Saturday, November 8, 2008

1.5 Year

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It's a Beautiful Day!

............America, we are a better country than these last eight years. We are a better country than this. This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work.

We're a better country than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment that he's worked on for 20 years and watch as it's shipped off to China, and then chokes up as he explains how he felt like a failure when he went home to tell his family the news.

We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty...that sits on it's hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes.

Tonight, I say to the people of America, to Democrats and Republicans and independents across this great land....................................


Time for Jason to weigh in. I'll admit I wasn't sure about Barack Obama until his acceptance speech at the DNC. But as the word "ENOUGH!" echoed across the stadium, I knew THIS was the candidate we have been praying for. The country doesn't just need strong leadership, economic relief, security, etc. We need to feel inspired. Proud. President Obama made us feel hope. Think about it, when was the last time you saw 240,000 people cry when their candidate was elected? It didn't even happen when Reagan was elected, and he had a larger electoral victory. Obama has everything Bill Clinton had in terms of intelligence, charisma, and an understanding of what us common folk are going through. Plus higher moral standards and a lifelong commitment to making things better. He has served as a teacher, a community activist, a Senator, and now as President. Not just someone who we can grab a beer with.

I admit also that I was very surprised at my reaction to his campaign and eventual election. I believe in him. I teared up when he won. There is a palpable sense of HOPE in this country that will finally change the tone of politics and finally bring American attitudes into the now eight-year-old millennium. Why this hope?

This little boy. We believe in politicians because we want to give something meaningful, something better, to our children. I don't work nights because I want to. Sheree doesn't get up at all hours of the night because it's fun. We love this little boy, and we are trying to give him something that matters: love, security, good health, and HOPE! We voted for Barack Obama because of hope. We want to pass that kind of hope, and the country that that hope will create, to Jack.

I'm certain some people reading this blog didn't vote for Obama. That's ok. But we all have to honor the results of this election. The situation this country is in is dire. We all have to support this good man as he works to correct the problems we face.

So, I'm sitting here writing this, listening to U2 sing about how "It's a Beautiful Day!". I'll change and feed Jack, then take him to his beautiful mother for a night on the town. Then I'll go to work. Like always. But with a new sense of hope that we can get things in America back on track.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Jack's future kitchen

Brandon and Sarah posted about their desire to have more space saver toys. Their comment thread brought up kitchens. This is the kitchen I'm going to make for Jackson someday. It's part of a showroom at the New Haven Ikea. It's built onto a simple shelf; black spongy coasters serve as "burners", there's a rubbermaid bin sunk in for the sink, and drawer pulls serve as knobs. Bonus--its not painted stereotypically girly pink. There's a little cupboard above it (optional).

I can imagine building this as a little piece of furniture on wheels so it can be pushed out of the way. For spacesaving, it could be built as a dropleaf kitchen shelf.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Some comments on milk

