Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Celebrate! Winter Traditions Brought Home.

Welcome to the December Carnival of Natural Parenting: Let's Talk Traditions
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama.

Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

We like to be happy. We like to have excuses to be happy. We also love to learn. So what better way than to celebrate holidays? It gives us opportunity to learn about other cultures, religions, and customs, while taking every opportunity to spend time learning as a family.

We don't have a specific religion in our home. My husband says he is atheist. I'm a converted Catholic, but I am horrible at "being Catholic." I believe the dogma, and love the ceremony, but can't stand for some of the "rules."  I want my children to have the freedom to explore the world and the beliefs therein, to form their own opinions, and to make their own choices. Many people I know feel burdened by their religion, I felt joy in choosing mine. I want that joy for my kids too.

That being said, we are celebrating all the winter holidays this month that we know about and have themes we feel apply to us. There are a ton! It has taken a good amount of time to gather information on them.  One thing I would hate is to celebrate disrespectfully by getting something wrong! Luckily, we have a diverse circle of friends to help.

Our calender of winter holidays, and how we are celebrating in our home:

December 1st: Hanukkah begins at sundown. We celebrate with friends who have family members who practice Judaism, but they are just learning. My friend who is hosting the gathering picked up this neat set so we don't have to worry about the kids getting to flames. It worked really well for all the toddlers (8 kids 3 and under!). We also picked a few books from the library. My favorite was called The Trees of the Dancing Goats (Aladdin Picture Books) I loved that it talked about Hanukkah and also about honoring the holidays of neighbors and helping everyone enjoy the season.

December 5th or 6th: The feast of St. Nicolas. Everyone has a different approach to Santa. How our family does it is by looking to the inspiration for the modern Santa: St Nicolas. We focus on St Nicolas saving children and helping provide food in time of famine. We use it as an opportunity to go through our toys and clothes, and donate them so "Santa Claus" may take them to children who might not have families who can give them all the gifts our family is lucky to share. This is a great place for more kid-friendly information: http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=166

December 8th: Bodhi Day. Said to be the day Buddha reached nirvana and found enlightenment. I genuinely look forward to the quiet celebration of this day, as we block a set amount of time without distractions. No computer, tv, phone, ect. The idea is to calm our hearts and minds, to be aware of the lives we lead and the choices we make. To relish in the wonders of the world around us. We might make heart shaped cookies to represent the leaves of the fig tree Buddha sat under. 

December 21st: Yule or Winter Solstice. While Yule can have many descriptions, we will be spending the day to honor the change of seasons and the movement of the stars and planets. While most of our celebrations this month are about family, this will be our holiday of science. If the weather allows, we plan to take a walk after sunset to look at the stars, and more than likely talking about how cold it is will change the topic to seasons. Lighting a fire is also part of Yule ritual that we would like to explore.

December 21st-25th: Pancha Ganapati. Hindu celebration of Lord Ganesha, Patron of Arts and Guardian of Culture. Our take on this holiday focus' on the colors assigned to each day of the celebration. We use the days to create works of art based on the color of the day (yellow, blue, green, red, and orange). Each day also has a theme that the family should work on together. Starting with creating love and harmony within your family, and branching out to greater circles. Music, drama, and dance are also important, so we hope to take time to enjoy these things as well.

December 25th: Atheist Children Get Presents Day. This is a family joke, not to be taken as a negative on Christmas. Really, I feel that it allows Christmas to return to it's holy roots and really just "calls it like it is" for most families. Many families with no religious leanings will pick out the tree to decorate, make the big dinner, spend time with family and open presents. In our house we used to like to order in dinner, pizza or chinese, and go see a movie. We would tip the delivery person with not only a huge tip, but a gift card to show how we really understand it is never fun to work on Christmas. These traditions have changed over the years, and will continue to as our family changes.

There are also many local celebrations our family likes to participate in just as a family. L1's favorite is a Snowflake Lane. Toy soldiers march out, play Christmas carols, and it "snows." It is an amazing experience that brings joy to our family. We can't wait to go again this year and see what L2's reaction is, he was too little and asleep last year!

I have also always loved the story The Polar Express. Even before I had kids and before the movie, I would have a pajama party with my friends' kids to read the story, do crafts, and drink hot cocoa. I am continuing that tradition with my children and their friends. 

