Thursday, December 27, 2012

Simple Lives

Hey everybody!
How was your holiday? Ours was fantastic. I can't wait to tell you all about the great things we got and gave but I'm holding off until next week because we have another family Christmas this Saturday.
I am going to rush off today and spend more time with this little girl because I'm still home from work on break and can't seem to get enough of her.
Like most toddlers, she has been going through phases with food. Sometimes she'll eat very well and others she'll barely eat anything, including old favorites like bananas and avocados.  The discovery I recently made is that we're more successful if we give her a variety of foods. I have always given her whatever we eat, no special kid meals, but I never realized just how repetitive we our in our meal plan. I'm going to make a better effort to switch up our sides in the hopes that she'll find some new flavors that she likes.
Guess what she absolutely loves?  Steamed broccoli.
Kids are funny.
I hope you all had the merriest and will see you next week. Until then, check out the fantastic contributors to Simple Lives Thursday, starting with last week's favorite posts.

1. Christmas for a Sharecropper's Daughter by Farm Hand's Companion. "When I see houses today- similar to what we grew up in- my first thought is, "Oh, those poor people." But at that time, we were so content. I was the youngest of eight children. We always had a roof over our head; we had walls around us."
2. Sprouting for Winter Vegetables: A Tutorial by A Life Unprocessed. "This is the time of year when sprouts are a great organic, locally grown and affordable green vegetable. They'll grow year round, of course, but fresh greens from other sources are harder to come by in winter, making sprouts a better fresh, local option."

3. Removing Yellow Armpit Stains from Clothing with Dish Soap, Peroxide and Baking Soda Review- Does it Work? by Green Idea Reviews. "If you've ever been an antiperspirant user, you know that yellow armpit stains come with the territory. You also know that yellow antiperspirant armpit stains do NOT wash out in the regular laundry, or even with your typical go-to stain removers."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

On Breastfeeding Beyond the First 12 Months and Simple LIves

We're having our own little snowmageddon over here, so I'm going to try to keep this short and get back to baking cookies and staring out the window at the blowing snow.
As I wrote in my breastfeeding post, the initiation of our breastfeeding relationship was not without its struggles.  After the first two months I was able to occasionally feed without pain, but I wouldn't say that became consistent at all for at least another two or three months.
Around six months we started adding solid foods to Ellie's diet, which is the beginning of the weaning process. She was quite open to food from the beginning but it by no means reduced the amount of breastfeeding we were doing.  I had heard of mothers weaning around the six or eight month mark, but I just couldn't imagine it.  We had really just started getting good at it, so I couldn't imagine giving it up, especially only to switch to formula.  We kept on truckin, and are still going strong, so today I'd like to tell you about how our relationship has changed over these 12 months and some obstacles we've overcome along the way.  My hope is twofold: 1) to normalize toddler breastfeeding (I have only a couple friends who breastfed this long) and 2) to help share information with other moms so that they might have longer breastfeeding relationships if they so choose.

To make it this far, there were a few obstacles that we had to overcome.

    • Work.  I am working so I have still been pumping at work.  This is a choice every mother must make.  Beyond the first year many mothers choose to stop pumping at work and to give their child bottles or cups of cow milk while they're separated.  We don't routinely drink cows milk for a variety of reasons and Eleanor just wasn't interested in it when we repeatedly offered it to her.  I am very lucky to have ample time and access to a pumping room equipped with a hospital-grade pump at work, along with a freezer to store milk after I pump it.  Since it's convenient I've been able to keep up a pumping routine that addresses all of Ellie's milk needs while we are apart. 
    • Teeth.  Ellie has six teeth. I was so worried that we would have major problems when she got her first tooth around 10 months. I had heard of women weaning after the first tooth. I was especially worried given how much pain I'd been in the early days. Luckily we have never had a problem. She has lightly bitten me before but never out of meanness, usually only out of boredom.  We deal with biting by ending the session. I learned not to react in any way but to just assume that meant she didn't want to feed anymore. 
    • Other people.  Honestly this has been a non-issue but I do know some mothers have to deal with people asking why they're *still* breastfeeding their toddler. I have gotten 0 negative feedback about continuing to breastfeed Ellie so I've never had to justify what we're doing, but I'm more than prepared to.  As my friend Maggie says, the easiest thing to say is just "we do what works for us.

How she has changed.
Ellie's personality related to breastfeeding completely changed after 12 months.  (Actually the big change was a bit earlier than that.  At my yearly follow up with the midwife, she told me that she advises moms who want to wean after 12 months to wean at 11 instead.)

