Saturday, July 23, 2011

all things green

happy happy basil

Over the last few weeks [yes I am aware of my uncanny ability to abandon my blog for weeks at a time...] we've been greening up our home with new produce from the garden, farmer's market goods, green cleaners and new projects.

Let's start with the garden.  Charlie and I spent a good two hours out there this afternoon weeding and watering that pathetic little patch.  Although I had planned a luscious, delicious and inviting garden, the whole thing hit a little roadbump called reality...oh well, there's always next year to get a good one in the ground.  Gardening is something I hope my little family remains steadfast in doing for the rest of our lives; as pathetic as my little weed patch may be, those tomatoes and basil leaves and peppers are all things I don't have to buy at the store this summer, and they were grown organically.  One of my biggest goals in parenting is helping Lydia become aware of where her food comes from, and having a productive, exciting garden is one way to accomplish that.

My houseplants are also still alive! I have some herbs growing outside, mint, rosemary and chives, and all kinds of houseplants that I have yet to kill. This is a big deal, since watering and routine plant maintenance wasn't really my thing. But they beautify my house, add oxygen to our air, and generally make the place feel more home-y.

We've been enjoying a regular Thursday morning routine of heading to the farmer's market across the street. This week held a particularly yummy, and large, bounty of fresh produce (and I bought a peach pie). For ten bucks I got this:
green beans, chard, kale, radishes, kohlrabi, beets and lettuce

I've also tackled trying out some green cleaning ideas, and so far so good.  We found out a couple of weeks ago that Lydia tested positive for a high enough concentration of lead to warrant another diagnostic test (venous, ugh) before she turns a year old.  I've been cleaning nonstop ever since, using vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and lots of Mrs. Meyer's products--especially the ones with the basil scent.

Stay tuned for more posts dedicated to a new life-long journey of health for our little family! I have a breastfeeding post that's about half-written that I'll be sharing soon as well. :)
a delicious day at the pool

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

they learn what they live

I'd seen this saying on signs for years, "Children Learn What They Live",  but hadn't really taken the time to think about its meaning until recently.

Lately we've been talking about parenting at our house.  Babies are easy to parent: meet their social, physical, emotional and mental needs and they're good to go.  "Parenting" starts becoming a little more intimidating when topics such as oh I don't know, discipline, school, chores, expectations of children and the other parent, appropriate behavior, feeding and sleep schedules and more come to the surface.  Charlie and I are very much on the same page when it comes to parenting (thank God), but we are VERY lucky in that I feel like we should have had these conversations before we even became pregnant.

I mean, what if Charlie firmly believed in the adage, "Spare the rod, spoil the child."? I couldn't disagree more, you can't possibly make me believe that intentional, deliberate spankings do ANYTHING for disciplinary action except make the parent feel better.  I don't believe that intentionally hitting (except for the occasional swat on the rump to get attention or make a direct point) children is a necessary means of discipline.  Some parents use them constantly, others as a last resort and as something with which to threaten the child in case she or he acts up.  Not in my house.  But that's my opinion, and how other parents discipline their children is none of my business.  Same with bedtime and sleep training.  Charlie and I agreed that a mostly baby-led schedule would work for our family.  Some families would disagree entirely with me, one of which includes our loving and wonderful doula! And I would wager that the La Leche League, one of my go-to resources for all things breastfeeding and parenting, would probably shudder at the fact that we started Lydia on solids fairly early and that my world doesn't revolve around nursing her anymore.

We really did hit the ground running with parenting Lydia.  The first few weeks I was pregnant were spent stewing and fretting over her being alright after two holidays (Christmas and New Year's) worth of alcohol in my system.  And for the following four months after we found out I was teaching kindergarten and finishing coursework for my graduate degree in Alaska.  When I returned home, Charlie and I were busy moving in together and finishing our home--unpacking, painting, reorganizing, installing home appliances, fixing windows, etc.--and he was working on average 12 hours a day.  Until she was born, we didn't have time to talk about the important stuff, not that we knew what the "important stuff" was.  Her growing up always seemed so far away in the first few months.  The "important stuff" back then was breastfeeding, sleeping, and diaper changes.

Now we're out of our league here.  Lydia is an active, big healthy girl with an agenda and the will of a hungry T-Rex...when it comes to getting what she wants, if there's a will, there's a way.  I read parenting blog after parenting blog, reading to see what other granola-liberal-treehugger mamas are doing out there.  I talk to the public health nurse about Lydia's diet.  Charlie and I try to put her in the crib before she's asleep to "let her figure out the whole self-soothing thing" but it always ends up with one of us rocking her back down.  Hey, at least she's not demanding I nurse her to sleep anymore! :)  I talk to other moms constantly, trying to get a read on their methodology for how to properly parent a nine-month old.  The saga is endless.

I have a feeling this will always be the case, even when Lydia's 25.

So.  "Children Learn What They Live."

How does Lydia live?

Well, for starters, she lives in love.  From sun-up to sun down, she is fully aware that there are many, many people in her world that love her without reservation, truly and deeply.  She knows that her mommy and daddy love her with every fiber of their beings.

Next, she lives without fear.  This is a tricky one, because I feel like there's good fear and bad fear.  Or maybe there's good and bad judgment when it comes to potentially dangerous situations.  She knows the people familiar to her, and she is a better judge of people than me.  Lydia knows that Charlie and I won't hurt her, that she can openly trust us without hesitation or worry that we won't deliver on meeting any of her needs.  But the "no fear" thing extends to her needing physical boundaries so that she won't hurt herself by exploring places she shouldn't, or crawling right off the bed, etc.

She lives in a house with a granola-crunchy-liberal-treehugging-babywearing-breastfeeding lactivist-feminist mother, and a truck driving-redneck-gunslinging-manlyman-bullshitting-twohotdogswrappedinbreadslicesisasupper father.  We're going to clash on things, it happens quite frequently.  But do we fight in front of her, or put her in the middle of an argument? Never. Do our fights get ridiculous away from her? Yeah, it's called being in a committed relationship and hashing out differences.  All Lydia sees, though, is healthy banter and that her parents love each other very much. For as many raised eyebrows and grimaces there are, there are twice as many hugs and kisses.  We never make her feel uneasy with our relationship.

