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Cahokia Mounds Mini Vacation

At the beginning of May, we took a family mini vacation to the St. Louis area. We like to take family adventures each year, but with our current car-hating baby, options are limited. So, we decided to explore some things relatively nearby that were still new for us. We stayed at a Drury Inn in St. Louis (Drury Inns for mini-vacays are our family’s tradition. We like the free breakfast and dinner and the adults enjoy the free tequila sunrises and wine!). We picked a suite this time as a sort of “treat,” but we quickly realized that our family is actually big enough that we need a suite, it isn’t just a novelty indulgence! We stopped at Laumeier Sculpture Park on the way into the city. The kids were pretty whiny about the sculptures and Mark and I finally had to concede that we also have differing expectations of what counts as art (sticking a huge tire halfway in the ground is what we would call “playground equipment” and not “Earthmover,” an art installation of such delicacy as to not allow climbing on it, lest we disturb its majesty…). After a fairly short time at the park, we headed to a friend’s house where we had lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon. It was really great and relaxing to have a “base” to retreat to like this, rather than hustling and bustling and having to live out of our car. I lounged on her couch nursing Tanner while our boys played, Alaina visited the many pets, and our friends made a taco buffet for lunch. It was a perfect day!

The whole time were were gone the weather was absolutely perfect. The following morning we headed to Cahokia Mounds in nearby Illinois. Cahokia Mounds is the site of the largest earthwork in the Americas and the largest, most complex “prehistoric” native site north of Mexico (and larger than London at that time). I have always felt a connection between my own sculptures and those of ancient people and I enjoyed spotting some familiar figurines in the museum.

After climbing to the top of Monks Mound while babywearing and breastfeeding and enjoying the view, we were ready for lunch. (We had a short time in which we were the only people on top of the Mound and it was really cool!) The kids are obsessed with Golden Corral after going with their grandparents on our last visit to the Chicago area. So, we went to the Golden Corral in Collinsville (I had a strategically planned birthday coupon for a free buffet too!) We were there at that terrible time for buffets—not lunchtime and not dinnertime—and so most of the food was on the cold and dessicated side, which was disappointing. The kids ate too much cotton candy and I ate a pile of mini steakburgers (after forcing the attendant’s hand by taking the very last dehydrated sad burger and thus forcing him to put out the sizzling new ones I spotted him hoarding on the grill). By the time we got back to the hotel, the last thing we had room for was hot dogs and tequila, but we ate them anyway!

The next morning we decided to go to the zoo, which was Alaina’s special wish. Unfortunately, we had a very difficult time getting there and parking due to road closures and full parking lots. We managed eventually, but didn’t have very much fun. I don’t like zoos at all, the boys were bored, and Alaina threw a screaming fit about wanting a stuffed monkey. We hit some highlights of the zoo and then left for Jilly’s Cupcake Bar. I got it into my head somehow recently that I needed a cupcake bar experience for my birthday (and for my 100 Things list this year). I looked for cupcake bars in St. Louis and amazingly enough there was a two-times winner of Cupcake Wars right there! This was one of the most exciting parts of our trip. 😉

After cupcakes for lunch, we decided to go to the American Girl store. I’ve been to the big store in Chicago and the small store in Overland Park, KS, but never to the one in St. Louis, so also as part of my birthday, I wanted to check it out. I had my eye on one of the new mini dolls. Unfortunately, we hit terrible traffic (it was 2:30, so we’re not totally sure why) and had to slog around for extreme amounts of time, some of which with a screaming baby (and a mother scrambling over seats and trying to nurse him in the car seat). We got off on a random off ramp and wandered until we got to the mall, which was much better than continuing to sit on the interstate.

May 2015 152When we left the store, we hit more bad traffic on the way and were running out of gas (and I was being very critical of this fact). We were also starving and worried about missing our free dinner! However, Mark is a good, calm city driver and we made it back to the hotel with time to space and only a mildly further car-traumatized baby.

We all got into the hotel hot tub together every night which was fun (the boys also swam in both the indoor and outdoor pools) and binge-watched a Naked and Afraid marathon, which we’d never heard of before. The final morning of our trip we enjoyed the free breakfast one more time and then headed out of the city, stopping at a different friend’s house for a birthday lunch on our way home. Again, this was a nice, peaceful, relaxing way to travel–so nice to have a comfortable, welcoming space to visit in, rather than trying to coordinate going out to lunch or something (hard to have quality catching up time with a bunch of kids in a public place!).

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Sixmonthababy!

IMG_4367So…THIS BABY! Somehow, he is six months old already. Somehow, he acts more like a ten month old! One of the things that is different about being a fourth baby than a first baby, is that you accept being zoomed around on a tiny car as a normal part of your morning…

Speaking of mornings, I’d like to comment that whomever said, “the days are long, but the years are short,” was totally wrong. Both the days AND the years are short. So, so short. I mentioned before that I am definitely feeling maxed out in my caregiving powers in an average day (and, one can only reduce household tasks so far without becoming disgusting). It is unbelievable to me how many things I DON’T get to do in a day and that I have to release or let go of. At the same time it is amazing how many things I actually do, but the number of important things that slip through my fingers is feeling rough to accept lately. It feels like much of my relationship work is being sacrificed. Activism, local events, friendships, relationships in general, doing things with my other kids, going places, self-care basics—these are all getting pared away, reduced, or feel like they are suffering, untended, or neglected. As one small example, I didn’t read most of or reply to hardly any of the birthday greetings I had on Facebook last week, I can’t respond to simple midwifery activism action alerts, and so forth. What I have been having time for is time to work next to my sleeping baby, since I have to sit in a quiet room with him and actively keep him asleep for naps. This is handy for blog posts, newsletters, etsy work, class preparation, and writing projects!

