Monday, November 8, 2010

Eats on Feets goes global

I'm taking a break from my November-long hiatus (NaNoWriMo eats my soul every November) to announce that the global woman-to-woman breastmilk sharing initiative, Eats on Feets, is up and running.

Rather than me try to explain it all, I'll just link you to the important information:

  • Eats on Feets Global press release
  • Eats on Feets Oklahoma (the page i help moderate)

  • The goal of Eats on Feets is to provide pumped breastmilk to women who have to supplement their own breastfeeding infant. Rather than using formula, which has been shown to be harmful to infants, women will be able to connect and share expressed milk. "Human milk for human babies" is the rallying cry and the raison d'être of Eats on Feets.

    If you know of someone who is breastfeeding and has a stash of expressed breastmilk or someone who needs to supplement her breastfeeding infant because they are not producing enough breastmilk, please send her to Eats on Feets; there are chapters in nearly every state in the US as well as in Canada, Europe, Australia...

    Women have helped women with their babies for generations. Let's get back to that model.

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Weekend AP Round-up: Oct. 23-29

    I've decided to do a weekly attachment/natural parenting link/article roundup, as often as I can manage it. Throughout the week, I come across lots of fantastic articles, studies, and videos that support natural parenting, and I'd like to share them with anyone who might be browsing through my archives looking for good reasons to love their child.

    The Human Baby
    "A human baby born today, to any parents anywhere in the world, would have no trouble fitting into a hunter-gatherer society. He evolved to do so. On the other hand, any baby born today in modern society does not fit our world, nor would any baby born in the past fit it either. Babies (and mothers) have not changed in their reproductive biological or genetic structure; it is society and mothers who have changed in their response to, and in their attitude toward, babies. We no longer value and support mothering or the babies' critical need to develop in relation to a tender, nurturing mother. We have deviated from the nurturing aspect of reproductive biology by changing the baby's "someone"."

    Why Holding Your Baby May Save Her Life
    "Who needs warmers and all of that equipment in normal situations? Mom is nature's perfect warmer, and baby learns smooth respiration and heart rate from lying on mom's chest! Allowed to move freely, baby even can latch on and begin breastfeeding on its own."

    Watch Your Language
    "Try this on: You have been crippled in a serious accident. Your physicians and physical therapists explain that learning to walk again would involve months of extremely painful and difficult work with no guarantee of success. They help you adjust to life in a wheelchair, and support you through the difficulties that result. Twenty years later, when your legs have withered beyond all hope, you meet someone whose accident matched your own. "It was difficult," she says. "It was three months of sheer hell. But I've been walking every since." Would you feel guilty?

    Women to whom I posed this scenario told me they would feel angry, betrayed, cheated. They would wish they could do it over with better information. They would feel regret for opportunities lost. Some of the women said they would feel guilty for not having sought out more opinions, for not having persevered in the absence of information and support. But gender-engendered guilt aside, we do not feel guilty about having been deprived of a pleasure. The mother who does not breastfeed impairs her own health, increases the difficulty and expense of infant and child rearing, and dismisses one of life's most delightful relationships. She has lost something basic to her own well-being. What image of the satisfactions of breastfeeding do we convey when we use the word "guilt"?"

    Breast Milk Study Furthers Understanding of Critical Ingredients
    "Bryan said colostrum has significantly higher concentrations of nitrite and significantly lower concentrations of nitrate than both transition and mature milk, which he believes may be nature’s way of providing nitric oxide to the newborns whose gastrointestinal tract is not yet colonized by bacteria that convert nitrate to nitrite. Nitrite-rich colostrum overcomes this deficit, he said."

    Spanking Is (Still) Wrong
    "So we have one more result supporting the recommendations of groups like the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics against spanking, which they define as hitting that is done with an open hand and does not cause injury. If everyone is agreed, then, why the continuing parade of research? Because parents are not getting the message."

    CIRCUMCISION: A surgery looking for a disease
    "In order to combat the media attention given to claims of benefits to male genital mutilation, I’ve put together these posts, articles and citations that show the “behind the science” mis-steps that have been taken in trying to find a ‘quick fix’ for the AIDS tragedy in Africa."

    One-Quarter of the Foods Kids Eat Contain Pesticides
    "Researchers checked children's non-organic fruit, vegetables, and juices for 14 different varieties of pesticides. They found that more than 25 percent of the foods kids consume on a daily basis contain detectable levels of pesticides. A snack of carrot sticks may provide youngsters with a hefty dose of nutrients they need, but some of them come soaked in a pretty toxic marinade."

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Learning to explore

    One of my favorite haunts locally is the Science Museum Oklahoma (previously known as "the Omniplex," and honestly? that's how most oklahomans still reference it). It's a hands-on science museum with displays ranging from the history of flight (from the Wright brothers to modern-day space exploration) to the science of gymnastics to how earthquakes happen and how your teeth and mouth work.

    One of their newest additions to the museum is the young children's area, and I've been taking our little ToddlerBeast (yes, i admit it... he's no longer my BabyBeast) into that area each time we go to SMO. I've had to struggle to sit back and let him explore on his own, rather than trying to take him by the hand and show him each area. It has helped that we have a new membership to SMO, so it doesn't matter if we don't get our "money's worth" each time we go in, because we can go as many times as we'd like.