She eats real food.  She visited the local farmer's market when she was barely a week old, and she has an incredible grandmother who happens to be a Master Gardener and shares in the rich bounty of garden-fresh produce as often as possible.  We cook and eat as many meals together as we can; Lydia sits in her high chair or plays with pots and pans while food simmers away on the stove.  She's tried everything from catfish to curried lentils.  Charlie hunts and brings home game--venison and pheasant--and we go fishing together too. Bottom line: She'll grow up knowing where her food comes from.  And, with any luck, she'll learn how to cook as well as her mother :P

Lydia is learning balance. She can have a taste of ice cream, but not at every meal.  We try to buy produce and other products organic as much as possible, but she'll learn that sometimes we buy conventional to either save money or because it's just not that necessary.  She is learning that Mommy and Daddy need time for each other and themselves, and that while we love her with all our hearts, our world doesn't revolve around her.  It revolves around keeping our whole family happy.  And she's learning that there are things that we don't compromise on, and things that we do.

All in all, parenting is tough.  But it's the best kind of tough, that tough that keeps you on your toes, keeps you learning, keeps you amazed everyday that you manage to pull off another day raising children.  Children learn what they parents we need to take the best from what we learned growing up, and apply new knowledge to go one step beyond :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Nap time=Speed Cleaning time!

hello sweetness

Usually things work like this at our house: I put Lydia down for a nap, and for that duration clean house like a madwoman--straightening, cleaning, laundry, dishes, bathroom, kitchen, etcetcetc.

But not today.

Not today.

Today is my baby's nine-month birthday.  Nine months ago, at this time, I was probably attempting to get her to latch by myself, counting her eyelashes, marveling over her soft skin and sweetsweet baby smell.  Kissing Charlie as I reclined against him in that hospital bed built for one, so proud of the new life we created together.  Sharing tears of joy with my parents, the nurses, everyone who came to see Lydia the day she was born.

She was entirely too perfect, from those long fingers of hers to the tip of her swollen little nose, bruised from the force of my contractions.  I remember staring into her eyelids, begging her to please, please baby open your eyes.  And then she would, and give a little sigh, and snuggle in closer...she knew she was home!

So today we napped together, snuggled together the way we were the day she was born.  I nursed her down, reclined in our big bed, and I laid there with her in my arms for two hours breathing her in.  What a luxury and beautiful two hours that was.  She smiled and cooed in her sleep, twisted and tried to sleep on her side like she loves to.  Nine months ago she was so petite, so seemingly fragile, squishy and relaxed.  Now she's a fireball even while dreaming.  But today I held her close, and breathed with her, absorbing every little ounce of sweetness she has.  Happy nine-month birthday, Lydia.  We love you so much.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

about time!

Oh my.

It has been...well, too long.

Hopefully, I won't let this much time between posts lapse again. I've been wanting to get online to write, but alas, too much do, not enough think.

A few things of interest, and then down to business:

  • We just got back from a fantastic vacation up north on Portage Lake with Charlie's family. Caught fish, loved on our nephews and watched as the babies had fun playing together, roasted marshmallows, took boat rides, purchased Lydia a life jacket and fun bath know. Good old cabin-up-north type of stuff. 
  • I just recovered from having a Bartholin abscess. Google it, it's too painful to go into any details. I will say this: it isn't something I would wish on anyone except Michelle Bachmann (oops, I always said I wouldn't make this blog political...:P) It was worse than my 2nd degree tear after Lydia was born in terms of mobility and general feelings of well-being. 
  • Charlie and I have been well, albeit busy. Both of us have made significant career moves; he quit Sturdevant's and is now on a welding/finishing crew for Hadley Steel, and I am the new Director of Environmental Education out at Shetek Lutheran Ministries this summer. Schwing! The best part is that I can bring Lydia with me to work. She rides either in our LL Bean backpack or on front in my Snuggli while I'm busy yelling game instructions and teaching kids about macroinvertebrates and the water cycle. She comes home bushed, and loves going to camp to see everyone and breathe the outdoors in. I've been having a neighbor girl watch her in the mornings so I can get a few things done, but it's so nice having her at work with me (what a luxury to be able to nurse whenever and keep track of her out there! 
Lately I've been doing more reading about nursing older (i.e. 8+months) babies, from now until toddlerhood. It's always been my goal to nurse Lydia as much as, and as long as, I can. Whether she leads the weaning part of our nursing relationship or I do, I want it to be on the best of terms...I'm not a cold turkey person! A few of the questions I've had seemed like they were simple enough to answer, but after reading from source after source, I'm almost more confused than when I started researching. So far she seems content and super healthy, so I'm not especially worried that my experimentation with time between nursings and monitoring ounces as best I can will affect her negatively in some way. Rather, I'm being extra vigilant because I don't want her to miss out on one drop of nutritional and emotional benefit from my continued breastfeeding.

The World Health Organization strongly suggests that women breastfeed for over two years. This is more than normal in many nations. The United States has one of the lowest breastfeeding retention rates in the world; by six months old, only 14% of infants in the US are being exclusively breastfed, showing a sharp decrease after the child turns one. With all evidence showing that breastfeeding is ideal for optimal growth in babies physically, mentally, and emotionally for up to a year, this is a staggering statistic to me. The American Academy of Pediatrics also acknowledges the benefits of and encourages extended breastfeeding, and recommends that mothers nurse their babies for more than a year.