Okay, enough whining, and back to this baby. He is mobile! Very mobile. He crawls—mostly army style, but also on knees and then launch forward and then knees again and launch forward (sort of inch-worm style). He pulls to standing on everything. He gets himself back to a seated position after being flat on his belly. He lets go while standing and holds on with only one hand. He does some transferring between surfaces, but not cruising yet…that is coming any day now I think. He practices getting down from bed and chair by sliding off the edge (with help) over and over again—slide down, reach to be lifted back up, slide down again. You can see the practiced concentration. He does things like get canned goods out of the cabinet while standing there holding on with one hand (that’s what I mean about feeling like I have a ten month old). He’s only six months old! By the same token I feel like he bonks his head or hurts himself more often than he should as only a six month old baby—he tries things that are just a little out of his actual capacity. (Such as holding on to the laundry basket with one hand and leaning over and swiping other hand toward the couch trying to transfer surfaces even though he isn’t quite close enough to reach.)

Along with this mobility comes some struggling with our nursing relationship. He clearly feels “bored” or held down by needing to stop for “nonnies.” Some day, despite lots of offering and two minute long nursing sessions, it feels like he is only really, truly nursing at naptimes and then all night long (to make up for the busyness during the day). I pretty much have to shut myself up in the bedroom with him to nurse him very well at all. Along with this, he is eating a ton of solid food. Way more than any of my kids have ever done at the same age and he started doing so with no real fanfare or lead-in or episodes of gagging over textures and spitting things out. He grabs, he chomps, he gobbles, he has a specific “desperate” (horrible!) sound he makes when he wants a snack or something from our meals. Despite having a pile of other kids, until this month with Tanner, I have been pretty judgey towards other parents about their solid food choices with their babies. Since my other three were only passingly interested at this age and would gag and spit out almost everything, I assumed other parents who said their six month old loved to eat, were exaggerating or almost “forcing” the babies to have solids when they weren’t really ready. Apparently, no matter how many years you parent, there is always room to be humbled yet again!

He still weighs about 18 pounds (maybe 19. We get varying results.) The other thing he does that is different than my other kids is suddenly degenerate into extreme crying fits when it is time to go to sleep, usually when we’re changing his clothes/diaper and I’m brushing my teeth to get in bed. It is an abrupt shift into crying hard and he shrieks in a desperate, agitated, really over-the-top manner. He also continues with the car crying horror to the extent that we only actually leave the house once or twice a week! Oh, that said though, he as started to make some visits over to my parents’ house when the other kids go to visit during the day. The first time he left with them, I cried three times! Now, I’m seeing the advantage. Mark and I really benefit from focused time to work together instead of shouting to each other over the tops of people’s heads (not ideal for running a collaborative business). I’ve also left Tanner with Mark twice while I teach, instead of dragging them with me to sit in the hall. I’m almost to another session break and I also got it arranged to do my next two classes partially online, meaning I won’t be gone for the entire time and can get home to my baby in a timely fashion, instead of having to bring him + Mark along with me. While I do enjoy “grinding my corn” with my baby and having him close by while I teach, I do have to admit that I do a better job and feel much more satisfied when I am on my own at class and not worrying about them out in the hallway waiting for me!

He also got to visit with his great grandma last month!

April 2015 015Something Tanner does do that all of our co-sleeping babies have done is touch our faces in the night to ID who he’s got—since Mark has a beard, when he reaches up and feels Mark’s scratchy face, he knows to roll away and back towards me! In the night, I’ll feel a little hand patting at my cheek…checking in…right person? And, then snuggling up to nurse. He still sleeps on my arm all night long, but he rolls to face different directions while still being on my arm.

Despite the maxing and the chaos and the juggling and the paring away, I literally cannot believe I ever worried about not loving him. He is the baby I didn’t know I needed. The member of the family that was missing. He totally belongs and is so much a part of me and our lives that I can barely remember him not being here and can certainly not imagine that we might never have had him!

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Happy Earth Day!

April 2015 019This morning Mark was having a Unity programming class with Lann, so I made angel food cupcakes with coconut oil buttercream frosting and took the other kids outside for Earth Day fun having a picnic and building troll houses like I used to do when I was a kid. The trolls had an unfortunate run in with moths recently and are sporting refreshed dos, courtesy of my mom (aka Barbara’s House of Beauty).IMG_4385It took me a while to soften into just sitting in the leaves with the kids, without bringing along a book or a notebook or some project to secretly plan to work on while they played. But, once I did soften into it, I didn’t want to leave. We laid on our backs on the earth and admired the way the tree branches make patterns against the sky. We delighted in tiny flowers, found a magical patch of moss, ate our cupcakes and a few pinches of oxalis, and had a picnic.

