Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Nom Stage

The experts may call it teething, but I prefer to call it the nom stage. Jack is right in the thick of that stage of development where everything that he can grab goes into his mouth.  He'll mash his little gums onto things with such great glee and gusto, sometimes making these little "mmm" noises like a hungry man at a tasty buffet.

I present to you a photo of Jack, gums deep in the nom stage:

The nom stage has made me acutely aware of a few things:

1. I tend to drop things. A lot. Small, grabable and nommable things like coins and pens. After a shirt pocket vomited coins into Jack's bed, I realized that I really need to watch that.  Coins are definitely nomable and just the right size to cause a scary problem.

2. There are lots of things around my house that are small and grabable to a nonmobile baby. Once I have a mobile baby, the house is going to have to go on lockdown.

I guess the nom stage is great training for babyproofing.  God knows I'll need that.  As some friends have pointed out, our house sort of resembles the House on the Rock when it comes to decor, so there is an awful lot for little hands (and mouths) to get in trouble with.  Maybe I'll just need to invest in tarps to cover absolutely everything for the next eighteen months or so.

A side effect of the nom stage is the fact that Jack's fingers are now always wet.  That means I get lots of wet hugs, wet grabs, little wet handprints on my clothing.  That also means that I have to be near fanatical about keeping his hands clean, as for some reason whenever strangers feel compelled to touch my baby, they want to shake his hand, or even worse: kiss his hands.  (Why is that?  Anyone?)  While I don't exactly douse him with Lysol after every stranger handshake, I do keep wipes handy for that purpose because without fail those little fingers go right into his mouth any chance he gets.

Nom nom nom.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Hey, Gelato! Get over here!

I love bad baby names. Love them. So I got a real treat today at the courthouse when a woman was yelling for her sweet daughter Gelato.

You know, Gelato:

How awesome is that? Her mom could have named her "Vanilla" or maybe "Moose Tracks" but those are so pedestrian.  She wanted something with a foreign flair to it:  Gelato. It sort of grows on you. Gelato.

A number of countries actually have laws in place that restrict what a parent can name their children. Some do so to preserve nobility naming traditions, while other laws are aimed at saving children from their parents' jackassery. Mental Floss has a great summary of the naming laws of eight countries. You can read the whole article here, or if you just want to skip to some of the best names, I present you with the following rejects:

Yeah Detroit
and Sex Fruit

They make Gelato seem almost Jenniferish, don't they?

Good night, sweet Gelato. Catch up with me when you're seventeen and I'll help you file the petition for a name change.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cloth Diaper Sale Time Again

Yeah, I'm a cloth diaper pusher. Just one little hit, it won't hurt. You'll like it, you'll have a good time. All the cool babies are wearing cloth.

Kelly's Closet sent out some sale coupon codes today, including one for a free diaper. They don't ask me to post these and I'm not getting a kickback or anything fun like that (don't I wish?). I've ordered from Kelly's Closet before and I have had nothing but great experiences. The coupons just make it that much better. Enjoy!

*Take 10% off all Rumparooz AND FREE shipping. Use code RUMPAROOZTEN

*Free one-size cloth diaper with a $25 purchase. Use code PGNBMAY Exp. 7/1/2010
(we choose one size diaper brand & style)

*Free one-size cloth diaper with $25 purchase. Use code OSMOTPROMO Exp.7/15/2010 (we choose one size diaper brand & style)

*Buy 5 bumGenius 3.0 one size diapers, get 1 free. NO coupon necessary.

*FREE pair of bumGenius babylegs with a $35 or more purchase. Use code BGLEGS at check-out. (Can expire anytime; while supplies last.)

*Take $3 off a purchase of $20 or more. Use code 3OFF20 (Excludes some brands like bumGenius,Flip,Econobum.) Exp.7/1/2010 (You can order these brands however the discount will not be taken off until you spend $20 of other brands.)

Rules for coupons:
Sorry, NO previous or pending orders discounted. No exceptions. Limit 1 code per order.


Friday, June 25, 2010

I'm not the average mom. Deal with it.

Oooh, that's a bitchy sounding title, isn't it?  I can tell, this is going to be a good post, filled with righteous opinions, some of them unpopular, and a touch of indignation.  That's how I like to start my day.  So without further ado,

My son wears a necklace.  Deal with it.

To recycle an image from this week's Wordless Wednesday:

I can't believe the (I'm-a gonna say it) shit that I take over this necklace.  That's an amber teething necklace. Baltic amber has been used for centuries to ease pain in adults and children.  Children can't pop a couple of aspirin when their little gums ache (and with all of the recalls, we wouldn't want them to anyway), so if something little like an amber necklace can give him some relief, yes sir he's going to have one.
Plus, admit it: that's darn cute.

We cloth diaper.  Deal with it.

There's no denying that cloth is cute and that's enough reason to put our babies in cloth.  The economic and environmental benefits are just gravy.  No, it isn't gross or unsanitary, nor is it hard work.  Our clean diapers smell like 'Nilla Wafers instead of perfumed plastic, and my baby's backside is rash-free.  I'm not asking you to do our laundry, and it's the right choice for us.

Sometimes, we cosleep.  Deal with it.
Ooh, this is a hot button here, where the City of Milwaukee Health Department has waging a war against cosleeping for months.  I know the dangers of cosleeping, and I know there are ways to do it safely. We use the Snuggle Nest cosleeper.  I think Jack is a much more content baby because of it.  He has slept through the night since about 8 weeks old, and he has no problem sleeping in his Snuggle Nest, or his Pack n Play, or in his room, or in our arms. 

