Tuesday, July 30, 2013


I've finished weaning my 19 month old. Finished meaning I gave her one last feeding on Sunday night. She has spent the last two days asking for milk, especially at bedtime. I wonder how long it will take her to forget.

There is certainly relief. Until I made her cut back she was still waking up to feed at least a few times a night. I felt like I still had a small baby instead of a toddler. I was sleep deprived and worn out and tired of having to breastfeed her everywhere I went. Not that I was unwilling to in almost any circumstance when necessary, but she just thought it was necessary far more often than I did. Now I can also wear what I want without having to worry about whether or not it's breastfeeding friendly. And I can take medications without worrying about if it will harm my baby.

But there is also sadness. I cried the last time I breastfed her, my baby. Very likely my last baby. With the sadness is some gratitude in realizing how blessed I am that I was able to breastfeed her for so long and to have that relationship with my youngest girl.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

"I'm going to tell you something important. Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they're big and thoughtless and they don't always know what they're doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren't any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world." -The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

I love Neil Gaiman but have hesitated to read his adult books because his books for children that I have read (Coraline and The Graveyard Book) terrified me. In a thrilling sort of way. But I love his works. He is such a great storyteller I couldn't help but check out his newest fairy tale for adults, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. (And seriously, what an awesome title.)

It was interesting because it is written for adults but from the point of view of a young boy. And it was terrifying and beautiful and heartbreaking and intriguing. I would recommend it to anyone, but I know that not everyone would like it. If you know any of Neil Gaiman's other works and know what you're getting into, you should definitely read this book. I think I might read it again before I have to return it to the library because I'm certain I missed something, or many things, the first time.

"I remember my own childhood vividly...I knew terrible things. But I knew I mustn't let adults know I knew. It would scare them." - Maurice Sendak, in conversation with Art Spiegelman

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Breastfeeding in Public

With child #1, I went to great and stressful lengths to cover up while breastfeeding. It was hot and sweaty and awkward and I spent a lot of time breastfeeding in the car. With #2 I never once tried to use the nursing cover, rarely used a blanket, and though I did occasionally breastfeed her in the car, I also breastfed her while walking around the store just as often.

This was largely for convenience's sake, but in the back of my mind I also hoped that I might make a new mom more comfortable with breastfeeding whenever her baby needed it (and not when it was convenient for others) as mothers who breastfed more openly eventually helped me gain the confidence I have in breastfeeding in public.

I am slowly weaning my toddler (currently 19 months old). At this point I feel like I could breastfeed her longer if she were the occasional breastfeeder. But without me slowly cutting her off, she was still breastfeeding many times a day and often for long amounts of time. Some women can do that, I'm simply too tired to keep that up any longer.

I breastfed her at Disney World, both in public and in the mother's nursing room and had interesting experiences both times.

In public I had at least one person give me a few strange looks (I usually don't pay attention to people's reactions, but my husband noticed). I also had a woman walk by and lightly tap my knee and say, "High fives to you!" I've heard of people being praised for breastfeeding in public, but never experienced it myself. It felt pretty good. I don't know if I'd be as forward with a stranger, but I'll remember that and might consider giving some encouraging words to breastfeeding moms I see.

In the mother's room, I met another mother who was breastfeeding her 19 month old son who had no interest in weaning (much like my little peanut). And I met a first time mother who told me that she was so worried about how she was going to breastfeed her 10 month old during their day at Disney World. I mentioned that I had breastfed outside as well, but it was certainly nice to have a cool indoor room to go to. But I was a bit shocked (as she may have been by me). How do you decide to spend a day at Disney World with no plan for how to feed your baby?

This woman was Hispanic and was from a different culture (though I'm fairly certain she was American) and I had another opportunity to shock her when I stated that I was not likely to have any more children even though I had so far failed to give my husband a male heir. "No son! Really, no son?!" The black lady who was breastfeeding the 19 month old laughed at my joke about if my husband wanted more kids, he could do it himself. But the Hispanic lady was just appalled that I would have no sons and amazed that my husband could eventually come to terms with this.