This morning I enjoyed reading a lovely post by Jodi Sky Rogers (I also borrowed my closing quote from her e-newsletter):

…mosses are a whole unknown world, in fact, a whole Universe of wisdom. They say that ‘rolling stones don’t gather moss.’ So to drink in great worlds of wisdom we must be still just like ancient rocks and boulders who rest in peaceful presence for eons and then allow the insights that rise from the Universe and from the quiet stirring within us so grow like moss on the moist edges of our consciousness.

via Dreamland and Drifting in Between | Jodi Sky Rogers.

I also enjoyed reading about this simple and powerful Earth Day Ritual from Peg Conway:

Let us bless the source of life that brings forth bread from the earth.

Let us bless the source of life that ripens fruit on the vine.

A beautiful sunset provided a perfect closing rite.

Amen!

via Ritual for Earth Day | Sense of the Faithful.

Yesterday, we planted a buckeye tree and this afternoon we planted lavender, motherwort, white sage, calendula, and evening primrose. Life feels sweet and full of growth.

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”

~ John Muir

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Grinding My Corn Sculpture

IMG_3729It has been almost four years since I wrote my post about “grinding my corn.” In that time, I’ve added another baby, another degree, a book, and a business to my life (as well as lots of other projects!). I’ve also made necessary subtractions and deletions, some painful, some a relief. And, guess what, I still want to grind my corn! My husband works from home with me now and he, too, grinds his corn while parenting and personing. This is what I wrote in my original post:

This is what I’m talking about. There needs to be a third, realistic option (and not just for women. For men too. For families!). I have often expressed the desire to find a balance between mothering and “personing.” I’m seeking a seamless integration of work and family life for both Mark and myself. An integration that makes true co-parenting possible, while still meeting the potent biological need of a baby for her mother and a mother’s biological compulsion to be present with her baby. Why is the work world designed to ignore the existence of families?

via I just want to grind my corn! | Talk Birth.

It felt like it was definitely time for a new grinding my corn sculpture! It took quite some time between my original sculpt and making the new figurines a reality, but she’s here!

IMG_3526I love her and she sits by my computer while I write, on my desk while I teach, and on my bedside table at night. She reminds me of my own capacity—to grow, to adapt, to change, to balance, to hold, to care, to live.

Adding another baby to our family has really pushed us to our coping edge in many ways, sometimes it feels like we’ve tipped past the edge–piled dishes, piled laundry, piled recycling, undone requests, unresponded to messages, other kids wanting books read and projects done. We’re pretty maxed. Our house feels at maximum capacity. Our lives feel at maximum capacity. And, yet, I still reach for the and. Somehow, even when here at the edge, or over it, we do make room…

At one point when my first son was a baby, I was trying to explain my “trapped” or bound feelings to my mother and she said something like, “well what would you rather be doing instead?” And, that was exactly it. I DIDN’T want to be doing something instead, I wanted to be doing something AND. I wanted to grind my corn with my baby. Before he was born I had work that I loved very much and that, to me, felt deeply important to the world. Motherhood required a radically re-defining of my sense of my self, my purpose on earth, and my reason for being. While I had been told I could bring my baby with me while continuing to teach volunteer trainings, I quickly found that it was incompatible for me—I felt like I was doing neither job well while bringing my baby with me and I had to “vote” for my baby and quit my work. While I felt like this was the right choice for my family, it felt like a tremendous personal sacrifice and I felt very restricted and “denied” in having to make it. With my first baby, I had to give up just about everything of my “old life” and it was a difficult and painful transition. When my second baby was born, it was much easier because I was already in “kid mode.” I’d already re-defined my identity to include motherhood and while I still chafed sometimes at the bonds of being bonded, they were now familiar to me…

via I just want to grind my corn! | Talk Birth.

My new sculpture incorporates a small “offering” bowl (as her lap) that to me is symbolic of the fact that though her hands are full, she is still open to possibilities and offerings and can “hold” more, when needed.

IMG_3702Having another baby has really made me pare away a lot in my life, including very basic self-care things like regular showers! I’ve done it before, so I know it isn’t permanent, but it is still hard to feel like I’m trimming away so much that matters to me, while also having so much I want to offer, and constantly having to prioritize and choose. I’ve been looking at it as a sort of “sabbatical.” While I might not be able to do as much face to face projects as I envision and dream of, I can lay the groundwork, I can write, I can prepare and outline and imagine, while also sitting in my bed holding my sleeping baby. Maybe I won’t get outside every day and maybe I have to choose between the shower or yoga, since doing both in one day seems like too much to ask sometimes, but I can use this baby time to incubate new visions and grow while appearing stationary.

Here is a gallery of how I’ve been grinding my corn with my baby this month (click for captions)…

Tanner was my baby-helper at last night’s Red Tent Circle at WomanSpace. It is hard to balance baby-care with circle facilitation (because baby helpers do things like bang the rattle on the floor instead of “passing the rattle”), but I’m still really glad I decided to offer these circles this year. It has been a rich experience so far.

