7.06.2010

I am moving on....


I am so happy to share the news! I am moving on out of my cozy little space here on blogger. I am still unpacking and making everything look pretty over at www.pocketbuddha.ca but come on by and check it out!

I will still be writing about my experiences as a new mom, and on the subjects of breastfeeding, attachment parenting, and all other kinds of interesting to me stuff. Thanks for reading, I hope to see you over at my new home!

6.29.2010

A Bleb in the Road

I am no stranger to breastfeeding adversity.

The uncertainty, doubt, and worry of undertaking a BFAR relationship is something I have talked about on a few occasions. Taking on a task that should come naturally when your anatomy has been augmented takes a lot of research, determination, and a lot of faith.

Even after leaking colostrum for the last weeks of my pregnancy, putting my child to breast and waiting for my milk to "come in" was still a bit of a hail marry attempt. An attempt that I had little real medical support in undertaking (that's another post altogether).

With the overwhelming success of my breastfeeding experience to date, I literally felt bullet proof, like there was nothing that could stop us now. Well, there isn't really anything that could stop us now... But there are apparently things that can give me a little more understanding for those who do give it up early.

I have a bleb. Otherwise known as a milk blister. I am not sure exactly how or when I got it, but the fact remains that nursing Oliver on my right side is becoming increasingly painful.

Thanks to twitter friends and awesome online resources like kellymom.com I know how to treat myself physically. I have started an Epsom salt and hot compress regiment, and am attempting a couple different nursing positions to alleviate the pressure a bit.

But I am unsure about how to come to terms with it emotionally.

Not the milk blister itself anyways. I mean, what is there to overcome emotionally about a milk blister? Aside from the really gross reality that I have a blister filled with breast milk bulging out of my nipple?

It's surely taken the wind out of my sales that's for sure. I find myself deterring and distracting Oliver when he wants to nurse (which I know is a big no no and can lead to other problems). Which makes me feel sad and guilty, not only am I refusing (well, delaying anyways) his comfort and nourishment, but I have never not wanted to nurse him before.

I love nursing; I would happily sit on my ass and breastfeed all day long if I could. For the closeness and bonding, it's relaxing and calming for both of us, and because it's a welcome break chasing him around the house now that he's mobile. I take pride in making milk for him. Every ounce he gains is triumphant and glorious.

But now that I am experiencing pain and discomfort I find myself not so willing to spend hours letting him come and go, playing and nursing as he pleases.

I know that the blep is temporary, but this dramatic shift it's caused in our daily routine is disconcerting. We are both put off by it, and well, it just really really sucks. For now I am trying to encourage comfort cuddling over comfort nursing, taking extra care to ensure a good latch at every feeding, and praying that this thing goes away very soon.

I wouldn't dream of weaning because of a tiny Bleb on the road, but boy is it tough to face each feeding with excitement and enthusiasm when there are problems.

6.28.2010

I am Back!

It’s been a few weeks I know. . . I had every intention of posting pretty much the moment I got home from our vacation at the lake but then life happened. We didn’t end up getting home until very late at night, Oliver got sick, the internet was broken, and I was just too dang lazy.

But whatever, here I am, I am back, hope you liked my post about bears . . . we didn’t see any while we were away, only a billion deer, a moose, two foxes, a dead minnow, and served ourselves up for the dining pleasure of eleventy jillion mosquitoes.

because while I did manage to find a breastfeeding friendly insect repellent made from all natural essential oils and all that lovely hippie jazz the fact of the matter is that I live in Saskatchewan, the mosquitoes here are gigantic tough as nails mutant mosquitoes. They laughed in the face of my all natural essential oils. On day 3 I gave up and covered myself and my family in Deet. Fuck you environment, and the threat of cancer, I just couldn't take the buzzing or the itching any longer!

Aside from being eaten alive by bugs, we had a great time. Not only did it go well enough for me to consider tenting next time, I would love to do the cabin thing again. It was so cozy and relaxing!

6.11.2010

Camping Bear Safe With Kids

In just two more sleeps we leave for our week long vacation in the woods of northern Saskatchewan with a friend of ours and her 2 year old. I am really excited, and as all of the week's meals come together and get frozen, camping gear gets dusted off and tested, and lists get checked and rechecked, I am also a little nervous.

Aside from a weekend music festival with friends last year and my memories of camping with my parents and younger siblings, I have never camped with small children and babies. For that reason we have opted to start the summer by cheating and staying in a cabin.

I can hear my past self from two or three years ago calling my present self a total wuss, but that's ok. My past self may have had the guts to hitch hike across the country with no money, a couple bags of trail mix, and a mickey of rum just to see Tom Petty and The Heart Breakers, but my past self didn't have anyone to worry about but herself. This year I want to start out easy.

My biggest worry about camping, or in this case simply spending a large amount of time outdoors in bear country, with small children isn't how or what to pack for a week, or if we'll have enough to eat and snack on, or what the bugs will be like. It's the fact that we will be spending so much time hiking, swimming, and playing in bear country.

Staying bear safe on your own as an adult is as second nature to me as walking and chewing gum. But children, as we all know, are crawling/walking crumb machines who give off all kinds of smells that could be potentially attractive to bears. And bears, being furry, can easily be potentially attractive to small children who think that big+furry=puppy.

Not to mention that if I get between a mama bear and her cub, mama bear is going to rip me apart. If a bear gets between me and my cub, I'll certainly do my best but I am much smaller and weaker than a bear.

So how do we go about outdoor activities that we enjoy with our kids while still keeping ourselves bear safe? I've done a lot of research and remembering how my parents dealt with it and have come up with my own list.

1) Talk to your child, in an age appropriate way, about the difference between pets and wild animals. Make sure they know that it is ok to play with and trust their own dog or cat, but that it is not ok to approach any strange animals without a parent or trusted adult present.

