Monday, January 31, 2011


I'm starting to feel like a recluse.  Tye has another cold, but this time it's coughing and snot-shooting, all on top of her lower molars coming through.  It's the cough we've heard at least a thousand times this winter, at mommy meetings, dinners with friends, play dates, and grocery stores.  I guess it was only a matter of time before Tye, too, caught it- or as Tyler said, "the law of probability."  

We quarantined ourselves last week to avoid spreading this plague, and I learned just how difficult staying home with an energetic, temperamental walker runner can be.  By Thursday, Tye was, thankfully, feeling well enough that staying home and playing with the same old toys was torturous.  We braved the cold as much as we could stand, but continued to hibernate through the weekend.

Tye's cough is much improved now, and though we're still battling the constant dripping from her nose, we were planning to finally leave the house this week.  But apparently, Someone has other plans for us.  Just in time for our grand exit, it looks as though we'll be snowed in by the worst Chicago snowstorm since '99- or, as some are predicting, closer to '67's 23 inches (Seriously, I'm loving learning about these historical snowstorms, and I'm especially captivated by the old photos- they're amazing!).  

I think this turn of events calls for a snowy trip to the park to play in the snow, perhaps with a new sled in tow (or pulled behind Mico?).  If the winds aren't too harsh, we'll be sharing photos soon.  Until then, here are a couple from this season's Christmas Eve snow.  Stay warm!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Baby Blues

I love this entry on the Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog.  It lists links to favorite Baby Blues cartoons in which the mother is nursing.  Some of them are hilarious!  I especially loved Tire Tracks, but I'm always up for breastfeeding humor.  Check them out, and happy reading!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Crunchier with time

Tyler: Should be interesting.  All this dude does is acupuncture. Told me the decrease in yang is reason.

Me: It's worth a shot, right? Chiropractor coming in now...

(Several minutes later...)

Tyler: What did you get me into?

These were the text messages exchanged between Tyler and myself yesterday afternoon.  Around noon, he had come home from the office, bent over like the stereotypical sitcom character with a thrown-out back, unable to stand or raise his arms.   We called Dr. Sobor, a doctor in pain management who spoke at a Holistic Moms Network meeting about a year ago.  Dr. Sobor specializes in using Western medicinal techniques combined with modern research to heal the source of pain, rather than simply prescribing pain relievers to mask the symptom.  When he handed out his information at the meeting a year ago, I held on to his card, convinced that some day, when Tyler finally couldn't stand his back pain any longer, he would be the person to see.

Dr. Sobor was working at his office in Glenview yesterday, so Tye and I drove Tyler up to see him. We walked (or hobbled, according to ability) into the office and Tyler was immediately shown to a room.  About five minutes later, we texted the above exchange.  Twenty minutes after that, Tye and I peeked into Tyler's room.  There he was, laying face down on a massage table his underwear and a hospital gown (Oh, how I wish I had a picture of that!).  Sticking out of his lower back were a dozen needles, half of which were hooked up to a box with mini jumper cables.  Two of them pulsed on and off every second.  A space heater was working hard in the corner, already creating a sauna effect to help loosen Tyler's muscles.

"How's it going?" I asked.  

"Uh, it's really uncomfortable, but if it works, I'll do this every day."

Already breaking a sweat, Tye and I left the room.  After another half hour, Dr. Sobor and the chiropractor went back into Tyler's room.  Not long after, I heard Tyler yelling, but clearly not in pain.  For those of you who know Tyler, you know that hearing him a room away is nothing unusual, so I didn't think much of it.  When Tyler finally emerged several minutes later, he was standing upright, walking easily.  He raised his arms over his head and proclaimed, "I'm a believer!"