IMG_4269I envision a life of seamless integration, where there need not even be a notion of ‘life/work’ balance, because it is all just life and living. A life in which children are welcome in workplaces and in which work can be accomplished while in childspaces. A life in which I can grind my corn with my children nearby and not feel I need apologize for doing so or explain myself to anyone…

via Corn grinding mama goddess birth art sculpture by BrigidsGrove.

During the Inner Mentor visualization we did last night at our circle, we traveled in time to meet ourselves twenty years from now. The first thing she/I told me is that my baby is now twenty. It felt like a shock to consider that, since right now is so real

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(Side note: this is my 1000th [published] blog post at Talk Birth! It is true that regular blogging eventually produces a significant body of work!)

 

Kidbits and Cousin Power!

April 2015 097We just got home from a nice trip to Kansas for a Cousin Power top-off visit to see my brother, SIL, and nephew. This was the first time I’ve gone with all my kids (and Mark and my mom too!) and it was definitely a crowded car! We are also a high-impact collection of guests! We had a great time visiting, going out to a favorite Italian buffet, having an Easter egg hunt, watching movies, going for walks, and just hanging out. Mark and I both really needed some down time from our biz work and it was so nice not to have a to-do list for several days. They planned tasty and fun meals for us and it was really wonderful to hang out together with our babies (though my other kids made the hanging-out-with-babies a little more challenging and chaotic than I had envisioned!)

While there, Tanner used his Cousin Power boost to start sitting up for real! (just turned five months old!) And, Ronan (my nephew) used it to cut his first tooth!

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Sitting up like a big boy while sporting his Eat At Mom’s onesie.

He also discovered the fun of playing with a big pot.

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I haven’t made a Kidbits post in a long time, so in this post, I’m lumping in some miscellaneous Facebook status updates from the past couple of months. 🙂

The kids dyed eggs with Mark this year for Easter. Alaina said she loves them so much she is saving them for her birthday, upon which she will have an egg hunt (b-day is in Jan…)

IMG_3795Conversations with Alaina:

Alaina: “why is Tanner wearing tights today?”

Mark: “they’re not tights, they’re pants with feet attached.”

Alaina: “weird! I guess we should put a fake mustache on him too.”

~

Alaina randomly while walking through house: “Why didn’t you name me Scorpion Lady?”

~

Alaina while sitting at table and asked for help: “I can’t help you until I finish cutting out more paper dynamite.”

~

Alaina to Mark on computer: “Look up poop!”

[Mark says no]

“Toy poop?”

[no]

“Toy Justin Bieber poop?”

~

Me to Alaina: “we’ll play dolls tomorrow, I promise.”

Alaina: “there’s a catch. I don’t eat raisins. I only eat sunflower seeds.”

Okaaaaay. (We don’t have or usually eat either.)

~

Alaina: “I want to play hide and seek with the baby. He can be hiding somewhere on your body.”

Snapshot glimpse of life

Alaina wants to bring some of her own money to the bowling alley today. She brought it out in a carved wooden box and said that was what she was bringing. We said she needed to choose some money and carry it in a wallet or a purse and not a large wooden treasure box. She came back with a huge pink flowered Easter basket and said she would carry it in that. We said that didn’t make sense and to get a purse or a wallet (she has a large variety of these). She came back with a doll car seat and said she was going to use that. We said no and she came back out with a bug catcher with her money in it. Come ON!

Conversations with Zander:

Zander: what do you think Tanner will be like when he’s Alaina’s age?

Me: probably amazing!

Zander: Mom, none of our kids are amazing when they’re Alaina’s age.

~

Zander: “Hey, mom. This apple only has a little bit of my blood on it. You can eat the rest.”

(*loose tooth. But, geez, kid!)

April Fool’s Day

I dreamed we gave the kids turkey bacon for breakfast and told them it was placenta for an April Fool’s joke. But, in real life we have a tradition of making a “trick” breakfast for the kids on April Fool’s day. Marshmallow and peach half “eggs,” pound cake toast, and turkey bacon this year…

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Reality TV?

Mark and I have a joke about being in a reality tv show called The Joke Life of Mark and Molly. We say it when everything is crumbling around us–oven is smoking, oatmeal is spilling, we open the freezer and bread falls out on our heads, our legs get peed on, whatever. A couple of months ago we got an etsy convo from someone asking about casting us in a TV show. For real. She originally found me on my blog and then tracked us to etsy and said she was reading everything she could find about us. We cracked ourselves up imagining what a boring TV show it would be and what they could possibly be thinking?! I imagined writing back, make sure you get a slo-mo closeup as the bread hits my head! And, we laughed over how they’d have to weed through endless hours of pointless poop joke footage to get to the hilarious stuff. Also, intriguing close-ups of my fingers typing yet another blog post…and, inspiring 5:30, “what should we have for dinner?” conversations. Maybe an exciting episode of, “Molly cries because she feels like has too much to do,” or, “Mark cuts firewood at dusk in the freezing rain” or, “both parents yell about fun, enriching project while children long to play Minecraft and wish for the beeswax animal crafting to stop.”