I am hesitant about talking to Oliver about bear safety specifics too early. When I got the bear safety talk at around the age of 10, it terrified me and camping wasn't really very fun that year. If your child has the tendency to worry or be nervous about new or different situations, it may not be helpful to put the image of tattered tents and angry hulking bears in their heads.

2) Do not allow or encourage your child to feed wild animals. Personally, I won't even let Oliver feed the local geese in town because I do not want him to learn that feeding wild animals is ok. As the bear safety guide lines on the BC Parks website state; A fed bear is a dead bear. Once an animal starts associating humans with easy food they become dangerous, there is no sure way to break that association and those animals usually need to be destroyed.

I once fed a cherry to a wild rabbit while camping and had my mother totally flip out about it. I didn't understand at the time that loving and respecting nature means leaving it to it's own devices. Bear safety isn't just best for humans, it's best for the bears!

3) Always keep your children in sight and travel or hike in groups. Bear attacks on humans are much less likely in groups for a number of reasons. The most obvious being the strength in numbers. Groups of people also tend to be noisier than a lone person. A bear who is startled is much more likely to attack, if they hear you coming most bears will high tail it away from you before you are even aware of it.

4) Tents are for sleeping, not for playing. I was originally going to make this the "no food in your tent" rule, but no playing in the tent makes more sense. Children, especially small children, snack a lot, especially if they are running around outside all day. Many children also like to snack on the go. To avoid small children forgetting to leave their food outside of the tent, or just sneaking it in there cause it's a cool place to hang out, make your tent off limits during the day time. This will also keep the bugs out of your tent by stopping the in and outs and keeping the flap closed.

5) Take a tour of your campsite. To avoid any bear attracting waste being left out, make sure your children know where it is safe to put their garbage, spit their toothpaste, go to the bathroom, and wash themselves or their dirty clothes or dishes. (Even the perfumes in disposable diapers can attract a bear so make sure you know where and how to store your garbage as well!)

6) Avoid letting your children help themselves to food or drink while camping so that you can make sure that air-tight lids are replaced properly, food stored safely, and waste disposed of properly.

7) Do not let your child throw garbage or left over food in the campfire. It seams like the ideal way to get rid of waste without having to pack it out with you, but the fact is that many plastics and food waste do not burn away completely and even the smallest amount of garbage left smoldering in your fire pit can attract a bear.

8) Give your child a loud emergency whistle or other noise maker to carry with them. To be honest, I though it was really lame to wear a big orange whistle around my neck on vacation, but I understand now why it was necessary. Make sure your child knows to only blow the whistle in an emergency. If your child gets lost, he or she should sit down and blow the whistle long and loud until someone comes to get them.

Sources vary on whether or not it is wise to have your child blow the whistle if they see a bear. Some say (and I was always told) that blowing the whistle or yelling, or making other loud noises will scare the bear away from you. Others say that the loud or sudden noise may infuriate the bear into attacking. I would personally tell my child to blow the whistle, if it doesn't scare the bear away I guess I would at the very least be alerted and have the chance to throw myself between my child and the bear.

In general if you are planning to spend any outdoor time in bear country I encourage you to do your own research! Plan ahead to find solutions to fit your specific situation, and make sure you know at least a little bit about all of the animals you may encounter on your adventures.

For more information about bear safety:

BC Parks

Canada Trails

Ursus International

Be Bear Aware Colouring Book (PDF) - This one is directed to children who live in the Yukon, but has valuable information that every kid should know. It's pretty blunt in some areas so reading through it before you print is best to make sure it will not scare your child. My personal favourite parts are the bear bums and human bums, the dead cartoon moose with X's for eyes, and the part where they tell children not to play near garbage dumps. . . Do many children in the Yukon play in garbage dumps?

6.09.2010

Beautiful Blogger Award

I have been given a Beautiful Blogger Award by Jennifer over at Connected Mom!

The rules are really very simple: 1) link to the person who nominated you, 2) tell 7 things about yourself people might not know 3) nominate 15 more beautiful bloggers!

Before you read the 7 super-duper interesting things about me, go check out the Connected Mom Blog! Jennifer writes about many of the things I love like breastfeeding, baby wearing, and natural and attachment parenting. She is TEH awesome!

1) When I was a little girl I wanted more than anything to be a marine biologist when I grew up. I made this decision living on the bald Canadian Prairie having never even seen the ocean with my own eyes. When I finally did see the ocean I still loved it and everything in it, but realized that I was far too frightened of it to go any further than ankle deep and would probably not enjoy a career than involved actually getting IN the ocean.

2) I recently took up the Ukulele. I always thought that I could be a really musical person. Never mind that I never really learned to play an instrument, and was rarely given any choir or musical theatre solos in school, I was convinced that I possessed the hidden talent to be a rock star. As it turns out the best way to test ones musical acuity is to try tuning an instrument by ear. . . I just can't do it. I can play several simple Ukulele tunes, but I need Das Piper to tune my instrument for me every time.

4) Despite my long time Vegetarianism, when I was pregnant I craved stove-top turkey stuffing. I did my best to ignore this craving. Not only was I set in my decision to remain vegetarian throughout my pregnancy, I also knew that introducing that amount of pure sodium into my system would be asking for trouble. I finally gave in around my second trimester. I had been so sick that I simply convinced myself that it wouldn't really be eating it if I was just going to throw it up again within the hour. . . I ate the whole box, on several occasions. . . and ya know what? Not only did I develop a pretty bad case of preclampsia late in my third trimester, but IT WAS DELICIOUS!

5) I have to touch the car window every time we drive over train tracks. There are several reasons why that I have some up with in my head, but the fact is I just have to, there is no good reason.

6) FRINGE SPOILER ALERT! I don't believe that the Walternate is trying to build a machine to close the holes between our universe and the alternate universe, I think he is building a weapon to take over and occupy our universe when the alternate is destroyed.