Yes, I work full time.  Yes, my husband stays home with the baby.  Deal with it.
This one is tough, particularly for my husband.  He gets the "oh realllllly" eyebrow from the older set who believes that dad needs to be the breadwinner and mom needs to be the bread baker.  This arrangement works best for us.  I spent seven years going to college and then to law school, and I have a career that I enjoy.  My husband is skilled in a trade that he can do from home.  This arrangement works for us and my son gets the benefits of a financially stable household with a hands-on parent as the primary caregiver.  This works for us.

My son is my world and I want to bring him everywhere.  Deal with it.
I am one of "those" parents: I believe that there are very few places that I go that I wouldn't want to bring my son.  I spend entirely too many hours away from him every week, so leaving him with a babysitter so I can do something like to go the museum is just out of the question.  Yes, I realize he isn't getting much out of his museum tour (as a very "helpful" museum employee pointed out last time we were there) but he likes being around people and he likes the change of scenery.  I get that he won't understand the importance of this amazing Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, but he is seeing all kinds of new people, bright colors and lights - this is fun for him.  If he had started to fuss, I'd have taken him somewhere quiet - I won't let him disturb others for my own convenience.  But if he can quietly take in an experience in a location that won't be harmful to him, I see no reason for him NOT to accompany me to a nice restaurant, to a gallery, to the art crawl, or any other event just because it isn't geared towards children.
And I realize that this will change when he gets older and develops his own interests, but for now, he is happy to spend time with his momma no matter where we are, and I'm going to make that happen every chance I can.

Wow, that all looks so...bitchy.  I'm actually awfully nice, but I guess sometimes, it all has to come out somewhere.  I guess that's why moms blog.  Happy Friday, everyone!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Prunes are the new black.

Thanks to a faulty HVAC system in our neglected building, work has suspended the dress code and declared casual week while we enjoy our midwest heat wave.  After a happy jaunt to the mall last night I am rockin' a new pair of pants that just exude casual.  A pair of cute sandals and a great pedicure and I'm feeling pretty saucy today.

Except for that spot on my brand new pants.  Prunes.  I'm wearing prunes.

I fed Jack a puree of prunes this morning, and he made such a mess of himself that I had to bathe him before I went to work.  It didn't even occur to me that he may have shared the love.

I can work with this, though.  It's no big deal.  You haven't heard?  Prunes are the new black this season, and I look good wearing them.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Breastfeeding is hard. We need to know that.

When I think back to my breastfeeding intentions, I think about all of the good advice I received: moms gushed about how beautiful the bond between mom and breastfed baby grew.  They told me that breast is best, and I was inundated with facts about antibodies and allergens.  I heard about the convenience of breast - no bottles to cart around, no formula to mix.  What's not to love?  I was so devastated when I didn't experience these things.  I blamed myself: what was wrong with me?  Only now do I know that there wasn't anything wrong.  The truth is: breastfeeding is a gruelling, emotionally taxing endeavor.  It is hard.

I wish I was told the bad stuff right away.  I wish I was told about the rough spots, the tough times.  I wish I knew more about both the physical and the emotional struggles that every breastfeeding mom confronts in those tough early weeks. I wish I knew that I'd have to endure those hard times in order to reach the beautiful, blissful experiences I had come to expect.  I would have been better prepared to confront my own emotions.  I would have realized that it isn't just me, that I'm not defective or incapable.

Imagine if you went into your birth not knowing that contractions are painful, or not knowing that sometimes vaginal delivery isn't possible.  How shocking would our birth experience be if you learned the "dirty details" only when you were in the thick of your labor?  We educate ourselves as best we can on birth, but on breastfeeding first time moms remain largely in the dark.

Moms who intend to breastfeed should know:
1.  Breastfeeding is hard, physically:  Engorgement, sore, cracked nipples, latch issues, thrush and clogged ducts.  Put all of that pain on top of the general recovery from birth and the exhaustion of being a new mom.
2.  Breastfeeding is hard, emotionally.  When all you want to do is capture a few moments of precious sleep, it is hard, so hard, to be the only source of comfort and nourishment for your new baby.  It is hard to feel like your body, the body that has been a shared vessel for so many months, still isn't truly yours yet, not fully.   
3.  Breastfeeding can be isolating.  As a new mom, I wasn't comfortable breastfeeding in public.  Jack didn't latch well and getting him to eat often required a certain amount of juggling and a lot of crying.  I may as well have stood up and shouted "hey world, I'm trying and failing at breastfeeding over here!"  I found myself retreating to an isolated room of the house, away from stares and questions.  And I felt so, so alone.

Moms who intend to breastfeed should also know:
1.  It can get better.  No promises, but it can.  And if it does, all of those wonderful things: the bond, the convenience, they all come together.
2.  Your body can do it.  Even if your friends, your family, even your physician makes you feel like you need to second-guess your decision, trust your body.  With few exceptions, our bodies really do this well.
3.  When it seems too hard, when you feel too alone, when you are ready to give up, step back a moment, and reach out to others, to those who have been there and who can be your mentor.  If you have no one, call your hospital to talk to a lactation consultant.  Look for a local La Leche League.  Ask the Internet.  I've seen beautiful calls out on Twitter asking moms to offer encouragement and advice to a mom struggling with breastfeeding.  Help is out there.

So mommas:  share your stories, even the bad ones.  Show off your war wounds.  Let us see.  Help us prepare for what lies ahead by using your experiences, the good and the bad.

Good luck, mommas.  If you need encouraging words, I'm here.  And there's lots of me out there.