"Hot" as it is in terms of being known for controversial means of education, the La Leche League serves as an excellent research and education organization; their book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding has been my saving grace ever since Lydia was born. I've since passed on my copy to another mother, and now give it as a gift along with a boobie care basket at baby showers (provided the mama-to-be has already talked to me about wanting to breastfeed, otherwise that'd be a little presumptuous on my part). One of their many sections is dedicated to educating mothers and breastfeeding supporters alike on the topics of nursing older babies and toddlers. My opinion is that women sustaining a long breastfeeding relationship is ideal; however, the process is wholly unsupported by the general US society today. As soon as babies are born we begin wondering about weaning them. We're forced to start thinking about solids, cereal, gets to be too much, and mothers are left wondering if they're depriving their child of vitamins and minerals because they made the decision to exclusively nurse till their baby's six months old. Research shows that exclusively breastfeeding for six months is the best way to guarantee the maximum amount of benefits for the child. After six months, babies are usually more than ready to start solids, and can begin to learn about food. Lydia never made it six months. At three months she ate gravy (:P) and we started her on solids around 5 months old, maybe a tad younger. She was avidly interested in food by that time.

But nursing has never left my top priorities with her...she still wants to nurse for both comfort and food, something I am more than happy to oblige. Weaning gradually, and with love, will ensure that both of us receive the best from the experience. There are MANY reasons mothers are told they MUST quit nursing (societal pressures, medication use and medical issues, child development myths, returning to work, etc), but we as mothers and concerned lactivists must be ready and willing to support mothers in their rights to breastfeed as long as they and their children desire.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

heinous hiatus


I know I've been on quite the hiatus.

And I apologize!

Between starting my job out at Shetek, having a Bartholin abscess (good times, I'll describe later) and trying to juggle healing and homemaking, my blog took a backseat. Keeee-rist, I haven't even been able to read my favorite blogs for two weeks...I'm falling behind in life! :p
So. Stay tuned, I've got some pretty good material for the days to come. Thanks for being patient!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

dear Lydia

It's been a while, sweetheart. I need to actually start writing you these letters in your @$*##*$(%* baby book, you know, the one I haven't touched for months. Actually, that's not true. I did record your first tooth in there in March.

And now, you have three of the little buggers. And an accompanying crabby disposition, runny nose and god-awful diapers to boot.

Yesterday and today you hit some major milestones. First of all, you have gotten a booty-crawl down pat. You scooted five feet yesterday, ten today. Who knows how far you'll go tomorrow? For some reason crawling isn't where it's at for you. You drag one leg under you instead of bringing it up like the other one. Don't get me wrong, we're not worried one bit. I'm actually a little relieved that I can set you down to play and know that you'll stay within a ten-foot radius for as long as it takes to do whatever little task that required putting you down in the first place. Nowadays I can't get away with setting you aside while I do dishes or laundry, though...there are cupboards full of pots and pans to explore at my feet, and knobs to turn on the washer and dryer.

And you're talking more! You've always been much quieter than I ever, ever expected a daughter of mine (and your father's) to be. Here I thought we would surely have a chatterbox, babbling incessantly. Not so much. You ponder, observe, and study the world seriously and throughly; nothing misses your gaze. You can be brought to a chuckle by being tickled in the right spot (armpits) or by being chased around the house, but for the most part you've been a soulful, silentish little girl. Until recently, that is. Now you've mastered "Huh?!" and repeating noises back and forth with us, usually short "Ah!"'s to get our attention.

You're home with Daddy much more. The two of you are starting to understand each other; Daddy does an incredible job of taking care of you while I'm at work, which makes me happy. I have no doubt that your father loves you with every fiber of his being, but (and I'm being selfish/judgmental/etc. here, bear with me love) I was scared to begin working more because your father simply isn't me. After months of my being there for you day after day, second after second, knowing your language and anticipating your needs, how could you possibly switch over to your father's way of doing things so fast?

Well, you have. I come home at night and you're smiling away, playing with Daddy and loving every minute the two of you have together. It warms and breaks my heart at the same time. Now that we're slowing down with nursing, and losing that special connection that only you and I had (damn it, getting weepy!), I watch you become more independent by the minute and wonder if my little girl isn't going to need me anymore. I guess I'm scared for you to grow up, to shed my protective arms and reach for the world on your own.

Not that you shouldn't. My darling little sweet pea, I want you to embrace the world the way you were born to with your inquisitive, restless spirit and awareness that knows no bounds. I promise that I won't hold you back just for my personal benefit of keeping you my baby for longer than I should.

Easier said than done, I assume.

So Lydia, beautiful daughter of mine, keep hitting those milestones. Reach for the coffee table tops that hold your shaky legs up; I'll always rescue you if you can't see your way down again. Keep trying new things every day...butt scooting, clapping, different foods. We'll be there to guide you and hold your hands every step of the way. Just remind me when I'm interrupting your learning.

With gratitude, baby angel girl,


Sunday, May 22, 2011

cloth wipes and a booty spritzer!

So, we're using mostly cloth wipes!

I haven't invested enough time and money in cloth diapering yet, which is somewhat disappointing.  Once we have enough cash set aside to purchase enough for a steady rotation, I'll get a few more Mud Butts and FuzziBunz. In the meantime, however, I switched us over to cloth wipes, and we've saved maybe $10 so far with it.

The wipes are 5" squares of pretty flannel, serged on the edges by our local seamstress.  The wipe solution that we use with them was super easy and cheap to concoct.  I mixed it in a Mason jar, poured some into a little spritz bottle, and every time Lydia's got a diaper change I spray a little on her tushy and wipe it with a cloth wipe:

1 tbsp sweet almond oil (you can use baby oil, apricot kernel oil, etc.)
3 cups filtered water
2 drops lavender oil
1 tbsp lavender-scented baby soap

I'll post pictures later :) Happy wiping!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

a little bit of magic

On Monday Lydiebug and I found a little magic.

We were on our way home from getting some goods at the health food store (Omega 3-6-9's, fennel tea, sunscreen...) and were juuuuuuust about up to the front door when I hear a little "donk", as in, bird hitting the window kind of "donk." I looked down and there, fluttering around completely out of it, was a tiny yellow warbler.