    So, in my sit-back-and-relax mindset, I followed the toddler as he made his way to the first area of interest: an old tractor.

    Apparently, the tractor was a popular piece of the children's play area, because in the ten minutes he was pressing buttons and pulling levers, three different kids wandered in and out. He was so intent on what he was doing, his normal reaction to strange children (stare at them in alarm and escape when possible) didn't come into play. He just kept pulling levers.

    Next on his to-do list was the phone display.

    He is very occupied with phones... cell phones and house phones. Any time he hears a phone, he mimics holding one up to the side of his head and starts babbling. Of course, he's used to phones without cords, so playing with the SMO phones - that were practically rotary phones - left him a little... umm... troubled.

    Once we ventured out of the children's area, he only had one stop in mind: the giant hot air balloon that, at the push of a button to start the burner, floats slowly up to the top of the ceiling then drifts back down to its starting point.

    Eventually, though, even the balloon no longer held his interest, and he began manhandling the stroller tray, opening and closing it with great interest.

    Shortly after that, though, the toddler meltdown began and we left SMO to head back home.

    Since I've been going to SMO since my own childhood, it was a struggle to not drag him to all my favorite exhibits... but when I go to SMO for him, I have to remind myself that it is his adventure. My job is, as Maria Montessori said, to follow the child. When I can sit back, and allow the ToddlerBeast to be himself, he ends up showing me things I never would've noticed on my own.

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    Weekend AP Round-up: Oct. 16-22

    I've decided to do a weekly attachment/natural parenting link/article roundup, as often as I can manage it. Throughout the week, I come across lots of fantastic articles, studies, and videos that support natural parenting, and I'd like to share them with anyone who might be browsing through my archives looking for good reasons to love their child.

    Where’s The Evidence? 10 Ways Modern Obstetrics Ignores Evidence
    "But what about the physician’s comment that modern obstetrics is based on science? Could this be a case of the Emporer that has no clothes? Modern obstetrics is riddled with accepted procedures that demonstrate how wide the gap is between practice and evidence."

    You’re STILL Nursing?!
    "I mentioned that I was breastfeeding in case any of the tests or prescribed medication they might give me would affect my nursing or milk content. I assume at that point she looked at my chart, saw that I gave birth 21 months ago, and said in tone that might have been appropriate if she just realized I had a Siamese twin hidden under my shirt, “You’re still nursing?!”"

    Nursing For Comfort
    "Friesen-Stoesz feels breastfeeding is made more difficult when we put arbitrary limits on it: “Comments like ‘he’s only nursing for comfort’ are based on ideas about schedules and how often a baby should nurse that just aren’t valid.” That’s especially true in the early weeks, says Bickford, when milk production is being established and frequent feedings are important to signal the mother’s body to produce enough milk."

    Chasing Nature
    "For more than a hundred years, industrious mothers, doctors, pharmacies, entrepreneurs, and corporations have been trying with varying degrees of success to perfect a manmade formula that mimics human milk. But human milk has been evolving for over 200 million mammalian years. Undaunted, the chemist rises from his chair and continues his pursuit—chasing nature but never catching up."

    Induced Lactation
    "For both adoptive mothers and mothers of surrogate babies, breastfeeding is about more than the milk - it's a way to connect at a deeper level with your new baby and contribute to his growth beyond the pregnancy. Although it will require time, motivation, perseverance, tenacity, and patience, breastfeeding your baby can be tremendously rewarding."

    Should Children Drink Milk?
    "The Physicians Committee on Responsible Medicine, headed by Dr. Neil Barnard, cautions against the near universal custom of giving children pasteurized homogenized cow's milk, as it is associated with juvenile diabetes, allergies, and mucus conditions."

    Can a mother's affection prevent anxiety in adulthood?
    "According to the study, which followed nearly 500 infants into their 30s, babies who receive above-average levels of affection and attention from their mothers are less likely than other babies to grow up to be emotionally distressed, anxious, or hostile adults."

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Taking a toddler to the park

    If there's one thing I've learned about living with a toddler, it's that he and I are both happier if he's outside. Inside, I'm constantly chasing him away from things he shouldn't play with (whether its because they're choking hazards or just too easy for a curious and industrious toddler to destroy) and it feels like he and I are at odds all day long.

    Not so when we're outside. The only limits I put on him outside is that he can't stick random things in his mouth (unless I approve them) and he isn't allowed to kill himself. That's it. If he wants to run around, he can run around. If he wants to hit rocks and clumps of grass with a stick, he can do that. If he wants to scream, he can scream.

    This way of being especially easy to live by in a large, open park where he's a fairly safe distance from cars. Then, we can really open up and just let him go.

    The rules are simple: we follow him and let him make the choices of what we're going to do. We don't try to drag him to any playground equipment or do anything that would stop him from just enjoying himself. He'll find the things he wants to play with all on his own.

    We can't always give him complete autonomy, so when the opportunity presents itself, it's truly nice to let him make the choices for awhile.

    The crux of this being that we don't let him out of our sight; that's the rule for when he's playing outside, especially in strange or open places. Luckily, he's usually content to drag us around with him.

    That's his new thing, actually; grabbing hold of one or two of our fingers and dragging us from place to place, pointing things out to us as we go in case we've missed seeing them.

    It's a chance to relax and let him be in control for awhile, something that every toddler needs.

    What have you done this week to allow your little ones a chance to be their own person and make decisions for themselves?

