I found some old Sesame Street clips on youtube. Jack and I enjoyed watching an oldschool “Mahnah Mahnah” song, Ernie singing about his Rubber Duckie, the Ladybug Picnic song, and the Yip Yip martians discovering a telephone (Jack thought this one was pretty hilarious). I totally miss Sesame Street!
When I was looking for local recommendations for childcare, a co-worker recommended that I contact a preschool to get Jack on the waiting list (now I know I’m back in the city!). This would ensure that he could start when he turns 2. Yes, 2 years old! I was blown away. Perhaps I am naive, but does a two year old really need to go to preschool? Neither my husband nor I went to preschool, so we have no experience to draw on in making this decision. I have no idea what constitutes a good preschool, and I worry about pushing the school thing so early. I want Jack to enjoy his childhood, not be bombarded with structured learning as soon as he starts talking in sentences.
I perused the preschool’s website today and it didn’t really answer any of my questions, although I did read that they focus on fostering self-sufficiency by letting the kids assist in preparing their lunches and cleaning up and such. There is lots of play time as well as activities like painting and other crafts. So far this doesn’t sound a whole lot different from daycare, except for the fact that there are more kids per caregiver. What’s the benefit then?
Joe and I may go for a tour to get a better idea of what this early preschool business is all about. Perhaps seeing it in person and speaking with the teachers will give us a sense of whether this path is right for Jack. My memories of a structured daycare when I was young are not fond, so I am wary. I want Jack to have a lot of opportunity to learn and express himself, but I suspect that is better done with smaller groups of kids and a more reasonable child:teacher ratio than 8:1. Most of all, I want to ensure that Jack gets a decent amount of individual attention and affection at this tender age. I don’t want to see him lose his carefree attitude and sense of humor; that would be devastating to me!
1) I’m a newbie to your blog. Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your family?
I am Crystal, age 26, administrative assistant, native Californian, and I enjoy reading, crafts (my latest obsession is quilting), board games, and television. I am married to Joe, a Wisconsin transplant, park ranger extraordinaire, whom I met on the internet. We were married right out of high school and celebrated our eight year annivesary in August. After a surprise pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage in 2005, we decided to make another go at expanding our family and added Jack to the mix in July of 2006.
2) I see that you are into cloth diapering. What have you found to be your favorite diapers so far?
For the first year of Jack’s life, we used chinese prefolds and just loved them. They are the workhorse diaper, they are cheap at about $2 a pop, and they are easy to wash. Because they are cotton, they aren’t as finicky as other diaper types so the washing options are extensive and we never had a problem with wicking or smell. We have since moved to mostly pockets (I can never leave a good thing alone) and have found Fuzzi Bunz to be our favorites. The trim fit is awesome, and we have never had a leak. They are particularly fantastic at night because they keep Jack dry while the inserts do an enormous amount of work to absorb moisture. It amazes me when changing Jack in the morning just how much those suckers can hold without leaking!
3) I’ve noticed that you practice attachment parenting and work outside the home. Do you have any advice for other AP parents looking for childcare providers who will uphold their AP values?
I am still trying to make sense of it all myself, but we had the best results in finding a great daycare when we put together a list of our most important questions and went interviewing as a family. Watching the provider’s interactions with the other kids is key. For instance, we visited one daycare where the kids were eerily quiet. Kids are rowdy by nature, testing limits and just having a good time, so I really wanted a place where I saw that behavior supported.
It was really important to us that we find someone who was willing to wear Jack in a carrier (because we *know* how much he likes to be held), follow his cues regarding food, communicate with us about his day to day activities, and do what it takes to make him content. That last one is big. A person who will run the gamet to find the solution that is right for the child is worth their weight in gold.
Daycare is your child’s second home, and that’s important to keep in mind when interviewing potential caregivers. This person isn’t just watching children all day, they are guiding and nuturing and truly parenting the children. Take the time to find someone who is as close to a second “you” as possible!
4) What little known fact about you might surprise some of your readers?
