Sunday, July 31, 2011

I Want To Quit Breastfeeding (Sometimes)

Nursing was hard for a long time after L. was born.

Here's the short version of our breastfeeding saga: nursing hurt and pumping hurt and I was engorged and in pain until I quit working when L. was seven and a half months. I was producing way more milk that she needed and I didn't have anywhere for it to go. I'm totally grateful my problem was overproduction and not the opposite, but it didn't make it feel any better.

After I quit my job and we moved, nursing got easier. My boobs got smaller. The constantly clogged ducts and threat of mastitis gradually went away and I was comfortable nursing. Nursing was wonderful. It wasn't that I'd never enjoyed it before, it was just nice to relax and watch L.'s smiling little face with milk dribbling down her chin without my nipples hurting.

We had several glorious months of peaceful nursing and cuddling.

Then L. turned into a toddler. She started walking at ten months and never looked back. She developed a skill we've come to call "extreme nursing". She wiggles, she twists, she does downward dog...sometimes she gets distracted and tries to jump off my lap without unlatching herself. She waves her arms and will fight (with surprising strength) to grab whichever boob she isn't using with her free arm. I think the milk tastes better if she's pinching the other nipple.

So, after we've been nursing for a while and she's upside down and groping me while trying to put her foot behind her head (and accidentally kicking me in the face), I think about quitting.

I think about quitting for good. I think about weaning her completely. I think about saying no and never nursing her again.

And then I feel sad.

I think about her little face lighting up when it's time to nurse. I see her tilting her head to the side with a sly little smile while she signs "milk" and says, "nurse?" L. signing "milk" is really one of the cutest things I've ever seen.

I hear her little giggle of gleeful anticipation.

How can I say no?

But she's been getting more possessive and aggressive. No matter how many times I cut her off if she pinches me, she still pinches. No matter how many times I say no if I'm eating or going to the bathroom or cooking or it's just not a good time, she has a tantrum. She cries and screams and pounds her fists saying, "mine, mine, my nurse!"

So I'm exaggerating a bit. She doesn't have a tantrum every time I say no, but it happens often enough that it's tiresome.

She thinks my boobs are hers. She's told me. She points at my boobs and say, "my boob." She'll point at other peoples boobs too (she's a big fan of boobs in case you hadn't noticed) but she knows who they belong to. She'll point at her grandma's boobs and say, "Mimi's boobs" but if you ask her where L.'s boobs are, she'll point at mine.

When she screams and yells I want to quit. I think I'm ready to be done. I'm ready to move on. I'm ready to find new ways to comfort and cuddle with her. She's a big girl now, right?

But she has good timing. She's knows when I'm reaching my limit and then she's really sweet. I think about how much I love her little face resting on my breast early in the morning when she's calm. It's almost like she's a little baby again and I hate to let go of that. I know there is no stopping the fact that she will grow up. I know she won't nurse forever, so why would I want to cut her off and let go of these moments before she's ready to do so on her own?

Nursing makes her so happy. A lot of the time it makes me happy too. It's something no one else can share with her. I'm totally scared to give it up.

I know rationally that I'm not going to damage her by weaning her before she weans herself. She's a very well attached child. I know that. I know I have to do it gradually to avoid my hormones completely freaking out.

I know that it will be okay when we're not nursing anymore. We'll find other ways to connect and snuggle and I'll still be able to comfort her. I'm her mom after all.

But the fact remains that I'm scared to quit. Aside from the fact that I love the good moments and it makes her happy...it's easy. It's an easy snack if we're somewhere we can't bring food or if we run out of crackers. It's an easy way to keep her entertained if we're someone she needs to be quiet. It's an easy fix if she falls and scrapes her knee. It's an easy way to make sure she's getting enough fluids on a hot day at the beach.

Nursing is wonderful and it's easy fall back on. That's my dilemma.

I want to cut back and sometimes I think I am ready to be done. I know on some levels L. is ready too. It's more entertainment, habit, and comfort for her at the this point.

I'm just totally nervous to do it right now. I think about waiting until her second birthday. We're getting fairly close. I tell myself I could hold out a little longer. I remind myself that The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for two years.

Then I wonder if I might go crazy in the next three months. The fact that I don't know if I can make it that long should be enough to convince myself I'm ready to wean.

But we're going to have a lot of long plane flights in the next two months...