7) When I was pregnant with Oliver, Das Piper and I had already settled on a different name for him. We were going to name him Duncan. 4 months before he was born I was at the grocery store and realized that with that name his full name would sound very similar to a brand of instant cake mix. . . I contemplated not saying anything and using our original name anyways. . . I am pretty sure just contemplating giving a kid such a ridiculous name makes me a pretty terrible person.

Ok, there you have it, 7 random things about me that you may or may not have known. I know what you're thinking, you're thinking "How does she know what I am thinking?" and after that you're thinking, "This woman is really quite boring". So here are 15 bloggers who are much more interesting than I am that I would like to pass the beautiful blogger award on to!

1)Breastfeeding Moms Unite
2)Lulusparrow
3)Bloomy Mommy
4)Beatnik’s beat on life
5)Chaotic Mama
6)Mommypotamus
7)Brisbane to Brooklyn
8)Abigail’s Road To Nowhere
9)I am the Diva
10)Accustomed to Chaos
11)Feminist Breader
12)Blacktating
13)Schmutzie
14) Tori Klassen
15)Hobo mama

5.31.2010

Baby Haiku

Glasses
What's that on your face?
Perched so neatly on your nose.
I want to grab them.

Jumping
How I love to jump!
Jump jump jumpity jump jump!
Mom's arms are so tired.

Remote Control

These buttons taste good!
Sorry, were you watching that?
Daddy in training.

5.28.2010

Guest Post: My Mom's Thoughts On my 24th Birthday

It's true! Today is my 24th birthday, and instead of spending the whole day singing my own praises, I thought I would invite my mom to sing them for me and share her thoughts and insights on my life thus far. My Mom normally blogs on her own site, torriklassen.com.

Each month, my oldest daughter, “Pocketbuddha” sends me (and the rest of the family) an update on Oliver’s progress, which is titled “Oliver is [x] months old.”

Well, today I get to update you all about Pocketbuddha, because it’s her birthday, and because I’m her mother, and because - damn I am proud of her.

She was born 24 years ago in Kindersley, Saskatchewan. There was still a Soviet Union then, and a divided Germany. Jello Biafra was in his last months as a member of the Dead Kennedys. A two-headed baby was flown somewhere for surgery - luckily not my baby. I didn’t want to think about such things back then. No. Wait. I still don’t.

It was hotter than hell the week she was born. The little maternity ward was full and the water pressure in that small prairie town failed from overuse - there was no running water in the hospital for a day or so. You can imagine how much I wanted to take my little girl home to Kerrobert, an even smaller town where we lived. After three days, we did just that.

Me: barely 21 years old, not much prior experience with babies or toddlers of any kind (not much babysitting experience, no small cousins, etc.). We come into our home (a two-bedroom apartment), I took my baby out of her car seat and laid her on the bed.

Baby Pocketbuddha: tiny. Black hair. Sleeping peacefully.

Me: Ye gods. This is an entirely new human being depending on me 24/7 from now until - well like 18-20 years.

What. Do. I. Do. Now???????

Like any new mother - no worse, because I was so inexperienced - I had hopes, dreams, expectations. But Pocketbuddha was from the start her very own person who didn’t feel the need to follow any path but her own.

I’ve always admired that about her, even while I was admonishing her to “Question authority, NOT your mother!”

This is what she taught me: children are their own people, they’re not little “minime” copies of their parents. Not necessarily.

So you can be horrified all you want when you carefully raise them vegetarian until age 4 when suddenly at day care they grab a sausage and wolf it down.

Yes, she did this.

Yes, I was horrified.

But look at her now: she’s the vegetarian, I’m the carnivore. Closing the circle. Nyah.

Over the years our relationship hasn’t always been close. At one point when she was a teenager I actually had serious doubts as to whether she could actually take care of herself on her own given the horrific state of her room and her generally slovenly attitude toward household chores.
I didn’t realize at the time, but it’s just a developmental phase teenagers go through. Pocketbuddha is the eldest of three; she had to train us to be good parents. She did her job well, because I felt more prepared for it with her younger siblings, much to her chagrin.

But one thing I never had any doubt about: that she would be a wonderful mother. When her best friend had a baby at 17, she pitched right in and had that little girl in her arms as much as she could. Same with another friend’s baby boy a year or two later.

One night I was driving up to her dad’s house for a visit, or to pick up something, or drop something off, I can’t remember now. It was summer, it was fairly late (9 or 10 in the evening). There was my teenaged Pocketbuddha with her friend’s baby on the front porch, on the rocking chair.

“Mom,” she said with a pitiful expression on her face. “She’s been up for hours and she won’t go to sleep! I’m exhausted!”

“Oh no!” I said, seizing the teaching moment by the horns. “Gosh, well. Babies do that sometimes. It won’t last. Eventually, she will go to sleep." I beat a hasty retreat without offering to help, figuring the lesson here would be: don’t have children before you’re damn good and ready.

So when my beautiful, smart, sassy, creative, artistic daughter called me a year ago February to tell me she was pregnant, I cried tears of joy. My little baby was going to be the best mother, EVAR. Better than me, because she knew exactly what she was in for.

And when I walked into her home that she shares with my son-in-law (a man I quite like, respect and admire) and my grandson: I saw everything in its place, neat and tidy, and a mother completely in love with her baby boy (c’mon - what’s not to love?) and I knew that, just as her namesake wrote in the 14th century:

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.


5.26.2010

WordFUL Wednesday: Robert Munsch

My 8 year old niece won 6 tickets to see Robert Munsch from a draw at her school, and was very thoughtful in choosing who to invite.

Her mom, her two best friends, and of coarse me, her auntie JJ, who has been buying her Munsch books nearly every birthday and Christmas for the last 8 years.

Needless to say I was ecstatic! I have loved Robert Munsch's books for as long as I can remember. Without his stories I don't think I would love books half as much as I do now.