It might surprise some that I don’t come from a background that in any way reflects the way I live now. There was a time in my life when I did things because that was the way my family did them, and that was the way I always thought they were done. Joe opened my eyes quite a bit, especially regarding the environment, and then I really got more passionate about “green” living when I got pregnant. Health and the environment were not even on the radar for my family and I suspect a lot of our health problems are results of that. Sure, I turned out relatively okay, but I want better for my son. I don’t ever want to choose the cheaper option over the healthier option which is completely opposite of how I grew up.
5) Let’s say you are going to be stranded with your family on a deserted island for 90 days. What 3 things would you take with you and why?
Ugh, my worst nightmare! Well, I’ll assume that my husband’s environmental skills will help us find food and fresh water, so I guess we’ll take some comfort items. I’d take a collection of fairy tales to read to Jack - that would be all we needed to keep him occupied! A camera would be good – gotta document our bad fortune, of course. Perhaps we could also take our Ergo so that we can easily explore the island with Jack, as well. Can you tell I’m not very resourceful? I am so out of my element outdoors!
Now it’s your turn, dear readers. If you want to be interviewed, leave me a comment including the words “Interview me.” I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions. If you don’t have a valid email address on your blog, please provide one. You will update your blog with a post containing your answers to the questions. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.
My sister-in-law, niece, and nephew were visiting this weekend, and then Monday night I got hit with some random illness. It has completely knocked me on my ass – like, I can barely walk! So that is my excuse for the lack of posts. Hopefully I’ll be back in action by the end of the week.
For now, my thanks goes to Wendy for this award:
I am actually NOT going to pass it on, though, because it is too difficult to choose. I read over one hundred blogs and I think the writers are all fabulous!
Marriage is complicated, and kids are a lot of work, so when you are dealing with both concurrently, it’s natural for issues to arise, right? Right. There is an interesting dynamic going on in our household, bordering on dichotomy. I come from parents who divorced early and so my ideas about motherhood are rooted in single motherhood. Hell, my ideas about LIFE are rooted in the idea that I can do anything and everything without help! I am woman, I am independent, etc. Perhaps you can imagine how this creates a predicament in a home where there are two parents who are (mostly) happily married. Pregnancy prepared me somewhat – I had to admit that I couldn’t do everything by myself, or at least that it would be completely unreasonable to operate in that manner. I let down my guard, I opened up, and I let Joe take his share of responsibility. Incidentally, this brought us closer. It was pretty great! We were a team, and this carried us through birth swimmingly.
But when Jack was born, the household dynamic reverted back slightly to the way it was pre-baby. I think partly because in times of stress, I over-organize. Mostly that’s a good thing because it means that the household keeps functioning no matter what craziness ensues. But parenting is stressful, and it has not been an easy transition for a multitude of reasons. So here I am over-organizing and making sure I’m armed with piles of information for any situation, except that in parenthood there is often no instruction, no information, or no time to acquire it. Joe is most certainly NOT an information-collector, and his experience with children is limited. He did not read a single book while I was pregnant, and has not read a single parenting book since Jack has been born. He is the spontaneous, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants kinda guy. I admire that, as it means he is more adaptable than I am, but it also scares me because disorder is so against my nature. And with nearly two years of sleep deprivation under my belt, and the balancing act of being a working mom who breastfeeds, I am off my game with the info-collecting. I am trying, but failing, and no one is picking up my slack. Not only that, but I’m not a great communicator in any manner other than through the written word, and it’s not just books that Joe doesn’t read.
I’m not getting to my point very elegantly (so much for communicating well in writing), but here it is: I tend to make most of the decisions regarding Jack and Joe carries them out because he is home with Jack more than I am. Except when he doesn’t carry them out.