I read a great article today about taking modesty out of the breastfeeding argument:
Breastfeeding and Modesty

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Four Year Old's Review of Magic Kingdom Rides

We went to the Magic Kingdom for the first time this week. Luckily, since we live in Orlando, we know that we will probably go again sometime so we can do things we didn't get to the first time. We also know what we might skip the second time around. Here's what my four year old thought.

Favorite rides:
- Dumbo
- Magic Carpet

Which are basically the same ride, just different modes of transportation.

What we'd do again with her:
- Prince Charming's Carousel
- Winnie the Pooh
- Under the Sea (with closing her eyes during the scary parts)
- It's a Small World (this was the 19 month old's favorite--meaning the only one she didn't protest)
- Meeting Disney Princesses (she was a little timid, but in talking about it later, she was all excitement)
- Take a break in the baby care center (i.e., get out of the sun and relax without all the overstimulation)

What We'll Probably Skip:
- Peter Pan (it wasn't bad, but they didn't love it--older kids might like it better)
- Jungle Cruise (it may have felt a little too real for her, she got pretty anxious and then lost her hat in the water on top of that)

What We'll Do When She's a Little Older:
- Meet Mickey & Friends (the princesses at least look like people)
- Take time to walk into Cinderella's castle. We probably could have done that without going to the restaurant or boutique, but thought of it when we were pretty far away from it.
- Enchanted Tales with Belle
- Be Our Guest Restaurant (this one's for me--you can have lunch in a room that looks like the Beast's library)
- Bigger rides as she gets older and less fearful

I'd also really love to go to Epcot sometime. I've been told you can meet princesses at their respective countries. I haven't really checked out what's at Hollywood Studios. But it seems that Magic Kingdom has the best stuff for small children. If I were going without kids, I'd do what my in-laws did and go to Universal Studios. In time, I'm sure.

Monday, July 15, 2013

What I've Been Reading, First Half of 2013

The first five months of this year, I finished four books. I was appalled when I realized that. I often stop reading for pleasure when I'm stressed, and this has certainly been a stressful year. Not reading is a sign that something is wrong and getting back into reading is part of the cure for me. In June and July, I have read 14 books. Here's some of what I've been reading lately.

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
I read the LOTR trilogy in college to coincide with the movie releases. I thought that I had skipped reading The Hobbit. But as I read, I remembered what happened and I had notes and creases all the way to the end of the book. So apparently I did read it. But had forgotten it enough to read it like it was new again.

Jessica Day George
I read three different books by her that were connected. And I read them out of order. My 12 year old niece had recommended them to me. I still love a good fairytale, especially with a bit of a twist here and there. And George delivered on this for me. They were also light, fun read that helped me get back into reading.

Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks
Really interesting nonfiction.

Inferno by Dan Brown
I find Dan Brown to be good escapist fiction, but with some added culture and history. I enjoyed the ride with this one, but I felt something was lacking in his conclusion. There were some major repercussions to his ending that weren't addressed at all.

Finding Alaska by John Greene
John Greene came highly recommended to me. I enjoyed this one and was told some of his others are even better, so they're on my library hold list.

Some contemporary fiction, all good:
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
The Butterfly Effect by Barbara Kingsolver
The Round House by Louise Erdrich

After four general fiction books with pretty serious topics addressed, I think I need a bit of fantasy or humor in my reading. I have the newest David Sedaris on the shelf. But I'm currently working through Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie. One of the interesting things about reading a library book on my Kindle is that I have no idea how long the book is when I start it. Apparently this one is thick. I'm on my second check out and only half way through. I don't regret reading it though because of its importance in the history of writing, publishing, and free speech.

