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Cynicism

I started a post over three weeks ago. It was a bit of a rant. A complaint about the church and Christians in general. I still feel angry about some of the things I was upset about, but I have decided to keep it to myself for a while and try to work on my own flaws and offensive nature rather than target other Christians. I have a cynical spirit. I think a part of me has been unknowingly proud of it. In my subconscious, I think I tell myself It’s a realistic, intelligent approach to life. I’m not one of those annoying, gushy, emotional people. I’m strong and steady. My cynicism provides me with a barrier to protect me from feeling too much. Once you start opening yourself up to others and to God, you open yourself up to pain. I don’t know how to deal with pain because I’ve always prevented it by establishing my safe emotional distance.

Part of the reason I’ve been thinking about this is because I’ve been reading A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller. This line from the section entitled “Understanding Cynicism” resonated with me:

“To be cynical is to be distant. While offering a false intimacy of being “in the know,” cynicism actually destroys intimacy. It leads to a creeping bitterness that can deaden and even destroy the spirit.”

I’ve always known that cynicism was a huge ugly part of my personality (I always blamed that on my father…sorry, dad), but hearing it described as so I realized what a bigger role it plays in my life on every level.

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Am I a mommy-zombie?

Just read this on a blog: “I know far too many formerly smart, funny, interesting women who are now incapable of talking about anything other than breastfeeding and diapering and cosleeping and babywearing and that cute thing their kid just did. I also know women who somehow manage to maintain interests outside of their children, so it must be possible, but sometimes the difference between the ones who became mommy-zombies and those who still seem like themselves seems so arbitrary as to be scary.”

This got me thinking and now has me really worried. Am I a mommy-zombie!? When I first read it, I just skimmed it and thought to myself, “Well, of course, I’m one of those cool, interesting, thoughtful mothers who still has a life outside of mothering”. But then I started to reflect a bit more – reviewing what I’ve been thinking about lately, what I’ve been reading, what I do with any time to myself – and I have to say, I was a bit disappointed with the outcome. Don’t get me wrong – I love being a mother to Henry. I love spending my days with him, but I still have all these hopes and dreams that I THINK about constantly, but don’t do a lot of acting upon. Motherhood has this crazy tendency to take over your entire life – your mind, your body, your everything – is devoted to the existence of this new little person. I really feel that it has only been over the past couple of months that I’ve been able to see past the mother goggles again. I see bits of my old life sticking out here and there – parts of the pre-baby me. And it’s refreshing. Henry is older now and I am able to separate myself from him a tiny bit more. I’ve started adding books to my collection alongside “The Vaccine Book” and “The No-Cry Sleep Solution”. I’ve started sneaking in small art projects during the day. Nothing extravagant or time-consuming. Small projects I can conquer during nap time. It’s a start.

I think what’s also fascinating about the Ominous Motherhood is it’s ability to transform a mellow, laid-back woman into this passionate, argumentative lecturer. Something about being responsible for this new person suddenly arouses your interest in all these issues you’d never given much thought to before. *Ok, as I’m typing this I’m realizing maybe mommy goggles aren’t all that bad – I mean, the changes I’ve made in my life since becoming a mother probably have allowed me to have more of a global impact than I had before. Because I’m responsible for this baby and his future, I also feel responsible for my future and the world’s future. I think more about what we eat – partially for our own health, but partially for the health of the land on which our food grows. I’ve become an avid recycler – not just to save money at the dump, but to lessen our contribution to landfills and to preserve the use of natural resources like water and oil in the creation of new products.*

So, although my everyday conversation and life may revolve around diapers and breastfeeding, by writing this blog I realize that the overall focus of my life has improved since becoming a mother. I began writing this post as a confession and apology for my own regression as a person since the onset of motherhood, but reflecting has helped me see that although some of the things I passionately focus on aren’t all that important, some of the things are. Being a mother hasn’t blinded me from the world around me, but has made that world and the future of that world more important to me than it ever was before.