    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    Breasts and censorship

    When should breasts be censored? This question has been on my mind lately, because there doesn't seem to be any clear-cut answer. Our society both lionizes and villainizes the human female mammaries. With two such opposite reactions to them, how can we say in what situations they're okay to be seen?

    For example, take this picture of singer/TV personality Heidi Montag; does exposing this level of cleavage mean she should be censored?

    If you think so, apparently you're incorrect; that picture graced the cover of Us Weekly magazine in May 2010:

    But then again, magazines seem to be able to get away with putting just about anything on their covers. We've become immune to the images of cleavage and even bare breasts. If their readership will still buy the magazine, the editors have no problem asking women to bare it all for the sake of popularity and fame.

    But we all know magazines are not the place to go for a look at the real world, right? After all, Photoshop has insured that the only way to be perfect is to be digitally retouched.

    So magazines are not our source for what to expect as far as breasts are allowed. What about social media sites, where real women and men flock to connect and share photos and information? That would show us a slice of real-world humanity, right?


    This picture is the profile image for the group I love Sluts.

    So does that mean there is no real censorship of breasts anymore? Apparently, it does... unless, of course, you happen to be breastfeeding.

    Believe it or not, this image of breastfeeding activist Emma Kwasnica was removed from Facebook because it violated their Terms of Use. What part, exactly, does the image violate? If you can tell me, I'd be very appreciative! Here's the message they sent Emma:

    "You uploaded a photo that violates our Terms of Use, and this photo has been removed. Facebook does not allow photos that attack an individual or group, or that contain nudity, drug use, violence, or other violations of the Terms of Use. These policies are designed to ensure Facebook remains a safe, secure and trusted environment for all users, including the many children who use the site.

    If you have any questions or concerns, you can visit our FAQ page at"

    How, you ask, does the image of Emma nursing her toddler differ in its "nudity" versus the image from the "I love Sluts" group? The theory most women who've been censored by Facebook (and there are many) ascribe to is one of sexuality hindered; after all, in the "I love Sluts" image, women are doing what they should be doing: titillating men and inspiring fantasies. In Emma's breastfeeding photo, the inclusion of a toddler on the breast makes titillation much harder (although, apparently, not impossible... but that's a topic for another day).

    So women are censored for exposing their breasts, but only when a nursing infant or toddler is included. This rule seems arbitrary... not every breastfeeding photo is censored, and some of the least objectionable (where no breast is exposed at all and the infant could be sleeping across their mother's lap) are culled simply because someone out there takes offense and reports it to the Facebook higher-ups (for great examples of photos that aren't in any way offensive other than the inclusion of nurslings, look at the first couple of photos here).

    So what does it mean for our society when breasts are used to sell magazines (and cooking oil, and skin-care products, and shower gel, and snackfood, and pretty much anything else you can think of) but are censored when employed in their evolutionarily intended purpose of feeding infants?

    It raises the question that if a women dolled herself up and took a photo of herself breastfeeding with plenty of cleavage exposed, and then posted two versions of the photo to Facebook - one that cuts off at just cleavage exposure and one that shows the full-length photo with the nursling - would both photos be censored, or only the one with a baby? What do you think?

    So what's to be done? In a world where women are regularly kicked out of public places for breastfeeding, where photos are deleted from a social networking site, how can we fight back? By normalizing breastfeeding.

    Nurse in public. Don't be afraid of what someone might say; most states have laws protecting breastfeeding mothers.

    Publish photos of yourself nursing your babies and toddlers. If they get deleted, put them up again. If your account gets deleted, fight back (believe it or not, Emma Kwasnica's had her account deleted and reinstated multiple times for violating the Facebook Terms of Use... by posting breastfeeding pictures).

    Talk about breastfeeding. Talk about it to coworkers, to family members, to friends.

    But most of all, don't allow yourself to be censored for doing what is biologically correct for both you and your growing child. They don't have a voice to fight back; you do.

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Weekend AP Roundup - Oct. 9-15

    I've decided to start a weekly attachment/natural parenting link/article roundup, as often as I can manage it. Throughout the week, I come across lots of fantastic articles, studies, and videos that support natural parenting, and I'd like to share them with anyone who might be browsing through my archives looking for good reasons to love their child.

    I'm posting a bit late this week... somehow, Friday was much busier than I expected, and I worked all day Saturday (although this won't be going on for much longer; I'm officially counting down the weeks until I can go back to devoting myself 100% to keeping the house and toddler from collapsing like a flan in the cupboard).

    What is Crotch-Dangling? Why can't my baby face out?
    "Most parents enter babywearing at the same place--structured carriers that they can buy from the local Walmart or Target. While it is wonderful that these products can introduce new parents to the joy and benefits of babywearing, most of these products are not made with baby and mother's health and comfort in mind."

    A New Way of Seeing Children
    "A child's rambunctiousness in public embarrasses parents, because our society expects children to remain silent and to behave as though they are mature adults - a most unrealistic and uncaring expectation. Expecting the impossible can of course only lead to disappointment and frustration for both parents and children. Just like adults, children feel most cooperative when treated with kindness, understanding, and faith in their inherent good intentions. No adult feels cooperative when treated in a threatening, angry way by a spouse, employer, or friend. In fact, we feel hurt and resentful when treated that way, and far from cooperating, we often resist or retaliate. Why then do we expect children to respond with good behavior when treated with anger, threats, or punishment?"