My Baby is a Big Girl Now

Yesterday morning before J. left for work we took the side rail off L.'s crib to make it a toddler bed. We packed away all her diapers and moved the changing table and high chair to the garage.

She's a big girl now.

Big girl bed, big girl panties, big girl booster seat at the table.

Isn't this too sudden? Isn't it too much all at once? I don't think so. We'll just have to see.

The one thing I know for sure is that there is no going back. I know my daughter too well to even consider it. We'll muddle through no matter what the next few days and weeks and months have in store for us. But going back is not an option.

No more diapers, no more plastic covers, no more training pants, no more crib, no more high chair. Period.

Any little sign of weakness or the slightest variation in our routine and L. will see it as an opportunity. She'll push and push and push just to see what happens. That's what she did this weekend even though she liked all the changes. That's why we changed everything at once. We couldn't have a big girl bed and baby diapers or a big girl panties and a baby high chair. She'd notice we were contradicting ourselves. And I didn't want to deal with changing the routine more than once.

Even good changes are difficult. She always finds room to challenge us. Having a big girl bed was enough to upset our bedtime routine last night. L. can climb in and out of her new bed on her own. She interpreted that to mean that she could have free access to my boobs and not go to sleep until really late.

We didn't agree. She screamed to nurse (although she wasn't hungry) and climbed out of bed over and over (even though she was tired). We kept putting her back in bed and eventually she fell asleep.

I know she'll figure it out and bedtime will get back to normal. Despite that backlash last night, L. is really into the whole "big girl" thing.

I think J. and I are having a harder time than she is. We're the ones laying in bed awake at night listening to the monitor, waiting for her to roll out of bed.

L. doesn't seem to mind rolling out of bed. It only happened twice and she didn't even wake up. I picked her up and put her back in bed without her noticing.

We need to relax. Yes, she's a big girl now but she's not even two years old yet. She's still our baby even though she's a little more independent now...

Or at least she thinks she's more independent. I'm still going to be there to put her back in bed the instant she rolls out.

Running: Week 5 Report

Monday, 7/25, I ran on the beach just after dawn. It was amazing. I felt great. I went a little further than I probably should have but I didn't care. It was a beautiful morning. I was barefoot and I loved feeling the soft sand under my toes.

Unfortunately, I got blisters on the balls of my feet. Didn't think about that before I got started. It was worth it though. It was a wonderful run.

However, the rest of the week isn't worth reporting.

All of our visitors are gone and this week will be better in terms of running. The blisters are gone and I'm going to get back on track...

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Everything Tote Bag (and a little dress)

For Mother's Day (yes, for Mother's day, last May), J. bought me material to make myself a bag. I'd been wanting to make a bag and found a pattern I loved in a book at the library. The bag is the "Everything Tote" from the book, Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross.

The bag was the first project in the book and sounded really simple. I figured I could handle it. It turned out to be a little more challenging that I expected. First, I didn't buy enough fabric. The book said one half yard each of lining and outside fabric and it wasn't enough. Perhaps the fabric I chose was just narrower than normal? It's possible.

Second, I bought transfer paper to transfer the pattern and that totally didn't work. I ended up tracing the pattern onto tissue paper. That worked well. I'll opt for that first in the future.

Third, I bought the wrong kind of needle for my machine. I figured out fairly quickly it was the wrong needle but my machine didn't want to work anyway. My thread kept breaking. I realized I put the needle in backward. Once that was fixed the thread still kept breaking. At this point I called my friend V. to see if it was me or the machine. Turns out it was the thread. I'd managed to buy the one spool of thread that wasn't as all purpose as it claimed to be.

By this time I was fairly frustrated having spend an entire week making trips back and forth to the fabric store. Nonetheless, I was finally able to start sewing. Aside from a few broken needles, everything went perfectly fine until I needed to pucker the sides slightly. My thread started breaking again. After 328 tries (not really, but it felt like it) I got it done. Then it was time to sew on the side binding and handles.

I followed the directions perfectly, I swear. It just didn't work. I ended up with so many layers of fabric it wouldn't fit under the foot of my sewing machine. I pushed and pushed and considered throwing the machine out the window. But I knew it wasn't really the machine. I tried to finish it by hand and that didn't work very well either.