Dr. Seuss vs. Eminem

Our local library has rather foolishly allowed me to check out books (I'm blacklisted at no less than two other public libraries. Don't judge.  It could happen to anyone) and Jack has been taking advantage of the library's Dr. Seuss collection. There's something about Dr. Seuss that is fun to read and fun to hear: that sing-songy lines, the creative rhymes, the staccato beat.

I haven't read Seuss in years, yet it all sounds so familiar. Like something I've heard so very recently. Hmm.  Surely I can't be the only who has noticed that Dr. Seuss and Eminem sound a lot alike. I need to research this further.

Some of Dr. Seuss's most famous, sing-songiest works are written in a rhythm called anapestic tetrameter. "Anapestic" means two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllables, and "tetrameter" means there are four of them in a line. A line of anapestic tetrameter sounds like this:

da da DUM da da DUM da da DUM da da DUM

And Yertle the Turtle, the king of the trees
The king of the air and the birds and the bees

You can hear it, right?  The Cat in the Hat is another good example of anapestic tetrameter.  Go grab your copy - you know you have one. 

And turning to Eminem:

All the people up top on the side and the middle
Come together lets all bomb and swamp just a little

Right? AMIRIGHT? Brilliant.

As my husband would say right about now, "the shit you think of, Jenn."  Yeah, I know.

I hope somewhere out there, there's some awesome lit teachers opening some doors for high school students with thoughts like this. 


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Laundry Time!

I have a confession:  I love doing my cloth diaper laundry.  I love it because I have a secret weapon.

The choice to cloth diaper means overcoming a bunch of obstacles:  the initial diaper investment, the disparaging comments from friends and family, and probably the most daunting of all: the laundry.

To me, the cloth diaper laundry is NBD.  My routine is simple:  cold water rinse cycle, add detergent, warm/cold cycle, and then dry on the line.  I never have stains, and the diapers always smell gorgeous, but that's because I cheat.  I use my secret weapon: Crunchy Clean.
Crunchy Clean is an earth-friendly detergent formulated specially for cloth diapers.  I've tried a number of commercial detergents (All Free & Clear, 20 Mule Team Borax, Arm & Hammer) and a few SAHM-made products, but Crunchy Clean has been my lifesaver.  It does the job extraordinarily well, but the best part is the scent:  you can order your Crunchy Clean in one of several dozen amazing scents (my favorite is "Welcome Home" - they bill it as "graham crackers, vanilla frosting, creamy caramel, and juicy raisins" but I totally think it is yummy 'Nilla Wafers).  I often read about moms dealing with cloth diapers that smell like ammonia, but I never have that problem.  Crunchy Clean costs a touch more than some of the detergents I've tried, but it works and the others didn't, so the price isn't even a consideration.

Crunchy Clean is probably the best piece of advice I can give to a mom new to cloth diapering.  You're welcome in advance. If you need me, I'll be rolling around in a pile of clean diapers. Mmm...'Nilla Wafers.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Father's Day Photo Preview

I know my husband doesn't read my blog unless I tell him to, so I can be all sneaky here and share the Father's Day photos we took at Frame Park today.  Everything aligned quite nicely for us to sneak out for photos:  the weather was perfect, Dan was busy with his work, and Jack was in a great mood.  In fact, Jack was all smiles, all day.  Until the camera came out.  Then I couldn't get him to smile if I paid him.  So we have very serious Father's Day photos.

Jack can't sit unsupported for very long yet, so we did have a few oopsies.  I thought they were funny.  Jack wasn't as amused as I was. He'll learn.  I wasn't laughing at him, exactly.  Okay, I was.

We didn't get quite as many good photos as I had hoped.  Jack was particularly drooly today, so about a third of the photos feature a giant drip on his chin.  His good mood didn't last as long as I had hoped either.  But we did get enough photos to give Dan some very sweet pictures for his first Father's Day.  Happy Father's Day, babe.

Friday, June 18, 2010

EWW I saw a nonsexual boob today!

Here's a little window into my personal world:  I had no idea who Kim Kardashian was until today.  I've heard the name Kardashian and I was vaguely aware that there were some Kardashians on television, but I had no idea who they were and why they were famous.

I just read the Wiki entry about her, and I still don't know why she's famous, other than a sex tape with some singer that I've also never heard of.  But at least having read the Wiki I can put this entire thing into context.

The #lactavists of the Twitterverse were all, um, atwitter tonight about Kim Kardashian's recent Tweet:  

Really?  I get being skeeved out by the tabletop diaper change, but clearly her "EWW" was also directed at the act of breastfeeding. 

Just so we're all clear on this:  Kim Kardashian, who apparently made a rather nasty sex tape with some singer, was disgusted by the sight of a woman feeding her child without a cover.

How screwed up are our priorities if, as a culture, we believe that breasts are fine for sex toys but disgusting for breastfeeding? And how do we change this?

For better or worse, Ms. Kardashian is in a place to be a role model for women.  She has a much bigger voice than so many of us.  Yet this is the message she chooses to project with it.

EWW, indeed.


Things My Husband Wants for Father's Day

Things that, according to my Google search, my husband wants for Father's Day

1.  Underwear
2.  Sports Illustrated
3.  Socks
4.  Witty Dad-Themed Coffee Mug
5.  A Tie

Things my husband really wants for Father's Day

1.  Sleep
2.  Steak
3.  A new gun
4.  A chainsaw
5.  Cigars
6.  A big, dangerous looking knife
7.  Sleep

What my Husband is Getting for Father's Day

1.  Grill
2.  Shop vac

Things that my husband would love for Father's Day but I didn't discover until this morning

1.  Beer Holster
2.  Whiskey Stones
3.  Magnetic Tool Belt
4.  Chuck Norris Shirt
5.  Tabletop Beer Tap

Maybe next year, my dear.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Shh. Don't tell Daddy.