I set Lydia in the grass and went to pick up the bird. It seemed fine, albeit dazed, but didn't try to escape my hands. So I brought it over to Lydia and set it gently on her foot:

what in the world...?

so sweet
Lydia, be gentle...gentle...there, just pet her nicely....

"thanks for saving me, yo!"

Monday, May 16, 2011

a bit fretful

Last night I Googled. And texted my cousin Becca. And called friends. I was a bit fretful trying to figure out how much breastmilk Lydia should be having on any given day. With the advent of my working more than 30 hours a week now in our lives, my pumping has been in the tank and my supply has dropped substantially. As Lydia has grown I've noticed that what was an extra six ounces at a pumping session had dropped to four, but now we're talking close to maybe an ounce or two depending on when I pump. I remember my breasts feeling hard as rocks if I didn't nurse or pump in the early months, but now they're as soft as they were after going an hour without feeding, just a little firm. I'm not sure if that's normal, that my body is getting used to the extra fluids and is getting better at storing more milk with less pain, or if my insecurities are coming true and it's really my breastfeeding relationship with Lydia beginning the end of its long journey.

I need to call an LC, or at least read more about it. I never thought I'd have to do all of this so
suddenly: worry about having time and a place to pump, carefully store ounces, admonish Charlie to keep track of bottles for me while I am away at's hard, and painful, and I can begin to get a glimmer of light into why mothers who pump would give it up. I know that I'm still doing wonderful things for little Lydia by giving her as much milk as I can at this point, but Charlie reminded me last night that Lydia is an active, bright, beautiful baby, with or without my milk still being her primary nutrition source. I don't know how I feel about that; he mentioned that he wouldn't mind giving Lydia a bottle of formula every now and then, but perhaps I haven't accurately conveyed how much of a failure I'd feel like if I stopped nursing before my goal of at least a year.

Right now I have two active jobs: Prairie View, Inc. and Shetek Lutheran Ministries' Environmental Education co-director. Both add up to about 40 hours a week. The job at PVI is well...a job. A very fulfilling, hard job. PVI is home to severely physically and mentally handicapped people who need caregivers 100% of the day; SLM's EE position is more of a career move, and something I really enjoy doing. I'll be building curriculum and teaching environmental ed to counselors and kids alike for one job, wiping butts at the other. Actually, PVI isn't just that. I love the consumers (residents), and my co-workers so far have been friendly and helpful as I try to navigate the murky waters of being essentially a CNA. The shifts get to be long, and I have limited time to pump, maybe once or twice during a shift, which doesn't help keep up the supply.
Today was a good day, though. I nursed Lydia a lot, and pumped diligently as well. Here was our schedule for the day:

  • Pumped at 2:30am. Got 1.5 oz.
  • Nursed at 5:30am
  • Pumped at 7:30am. Got another 1.5 oz.
  • Fed Lydia at 8:30: 2 Tbsp. mixed grains cereal with applesauce, some banana pieces, a sprinkle of ground flax [hey, what's good for the goose is good for the gosling, right?] and a couple blueberries. I myself had oatmeal with flax, bananas, blueberries and my own secret chai spice blend. :)
  • Nursed at 9:30 (although this didn't last too long)
  • Nursed at 10:45 to get her down for a nap.
  • Nursed at 12:00 lunch
  • Nursed at 2:45 for another nap
  • Pumped at 3:30. Got 1.5 oz.
  • Nursed at 4:00. Lydia also had a snack of some green puffs and yogurt.
  • Nursed at 6:00
  • Nursed at 9:00
  • Pumped at 10:00. Got 1.5 oz.
 Now tomorrow should be similar in the morning and afternoon, but I work 2:45-8:30pm at PVI and won't have nearly the time to pump/nurse like I did today. I use free days to nurse as much as I can to bolster my supply and to get some good time in with Lydia (it's the hardest part of losing nursing time with Lydia, I miss the quiet moments with her).

On Thursday I'll be running to Marshall to purchase another set of pump flanges (the things that go on your boobies) and some Medela pump cleaning wipes to make pumping easier. If anyone's got any tips on how to put my days/pumping together better, I'd love to hear it. Can I bring back a healthier milk supply, or should I resign myself to the fact that Lydia's diet's changing and that it will never be what it once was?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

running them into the ground

These busy, warm days are lending themselves well to running little Lydia into the ground; she's slept so well in the last few days because of the new pace we've set with the beautiful weather and massive to-do lists. When I can lay her down in her crib at night without nursing or rocking and get the tiniest little protest before she conks out, that's saying something!

Yesterday was a fantastic day. 85 degrees before noon and sunny. We spent the better part of the morning gardening and cleaning, went out to Shetek Lutheran Ministries in the afternoon to play and talk about my new job, and walked all over town in the evening with good friends. The night culminated with a drive to Currie for supper with my mom and her boyfriend, and then dessert at his home...Lydia fell asleep two minutes before we got back to our house for the night, and it's an unbelievable feat to be able to put her down for the night without some form of protest. Awesome!

I wonder sometimes about infants and kids these days, about their sleep habits, about their play time...are we running our kids into the ground anymore? Are they coming in for supper and baths completely worn out by playing outside, working hard on their tree forts (okay, maybe not infants doing that) or by having so many new experiences throughout the day that it takes twelve hours of sleep to process them? Ever since the weather's gotten so nice out and we've been able to do more outside and work at gardening and such, Lydia's napped and slept beautifully. I know this is true for other kids we know who are out working and playing alongside their parents and friends all day too.

My mom always regales me with her tales from back in the day about what she and her siblings did for fun, and what was expected of them in terms of work...honestly, sometimes I think we need to get back to that. I'm not sure what we're expecting out of our kids today in terms of the amount of physical exertion dedicated to wholesome work and play, but it can't be enough these days. With child obesity and other health problems at record highs, as a concerned parent I look forward to raising Lydia with a strong work ethic and knowledge of how to ingest and use good energy.