For anyone out there who has never read on of his stories stop reading this (you can come back to it in a bit, just humor me here), get in your car, or on your bike, bus, or train and go, right this very second, to the nearest book store and get at least one, or as many as you can. You'll thank me when you do, and your children will thank you.

(If you find yourself overwhelmed by the selection, my personal favorites are "Purple, Green, and Yellow", "Millicent and the Wind", "The Mud Puddle", and "The Paper Bag Princess")

The man is quite simply a genius. His story telling speaks to not only every child, but to every person. Every character is us, our children, our brothers and sisters, our nieces and nephews.

Along with very relatable characters and plots ranging from a girl who finds a baby in a hole, a boy who won't go to sleep, a girl who makes friends with the wind, to the experiences of a young immigrant's first days of school in Canada, Robert Munsch also builds his stories with story time in mind. His stories are meant to be read out loud and interacted with.

Hearing his stories come to life through his own telling was magic.

At one point, while he was telling every mother's favorite Munsch story 'love you forever', all the babies in the audience aged 0 to 13 and beyond rested comfortably in their mother's arms without any resistance or embarrassment. It was a shared moment so peaceful and powerful that there was not a single dry maternal eye in the house. I got the feeling that many of the mothers of older children had not had the opportunity to hold their babies so closely in quite some time.

There is a funny thing that happens though, when you hear stories you remember from your childhood told by someone other than the person who told them to you in your childhood. It's not unlike listening to a cover of your favorite song in that it's often hard to stop comparing the two versions and just enjoy it, and yet it's so much more than that. There's a disappointment that sets in, and something akin to home sickness. The man who wrote the story could never tell it as well as my parents did.

So tears and laughter and nostalgia were had and at the end of the show I eagerly rushed for the autograph line. We stood there for 2 hours, despite the fact that the children were getting bored and Oliver overtired. (Thank god for those girls though, Oliver hardly fussed at all he was so busy soaking up the attention!)

I got to meet one of my childhood heroes, got to thank him for his contribution to my childhood, and to Oliver’s. And even though my camera suffered a sudden and mysterious crap out at that exact moment causing me to miss a great photo opportunity (Robert Munsch holding my son). I couldn't have asked for anything more.

5.24.2010

Thou Shalt Not Put Baby In A Corner

As I am sure you’ve already heard, Better Homes and Gardens is currently under fire for letting THIS ARTICLE go to print. In the article, BH&G writer, Heather (who obviously does not have any children of her own), shares with us her “commandments” for eating out with your small children while making “helpful” suggestions for keeping your children at home and out of public where the rest of society won’t have to look at your whiney snot-nose crotch droppling.

Note: Better Homes & Gardens has since apologized for this article on their Face Book page siting a lack of editor impute and vetting procedures for online articles. Now that this problem has been brought to their attention I certainly hope that steps will be taken to make sure it doesn't happen again.


While I appreciate the apology, my grievances with the article still stand. The opinions expressed in this article, and many of the comments from those who agree with those opinions are a symptom of the misogyny that is ingrained in our society. When you perpetuate social taboos and set limits on breastfeeding and other forms of mothering you are marginalizing women. The hurt that was caused by Better Homes and Gardens providing an unwitting platform for these opinions can not be mended by a simple apology, but I appreciate it none-the-less.


Well Heather, I am sorry that we parents of the world have inconvenienced you, but you know what? Single childless people aren’t exactly the model of acceptable behaviour themselves. So I’ll make you a deal; I will take your incredibly offensive commandments under consideration if you consider my commandments for eating out with your lonely bitter self:


Thou shalt not park your car in the specially reserved parking spaces for parents of young children.

Yes it’s true that those parking spots are purely convenience, and are not protected by any sort of by-law. You will not be fined for parking there without children, but it forces parents of small children to find parking elsewhere and then navigate their small children across a possibly busy and dangerous parking lot. What's more, it makes you look like a total dooche bag.


Thou shalt not use the folding bathroom change table as a convenient place to set your purse.

It may look convenient, but if you had children, you would know that the festering microscopic germ farm growing on that public change table is not a place you would want to set anything without a quick wipe down and a change pad underneath. Not only that but it’s also really irritating for the woman standing there with a stinky baby in her arms waiting for you to get out of the way, especially even if you flash a cheesy smile and say ‘oh sorry, just a second’ in a laughing tone.


Thou shalt not swear loudly enough for my children to hear you at the next table.

Regardless of whether or not there are children at the next table, it is just polite to keep your voice down if you feel the need to be crude. I totally get that it is often necessary, I certainly do not have the cleanest mouth in the world, but I have enough trouble trying to watch my own mouth, I don’t have the time or energy to shield my children from other people’s bad language as well.


Thou shall not smoke your cigarettes right beside the entrance of any establishment.

I didn’t work so hard to kick the smoking habit when I got pregnant just to have insensitive jerks blowing smoke in my baby’s face when I am coming or going from a restaurant, or any other building. If you must slip out for a cigarette in the middle of your meal please make sure to step around to the side of the building.


Thou shalt not stare/glare at me while I am nursing my child.
Yes I breastfeed at the dinner table. No, I do not cover when I do. Some babies just won't eat with a blanket over their head, my son is one of those babies, but that doesn't mean that I should have to go somewhere as unsanitary as a bathroom (no matter how nice it may be) to feed him. In fact, it is my legal right to breastfeed wherever I happen to be. I do, however, have that blanket handy if you would like to eat with it over YOUR head.


Thou shalt not sit around gossiping with your friends in the designated nursing area.

It is my right to breastfeed my child wherever I want, covered or not, but if I choose to use one of the few designated nursing rooms provided by some businesses the last thing I want to deal with is a giggling gaggle of obnoxious women distracting my baby while he’s trying to latch, or just taking up the space I need to care for my child.


Thou shalt not drink too much during your quiet adult dinner and then drive home.