That's a Hello Kitty cloth diaper.  But it is yellow, and yellow is gender-neutral.  Right?  Although it does have little red shoes on it.  Hmm.  Well, no one will see.  Just me, Jack, and the Internet.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My son, the long-haired hippie vegetarian* (Now with photo!)

My husband is a man's man, a curious blend of part John Wayne, part Archie Bunker.  He likes red meat, guns, and killing things made of meat with his guns.  When he's not busy shooting and eating, he's probably doing something with tools.

He's a real man of a man.  I like him.

My son, contrarily, is so far turning out to be a committed vegetarian.  I know, I know.  It is early.  He could change his mind next week or next year.  But for now, he's holding the "meat is murder" line pretty well.  Daddy is not so thrilled.  If he had his druthers, Jack would be eating venison that he killed and gutted himself. 

We discovered our son's vegetarian lifestyle last week when I found jars of first stage turkey, chicken and beef baby foods.  One of the many wonderful things about Jack is that he likes food.  Period.  The kid loves to eat.  That is, until he tried baby chicken.

I admit, maybe my reaction to the little jar of baby chicken set a bad tone for him, but DEAR GOD it smelled like cat food.  Nasty, stinky, will-someone-please-hand-the-cat-a-breathmint cat food.  But, I assumed that Jack would love it because it was food.  Beloved food.

Oh, was I wrong.  With the first spoonful, his sweet little face twisted and contorted into a "Mommy, I thought you loved me!" expression.  His little tongue protruded and he started making a gagging sound.  Of course, I did what any good mother would do:  I laughed, grabbed the camera, and gave him another spoonful.  His opinion didn't improve by the second or third bites, and by the fourth bite his expression suggested that I fed him a very sour lemon covered with acid.  Even I wasn't cruel enough to feed him more.

We retired the chicken to the trash, and I fed him baby carrots that night.  All was forgiven. He's a real carrot-hound.

Thinking that the chicken incident was just a fluke, we tried the turkey a few days later.  Same reaction.  Same mirth.  More photos.

So for right now, my son is a sweet little hippie vegetarian kid.  Stay cool , Moonbeam.  Momma loves you.

(This photo was taken just as the "something ain't right here" realization set in.)

*And in my book, there's nothing wrong with being a long-haired hippie vegetarian.

My selfish reasons for gardening

I wrote this blog over a year ago, before little Jack was a twinkle in his papa's eye.  Even with the addition of Jack to our family, each and every one of these rings as true now as it did then; maybe even more so.  And so, I share:

My Selfish Reasons for Gardening

Here is my confession: my interest in the green movement, in recycling, and in environmental causes is just beginning, but growing.  Its origins lie in my Victory Garden. My Victory Garden originally had nothing to do with saving the planet or reducing waste. I have a thousand reasons for planting my garden, most of which are very selfish. And that’s okay.

1. I am planting a garden because when my sandwich needs a tomato, I want that tomato to be ridiculously fresh and conveniently located just a few steps from my kitchen door.

2. I am planting a garden because even though I am an urban dweller, I grew up in the country and a garden gives me a comforting link back to my roots .

3. I am planting a garden because lettuce from the grocery store smells like chemicals, even after I wash it.

4. I am planting a garden because when my dinner guests compliment my chili on a cold winter night, I want to tell them that the tomatoes came from our garden, lovingly canned by yours truly.

5. I am planting a garden because my mom had a huge garden, with row upon row of tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, green onions, and she trimmed it with beautiful marigolds.

6. I am planting a garden because the price of a can of green beans actually shocks me.

7. I am planting a garden because frozen vegetables look so sad and wrinkly.

8. I am planting a garden because I am a cheapskate at the grocery store, but I still demand quality.

9. I am planting a garden because I like knowing where my food has been before it reaches my table.

10. I am planting a garden because sometimes you just need a little bit of lettuce, but I abhor wasting vegetables that I paid good money for at the grocery.

11. I am planting a garden because I see other people touching the fresh produce at the market a little too much, and then putting it back.

12. I am planting a garden because I want the thrill of victory when the garden is full of life, and the agony of defeat when plants fail to make an appearance above ground.

13. I am planting a garden because I want to feel like I am accomplishing something, even if it is a small something.

14. I am planting a garden because if – should I be blessed with my mom’s green thumb – I too end up with a ridiculous amount of tomatoes or peppers or green onions, the farmer’s market is full of friendly folks and right down the street.

15. I am planting a garden because if I spend a little more time outdoors, I may get a tan.

16. I am planting a garden because my husband is just as excited about the garden as I am, and I love working on things with him.

17. I am planting a garden because vegetables are more beautiful than grass, and I am nothing if not utilitarian.

18. I am planting a garden because then I can grow mint, which I never remember to pick up at the store, and fresh mint means mint juleps.

19. I am planting a garden because, in my mind, gardening requires a cute, wide-brimmed straw hat trimmed with a ribbon.

20. I am planting a garden because a vegetable garden makes a house into a home.

And, new for 2010:

21.  I am planting a garden for Jack so that he can grow up learning to respect the Earth for all its beauty and bounty.

Wordless Wednesday: California Flowers

It is the one thing that we wish for our children:  that the happiness, delight and wonder of youth carry on throughout their days.

Jack learned how to stop and smell a flower.  I hope it was the first of many through a life that is full and fulfilling.

And once again, I fail at the "wordless" part of Wordless Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dear Mom. I hate shoes. Love, Jack.

We have a problem in our house.  A serious battle is being waged, and the stakes are escalating every day.

I love shoes.  I really love baby shoes.  They are a-freaking-dorable.