 

This is the blog from which the original quote came – it was a response to the actual article.  http://rachelheldevans.com/moms-scare-me

Two love birds…

On July 3, 2010, my dear friends, Courtney and Stephen were wed under an old sycamore tree in Gillham Park in Kansas City. It was a lovely celebration, and I am so happy that I was a part of the event. Everything about the wedding was so refreshingly original and lovely and…well, very “Courtney and Stephen”. From the adorable handmade banner over the wedding party to the compost and recycle tubs at the reception, the entire wedding revolved around the things that the bride and groom are passionate about.

I was honored by the bride when she approached me about making her wedding dress. Well, honored and terrified! But I think at the end it all worked out well. Just as the wedding and reception reflected the couple, I believe the dress reflected Courtney’s spunk and beauty. I am glad I took on the task, which turned out to not be very difficult. I am sad to say it is one of the last big sewing projects I have done. I need to jump back on the horse and start getting creative! I’m very much looking forward to my mom moving down to Arkansas so I can have a babysitter. Although I have a wonderful child to show for my time and energy, I miss having completed projects to hold in my hand at the end of the day. I believe I can have both!

Here are some photographs from that memorable July day.

 

My last blog was in MAY!!! I knew I was officially a blog slacker when the url didn’t magically appear when I started typing “ruby” and, once I found my blog, I couldn’t remember my username. But, hey, I’m a mom. Isn’t that supposed to be my excuse? Besides that we haven’t been home much this summer. I lost a large part of my garden during a two-week trip which happened to fall during a drought here in ol’ Mountain View. But I’ve been working on salvaging what’s left. My yellow pear tomatoes are ripening and it looks as though I’ll have some Heirloom Ozark Pink tomatoes this month as long as I chase off those nasty tobacco hornworms. I am also desperately watering my forty-some sweet potato plants and I’m hoping they will do as well as they did in years past.

Henry is growing just like the weeds in aforementioned garden! He will be a year old one month from tomorrow. It’s funny how everyone says “they grow so fast” and “I bet it seems like just yesterday when he was born”. When I really think about it, it definitely feels like a year ago that he was born, if not longer! I just feel like he’s been around for a really long time and I have a hard time remembering my life without him in it. It’s been a wonderful year unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. I don’t have much to show for myself except for this little growing person. I’m starting to get antsy about getting back on a productive, creative route again.

I’ve had this vague vision for a long time. It’s changed a lot and is still changing, but it’s starting to get closer to being a reality instead of just a vision in my head. I want to sew and to sell what I sew. Maybe online, maybe in a shop. I want to focus on “upcycled” clothes and, because of what my life has been about lately, most of what I plan to make is baby-related. I’ve been gathering vintage tablecloths, curtains, pillowcases, and scrap materials for a while now in hopes that I will gain the motivation and time to get creative with them.

Recently I considered submitting some photos of my creations to an artisans market, thinking I would sell my things in a booth here in Mountain View. Since then I’ve learned about a shop in town that is wanting to carry local handmade merchandise and it sounds like my things might fit in just perfectly, so I think I’ll go that route instead. Anyway, I threw some photos together for the entry and so I thought I’d post a few of them here. I made six little collages. I’ll just put up one per post. That will give me something to update the ol’ blog with.

A baby hat sewn from an old t-shirt. Hand stitched design on front. I was inspired by a hat given to Henry by our midwife's apprentice.

I have never really been all that into poetry, but during a visit to Fayetteville, AR last week I had the privilege of attending a reading by the award-winning writer, Mary Oliver. Several of her poems resonated with me, perhaps because many of them are about the natural world, of which I am daily connected. This particular poem, The Summer Day, blended my daily encounters with nature with my spiritual existence at this particular time in my life. I am thankful to my Creator for the blessings in my life and that’s what I know how to do: Say thank you and enjoy creation.