    • Emotional.  Breastfeeding used to be totally utilitarian for Ellie. She was not interested in sucking for comfort and I couldn't keep her at the breast unless she was going to get in a real feeding, and even then her attention span was limited.  Now Ellie's attachment to feeding is very emotional.  She needs to breastfeed when she's hungry but she also needs it when she's upset or hurt. If she has fallen down and hurt herself, she will sometimes ask to nurse (she signs "milk" for nursing).  Thankfully this isn't her only reaction to being hurt. Sometimes she just wants to cry on her own, others she wants a hug.  She almost never falls asleep while breastfeeding but when we've been out for the day and she's in her car seat, nursing will help her relax and drift off.  
      • It helps that at this age Ellie understands enough language that I can talk to her about breastfeeding. I can say "not right now" and she understands. This has reduced our public breastfeeding, which was almost at 0 anyway because she's such a distracted nurser.  
    • Physical.  If you've ever breastfed a toddler you can guess what I'm going to talk about. Getting a little person to hold still can be a challenge to say the least. Ellie still likes to be held in cradle position sometimes but often just sits on my lap and leans forward.  She does the occasional standing-while-feeding pose, but mostly we nurse before naps and bed (I'd say we nurse seven times a day or so, including some night feeding) so she's usually happy to cuddle and relax.  I am so thankful for these snuggly times. She's so busy these days that I rarely get the time to just sit and stare into her eyes. If for no other reason I'm thankful that we're still breastfeeding for these times. I will be incredibly sad when they're gone.

How I have changed.

    • Emotional.  My emotional relationship with breastfeeding has always been pretty good but it has become even more relaxed these days.  When she hit the 12 month mark I felt like a big burden was lifted off my shoulders because she would never need formula. This isn't because I think formula is evil or terrible but I set the initial goal of getting to that point and it was a victory when I did.   As I mentioned above, having such a rough beginning made nursing precious to us. I still look down at her sometimes and think "wow, we are really doing this!" with amazement. I know it will be over before we know it so I'm doing my best to enjoy every feeding, even in the middle of the night.
    • Physical.  I mentioned before that I dropped to my pre-pregnancy weight after a few months. The number on the scale was the same but I did lose a lot of muscle mass during pregnancy.  After 12 months I lost even more weight and now a lot of my clothes don't fit. I suspect that my body was holding on to some extra fat since Ellie was eating so much and has let it go now that she's eating less. My body's shape (especially my breasts...) is not the same but I've never been in a better place mentally with how I look.  Looking at this body and knowing that it carried her and continues to feed her makes it difficult to be so judgmental about how it compares to societal ideals.  I appreciate my body now more than ever.  It's important for me to keep this energy and share it with Ellie.
All in all, I am thrilled with where our breastfeeding relationship stands now.  We got here through a combination of luck and hard work and I suspect we won't be weaning any time soon, but I'm going to let Ellie tell me what to do.  Since we've has it so good so far, anything that happens from here on out is ok by me. 
Tell me, did you nurse your little one beyond a year? What was it like for you?  Mamas, do you or did you have a breastfeeding goal? 

Finally, it's time for Simple Lives!  Please be sure to link back to this post when you link up so we can pick your post for next week's featured posts.

kale soup
1. Caldo Verde (Portuguese kale soup) by I Believe in Butter. "Caldo verde is a very tasty soup, so easy to make, and also easy to turn in to your own specialty." dreamstime_3143609
2. 10 Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System by Small Footprint Family. "Considering that communicable diseases like colds and flu are highly contagious and have no cure other than to run their course, your best bet is to prevent becoming ill in the first place." Roasted-Garlic
3. How to Make Roasted Garlic by Real Food Freaks. "If you have never made roasted garlic, you are totally missing out! I love the depth and richness that roasted garlic brings to food."

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Legacy and Simple Lives

Today I'm going to share a story with you about my home, but first I'd like to share a few links to things that I've found this week around the web that I hope you'll find interesting. I got a good response to my last post that featured this idea and wanted to give it another go this week.

  • I don't love the first part of this post about public breastfeeding (and in part I can't relate because I've really never been given anything but support and encouragement about publicly feeding my child) but the interview and story about the gorilla are particularly interesting.  The story is about a gorilla who didn't know how to breastfeed its baby because it was raised in captivity. Reportedly it was able to successfully breastfeed its second baby after being exposed to nursing human mothers with their babies.  The interview talks about the role of public breastfeeding in a society. I want to be a part of a community where mothers breastfeed openly in public so I do. It can be hard sometimes, especially at the beginning, but posts like this one give me that ammunition I need.
  • I love thinking about children as little scientists and philosophers, constantly testing and adjusting their understanding of the world through experimentation. This article talks about preschoolers using play to draw conclusions about other people and how the world works.  Interestingly, it suggests that direct instruction can actually make it more difficult for children to learn from play. This is a line I constantly walk with Ellie because I want her to have structured "work" but also to have freedom to explore.
  • This series on PBS about chefs looks really interesting. 
  • I love this post about choosing your battles, another very big thing I struggle with daily. It also talks about drawing on mindfulness during times of stress and vulnerability.
  • On a similar point, this is an excellent post about setting AND keeping limits with your little ones. I find the steps, especially letting the child work through their emotions about the limits, and examples to be very helpful. 
  • My husband and I are going to try making this activity of listing things that can help us reduce the tension in our home. Like many couples, we were more harmonious before we had a child and are working to get back to that place. 
  • Lastly, my friend Nikki just opened her Etsy shop QuietRitual featuring her natural body care products, which I talked about on my Facebook page. I have used most of the ones she has listed and they are incredible. Totally luxurious but 100% safe. No artificial fragrances or preservatives. 