I've been meaning to post about breastfeeding for a while. I actually have several posts to do on this. The mothers out there know what a rocky road it is. Today's topic is extended breastfeeding, something that's usually reserved for snide whispers. In this country its considered a bit weird, and I admit to having a mental stereotype of people who do it, something I had a little internal struggle with when we hit the 12 month mark.
The AMA recommends breastfeeding exclusive for the 1st 6 months, and continuing for "atleast" the first year. The WHO recommends 2 years. Why the discrepancy? Well, I think this country is struggling to overcome its midcentury belief that "only poor people breastfeed", "its gross", and "formula is best". After that PR nightmare (did the formula companies use the same ad agency as cigarettes? seriously!) 12 months may be a stretch goal. The WHO on the otherhand is trying to make sure that children in the undeveloped world get one of the few advantages mother's can afford. It's also the best tool they have to stave off waterborn illnness, a major cause of infant death, since there's no need to mix it with water.
Most American mothers try to breastfeed in the hospital, more than half don't make it 2 months. The ones who make it through say "whew" at the 12 month mark and swiftly switch to cow's milk. There is a small minority that keeps going. As a new mother, I had a goal of 6 months, and then see what happens. (After the first few days and weeks, that seemed like an impossible achievement--but that's another post). I read up a bit on the recommendations, and started prying open my own mind on the idea of extended nursing. Apparently, there's scant scientific evidence of the benefits of toddler nursing in the US, but numerous studies have tried to find the negatives (science to support public opinion?) and they didn't come up with any.
About a year ago, I saw my doctor for my 6 month post partum check-up. We were talking about breastfeeding, and she casually said how things would go...and then we'd be toddler nursing, night and morning... What-What!? I heard the electronic rewind screech in my mind when she said it.
At 12 months, we were still breastfeeding. Jackson loved it. The descriptives, "alactrity", "enthusiasm", and "gusto" are inadequate to convey his excitement for nursing, or the sense of urgency he puts into it. I'm away from my baby 9 hours a day, so I wasn't about to deny him something that is clearly so important to him.
I did decide to break him from the all night feeding. This was really hard! I tried to use a gradual method to stop it. I set up some rules. 1--Jackson had to sleep in his own bed (right next to mine) until 5am. 2--No picking up screaming child (and he screamed!!) 3--I would give him milk when he asked for it, but only from a bottle. 4--After a few weeks, I would start diluting the milk with water until it was just water. Amazingly, the strategy worked. The first few nights were brutal, but after a week, Jackson agreed to go back to sleep in his own bed, and within 6 weeks, he was sleeping without sustenance from 7:30-5:00 (sometimes 4:30) when he woke for milk, and went back to sleep for an hour. (Such a relief after over a year of hourly interrupted sleep).
This method meant that I still had to pack my pump to and from work, and keep my timeslot in the overpacked lactation room so that I would have milk for overnight. There was another woman with a child the same age as Jack. On his 1st birthday, she [smugly] posted a note regarding her freedom from the milk machine. I was feeling like the weird woman who was still breastfeeding--How old is that child!? Then I checked in on my friend in my old lactation room, and she was still feeding her son. I asked a few more people and found out that there are actually a bunch of us quietly continuing past the first year. Many of us are professionals, surprisingly continuing to put in the extra effort.
Jackson was already weaned during the day since he was driven to vampirism early. (see Milk, soap, and cheese.) That's not the case for everyone. I saw my friend this summer who has extended breastfed all of her children. I was impressed at her patience--she spent 1/2 hour exposed in the kitchen while her 14 month old suckled and napped intermittently.
We're now at 18 months, and continuing to nurse for some indeterminate length of time. Jack's enthusiasm has not waned. We've had a cold this weekend, and Jackson hasn't been able to breath and suck at the same time. The other night, he threw an absolute fit when he couldn't suckle. He was writhing around and bawling. Luckily Jason was home, and able to sit with him while I dug my pump out of the closet. I put the milk in a sippy cup, and Jackson bawled louder, refusing to take it. He was relieved when I put in into a bottle. I wasn't able to pump much milk, and the wailing resumed when it was gone. Fortunatley, I still have stock in the freezer.
There are studies that show that antibody levels in toddler breast milk are even higher than in milk produced for young babies. I noticed my milk looks thicker than it used to, and I'm glad I can offer it.
I don't see myself as someone who fits the typical stereotype of a la leche leaguer. I think I'm as close as an engaged parent gets to the opposite of that. I'm not someone who gushes about the bonding that comes from nursing. I don't experience that personally, although I think Jackson does. I nurse because I know it offers advantages in immunity, allergy prevention, IQ, and development. I'm skeptical about the food industry (apparently with good reason--so glad I'm not in China!), and I don't believe they can adequately synthesize a food that has evolved over millenia. I want to make sure my child has the advantages that are within my means to provide.
I hope reading my story widened your awareness a bit. I'm not going to tell anyone how to raise their children, but I want other mother's to know that its OK either way, and I'd like to dissipate some of the whispers uttered at the expense of those of us who take "atleast 12 months" to mean something besides "exactly 12 months".

