Sunday, July 29, 2012

Book Review: Beyond the Sling

Beyond the Sling by Mayim Bialik, PhD

I got a lot out of this book even if I don't, and don't want to, adhere to all of its ideals. And that is Bialik's point. She offers up her point of view and experiences and allows readers to make their own choices and find what works for them.

Some of the chapters were so beyond anything I'd ever consider trying that I just ignored them. One topic that is beyond my scope of experience and that I'd like to look at further and probably incorporate to some degree is gentle discipline. I do not like how I feel and how I handle discipline issues with my daughter much of the time, and am looking for new ways of dealing with it, for my own sake if not for her.

I felt validated for my choices in the birthing and breastfeeding chapters, and I got a lot of reassurance from the chapters on baby wearing and the co-sleeping. (Though I never intended to co-sleep at all, I have found it has allowed me to get a lot more sleep than I did with my first daughter, and that is totally worth it. I am slowly working on getting my baby to sleep on her own. Bialik still co-sleeps with her kids, and though that would not be right for us, her views helped me to understand the benefits of the choices I have made and why I've made them. And helped me not feel like I'm doing something wrong since my baby is not sleep trained.)

Whether you subscribe to any of the ideals of attachment parenting or not, Bialik's point of view might make you take a look at your own parenting style and think about your choices conscientiously. And maybe give you some ideas of how to be a better parent and a more well rounded person.

"Being a present and devoted parent if more meaningful and important than anything in the world. ... Choosing to be involved with your children is a gift above gifts, and we all want our children to become adults who want to spend time with us, seek our advice, and respect us. We need to be there for them early on to have the best chance of this outcome."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Family Traditions: Pioneer Day

Here’s the thing about state holidays—when you move to another state, no one knows or cares about a holiday that you’ve celebrated all your life. Maybe it’s something like being a Canadian in America on Canadian Thanksgiving.

Utah has a state holiday called Pioneer Day. It celebrates the day (July 24, 1847) that the Mormon Pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley. I moved to Utah when I was four, so I remember celebrating this holiday my entire life.

When I was young, our church would sponsor an activity for the children where we would dress up in pioneer bonnets, dresses, and aprons; decorate our bikes, trikes, and Radio Flyer wagons; and then march around the neighborhood as if we were pioneers. Our sneakers looked out of place with our dresses and our bikes were decorated with leftover birthday streamers, but we felt very traditional. Our final destination was usually the church parking lot where we got a popsicle. I know now, of course, that our once or twice around a city block didn’t even begin to compare to a single day’s journey of the pioneers’ 1300 mile trek. But as a six year old on a hot July day, I felt I’d earned that popsicle.*

My girls will very likely never live in Utah as children. Even in large Latter-day Saint communities outside of Utah, Pioneer Day is only remembered as a topic to talk about in church on Sunday. But no bike parades. My sister lives in Utah with her three daughters. Every year they go to a large celebration in a park for Pioneer Day. It involves a lot of booths and displays that tell you about the history of the pioneers and celebrates the sacrifices they made to settle these valleys.

This year I was lucky enough to be in Utah with my daughters for Pioneer Day. And my three year old now has her own pioneer bonnet to add to her dress up collection. They are too young to remember this Pioneer Day in particular, but it was nice for me to be able to share a holiday from my childhood with them. And maybe next year, though we won’t be in Utah, we’ll dig out the bonnet and talk about what it means to be a pioneer.

*Our church often sponsors real three day treks for youth where they have to push handcarts, dress and eat like pioneers, and actually walk the distance the pioneers had to walk in a day. I never had the opportunity to do that, but have heard good things about the experience from those who have.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Recipe: Granola

Babies are needy. Breastfeeding babies breastfeed all the time, or at least it feels like it. And when I’m breastfeeding, I get sick if I don’t eat enough. Energy is going out, so energy needs to go in. When I wake up, my baby needs to eat and I need to eat. I wish I’d done it with my first, but with my second daughter, I started making homemade granola. I tried a couple of recipes and tweaked them a bit. Now I make it once or twice a month and have something I can grab and eat with one hand if my baby needs a big breakfast before I have a chance to sit down and have my own.

The easiest thing to change is what fruit, nuts, or chocolate you add in. I’ve seen other granola recipes that use oil, which sounds kind of yucky to me. Using applesauce as a binder is healthier and sweeter. Here’s my base recipe:


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine in large bowl:
 4 c. oats (not quick oats)
 1 c. sliced or slivered almonds
 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
 1/4 tsp. salt

Whisk together:
 1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/4 c. honey

Drizzle wet ingredients over dry and mix until all the oats are moistened. Spread on prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Turn granola over with a spatula and bake for another 8 – 10 minutes, until crisp and golden. Cool completely on baking sheet. Break up into pieces and add in dried fruit (I do craisins) and some extra dark chocolate pieces.

Variations: Sub out applesauce for pumpkin puree and/or honey for pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup!) for fall flavors. I recently did it with maple syrup and it added a lot of flavor. You could probably add a pinch or two of nutmeg if you’re using pumpkin puree.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Caution Signs

I know all mothers worry about their children’s safety, but I have a feeling that I’m a little bit neurotic about it. When my children are babies, I have to check on them to make sure they are still breathing in the night. And even my timid first child (who is now three) is always ready to venture out and try new things before I’m ready for her to.

We’re in a new town and a kind woman invited me and some other mothers with young children to meet at a park so I could meet some new people and get out of the house. The park has a walking path that runs along a ditch/irrigation canal thing that has a long steep slope and may or may not have water in it, depending on the time of year.

When I go to this playground alone, my daughter happily plays on the slide the whole time. But when other kids were playing they were all playing around the ditch—picking cattails and climbing up and down the steep slope. While I should have been trying to get to know some other mothers, I was really holding my breath and keeping my eye on my daughter who kept venturing farther from me and closer to the ditch. The far end of the ditch had large bushes which my daughter eventually disappeared behind.

I left the group of mothers, found my daughter, and told her not to go near the ditch or out of my sight. Sounds reasonable to me. But the other mothers were letting their children climb around the ditch and play where they couldn’t be seen. Some of the other children were much older, and those that weren’t had older siblings who were (maybe?) watching out for them.

I felt bad for taking her away from the fun the other kids were having (though soon after she came back to the slide, the rest of the kids joined in). But I let her run through the sprinklers and jump in the mud puddles. I let her slide down the slide with five other kids getting all smashed up in front of and behind her.

Were the other moms more laid back because they’ve been moms longer? Was I being overprotective? Will I relax as my daughter gets older? Or am I just neurotic?

Even if I am deemed overprotective, I may not change. I try to stretch outside my comfort zone in my own life and with my children, but I’m not going to venture into territory where I simply don’t feel good about something. And I always have my husband to tell me to relax and let kids be kids.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

It's All Big Stuff

“Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them it has always been big stuff.” - Catherine M. Wallace

This quote meant so many things to me as a mother of young children.

To children, all the “little stuff” is always big stuff. Having to wait for your favorite blanket to go through the wash is genuinely heartbreaking. Turning on the light all by yourself is something to be celebrated.

As the mother, sometimes the little daily trials seem huge to me. After a sleepless night, the fact that your baby filled her diaper while you’re in the middle of eating breakfast is enough to make you want to cry.

At the same time, sometimes the little things are big triumphs. Like everyone getting dressed and ready for the day before noon. Or actually getting to shower every day.

This is my format for talking about the big stuff and the little stuff that make up my days as a stay-at-home mom and our life as a family. Because it’s all big stuff.