It’s happened too many times for me to count. My family and I go out to eat and while we are enjoying our meal (despite the dirty looks and holier than thou attitudes of the childless patronage.) someone at the next table starts to get a little louder, and little sloppier, and well, just a little bit drunk. I have no problem with that; enjoy yourself while you can, if you do ever have kids you will look back on these days fondly. However, when you then get in your car you are putting my children, yourself, and the general public in harms way.

Thou shalt not bother your wait staff with complaints about other patrons.

Maybe I am crazy, but someone could walk into an establishment totally naked and I probably wouldn't say anything to the wait staff. It is their job to take your order and bus your table, not be your social babysitter. Deciding what behaviour is or is not acceptable, or who is and who is not welcome in the establishment is up to the management, human rights legislation and local licensing laws. By complaining about other patrons to your wait staff you are putting them in a really uncomfortable and sometimes impossible position.

If any of these commandments cannot be met for whatever reason, there are plenty of great recipes out there to recreate the dining out experience in your own home where you do not have to interact with anyone you find annoying, inappropriate, or distracting.

5.19.2010

5.15.2010

Boys and Body Image

Not too long ago I posted about BFAR and body image for the Body Image Carnival hosted by Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! and MamanADroit. It was such a wonderful experience to share my story, and to read the stories of other women & their body image experiences.

The issue of body image plagues all women it seams. Not surprising in a society that equates beauty & sexuality with worth, and then defines that beauty & sexuality with an airbrush.

But what about men?

My little man is barely aware that he and I are two separate people, so I doubt that he's overly concerned with how he measures up to the rolly-polly blond haired blue eyed happy squealing babies on TV. But the experience of reflecting on my body image lead me to thinking about what body image will mean to my son in the future.

Naturally I asked my partner. 'When young boys see pictures of hulking muscle men with shiny abs and bulging pecks, does it make them feel not good enough?'

He doesn't seam to think so. Or at least, he doesn't remember having those kinds of feelings, or comparing himself to any masculine ideals as a child.

I am a little skeptical. Women aren't the only ones whose bodies are idealized, skewed, and misrepresented in the media. So why would women be the only ones feeling shamed and pressured by those images?

I don't believe that we are the only ones, so why isn't their more talk about the ideal of masculinity that is being marketed to our boys, and the effects that these images have on them?

I am well aware of the behaviour that will be modeled to my son by the media. I find myself determined, if a little daunted, to raise a peaceful and respectful boy who treats women and all beings with kindness and mindfulness despite the fact that every TV show, album, toy, and game marketed to him will be working against me. Even so, until recently I hadn't really thought about how the marketing of masculinity would effect how he feels about his body.

Will he see the barrel chested and over-muscled features of super heroes and action figures as something to aspire to? Will he compare himself with eerily hairless square jawed billboard models?

I expect that he might, and I am unsure of how to prevent, or deal with any self image problems that may arise from the media's version of what it is to be male.

Is guiding a son through all of these unrealistic messages about body and behaviour the same as guiding a daughter?

How does one help any child, male or female, find their way through the muddied waters of gender and body image?

5.12.2010

5.07.2010

What I Want For Mother's Day

This Sunday will be my first mother’s day.

Last mother’s day I was swollen and irritable and out of my mind with nausea and fatigue, and working my ass off building a tiny human in my womb, but for some reason that didn't count.

So Sunday will be my first mother's day. To be honest I am not sure how to feel about it. There is a part of me shying away from the attention and sentiment.

I spent 38 weeks sustaining a life within me, and 7 months now sustaining that same life outside of my womb. I feel like a super star. I feel powerful, capable, and female. I appreciate having a day marked on the calendar for everyone else to recognize all of those wonderful things.

But more than all those things I just feel tired. I feel lost and stretched thin. Worst of all I feel guilty for feeling that way. That's right; I said it, guilty, the most common cliché in the mom-verse.

There is no other word for it though. When my partner asked me last week how I would like to celebrate mother's day I didn't imagine spending the day basking in the loving glow of my family appreciating the shit out of me. My first thought was to ditch the kid and spend a few hours as far away from the word mother as I could get and just be my own sovereign being for a while.

I almost followed that up with the statement 'don't get me wrong, I love my family'. I caught myself though; I refuse to buy into the ridiculous idea that being tired means I don't love my family. Being frustrated and exhausted doesn't make me a bad mother, or a bad wife. I do know that.

I do not feel guilty because of some misguided idea that loving my family means having to like them 100% of the time. I know better than that.

It's the pressure of the day that's bothering me I think. It's MOTHER'S day, and on a day set aside specifically for others to celebrate and appreciate my motherhood, shouldn't I be appreciating it too?

On Sunday while I am eating my special mother's day breakfast, and reading my cheesy mother's day card and participating in whatever other activities my family has planned for me. I will be feeling tired and guilty because they are so wonderful and thoughtful, and all I want to do is run away and hide for an afternoon of quiet solitude.

5.03.2010

Culinary Countdown to Summer - Lemmon Blueberry Cake

I think I got this recipe out of a magazine... I don't exactly remember, maybe Canadian living or some other such thing that was at my doctor's office. I DO know that it's delicious and really easy to make! Which is huge for me because while I am really into eating cakes, I am not overly fond of making them.

You will need:

1 cup fine cornmeal
1 cup flower
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 lemon
1 cup yogurt
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup frozen (or fresh I guess if you've got them around!) blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 and oil 9 inch round cake pan.

Whisk together dry ingredients and set aside 2 tbsp of it.

In another bowl zest lemon and add wet ingredients.

Fold together wet and dry ingredients and pour batter into your cake pan.

Coat frozen berries in that extra 2TBSP of dry ingredients you left laying around.

Then gently fold berries into cake batter. If you want to be all Martha about it and make it look nice you could deliberately place and submerge the berries... But I think it's weird when food looks all deliberate like that so I don't!

Bake 35 to 45 min... You know, till it's done.