    Birth from the baby’s perspective
    "Picture this… A mother sits holding her newborn son on a postnatal ward during visiting time. One of her visitors reaches forward, grasps the baby by the head and pulls him out of his mothers arms leaving him dangling by his neck. Can you imagine the reaction of the mother and those around? Yet no one raises an eyebrow when this occurs during birth."

    Study shows that infants feel and remember circumcision pain
    "A study led by Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) researchers has demonstrated that not only do male infants feel pain during circumcision, they remember that pain six months later when they receive their routine vaccination. The results of the study, led by Anna Taddio, a graduate student supervised by Dr. Gideon Koren, head of Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology at SickKids and a Professor of Paediatrics, Pharmacology, and Medicine at the University of Toronto, are reported in the March 1 issue of the British medical journal Lancet."

    Several nations banning flu shots for babies
    ""The vaccines appear to be causing a pattern of neurological disorders affecting children and teens across the planet," said a report in India's Bharat Chronicle."

    So, how *do* you recognize sucking vs. swallowing?
    "On Monday I wrote about the importance of recognizing sucking and swallowing in figuring out what your baby is doing at the breast. It's how you can figure out if your baby is eating or nursing for comfort.* I think that this is more helpful than the common advice to wait until your baby comes off the breast on his or her own."

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    Weekend AP Roundup - Oct. 2-8

    I've decided to start a weekly attachment/natural parenting link/article roundup, as often as I can manage it. Throughout the week, I come across lots of fantastic articles, studies, and videos that support natural parenting, and I'd like to share them with anyone who might be browsing through my archives looking for good reasons to love their child.

    Mothering Special Report - Attachment Parenting
    "Check out this Mothering Special Report on Attachment Parenting for a host of articles, resources, and expert advice on the subject. Look through the following information and browse around the site to find all the special AP content."

    Good Nutrition: Nestlé is part of the problem, not part of the solution
    "The problem with this scenario is that Nestlé is one of the companies pushing unhealthy food. It is hilarious that Nestlé underscores the problem of french fries, when its Gerber Graduates meals contain more than twice as much sodium as a medium order of French Fries at McDonald’s."

    Tips for Biting While Breastfeeding
    "...(according to studies and meta analysis by the AAFP, WHO and multiple national lactation/pediatric/health counsels) babies need their mothers' milk until they are at least 24 months of age for normal, baseline growth and development - physically and mentally."

    Cosleeping and Biological Imperatives: Why Human Babies Do Not and Should Not Sleep Alone
    "The term cosleeping refers to any situation in which a committed adult caregiver, usually the mother, sleeps within close enough proximity to her infant so that each, the mother and infant, can respond to each other’s sensory signals and cues. Room sharing is a form of cosleeping, always considered safe and always considered protective. But it is not the room itself that it is protective. It is what goes on between the mother (or father) and the infant that is. Medical authorities seem to forget this fact. This form of cosleeping is not controversial and is recommended by all."

    I was pregnant for 10 months
    "Jack, my third child, arrived last month, 20 days late. My first two babies were 15 days late. But a day shy of week 43? That is virtually record-breaking – and, some would say, slightly mad. For the last week I barely left the house. I knew what I was doing and was happy with my decision. But I didn't want to hear what anyone else had to say about it."

    Induction of labour: balancing risks
    "In comparison to other mammals, humans have the most variable gestation lengths. This suggests that other factors such as environment and emotions (eg. anxiety) also influence the start of labour. This would make sense considering what we know about the function of oxytocin. It is also something most midwives are aware of – a stressed out mother is more likely to go post term than a relaxed and chilled out mother. Having said that, post term is probably the normal gestation length for many women regardless of what is going on. Creating anxiety and stress around due dates and impending induction is probably counter productive to labour."

    No Such Thing as Too Much Love: 'Spoiled' Babies Grow Up to Be Smarter, Kinder Kids
    "Now another group of studies, led by Notre Dame psychology professor Darcia Narvaez, confirms earlier work suggesting that children who get more positive touch and affection during infancy turn out to be kinder, more intelligent and to care more about others."

    Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills
    "But during the second half of the 20th century, Chudacoff argues, play changed radically. Instead of spending their time in autonomous shifting make-believe, children were supplied with ever more specific toys for play and predetermined scripts. Essentially, instead of playing pirate with a tree branch they played Star Wars with a toy light saber. Chudacoff calls this the commercialization and co-optation of child's play — a trend which begins to shrink the size of children's imaginative space."

    Circumcision & Human Behavior: The emotional & behavioral effects of circumcision
    "He found that children who had undergone operations experienced an increase in anxiety and various fears, including night terrors, fear of physicians, nurses, and strange men. The oldest age group exhibited greater hostility and aggression. Levy compared their behavior to that of soldiers who suffered from what was then called “combat neurosis,” and now recognized as post-traumatic stress disorder. Anna Freud (1952) pointed out that operations on the genitals, such as circumcision, would cause “castration anxiety.”"

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    Weekend AP Roundup - Sept. 25-Oct. 1

    I've decided to start a weekly attachment/natural parenting link/article roundup, as often as I can manage it. Throughout the week, I come across lots of fantastic articles, studies, and videos that support natural parenting, and I'd like to share them with anyone who might be browsing through my archives looking for good reasons to love their child.