This may seem all very overwhelming when I put it all together, but really this is about learning about the world around us and creating our own traditions. We won't be stressing over each and every aspect of these plans. The intent is what is important, and that we make family and friends the center of all of our celebrations.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon December 14 with all the carnival links.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Writers block and Procrastination.

If you look at my blog, it seems as though it has been over a month since I last wrote a post. If you could see my  dashboard, you would see I have too many ideas on the burners. A post about my parenting influences. More notes from the LLL conference. A post I hope to submit about family traditions.

Short story explained: I am busy with my life, and get scatterbrained by the time I sit down to write. I need to do it, it feels good. But, I have holiday presents to make, decorations to put up, bake sales to help with, cooking to do. You know how it goes.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Foiled by Food!

This last weekend, we enjoyed a great time as a family at the LLL Conference. For the most part. One of the many challenges of food sensitivities is eating right while not at home. It is not usually a problem for us to just avoid the triggers, and usually a little contamination here or there isn't an end-all for our family. Luckily. I know people who suffer greatly by the slightest error.

The hotel we were at did make an effort to accommodate our needs. When a caring friend brought to their attention that my "special order" lunch just didn't do it for me (the lunch spread was chinese food,  I got a plate of iceberg lettuce with a sprinkling of chicken, egg, and olives. Not bad overall, but just didn't seems sufficient.) they had a meal of steamed veggies, rice, and chicken breast delivered to me. The other meals/snacks were great.

No, I was foiled by my own chosen ignorance. I kept thinking "A little bit won't hurt." "He's been ok, he might not even have this problem anymore," or just not bothering to double check when someone said something was gluten/soy/dairy free. I take the blame on this whole episode, and boy am I paying for it.  The saddest part is: so is my helpless boy.

L2 spent Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday night very uncomfortable, tossing, turning, and crying. Our days were filled with whining and crankiness, by all of us. I felt so bad to have caused this episode, and then to be lacking in patience to deal with the aftermath. I just wanted him to settle down, be calmed by nursing, NAP! But no. Nothing seemed to help, and we were running low on sleep.

I couldn't decide if keeping us out and about was best (distraction can work wonders for a toddler, even one with a tummy ache) or to hunker down and work at rebuilding our trust and connection. We kind of did both, and plan to continue it through the weekend. We also started on some probiotics that are just CLEARING out his system (as in horrible diapers even when he sleeps!) and seems to be on the mend. He slept well the last two nights, and seems to have better humor during the day. I also have been very careful about our food consumption this week, and not even risking the small amount of risks.

Sorry L2. As always: Momma should know better, and will work to do better in the future.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Le Leche League of Washington Conference 2010: Herbal Galactogogues

LEGAL STUFF: I am not a Doctor, Naturopath or any other person of the sort. This is just information I gathered at a class. These are my notes, so that I can have access to the information later, and share it easily. I welcome any corrections or information I might have missed.

Maximizing Milk Supply With Herbal Galactogogues: Sheila Kingsbury, ND, RH
This was a great session, in that she listed the information simply, and kept the same format throughout the presentation so I could easily gather the keypoints and have them to utilize in the future. However, it doesn't make for good blogging, just lists of herbs, doses, and preparation. Here goes!

Necessary elements should be checked before resorting to supplements. These include:

  • Position
  • Wide Mouth
  • Good Suction
  • Active Suckle
  • Outside interferences
  • Oral Anatomy (tounge tie)
  • Good Gland Funtions (thyroid, mammary, ect.)
  • Good Signaling (feed on demand)
  • Adequate mammary tissue
Best to address any issues in the first 2 weeks, after that isn't impossible, but it gets much harder as time goes on. Herbs should not be the only tool utilized, all aspects of the breastfeeding relationship should be looked into and adjusted in conjunction. 

