The other day my mom opened an email. As she tried to read it to me, gasping for breath between whoops and chortles, I gleaned a few basic facts. First, she inadvertently misdirected an email meant for the local worm lady (don’t you wish that was your nickname ?!?) to a woman in her prayer group. Second, that woman is unflappable.
My worms are outside. My garage is crowded, but should I make room and bring them in? I don’t want them to freeze.
This is an awfully strange email Barbara.
But since you are asking, I think you need to make up some nice little worm beds in your bedroom for them so they can stay toasty warm.
Oh yes, vermicomposting is just one of science experiment-esque things we have going on here. Looking back on the difficulty we had selling our house I sometimes wonder if they peeked in our cabinets and found the hidden kombucha (which kind of looks like moonshine), scobies, sprouted grains and kefir grains. If I really liked a house I wouldn’t let a little moonshine stand in the way, but I can see how the worms would be a deal breaker. Fortunately, they keep a pretty low profile.
Doing things outside of the mainstream often means that a lot of energy goes into explaining our choices. Where to begin? There’s co-sleeping, allowing our son to remain intact (no snippy snip), choosing not to vaccinate, home water birth, extended breastfeeding . . . in the right environment, each of these topics can create a firestorm of debate. And while that’s good for public discussion, sometimes I find myself getting a little too worked up, a little too defensive and (eek!) perhaps a “bit” judgmental.
When that happens, I like to play a little game called Look at YOU lookin’ at ME! While I take my lifestyle very seriously, it’s fun to try to put myself in the mainstream mindset and look at how downright silly/odd/excessive some of my choices seem (because of course none of them are actually silly/odd/excessive, LOL!). Here are some of the duties and odd things you might learn about me on any given day:
Update: Thanks to your hilarious lists I’ve thought of a few more:
Whew! That was refreshing . . . kind of like running through a sprinkler on a hot summer day.
YOUR TURN. Whether you’re mainstream or not, tell us what outsiders find funny about you! Or tell us what you find funny about me. Or just tell us something funny!Read More »
I think there is something to the whole “teaching your baby how to sleep” thing … but always gently.
Comment from Whittney on THAT Mom
I’ll bet some of you were star athletes before becoming a mom. It’s hard to find time to stay in training mode after kids, I should know. I was among the elite. I was a marathon sleeper.
I could sleep. for. ever. And a day.
With all the sleeping I used to do one would think I knew a thing or two about the mechanics of it. Nope. My first attempts to teach Katie to sleep made painfully clear my ignorance on the subject. Fortunately, in her No Cry Sleep Solution Elizabeth Pantley gives a well-researched overview of basic sleep biology.
Most babies awaken two to three times a night up to six months, and once or twice a night up to one year; some awaken once a night from one to two years old. A baby is considered to be sleeping through the night when she sleeps five consecutive hours, typically from midnight to 5:00 A.M. While this may not be your definition of sleeping through the night, it is the reasonable yardstick by which we measure Baby’s sleep.
The No Cry Sleep Solution, p.50
For me, this simple fact was a revelation. I realized that my objective should not be for my babies to “sleep through the night” without waking at all. None of us really does that. My goal is that they learn to fall asleep on their own after a brief awakening, just like I do when I roll over, fluff my pillow and drift back off to dreamland.
I strongly believed that what they began needing to fall asleep, they would continue to need. I wanted my children to have the security to fall asleep without my breast. We mixed it up – rocking, snuggling, walking, nursing to a sleepy, cozy place but not sound asleep, etc.
Comment from Leah on THAT Mom
Following Leah’s advice, I try to mix up how Micah falls asleep as often as possible: nursing to a sleepy state and then drifting off, in the sling, walking, rocking, etc. Note: If this seems impossible because your baby has a strong nursing-to-sleep association, check out the Pantley Pull-Off as described here.
I also vary how he sleeps. Sometimes rhythmic music plays in the background, other times white noise. He sleeps swaddled on his back, cuddled next to me or on his belly. * Hopefully this will help him be more flexible in his ability to take naps away from the house.
According to Elizabeth Pantley, where he falls asleep is almost as important as how. She gives this analogy:
Imagine this. You fall asleep in your nice, warm, comfy bed with your favorite pillow and your soft blanket. . . What if you woke up to find yourself sleeping on the kitchen floor without blankets or a pillow?