Jack, on the other hand, hates baby shoes.  HATES them.

Right now, we have a great collection of adorable baby shoes:  little tennies, moccasins, sandals, Van's, cowboy boots, and everything in between.  They are sitting on his dresser, unworn.  In other words, Jack is winning. 

Whenever I wedge a shoe onto his protesting little foot, I try to give him praise and encouragement: "What a handsome baby!  You look so grown up in that sweet shoe!"  And in turn, he'll curl his little lip into a scowl that evolves into a "waaaah" before escalating to a full-on OMGMYFEETAREONFIRE scream.  This is especially fun in public, where all passersby clearly think I'm breaking his ankles.

I can't help myself.  Jack got a new pair of shoes on Sunday.  They are black and purple, with little skulls.  He'd look so badass if he'd just quit crying.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Where are our breastfeeding role models?

I saw a woman breastfeeding her three month old son while walking around the busy farmer's market yesterday morning.  No one told her to take it to her car.  No one sent her to a restroom.  No one gave her a disgusted look.  There won't be an outraged newspaper article, followed by a nurse-in, followed by an embarrassed position statement from the farmer's market association.  The simple, beautiful act of a woman feeding her son passed as it should: without fanfare, without event.  I admit that I may not have even noticed her if her beautiful toddler hadn't approached my son in his stroller to engage him in a sweet baby exchange.  She nursed her son while shopping for vegetables with the agility of a seasoned breastfeeding veteran. 

It was just like it should be, and it was a beautiful thing.  Sadly, the fact that I am compelled to blog about what should be a common occurrence means that it isn't so common.

Is it any wonder that so many women report having difficulty breastfeeding?  Is it any wonder that the act of nourishing a child, something our bodies are so beautifully designed to do, is so hard for so many women? Should we be at all surprised that women, women who are good mothers, opt to forego breastfeeding entirely?

Where are our breastfeeding role models?

Do you know who the first woman that I ever saw nursing was?  It was me.  Before Jack was born, I had never even seen a woman breastfeed.  I've certainly seen babies eat:  I've seen moms walking around, well, everywhere, bottle in hand and babe in arms.  But before Jack came into my life, the act of nursing was so shrouded in mystery that I had never even witnessed it before.

That's not right.  But it is a direct consequence of our "cover it up" culture.  How are we supposed to learn if we cannot observe?  And how are we supposed to observe if women are being shunned into restrooms or exiling themselves to their homes during feedings? 

I want to add my small but determined voice to the chorus of brave women calling for the normalization of breastfeeding, calling for a cultural revolution where the breast is first and foremost for breastfeeding.

I want my son's future wife, and his future daughters and their daughters, to never have a reason to think twice about what I saw at the farmer's market yesterday.  I want that to be normal.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Ride of My Life

And this is where I wax poetic for awhile.  In twelve days, Jack will be six months old.

When he was first born, I thought that his tiny little newborn self was the greatest thing ever.  I loved his tiny chubby cheeks, his shock of black hair, sweet, soft skin.  I loved how snuggly he was, and how he wanted nothing more than to be cuddled up to momma.  I didn't think it could get any better.

Then he started to outgrow that newborn stage.  He moved past the hungry every two hours, nap-eat-stare cycle of the new baby.  He began sleeping at night and napping at regular times.  By three months he even showed us his beautiful smile.  I didn't think it could get any better.

Then by four months he began noticing the world around him.  The toys that were mere decorations before became objects of desire; objects to grab and hold.  He began to notice our faces and our voices and react visibly to things he liked.  We delighted in our ability to made him smile, and on rare occasion he'd even grace us with his goofy little giggle.  I didn't think it could get any better.

Now Jack is five months old.  He greets us with smiles and coos.  He wakes up happy.  He still loves a snuggle with momma, but sometimes he wants to explore his world without help.  He plays with all kinds of toys.  He eats solid foods and he wants to eat with us, when we eat.  Moms...I can't believe it gets better than this.  Does it?

Jeans Diapers...

Really, Huggies?

Jeans diapers?  Really?!?

I checked:  The Onion didn't make these up.  They are real.

Dear Moms of the World:

I won't judge you if you have never breastfed your child.  I'm sure your reasons for formula feeding were right for you.

I won't judge you if you dress your child in a ridiculously lewd onesie that says something like "mommy just wanted a blow job" or some other phrase that you never, ever want that same child to repeat.

I won't judge you if you shun cloth diapers and favor disposables for their "convenience."  I probably won't even mention the landfills, the chemicals, or the general health of our planet. Probably.

But if I see you put a pair of Huggies blue jeans diapers on your child, I will judge you so hard. 

Love and kissses,


I'm the Smartest Person in the Universe

I wish there was a word for this:  you know that feeling of accomplishment you get when you discover a shortcut home from work that saves you ten minutes on your commute?  Or the amazement you felt when you realized you could shave 20 minutes of prep time off of your lasagna by using the no-boil noodles?  I'm looking for a word that describes the wonderful feeling you get when you realize something, some known fact, that makes your life just that much better.

The French probably have a word for that feeling - they have a word for everything.  Like l'esprit de l'escalier.  That's a fantastic phrase.  But I digress.

I had this moment the other day.  In my pre-mom days, other moms would go out of their way to tell me that I wouldn't be able to do all the things I love to do once the baby was born.  That really irritated me.  Why couldn't I go to restaurants?  Or go shopping?  Babies are portable.  So I've always made an effort to make sure that we still do those things, the three of us, as a family.  So far so good.  In fact, Jack is such a regular with us at one diner that when we enter he's greeted by the waitresses with a chorus of "Jack!" a la Cheers.