Galactogogues fall into 4 categories:

True Galactogogues: Actually increases milk supply.
  • Fenugreek (Trigonella fenum-grecum): 1500mg 3x/day. Should work within a few days. Generally a base herb to which others are added, but is usually the only supplement needed. Capsules seem to work better than tinctures. Also works to lower blood sugar.
  • Goat's Rue (Galega officinalis): Range of effective dose can vary greatly, but generally 500mg 3x/day. Also works to lower blood sugar.
  • Blessed Thistle (Cnicus benedictus): 4g 2x/day, but high doses are hard to find so 2 capsules 2-3x per day. Generally used in conjunction with others.
  • Fennel Seed  (Foeniculum vulgaris): 50-150mg 3-4x/day. Not as reliable, but used frequently in culinary purposes. Major player in Mother's Milk Tea, not just as a galactogogue, but as a carminative- it increases digestive enzymes, reducing cramping and gas. For this purpose, it also works well for mother's of babies with colic. 2-3 tea bags a day.
Carminatives/Digestive Aids: thought to increase lactation by way of relieving stomach issues.
  • Anise Seed (Pimpinella anisum): Similar to fennel, traditional use around the world. 50-150mg 3-4x/day.
  • Caraway (Carum carvi): Usually combined with true galactogogues.
  • Milk Thistle (Sylibum marianum): Traditionally taught as "Makes waters flow", it helps detoxify as it is known for its ability to regenerate liver tissue. Transference is difficult, and best taken as a capsule. 500-1000mg 2x/day. 
  • Hops Flowers (Humulus lupulus): Of course makes people think of BEER! Really, beer was created to help with digestion. Usually better brewed in a tea than extracted in alcohol. Also helps as a Nervine- calms and relaxed aiding in the release of oxytocin.
Nutritives: Adds nutrients when combines with other supplements to aid in mother's overall health. Never used alone, but combined with other galactogogues.
  • Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis): Nutrient dense. Great for relieving clogged ducts. Best in a tea, but brewed with cold water: 1/4c whole cut in 1 qt water, let sit overnight, drain and drink.
  • Oat (Avena sativa): Use whole pod, not just the straw or oatmeal. Strongest nutritive value. Calming, and a supportive ingredient.
Nervines: Calms the body to allow it to work.
  • Lemon Balm  (Melissa officinalis): Dried or fresh, best in combination with others. Also mildly lowers thyroid hormones for hyperthyroid conditions.
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis): As little as 8mg a day can affect milk levels.
  • Raspberry Leaf  (Rubus ideaus): Though useful in readying uterus pre-labor, care should be taken continuing use postpartum.
Suggested Sources:

    Le Leche League of Washington Conference 2010: Food Edition

    This last weekend I attended the LLL conference with my family in tow. There were SO many GREAT speakers to hear, sessions to attend, and information to learn. It was also an awesome opportunity to spend time with friends and meet other like minded people. 

    Because of the amazing array of topics represented, I am having a little difficulty processing it all, so I have given myself permission to start with the easy stuff, and work into the more technical and then emotional aspects. So, this first post is about the 2 sessions I attended that spoke about food.

    Foods for a Healthy Hormone Balance: Michelle Babb, MS, RD, CD
    This was my first session of the conference, and while interesting, I think the information was a little hard to follow. Only because she tried to explain too much for the time limit we had. Eating for healthy thyroid is different than eating for insulin help or over all hormonal health. Much of it was common sense: more whole foods, less process and refined foods, exercise. I didn't get any good resources, aside from her personal site, but that is not short of some great information!

    Eating Like a Locavore: Ami Karnosh, MS, CN
    This was a very fun, light class. We discussed how the Puget Sound is a great area to eat a locavore diet, because we have such an array of possibilities open to us. Using the idea of "Local" being within a 200 miles radius, we have an abundance of fruits, veggies, seafood, honey, grains, and proteins. Food grown in their optimal environment, allowed to grow in their seasonal times are able to fully process their nutrients, and require less fertilizers/pesticides. They tend to grow better, on their own accord. Also, plants that have the chance to ripen on the plant have fully developed flavors that aren't possible when they ripen off the plant. Food also tends to take on the flavors of the areas they are grown in, so native soil better accompanies the taste of the food.

    It was also interesting to talk about food native to the area being nutritionally appropriate for the consumers of that climate. Warmer climates are abundant in fruits and leafy greens, cooler for dense grains and dark greens. This allows for better fat retention to keep warm or moisture rich to keep cool and hydrated. 

    Canning, drying, preserving foods at their peak is the best way to enjoy your favorite flavors throughout the year, when out of season. Also, everything has a peak season, even meat and eggs taste better and offer better nutrition when given time to naturally traverse their life cycles and grow to their optimal range for butcher.

    Some of the suggested sources for more information:

    These were fairly straightforward sessions, with little to now emotional processing to do (though I suspect I would feel otherwise a few years ago...)so this post was fairly simple. I hope the others go as well!