Ooh! “Can they triumph over the laundry mountain!” And, “Watch as they race ahead of the falling tower of recycling attempting to crush them…”

Lann’s input: “Oh! We’d all have to talk fancy [begins vaguely British accent] and all stand in front of a red couch! Or something.” And then, “some people call me Lann. Others just call me The Frog Ninja.”

(I never emailed her back.)

Random word anecdote

My family uses a variety of made-up words based on old family stories. One is “banacheked” (used to mean a combo of abandoned and rejected, based on my grandma’s accidentally replacement of the word “abandoned” with the TV show Banacek). As in, “the baby is over there banacheked on the floor.” A few weeks ago, I accidentally said, “oh, my poor babychecked banny!” So, now there is a new made up version of a made up word. Up leveling.

Speaking of my baby, he gets very stressed by traveling and being out of the house. We’ve had a hard couple of days lately. This is how he really likes to be, the opposite of banacheked:
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Love his little tucked-up self!

Fivemonthababy!

IMG_3776Somebody is five months old already! How can this be?! I have a thing in which I’m startled by the realization periodically that this little person is somebody’s future grandpa…Silly, I know, but it is something that catches my heart and arrests my action to consider. (All grandpas were once some mother’s snuggly delightful baby treasure. WAHHHHHHH!) My friend linked to a classic poem by Mary Oliver on Facebook this morning: how will you use your one wild and precious life. The Somebody’s Grandpa thought serves as a similar touchstone for me, while also doubling as potential future band name.

This thought process is partially why I hold Tanner 22 hours a day. The other reason is because he doesn’t want to be put down. He also weighs 18 pounds now, which explains why I’m often heard to whine about my arms being tired and that I feel worn down and “old” lately. Parenting an infant feels considerably more physically wearing for me at 35 than it was at 24! He is also the most held baby in our entire family because when I do put him down, it is into someone else’s arms. There are four other willing family members usually around to hold him, plus grandparents and sometimes an aunt or uncle waiting too. I feel annoyed with myself that we wasted money on a little swing and bouncy seat (gift, so it actually wasted someone else’s money!) this time. I already know that we just aren’t a swing and bouncy seat kind of family, but I didn’t realize just how very not so we would end up this time around. With past babies, for whom Mark wasn’t home during the day, the bouncy seat was how I managed to shower and sometimes get some other two-handed tasks done.

So far, Tanner hasn’t seem particularly fond of baby-wearing either, leading me to wonder if I’d just gotten out of the habit (the aforementioned putting-him-down-in-someone-else’s arms thing) or if he isn’t the kind of baby that is into babywearing. My aunt bought us a wonderful new Boba that is so cute and fresh, but unless sleeping already, Tanner most often wiggles to get out of it. It also feels a little stiff to me overall, though it worked better on my back than Ergos ever have. However, on a hunch the other day when I was lamenting not being able to put him down for a good nap so I could make some new sculpture prototypes, I got out my older Ergo from Alaina. Putting it on felt like putting on a nice, broken-in shoe or comfy sweater. And, lo and behold, Tanner likes it too and has spent hours in it over the course of the last two weeks. I feel like I’m rediscovering babywearing! (And, also feeling bad about wasting someone else’s dollars on a new purchase!)

IMG_3772T-bot is our worst sleeper really. He either naps being held on my chest in the rocking chair, in the Ergo, or lying pressed by my leg in the bed while I work on my laptop (post currently being composed in a combo of the two–he is sleeping on my chest with my laptop held on the knees of my stretched-out legs, his head jostling a little with the movement of my fully extended arms trying to type. Why am I trying to type and hold a baby at the same time anyway?! Somebody’s Grandpa, remember?!) Luckily, I really love holding him while he sleeps, I know it doesn’t last long, and I have plenty of work I can do digitally while he types. This works because I can shut myself up in the bedroom (like a veritable nap retreat!) while Mark has an eye on the other kids and brings me lunch in bed.

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Participating in online Spring Equinox event, while in our favorite spot.

Tanner is also my first baby to have picked up some kind of virus as this young of a baby. Last week he had a fever and diarrhea. The fever only lasted one day, but the diarrhea for a whole string of unpleasant days with a plaintive, unhappy, whiny baby and stressed parents (particularly since I went back to class on Tuesday night). He has seemed somewhat fretful continuing into this weekend, but we finally realized that he wasn’t getting enough sleep (back to the bedroom nap retreat plan rather than the standing-Ergo-sculpting plan) and also that he seems to be going through a growth spurt and needs to nurse more often than I was realizing. He doesn’t dive in towards the breast yes or show other nursing cues really, so if I already nursed him recently, I thought he was just cranky and didn’t realize he was actually hungry! You’d think I hadn’t already been a breastfeeding mother for 11 years! As I’ve mentioned before, despite the many other willing baby-holders, he seems to need me more than any other baby and has even developed a wearing habit of screaming for me and stretching his arms out and rolling to the side reaching for me, when Mark is trying to change him before bed and I’m trying to brush my teeth. He does love going outside though and will happily ride away with Mark to check on the greenhouse and the chickens.