Read any good books lately?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Summertime Activities

 It's barely more than a month before my oldest starts preschool for the first time. Our unscheduled days are numbered! I took a look at my list of fun things to do in the summer and realized that many of them are unfulfilled--even ones we can do at home on our own. It's also been so hot that I hate going outside, even to get the mail. But my girls love being outside even if they come in drenched in sweat 15 minutes later. So this week we did some ice cube painting.

I took the basic idea of sidewalk chalk paint (2 Tbsp. corn starch, 4 Tbsp. water, drops of food coloring) and froze it in cubes. Then we took them outside to let them melt all over some big pieces of paper. The moment we got everything set up, the clouds covered the sun. It was still hot enough to melt the ice cubes, but it took a little longer. I started them with spoons because I hate things staining my hands, but my youngest quickly abandoned hers for her hands. Which it's supposed to be a sensory experience, so she figured out the right way to do it despite her mother's phobias.

This activity could be done, and might be more fun, straight on the sidewalk. I used paper because we have a brick patio and it would be hard to slide the ice cubes around on it. The girls had fun, but again, it's potentially messy. I picked it because it sounded fun and I know I need to stretch myself to allow messy play to happen.

I also made Kool Aid playdough, which has been a huge hit. It smells better and the color was better than when I've used food coloring.

In a pot, combine:

1 c. flour
1 c. water
1/4 c. salt
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 Tbsp. baby oil (you can use vegetable oil, but baby oil makes it smoother and smells better)
1 packet Kool Aid

Stir constantly over medium heat until a ball forms. Remove from pot and let cool. Knead it a few times to get it smooth.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Book Review: Bloom

After reading the introduction found through Pinterest, I read Kelle Hampton's Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected.

Kelle Hampton didn't find out that her second daughter had Down syndrome until she was born. A difficult diagnosis and adjustment even if you know ahead of time--all the more of a shock when you don't. This book is the emotional journey Hampton took the first year of her daughter's life.

There is a lot of merit to this book, and I do recommend it for some reasons. So first, let me get the stuff that bugged me off my chest. Hampton is blessed to have good family and many, many friends. At a party where she invites her closest girlfriends to, there are 28 women. I have good friends too. But I simply couldn't relate to feeling that close to that many people. I also couldn't relate to Hampton's ability to frequently go out for a girl's night on the town when she had a toddler and a baby at home. As someone who has never had a sip of alcohol, I found it strange how often Hampton drank to party or escape reality--especially since she was a nursing mother. And there were a few words that she simply couldn't leave alone. Badass was used far to often to be funny. And, I'm sorry, does everyone you know really call you "babe"? Maybe that's simply a lack of finesse with writing dialogue. Or maybe it's just my problem with being emotionally guarded when she clearly is not.

Even with my complaints about some writing style choices, I could tell she is someone I would read as a blogger, which is how she started. Her writing wouldn't bother me in little bites. And though I found her partying, gregariousness, and effusiveness hard to relate to, I'm sure for many people, these things would just make her book and message more accessible.

Her book would be best for other mothers or family members who have children with Down syndrome or other extra challenges. But the beauty of her book would be good for any mother--her honesty in her emotions. We hate to admit to any lack of loving feeling for our children. I fear an unplanned pregnancy because I never want to feel, even for a moment, that I didn't want a child coming to me. Hampton is honest about her feelings of wishing to have a "normal" child. She's honest about the gut wrenching pain and tears of the first night of her daughter's life. There is less guilt as we as mothers admit to imperfect feelings and actions. And Hampton works her way through it, which should offer a glimmer of hope for anyone struggling with a child.

"It is a rite of passage not just for special needs, but for motherhood--to worry, to cry, to go to the awful place of 'what would I do IF?' We ache when they ache, and we write with distress at the thought that they will, at some point in life, be hurt. And they will."

Interesting that I read this now as only a couple of weeks ago I had a discussion with a friend about childrens' personalities and challenges. Are we given the children we can handle, or the children we need to learn and grow?