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Body Image

    I feel like I have always been aware of my body as something to be ashamed about. I have always been short and stout, rounded and pudgy. It has always been, and body image issues seem to run in the family. My dad's side has the over eaters, my mom's: the sometimes dangerously under eaters. I grew up hearing my mom talk about how fat she was, how horrible she looked weighing so much. As I was much more rounded than she was, I took that to mean I must look horrible as well. She never intentionally said anything like that about me, it was just the natural conclusion I came to. Even more so, as she always seemed to look slender to me. I rebelled against this ideal of body perfection, at least that is what I told myself. I didn't care what I ate, or keeping active.

    I wore my first bra at 8, with a horribly embarrassing trip to K-Mart where my mom just kind of nudged me into the intimates department and told me to pick something. I bumbled through tears and feelings of shame until a suitable item was found. And the following day, being scoffed at and teased by other girls for wearing a bra to "hold my fat in." I recall middle school clothes shopping, when I was to pay for half of my clothing budget, having picked out items from the plus sized area (already) that rang up the wrong price. My mom was helpful in standing up for the price listed, but I was so ashamed to say they were from the plus size section for the price check I would rather had paid the higher price. Picking out clothes my first year in high school at age 14, I was a size 20.

    During high school, I was more active. Our school was the largest in the state, so to traverse it's grounds within the 5 minute transfer period was a strain. Marching Band also helped (and shut up of you don't think a couple of hours a day with a bell set strapped to you wouldn't help you drop a few rolls!) as well as forgoing breakfast, and usually lunch. Not exactly healthy, but is what it is. So, when I met my now husband as a 16 year old, I was a size 16.

    After high school, my weight climbed again, then would drop off when I changed jobs or started fashion design school. (Walking around downtown Seattle, and spending class time with mostly size 2 girls, and being told I would only being taught how to design clothes for that size did little for my self-image.) But slowly, it climbed up and up. In early 2006 I stepped on a scale to the shock of the answer being 287. I decided that "it didn't matter" and went on, surely gaining a few pounds after that point.

    It wasn't until a few months of failing to get pregnant that I realized that maybe my weight was the issue. So, I finally started thinking about what I ate. And the weight started coming off. I was pregnant 4 months later. By 6 weeks postpartum, I was 50lbs less than my first exam. Someone told me if I did that with every baby, a few more and I could be a super model.

    Fast forward! (I'm done with the sob story.) L2 is born, with all his food sensitivities/allergies.  But, more than that story, was the birth of PRIDE in my body. It wasn't until recently that I even made that realization.

    That realization came when I decided I wanted to do more than my twice weekly Zumba. I wanted to run. My doula suggested looking into the Couch to 5K.  I am working on week 2. It is still early in the plan, but I am feeling great about it. I choose to run at random times as well. I push myself when playing with my kids. When parking is scarce in my complex, I will jog the short distance home around the pond.

    Moreover, I LIKE my body. I still fall to thinking that I am still a "fat girl" and head straight for the plus sizes when shopping, or shirking from photos. I grasp at compliments, sometimes to the annoyance of my husband, to bolster my new self-image. I don't need that plus size section anymore. I take pictures of myself, for the pride I feel about it. I am so proud in fact, that I LOVED finding these pictures to share with you:

     This is almost 4 years, 2 babies, and plenty of lessons learned about body image ago. I once believed my body didn't work. I was then convinced of that by Dr's who told me I couldn't birth my baby as nature intended. Then, I found out we were wrong. My body is amazing. It will continue to amaze me, the more I value it. In fact, my body is one of an athlete. It may not (yet) be slender and toned, but it has endurance, strength, and stamina beyond what I ever imagined. Now, I am determined to continue that theme into a new realm of fitness that I have never known. I might even do a marathon. Soon. Want to join me?

    When did you discover you LOVED yourself? How can I support you in loving yourself MORE?

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    10 Tasks, 10 Minutes Working, 10 Minutes Playing

    So, the numerical significance of the day has inspired me. I like when things match up. So, I have decided to make a list of 10 tasks I want to complete today. Then, I'll set a timer, and work my way down the list. 10 minutes on task, then AT LEAST 10 minutes focused on my boys. I won't set a timer for the playing part! And, if my list goes undone for the quality time spent with my boys, so be it. But, I invite you all to join me. Let's encourage each other!