Could you simply turn over and go back to sleep? I know I couldn’t! You would probably wake up startled, worry about how you got there, fret a bit, go back to bed, get comfortable and eventually fall asleep – but not too deeply, because you would worry about winding up on the floor again. This is how it is for a baby who is nursed, rocked, bottlefed or otherwise parented to sleep. She falls asleep rocking, nursing, sucking a pacifier, and so forth and wakes up to wonder, “What happened? Where am I? Where’s Mommy and Daddy? I want things the way they were when I fell asleep! Wahhh!”
Makes sense, huh? That’s why once a day I soothe Micah until he is very sleepy but still awake and then place him in the co-sleeper. Sometimes he falls asleep, but usually he raises his head and makes an expression that says “What the heck? I was comfortable!“
When he starts to fuss I pick him up and soothe him until he is sleepy again, then put him back in his bed. I do this as many times as I need to until he is so tired that he just decides it’s not worth the trouble to protest and falls asleep in bed. It’s a pretty lengthy process (which is why I only do it once a day) but I think it helps him recognize that although mommy’s arms are best, beds are also cozy places to sleep. By decreasing the “startle factor” of waking up in bed I ***hope*** he will eventually feel comfy enough during his brief awakenings to fall back asleep without my help.
Speaking of babies falling back asleep on their own, a huge mistake I made with Katie is never letting her try. If she woke up in bed I picked her up immediately even if she wasn’t crying. With Micah, I wait to respond. Although it’s rare, I celebrate the times he falls back asleep without intervention. It doesn’t save me any hassle right now (after all I am hovering over him ready to help if needed), but as he develops this skill over time we will both be much happier.
Sleep experts agree on one thing: Overtired babies do not sleep well at night. Unfortunately, determining if a baby is tired is not always as easy as it looks! It’s easy to attribute crankiness to so many things: hunger, wet diaper, being cold, etc. I found this chart from Elizabeth’s book to be really helpful and I hope you do, too. Things are going really well with Micah right now, but if they weren’t I’d be tracking his hours to see if he’s logging enough zzzzz’s.
|Age||Number of Naps||Total lengthof naptimehours||Nighttimesleep hours*||Total of nighttime and naptime sleep|
|1 month||3||6-7||8 ½ – 10||15-16|
|9 months||2||2 ½ -4||11-12||14|
|12 months||1-2||2-3||11 ½ -12||13-14|
|3 years||1||1-1 ½||11||12|
|4 years||0||0||11 ½||11 ½|
From six weeks old on Micah has been sleeping six consecutive hours each night (7pm – 1am) and then waking up only twice for feedings (1am and 4am) . . . usually. He rarely has meltdowns as a result of overtiredness and is very peaceful and content while awake. I, however, am still fairly sleep deprived because I’d rather blog than nap.
*I’m not concerned about SIDS because I don’t vaccinate. Although belly sleeping has been named as the culprit, there is some research indicating that vaccines, specifically the DTP, may be the real cause. Besides, studies show that an infants breathing patterns tend to stabilize when they sleep next to an adult.
A change in seasons is worthy of celebration. Winter has it’s snowmen, gingerbread houses and families curled up next to a crackling fire. There are spring picnics and summer swim days. And then there is fall.
It’s hard to decide what to be more excited about, the relief from a blistering hot Texas summer or the joy of preparing for the holiday season. Or maybe it’s how the early setting sun resets my children’s biological clocks to go to bed earlier. Whatever it is, fall always sends me into full nesting mode: baking, handmade gifts, candle lit baths (ahem, when baths happen at all). If you like the sound of that last part as much as I do there is someone you should meet.
Heather J, owner of Sawgrass Candles, opened her virtual shop doors just over a year ago. “Who knew I’d be doing THIS!!!” she told me. “I’ve got a marine biology degree from UNC Wilmington but I met my husband before graduating, fell in love, got married – so long Jaques Cousteau dream!! Did I really want to be in a shark cage in the middle of some sea on a boat where I was the only woman…..ummm, turns out, no.”
I first met Heather while shopping for my birth kit luxuries. Endless googling for inexpensive soy candles led me to Etsy, which surprised me since I consider Etsy an upscale boutique. Her custom inscribed tealights were definitely boutique quality: Handmade from non-GMO soy using pure essential oils and cotton wicks. Her prices, however, were not.