IMG_3661All this working while baby-holding prompted a new version of my “grind my corn” sculpture:

IMG_3732Despite all of the holding, he is also interestingly capable of moving himself along the ground. He is after everything and is the first to seem like he’s going to crawl any second. I’ve had a bunch of chubby late crawlers, so that’s what I expected again this time, but I think we’re going to follow a new pattern. He is also thisclose to sitting up unaided. He attempts to reach items constantly with a sort of tortured, deprived grabbing style, rather than an interested, exploratory style (more common to first babies, I think. This one is certain he is constantly missing out and that siblings are getting all the good stuff all the time, while he is forgotten and overlooked with no good stuff in his hands!). Due to frenzied grab-attacks and ability to launch self along floor and out of arms, he has now gnawed two pizza crusts (homemade, organic), one cauliflower floret, one bite of banana (gagged), and two pieces of paper (fished from roof of mouth). No fanfare or induction into the “first solid food” milestone. Just grabbed and chomped.

He is getting quite a bit more hair and remains a blondy blonderson!

IMG_3626Happy Fivemonthababy! I can hardly believe you are somebody’s grandpa!

Fourmonthababy

IMG_3119THIS BABY.

Sometimes that is all I can say. I hold him up and stare at him and show him to Mark: this baby. THIS BABY! He may be the most babiest of babies we’ve ever enjoyed.

It is hard to turn four months old for a baby who is born on Oct. 30th, because February only has 28 days. He managed though. Because, this baby!

I did a fourthmonthababy comparapic:

IMG_3143A month or so ago, I saw a picture of him that looked familiar and so I dug out one of my own baby pictures instead of the baby pictures of my other kids and did a side by side of both of us at two months old:

IMG_0608Yes, familiar!

So, I went ahead and did a four months one too!

IMG_3144Unfortunately, one thing this baby isn’t known for is sleeping without being held or in being put down in general, which makes it hard to write effusive blog posts about him (or any other blog posts at all). I jotted down the following notes in my notes app though…

He has more hair. Still blond. Sticks up. Twists heart. I’m trying not to miss anything. At same time, feel like I am missing things with my other kids—there are only so many hours in a day and I feel like I spend them on Tanner and my work mainly (poor Mark hardly rates on my “pay attention” scale at all!).

I use this meditation bracelet as I sit in my nursing chair feeling like I'm not getting "enough" done.

I use this meditation bracelet as I sit in my nursing chair feeling like I’m not getting “enough” done.

Alaina is still having a hard time with the adjustment/displacement, perhaps the hardest I’ve experienced with a kid. She can be relentless and exhausting and needy and also very intentionally push parental guilt buttons. She went with my mom to KS for four days recently to visit and I think the time and more focused attention was good for her. Speaking of heart-twisting though, watching her walk away in her little purple pants with her little skinny legs, I realized that I will never, personally spend four days alone with my four-year-old-daughter in my life. Feels sad.

My mom also crocheted her a mermaid tail!
Back to Tan-baby.

Has large levels of what we call: Intent to grab. This involves serious, devoted staring at an item, with spasmodic hand twitches towards it and a full-weight leaning body. ITG progressed over the last two weeks into actually grabbing and moderate reaching for things being handed to him, including skills in swiping/knocking things from counters, trying to chew laptop cords, and screeching with outrage when thwarted.

After having his neck and chest develop a horribly red, chapped, and chafed looking areas, I finally caved and started putting bibs on him to protect him from copious drool. I always feel kind of sad for babies wearing bibs for drool, like it is embarrassing somehow! He also super-freakishly chews own lips/tongue in a weird mouth movement that can only be seen to be believed (and he stops doing it as soon as you say anything or try to take a picture or video and instead smiles hugely).

Sleeps on me for naps and on my arm all night.

Rolls over both ways on 2/20. Plays Boo for first time on March 2—prior to this day, “boo’ing” was unamusing. March 2 produced laughter and kicks to keep playing the game.

We’ve been snowed in off and on for weeks. All hours filled with kids. Has been surprisingly “vacationish” feeling for a large part, with a sprinkle of oversaturation.

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Seeing if UPS would deliver them to Baba and Tom’s house

I’ve made myself feel sad in advance to see the easy intimacy and connection of my kids now at their wide age ranges because in my own experience with my much younger siblings, it totally ended (as do all life stages). Seems like this is how it will be “forever.”

He definitely tries to be one of kids—watches the “show” (but wants to be on or with me while watching).

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My babies have all gotten propped up in pillow nests so this prompted another comparapic:

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Boogerectomies are an ongoing issue. This baby has the most terrible booger problem of any baby I have ever known. We had to buy a special device on Amazon to extract them and it is miserable torture for us all, but his nasal passages actually get so occluded at times that he cannot breathe well enough to sleep or to nurse and then a traumatic boogerectomy is required.

He intentionally gives kisses by responding the word “kiiiiissssses!” with an open-mouthed dive at your cheek. Weighs 16 pounds according to step-on-step-off-step-on scale method. He also seems to be getting ready to sit up and will actually stay balanced in a sitting up position for a few seconds instead of immediately flopping over. He likes to hear Daddy play the guitar. And, he still seems to say “hi.” It is funny and startling, because you will look at him and say “hi” and he looks right at you and says “hi” back.

