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?


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.


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?


Wordless Wednesday - Big Fluffy Rock Star Hearts

All photos this week are courtesy of Wenchwire



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?


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 jalapeƱos 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






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.


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.


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.


Cyber Bullying: Are We Leading By Example?

It has been all over the news for years now, and is a growing concern for the parents of pre-teens and teens. Cyber bullying has taken the torture and agony that is bullying from the playground and brought it into our homes.

Parents do their best. They limit computer time, make sure to keep computers in plain sight where they hope to catch any wrongs done, bullying or otherwise, and lobby law makers to adjust our laws to catch up with the social media/instant media world we live in.

But are we mothers leading by example?

Before I go any further I want to say that my writing this is NOT an attempt to continue, drag out, or re-start any past arguments. I will be more closely moderating the comments on this post in an effort to keep any follow up discussion on the topic of cyber bullying and from getting out of hand. (Basically what I am saying is that I am moving on to the part where I learn from what happened and take from it what I can.)

A few Wednesdays ago I made a few frustrated and angry online comments via twitter about a mom's group that I had been attending regularly. I am willing to concede that making these comments so publicly was at the very least a bad idea and at the very most inappropriate considering the private nature of said group. Part of me knew that at the time but I went ahead and did it anyways, oh well, my bad, can’t go back and do anything about it now.

After a few days to cool down, I went about writing down my thoughts on the subject discussed and the pressure I feel mothers receive in regards to that subject. I tried to do so in a way that articulated only my personal beliefs in regards to MY situation and my reasons for holding those beliefs.

What happened in the comments was immediate and profound. My opinions were challenged (which is a-ok with me, that's what the comment section is for), the things I said on twitter were attacked (which, while my comments were unacceptable my intention while writing that post was not to use my blog as a follow up to those comments, but rather a more calm and rational stating of my beliefs. Hence I did not mention my previous tweets, or the moms group involved in my original post.), and finally I was personally attacked repeatedly and anonymously by a fair sized group of people, many of whom, I would later find out, are known to me 'in real life' and have access to both my phone number and email address. Had these people contacted me with their concerns about my behavior in another way I likely would have apologized. (After what has happened though all phone calls or emails on the subject will be ignored/deleted, the previous paragraph is as close to an apology as I will come.)

Before we can do anything to protect our children from cyber bullying, we must first take a good hard look at the way we conduct ourselves online.

At the same time that I would never decline to write or say something important to me on the off (or inevitable) chance that my opinion will offend someone. I would also NEVER go out of my way to gang up on and attack an INDIVIDUAL no matter how offended I am by their words. I prefer to challenge ideas. (I realize that my twitter comments came perilously close to doing so, but I stand by the fact that I did not single anyone out, use the names of any group members, or even the name of the group itself. I also followed up my comments by stating that I knew my outbursts to be unfair over-generalizations but was acting out of frustration at being bullied myself... Yes, I was very much belittled, disregarded, disrespected, and excluded in that group on a number of separate occasions.)

Situations similar to this one are certainly not unheard of and could even be described as common place.

Heather Armstrong, author of 'It Sucked and Then I Cried' and blogger at dooce.com is flamed on a regular basis for opinions and actions she shares online, including in my most recent memory, something as small as complaining about poor customer service.

A mother I follow was once berated and chastised when, while reaching out for help, tweeted that she had locked herself in a room separate from her screaming children because she was feeling on edge, and overwhelmed.

And of coarse I could write a whole post about the thousands of hateful personal attacks by many on the internet, including mothers, on famous moms Kate Gosselin and Nadya Suleiman. Both of whom, famous or not, attention seeking or not, are human beings with very real feelings.

On a smaller scale I have often seen message boards and chat lines explode with similar behavior over any and every issue.

Mothers, myself included, are horrendously hard on other moms, and the differences that divide us more often spark cruelty and conflict than understanding and acceptance, especially on the internet.

It is said that having children is like having a mirror constantly held up to you. Could it be that we moms are modeling cyber bullying in some way to our children? Or is it just in our nature to forget our humanity and decency when faced with a computer screen in lieu of a human face?