    Post-nursing nap on Mommy

    Planting Seeds: Making a Difference Post by Post
    Not a quote from the article, just my thoughts on it: This is why I share information as much as I can. I want to help anyone willing to learn, and make life much happier for infants who need what is natural (and therefore best) and their caregivers.

    A Womb With a View
    Far from a nine-month wait for the big event of birth, pregnancy is a crucial period unto itself: “the staging ground for well-being and disease in later life,” as one expert puts it. Fetal-origins research has made pregnancy into a scientific frontier, the focus of intense interest and excitement among scientists and the subject of an exploding number of journal articles, books and conferences.

    Breastfeeding Supply Issues and CCK: Your Supply is Fine, It’s Your Timing That’s the Problem!
    "Babies have this neat hormone in their system that tells them when they’re full (high levels) and hungry (low levels). It’s called cholecystokinin (CCK), and it aids in digestion and gives feelings of satiation and well-being in mom and baby. When a baby nurses for a good amount of time, their levels rise and they may get that milk drunk look or just fall asleep. After a nice little nap, their CCK levels drop a bit, so they want to nurse again. They may not actually drink, but just suck until they fall back asleep."

    Informed Parenting: Milk for Baby Jayden
    "Jayden was born cocaine and alcohol addicted, with congenital syphilis, at 31 weeks gestation. She had no skin on the palms of her hands or feet and had to have skin grafts. They could find no formula that Jayden could tolerate well, but settled on the one that she had the "least severe reaction to.""

    Bad Parenting: 8-Step Guide To Messing Up Your Kids
    "Most parents REALLY want to be good parents. But since it is rare for parents to take parenting classes before becoming parents, we inadvertently do lots of things to mess up our kids. This tongue-in-cheek article may help you to see what you are doing!"

    Teasing About Weight Can Affect Pre-Teens Profoundly, Study Suggests
    ‎"Because children who develop such negative views of their bodies are at higher risk for internalizing problems, developing irregular eating behaviors and ongoing victimization, researchers said these results should be a signal for more early identification and intervention efforts at schools."

    Return to remission... and an attack on natural parenting

    Today was the day... the day I had to see my rheumatologist and see what she said about my Lupus. Luckily, as I have been predicting for a few weeks now, she thinks I am well enough that I don't need to be medicated. It appears that my Lupus is back into remission! What a relief!

    However, the experience was not just one of relief and joy. The first thing she asked upon entering the exam room, before she'd even examined me to see if I was back in remission, was, "I guess you haven't weaned yet?"

    This, to me, was incredibly offensive. True, the medication she wanted to prescribe (CellCept) is contraindicated in breastfeeding, but when you haven't even examined your patient to see if they'll need the medication in question, why ask if they've weaned yet in preparation of being put on the medication?

    Once she examined me (and after the Baby Beast wandered over to me once to tug at my legs hopefully, wanting to be picked up, and I had passed him on to his grandma), she gave him a doubtful look and said, "Aren't you worried about how he'll be when he has to go to kindergarten?"

    Yes, because an 18-month-old toddler is JUST like a 5-year-old child.

    I was so floored that she would ask me such a stupid question that all I could manage was, "Studies on attachment parenting show that that's not a problem."

    That was all I could manage. Lame. Pitiful. Worse than pitiful.

    How would you have handled the situation? In a society obsessed with toddlers and infants being "self-sufficient" (which is an oxymoronic idea for people who eat dirt and rocks for a living, or who can't even make it across a room without help), how do you handle the naysayers who think you're creating a "momma's boy?"

    Playing outside... amazingly enough, without clinging to my leg
    like a limpet. But what about when he goes to kindergarten?

    Monday, September 20, 2010

    Weekend AP Roundup - Sept.19-24

    I've decided to start a weekly attachment/natural parenting link/article roundup, as often as I can manage it. Throughout the week, I come across lots of fantastic articles, studies, and videos that support natural parenting, and I'd like to share them with anyone who might be browsing through my archives looking for good reasons to love their child.

    October is Attachment Parenting Month
    "Join with us as we work to draw attention to and work to provide the support and information necessary for parents to raise whole, healthy, strong children who posses healthy emotional and physical appetites. Healthy connections are indeed the foundations for healthy bodies."

    Notre Dame Research Shows Attachment Parenting Practices Foster Morality, Compassion
    "Ever meet a kindergartener who seemed naturally compassionate and cared about others’ feelings? Who was cooperative and didn’t demand his own way? Chances are, his parents held, carried and cuddled him a lot; he most likely was breastfed; he probably routinely slept with his parents; and he likely was encouraged to play outdoors with other children, according to new research findings from the University of Notre Dame."

    Why cavemen were better parents than we are today
    " The findings, to be presented at a U.S. conference next month, run counter to current advice from parenting gurus to allow 'controlled crying' and to isolate misbehaving children on a 'naughty step' or in their rooms."

    Moms in Africa Breastfeed Differently
    "Using the common American technique, mothers bring the nipple to the horizontally cradled baby. This technique assumes that the passive baby requires the mother to perform the latch on. African mothers, on the other hand, nestle the baby vertically below the breast so the baby can easily find the nipple and latch on."

    Why African Babies Don't Cry
    "But that to ask a mother in Africa how many times a day she breastfeeds is like asking a person covered in mosquito bites how many times a day they scratch. It's not quantifiable because it's done with such frequency."