Running her into the ground as a baby may or may not be the most ideal way to go about doing so :) but I tell you what, she looks so peaceful after a good, long day of meeting people, going to the greenhouse, bouncing in her jumpy thing (for the life of me I have no idea what to call that contraption), helping me plant seeds, eating and nursing like a champ, taking good naps, walking all over the place...

Who knows, maybe the seeds I'm planting aren't so much the kinds that grow veggies and flowers. Hopefully I'm planting in Lydia a desire to be aware of her surroundings and a love of working and playing hard. The best smell on this earth is a kid that's had a load of sunshine and smiles in a day...I bury my nose in the crease of Lydia's neck, kiss the top of her head and set her down for the night knowing she's had an awesome day :) 

It doesn't get much better than that.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

so sweet
Happy Mother's Day to all you beautiful, amazing moms. I'd be lost without mine, and I'm ever grateful to be Lydia's.

Friday, May 6, 2011

out of the woods

Or maybe back into them?
It's been one heck of a week. Lydia and I are sick, Charlie's been working entirely too much, I picked up two new jobs to equal 40 hours a week, and Lydia's still teething to boot. Things have been crazy around here, and it hasn't been that healing of an atmosphere. Just tired, moody and blah.

With being so stuffy I haven't wanted to eat at all; consequently I've lost three pounds and my milk production is in the red. And with starting these new jobs, one of which has been my dream job since I was in second grade YEEEEEEEEEEEE!, I'll have to really boost production for pumping to make sure my milk is still Lydia's primary nutrition source. Or pumping for production. Either way, start buying stock in Medela now, because I'm about to invest some serious time in their product line.

Our plot!

We've been incredibly lucky in that I've been able to stay home with Lydia this long. Seven and a half glorious, albeit short, months together, nursing away the days and keeping up the homefront. But now it's becoming apparent that there need to be more of a balance in earning, Charlie needs time at home to rest and spend time with his beautiful daughter, and I need to be out working and spending time out of the house doing what I love...playing outside with kids all day and calling it work. I'm stressed about starting all of this at once, but I'm sure it'll all work out. It always does.

From a greenie perspective, most of my seeds have arrived! Our community garden plots are getting tilled this weekend, and pretty soon the weather will be nice enough to load Lydia in the stroller with all the little seedlings and head out there to plant and play. Right now I have basil, lavender, thyme and a bunch of other culinary herbs started; on order are flowers (calendula and bergamot) and heirloom tomatoes.

Isis Candies...yummi!
 After poring over descriptions and drooling all over the keyboard, I finally settled on the Black Prince, Heart of Compassion, Amber, Marianna's Peace, and Isis Candy Cherry varieties of heirlooms. They look so delicious! Our plot is huge, but I plan on utilizing the space by planting the plants pretty far apart and leaving room to weed and water as needed; for just the three of us, we don't need too much or we'll get overwhelmed.
Marianna's Peace

Speaking of kids being outside, we've taken Lydia outside quite a bit. I've let her sit on a blanket or bounce in her jumpy thingy while I plant all our yummies to put in our community garden spot. We go for lots of walks when we have sunshine, and sometimes even when there's not. Being outside with her is such a great way to while away the time we have together, and Charlie and I both want to instill in Lydia a sense of stewardship and an environmental ethic as she grows older. As Lydia ages the world population is going to grow exponentially, very soon reaching almost 9 billion people. We struggle with being global citizens, our rights and responsibilities...with an ever-growing population it would seem globally irresponsible to add to our family, yet as citizens with free will and our accorded rights, we by all means have the right to do as we please. But is it "right"? Who knows. All we can do is teach Lydia and her subsequent siblings the importance of doing right by our planet. Our human impact is already too noticeable; I harbor concern over what our lives will be like in the years to come. Part of me doesn't want to dwell on things like that and ignore the associated thoughts, but as an environmental scientist and concerned global stakeholder (as all parents are) I'm always thinking about it. Anyway. Time to go outside with's a beautiful sunny spring day :)

Ready  to get to work :)

Friday, April 29, 2011

short and sweet

I am currently nursing the sweetest, sickest little spider monkey.

She's almost got two new teeth in, canines this time. First ones were the bottom incisors, now fangs. I tell her that we should have named her Bella.

Teething wasn't so bad the first time around, but these new ones must hurt her more. She's also got her second-ever cold; I brought her in on Wednesday because I was worried it was RSV, but no dice. We've been dealing with fevers, fountains of drool, spit-up/vomiting, viral rashes, stuffy/runny nose, hacking thick two teeth coming in, so associated pain and symptoms with those.


There, I feel better. I wish there was more we could do for Lydia. Poor thing. She smiles through the sneezes, though, and has enjoyed getting out for walks in the sunshine with the weather being nicer this last week. Charlie and I are hanging by threads, but she's mostly happy (when she's not crabby and tired). Last night I got a cumulative two hours of sleep, the night before was four. No naps during the day, I have stuff to do!

And oh my lord, she wiggles. wigglewigglewiggle. She doesn't have an off switch. Breastfeeding has become WWE at our house, with kicking, flailing, perfectly-landed right hooks...she is always moving. Her energy never ceases to amaze me, one of the reasons summer can't get here fast enough. I laid claim to our community garden plot last night, a 5'x30' strip of soil out by the pool, along with many others. Pretty sure I'm wicked excited to load up the wagon with Lydia and garden stuff for an afternoon of tending veggies and flowers.

Oh, I'm sleepy and I need to stop writing. Tonight she went down without a hitch, and Ima gonna go change our sheets and crawl into bed myself. I hate seeing my baby so sick :( but this too shall pass. Any ideas to make this tough time any easier for all of us?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

the ins and outs of organic

Buying organic can be tough these days, I'll admit. There are days where I look at my grocery receipt and try to come up with ways I would have rather spent the $15-20 I'd have had I not bought organic. On average I'd say we spend $30 more on organic than conventionally raised produce per month, but we also know what products are most important to buy organic and ones we can let slide.