The most simple example has to do with food, which happens to be quite the challenge in our home. Neither of us is very good at feeding ourselves or understanding nutrition. I’ve done my best to learn, and for a while I was doing just fine. That’s what’s so great about breastfeeding – you don’t have to think about amounts; the baby will eat what he needs to eat in most cases, and there is not the worry of overfeeding and obesity as there is with formula and bottle feeding. Jack took quite some time to catch onto solids, and daycare has been helpful in the transition, so we haven’t had to worry too much. But now Jack is really loving the solids and we are unprepared. I at least manage to get Jack to eat. Joe, on the other hand, hasn’t switched his mindset to focus on solids. This presents a problem when Jack refuses milk like he has been doing while at home with Joe over the last week. Monday and Thursday Jack drank about 2 ounces of milk and had maybe 200 calories of other foods. Then I get home, nurse him, feed him some dinner, and nurse him to sleep. Then he proceeds to nurse.all.night because he didn’t fill up during the day. And let’s just say that a cranky, sleep-deprived Ewokmama is not a mama you want to be around; neither is a cranky, sleep-deprived Jack, for that matter.
So the crux of the matter is this: Joe and I have very similar parenting philosophies, which is great, but we haven’t learned how to effectively work together to make sure we are both informed and sharing responsibility for Jack (in many areas other than nutrition) in order to make effective decisions. Because I’m the breastfeeder in the family, I’ve been making the decisions about food for most of Jack’s life. Obviously, that has to change but how, when I’m finding books to be lacking and Joe is doing no research at all? (How does one wing it with nutrition while also attempting to be healthy?) My tendency is to do all the research and call all the shots, but hey! I’m a sleep-deprived mama with SEVERE mommy brain – I simply can’t do it anymore. The information center in my brain is fried.
I’m seeking input. I want to know how other parents out there are doing it! How does your household make decisions? What happens when one person is not great at a particular aspect of parenting (or anything really)? Does that automatically mean the other person has to do that duty all the time, even when it becomes onerous? What happens when you are both failing at something? And how do you keep supporting your partner after a mistake, especially when you would have fired them if they were your employee?
I recently read Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason by Alfie Kohn. The premise behind the book is this (from Publishers Weekly):
“Kohn, the father of young children, sprinkles his text with anecdotes that shore up his well-researched hypothesis that children do best with unconditional love, respect and the opportunity to make their own choices. Kohn questions why parents and parenting literature focus on compliance and quick fixes, and points out that docility and short-term obedience are not what most parents desire of their children in the long run. He insists that “controlling parents” are actually conveying to their kids that they love them conditionally—that is, only when they achieve or behave. Tactics like time-out, bribes and threats, Kohn claims, just worsen matters.”
I have mixed feelings about the book but overall I liked it and found the thoughts and research valuable. The ideas of focusing on consistently showing kids love, and respecting them as individuals with valid thoughts and feelings, fit right in with attachment theory. Prior to reading the book, I had established feelings regarding love and respect. I have always thought that the idea of respecting elders is ridiculous. Age means nothing, does not make a person intelligent or trustworthy or deserving of anything. There is no magic age at which a person gets to stop behaving in a respectful manner toward others, no “badge” for reaching the age of 60 that says, “You did great for the last 6 decades, now you can take a break from being decent!” Not only that, but people who lack age and experience are not undeserving of respect. How is a child supposed to achieve proper relationship building without given a chance to exercise the process?
Additionally, I have found the points made in Kohn’s book to be applicable to marriage and work relationships. On the surface it seems simple – people will not behave in a way that benefits you if you treat them poorly. The difficulty comes in when defining poor treatment - obviously there are a lot of people out there who think that TALKING LOUDER to enforce their point rather than providing information with which to reason is just fine. This book is mainly targeted toward those people (unfortunately, I have doubts that those people are reading this book).
So, why the conflicted feelings? I think part of the problem with anything that suggests behaving in a manner that is different than the societal norm will beg the question, “Sure, I can do this for my kids, but what if the rest of the family and world around him doesn’t? Is it a waste of time to deliver a message that is inconsistent with other messages my child is receiving?” The short answer to that is no, and I feel that anything positive a parent can do at home will provide a buffer against negative things the child experiences out of the home. Parental influence is strong, whether the child’s resultant behavior reflects it or not. That’s the thing with kids – you can do your best to raise them the “right” way and yet their interpretation of the things you teach them may look completely different than you thought it might.