I decided to give it a break. A few weeks later I got out my seam ripper and took off the binding and handles. I called V. and asked if she would help me work out an alternative plan for the handles. She was glad to help.

We looked over the instructions and decided there was no way to make it work. Long story short, we took the binding/handles (they were tubes made with the lining and outside fabric) and ripped out the stitching on one side. Then I was able to sew on the binding and handles in the same way directed in the book but without so many layers of fabric. The main difference was that I ended up top stitching the entire length of the handles to close them up...that probably doesn't make much sense since you haven't seen the directions but take my word for it, it worked.
In the end, I finished my Mother's Day bag last Saturday. Approximately two and half months after Mother's Day. I'm just excited it's finished. Here is the inside all filled with stuff at the beach...
I should also mention that I still really like the book. I'm not entirely convinced the problems I had were the book and not just my newbie incompetence. Without this book I wouldn't have found the website where I found the manual for my sewing machine and I can guarantee I wouldn't be able to sew anything without the manual.

And I ended up with extra fabric. I used the extra half yard of lining fabric to make L. a dress. I used the Lazy Days Skirt as my base but I made it longer and measured the elastic around L.'s chest instead of her waist. I also hemmed the bottom instead of adding a ribbon. Then I made little tubes out of the same fabric and sewed them on as straps. I sewed the straps a little closer together in back so they won't fall off her shoulders.
L. wasn't really up for pictures so I don't have any good ones of the front. Can you tell she's wearing several costume jewelry necklaces? I love this little dress. I think she may end up with quite a few more like this one...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Lately we've been making (and eating) BBQ chicken pizza on a regular basis. I think I could eat it several times a week and not get sick of it. It makes me glad I'm not currently a vegetarian.

Here's what you'll need to make this fabulous pizza:

Pizza dough for a crust
Mozzarella cheese
About half a red onion
Some chopped cilantro
A few cloves chopped garlic
One chicken breast
BBQ sauce

First, make (or buy) a crust. Use your favorite recipe. I used the pizza dough recipe in Feeding the Whole Family: Cooking with Whole Foods by Cynthia Lair. I had the book out from the library and so far this is the best pizza dough recipe I've found (although I'm totally open to suggestions). The recipe I used makes enough that I can make one pizza and freeze dough for two more. It's nice not to make dough every time I make pizza.

So, make your dough and form your crust. I don't recommend rolling the dough. I just kind of press mine until it's as big and as thin as I want it. Until recently I made my pizza on a cookie sheet so we had semi-rectangular pizzas. However, I recently got a pizza pan and it's amazing. I love making a round crust.

I usually take a break from pressing out the crust when I'm about half done. I cut one chicken breast into smallish cubes and saute them in a frying pan. Once they're almost entirely cooked I add some BBQ sauce. Stir the chicken around until all the pieces are covered with sauce. It doesn't take a whole lot. We like Stubb's BBQ sauce because it's a little bit spicy. It has a nice kick.

Okay, once your crust is pressed out and your chicken is cooked and sitting in sauce, it's time to assemble the pizza. Spread BBQ sauce on your crust. Make sure it's well covered but it doesn't need to be really thick. Then add your grated mozzarella cheese. Again, just make sure it's evening covering the crust and sauce. Spread the sliced red onions over the cheese and sprinkle chopped cilantro and garlic. Finally, spoon the cooked chicken onto the pizza.

I bake mine on the bottom rack at 500 degrees F for about 10 minutes. Follow the directions for whatever crust you use.

I've decided making pizza is not an exact science. Not in my world anyway. Each one is a little different. I think they get a little better every time. All the more reason to make pizza more often.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Running: Week 4 Report

Sunday, 7/17: 1.42 miles walked with mom, L. and the dog.
Comments: It was later in the morning and it was HOT.

Monday, 7/18: .85 miles run/walked.
Comments: More running than walking. Had a random pain in my left kneecap that I've never felt in my life before. Kind of unnerving since that is my "good" leg. Took it easy. Turned around and headed home.

Tuesday, 7/19: 1 mile walked to the park with the whole family.
Comments: Earlier...not as hot as Sunday.

Wednesday, 7/20: Nothing. Off.
Comments: It's hard to fit in exercise when we have guests. Bad excuse but it's the truth.

Thursday, 7/21: Ran 1.45 miles.
Comments: Felt good. No pain in knees or anywhere else.