There are many reasons to buy organic foods. The USDA Organic label tells you that fruits and veggies weren't raised using manmade chemical pesticides, fossil fuel- or sewage-based fertilizers or genetically modified seeds. On meat, the label indicates that the feeds provided met those same standards, and that the animals weren't administered hormones and antibiotics. Bottom line: "Organic" is more sustainable and healthier -- for the environment and farm workers, certainly, and often for you and your family. How is organic healthier? It's healthier because some studies suggest that organic produce has more nutrients than its conventional counterparts, probably because the soil is left in better condition after repeated plantings, and healthier because you avoid ingesting any harmful pesticide residues left on conventional produce.

I'm sure you've heard of the "dirty dozen" and the "clean fifteen." Both adjectives, clean and dirty, refer to the amount of pesticide residues on the fruits and vegetables we buy. Not all of us can afford to buy organic 100% of the time, but we can focus on avoiding foods with the heaviest amounts of pesticides, additives, and hormones. People tend to think of organics as mostly associated with produce, when in reality we can choose organic name it, it's been made or produced organically--meats, eggs, seafood, processed foods such as frozen meals and tator tots. 

Here's a list of foods you really should try to buy organic if possible (
there's more than a dozen on the dirty list, apparently it got revised!):
1. Meat. Organic meats should be purchased because of many reasons. Pesticides show up in beef and pork fat. Animals are fed cheaply processed foods laced with additives, antibiotics, and hormones for faster growth. To meet USDA organic standards, the animal must have been fed organic feed, and have not received any hormones or antibiotics.

2. Milk. Pesticides are showing up in milk too. Organic dairies can't let their cows eat non-organic grains, nor can they treat cows with rGBH or rbST.

3. Coffee. Many countries don't regulate the amount/type of chemicals they use to ensure a successful crop in a steadily inflating market.

4. Celery. It doesn't have a skin or peel to protect it from the chemicals used to keep it beautiful for stores.

5. Peaches. They're treated with pesticides and insecticides multiple times before harvest.

6. Strawberries. If purchased out of season, they may come from a country with less regulation than the United States.

7. Apples. They're typically grown with the help of toxins to prevent fungus and disease in the trees. The chemicals are hard to wash off of an apple's skin.

8. Blueberries, the dirtiest berry on the market. 59 pesticides have been documented on them.

9. Nectarines. 33 different chemicals have been found on their skins.

10. Bell peppers. They're usually sprayed multiple times with insecticides to protect their thin skins.

11. Spinach. It can be laced with over 30 different chemicals by the time it reaches the store.

12. Kale. Like spinach, it can have over 30 different chemicals on it.

13. Cherries. Apparently the US-grown cherries may have over 3x the amount of "cides" on their skins than imported. Check the label to see where they were grown, and wash them well!

14. Potatoes. They can be treated by up to 37 different pesticides before reaching the market.

15. Grapes (this includes wine, dammit!). Imported grapes are at the highest risk of being treated by pesticides at varied stages of growth. The residues sink into the grapes' thin skins and can't be washed out in any way. Wine should also be purchased organically, or, at the very least, domestically. Support the USA in your evening glass of red!

16. Leafy greens (salad greens, bagged or not). They can be contaminated by some of the more potent pesticides used on foods because of their vulnerabilities to so many pests.

Now for the good news. There are foods you can buy without having to worry too much about what's on their skins or in the product itself:
1. Onions aren't very threatened by pests.

2. Avocados have thick skins that protect the fruit inside from pesticides.

3. Sweet corn. Buy organic if you're worried about the types of fertilizers used to grow it, but don't worry about insecticides or pesticides on the kernels.

4. Pineapples also have thick, inedible skins that protect the fruit.

5. Mangoes are protected by a thick skin, but you'll still want to wash them first.

6. Asparagus, like onions, isn't too high on the insect delicacy list. Eat away!

7. Sweet peas are the vegetable least likely to have "cide" residue on them. Sweet!

8. Kiwi peels provide protection; wash them first, though!

9. Cabbage doesn't require lots of spraying to grow, so there isn't too much residue on the leaves.

10. Eggplants are among the least likely to be contaminated.

11. Papaya, like mangoes, have thick skins; wash first.

12. Watermelon. Thick rind. Enough said.

13. Broccoli doesn't have too many pest threats, so it's sprayed less.

14. Sweet potatoes. Yay!

So there you have it. The ins and outs of organic. The USDA website has a ton of info about organics; get on Google and check out other websites too!

Monday, April 25, 2011

new discoveries

Okay, so this isn't so much a green post (that's coming tomorrow morning) but rather a little picture post. I just figured out, in the last three minutes, how to connect my phone to my Macbook via Bluetooth in order to send over all my phone photos. I take more pictures with my cell than my regular POS, oh sorry PAS-point and shoot, because my cell's always at the ready and sometimes it takes better pictures. I downloaded all of them (over 200) in less than 30 seconds, testament to the technological advances in communications I never knew possible until tonight. I had turned on my Bluetooth to print some pictures over at the drugstore's photo kiosk, and my computer automatically connected to it when it read that my Bluetooth was still powered on. So cool.

All of the pictures were beautiful to me and fun to scroll through, but a few caught my eye. I don't do just photo blogs much...some blogs just do photo essays and family catch-ups and aren't so writing-oriented, and I love looking through their incredible pictures...but these little gems made me want to do a photo post :) so without further baby.
Grandma Nature and Lydia in deep conversation at Easter
5 months, helping in the kitchen

5 months, out like a light

:) bathtime

learning to crawl with Daddy

mmm blanket spaghetti

dancing with Daddy

bouncing in the sunshine

hoppy Easter, little bunny!

helping Mommy get dressed for Easter
Lydie and her buddy Collin

opening her Easter basket

going on a little walk before church

Gramma Gaylene's carrots and parsnips were the best!
cheesing for the camera

just born.  2nd night together

blahhhh. 2 months

:) 2 months

first ever smile...she did it for Grandma Paula!

sweet little grins :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

today is Earth Day!