    1. Wash diaper covers
    2. Make Bed
    3. Dirty clothes in hamper
    4. Wipe surfaces in bathroom
    5. Reboot laundry
    6. Pick up living room
    7. Pick up toy space
    8. Clean entry way
    9. Reboot laundry
    10. Vacuum

    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    I hereby dub thee: "Intacterrorists".

    Here it is: my first "I'm so mad I could spit, but too sad about the events to let them pass idly by" blog post.

    You might have heard this horribly sad story about a mother who lost her baby just a few days ago. A sweet boy who was fighting a Congenital Heart Defect, and his Dr's gave them the ok to circumcise, which may or may not have been the reason for his death. And the horrible comments that followed, blaming this mother for "killing her child by deciding to circumcise."

    Most people know that L1 is circumcised. L2 is not. We live, we learn, we do better in the future. I now take efforts to ensure other parents have the chance to avoid the feelings of regret I have about hurting L1 in this way by providing them with the information I never even thought to look up before I became a part of a gentle parenting circle.

    I never want to accost people about their decisions, or judge them. Same for bottle feeding. We do what we can with the information we have. So, I continue to provide information and speak out about the dangers relating to these decisions. All the while *trying* to not judge those who decide, or have no choice to do otherwise. (I'll admit, I'm not perfect at this, but I damn well know when to keep my mouth shut about it.)

    To those who have taken their activist soap box to the extreme of accosting a mother in her darkest hour, I now revoke your name of intactavist. You are now INTACTERRORISTS. You have gone beyond working towards a greater good and made this about attacking people who don't show themselves to be fully aligned with your views. You do nothing to further the cause, you quite simply make the case for those saying the cause is for sensationalists. Go, take some time to contemplate how you would feel if you made a decision that ultimately cost your child their life (like getting in the car, 10x riskier by statistic). Then maybe think about apologizing. Personally, I am going to go hug my boys extra tight, and pray that I never have to think about losing them.

    Sunday, September 26, 2010

    Meet L1:Photographer.

    He just turned 3. He has a camera. And a unique perspective. Have you ever wondered what the world looks like to a kid? Here are some examples.

    See more, and what I hope to be a progression of his photography at Little View of a Big World.

    Sunday, September 19, 2010

    L1's 3rd Birthday!

    So, officially L1's birthday is tomorrow, but I plan to be busy with playdates, cupcake making, and birthday dinner. You can find his birth story here, and boy, have I learned a LOT since that day.

    I'm sorry I didn't get up and move more during my labor.
    I'm sorry I allowed them to screw that monitor into your head, and even more sorry for how they carelessly ripped it out when it got tangled in your hair.
    I'm sorry I didn't research what circumcision was, but still had it done to you.
    I'm sorry for all the times in the past and future that I snapped, yelled, had a complete breakdown in our connection.

    Mostly I just want to say: I love you L1, and I can't wait to see what fun it is to be mommy for an amazing 3 year old!

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    Live to Learn Together

    Welcome to the September Carnival of Natural Parenting: We're all home schoolers
    This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how their children learn at home as a natural part of their day. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

    With back-to-school efforts in full swing by many of my friends, I started thinking about posting my thoughts. Then I saw the invitation to submit for the Carnival of Natural Parenting co-hosted by Lauren at Hobo Mama and Dionna at Code Name: Mama. And I thought I would give it a go.

    I have always loved learning. And while I never really hated school, I thought it was a huge waste of time. I constantly got in trouble for reading ahead during "read-aloud" times where students took turns reading from the text book. I would show up for classes on Monday, finish the work for the week, and then skip the rest of the week. It wasn't that I was so much smarter than other people, I just learned differently. Show me once, and I usually get it. I have great respect for different learning styles, the schools I have witnessed just can't.

    Before I had kids, a family I nannied for hired me to supervise their education as well. The biggest reason being that their 3rd grader didn't know how to read.  It didn't take me long to figure out he needed to MOVE for his brain to process. If you asked him to sit and read, he couldn't focus. But if you gave him a ball to sit on, or something to work with his hands, he could manage just fine. Spelling and math became a breeze when I would tell him the word or problem, then he ran around the outside of the house, came back and had the answer. It is called the Bodily-Kinesthetic Learning Style (1). He never would have had that kind of opportunity at school. How can a teacher, no matter how great, keep control over 15-30 kids when they ostensibly all have different styles? They can't, and so they "encourage" students to follow the more mellow learning styles: sitting quietly to learn and work.