Friday, 7/22: Swam at the beach.
Comments: I know it doesn't sound like much but the waves were big and I feel like it was a workout just getting through the breakers. It was nice having someone along watch L. so I actually got to swim.

Saturday, 7/23: Off.
Comments: Busy with family...

It has been a BUSY summer so far. That's a good thing but I've definitely been having a hard time finding time for myself (and the energy to get out of bed any earlier than absolutely necessary). Things will be calming down soon!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Exhaustion

I'm so tired the word "exhaustion" looks really funny. It looks like I spelled it wrong but I didn't. I double checked it.

Anyhow, that is why my posts have been so lame lately. I'm exhausted.

There are a lot of reasons I'm tired but I feel like it wouldn't be very interesting to get into the details. Most of the reasons are good and some are not so great.

Regardless, please know that I will be back soon.

I've been composing blog posts in my head. I need to write an update post about the garden. I want to share a wonderful recipe for homemade pretzels. I found a delicious website full of popsicle recipes and we've been working out way through them (to be perfectly fair, J. found the website but I've been making them). I need to post my latest sewing projects (although my sewing machine has been a little neglected of late) and so on.

In the meantime, here is a picture of L. taking her afternoon nap in an inner-tube at the water park. (That's my mother-in-law's hand holding onto her. She was well supervised.)
She's exhausted too.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Running: Week 3 Report

Well, this will be quick. We were out of town for my hubby's birthday, had company in town all week, I started my period and L. almost broke my toe by dropping a jar of jam on it.

I didn't get any running done this week. I walked a little but nothing I would count as a workout.

I'm not going to beat myself up. Better luck next week...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Running: Week 2 Report

We were out of town over the weekend. That's why I'm posting this so late!

Sunday, 7/3: 1.2 mile run/walk
Comments: Felt very relaxed.

Monday, 7/4: Sailing approx. 1 hour (small boat)
Comments: Really good to be on the water. Legs and arms will be sore!

Tuesday, 7/5: 1.2 mile run/walk
Comments: Moving really, really slow today. Need more sleep. So tired. Quads VERY sore.

Wednesday, 7/6: Sailing approx. 2 hours (big boat)
Comments: Wonderful evening. Not an intense workout tonight. Probably should count as day off...

Thursday, 7/7: 2.3 mile run/walk
Comments: Ran with another mom. Showered immediately after run. Still feeling tired. Did more walking today.

Friday, 7/8: Off
Comments: Not able to get out of the house...super busy day.

Saturday, 7/9: 2.15 mile run/walk
Comments: Ran with my friend again. Fairly slow pace. Trying to be careful about increasing the distance.

Total mileage this week: 6.85 run/0 miles walked
Total so far: 10.45 miles run/3.6 miles walked

Obviously I need to work on walking on my off days. I still need to work on showering right away and the ideal schedule has yet to be discovered. Some days I'm up and back before L. is awake, sometimes I wait until she's up and J. is getting ready for work. Hopefully that will work itself out more this next week.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Independence Day

Happy 4th of July!

We had a wonderful day full of wading, sailing, picnics, fireworks, and a few picture perfect moments.
I hope you all had a safe holiday filled with friends, family, and fun!
Cheers!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Running: Week 1 Report

I've decided to post my weekly miles to hold myself accountable and to motivate me to get out of the house in the morning. I don't want to have an empty report at the end of the week. I'm going to try to post every Sunday but sometimes it might be a little late (like this week). I should have posted this yesterday but it's been a busy weekend!

Sunday, 6/26: 1.2 mile run/walk
Comments: Felt REALLY out of shape.

Monday, 6/27: 1.2 mile walk only
Comments: Sore from yesterday but feeling better overall. Not so tense.

Tuesday, 6/28: 1.2 mile run/walk
Comments: Felt sore leaving the house but felt really good once I started running. Ran more than on Sunday.

Wednesday, 6/29: 1.2 mile walk only
Comments: Left a little earlier today and it was cooler. Good idea.

Thursday, 6/30: 1.2 mile run/walk
Comments: Felt good. Ran more than Tuesday. Shorter walk breaks.