In honor of Earth Day, I'll be doing a few Think Green posts, ranging from recycling-reusing-upcycling-reducing to green cleaning and green baby products.

I try to stick to being more than green here at our home. We eat lots of as local and organic food as we can get, and I yell at Charlie every time he spins out his tires :P The cool thing about starting to become more environmentally friendly is that there are tons of easy ways to incorporate green living into your everyday routine. Taking baby steps into green living is key to's easy to get overwhelmed with all the options regarding products, food, construction, home appliances/decor, clothing and more. I'll see if I can't break down at least a few of these options over the next few posts. We certainly could be doing more to be greener around here, but I'll highlight some options that really work for us and are easy to manage if you're thinking about being more environmentally conscious.

Way back in the day, when I was maybe a sophomore at SMSU (glory days!), I had a habit of making tea in my Nalgene water bottles. I'd sip on hot tea all through my classes, stopping at either Java City or the little convenience site in the middle of campus to add hot water to whatever tea I was drinking. One day my friend Kayleigh caught me as I was heading off with a full bottle of tea goodness, and she called me out on it, saying that the hot water would leach toxins from the #7 plastic into my tea. I was incredulous and interested, and went straight to the library to do some research.

She wasn't far off the mark, and from then on I went with a glass-lined travel mug or stainless steel. Actually, there are many, many ways that plastics give our bodies a hard time these days, depending on the plastic number and how you choose to use them. In light of what I have found in reading about plastics I've done a good job at getting rid of them in our house. Some things you really can't avoid, but the daily use plastics (tupperwares, Glad containers, most of Lydia's plastic toys, plastic bags) have gone away.

Across the board, plastics are energy-intensive to manufacture. Making them uses non-renewable resources such as petroleum, and CO2 (carbon dioxide) is emitted during processing. Interestingly enough, they are also difficult to recycle, even though plastics make up a major portion of total items recycled in the United States. Usually they're down-cycled into a less useful type. And if they're not recycled at all, they're sent to the landfills, oceans or incinerators where they can leach chemicals as well.

If you look closely at either the plastic product itself, or its packaging, it will have a number that tells you the type of plastic it is. Each type of plastic is made of mostly the same ingredients, namely petroleum and surfactants, but the ways in which plastics are processed differ depending on their designated use. The surfactants and chemicals used to produce plastics are toxic to human and animal health, but they vary in degree of severity according to the different numbers. I found a really useful break-down of the types of plastics and their associated concerns in a Natural Home magazine not too long ago:

#1: PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) Also known as polyester. Typical uses include water/pop bottles, salad containers. They're intended for one-time use. The plastic can break down and host bacteria, and they have the potential to interfere with reproductive hormones.

#2: HDPE (high-density polyethylene) Think milk and laundry soap jugs, shampoo bottles, and cereal box liners. These have a low risk of leaching.

#3: (
danger danger danger!) PVC (polyvinyl chloride) These guys are bad news, and unfortunately the most used. Plastic wrap, cooking oil bottles, toys, plumbing, insulation, window/door frames. Known as the toxic plastic; can cause endocrine disruption, reduced sperm count, testicular atrophy and liver cancer.

#4: LDPE: (low-density polyethylene) Not known to leach chemicals. Think plastic wrap (you'll have to look on the box to see which type, 3 or 4, it is), plastic bags, sandwich baggies.

#5: PP: (Polypropylene) Yogurt/butter tubs, microwavable meal trays, carpet fiber, vehicle upholstery. Hazardous during manufacture but not known to release chemicals.

#6: PS (polystyrene) Typical uses include styrofoam cups, clamshell containers, foam meat trays, plastic cutlery. Eye, nose and throat irritants, stored in body fat, can cause cancer in production workers, harmful to marine life.

#7: PC (polycarbonate), PLA (polylactide) or other plastics not mentioned above. Baby bottles, some reusable water bottles (yes, Nalgenes!) and stain-resistant food containers (Glad/Tupperware). The problem with #7's is mostly due to BPA, which has been greatly limited in plastic products these days. BPA causes (
not CAN cause, but CAUSES, wow!) endocrine and reproductive system disruption, impaired neurological functioning, cancer, cardiovascular system damage, obesity, early puberty and chemotherapy resistance.

I'd hate to know how much BPA I have stored in my system. I drank a LOT of tea in college and only recently Nalgene pulled all of its wide-mouth containers and started replacing their Nalgene water bottles with BPA-free plastics. But I feel better when I can remove plastics around here, even though they are doggedly pervasive and hard to get out of the house completely. In closing, here's a few easy ways to avoid using plastic:

1. Buy and store food in glass containers.

2. Try not to buy items in plastic packaging, and always use your reusable market bags.

3. Avoid PC drinking bottles with BPA. BPA-free is always mentioned on the packaging label.

4. Most canned food liners contain BPA. Support companies that go BPA free in their canned goods.

5. Don't give plastic teethers or toys to infants or young children (easier said than done, I know).

6. Avoid storing fatty foods such as meat and cheese in plastic.

7. Never heat food in plastic containers. The "safe to microwave" just means it won't fall apart, not that it's safe for human health.

8. If you do use plastic containers, don't put them in the dishwasher. Handwash them gently with nonabrasive soap.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Why I'm deleting my Facebook

Because I'm nauseous about the sheer idea that FB won't be a part of my life anymore.
Because I've spent way too much time on it since Lydia's arrival.
Because I've spent way too much time on it, period.

The mere thought that I'm deleting my FB page (or at least deactivating my account) raises a lump in my throat, a swelling in my chest, bubbles in my stomach. I dread it. I dread not being able to check it, read the news feed and comment on all the pictures I see and make snarky comments on links I like. I'm scared to lose friends by doing so (as if I didn't know how to keep in contact with loved ones BEFORE FACEBOOK). I'm freaked that I won't hear about major milestones, new loves, marriages, babies...all things I love reading about online.