I feel like in the last month particularly we’ve really been watching him develop…how he is grabbing, reaching, noticing stuff. It feels like we are watching it as it actually happens for the first time. Mark and I both stood there looking at each other and at Tanner as we watched him purposefully reach out for something for the first time in his whole baby life. And, the entire family gathered around just a few days ago and watched him grab his feet for the first time when he was getting his diaper changed. I’m kind of surprised that we have time to watch him so intensely and pay so much attention to these changes. Is it because there are more witnesses than ever in the house? Is it because it feels like a treat to get to watch someone new’s development unfold one more time? I’m not sure, but I do know that he has more attention paid to each developmental milestone he reaches than any baby who has lived in our house before!

Tanner is now almost twice as old as he was when the three of us ventured off to class for the first time since his birth. Now, 8 weeks have passed and we successfully made it all the way through the session! The last week has been pretty stressful for me as I struggled to grade all the papers for both my classes as well as the final exams for the seated class, but I did it. Mainly like this:

IMG_3125We joke that he experiencing the world through eyebrows (in addition to mouthing things)…


What a most fabulous four-month old Tan Tan we have in our house!

Wednesday Tidbits: Mothers Writing

…we write
to connect ourselves
to this circle
these circles
of women writing
each time we pose
pen or pencil
to paper.

–Wendy Judith Cutler

via Circles Writing | Talk Birth.

IMG_2864Writing our Womanrunes book feels like it unlocked something and I’ve got about eight other books in me now that want to be born! The challenge is organizing and focusing my time and energy in order to work on them (particularly since I’m on baby time now!). I also can’t forget that I’m also trying to write a dissertation this year. When I get frustrated by my pace, I try to keep in mind that the notes I jot down and the ideas I have and quotes I share and books I read and blog posts I write can all be, in their own ways, pieces of these evolving projects and are sort of like writing all the time. I’m looking forward to settling down with a free interview series about self-publishing, Be Your Own Publisher, from Lucy Pearce and her team at Womancraft Publishing. The speaker on the agenda for today addresses writing and motherhood. Last night, I also decided to sign up for the full course!

I wrote about mothering and writing in a past post for a the Rainbow Way blog carnival:

As I’ve been reading Lucy’s book The Rainbow Way, reflecting on my own work, and looking around my home, I’ve had a realization: While I have struggled and cried and planned, while I have given up, and begun again, and surrendered, and refused to quit; While I have been present and been distracted, created and been “denied” the opportunity to create, while I have nursed babies and “written” in my head the whole time; While I have been filled with joy and filled with despair and while I have given myself permission and berated myself and then berated myself for self-beratement, my husband and I have created a home and family life together that is full of creativity.

via Releasing Our Butterflies | Talk Birth.

This week I read some powerful articles from other mothers writing. This piece from the author of After Birth is about the loneliness of new motherhood:

“To Marianne, Ari’s feminism doesn’t make sense. Reclaiming the singular power of the female body is too radical or too way-way old fashioned or some weird combination therein. That’s stale thinking on Marianne’s part, and a pretty major failure of imagination. Problem is, a feminism that “liberates” women from biology turns out to not actually behoove anyone. Women still aren’t equal, and if we buy into that old feminism, now we’ve also divorced ourselves from something primal and arguably vital, and signed ourselves up for some pretty extreme new forms of violence in the process—forceps, shaving, enemas, episiotomy, the lithotomy position, induction, surgery.

Unmediated physical connection to childbirth and nursing is wildly magical. You see a lot of backlash to that idea, like, I don’t buy the magical birth/nursing bullshit, and you can’t make me, to which, you know, OK, to each her own, and Godspeed. But Ari wants to get back that essential connection to the body…”

via After Birth: An interview about motherhood, feminism, and loneliness with novelist Elisa Albert.

And, this piece about the ordinary but powerful realities of mothering

…But in each of those moments, the ones that are heavy and the ones that are hard, here’s the thing that I have settled on: We keep mothering…

When You Just Want to Quit Being a Mom | Sarah Sandifer.

I also enjoyed this post about Facebook reality vs. real reality. I keep meaning to write a similar post. I like her example of too much FB being like too much sugar…

But plenty of research has surfaced over the last few years indicating the psychological effects of social media are rather costly. Too much time on Facebook has been likened to eating too much sugar. It’s easily digested with little to no intrinsic value, and it weighs in heavily on users self-confidence, stress levels, comparison and overall satisfaction with their lives.

via Don’t Judge a Life by Its Facebook | Fort Worth Moms Blog.

IMG_2947Past Talk Birth posts about writing:

I’ve spent a lifetime writing various essays in my head, nearly every day, but those words always “died” in me before they ever got out onto paper. After spending a full three years letting other women’s voices reach me through books and essays, and then six more years birthing the mother-writer within, I continue to feel an almost physical sense of relief and release whenever I sit down to write and to let my own voice be heard….

Birthing the Mother-Writer (or: Playing My Music, or: Postpartum Feelings, Part 1) | Talk Birth.

…The body of a writer

is a political action

with each swing of a letter

each truth written

the world is broken open…

–Sarah Jones

via A Writer’s Prayer | Talk Birth.