I hope you find a few of those links interesting!  Now on to the story.
I don't know if I've mentioned it here before but the home we purchased a few years ago has quite a history behind it.  We are the third owners of the small two-bedroom home, the first being a family of seven!  The second owners lived there for many years, having children who grew up and left.  We purchased the home from the wife and mother, in her mid 80s, who was downsizing to move into an apartment complex associated with assisted living.  Her husband had passed a way over a decade before we bought the home but he left his legacy throughout and I am still discovering small but incredibly meaningful things that once belonged to him and are now mine.  (I posted on my Flickr about his pencil sharpener and screw jar.)
Bob was a book buyer by profession for the majority of his adult life.  This is no small fact in this the only American City of Literature. When his wife moved, she allowed her children to go over the house and take what they wanted and we told her to leave us absolutely anything else.  We have slowly worked our way through his books which line the walls of the basement.  (This photo is from when we closed on the house, so none of this furniture remains but all the shelves are still full of books.)
Many of the books that were left behind are very special gifts from the publishers, given only to select groups of people.  Some are numbered and most contain a plate like this one:

Without exception they feature incredible book design and typography.  Today I'm going to show you four books that Bob left behind that are about Christmas. They are beautiful and meaningful.
The book on the far right, The Spirit of Christmas at Monticello, has beautiful illustrations and type.

 The one on the far left has a sweet little press logo.

And is filled with poetry.

The book called An Alphabet of Christmas Words is right up my alley, featuring the meaning and history of English words related to the holiday. I love it.
And finally my favorite, Two Kinds of Christmases.  Beautiful binding.
A little note on handmade paper just inside the cover.
Featuring this quote.
And filled with letters related to Christmas. Some ancient.
Others a little more modern.
And still others that are incredibly moving. Please click on this one to read.
We feel so lucky to have inherited so much of Bob's legacy. I can only hope that I should die with such an impressive book collection to represent me decades after I'm gone.

Finally, it's Thursday and that means it's time for Simple Lives! Thanks for sticking through this huge post and click through to see what people are linking up this week. We all have the holidays on our minds so it's great to be thinking about how to keep it simple.

 Featured Posts from Last Week's Submissions
SLT Featured Post Badge
We really enjoy reading your posts each week! Featured post bloggers, please grab the badge above and display it on your site! Link it to one of the host blogs' posts for the specific week that you were featured. Here are our picks from last week's submissions. Thanks to all who participated -- it is always hard to choose!
1. Canning Jar Pin Cushions by The Local Cook. "I like to stitch while we watch TV. So I thought hey, I should get a pincushion."
2. Homemade Liquid Hand Soap by Thank Your Body . "It's good. It's gentle. Effective. Toxic-free. And doesn't leave my hands feeling like they just got a chemical bath." chocolate cloud cakes
3. Chocolate Cloud Cakes by Riddlelove. "These little cakes are gorgeous in presentation and delightful to sink your spoon into."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Inheritance and Simple Lives

I try not to acquire too many objects, especially at this time of year, but there are some new things around here.
First, this sweet pendant.  It's from this etsy seller (unfortunately it's too late for Christmas orders) and is a belated Mother's Day gift.  It is the phase of the moon as it was on the night Ellie was born. I love it. Like all good Etsy products it came in beautiful packaging.
On a black silk cord, though I ended up putting it on a sterling chain with an E charm of in the same size.
A keepsake to go with it.
It's tiny and perfect. The date is also etched on the back.
On the opposite side of the new-thing spectrum is the gigantic room-sized rug we inherited from my great-grandparents.  It lived in my aunt's home for years until her dog refused to stop marking one spot of it and she removed it.  My parents generously agreed share the cost of having the rug cleaned and replace the pad and it now fills our living room.  It's a wool Karastan rug and we couldn't be more thrilled to have it in our home.  Someday I will pass it on to Eleanor, if it's her style, and maybe she to her children.  It's the kid of rug I have always wanted but could never have afforded.  The pattern and colors fit perfectly in our room by a stroke of great luck.  It's so touching to me that Ellie is now playing on a rug that my sister's and I played on when we were little girls.
The room before:

After.  Ok, more like during. the rug is in but things are still a mess. We had to remove all the furniture, including the piano, since the rug is only a few inches smaller than the room.
I will try to get some sunny pictures soon so you can see the real colors.