Tyler was shown a list of stretches to complete twice daily, and we headed home.  In the car, he told me the yelling was him yelling "Ahhh!  Thank you!!!" to the chiropractor when he adjusted Tyler's back and Tyler found relief instantly.  The acupuncture had worked to loosen the muscles that were creating strain on his back, with the electric pulses functioning like a super-intense deep-tissue massage.  When he was finally adjusted, his back fell back into alignment.  He'll need a series of treatments and lots of stretching to stay pain-free.  But because the services Tyler received yesterday focused on healing the source of the pain rather than masking the symptom, he's moving in the right direction.  

And now that Tyler is regularly seeing both a chiropractor and acupuncturist, I can say that my husband is just about as crunchy as I am.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Favorite- Internet Radio

Tye dancing with Granddad
While I've long been a fan of Pandora internet radio for my own listening, we recently began using the site to listen to children's music during the day.  Just like my own listening stations, Pandora creates for us a personalized station based on the children's song and/or artist we chose initially.  When each new song plays, we have the option of "liking" or "disliking" the song.  By liking it, the station automatically plays other similar songs, or by disliking, we are assured we won't ever hear that song on the station again.  

The biggest downside to Pandora is that it plays 30 second commercials every 5-6 songs.  An online commercial-free option is, where I can create my own playlist from songs I find on a search.  This is great if I want to listen to only one or two bands at a time.  Grooveshark also has a radio option for more listening variety, but the like/dislike options don't seem to personalize the music as well as Pandora.

Our recent favorite artist on either radio site is Laurie Berkner.  Her silly, quirky lyrics and catchy tunes are favorites among kids, and totally bearable- even quite enjoyable- for adults.  Most days, I connect my laptop to our stereo so we can listen to an internet radio site on surround sound.  Adding music to our day makes chores more enjoyable, and of course, I can't help but smile when I see Tye dance to the music.  Internet listening sites keep us dancing for free.

Who are your favorite children's musicians?  How do you listen most often?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Spanish Men Receive Breastfeeding Leave

Did you know that in Spain, fathers receive breastfeeding leave from their jobs?  According to a CNN report and highlighted in the Jan/Feb issue of Mothering Magazine, for the first nine months after a child is born, both the mother and father are allowed to leave up to two times for a total of 60 minutes or to shorten the work day by 30 minutes.  Compare that to American laws that only now allow a woman to pump at work on her break in a place other than the bathroom.  

Who's moving with me?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hidden Gems

I love discovering new treasures in my own backyard, and today was one of those very days.  Our nature group visited the Garfield Park Conservatory, located relatively close to home- less than 10 minutes away.  It houses a huge collection of indoor plants and offers a warm location with plenty of room for exploring on two feet.  For a young walker with cabin fever, the place was heavenly. 

Tye wore herself out and is finishing up a long, well-deserved nap.  Activities like this make winter much more bearable.  Plus, I just read on meteorologist Tom Skilling's Facebook page that we're past the halfway point of winter- "Typically 55% of the season's snow has occurred by this date."  We'll be back to our nature walks in no time.

What are your favorite winter activities?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Chicago Children's Museum

Yesterday, our family redeemed our year membership to the Chicago Children's Museum that we received as a Christmas gift.  Although the museum was crowded on a snowy no-school holiday, most of the Early Learner rooms were empty, perhaps because we waited to go until the afternoon- nap time for the average Early Learner.  
Tye squealed with delight when given the opportunity to walk around on her own among the older children in the museum.  When we found the exhibits appropriate for Tye's age, she was able to attend to the activities for good lengths of time before moving along to the next.  Being the water baby she is, Tye spent a l-o-n-g time playing in the stream.  In hindsight, we probably should have put Tye in one of the raincoats available nearby, because even small drops add up to a wet sweater when the splashing lasts half an hour straight.
She was also fascinated with the ball ramps and climbing tunnels, but perhaps Tye's favorite gross motor activity was simply walking across this bridge- back and forth, at least fifteen times.  

I was super impressed with the chairs located throughout the Early Learner exhibits marked with the International Breastfeeding symbol (I know, I'm easily impressed- but in terms of convenience for a nursing mama of an overstimulated child, this is huge!).  
Outside the museum, Tye was happy to explore the space at Navy Pier, especially the fountains.

