Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I have recently started my books on tape/movie project with Twilight. I do not find the writing to be as compelling as Harry Potter and didn’t love the first book. However, I am enjoying the storyline and intrigued by the world. I also enjoyed the movies and think the baseball scene is one of my favorite scenes I have seen in a movie in awhile.
I notice that it has many of the same themes as Harry Potter: love, self-sacrifice, and bravery. However, I do not feel compelled by them. I don’t cheer on the characters as they put themselves in danger as I did with the Potter series. Here are the reasons I am not as enthralled with Twilight
1. I am increasingly annoyed by the notion that men must protect and control women. While Bella is certainly a strong woman, she is constantly physically and mentally dominated by the men in the book. The notion that she must be “protected” by forcing her to do things either by not telling her something, physically restraining her or rejecting her is not a value that I want my daughter to internalize. For awhile it seemed that Jacob was not going to fall into the role but then he did it too!
2. I just don’t buy that the love is anything but lust (at least for the first book). Bella is drawn to Edward because of his vampire powers (his magnetism) and he is drawn to her because he lusts after her blood. They claim it is other things and as they spend time together one could argue they are learning about each other, but their desires to be with each other are based on the foundation of lust.

These two things really bother me. As I continue to explore the second part of the saga and the future books, perhaps these issues will be resolved. Until then I will continue to enjoy the works but won’t put them on the list of books I want to enjoy with Ella.

Harry Potter

I am a distracted driver. I text while I drive. In an attempt to stop this behavior, I have started listening to books on tape. After I finish the book, I get the movie from the library and then watch it with my husband. It is great and I am currently recovering from my texting issue. My first book was a silly mystery followed by a period piece about a strong, disabled woman and her frontier life. It was a lot of fun to listen to until her baby was eaten by a dog and another main character had a late-term miscarriage. I arrived at work in tears and realized I needed books that would be “safe”. I am a book snob and had rejected Harry Potter simply because it was popular. I decided to give it a try and fell in love! If there were more Harry Potter books, I might very well line up at midnight to wait for them!
Reasons I loved Harry Potter:
1. The writing was vivid, entertaining, and uplifting.
2. The themes of love, bravery, self-sacrifice, and justice are values that I believe in.
3. The characters were lovable and layered.
4. The experiences of youth were universal. I loved reading about their romances and disagreements.
I enjoyed the movies as well but was annoyed that the duel at the end of the last movie was so different than it was in the book.
I am so excited to read these books with Ella in a few years.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Protesting in Freedom Plaza

It was Thursday night, October 20th. The High was 63 degrees and the low was 47 degrees. We had guests in town from Ithaca, NY who are very socially conscious. I had the idea that we could camp out in Freedom Plaza or McPherson Square to show our support for the Occupy Movement. I struggled to decide which location to visit but eventually decided on Freedom Plaza. Since we had the toddlers with us, I felt that going with the group that had a permit was a better option. We planned to go on Weds but there were major storms, so we went on Thursday instead.

We arrived at around 5pm and set up camp. Everyone was very helpful and helped up set up our giant tent. It was me, another couple, my 2.5 year old daughter, their 3 year old daughter, and their 5 year old son. We all shared a tent and people thought we were Polygamists!

After we made camp, we attended the General Assembly Meeting. We learned the hand gestures to show our approval, disapproval, to ask a question, etc. It went too long for the kids but someone snuck them some food. A mentally ill, extremely intoxicated man began to rant and was gently escorted away from the crowd. This was unnerving but handled beautifully. The man hung out by the bathrooms after that and the “Peace Keepers” ran escorts to the bathrooms for the rest of the evening, which was nice. I was struck by how “ordinary” the topics of discussion were. They talked about cooking (they were just told that they are no longer allowed to cook on site), they discussed new committees, and they described an action that day where they shut down a bank. I guess I had imagined screaming and chanting. I feel silly, now, that I envisioned a rally.

It was also a very different crowd than I had envisioned. I imagined young activists. Instead, there were a handful of 20-somethings, a handful of veteran protesters, and mostly homeless people. It was really shocking at first, but they let us camp in the “Women’s Only” Section which was nice.

After the meeting, we turned in for the night. The kids loved tent camping. My friend’s son, Lucas, talked about how we were protesting which meant we should yell “Yes!” The kids made up stories from pictures and told them to each other. It was a nice evening, but also a terrible one. At one point we just laughed because everything was a mess: the tent looked like it would collapse, our children looked like they would never fall asleep, it was so unbelievably cold, and we all seemed to have developed a terrible cough. Still, we were enjoying each other.