4.30.2010

A Social Life For Mommy

This weekend I have plans; real honest to god social plans that will involve having adult conversations with grown up human beings about things other than boobs and poop and teeth and sleep. Well... We may talk about some of those things I guess, but none of them need pertain to me or my immediate family.

While musing about these adult conversations and going as far as to practice a few in my head to make sure I hadn't forgotten how to have one, I also started thinking about the social life of moms.

Being a new mom is a really awkward time socially. Your old friends seam distant and weird because of the vastly different lives they are living. I am often very surprised to remember that that was my life not too long ago, it seams like ages, and I suppose it’s technically a lifetime ago.

You may seek out new friends in support groups and play dates, but if you're anything like me you find making new friends and playing nice with others excruciatingly tedious and irritating. If you're not like me this avenue may be successful for you, but hanging out with only other moms usually results in the kind of comparing and competing that will only serve to drive you completely insane.

On the off chance that you do make or have a close friend with children around the same age as your own you soon realize that coordinating your schedules and wrangling your kids to meet up is actually a super huge pain in the ass. Of coarse you COULD pick up the phone and invite them over, but there's a So You Think You Can Dance Canada marathon on, and you really couldn't be bothered to put on your real clothes and entertain guests.

So as you can see, it's quite easy to fall into a routine that involves little to no contact with the world outside your living room.

Some of the breastfeeding nay-Sayers I know site a social life (or lack there of) as a reason to opt for the bottle over breastfeeding. To them I say: On what world do you think a bottle is going to make ANY difference in the amount of time you spend out of the house or away from your baby?

You're still going to be too tired to stay out past 8 or 9 (probably more so with all the extra work involved with formula feeding).

You will probably still have nothing to talk about other than your baby, (or maybe the SYTYCDC marathon, but I am not the type to admit that I am into that kind of thing.) when your friends get bored of hearing about your little bundle of joy you will feel just as awkward and out of place. Because it’s like word vomit, you would love to talk about something else, but every time you open your mouth your baby’s name falls out.

Bottle for not, your partner is still probably going to call you every hour to ask stupid questions, or to tell you that the baby's crying… 'But you don't have to come home! I just thought you should know.'

Not having any real social life is not a product of 'being tied to my baby' through breastfeeding. It has more to do with the natural social shift that takes place when you have children.

Every so often a birthday or other event comes along with enough notice that I can schedule a babysitter. Other times BBQ's or other get-togethers are early enough and in an environment that I can simply take my nursling with me. These times can be few and far between, but they are enough for me. I get quality time out, if not quantity, and I am happier and more appreciative for it.

Seriously though, I am terrified of those adult conversations! What to people without kids talk about these days? Certainly breastfeeding stats and the results of the latest attachment parenting studies I've read will have no use to me this Saturday night. What am I to do?

4.26.2010

Walking For a Cure. . . But Mostly For My Partner

I lay in bed Saturday night before the MS Walk thinking. Going over my game plan for our early start the next morning, wondering if Oliver would have the patience to spend at least part of the walk in the stroller (He didn't by the way, he put up with it for less than a block before I put him in the 'Baby Trekker'.), which carrier I should take to wear him in when he inevitably had enough of his isolation pod.

I thought about how I should have gotten those weird looking running shoes that make your butt look good, and if my not so good looking butt would even make it the 10 km with a 15lb baby strapped to me.

And at last I thought about why I was doing this. What possessed me, completely at random one day to sign up for this walk?

When people ask me I usually spew some gobbledy gook about wanting to set a good example for Oliver about charity and activity and all that good productive citizen stuff. That is all true, but that's not really why I did this.

I knew when I got involved with Das Piper that he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I had no real idea of what that meant, it worried me some, but he had told me that having been diagnosed for 10 years with little to no progression it was nothing really to be worried about.

I believed him, and in our daily lives I don't really ever think about it. But as time wore on and I started to take stock of all the things that Das Piper has lost I began to realize that MS is never far from his mind.

From having to relearn to tie his shoes, having to give up playing his bagpipes, which he loved, and having tremendous trouble learning to change a diaper because of nerve loss in his hands, to being limited in his work as a contractor because of vertigo, fatigue, and occasional weakness in his legs, Das Piper is reminded of his disease constantly, and in a way that I can sometimes forget or overlook.

I know he wants me to overlook it. He doesn't like to admit when his legs are bugging him, or let his frustration show when he's having trouble reaching the next cord on his guitar but I see it.

The day I signed up to do the walk Das Piper had just gone to work. Moments before, Oliver had been laying on the floor by his father's feet playing and watching him getting ready to head out.

'No-one ties their shoes like I do' I heard Das Piper say. 'Your mom will have to teach you how to do it the right way.'

I have raised $500 for MS research in the last few months, it's not much, but I am proud of it. Experts say that they are close to a cure. But more than a cure, I wanted to do this walk to show my partner that I am here, that I love and support him, that I have accepted him MS and all, and that I am willing and able to help him in any way I can, that I don't mind if Oliver learns to tie his shoes differently. I need to show him these things because I know that if I were to say them out loud I would cry, and he would tell me to stop being mushy, and that I don't need to worry about him. He hates it when I worry about him.

He wouldn't even let me wear a tag with his name on it to tell other walkers what had inspired me. But that wasn't that important to me. He knew that I was doing it for him.

As far as teaching Oliver anything about charity and all that, well, he slept through most of it and was a little oblivious to the whole thing. But he did think it was a pretty nice walk despite it being a bit on the cold side.

4.24.2010

Breastfeeding My "Older Baby"

I don't know how anyone could wean at 6 months.

I mean, if you did and that's what worked for you I mean no offense at all, but I personally would be heartbroken if I had to stop breastfeeding now for any reason. Yet that seams to be the expected next step.

More and more in my reading I am coming across the term 'older baby', and while I do know on some level that to some people 7 months is 'getting a little old to still be nursing don't you think?', I was really shocked to notice that subtle message being thrown at me from every direction.