But I did have one thing that I could never quite figure out:  how do you take a baby to a movie?  Movies are noisy, so hoping for him to nap through a whole show would be too optimistic.  The seating isn't very conducive to all of the gear that you have to cart with you when you have a baby in tow.  And honestly, I'm just not great at being "that mom" with the crying baby who disturbs people around her.

Well, a little light came on in my head a few weeks back, and I totally solved the "how does a mom see a movie" conundrum.

We go to the drive in.  At a drive in, if Jack gets fussy, we can sit in the car with the windows rolled up tight and we won't disturb a single soul.  I can fill the entire Jeep with his gear.  I felt like the Smartest Person in the Universe when I thought of that.

Yeah, I know: all you veteran moms had this answer for years.  But it was new to me.  I thought of it all myself.  And I was darn proud - the kind of pride that requires that special word we don't yet have in English.

While drive-ins are largely a thing of the past, we are fortunate enough to have two very popular ones within an hour of our house.  We packed up our camp chairs and went to see Shrek 3.  It was fantastic, wonderful, fabulous to see a movie after all this time.

And what did Jack think?  He didn't wake up until the closing credits rolled.

I can't wait to see our next movie.  What are we seeing?  I don't care.  It doesn't matter.  We're going to see a movie with a baby.

Friday, June 11, 2010

We are not camping.

Sometimes life gets in the way of good plans.  Or great plans.  I was so looking forward to camping this weekend.  My husband and I were going to celebrate our anniversary by spending the weekend in the Wisconsin Dells.

Then my mom called.

Doctor appointments.  Further testing.  Diabetes complications.  Something more.

Cancer mentioned.

Mom is at our house now, spending a few days in the guest bedroom.  I know she's scared and upset, but she seems better now that she's here.  I couldn't send her home to stay alone in her house with the day's events hanging over her head. That would be cruel.

I won't lie:  I'm mourning the loss of our beautifully planned anniversary weekend.  This should have been Jack's first trip to the Wisconsin Dells - an event I've been planning out since he was little more than a poppyseed.  Everyone at work is telling me to have fun on my big weekend, and I'm telling them that I'm actually taking care of my mom instead.  And I feel guilty as hell for being sad about that.

I hope it rains in the Dells, rains with the furious hurricane force.  If I can't have fun, no one can. Man, that's selfish.

It is going to be a rough weekend.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


This post is going to contain some foul language.  Ugly, foul language.  But I'm addressing an ugly, foul subject.  I won't apologize for using words that appropriately convey the emotions.

I frequent a message board visited by women in all stages of their childbearing and childrearing years.  We have a lot of good discussions, both relevant and irreverent.  We laugh together, and we cry together.  We snark.  We bitch.  And, as you can imagine happens with that many hormones in one place, sometimes tempers flare.  But we are there for one another to celebrate life's events: pregnancies, new babies, new milestones.  And we rally together to mourn the hardships: pregnancy loss, child loss, and infertility.


Ask any parent how having a child has changed their lives.  Except to the most calloused soul, having a child is universally the most life-changing, wonderful, amazing, incredible thing.  I can't stuff that sentence with enough cliches to appropriately convey the feeling.  I've been a mom for just five months, and I will swear to you that these five months have been incomparable.  Glorious.  The Best Time of My Life. Amen.

Now imagine if, through no fault of my own, I was denied the privilege of being called "mother."  Imagine if, month after month, I had to go through the heartbreak of wondering why.  Wondering what was wrong with me.  Wondering why I couldn't have what everyone else seems to have and cherish.  My heart aches at the very thought, yet I don't have to live that nightmare.  So many women, and their partners, do.

Today I saw a discussion turn downright cruel when one mother mocked another woman's well-known battle with infertility.  My brain can't wrap itself around the absolute human bankruptcy required to do say the words she said.  It was shocking.  It was uncalled for.  It was fucking heartless.

Strong willed women will fight the battles of the ages over and over again: breastfeeding vs. formula, circumcised vs. intact, to vaccinnate or not, and so on.  Brilliant, well-spoken women line each side of each issue, and even when the discussions get heated, there is still decency among all involved. I've never seen one woman attack another with the depravity I witnessed in that exchange.

The truly frustrating part is that the aggressor can hide behind the anonymity of the Internet.  She can reinvent herself with a new screen name and slide into our discussions undetected.  If karma is just a manmade design, I hope at the very least she feels some remorse for her cruel words.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I'll tell you what's nasty...

One of my Facebook amigos recently commented that she was interested in trying cloth diapers on her sweet four month old daughter, but she wasn't sure where to begin.  She was immediately inundated with comments that really surprised me:

"I were you I would stick with just Huggies and call it a day.  easier, safer, and you don't have to worry about all the germs."

"I never tried the cloth diaper route, too icky for me."

And my favorite:

"Cloth diapers?!?!?!?! that's nasty!!!!"

Nasty?  Let me tell you what's nasty:
Do you need any more examples?  How about a study linking the increase in the use of disposable diapers to the increase in male infertility?

That, my friends, is beyond just "nasty."  That's staggeringly horrific.

I am a mom.  I do not fear poop, spit-up, wet diapers, or baby vomit.  On any given day, I encounter at least one of those things before 6:00 a.m.  On special days, I may encounter all four.   But I am not invincible; I do have some pretty serious fears.  I fear that my generation is creating entirely too much trash and entirely too few solutions.  I fear contributing to a "throwaway" society.  Mostly, I fear that I could make a decision for my own "convenience" that could negatively affect my child's well being now and for years to come.  I certainly fear that way more than I fear a little laundry.