“As long as women are isolated one from the other, not allowed to offer other women the most personal accounts of their lives, they will not be part of any narratives of their own…women will be staving off destiny and not inviting or inventing or controlling it.” –Carolyn Heilbrun quoted in Sacred Circles

via I am a Story Woman | Talk Birth.

“I know that for me, writing has something in common with nursing the baby. I can’t do it if I don’t do it all the time. Put it aside to build up strength, the flow will dwindle and finally disappear. When the baby was at my breast ten times a day, I had a rare secret feeling that we were violating a law of nature, defying a form of entropy…One cannot hoard some things. The more I gave the baby, the more I had to give her, and had I tried to conserve myself, I would have found that I conserved nothing.” –Rosellen Brown

via Writing and Nursing | Talk Birth.IMG_2855

 

 

A Rainbow Girl Turns Four!

IMG_1880Beginning at 4:00 this morning, Alaina started randomly exclaiming, “it’s my birthday!” and then conking back out. She didn’t actually get up until about 9:30 and we had an epic birthday day.

I don’t have time for a long birthday post and I almost decided not to make one at all, but I figured a couple of pictures can’t hurt (my weekly grades can wait just a little longer. It is still Monday, after all)!

We originally planned to have a tea party for her, but then I got out my American Girl Tiny Treasures book to give away a duplicate to a friend’s daughter and I fell in love with the tiny, tiny pies made in bottle caps (for dolls, not edible). So, I decided we’d make tiny foods and have a tea party. Then, we were at Wal-Mart getting groceries and I saw tiny pepperoni in the meat department. That was it. I suddenly became obsessed with also getting real tiny foods to eat at her party. I had to rein myself in when I was picking up fingerling potatoes to make tiny baked potatoes. We had (frozen) tiny waffles and pancakes for breakfast and we made tiny pizzas using english muffins and the tiny pepperoni for lunch. We also had tiny chicken noodle soup (lipton instant pack with those little noodles) in tiny bowls. I got petite baby carrots and tiny oranges (cuties) and mini candy bars and Ritz bits peanut butter crackers. Then, at the tea party we had mini cupcake strawberry shortcakes and ice cream cups and my mom made tiny whoopie pies with delicious nutella cream filling. It was really overplanning to try to make pretend tiny foods too, but we did it anyway and I still love the tiny pies. I want to start a new Facebook page called The Tiny Piemaker. 😉

Here’s the pictures I did get:

After guests left, we had tacos for dinner and watched Frozen. When her aunts called to tell her Happy Birthday she yelled, “it is still my birthday and we’re having birthday tacos!”

This four-year old girl is funny and smart-alecky, and tough and trying, and smart, and brave, and cute, and sometimes bratty, and sunshiney. She likes My Little Pony and princesses and Spiderman and super heroes and felt food and Ben 10 and playmobil. She drinks cow milk like it is going out of style and balks at eating almost everything else. She loves her brothers and sometimes torments them, especially Zander. She is very, very, exhaustingly particular about her clothes. She still snuggles to sleep on my arm (or as close to it as she can get) every night. She loves having books read to her and playing babies with her friends. Her goals for the new year were to play with Tom (my dad) and to have cotton candy.

Happy birthday to my wonderful treasure of a rainbow girl! Here’s the link to her birth story:

“She was pink and warm and slippery and crying instantly—quite a lot of crying, actually. I said, “you’re alive, you’re alive! I did it! There’s nothing wrong with me!” and I kissed her and cried and laughed and was amazed. I felt an intense feeling of relief. Of survival. I didn’t realize until some moments later than both Mark and Mom missed the actual moment of her birth. Mark because he was coming around from behind me to the front of me when I moved up to kneeling. My mom because she went to stop the phone from ringing. I had felt like the pushing went on for a “long” time, but Mark said that from hands and knees to kneeling with baby in my hands was about 12 seconds. I don’t know. Inner experience is different than outer observation. What I do know is that the moment of catching my own daughter in my hands and bringing her warm, fresh body up into my arms was the most powerful and potent moment of my life…”

Alaina’s Complete Birth Story | Talk Birth.

Newborn photo (c) Sincerely Yours Photography

IMG_1881Edited to add: of our tiny goods, Lann just exclaimed, “We love these! We’re going to keep them for a long time and our own kids can lose them later!” 😉 And, Alaina, “this is my first birthday in a year, so I’m so happy!”

Earlier in the day, I shared this bday anecdote on Facebook: Alaina and Zander clash kind of a lot lately. Just now after fighting over Alaina’s b-day playmobil castle: “Daddy! Come here. You need to blame Zander for something!”

Two Month Comparison

January 2015 079Ever since Tanner was born and I’ve heard from various people how he looks like one or another of my kids, I’ve wanted to do a side-by-side picture. When I was getting ready to do it, I said, “now people will see they’re not as identical as they think.” After I actually did it I said, “or, I will see they are more identical than I think!” The above collage is each of the kids at around two months old.

10896843_10155083292860442_6326661326801062206_nNot related to matching babies, but on another subject that I shared on Facebook recently and might as well tack on here, how a ten week old goes all night with a dry diaper is beyond me, especially since he nurses several times. However, this is why I can’t not do elimination communication! They so know how to do it. And, once you know they know, you can’t not know!

Past blog post: The Real EC