There has been a shift in the tactics being used to undermine my breastfeeding relationship with my son. I have made it 6 months without 'supplementing' or 'choosing to introduce infant formula' or 'picking a healthy alternative for my baby' despite the billions of dollars spent trying to convince me to do so.

Now that I have made it this far though, I start hearing things about my breast milk no longer having any immune benefits, not having enough iron, not enough vitamin D, not enough calories, not enough, not enough, not enough. Breast milk is no longer enough, but it just so happens that there are several products available to.... You get the idea.

Of coarse I have introduced solid foods, and understand that eating something other than breast milk is part of Oliver's development. But I also know that Oliver should continue to get a MAJORITY of his nutrients from me, and not from the cereals, biscuits, and convenience foods made and marketed by formula companies, until he is at least 1 year of age my milk has most, if not all of what he needs, and continues to have countless health benefits for him. (Food for fun until they're one!)

That is not the message I am getting from anyone BUT my doctor. The message I am getting from the world around me is that my breast milk is no longer suitable. What I am hearing from many of the books, the ads, the popular belief, is that breastfeeding is important for only the first six months, because nobody bothered to listen to the rest of the sentence.

According to the World Health Organization, breastfeeding EXCLUSIVELY is important for the first 6 months, then with complementry foods for 2 years and beyond.

I love breastfeeding my 'older baby'. I love knowing that while these new and exciting solid foods are delicious (mostly) and even satisfying, only my milk has the power to calm and comfort. I love the heavy lidded milk-drunk look of pleasure on his face as he falls asleep every night. I love that he constantly smiles, pats, and coos while eating to tell me how much he appreciates nursing. I love that he has started testing his sense of humor and experimenting with movement while at the breast when he tries to nurse with his legs up over his head and then laughs at his own sillyness.

What so many fail to understand is that breastfeeding is so much more than just nutrition. Breastfeeding is comfort, bonding, and communication in their purest forms.

In our society, successful breastfeeding is not easy, establishing a breastfeeding relationship is an uphill battle. 43% of women who fully intend to breastfeed, fail to make it to their child’s 3rd month. Why would I give it up 6 months later after working so hard to breastfeed in the first place?

4.21.2010

Wordless Wednesday - Big Fluffy Rock Star Hearts


All photos this week are courtesy of Wenchwire

4.18.2010

Baptism

I would like to have Oliver baptized.

Anyone who knows me at all may be somewhat shocked by that statement. My father sure was, the simple massing priest nearly choked on his dinner when I asked what I would have to do to have Oliver baptized.

It's not that I am particularly anti-religion, and I am certainly not anti-god, though I have been known to make statements to that effect for sheer shock value, and find great humor in making jokes at god's expense (with love though, really, please don’t smite me), I have no particular beef with god, any of the gods, or the majority of their followers.

More than anything I would say that my lack of defined religious affiliation comes from a kind of spiritual apathy more than anything else. I have no story of faith lost, or religious rebellion, I simply failed to find any interest in god or his worship.

There was certainly no pressure for me to do so despite the fact that my father is a priest and therefore, presumably, a religious and spiritual man of god.

My siblings and I were never to my recollection forced, or expected to attend any kind of Sunday school, or engage in regular prayer. But the option was always there.

When the time came my brother chose to be confirmed, I did not, and aside from a few gentle nudges from my father there was never any real issue taken with my decision.

The way I see it, my baptism was my parent's way of saying 'god, this is our daughter, who we intend to raise to be a moral and loving person. Daughter, should you choose to pursue a life of faith, we recommend you start here because we think this god is a pretty cool guy'.

By baptizing Oliver I wish to say 'god, while I do not lead an overly spiritual existence, and pay more inclined to study the Zen teachings of Buddha than I your holy gospel, I want you to meet my son whom I intend to raise as a moral and loving person, should he choose to be a spiritual man, please welcome him with open arms. Son, should you choose a path of faith, here is a pretty good place to start your journey.'

Das Piper isn't religious either. But he is 'not religious' in a very different way than I am. Where I am simply indifferent to religious practice, Das Piper has what I can only describe as distain for religion, spirituality, and god.

We have never talked about it in any detail, and I am sure he would deny/disagree with my premise here. But only someone who has been let down by faith and religion could hate it as much as he seams to.

This of coarse has lead to some friction on the subject of Oliver’s baptism.

While he would never forbid me from baptizing our son, it is fair to say that he really would prefer that I didn't. In an effort to keep the whole process from being something he may feel forced into I am going out of my way to keep him involved, and Das Piper is doing his best to have no involvement whatsoever. He has consented to have Oliver baptized, and agreed to show up to witness it happen, but beyond that it's been made clear that I will get nothing more.

This, of course, makes me wonder if I should even go through with it.

It's not like I am dead set on having him baptized, or think that his life would be lacking in any way if we chose not to.

Regardless of whether or not we do it, he will have some exposure to the church I am sure, and will have the option to join a church or religion on his own terms and in his own way. It's not like he will be banished from god's house never to be welcomed again if we don't baptize him, and even though most people are baptized as infants, there really isn't an age limit on it. He can just as easily be baptized at a later time if that's what he wanted to do.

What makes me so uneasy is that until this point, Das Piper and I have pretty much agreed on every parenting issue we've come across. We agreed that attachment parenting would be the best style for our family, we agreed that Oliver would not be circumcised, we agreed that we would introduce meat to his diet even though I don't eat it and let him become vegetarian on his own should he choose to, we agreed that he would get all of his vaccinations (though the chicken pox one is still up in the air), and we even agreed that Oliver and I would co sleep after it became apparent that it was the only way anyone would get any sleep around here.

But in this one area, an agreement can not be reached and that bothers me. He will give his consent because he knows that it's important to me, but I just can't seam to decide if that is enough.

Is it enough for me to have his permission, but not his support?

Is it really so important to me to baptize my son that I would do so even though the very idea of it makes his father, my partner, so uncomfortable?