As we settled into bed, Lucas turned to his Dad and said “We need to go to that meeting tomorrow. I have something to say. You should write it down because I already forgot it.” He paused then added. “But I have another idea.”

Some of us fell asleep, but I could not. I was very cold and my cough was getting worse. Ella basically nursed non-stop and I was so glad she could to keep her warm. I must have dozed off because I woke-up assuming it was 3am or 4am. I looked at the clock at it was 12:45am. I heard shouting and realized there was an altercation happening outside. I gleamed that a homeless man was drinking alcohol, which was against the rules, and they told him to get ride of it. He was clearly intoxicated and shouted threats for several minutes. Again, it was handled beautifully and he eventually left.

This altercation woke up Kristina and we decided we both needed to go to the bathroom. We also lamented that it was only 1am! It was this point that I made a change in my attitude. Instead of this being fun, I accepted it would be miserable. Instead of trying to make myself comfortable, I decided to truly experience the discomfort. I thought about what the other protestors were experiencing every day, what the homeless men in the encampment will experience in a few months, and really thought about why these Occupy Movements are happening. It was a beautiful moment and made the rest of the night much more powerful.

The next morning we woke up at 8am, had breakfast, and attended another General Assembly. I helped Little Lucas get in a “stack” so he could share his thoughts with the group. When they called his number, he marched up to the megaphone and said “I have a great idea! Let’s ask for peace.” Then he smiled and walked back to his seat as the crowd went wild.

I was so excited about the adventure and the camaraderie that I didn’t really take into account the extreme discomfort the adults and the kids would experience. Would I do it again? Not with the kids. If I could go back and do it all over would I? I think so! Am I glad we did it? Absolutely.

If you would like help the movement, the people at Freedom Plaza need socks, hats, coats, blankets, and prepared meals.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mama Cloth

So, with my recent "return to fertility" a few months ago, I have been experimenting with Mama Cloth (translation- reusable menstrual products). I LOVE it! I was shocked at how many chemicals are in feminine hygiene products. I feel freshers and more comfortable.

So far I have tried several brands of cloth pads but my favorite is the "fuzzi bunz" brand.

I have also tried sea sponges and The Diva Cup. I like both but find that I have to change them frequently the first few days.

I haven't tried conventional "lady products" since I was pregnant and don't plan to go back. I hope that I can teach Ella about them one day and she can have a healthier body as well!

Night Weaning

So, Ella sleeps through the night about half the time and falls asleep without nursing about half the time too. Really it is a great situation and usually works great. We have a new foster son and I am exhausted so I decided in a rush to full night weaning the rest of the time.

I didn't give her enough notice and she was having a weird night where she wasn't tired. We said "no more nursing until the sun comes" Well, it was too much to ask her to do in one night because she really wanted to nurse to fall asleep. About an hour later she begged to nurse. I reminded her about what we talked about.

She cried and cried. Finally, she calmed down and looked at me and said "Eleanor sad" (she always says she is happy). I asked why and she said "No want nurse when sun comes up. Nurse mommy. Cuddle bed. Please." It was so sweet and heartbreaking that I nursed her to sleep and will try again in a few weeks.

She is such an amazing creature.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Nursing in Public

A friend of mine just posted on her blog about nursing her toddler in public:

It is well written and interesting recap of her nursing journey. I smiled brightly as she described the joy of gazing into a toddler's eyes as they nurse. Sadly, the night before I read this post, I had been harassed for nursing in public.

I was at a restaurant last night and Ella was being particularly cute choosing her nursing position. She had fallen right before we left and had pretty scratched up knees. She wanted to nurse in a position so she could look at the scraps. She finally laid in my lap like a newborn and latched. We were completely covered by my shirt (not that it mattered!). This table of 3 started to loudly give a play by play. "Oh my god! That is disgusting having that baby hang off her titty" The place was loud so I could barely hear them. I looked away and started talking to my husband but they continued with their conversation. Then, every time Ella did something they would say "Can you believe it? That baby can walk and she is still doing that!" "That baby can eat a chip!" "That baby can drink from a straw" It was so annoying! I had planned all of these different scenarios out if they spoke to me. But, I ignored it and they left. I still plan to nurse in public but am hurt that Ella has to be exposed to that.