    Breast is best - for longer than you may think
    "It is difficult to pinpoint why we feel so confronted when we see, or even think of, women breastfeeding older babies or toddlers. There are some who are always going to be unreasonably bothered by the idea of a woman 'whipping out' a breast in public. Interestingly in the Newspoll study, most people objecting to public breastfeeding were not the old fuddy-duddies you'd expect, but people in the 18-24 year age group."

    Is it OK for Baby's Legs to Touch the Vehicle Seat in a Rear-Facing Car Seat?
    "Although it looks uncomfortable to our adult eyes, it's actually very comfortable for toddlers to ride in a rear-facing car seat. As you know, little ones can contort themselves into all sorts of positions that would cause serious pain for adults. Propping legs up on a seat or hanging them over the side of a car seat is minor in comparison. More importantly, though, it is safe for baby's legs to touch the vehicle seat when riding in a rear-facing car seat."

    The Truth About Epidurals
    "Mothers who have epidurals experience little to no pain in their labors. If mothers experience little to no pain, they produce little to no beta-endorphin. When mothers produce little to no beta-endorphin, their babies have more painful births."

    Vaccine Pushed on Infants Causes Drug-Resistant Pneumonia: JAMA Study
    "The authors also point out that the full effects of PCV-7 on development of the drug-resistant bacteria may not be fully defined by the study, since it focused on only the first three PCV-7 vaccinations, ignoring that the series consists of a fourth. They note, also, that their sampling method may have minimized the real story—that more drug-resistant bacteria may have emerged than they had accounted for."

    Warning All Pregnant Women: Miscarriages From H1N1 Vaccine As High As 3,587 Cases
    "A shocking report from the National Coalition of Organized Women (NCOW) presented data from two different sources demonstrating that the 2009/10 H1N1 vaccines contributed to an estimated 1,588 miscarriages and stillbirths. A corrected estimate may be as high as 3,587 cases. NCOW also highlights the fact that the CDC failed to inform their vaccine providers of the incoming data of the reports of suspected H1N1 vaccine related fetal demise."

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    A long time coming

    It's been about a month since I last up-dated, because I was hit with a world-shaking change in late August: my Systemic Lupus, in remission for nearly three years, was out of remission.

    That revelation would have been enough to shake me, but the next bit of information delivered by my rheumatologist really shattered me: "CellCept is still the best medication for Lupus. But you realize this means you'll have to wean the baby?"

    My plan has been to let him self-wean, to nurse until HE decides he's done, rather than take away his source of comfort and nutrition. So the news that I was going to have to wean him left me crying on the exam table while my doctor busied herself writing notes in my medical file.

    Well, it's been almost a month since I was given the news, and in that time I've done a lot of research... I've read through the Hale's guide (more appropriately known as "Medications and Mothers Milk: A Manual of Lactational Pharmacology"), and I've spoken to Dr. Jack Newman through e-mail, and have gotten feedback from Dr. Hale on his forum. Through all of this, I have come to a decision: like HELL am I going to wean my son.

    I have several plans of attack at this point, ways of approaching the situation.

    Plan A: The Ideal, meaning that the course of Prednisone I'm currently on works well enough to put the SLE back into remission, and I am able to continue forward medication-free, as I was before late August.

    Plan B: The Back-Up, meaning I am put on a breastfeeding-safe medication, like monoclonal antibodies (rituximab, as suggest by Dr. Newman) or cyclosporine (indicated in the 2010 Hale's guide as an alternative to CellCept).

    Plan C: The Last Option, meaning I am put on a low dose of CellCept and continue to breastfeed, but have the Baby Beast monitored to make sure he is not having adverse reactions to the CellCept. I will join Dr. Hale's study on breastfeeding and CellCept if this is the plan we have to go with.

    As of this moment, I have stepped down from four Prednisone a day to 1/2 a tablet a day, and I am doing just fine (as far as I can tell). In my opinion, I am back to where I was pre-August... but I will see my rheumatologist in a couple of weeks and she will let me know how she feels I am doing.

    But all the research I see says quite clearly that babies need to be breastfed for an extended period. Humans are not meant to be weaned before they are at least three or four years old. The composition of breastmilk changes to meet the needs of the infant/toddler/child for as long as they're nursing. And the health benefits of nursing are just too important to pass up.

    So, my rheumatologist may not like it when I don't fall calmly into line the way I did when I was sixteen or seventeen years old... but I have the Baby Beast to consider now, and I won't short change him if there are any chances to avoid it.

    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    The sand'box'

    The Baby Beast loves playing in dirt, or pouring bird seeds from his hand or a container, so a sandbox seemed the logical next step.

    I spent the better part of my childhood springs and summers in our sandbox, making up stories about the little plastic animals we would buy at the grocery store when we shopped. I could be amused for hours on end in my sandbox, so introducing one to my toddler gave me a lot of excitement and expectation.

    Rather than spend exorbitant amounts of money on buying an actual sandbox, or driving ourselves crazy trying to build one (we are not terribly crafty here; we can usually manage to cobble things together, but they're hardly impressive), we went and bought a little cheap plastic kiddie pool and poured bags of sifted sand into it.