Friday, 7/1: 1.2 mile walk only
Comments: Had our dog with me and was followed/jumped on/harassed by FIVE dogs during our walk. All at the same time. They weren't stray and I was pissed they weren't in their yard. They were huge and we only escaped because they switched their attention to another guy out with his dog. But he lived close and we escaped while he was trying to get in his house (he got in) and fend off the dogs. Ugh. Not relaxing.

Saturday, 7/2: OFF

And that was week one. I figure I should explain that I'm trying to start out really slowly and listen to my body. I'm running while it feels good to run and walking if I start feeling tight at all. I'm focusing on new technique (toe strike vs. heel strike) and adjusting to new shoes (Vibram FiveFinger KSOs). I'm also trying not to beat myself up because I'm only running a mile at a time and accepting the fact that my mileage is not going to be back at 40 miles a week any time soon. And that's okay.

Mileage total week 1: 3.6 miles run/3.6 miles walked

Things to work on next week: showering immediately after run. So far this hasn't happened and I've been trying to fit it in later in the morning and that is more stress than it's worth. I also need to use my foam roller (for my IT band) before bed in addition to immediately after running/walking.

Unexpected Racism

L. and I went to the beach with my mother-in-law on Saturday. It was a gorgeous day and the beach was crowded. I suppose we should have expected that (seeing how it was 4th of July weekend and all) but we didn't. We totally forgot it was a holiday weekend.

Fortunately, we found a really good parking place and headed for the water. While we were deciding where to put our chairs and towels a lady approached us and asked if we'd like to sit under the palapa (we were at a beach a few towns over and it's a little more developed than the beaches we normally go to). She and her husband were leaving and they thought we might like the shade.

How nice was that? I couldn't believe our luck. There was only one palapa in that section of the park. We chatted while they packed up their stuff and we replaced it with our own.

The woman commented that she had grandchildren herself and told us how cute L. looked and how lucky my mother-in-law was to have such a beautiful granddaughter.

We thanked her and then she said, "I always wanted one that looked like her but all mine turned out darker...and that's a nice way of saying it." She followed this up with a little laugh and what I'm sure she thought was a knowing look.

It totally hit me off guard. Did she really just say that? I was stunned. I didn't say anything.

Then I ran off to catch L. before she dove into the water unsupervised. She'd reached the shoreline while I was still processing what the woman had said. I kept trying to think of some other way to interpret her words. I didn't come up with anything.

When I'd caught L. and carried her back toward the palapa the couple was gone and my mother-in-law was headed to meet us in the water.

My head was still spinning. I was upset by her words. I was upset that she thought it was okay to make a comment like that to me. She had assumed that because I'm white and my daughter has blond hair and blue eyes that it was okay to complain to me about her grandchildren's skin tone. And I didn't give her any reason to believe other wise.

I'm angry with myself because I didn't say anything to her and because I didn't say anything I left her with the assumption that I agreed or commiserated with her. Yes, I was surprised. Yes, I was angry. Yes, I had to go catch L. before she jumped in the water. But I should have said something.

I should have let her know that it upset me to hear her make such a racist comment. I should have told her I was bothered by her assumption that it was okay to say something like that to me and my mother-in-law, to complete strangers. I wanted to tell her she shouldn't assume people are as racist as she is. I should have told her I was sad she didn't appreciate her grandchildren just the way they are.

But I didn't and I'm really disappointed in myself. I've heard people make racist comments numerous times since we moved here. I'm not used to it. Every single time it catches me unaware and I'm tongue tied. Sometimes I've pulled myself together enough to make a comment negating the stereotype. More often than not, by the time I process their words and think of something to say, it's too late.

I'm glad I'm not used to it. I'm glad I don't think it's normal or okay. I'm grateful that racism makes me uncomfortable. Because I'm uncomfortable I will say something next time. Next time I have to say something.

I have to say something every time I hear words I know to be hateful or intolerant. I have to because I want L. to grow up knowing it's not okay to be prejudiced against other people. I want her to know it's not okay to put other people down. I want her to know that every human being deserves respect.

Writing this post is my first step in speaking up against what I've heard around me.

P.S. I should mention that I know there is racism everywhere. I don't want to perpetuate the misconception that racism is only a problem in the South. I've seen racism other places but (in my experience) it is more overt here than anywhere I've ever lived before. Racism is bad regardless of whether it's right in front of your face or subtle and harder to see. It's just easier for a lot of people to ignore it when it's understated.

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