But, soon enough, it was time for Tye's own afternoon nap, and we headed home all too quickly.  I'm not sure who is more excited to return next- Tye or Tyler!

Friday, January 14, 2011

To Tye, at 14 months

Dear Tye,
You've reached a point in your young life when you're growing so fast, I can hardly keep up.  And I love it.  Two days before Christmas, you used your first sign to communicate by signing "all done" when you finished on the potty.  All of the sudden, the simple signs we've been using just clicked, as if a light bulb went on and showed you that you could communicate.  Since then, you're signing all done, more, eat, water, and milk (to nurse).  Combined with pointing , you're able to gesture to communicate what you want most of the time.  When you can't, you become frustrated, understandably.  That motivation will keep you learning.

A couple of days after we returned from our family trip to Palm Beach, I discovered something shiny, white, and hard in the back of your mouth- your upper molars, just beginning to push through your gums.  You poor thing- you had a blood blister over one of them, and they've been giving you a hard time.  If we adults were the ones with sharp new teeth pushing through our gums, being heavily medicated would be the social norm.  True, we're flying through our homeopathic gels and drops for you.  I just wish there was something else I could do to ease your pain.  

Fortunately, nursing seems to take off the edge at night when it's worst.  You're so busy exploring during the day, you only nurse about 4 times a day now.  It may make these recent all-night nursing sessions easier for me, because I look forward to cuddling with you in bed each night so much that I don't mind.  Still, I'll survive when you decide to sleep longer chunks of the night again, so feel free to move that direction whenever those teeth ease up.

This past month included Christmas, which you just loved.  Christmas Eve brought a huge snowstorm, and you laughed and laughed as we carried you around the yard.  By Christmas morning, you were a present-unwrapping professional, even if you did have a hard time knowing whether the box or the contents were the real gift.  Candy canes were a real hit with you this year (thanks to Daddy), as were the neighborhood Christmas lights.  You also enjoyed the red wooden bead garland on the tree, which you pulled off the branches to drape around your neck like a necklace every opportunity you found.  

Sometimes when I look at you, I am absolutely amazed by the little person you've become.  As you walk from place to place, interacting with people, animals, and objects along the way, I'm in awe of the huge personality in your tiny body.  Watching you grow brings me so much joy.  It is happening so fast, I find myself afraid to blink for fear I may miss it.  I'll just keep working on treasuring every day, no matter what it brings.  

Happy 14 months, Tye.  I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.

Love, Mama

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ten Lights

1. The way Tye says "Mmmmmm" when she squeezes around my neck and presses her cheek against mine in the sweetest hugs I've ever received.  I hope she never outgrows them.

2. The first sip of hot coffee.  Every sip is good, but that first one is goosebump-good.

3. The face of our climbing wall / vacuum cleaner / alarm system.

4.  Watching Tye react to the stuffed animals at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum yesterday.  She clearly thought the cougar was a dog ready and waiting to play with her, so she barked at it and tried to reach through the glass to pet it.  Then she walked up to the polar bear and started laughing and clapping.  Oh, to explore the world with new eyes.

5.  The way Tye's body moves when she walks quickly- to step with her left foot, her right shoulder rises and her left hip lifts, creating an S-curve along her body.  To step with her right, she reverses the process.  She totters around like this all day, using her entire body to urge her feet to move faster.  No wonder she needs naps.

6.  Seeing the bottom of the laundry basket. (Trust me, this doesn't happen often, but it did this week.  Twice.  Alison, aren't you proud?)

7.  Watching Tye put a toy back into the container from which she dumped it.  It reminds me that one day, I will be able to ask her to clean up her own mess.  Maybe she'll even do it.