    At this stage, I'm keeping it simple; he has a plastic bucket and a few simple sandbox toys. I encourage him to use bits of sticks and grass and leaves to decorate the sand, as well. From these simplest of playthings, as he gets older, imaginative play will spring. No need to give him handfuls of bright plastic toys (to be eaten by the lawn mower); he can make whole world from flowers and sticks.

    At this stage, though, he's mostly into the tactile sensation of sand on his skin, between his toes, squeezed in small chubby fists.

    Our big struggle is preventing him eating the sand. Needless to say, our EC journey has gotten much more, erm, interesting with the introduction of sand to his diet. Do you have any idea how hard it is to properly wipe a tushy without abrading the skin because of the passage of sandy poo?

    Despite the difficulties of a 16-month-old and sand eating, I think that the addition of a sandbox to his world has been a very positive one. What experiences have you had with very young children and sandboxes? What memories do you have of your own sand play as a child?

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    Mastering new skills: art

    I've held off on introducing coloring to the Baby Beast, mainly because I don't want to encourage the ham-fisted attempt most kids use when learning to use a crayon. Luckily, he is very willing to mimic once I model how to do something, and we dived right in to his first "art project."

    (a note on modeling: this is a Montessori concept. you demonstrate how to do something correctly, then sit back and allow your baby or child to do it as close to correct as they can. the demonstration is not the set-in-stone way of doing it; the demonstration is merely meant to give the infant/child a clear, hesitation-free way to accomplish a task. everyone does things differently. i still don't use scissors the 'correct' way [i was self-taught] but i manage to cut things just fine, despite the odd looks i get from people when they see me holding scissors)

    I offered him only two crayons for this first experiment, since I could see him getting lost in the fun of taking crayons out of and putting them back into the box over and over.

    I understood the importance of letting him do his own thing, so I mostly sat back and took pictures, only stepping in to correct his grip occasionally, or to stop him from trying the crayons out on non-approved surfaces (like the curtains or a dog's face). He ended up holding both crayons most of the time, one in each hand, although he's showing a definite peference for his right hand as the dominant one.

    Other than him trying to eat the crayons every time I stopped paying close attention, I would say that this first experiment went quite well. The only real hitch is my old problem of saying "crowns" instead of "crayons." I'm working on getting it right, at least when speaking to the BB. I may be screwing him up on accident (as i've been told before), but I'm certainly going to try to avoid doing it deliberately.

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

    Learning to relax

    One of the most important things I've learned from being a mother is that I have to relax, I have to let go, and I have to stop being afraid of messes.

    My own mother would argue that I've never been afraid of messes - I left enough lying around when I was young that I shouldn't quell at them now. But there's a difference between leaving books scattered across the couch and letting a 16-month-old pour a carton of goat's milk yoghurt on the kitchen floor. However, that's just what I did.

    Being aware that both the floor and the toddler were washable, I tried to sit back and let him just enjoy himself. Every now and again, I would try to remind him to take a bite, but for the most part he was engrossed in dribbling yoghurt onto the floor and himself.

    Of course, our resident clean-up crew were standing by, waiting for their chance to dive in. They ended up getting yoghurt-spattered too, but I figured that a wet washcloth would get the worst of it off of them.

    I'm sure some of you are absolutely cringing at the idea of letting a toddler smear yoghurt on themselves and the floor. But I've been thinking a lot about experiences in life, and I remember very clearly being young (seven or eight years old) and thinking that there was nothing in life as much fun as creating a really good mud puddle with the hose and then stomping in it slowly and methodically for hours on end, pretending to be Atreyu dragging Artax through the Swamps of Sadness (bonus points if you can remember that film).

    And, as I said above, both floor and baby were washable. So I sat back, took photos, and readied the wet towels for the end of the experiment (which, by the way, did not end until he'd smeared the dribbles of yoghurt everywhere, and finished by dumping the remaining inch of yoghurt in the carton all over his legs and diaper).

    What things have you learned to be more relaxed about since having a baby?

    Friday, August 6, 2010

    A mother's addiction

    I will admit to having an unusual addiction to both Mothering Magazine and their forums at If you've ever wondered if it's okay for your 15-month-old to take cell salts, there's a thread on that. If you feel alone nursing your 22-month-old, there are several threads for that. If your dentist kicked you out because you wouldn't do flouride treatments on your kids, there are threads on that.

    Living in Oklahoma, I often feel like the only mom parenting the way I do (a little Montessori, a pinch of Waldorf, and a whole lot natural). I go out to Native Roots Market (if you're in Oklahoma and you haven't been, you should go; they help you be a more effective locavore) to do our weekly grocery shopping, and I'm the only one either wearing my toddler or allowing him to roam freely (under his daddy's watchful eye) rather than tying him into a stroller. Or we go out anywhere and I get sideways looks for nursing my rambunctious, rolling-like-an-alligator toddler (who would otherwise be screaming and pulling on my shirt and pointing at his 'nursies'). makes me feel less alone, and helps me to connect with other like-minded moms. Plus, they have a new blog: All Things Mothering. It will feature blog posts from other natural parenting mommies out there in the world. So if you're enjoying "Well, Naturally!" then definitely head over there and get acquainted with some other like-minded mothers.

    Monday, July 5, 2010

    Breastfeeding is normal; bottlefeeding is unusual

    The title of today's quick up-date sums up my feelings on breastfeeding quite well: breastfeeding is normal, the natural way to feed a child, the way we have evolved through centuries of natural selection to best nourish infants and for infants to be nourished. It is bottlefeeding with a milk-substitute formula that is unusual.