I think it will also be difficult for any person who was not raised unconditionally to employ these methods. Not impossible, but since parenting is so complicated already, many would have difficulty being consistent. Still, it’s better than not trying at all.
Lastly, I have to admit to some doubt surrounding the lack of rewards. I understand the concept that an unconditional parent is attempting to foster intrinsic motivation rather than promising rewards that might be interpreted as a conditional token of affection (i.e. “If you act the way I want you to, I’ll give you what your little heart desires.”). There is a lot of manipulation going on with rewards, and that definitely doesn’t sit well with me. Still, how does a parent do something nice for their child without it being interpreted as a reward for behavior? And how does this fit with a person whose “love language” is gift giving? This is one point that I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around, and I think it will take some more thought on my part.
I don’t think that the methods Alfie Kohn describes are fool-proof but there is a lot of good described in the book. I like the fact that it’s not about changing practice so much as changing intent and encouraging parents to think more about why they are making decisions and providing more information to their children instead of saying, “Because I said so.” There is certainly nothing wrong with love, reason, and respect.
If you’ve read this book or others like it, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
My parents didn’t read to me as a child, nor did I own childrens books. I find this strange because my mom has always been a voracious reader. I inherited her love of books and read a lot once I got to school, but I have very little familiarity with classic childrens books. The first book I got from my mom was a romance novel when I was in sixth grade! Other than that, my only exposure to books came from school or friends. I was always envious of anyone in possession of Dr. Seuss books.
When Jack was born some friends and family members mailed us some childrens books, most of which I had never even heard of. My husband, on the other hand, has frequently claimed to remember reading these books as a kid. In fact, one such book was given to Jack by Joe’s aunt, who also gave the book to Joe when he was small.
Recently we attended a baby shower for a friend and one of the best parts was picking out some of the “must have” items as a gift. This, naturally, included books. It got me to thinking about the favorites in our little library, and the dreaded books as well (I’ll have to write a future post about that). Here’s a list of the goodies for those of you out there interested:
Guess How Much I Love You – this book slowly caught on but it is #1 on our list. It was certified as a favorite when Jack started “reading” along and stretching his arms out to immitate the bunnies in the book. Love it!
The Eye Book or The Shape of Me by Dr. Seuss – these books are pretty much the same, and we like them both. I like the colors personally. I thought I would be more excited about Dr. Seuss books but there are only a few I can stand reading repeatedly.
Inside, Outside, Upside Down – a Bernstein Bears book – Jack loves this one and I’m not exactly sure why (it’s so simple). Maybe because the bear shouts “Mama! Mama!” at the end.
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown - this is one that I had at least heard of prior to having Jack, but my only experience with the story was through the Simpsons (anyone know where I can get the recording of Christopher Walken reading this?). Again, this book is extremely simple and I have no idea why Jack loves it so much, but he does. We have two copies and they are both falling apart already! This was the first book Jack started dragging off the book shelf for us to read.
Hondo & Fabian by Peter McCarty – we don’t actually own this one but read it just about every time we go to our friend Sabrina’s place (she works at a book store and is pretty obsessed with all kinds of books). Jack took to this one right away! I’d like to get Peter McCarty’s whole collection.
Pat the Bunny – this is the book given to Jack by Joe’s aunt, a book that Joe was also gifted with as a child by the same aunt. I had never even heard of this book! It is super cute and interactive, and fun when your kid tries to smell the flowers but isn’t quite sure how to make his nose work. Jack caught on pretty quickly to the inner workings of this book, and it taught him how to say “bye bye.” It’s definitely one of my personal favorites!
I’d love to hear your favorites, as well!
Jack is acting strange – continued lethargy, snorting, refusing to drink his milk or eat much of anything, and just not quite himself. We are going to try to take him back to the doctor on Thursday. Last night he went to bed at 6pm (the night before he fell asleep at 5pm). He has never gone to bed so early! Of course, last night he woke up at 9pm and ate a whole jar of spinach and potatoes, which was surprising (and good since he ate/drank so little during the day). We headed back to bed around 10 and I fell asleep some time during the two or so hours it took him to get back to sleep. It was not a great night. I just don’t know what’s going on with him.