When I asked her about it, she replied “I started making candles as a way to earn money and still be a SAHM. I was also really tired of crappy candles! I wanted to make an all natural candle that burned evenly, smelled wonderful, was scented with essential oils, AND – was affordable!!!!!! Most of the essential oil candles out there are marked up sooo much! Don’t get me wrong – I so want to jack my prices up AND be able to sell them and make a fortune…but, that’s just not me. Turns out, I have a huge honesty issue and I find myself wanting to give them away more so than sell them…not too great for business I suppose huh :} But, at least I can go to sleep at night and feel good about what I’m doing!”
She should. Whether it’s Ginger Lime, Lemongrass or a minty soul-lifting fragrance, Heather’s candles make my home a better place. A healthier place.
I would love to buy only organic, sustainable and fair-trade products. But for me that’s just not affordable. I have to decide when to compromise. Food? Sometimes. Clothing? Yes. Candles? No.
Why? Conventionally manufactured candles have the potential to damage your health. You may be thinking, “Is she paranoid about everything? We’re talking about candles, not antifreeze!” No, I am not paranoid about everything. Just about chemicals in my food, water and air. LOL!
With candles there are two main reasons for concern. First, although U.S. manufacturers stopped using lead core wicks in the 1980s, imported candles often still use them. Burning these candles releases lead into the air and can cause learning disabilities, kidney damage, seizures, behavior problems and poor muscle coordination.
About ten years ago a local mom noticed her son’s grades dropped drastically after she purchased and burned some candles. Testing revealed elevated levels of lead in his blood and he had to be removed from the home temporarily. You can read her story here.
A more common concern is the paraffin wax most manufacturers use:
Paraffin wax is a by-product of fuel refining – specifically, Paraffin is basically the “bottom of the barrel” even after asphalt is extracted. Paraffin is the final byproduct in the petroleum refining chain.
Even “food grade” paraffin contains several known carcinogens (cancer causing agents) identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – such as benzene and toulene, which are released into the air as a paraffin candle burns. Some other air contaminants in paraffin fumes include methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), and naphthalene–substances found in paint, lacquer and varnish removers.
Research suggests breathing paraffin fumes from a burning paraffin candle in an enclosed environment, has much the same detrimental effect as inhaling significant second-hand tobacco smoke, or even the exhaust fumes of a small diesel engine! The state of California, under its Proposition 65 Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, has identified at least seven major toxins in paraffin wax.
My point is, don’t assume that something’s safe just because it’s on store shelves, yada yada yada . . . you get the idea. Okay, enough about that. Now for the good part! If you’re interested in making the switch to natural wax candles (or already have), here’s a chance to stock up! Heather is giving away an 8 oz Christmas Memories candle (spicy orange, cinnamon, frankincense, myrhh, and vanilla, oh my!) to one lucky Mommypotamus reader.
For a chance to win, just leave a comment below about which room and for what occasion (if any) you’d use your brand new fresh scented candle. I’ll draw a name and announce the winner soon!
[info_box]This contest is now closed. :)[/info_box]Read More »
Hello, my name is Daddypotamus, and Time is kicking my butt. Not just a little bit either. I’m full-on sore right now. Not only are the years passing me by and I still haven’t written my first book. Now my children are growing faster than I want. And the fun-loving Daddy that once rocked the playground somehow faded into a boring robot focused on other things. It’s not that I wasn’t spending time with my Katiegirl. I just wasn’t giving her my best.Read More »
It’s a cool, crisp morning here in Texas . . . the perfect time for me to catch up on the “to do’s” that have piled up higher than I’d like to admit. I’ll see you tomorrow.Read More »
I love April’s strawberries with November’s spinach, tossed together in a salad topped with January’s carmelized pecans and a honey-balsamic dressing. Sometimes I just can’t help myself. But for the most part I’m making a conscious choice to eat seasonally and locally. Fresh picked produce is better for my body, my budget and the environment.
Squash is abundant right now. It’s delicious in pumpkin pie porridge, mashed with simple ingredients like honey and butter, or transformed into pasta.
Yes, I said pasta. Spaghetti squash is aptly named because of it’s resemblance to pasta noodles.