8. Riding the escalator down from the parking garage into Whole Foods on North Avenue.  The smell of freshly roasted coffee mixes with those of herbaceous fresh flowers and delicate perfumes from the bath salt bar.   Slowly, the colors come into view- first, the rainbow of flowers, then the kaleidoscope of produce, then the rows of luxurious lotions and soaps.  By the time I reach the ground, I'm so intoxicated by it all, the fact that I only needed 3 items is totally forgotten and my wallet opens itself.
photo credit
9.  Reading a great book on the Nook I was given for Christmas while I rock Tye to sleep.  I'm finally reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  So much better than endless hours of Word Warp.

10.  The roses Tyler sent me for our 7 year anniversary on Monday.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Advice to a Mother-To-Be

Yesterday, I co-hosted a beautiful New Mother Celebration, a kind of a baby shower in which we concentrated on welcoming the expectant mom to this new stage in life.  We rubbed her feet and her neck, brought her her favorite foods and recent cravings, and shared our wishes for her birth- an emotional outpouring that had all of us in joyful tears.  It was truly beautiful.

We also each wrote down our mothering advice and insights, which will be compiled along with photos of the celebration to form a memory book of today.  This got me thinking of a whole variety of ideas I wish someone had shared with me before Tye was born.  Here are a few things I've learned along my way.
  • Follow your instinct.  No matter what you decide, someone somewhere will back you up, so go with your gut.
  • As soon as possible after the birth, write your birth story, including all the details you remember.  Though it seems impossible, those details will be hard- if not impossible- to remember in a few short weeks, and you'll be thankful you saved them.
  • Take pictures of your babe nursing, from your point of view. It's a glimpse of a sweet moment you'll treasure later.
  • Mothers weren't meant to mother alone, but in a community, with support. Don't be ashamed to ask for help, or to have friends over when the house is messy, or to simply take help when it is offered. We've all been there, and we're offering because we want to.
  • Find or build a tribe of like-minded moms.  Meet them at Attachment Parenting support groups, La Leche League meetings, or Holistic Moms Network meetings.
  • If you're considering seeing a Lactation Consultant, just do it.  You'll be glad you did, and sooner is always better for your supply and your baby.
  • Don't forget that just because your hug quota was met for the day by your hours of cuddling baby, your husband's most likely wasn't.  Give him lots of hugs, too.
  • Every stage, by definition, has an end.
  • When friends and family hold your baby for too long (you'll know it when you miss her), just tell them it's time to nurse. That's something only you can do, and you get baby back. It's okay to do this every 15 minutes.
  • Have your husband help choose the color of your baby carrier so he will feel comfortable wearing it (our favorites were a ring sling and later the Ergo).
  • When the whole world asks if your baby is sleeping through the night yet, it's okay to smile and respond, "She's a great sleeper," or "We get lots of sleep," even if it's only true because you sleep beside her while she nurses all night long. They'll think you're a great parent- which you are.
Photos from your own point of view remind you how sweet that cuddle actually was.
What is your advice for a new mother?  What do you wish you had known?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Facebook Nurse-In

Did you know that Facebook censors pictures?  Any obscene pictures are removed and the offending account closed if the behavior continues.  Unfortunately, Facebook decided years ago that photos of women breastfeeding their babies are obscene.  
Obscene? Really???
While many women have used this as a reason to boycott Facebook, I've been torn.  Though I'm not on Facebook often, it's the only way I can connect to many of the friends we've made who live afar- friends from high school, friends from Germany, and friends from grad school who have scattered across the globe.  It's something I've considered, but not something I've been ready to give up yet.  I much prefer going the route of other lactivists who just continue to post breastfeeding photos on Facebook.  After all, that requires Facebook to pay someone to spend time removing so-called obscene photos of mothers feeding their children naturally.  The problem with my route of action is that it was more a route of inaction.  I hadn't ever joined a breastfeeding Facebook group or posted photos of myself nursing.  

Until last night.

Despite boycotts and  the work of lactivists to educate (or just irritate) the people behind Facebook, the breastfeeding censorship was an issue again this past week when Facebook deleted the breastfeeding support group The Leaky B@@b.  After receiving complaints, Facebook reinstated the account, then deleted it again, and then reinstated it again (it's currently active if you'd like to Like it). 