I dropped my car off at the body shop this morning. It’s been a challenge to figure out how to get it there without taking time off work or juggling a baby and carseat on a bus back home. It was surprisingly easy in the end – Joe removed the carseat last night (I was unable to unhook it because he had tightened the LATCH belts so tight – at least we knew it was good and in there!), and I dropped the car off this morning, catching my bus on the corner by the shop. I still need to make arrangements for a rental car, especially because I can’t drive Joe’s stick-shift and we have family coming to town this weekend (which includes our niece and nephew – so we’ll be getting a little creative with the three kids’ seating arrangements).
Joe and I are both feeling somewhat overwhelmed, with Jack’s illness, the car repairs, and the identity theft. It would be nice to get this all taken care of so we can finally settle in here!
I was tagged by Dawn of Alex Year One for a meme. Here is a picture of my computer desktop.
As I have mentioned, my milk supply started dipping (down to 3 ounces during a pumping session) after the move here (1.5 months ago). Not drastic, and still within the realms of normal and acceptable, but low for me. This coincided with Jack’s decision to start sleeping through the night, and no matter what I did I had trouble boosting my supply back up. Well, last week with Jack being so sick and sleeping so poorly, he nursed a lot more than usual and my supply rallied in response. Now he’s back to his normal milk consumption, possibly drinking even less than he was before, and my oversupply is back with a vengeance.
If you haven’t been reading long, you may not know that I have persistently battled oversupply since Jack was born. In the early days it was extremely problematic. Jack had a lot of trouble keeping up with the crazy milk spray, and I often had to nurse uphill and keep a towel handy to catch overflow. I could not wear washable breast pads until around 6 months post partum because I would leak right through them and also through my shirt(s). Even with disposables (Lansinoh is most absorbant, IME) I was changing them every few hours. Jack was constantly getting too much foremilk and this resulted in green, watery poop and a higher diaper count than usual. We had the diaper service delivering 125 diapers a week and we were still running out (for those of you doing the math, that’s 16-20 diapers per day). He nursed more often since he was getting less of the fatty hindmilk that keeps tummies satisfied longer, which exacerbated the problem (what can I say, I have enthusiastic breasts!). From about two months until Jack was about 9 months of age, I used block nursing to control my supply. I started out with nursing on one breast only for two hour blocks, then steadily increased the blocks until I noticed that Jack’s diapers started looking better and my supply started to correct. I ended up with 6 hour blocks and it took months before my supply was manageable.
Working while battling oversupply presents an interesting challenge. Most moms agonize over how much milk they are pumping for their kids, and I wasn’t sad about this aspect of oversupply. I sometimes had to switch out bottles on my pump in the middle of a session because I had filled them in less than 10 minutes! It seems unreal to me now, the fact that I could pump 10-15 ounces in 15 minutes when the average mom pumps 1-3 ounces in 20-30 minutes. The challenge came in timing. I couldn’t go more than 3 hours without pumping because I started getting recurrent plugged ducts, milk blisters, and mastitis (and if you’re wondering why I could go 6 hours between nursing sessions on one side but had to pump more often, it is because the pump is not as efficient as a kid at emptying the breasts). I compromised by shortening my pumping sessions to 10 minutes, and then dropped it down even more to 7 minutes, which yielded 4-6 ounces per session (still way above average, but manageable). I’m doubtful that oversupply ever really goes away.
I continued using these methods until Jack was a year. I was eventually able to shorten the blocks to 3 hours and my pumping time went back to 10 minutes. With all of the extra milk I accumulated, I donated to a local mom and her baby, and still acquired a ton of milk in the freezer. The frozen milk all got tossed when we moved, though, and we’ve had none since.
Until now! I’ve been getting more milk during my pumping sessions, and Jack has been drinking less during the day. I’ve taken the opportunity to start freezing milk again, and have acquired 20 ounces in the last week. On the negative side, I spent a lot of the weekend trying to head off plugged ducts and battling nausea and headaches. I leaked through my bra for the first time in ages and had no breast pads in sight, and Jack needed a diaper change at 2am this morning. With all the craziness of the last week, Joe and I feel like we’re back in the newborn stage. No fair!