4.15.2010

Culinary Countdown to Summer: BBQ'd Jerk Tofu Kabob With Fresh Mango Salsa

Somewhere along the line I lost my recipe for Jerk tofu! Luckily by scoping out and comparing a few recipes on the internet I was able to remember everything I put in it, but not all of the exact amounts, so I will list all of the herbs and spices and you can play around with the ratios and make your jerk marinade to taste. (I very rarely measure my spices anyways)


Also note that while the marinade is of my own creation (though loosely based off a number of different recipes), the mango salsa is pretty much verbatim out of the REBAR modern food cook book (a MUST have in my opinion)


Marinade ingredients:


1-3 hot peppers – pick your poison! Anaheim or jalapeños can pack some spice in larger quantities, but just one scotch bonnet or habanero would pack a wonderfully powerful punch for more adventurous diners! (ALWAYS wear gloves when handling something as potent as a habanero pepper and be sure to wash up afterwards!)

1 large red onion, chopped

3-5 green onions, chopped

5 cloves garlic

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 cup orange juice

Juice of 1 lime

Fresh thyme

Fresh grated ginger

Nutmeg

Allspice

Cinnamon

Salt

Pepper


Mango salsa ingredients:


2 mangos finely diced

¼ red pepper finely diced

¼ red onion, finely diced

1-2 hot chilies, Serrano chili is suggested, but others can work too!

1 tbsp lime juice

1 tbsp chopped cilantro


Other ingredients:


1 extra large block of extra firm tofu

4-6 rounds of naan or other flatbread


Combine all marinade ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth.


Cut a large block of extra firm tofu (or some chicken if you’re into that kind of thing) into 2 inch cubes and put on skewers. If you are using bamboo or other wooden skewers remember to soak first!


Place skewers in a large bag or other container with your marinade and place in the refrigerator for a few hours, or overnight. Note: you can choose to skewer after you marinade, some prefer to, but I don’t like digging through my marinade to find tofu chunks, so I marinade on the skewer!


To make your mango salsa, chop all ingredients into a fine dice or larger chunks depending on your preference. Combine into a large bowl.


Have your man slave bbq skewers until tofu is golden brown on the outside. Just before you are ready to take skewers off the grill, brush a small amount of olive oil onto flatbread or naan and heat on grill for 1-2 minutes.


Serve Tofu skewers on warm flatbread with mango salsa and lettuce or any other fresh veggies you would like.

4.11.2010

BFAR, Breasts, and Body Image

This post is participating in the Body Image Carnival being hosted by Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! and MamanADroit who will be posting articles on themes pertaining to body image all week! Make sure you check out their blogs everyday between April 12-18 for links to other participants' posts as well as product reviews, a giveaway, and some links to research, information and resources pertaining to body image.

As a BFAR mother it isn't easy to admit to yourself or others that there could possibly be any draw backs to breastfeeding.


Every Woman who has ever been told that she may not be able to breastfeed knows the relief, pride, and joy at being able to breastfeed, whether exclusively or with the aid of at the breast supplementation systems. The months before birth are filled with constant reading and research, and many prayers that you will be able to instantly sooth and satisfy your baby unaided and with the fluidity and grace that nature intended.

For me in particular, the fact that my body is able to exclusively breastfeed is nothing short of a miracle to me and I thank the gods and goddesses every day that I have had this experience. Because it wasn’t always a given for me I feel as though I get to appreciate breastfeeding so much more than I would had I never had my reduction surgery, or been told that I may not be able to breastfeed because of it.

Every milky smile, every ounce my baby gains, even the dark wet circles that occasionally appear on my shirts are sources of great pride for me. They are each their own triumph and success. They are each a sign of my power and worth as a woman.

And yet, the many and varied reasons I had for undergoing breast reduction surgery did not simply go away the day I became a mother. The growth in size of my breasts during pregnancy and in breastfeeding is no less uncomfortable and undesirable to me just because they are suddenly functional.

Regardless of my husband's reassurances, and my son's health and happiness it still bothers me that my breasts are now only 2 cup sizes away from what they were pre surgery. All of the dainty dresses, tops, bathing suits, and bras that I had delighted in after my recovery are once again off limits to me, and the stress and pain of the surgery and my recovery feel as though they were for nothing.

Just as it did before my surgery, clothing makes me feel like a shapeless blob, as though with these massive breasts preceding me into every room the rest of my body, my personality, my entire self just melts into the background.

As proud as I am with myself for meeting all of my breastfeeding goals, I am none the less disappointed with my body for changing so dramatically, and disappointed with myself for being disappointed, for being so vain. I have trouble accepting that my size and shape are signs of fertility, motherhood, and womanhood, and that I should be proud of what my body has been able to do in the last year.

4.09.2010

Coffee Can Garden

So, last year around this time. I wrote about the concept of a balcony garden being really appealing to me... but as I was too pregnant and lazy to actually plant anything, the only garden that came out of it were Das Piper's tomatoes.

This year though, I am totally motivated! After a sunny stroll to Canadian tire, a bag of dirt, a few seeds, and some old coffee cans, I have a garden... Isn't it pretty?

Ok, so right now it just looks like a row of dirt filled coffee cans, but later this summer they will be peas, cucumber, carrots, and several kinds of peppers... Once the farmer's market starts up again I am sure we will also add another tomato tree or two as they turned out really well last year.

I am really excited to have actually made my small balcony garden a reality this year. While I know that a couple of peas and carrots will make little to no difference in the grand scale of things, it is important for me to show Oliver that a small amount off independence can be found even in an urban setting. I want him to grow up knowing that food doesn't always have to come from a store, and that everything tastes better when you've grown it yourself. I am hoping that his helping to grow a few small coffee cans of food every year can turn into fun memories and important lessons for him as he grows.

Though, I may have to wait a while before those lessons get through... As you can see, his 'helping' didn't amount to much this year.