    This was the biggest reason I have always said that I would avoid industrialized school if at all possible. Having made this choice early, my husband and I were able to create our family life as one open to the opportunity to learn from the day we found out we were expecting. When L1 was born, our adventure in learning as a family began. 

    We tend to be a bit lazy around the house, so we plan our time carefully, and spend as much time as we can out and about. We do the "normal" things like visiting the zoo and aquarium, but we don't just wander from exhibit to exhibit. We visit areas during Keeper Chats to learn more about the animals. When L1 was old enough, we looked for the ones where a not-too-busy zoo keeper is working, and willing to talk to our boys about the animals, as well as listening to L1 talk about them (even if he isn't entirely decipherable yet). 

    This is actually our main method of creating learning opportunities: going places, and talking to the people who know, and are open to having a conversation with a 3 year old, because L1 has a lot to say. We are regulars at a local produce stand, where the manager stops when she sees us to tell L1 his favorite foods are in and where they came from. She also introduces us to any new foods they have that week. When we visit farmer's markets, street fairs, libraries, anywhere, we look for the person in the know to talk with. Then we take that information home with us, and explore it to the extent of our interest in the topic. Which can include finding books to read, a website to explore, or a craft to make. When they are old enough to start asking about different topics, we will search out the experts to talk to and learn from.

    I guess you could call it Child-Led Learning. The premise of child-led learning is that children learn best and rise to their full potential when they are allowed to lead the way and explore subjects when they feel ready. (2) Except this isn't just for my son's benefit, we do it because it is our responsibility to continue learning all through our lives. That is the lesson I really want to teach my children. I am not the teacher, we are learning together using the resources that are so abundant in this age of information. We live to learn, and that never stops. It doesn't matter where you are or what you are doing, everything is a learning opportunity when you take away the idea that "school is where you learn". School is a place for certification of your education, which will be important as they grow older. But for now, the world teaches my children in a way no mass education machine can even fathom much less provide. Good thing I can.

    1. "The physical (bodily-kinesthetic) learning style."Learning-Styles-Online.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2010. .

    2. Madison, N.. "What is Child-Led Learning?." wiseGEEK: clear answers for common questions. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2010. .


    Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

    Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

    (This list will be updated September 14 with all the carnival links.)

    Tuesday, August 31, 2010

    Take Me Out to the Ball Field!

    We love going to watch baseball. And even though they aren't the greatest of teams, the Mariners are entertaining, and their field is great. We love to take our boys, watch the game, wander the stadium, play on the playground, and of course EAT! And last night, I was finally able to take advantage of all of those things!

    Phase One: Breastfeeding at the stadium.
    Too frequently, I read about mom's getting flak for breastfeeding at the ball game. Not me, not at Safeco, not ever. In fact, the employees there have always been great about it. They help me find an open seat in our section that isn't in direct sunlight, or need a little more space for a nursing/sleeping babe. They do have a nursing lounge, which I have used when a kiddo needs a quiet respite to nurse and reconnect, but never once was this suggested to me (which I would have construed as a suggestion to hide). 

    Phase Two: EATING!
    So, going gluten/dairy/soy free is not the easiest. I am sure anybody knows this. But going to the ball field just SCREAMS hot dogs and beer. Or, at Safeco, Ivar's, microbrews and Garlic fries. Ok, so maybe it is a little stuck up, but it is great. And last night, I was able to enjoy GF fish and chips from the Seafood Shack on the second level (they use rice flour for the batter!) and they have even started carrying Redbridge GF beer at select stands. Also, upon hearing my fish wasn't all the great on first bite, the guy come back with a bigger batch of freshly made ones that were divine!  They have expanded their options for many food restrictive or choice fans. So, even with the embarrassing 3 homeruns given up in the 5th inning and subsequent loss, last night was a WIN!