I joined Facebook when it first came out. I remember watching my friend count rise with each new add, grinning when I topped 100, then 200, until I hit 1000 friends. Some were really, really amazing friends, some were new acquaintances, some were people that added me (or I added them) just because they looked cool or I'd seen them in school. Some were people from long ago. I used Facebook to check homework stats with fellow students, get some gossip, and as a self-esteem boost. I'm not afraid to say that at one point in my life I used my friend count like a self-worth meter.

And it's served its purposes well. I have to hand it to the creator of Facebook on that rampart. Aside from the constant barrage of new changes to the layout and endless applications in which I have no interest in participating, I have been happy with Facebook.

Addicted even, you might say.

So that's why I'm deleting it. I think that in doing so I'll create a more fulfilling life for myself and others by communicating via a medium that isn't so...easy, I guess. It's so easy to just creep on someone's profile and "like" a picture, or comment on a status update. But is that intentional, deliberate communication? Am I fulfilled by staying in touch through status updates? For me, I need something more. I love letter-writing, and I could have written millions of them with the time I've spent on Facebook. I love getting in the car and going to see friends; with the energy I've spent on Facebook, I could have driven around the world. My email works just fine, and yet the only emails I get these days are from Baby Center, the Sioux Falls Zoo, REI and a few other spams that hit my inbox.

I will miss it, probably even shed a few tears over it. It's hard to let go of something I've cherished for almost a decade (YIKES). I'll miss the constant interactions, the photos of loved ones at my finger-tips, and the ease of communicating online as we do on Facebook. Please, please, drop me a message with your phone number, your email, your snail mail address...any way that you want to keep in touch. I text and call, and have excellent penmanship when it comes to written notes. My emails are usually laden with emoticons :) but if you can get past that, I'll email you too.

And hey, I pay $75/month for my @*$@#$^$@) Verizon phone bill. The least I want out of this is to get my money's worth for the thing. :) :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

cleaning and nurturing

Now, I'm not much of a clean freak. We leave clothes on the floor, there's dust an inch thick on the top of our headboard, and for the love of God, don't look under my couches. However, with the advent of beautiful weather (until recently, anyway), I have gotten the most convincing wild hair up my butt to do some spring cleaning.

staying clean

Some moms I talk to have a system of doing the most cleaning they can, as fast as they can, leaving no holds barred as they scour their house spotless in a day. Yeah, that's certainly not me. I read articles in Good Housekeeping and Real Simple about both maintaining and quick-deep-cleaning one's house and get slightly jealous that people are actually able to pull it off. Take Real Simple's guide to a ten-minute cleaning of the bathroom (all numbers are the minutes from 1 to 10):

0-1: Take all materials off surfaces; spray all of them down with a green all-purpose cleaner (we LOVE Mrs. Meyer's basil-scented cleaner)
1-5: Put toilet cleaner in the toilet, let it soak; wipe down all surfaces and replace materials
5-6: Scrub out the toilet
6-7: Take out trash
7-8: Pull everything on the floor in the bathroom out; spot mop
8-10: Clean mirrors and replace the stuff you pulled out to mop.

What they fail to mention is obviously the interruptions you'll have while doing all of this:
0-1: Put baby in her bouncer and put some organic sweet-potato puffs in the little food tray
1-2: Take most materials off surfaces. Soothe crying baby because she inhaled all her puffs in 30 seconds and wants more. Distract her with her shiny toy.
2-5: Finish spraying surfaces and put the toilet cleaner in. Pick up baby that just threw up all her puffs, change her clothes, and put her back in the bouncy seat.
5-6: Somehow, by the grace of God, you manage to wipe down all surfaces.
6-9: Retrieve the shiny toy that got flung across the bathroom and rinse it off; do this 16 times as your little one brilliantly discovers the concept of cause and effect relationships. "I throw, Mommy gets it."
9-10: Scrub the toilet. Make funny noises for the baby while doing so.
10-11: Take the trash bag out of the can and rinse out the can. Let the baby look in the empty trash can.
11-16: Take trash and baby outside to put the bag in the dumpster. Stand outside with baby to watch the birds in the tree for a few minutes. Bring content baby inside.
16-19: Console formerly-content baby after you tried putting her back in the bouncy chair that she's now obviously bored with. Put her on the floor with toys instead.
19-22: Pull everything out of the bathroom to mop.
22-60: Nurse baby because you've taken way too long to clean the bathroom and she's gotten hungry in the last 20 minutes from all her bouncing.
60-61: Give up on mopping and make your husband drag everything back into the bathroom; you can spot-swiffer the floor later.


Charlie and I started Weight Watchers together in the last couple of weeks. I've been doing awesome with it, while Charlie uses the food points to see how far he can blow his limit out of the water. Men. Anyway, it's been cool, I've lost 5 pounds in the last two weeks, which is a good pace for both making sure I'm getting enough nursing calories and keeping the weight crash diets here! I've also eliminated most caffeine and alcohol, and I'm trying to get the added sugar out of my diet too. Just need to eat some whole foods, quinoa, bulgur, rice, lots of veggies, fruit, yogurt, etc. to get our systems spring cleaned too. It feels good to eat good food.
gotta keep those pretty blues healthy

I've been doing a lot of what I've thought of it as 'conscious nourishment' in all realms of life lately, physical, emotional and spiritual. I won't leave my family's health by the wayside, that won't get us anywhere. I wish the three of us could get more family time, which of course would make the nourishment thing a little more possible, but I 'll take what I can get, a few Sundays and evenings here and there. Lydia's so big and strong, pulling herself up while we hold her hands and all over our furniture; it feels so good to know that we are helping her with love, nursing, nutritious food, family time and boundaries. And in taking care of each other and our home together, we can really get down to the heart of the matter...which is of course our number one priority, our family. We won't have any other chances to lay on the rug playing airplane with Lydia, or lingering over way too many pancakes before heading out to the park for a walk or taking out the recycling. With Charlie and I working as much as we can, the time we have as a family is precious :) I know that many other families out there can relate.