Like Ally, I had not planned to nurse Ella for 2 years (see one of my first blog posts here). In fact, at my first La Leche League meeting someone mentioned that they were nursing their older child. I turned to the leader next to me and said "I will NEVER do that!" She smiled and said "It is okay. Most women do not." Ella will be 2 next month and we are still going strong!

I am very confident in my nursing relationship, my right to nurse, and the value it has for Ella. We usually nurse in the Ergo and when people ask what she is doing i casually say she is nursing. Ella calls it "Nurse please" so there is no secret when he asks for it. I am proud to be a breastfeeding mother. But, I usually use the WHO recommendations that recommend a baby nurse for "two years and beyond". That usually clams people down but now we are going to be hitting that two years and I wonder if people will hear the "and beyond" anymore.

It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few months. Nursing is too valuable a tool for me to stop nursing in public. It calms her after a fall, it distracts her from running around a restaurant, and it still allows me to connect with her if my attention has to be averted. It also creates some of the best moments of my day.

I LOVE breastfeeding but I do not always love having to constantly defend it.

Here are my nursing photos:

Photo Taken by Amanda Giley

Photo Taken by Amanda Giley

Photo Taken by Amanda Giley




Saturday, April 16, 2011

Attachment Parenting

I was talking to a friend of mine (who I like very much!) who does not have children yet. During a discussion on child-rearing, the person made several negative comments about “Attachment Parenting’”. I had felt this way before Ella was born but I wondered what the internet buzz was about my style of parenting. I found that many people believed that AP parenting was all about giving into spoiled children and completely missed the science that supports many of our strategies. Not only were there AP bashing blog posts but also AP bloggers writing about Attachment Parenting as if it was an uneducated, lazy option. Then, of course, there was the Wall Street Journal article that said AP was oppressive to women. I was shocked by how much misinformation was out there as well. Many websites proclaimed that helicopter-parenting is the same as attachment parenting, if you don’t bed share then you don’t practice attachment parenting, attachment parenting means grandparents and daycare providers aren’t allowed to bond baby, etc. So, I decided to write a post about what Attachment Parenting is to me. It is not a value judgment on what style of parenting is best but a description of my parenting philosophy.

Attachment Parenting is a philosophy on parenting that involves parenting in the most natural way possible. It includes all people in the child’s life. It involves looking at the biological norms and typically using those methods to care for a child. However, that does not mean it is a checklist of parenting strategies. Beyond the natural living, is the idea that we as parents should trust our instincts. If something feels wrong, then Attachment Parenting says not to do it (even if most APers do it). I often ask myself, "If I was on a desert island, would I do X" If the answer is no, I think about whether or not there is a good reason to do X. For example, on a dessert island I would never have my baby sleep far away from me. So, in my home, the natural thing is for her to be in my bed. However, many other families have perfectly valid reasons not to co-sleep and for them the decision process was different and they had different options to weight. Many people who practice AP do babywear, cloth diaper, co-sleep, breastfeed, and are against cry-it-out strategies to get an infant to sleep. However, this is not universal. AP recognizes that we are trying to do something very natural in unnatural environments. As a result, we all do things a little differently. Some people live in small apartments with nowhere to wash cloth diapers, some people have bad backs and can’t babywear, others have had breast-reduction surgery and can’t breastfeed. Sometimes, parents just choose not to do some of these things.

It isn’t the things themselves that matter, it is more the decision making process. When deciding whether or not to put a child on a schedule or engage in adult-lead weaning, AP parents think about the needs of the child and the biological norm rather than listening to the societal norm or the latest buzz book. Attachment Parenting Parents also typically accept the belief that being with a parent is a need rather than a want and therefore take that need very seriously when making parenting decisions. In theory, we put more weight to the child’s need than our own if there is a conflict. However, there is no rule that the child must win. A parent can still be AP if they decide to choose themselves, when the decision is made with all parties being considered. What makes the family AP is that they seriously weighted the options and knowingly chose their own comfort over their child’s need and had a reason for it. It is about making an educated decision. AP parent can feel proud (rather than guilty) when they occassionally choose their needs because they are choosing the child’s needs in so many other areas. What really matters is the processes and basic values that lead the decision. The decision is not really the indicator of true Attachment Parenting.