The Summer Day

Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

For more Mary Oliver poetry, visit my friend, Susan’s blog: www.milkandmusic.wordpress.com/. She is her number one fan! Love you, Suz!

I always knew I would breastfeed. I simply couldn’t imagine why anyone would choose not to. Why would you choose to spend time and money dealing with man-made formulas and bottles when you’ve got free milk that’s better for your baby in your own body? Plus, it helps you as the mom lose some of your baby weight faster. People were always shocked when they found out my almost-six-month-old had never had a bottle (he actually had his first bottle yesterday while I was in town for a couple of hours!). To me it was just easier to lift my shirt up and feed him then to deal with pumping and carrying around bottles and extra milk. Not to mention a can of formula and finding water and a microwave (or whatever you need for formula preparation).

So, I just don’t get the whole “choosing not to breastfeed” thing. If anyone can shine some light on that decision, please share. I know there must be some reason because our nation seems to lack breastfed infants.

I just found the following statistics on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/faq/index.htm):

How many infants born in the United States are breastfed?

The CDC National Immunization Survey is a nationally representative sample of the U.S. population, among infants born in 2005:

  • 73.9% were ever breastfed
  • 43.4% were still breastfeeding at 6 months of age
  • 22.7% were breastfeeding at 1 year of age
  • 13.6% were exclusively breastfed through 6 months of age
  • 33.1% were exclusively breastfed through 3 months of age

The results seem so strange to me, especially since the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire. And the World Health Organization recommends continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond. So, this isn’t some crazy hippie way of living, the AAP tells mothers to breastfeed up to one year! And exclusively for six months. Our society is not embracing breastfeeding and does not support and encourage young mothers with their efforts. My own brother freaked out when I breastfed my son in my own house! Why are we so scared of the idea and so prudish? I’m sure you can turn your TV on and see a boob and you wouldn’t react at all, but heaven forbid a mother feeds her baby in public.

Ok, stepping off my soapbox and providing you with someone else’s! Below I have two links. The first is a mother of four’s blog on her experience with the babywise scheduling system and her experience with breastfeeding and basic child rearing. At one point in the post, she discusses how she discovers she was starving her baby by forcing him to be on a schedule! I found it incredibly fascinating. I had heard of babywise and knew friends that followed it, but never knew much of what the system taught (I think the schedule probably works for some babies, but not all…you can see that when you read the post). I’ve never been a schedule sort of person in any part of my life, so I couldn’t imagine becoming that way with a baby. I’ve always felt that when the baby needs something, I will give it to him. I’ve never questioned my “feeding on cue” system (at Henry’s check-up’s, he’s been in the 95th and 98th percentile in height and weight), but if I had, this article would shake me back in place: http://www.drmomma.org/2010/01/confessions-of-failed-babywiser.html

Below is an excerpt from an article on Cue Feeding and the importance of Breast milk. I have included the link if you’d like to read more, but I’ve pasted below the sections that stood out to me. http://www.storknet.com/cubbies/breast/cuefeeding.htm

Feeding cues and delayed feeds.

A baby readying to feed displays cues even before he may awaken (Anderson, GC). At first, baby may wiggle, toss and turn, or be restless in his sleep. If his hand is near his face, he may begin to root towards it, and even attempt to suckle it or anything else near his mouth. If these early cues are ignored, the baby may begin to “squeak” and fuss lightly; and if this is also ignored, he will eventually work up to a full cry to express that he is now overdue for his needed nourishment. An experienced breastfeeding mother with baby nearby usually quickly discerns baby’s needs and puts him to breast early in this sequence of cues, avoiding the fretting and crying entirely. For the mother who is scheduling her baby and/or sleeping apart from him, however, it is much different.