    Besides the fact that formula does not compare nutritionally with breastmilk and often contains ingredients and quite often bacteria that are dangerous to developing infants, a bottle cannot possibly offer an infant the comfort of a mother's breast. The Baby Beast will sometimes walk up to me when he's crying, and want to bury his face against one of my breasts. While a part of me is laughing inwardly and thinking things like, "Lookit that, he's just like his daddy," a bigger part of me is aware that a 15-month-old has no concept of sex and is using my breasts for their intended purpose: nutrition and comfort.

    All of this to say that this week is the Carnival of Nursing in Public, an effort on the part of nursing mothers to normalize breastfeeding. (For more on that topic, I will pass the mic over to Code Name: Mama since she summed it up so well)

    So, if you happen to see a mother nursing in public, whether she's doing it furtively, trying to keep a huge blanket over herself and he infant, or doing it boldly, refusing to be shamed into covering up when she's perfectly capable of keeping her shirt on, please give her a smile. Let her know you aren't bothered by her responding to another human being's absolute need, like so many people out there seem to be.

    The American obsession with breasts as sexual objects is not healthy... not for America, not for America's babies, and not for America's mothers. So if you're a nursing mother, nurse in public this week. If you aren't a nursing mother, then smile at one while she is nursing in public this week. The health of a nation may depend on it.

    Wednesday, June 30, 2010

    Summer mornings

    The Baby Beast and I have been enjoying our mornings the last month or so. Husbeast has an early morning, summer session of Chemistry this summer, so he's out of the house by 7:30am (right around when the BB and I are waking up).

    The baby and I stumble to the bathroom with tousled hair and blurry eyes and use our respective toilets, then after popping a new diaper onto him, he and I head out the back door to the backyard.

    I usually have some laundry project to work on, like stuffing the pockets of his diapers. That, and a cup of coffee, helps me relax slowly into the day while the baby makes the rounds of the backyard.

    Some mornings, I like to let him do some water play. He loves pouring and experimenting with water, and I love to let him have the freedom to do it - when he's outside (no need to get into the stories of him 'experimenting' with the dog's water dish).

    While I stuff diapers (and snap pictures), he learns about gravity and water flow and I can't imagine what else, busily moving water from one place to another, and often pouring most of it down his front.

    All good things come to an end, though, and eventually he runs out of water (and patience), leaving his project behind.

    And every morning, once he's wearied himself in exploring the yard and yelling at the birds and wiggling his fingers through the fence at the dogs next door, he ends up splayed across my lap, still a baby at heart despite his huge toddler size, nursing to center himself and process everything he's learned that morning.

    How do your mornings start?

    Monday, June 28, 2010

    Minimize #1

    Image from Getty Images

    I've been putting a lot of thought into a minimalist lifestyle lately. For me, living a minimalist life would mean being less of a consumer (which we all know I'm against on principle, simply because consuming on a finite planet cannot lead to happy things - for more on that, visit The Story of Stuff). It would also mean streamlining our busy, cluttered, sometimes too-much-to-handle life.

    While a lot of families may not follow the traditional woman-actually-runs-the-household set-up, we in the Beastly household certainly do. I keep track of my appointments, the Husbeast's appointments, the Baby Beast's appointments... and do nearly all the laundry (occasionally, the Husbeast helps fold and hang clothes) and definitely make nearly all the meals (unless my sister-outlaw decides to share one of her truly gourmet creations).

    So, there is a lot of pressure on me to keep things moving smoothly forward, and there are days when I spend most of my day tripping over the piles of things that seem to inevitably gather in the perimeters of the rooms (and, occasionally, in the walkways).

    The first step for me on moving toward a more minimalistic existence was to clear out our over-burdened closet.

    I won't bore you with the details, except to say that I had letters from ex-boyfriends I hadn't spoken to in ten years buried in there. Those, along with shoes I fit into pre-pregnancy, made up the bulk of the closet clutter. Clearing all that out (recycling the letters and donating the donatable shoes to Goodwill) opened up a lot of space in the closet floor and shelves.

    Today, I went through and cleared out my clothes. Here's the realistic thing about clothes: you honestly don't need more pairs of socks, underwear, pants, whatever than you will conceivably wear before wash day. If you do laundry once a week, you would need eight pairs of socks, maximum. I generally wash clothes twice a week (because the laundry of two adults and one very messy toddler tends to pile up quickly), so I have pared my underthings down to groups of six, just in case I go a few days over.

    I also got rid of most of the clothes I haven't worn in the last few months. This meant clearing out around ten shirts and six pairs of pants. The room on my half of the closet is amazing - I can actually move clothes again! The hangers go more than a 1/4 inch!

    All the clothes were donated to Goodwill, and I'm truly hoping that someone out there will have a use for the perfectly useable pants and shirts that I frankly was not using.

    Now, I have to convince the Husbeast that he doesn't truly need twelve logo T-shirts...

    For more on minimalist lifestyles, check out Rowdy Kittens or The Simple Rabbit Society. If you don't feel you have the time to really read about minimalist living, then try the fast track and read through the eHow of How to Begin Living a Minimalist Lifestyle.

    Next on my list is decluttering the back bedroom. Considering it has been a catch-all for junk for the last two years, it may take some doing...