And to be perfectly honest?  The laundry isn't so bad when you use the right cleaning products.  I work fifty to sixty hours per week and I have no problem doing 100% of the cloth diaper laundry. It just ain't that hard.

Plus, I dare you to find something cuter than a baby in a cloth diaper.  I dare you.

While I realize that it isn't feasible for everyone, I'm happy in my world where cloth diapering is an admirable thing.  I just had no idea there was such a huge contingent out there that felt otherwise.

My First Wordless Wednesday

This is my first Wordless Wednesday.

(So did I do it right?  You know, aside from the words?)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

We're crazy! I mean...we're camping!

This blog has been a bit on the serious side for a few posts, so today is a good day to talk about something light.  We are counting down to our very first camping trip with the baby.  I should probably call it a "camping" trip because it is the exact kind of camping that my not-yet-pregnant self would have mocked mercilessly just over a year ago: we are heading to the state's largest tourist attraction to spend two nights in a KOA Kabin.

I know.  When you are within a few miles of forty-plus restaurants and a score of hotels, you aren't roughing it.  Really, the campground even has wi-fi.  I may as well be sipping champagne and getting a pedicure while I'm there (and I could!  There are six spas within five miles of the campsite).  Baby steps, my friends, baby steps.  We have to start somewhere.

As C-Day approaches my Type A side has begun making lists and checking them twice.  Anyone who has ever done so much as cross a street with a baby knows that babies require a staggering amount of gear whenever they leave the house.  Planning for a weekend getaway means consulting Google, querying my favorite baby message boards, and creating a spreadsheet so I can be sure that I've left no stone unturned.  Even so, I have no doubt that when we leave on Friday, we will need to turn the car around no less than twice because I've forgotten some essential thing.  Like the A&D Ointment, or perhaps the baby.  I am actually concerned that our Jeep may be too small to fit everything we will need to camp for two days.

Despite the fact that this is going to be a LOT of work, I'm really looking forward to it.  I love a meal cooked over a fire.  I love glow of camp lights.  I love how our things smell like the fresh outdoors.  And by Monday, I'll be ready to have a vacation to recover from our vacation.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Is breastfeeding harmful to your marriage?

It was like the shot heard 'round the lactivist community: an article by Rabbi Shmuley posted on Beliefnet suggested that breastfeeding can drive a wedge between husband and wife. The article drew incredible attention as replies were blogged, Tweets exploded, and women were outraged.

Breastfeeding advocates often get the opportunity to argue about their craft: it is easy to start a wildfire by talking about extended nursing or nursing in public (and if there is any doubt on that point, pay attention to the discussions that ensue whenever the news reports a woman being escorted from a store for nursing her baby). Rarely, though, do we get to talk about whether breastfeeding is a good idea. We all know that breast is best, right?

Rabbi Shmuley's article suggests otherwise. He claims that breastfeeding can weaken a marriage by causing the new mother to become too involved with her child, to the detriment of husband and her marriage.

This, my friends, is what we call a logical fallacy.

Rabbi Shmuley's underlying message is actually good: boiled down to its simplest premise, what he's really saying is that people who do not pay attention to their marriages have marriages that are unhealthy. His path to reach that conclusion is what is flawed: breastfeeding, in and of itself, is not the problem. If a marriage is suffering because the mother is breastfeeding, it is the dynamics of the underlying marriage relationship that are problematic, not the act of breastfeeding.

I don't think any married person would disagree that a good marriage takes work. When one person isn't willing to dedicate their time and efforts to the marriage, be it because of a career, an illness, or an extramarital affair, the marriage deteriorates. Likewise, when a mother is dedicated to breastfeeding to such an extent that she ignores or mistreats her husband, the marriage certainly deteriorate. But the act of breastfeeding is not the problem. Surely, the Rabbi doesn't believe his own message, does he?

So why is Rabbi Shmuley picking on breastfeeding? Having read some of the Rabbi's other articles, I think the man is as dumb as a fox: it is no secret that we lactivists are a talkative bunch. We post, we Tweet, and we speak our minds. Start talking bad about our blessed superpower, and we'll take notice. Throw in a few zingers, like "her obsession had turned one of her most attractive body parts into a feeding station, an attractive cafeteria rather than a scintillating piece of flesh," and we'll burn up our keyboards typing our replies. What better way for a mediocre yawn of a message - "be good to your marriage" - to get some teeth in the overpowering white noise of the blogosphere?

We're on to you, Rabbi. As for the article, there's nothing to see there. Move along, ladies.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

How I Defeated My Own Breastfeeding Success

I've had a very hard time with breastfeeding. It was something I wanted to do exclusively until Jack was six months old, and it just didn't happen. While he gets some breast milk every day, the vast majority of what he eats is formula, and every single bottle that I mix reminds me of what I did to destroy my own chances of success. If I could go back in time and visit the two days postpartum Jenn, I'd change what I did, and those changes would have made all the difference.

It is too late for me, but maybe someone can learn from my mistakes. These are the things I would have done differently.

1. I wouldn't have left the hospital without confidence in my breastfeeding abilities. I made the very novice assumption that because breastfeeding is natural, because it has been around since the very beginning of people, that it would be easy or come naturally. That is so not true - there is so much to learn, and because we as a society keep breastfeeding on the down low, motherhood is often the first time that any of us really get to learn anything about breastfeeding at all.