Still, Facebook's actions this past week stirred up a good amount of drama.  My favorite response is this Facebook "Nurse-In", a week-long event. The event's site encourages women to change their profile photo to a photo of themselves nursing or, for those who support breastfeeding but aren't currently or those who prefer cyber modesty, the International Breastfeeding symbol.
I am officially Attending the nurse-in, and I posted one of my favorite photos of Tye nursing in the comments section.
Then I changed my profile picture to this, another of my favorites.
I don't think anyone but a breastfeeding mama will know that I'm actually nursing in this photo, but for those of us who know, it's a beautiful shot.  

I guess these actions put me in the Lactivist category, don't they?  They aren't much, but along with over 7,000 other members attending the nurse-in, our actions just might be enough to be recognized by Facebook.  Which would go a long way in relieving my Facebook guilt.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday Favorite- Lentil Soup

I made this super-easy lentil soup this week for lunch, and Tye loved it so much I thought I'd share the recipe.  With each mouthful, she made her "MMMMmmmmm!" sound of pleasure before she eagerly signed for more.  The fresh ginger alongside the carrot gave the soup a subtle sweetness that Tye loves in food, and the lentils are a great source of protein, fiber, and iron (more easily absorbed with the vitamin C in the salsa).  Plus, this is a super affordable lunch or dinner, even with all organic ingredients.  This recipe will be a new staple in our kitchen.
Brown Lentils

Tye's Favorite Lentil Soup

40 ounces broth* (I used 1 32 oz box No-Chicken flavored broth plus 1 cup water)
1 cup water
1 cup salsa (I used Trader Jose's Organic Tomatillo salsa)
2 Tbsp butter (optional)
2 cups dry lentils, rinsed (I used brown lentils, but orange would be beautiful)
1 large carrot
1 square inch fresh ginger
4-6 cloves garlic

Combine broth, water, salsa, butter, and lentils over medium-high heat in a pot with lid tilted.  While waiting for the liquid to boil, combine carrot, ginger, and garlic in food processor and pulse until pieces are about the same size as lentils.  Add this to the soup.  When soup reaches a boil, reduce heat to simmer and keep lid tilted.  Cook until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes (keep cooking until they're mushy for younger eaters).

*Have I shared yet my favorite way to make homemade vegetable broth? Whenever I trim vegetables like carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, peppers, leeks, etc., I combine the trimmings (onion skins, carrot tops, celery leaves, etc) in a 6-8 cup freezer-proof container.  When I have a full container, I plop the contents into the crock pot, add some herbs like Thyme and Sage, then cover with water.  I cook this on low all day or high for 3-4 hours.  After it cooks a bit, I strain it and add salt and pepper. Then I can divide it into quart jars to freeze, or use it in soup that evening.  Super easy, super frugal, super healthy, super soup!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy 2011, everyone!  I hope you all had a joyful holiday season and a peaceful return to normality.  We're still working on that second part ourselves- we just returned from a week in Palm Beach with Tyler's family.  His parents bought a beautiful vacation/retirement condo there and all of the family stayed together.  You know it's a close family when Tyler's parents, his sister and her boyfriend, his brother and his girlfriend, and our 3 all lived in one home for a week!  We spent a lot of time jumping waves and digging in the sand at the beach, playing card games at the kitchen table, and laughing as Tye hammed it up for everyone.  

We just returned to Chicago's freezing temps today, and now all the recovering is happening all at once- unpacking from the trip, putting away Christmas gifts, and starting to slowly take down the Christmas decorations.  Between the sand and the pine needles on the floor, I'm afraid we'll be vacuuming several times a day for weeks.  I can't wait to share some of the photos we took on our trip of Tye walking among the palm trees and squealing in the waves, but Uncle Traye was the designated trip photographer (he received an awesome new camera for Christmas), so we'll have to wait until we get the pictures from him so we can share.

Off to change loads of laundry again...


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