I have found AP parenting to be very easy because it feels right not because the strategies are necessarily easier. I have certainly made sacrifices in order to parent this way, but I feel good about every single one of them. I rarely find myself too conflicted in my parenting decisions because I have learned to trust my instinct. If my instinct feels something is right, it almost always is.
So, when I think about Attachment Parenting, I think about making educated decisions that swing in favor of baby. I think of biological norms. I think about gentle approaches when we do choose ourselves over our babies. I also think about families that focus being together as much as possible. I love Attachment Parenting because it freed me from thinking I had to do everything the way it was written in a book. I still consult the books, but I understand that my gut and my baby are the best resources.

What does Attachment Parenting mean to you?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


This post has been on my To Do list for 2 months. I attended a lecture where a woman from Moms for Safer Wireless came and spoke in November and she was somewhat compelling. I am not prepared to throw my laptop and cell phone in the trash, but I will make some changes.

Here are the highlights from the powerpoint:

This is the list of short term effects (according to Moms for Safer Wireless) I had trouble finding out where they found these causes and research supporting all of them.
-Sleep disruption
-Hormone disruption
-Impairment of cognitive function
-Concentration problems
-Attention problems
-Behavior problems

Here is a list of possible long term effects. I had trouble finding out where they found these causes and research supporting all of them.
-DNA damage
-Physiological stress
-Altered immune function
-Miscarriage risks
-Effects on sperm quality leading to infertility
-Neurological diseases such as ALS and Alzheimer’s

Interesting points:

1. 56% of cell phone research indicates that there is an increased health risk when using cell phones. When this is broken down, 68% of studies preformed by the cell phone companies showed no correlation between cell phones and health issues. However, there were mostly studies that lasted for less than 10 years. This fact is important because in all but 1 study that was longer than 10 years, there was an increased risk of tumors in the head.

2. Here is info on the studies which show health risks (pasted directly from powerpoint)

A: Fertil Steril. 2008 Jan;89(1):124-8. Epub 2007 May 4
Study in a fertility clinic found that the duration of time on a cell phone directly impacted the quality of sperm.
“Three hundred sixty-one men undergoing infertility evaluation were divided into four groups according to their active cell phone use. CONCLUSION(S): Use of cell phones decrease the semen quality in men by decreasing the sperm count, motility, viability, and normal morphology. The decrease in sperm parameters was dependent on the duration of daily exposure to cell phones and independent of the initial semen quality.”

B: Sperm quality & quantity
The study found men who used a cell phones for more than four hours a day had a 25 per cent lower sperm count than men who never used a mobile. They had a 50 per cent drop in the number of properly formed sperm, “The men with highest usage also had greater problems with sperm quality, with the swimming ability of sperm - a crucial factor in conception - down by a third.” “Men who use mobile phones face increased risk of infertility”, Daily Mail, UK 10/2006 by Jenny Hope; Researchers from Professor Ashok Agarwal, director of the Reproductive Research Centre at the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, USA & research from India [93]

3. Children's exposure to cell phones is much more damaging than adults because their skulls are not as thick. Here is a photo of an image and an article with more info:


4. Other countries have made moves to limit cell phone use (especially in children). This is also directly from the powerpoint:

Russia recommends that mobile phones are not used by children under the age of 18. Russia also recommends that pregnant women do not use mobile phones.

The French Government has warned that children should limit their use of wireless phones (2002) and is introducing legislation to ban advertising of mobile phones to children (2009)

The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) in Finland has recommended restricting the use of mobile phones by children (2009

The Israeli Ministry of Health has called for children's use of mobile phones to be limited (2008).

The Indian Ministry of Telecommunication has recommended that children under the age of 16 should be discouraged from using cell phones (2008)

5. No studies were done on the safety of wireless technology before it was released. Now there is a powerful communications lobby.

This is an interesting article discussing a possible relationship between wireless and Autism


Most of this research is correlational but is interesting nonetheless. It is hard to know how much is conspiracy theory and how much is feasible. I think we will make the following basic changes:

-Turn off Wi-Fi router at bedtime
-Put aluminum foil on Wi-Fi antennas (I will only do this is it doesn't affect my signal)
-Take all wireless equipment out of bedrooms at bedtime
-Only use speakerphone or BlueTUBE A "bluetube" is supposed to be best. Here is an example http://products.mercola.com/blue-tube-headset/ But, this guy also sells these so there is a conflict of interest.
-Don't let Ella use the phone unless on speaker
-Don't use computer on my lap or chest