It has a neutral flavor that makes it a versatile option for many dishes. Pasta marinara is a good choice, but Daniel’s favorite is a rustic recipe with a few simple ingredients.
For the pasta:
For the sauce:
To find out what’s in season where you live, check out The Sustainable Table.Read More »
Daniel: “You have a Mommypotamus Facebook page now.”
Me: “I have a what?”
Daniel: “A Facebook page where you can share links. I created it while you were napping.”
Long ago in a land far, far away. Scratch that. Here on this couch just a few months ago that very conversation occurred. Before I knew it I was shown a page with random photos of my life alongside a little notice indicating that I had “become a fan” of . . . myself.
A fan? Really? I don’t think so.
I tried to protest, but Daniel informed me that was the only way I could interact with people on the Mommypotamus page. Of course, I could leave it up to him, but that didn’t work out so well when he began impersonating me on Twitter. Oh yes, that really happened!
So I remained a “fan,” gagging over the implied narcissism until the wonderful day FB eliminated that button in favor of the noncommittal “Like” button. Liking myself is a bit easier to swallow, but lately I’ve been fighting the urge to click “Unlike.”
Just to see what it would feel like.
I know what it feels like in real life. This may not be the best way to put this, but life got BIGGER when Micah arrived. My great big beautiful life (in a teeny tiny house, if you must know:)) just got greater, bigger and more beautiful. I want all of it: Romance, family time, sweet moments with my babies, blogging and cooking. The only problem is me. I am too small for my life right now. I’m slowly growing into my new role as mother to Micah and being stretched in all of my old roles, but right now I’m coming up short . . . a lot.
Sometimes I get frustrated with my inability to just pop into this new phase and roll with it. I think clicking “Unlike” would be SO THERAPEUTIC. Went out in public in MOM JEANS because they are the only ones that fit? Unlike. Left the bathtub running while I went outside to play kickball with Katie? Unlike.
Unfortunately, Daniel swears the world will implode (or at least my page will crash) if I do that. So I won’t. I guess what I’m saying is, some parts of being a “work in progress” are messier than others. Now, for example, is pretty messy.
I have tons of good stuff planned for this community. Seriously, I did NOT glow with excitement last week when I told a friend what someone donated for an upcoming giveaway. Said donation is NOT worth hundreds of dollars and is NOT something moms and foodies will both fight over. Okay, I totally did and it totally is.
Thanks for sticking around while my life undergoes major construction. I promise we’ll get back to our regularly scheduled parenting posts, recipes, and whatnot. In the meantime, maybe you could tell me what you would UNLIKE if life came with buttons.
* image from FastCompanyRead More »
Today is the post I’ve been dreading all week. The more I thought about it and read your comments, the smaller and less helpful my ideas seemed. So, prepare to be underwhelmed. You are probably doing most, if not all, of these things.
One thing I regret about my last post is that it seems like I am saying it is possible to fully recreate a tribal dynamic. I am NOT saying that. To the degree that it’s doable for every unique situation I think it’s worth it to try. But in the end most of us will, like Leah, choose to say “In the ideal world, I would…..but in light of my present reality, this is the decision that is best for all of us.” I know I do.
Why did I, of all people, decide to write this post? I am wondering that myself. Although I have a fabulous support system now, it wasn’t always this way. For the first 18 months of Katie’s life I tried desperately to cram my former full-time job into part time hours. My in-laws did not live around the corner then. And while my mom did watch Katie several mornings a week while I juggled conference calls, press releases, and naptime with all the grace of a drunk elephant, dinner was a joke if it got made at all. I constantly beat myself up for not being able to achieve as much professionally as I had been able to when I slept 8 hours a night. I felt guilty for working at all, even though I didn’t even have to walk out my front door to reach my office.
Many (maybe most) of you have probably handled more challenging situations for longer periods of time. You are probably more qualified to write this post than I am. I wish I had known some of you back then. I had NO mom friends. No one to in the trenches to talk things over with. That’s why I’m writing this post . . . to get a discussion going in the comments so that I can learn something! So here’s my best shot:
Daytime Backup. If you’re already in the crunchy scene you may know some homeschooling families. In my experience girls that homeschool are great with children, and because of their flexible school schedules they can come during the day when hubby is at work and you need help the most. We have an amazing girl that comes over sometimes to play with Katie while I catch up on things. She’s only thirteen, but I don’t mind because I’m no further than the next room. And since she isn’t a full-fledged sitter yet her rates are incredibly budget friendly. If you’re interested in exploring this idea but don’t have any homeschool connections you might want to contact this list of Homeschooling Support Groups (categorized by location). From there you should be able to get in touch with a local chapter.