1.5 years.

Happy 1/5 years, Jackson (a couple weeks late, sorry). We celebrated with a [finally] needed haircut. His hair was getting pretty crazy. Jackson was a pretty good sport. We took a lot of breaks and Jackson mowed the deck in the interlude. Too bad we didn't get a picture of that.
Jack is obsessed with writing utensils. Crayons, Pens, Dry Erase Markers. Lids off of course. We are working on the concept of "Only writing on papers", and composing letters of gratitude to Mr Clean for the magic erasers. I've spent too much time asking that the lids be placed on the markes, and the orange marker on the "future engineer" shirt may've brought me to the edge. For now, no more markers. But I am thrilled to let Jackson sit in the chair and color for long periods of time. I don't mind wiping down the furniture afterward too much.

Jackson has developed a couple of new quirks. He now spends a lot of time checking his toes for lint. He plops down, peels off his socks, and carefully pulls each pair of toes apart. If there's lint, he grabs it, holds it at arms length, and scrunches his nose while he rubs his fingers together to get it off. I really need to get this on tape!

We're also taking a swimming class. The first 2 weeks, it was fun, but sort of seemed to be a waste of time. Well, not a waste of time, but not worth rushing out of work early and making Jason meet me there. We practice blowing bubbles, kicking and paddling, and jumping off the edge. Jackson mostly grips my hip with his knees and uses his toes to push down my suit bottom. He's a big fan of the squirty tub toys. When I put him on the edge to jump back in, he tries to run over to the water aerobic barbells instead. last weekend, we took a bath in our little used, but so fabulous jacuzzi tub. Jackson actually put his face under and blew some bubbles!! Monday, he was in peak performance, blowing bubbles, kicking, and gleefully jumping off the edge. He was also laughing very loudly the whole time! It was great. I'm sure the exhuberance was an artifact of being too tired due to the return of standard time, but I'll take it! Tonight, Jackson was less of a performer, but we still had fun. He did make an attempt at putting his whole face under when he saw the instructor go under and blow bubbles. After drinking in a bit of water, he wouldn't try again, but its a start.

We're taking the class with Beth and AJ. The boys are starting to play together, which is very exciting to see. Today, they tried to high five. I don't think they made contact, but it was too cute! There are giant legos in the lobby, and AJ hands them to Jack who is glad to take them. They follow each other around a little bridge, and share food. Apparently Beth does a much better job of packing lunch than I do, so mostly Jackson is stealing AJ's food. I'm getting better though.

We're imagining Jackson saying more words. He's a big fan of the onomatopoeia, especially animal noises. He likes to crow in echo to the rooster. He also says "ku ku" at the cuckoo clock and meow to the cat. In terms of real words--I hear alot of Dada, A-ee (Ally), Way-doh (Mabel). I heard "car" a couple of weeks ago (I'm not holding my breath to hear "taxi" anytime soon). And of course, he says "No" repeating as needed, and "Yeah". I love the "yeah", 'yes and no' one of those concepts that the books say takes a long time to get, so the vocabulary may be small, but the communcation isn't too bad. Plus it is ultra-ultra cute! He gives a little shoulder shrug when he says it.

Today we went to the pediatrician. Jackson weighed in at 26lb 12oz and 34 inches. For the shots, he gave the nurse his best "What you talkin' 'bout Willis" look, but no tears. Good Job!

Fall Fam Fotos

A few weeks ago, we headed to Gay City State Park to take some family pics. We got there a little late in the day, and lost the light quickly, plus the camera batteries failed us. Still--we managed to get a couple good pics.
I like this one, even though I'm pulling a goofy face.

These pictures really show how Jackson has my droopy eyelids. My mom thinks I should embrace them--100 years ago, they were considered "bedroom eyes" and very demure. You can also see the right dimple Jack and Jason share, and of course the dark eyes. I think they have the same mouth, and probably the same nose, too. I have such cute boys!