Close up of the pattern
It makes the room so much more warm and comfortable feeling.  The colors highlight the hutch (you can see it in the first photo) which we were also recently handed down from Tim's side of the family.  Would you believe me if I told you that the kitchen table (from Goodwill) is the only piece of real furniture I've purchased in my home?
I'm am so lucky. So many people have been so kind to us.
 A coworker very generously gifted me her Champion juicer, which is a total powerhouse.  I've been using my juicer recently since the citrus is so abundant and delicious. We've been ordering from Azure and this month got lots of carrots and oranges which we made into a super sweet foamy juice with apples, lemon, and spinach.
It was almost TOO sweet, despite what it looks like.
She loved it.
I made Smitten Kitchen's pumpkin cinnamon rolls recently, mostly for the smell and the frosting.  (You could bury me in pumpkin pie spice and I'd be happy.)
Nothing too bad ever starts this way.
The frosting was great but honestly the rolls weren't anything special. 
That's what we've been up to. We're also getting ready for the holidays, trying to decide if we want to get a full size Christmas tree or something small to avoid dealing with toddler grabby hands.  Any advice, parents or child-care friends?  
We have most of our gift list done for the first time in a few years (maybe it's just me but I have become significantly more organized since having a child, largely out of necessity) but we still have a few key dudes to check off our list.  Why are dads so tough to find gifts for?
How are you preparing for a simple holiday this year?  Check out the links in the Simple Lives Thursday blog hop and please join us in welcoming back Annette!! WE MISSED YOU!
Please remember to link back to one of the host blogs:
or here.

Our favorites from last week:

1. Homemade Bath Salts with Lemongrass by Holistic Squid. "While this recipe for luxurious homemade bath salts will guide you to create lovely homemade, health-promoting gifts, it will also soothe you when you need it the most...the holidays."
2. 8 Ways to Use Swiss Chard Stalks by Poor and Gluten Free. "We go through a bunch of Swiss chard every week, so I'm constantly looking for ways to make use of the chard stalks. Because the stems keep longer in the fridge than the leaves do I tend to store them up for a couple of weeks, then make something from them."
3. Don't Abandon the Sage by Our Heritage of Health. "Thanksgiving may be over, and the leftovers may be all gone, but there's no reason to abandon the bottle of sage in the back of the cupboard."

Saturday, December 1, 2012

December 1st

In my last post, I told you that we were going to celebrate the countdown to Christmas by doing something together, either as a family or just the two of us, every night in December.
Since today is December 1st, I thought I'd share our list.  I wrote up 24 ideas that vary in cost (most are free) and level of commitment/preparation and we got a rough idea of the order we'll follow.
Here's our list:
1.  Drink wine and wrap gifts
2.  Play and sing a Christmas song
3.  Draw each other
4.  Salt dough ornaments
5.  Write haiku about each other
6.  Nog+ brandy (note that I wrote 'rum' and was corrected!)
7.  Get Chinese takeout and watch Charlie Brown Christmas or Nightmare Before Christmas or Rudolf
8.  Oranges+cloves
9.  Walk or drive to look at lights
10.  Night time at Hickory Hill
11.  Make a time capsule ornament for E
12.  Bake chocolate crinkle cookies
13.  Read a Christmas story book
14.  Write E a letter
15.  Pick out and buy our xmas ornament
16.  Drink hot cocoa
17.  Go out for a meal
18.  Share three things we love about each other
19.  Take a family photo
20.  Play a game of chess
21.  Put up Christmas decorations
22.  Share three favorite moments of 2012
23.  Take a donation to the Shelter or Crisis Center
24.  Call or video chat with grandparents

We had to take a walk tonight because the weather has been freakishly warm and we're dog sitting, so everyone was anxious to get outside.  Nursing+walking in a carrier is still a guaranteed quick bedtime around here.

After the baby went to sleep, we did #20, play a game of chess.  We played two, actually. I lost both, which should be a surprise to no one who knows my husband. He plays chess daily online but it's something we rarely do together.  It was so much fun to sit down and have a laugh, and I'm not quite as terrible as I remembered.
I hope we'll manage to get all 24 of these things done, and am looking forward to some time together during this crazy season that pulls us in all directions.
What are your favorite holiday traditions?  We're looking for inspiration as our family grows.

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