Widen the Circle. Seek out other moms to share ideas, inspiration, tasks, and pool resources with. This can take many forms. Some are practical, like designating one person to pick up milk at the farm for all of us or helping out with our area of expertise (midwifery, cooking, financial management, bargain hunting, home organization, etc.)
One of the most rewarding but least obvious sources of inspiration are mentor relationships. You may be thinking “Um, yeah, I’m sure there are a lot of experienced moms out there just dying to revisit life in the trenches with little ones.” Probably not. And even if there were, there aren’t a lot of moms out there that I can honestly say I’d want to emulate. So, where does that leave us? For every exceptional mentor there are like, a bazillion moms in the trenches needing encouragement and guidance. How does that work?
In my circle there are two moms that speak on occasion to my Wednesday morning mommy group. By loving on us in a group setting they are able to reach more moms without draining too much time away from their other commitments. Tana and Vivian were crunchy before it was cool. They’re fun, accepting and wise. I learn how to be a better mom just by being around them. For the record, this is also true of my own mom
Do you need to make some new connections? Whether you’re looking for fellow trench dwellers or a mentor, consider checking out your local La Leche chapter, Holistic Moms Network, or church group to find moms with similar philosophies.
A personal chef would be better, but . . . Although they are not actual people, you might consider making your crockpot and freezer part of your tribe. When you make your famous crockpot chili why not make it a double batch and let your freezer hold onto the extra for you? On occasion you will find that your freezer will say to you “I’ve got this. Take the night off.” Okay, maybe not, but don’t let their lack of personality stand in the way. Let your freezer help.
Let technology be your butler, accountant, and personal shopper. In other words, Automate EVERYTHING. Bill payments, budgeting (We use Mint. It’s free!), calendar reminders. I do as much holiday shopping online as possible, too.
Rework Work. Dad’s these days are cool. They take their daughters on Saturday morning coffee dates while mommy sleeps in and inspire crunchy moms to declare that real dads wear their babies. Although most dads work outside the home, some are finding that they can adjust their schedules to be at home during peak activity times. When Katie was born Daniel asked his boss if he could start going in early so he could get back home before his baby girl was in bed for the night. We’ve been enjoying that schedule for 3 years now even though Katie has been going to bed later for a long time now. My friend Whittney’s husband made the same request and is home at 3:30 every day . . . just in time to take the kids while she starts dinner.
While that one may work for a few of you, here’s one that may apply more broadly:
Once my little one had slept “through the night” a couple of times (and this age varied with all three), my husband took over the night care. The fact that they were sleeping for 6+ hour stretches at a time communicated to me that they did not need that middle of the night feeding. With Dad there, all it took was a bit of rocking and they just went back to sleep.
All that said, I am not and have never been a militant parent. If the baby had previously been sleeping “through the night” and was on their third or fourth waking, I assumed that they genuinely were hungry and would gladly nurse them. And if there happened to be a time when h/she fell asleep at the breast, I wouldn’t wake him before I put him down. It was simply a general guideline.
Comment from Leah on THAT Mom
I’ll admit, when Katie was a baby I constantly refused Daniel’s offers to help at night. I worried that the lack of sleep would affect him at work. I rarely considered how MY lack of sleep was affecting his ability to enjoy being at home. (Sadly, I wasn’t just THAT Mom, I was THAT Wife, too. : ()
Disclaimer: Have you seen the Babies documentary? A couple of weeks ago I rented it from our local video store. Ironically, of the four cultures it explores only one is tribal, and it is only in that culture that I never saw a man helping with childcare! So, while having The Chief help out is a very beneficial idea, it may not be anthropologically accurate.
At six weeks old Micah is sleeping 6-7 hours straight at night and napping well during the day. He is becoming comfortable sleeping in a variety of situations and has even consented to falling asleep in the co-sleeper after being placed in there awake!!! This is a huge improvement from the way we did things with Katie. I’ll be sharing the details of our sleep plan in the next post.
Special thanks to Whittney H for helping me with these ideas.Read More »