It seems to me that oversupply is one of the least understood breastfeeding afflictions. It’s relatively rare, and the corrective actions are trial and error (of course, that is par for the course with many breastfeeding issues). I’ve seen many moms on message boards worrying about low milk supply and it turns out they actually have oversupply. And when most women around you are worried about boosting their milk supply, it seems counterintuitive and just plain stupid to try to lower your supply. There is a persistent fear that you might lower it too much, and then what? (In most cases, it’s easy to increase supply again if you’ve “overcorrected” an oversupply problem.)
It’s important to me that these issues be talked about and shared. Breastfeeding is poorly understood in our society and bad advice is rampant (i.e. switching sides after 10 minutes, which is one way you can end up with oversupply). Hopefully my story will be helpful to someone out there!
Our plan today was to go to a harvest festival at Ardenwood – pick some corn, go on a hayride, drink cider…Jack, our friend Sabrina, and I got there and the line was super long. Jack was not going to sit there in a long line of people when there was plenty of ground to stomp. I wasn’t feeling patient enough for the line, either, to tell you the truth. So instead we walked amongst the pumpkins, patting and hugging them. We climbed a mountain of hay, too. It was a much shorter outing than anticipated, but we’re getting better at ducking out early when Jack has had enough…
More pictures on his shutterfly album.
Jack’s fever broke midday Thursday and he has been steadily recovering. He is incredibly irritable and has a nasty habit of shrieking at any little annoyance, though. He’s still tired but is back to being difficult about going to sleep. Oh, and no rash developed, so it wasn’t roseola!
The babyman has been dragging out an endless parade of books to read during his convalescence. We’ve only been up an hour and we’ve already read Daisy-Head Maizy, The Foot Book, Are You My Mother?, Jack-Jack Attack, Dinner at Joey’s, Little Bus, Touch and Feel Baby Animals, Mr. Brown Can Moo, and the first four books in a Fisher Price Ready Reader series. Joe asked me earlier, “Is it normal for a kid his age to be this interested in books?” I found the question very amusing.
Barring any additional bad luck (on top of everything else we’ve experienced lately, we found out that Joe is a victim of identity theft), we are going to make it to my friend’s reception in Sacramento this evening. First I’ve gotta spend a few hours today stripping diapers.
My good friend Amy is getting married today. She is having her fairytale wedding in Ashland, Oregon, marrying the man of her dreams after 10 years of history and courtship. I have been looking forward to attending the wedding ever since she announced the engagement last year, excited at the prospect of seeing her nymphlike form dolled up in her wedding gown and returning to a magical place that we had visited together in high school during the Shakespearian Festival.
As Friday drew ever closer and Jack’s illness stayed with him, I started to consider the possibility that we would not be able to attend the wedding. I hoped he would start to turn around on Wednesday, and then maybe he’d be ready to start traveling Thursday night. When Wednesday arrived and he was still sluggish and feverish, my spirits sank. I canceled our hotel reservation for Thursday night but kept the Friday night reservation just in case. But then Thursday came and he woke up screaming and still hot and I threw in the towel. We would definitely not make the wedding – traveling 8 hours or so with a sick baby was out of the question.
I had a dream about breaking the news to Amy, and in the dream I cried when I told her that I would not be there to witness her dream coming true. I am thankful for this dream because it allowed me to hold it together when I called her. She took the news in stride, but here I sit with tears in my eyes.
I feel like I’m a failure as a friend, even though I know better than that. Without a doubt, she’ll have a wonderful wedding and I would have been just a bit part in the memory of the day. But still it is difficult for me because not only am I missing my friend’s wedding, a major landmark in her life, but I am also realizing that no matter how I’d like it to be otherwise, parenthood has changed me. It has changed the things I’m able to do and the promises I’m able to keep.
I know I made the right decision for my family; I have no doubt about that. That still doesn’t mean it was easy.