A newborn who is left to cry for even a few minutes can become very disorganized and have a more difficult time latching on and suckling correctly (Anderson, GC). This has often been observed by mothers in the hospital; the nurse will rush the baby in, saying “He’s really ready to eat, he’s been crying for the last 10 minutes!,” but then as soon as mom attempts to put him to breast, he falls asleep and does not breastfeed well. As a result, he often does not take as much as he needs, and if this scenario is repeated, mother’s milk production will decrease over time. This stands in opposition to the belief that a baby who is made to wait for his feeding based on a clock is going to ‘signal the breast to produce more milk” by sucking more strongly out of his hunger. Rather, the opposite quite often occurs. Circumventing the natural cues of a baby by attempting to breastfeed earlier or by waiting past those “golden moments” simply doesn’t work well. While a good nursery nurse can “make” a baby take a bottle on a schedule by forcing the rigid nipple into his mouth to elicit a sucking reflex, it is virtually impossible for even the best lactation consultant to “make” a baby breastfeed.

Furthermore, crying has been found to be physiologically detrimental to the new infant. Large fluctuations in blood flow occur during extended crying periods, decreasing cerebral oxygenation and causing an increase in cerebral blood volume. As a result, rising blood pressure increases intracranial pressure, putting baby at risk for an intracranial hemorrhage. Meanwhile, oxygen-depleted blood flows back into the systemic circulation rather than into the lungs (Anderson, GC). Overall, crying in the newborn resembles the adult valsalva maneuver (straining with stooling) by obstructing venous return in the inferior vena cava, which temporarily reestablishes fetal circulation within the heart of the newborn.

In an attempt to prevent excessive crying and also keep baby on track, some proponents of infant schedules promote the use of pacifiers to delay feedings and/or eliminate non-nutritive sucking at breast. Such interventions are not without risk, however. Barros and Victora, et al, have documented that pacifier use is associated with a shorter duration of breastfeeding, while Victora et al note that mothers who utilize pacifiers for their infants frequently exercise a higher degree of behavioral control while breastfeeding, often leading again to shorter duration of breastfeeding overall. This should be of concern to both parents and health professionals as the duration of breastfeeding in the United States currently falls well below the recommendations of the World Health Organization (Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative) and the Surgeon General.

The Immune Factor

A normal baby is born with an underdeveloped immune system that takes from two to six years to completely mature (Goldman, AS). One of the lesser-understood roles of human milk is to supplement the young child’s immune system until he fully matures. For the newborn, colostrum is densely packed with antibodies and immunoglobulins to give baby a “booster shot’ right after birth. As baby grows older, human milk continues to pass on antibodies for all those organisms to which the mother has developed her own immunity. Even more amazing, if a baby contracts an illness that mom has not been exposed to previously, he will transfer this organism through his saliva to the breast, where antibodies are manufactured on site and then sent back to baby via the milk to help him cope. Science does not come even close to duplicating this feat! Babies who are sick will often increase their nursing frequency, and researchers now believe that they do so not only for the comfort that it brings to a miserable little being, but also to increase the baby’s intake of antibodies and immune factors available through mother’s breast (Dettwyler, website). Babies seem to “know” when they have been exposed to a virus or bacteria, and know when they need to breastfeed more frequently to help them fight it off; most importantly, they sense it before parents realize that an illness is developing. There is no system in existence that is as sensitive and accurate as this one, and it is not under parental control. Mothers who wean their babies from the breast during the first and even second and third years of life often notice that their child becomes sick more than before, or for the first time; the immunological advantage of human milk does not disappear after a set period of time and also cannot be scheduled.

There you have it. Take it or leave it…but at least research it! (and don’t get all weird when a mother feeds her child around you)

We have eggs!

chickens!It was so excited the other morning when Leo discovered a nest of beautiful brown eggs in our nesting boxes in our chicken coop. It appears that the barred rocks are a little quicker in the developing stages than the silver laced wyandottes. Because it looks like they are the only ones laying as of yet. But…we have lots of eggs! Just with those two! When they all start laying I guess I’ll just have to get creative with the quiches! Anyway, here are some photos of my first breakfast with our homegrown eggs:

First batch of eggsMmmm...friend eggs