My hospital has a wonderful lactation department, and I was visited by two lactation consultants while in the hospital. Both were great, and with their assistance, Jack latched on well. However, Jack and I were discharged on a Saturday and the LC department closed at 2p.m. that day. When I got home Saturday afternoon, nothing I could do would get Jack to latch properly. The LC's answering machine told me that their office wouldn't reopen until Monday morning. How was my baby supposed to eat from Saturday afternoon to Monday morning? He's hungry now! I needed help now! In desperation, I turned to the breast pump. I spent more time in those important, early days pumping than I did sleeping or bonding with Jack. I began to absolutely dread the pump: it meant time away from my brand new baby, it meant time away from sleep, it meant pain, and it was miserable. I knew I would be pumping once I got back to work, but I never expected to be pumping at 3 days postpartum. I began to loathe the pump.

I wish I had asked more questions of the lactation consultants. I wish I had asked what to do if the LC's office was closed and I needed help. I wished I had dug deeper and found community resources, like La Leche League, that don't necessarily keep banker's hours like the LC did.

2. Those free cans of formula from Similac? I'd have tossed those in the trash as soon as they arrived in the mail. While I was pregnant I had gotten onto some new mom mailing list, and Similac took it upon itself to send me two nice, expensive cans of formula. I set them with all of my ready baby gear, keeping them as a "just in case." That was a mistake.

In those early days of breastfeeding, if those cans weren't in the house, exhausted new mom me would have had to figure out breastfeeding. I would have had to work to get a correct latch. I wouldn't have had the "I'm tired, I'll just mix one bottle" option. Those early days are so important to establish supply, and they are also the hardest because as a new mom you are struggling with the challenges of motherhood, the sleeplessness that is life with a newborn, and any shortcut sounds like a great idea.

This great idea affected my supply. I know it did.

3. When I felt like giving up, I wouldn't have. I would have carried on. My biggest mistake came four weeks after Jack was born. Frustrated and tired, I decided that I wasn't going to continue breastfeeding. I was already supplementing about six ounces a day, and about 5 of 6 feedings were done via the pump. I had enough. I quit breastfeeding for 36 hours. And then I regretted it. I recalled the reasons I had wanted to breastfeed, and I got right back to it only to find that my supply had taken a huge hit. Where I used to pump three ounces, I'd pump one ounce. My supply never fully recovered.

What would I say to new mom Jenn, if I could go back to a time five months and one week ago?

Don't give up. The struggle is worth it. The exhaustion is worth it - Jack will only be a newborn once, and it won't last long. Throw out the formula. Use the pump as a last resort.

Most importantly: I'd tell myself that I can do it.

Cloth Diaper Mamas - Sale Time!

One of my most favorite cloth diaper websites, Kelly's Closet, emailed out some great coupons this week. I love shopping Kelly's - the selection is great, the prices are great, and when there are sales like this, you can't go wrong.

Bring on the codes:

*Free shipping on your entire order with a $10 purchase of bumGenius,Flip,or Econbum. Use code BGFLIP . (Excludes bumGenius detergent). Coupon can expire at anytime.
*Take 10% off all Rumparooz. Use code PN042010
*Free one-size cloth diaper with a $25 purchase. Use code PGNBMAY Exp. 7/1/2010
*Free shipping on your entire order when you purchase $20 or more of GroVia brand. Use code GROVIAPROMO
*Free one-size cloth diaper with $25 purchase. Use code OSMOTPROMO Exp.7/15/2010
*Buy 5 bumGenius 3.0 one size diapers, get 1 free. Click here for details.
*Take $3 off a purchase of $20 or more. Use code 3OFF20 (Excludes some brands like bumGenius,Flip,Econobum.) Exp.6/9/2010 (You can order these brands however the discount will not be taken off until you spend $20 of other brands.)

Reliving my childhood, one book at a time.

Jack and I did something absolutely wonderful last Saturday. We got a library card.

I will be the first to admit that, in the past, libraries have been a source of trouble for me. Without going in to much detail, the City Attorney became involved and the ordeal cost me about $120.00. But I have turned over a new leaf, and I wield my new library card proudly.

The youth section of the library was an absolutely wonderful walk down memory lane. Richard Scarry, Dr. Seuss, Sweet Pickles - so many wonderful memories flooded back to me as I browsed the aisles. I chose three of my favorite memories, including And to Think that I Saw it On Mulberry Street. Jack hung on my every word as I read him the sing-song prose of Dr. Seuss, and by the time I turned the final page I was ready to start it all over again. It was a wonderful, wonderful thing.

I hope that Jack grows to love books as much as I did and do.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Biting the Daycare Bullet

We weren't going to do it. We weren't going to leave Jack in the care of anyone else, ever, not even for a minute. We are our child's best caregivers, and we weren't going to trust our precious little man with...God forbid...strangers!

That was before Jack was born. Reality has set in. It is hard to be a stay at home dad who is 100% in charge of a baby for 11.5 hours a day, five days a week. Sometimes, it can feel overwhelming.

Daddy needs a break.

It took us a long time to get here. It took a long time for us to be okay with this decision. We consulted friends, family and acquaintances, and in every conversation we came to one single conclusion: a little bit of quality day care is okay. In fact, it can be very beneficial.

Coworkers related stories about how daycare helped a fussy eater learn good eating skills by observing other little ones eat. Friends talked about the benefits of socialization. Family recalled what their babies learned through their pre-school activities. These are all very good things.

I found a daycare that emphasizes learning through play. I saw an infant room where babies were being sung to, cuddled and played with - not "stored" in bouncers and swings. The teachers showed me last week's art projects - the babies had art projects! I'm in love! Teachers told me about their music projects, about working on motor skills, about how my son's basic needs are just the beginning of what they strive to fulfill while he is in their care. I was very impressed.

Once I get through this mountain of enrollment paperwork, my happy little chunk of a baby will be going to daycare one afternoon per week.

Deep breath. It is going to be okay. No, better: it is going to be good for him.