    Phase Three: Celebrating the Field and a single suggestion for improvement.
    I like to honor positive efforts. It sucks to only hear complaints, so I like to taut the positive as much as I would the negative. So, I sent them a little note doing just that. Don't know that I will hear anything back, but I did what I could. Here is my letter:

    I would just like to thank you for creating a truly supportive family environment  at the ball field! Too often I hear of mother and babies being bullied for breastfeeding in public, but that has NEVER been my experience when visiting Safeco Field to watch our Mariners. Not only have your employees been accommodating when we needed to change seats to get our children out of the blazing sun on a perfect sunny day, or find more space to nurse comfortably, but never once have they suggested the  available nursing lounge. Which although is very nice (great for my distractable babe) might give the impression of encouraging seclusion. Thank you so much for all of this! My only suggestion would be to introduce the International Breastfeeding Symbol. Not only to make the lounge easier to locate  for those who would like to use it (currently the signage has a bottle on the sign, which isn't exactly supportive of breastfeeding), but also to display the Field's support in any seat or location your breastfeeding fans have permission to be.

    Thank you again for providing my family with a great place to spend time together.

    Link to International Breastfeeding Symbol: http://www.breastfeedingsymbol.org/download/
    Yeah, I stole the picture. It is of us, but I my camera phone was dead, so this was all there was!

    UPDATE: Safeco Field now uses the International Breastfeeding Symbol! I wish I could have snapped a picture of it up on the jumbo screen. I can't say it was because of this email, but I won't discredit myself either!

    Sunday, August 22, 2010


    I love camping. My husband loves camping. But, we have only been camping together a handful of times. I'm not sure why we didn't do it more when we were kid-less, but I can now appreciate why we haven't done it more as our family has grown. And yet, we vow to go more often. As in, we just got back, and we are planning another in about 3 weeks. That seems a ways off, but we have had a full summer, and I know it will be here before we know it. And this time, we are going alone.

    Ok, maybe not totally alone. We hope some friends will join us, we just aren't planning on organizing anyone but us four.

    But, I figured I should write out now what I learned on this last trip to make things easier on the next. I made a few rookie mistakes, but also planned very well in other aspects.

    We went with my family: Mom, Tante and her boyfriend, and my mom's husband and his daughter. (Yes, there is a distinction between that and step-dad and step-sister. There isn't a point in explaining it here, as I hope as we all grow older and wiser we can eliminate that seperation. We just aren't there quite yet.) They brought the boat and we visited a beautiful area on Baker Lake. My mom's husband planned most of the food (I filled in for our food restrictions, but he mostly had it covered) and that was great to not have to plan, or cook all of it. Or any really: he precooked a LOT of meat, so it was ready and delicious with very little time spent.

    Now, my list of things to remember:

    1. Kids need things to DO or they will find something, including getting into trouble. We spent much of our time keeping L1 from running off to the lake to throw rocks in the water. I need to remember to bring things for him to do in camp. Snacks he can help make, cars to drive in the dirt, crafty things to utilize the amazing surroundings.

    2. Non-walkers who are almost walkers HATE not being able to roam. L2 outgrew his shoes AS WE LEFT (I swear!) so we spent a lot of time keeping him off the ground. I don't mind the getting dirty part, just the scraped feet and knees. I need to pack better, so he can explore safely.

    3. Pack tons of diapers. Then double it. I carefully packed the number of cloth diapers we would normally use, and all of our covers. So, of course, the boys changed their habits and we ran short.

    4. Be ready to not do any of the things you planned. I didn't get out on the boat once. But, I did get to take long naps and read an entire book. A real one, with chapters and no pictures.

    What I did RIGHT!:

    1. Don't count on sleeping bags. We used some oversized ones opened and spread out. I brought pillows and blankets a plenty to keep us warm in as close to our family bed style as normal. It was great. I have never been so warm and comfy camping as I was will little bodies all around. And I knew they were safe and warm with me.

    2. Bring a variety of clothes, as you never know what the weather will do. I had warm jackets, sweaters, lined pants and shorts. And more than one pair of shoes for everyone. Well, except L2. Sorry baby!

    3. Babywearing. Always a must, no matter where we travel or what we are doing. Even L1 spent some time on daddy when he was tired and overwhelmed.

    4. Bring good bug spray. With L2 being so sensitive to, well, everything, this could have been a hard one. Good thing I already had a trusted skincare product provider My Mama's Love, and she just introduced Bug-Off-Me, so I picked some up knowing that if her daughter's skin was ok with it, so would L2's and that her products are the best quality and they WORK! (I'm not affiliated with them, I just love-love-love every product I have ever tried and am quick to tell anyone who asks.) Now, I just have to wait for them to put out a sunscreen!

    Overall, it was a very fun, but trying weekend. I really need to start realizing that if something isn't working it is usually my attitude that needs to be addressed first. Can't wait to get our family out again!