Saturday, October 31, 2009

I want to be a loser, too

I don't want to be the Biggest Loser, but I would like to lose a few pounds. After Suzi was born, I immediately dropped 20 pounds (eight of which was Suzi herself, so it probably doesn't count). Then I got stuck. This time, although I gained ten pounds less to begin with, I realized I was stuck at the -20 mark again. I've been eating junk food and I'm going to have to give it up and start exercising more!

I decided to get on with it the other day when I went to three different thrift shops (where I shop for clothes 95% of the time) looking for new jeans and couldn't find any. My old ones don't quite fit me yet and wearing maternity jeans--even little ones--when you are this far out is just depressing. I tried on a lot of jeans but none of them fit. I realized that maybe this was because I wasn't meant to find new, bigger jeans. I needed to lose a couple of pounds so I could fit into my old ones again.

We've been watching the Biggest Loser, and it really makes me want to do something. The people on the show have a lot more weight to lose and a lot more at stake; however, watching them step on the scales to see the weight melting off makes me want that, too. At some point on Tuesday I decided I'd try to exercise and lay off the junk food this week and see if I could be happy next week with them.

And I want to run again. I don't know why. Maybe because I see how good it makes some of my friends feel. Maybe because I miss the shape I was in when I ran. Thing is, I'm not in running shape at all. I can walk really fast. Sometime, though (when I'm not wearing a baby in a wrap!), I'm going to have to go for it and just start running and I guess I'm not sure when to do that. One of the things holding me back is worrying about what people will think when they see me. They might think, what is that girl doing running? Is she really qualified to do that? I weigh a bit more than the 110 pounds I weighed in high school now, after all!

But one time, I did weigh 110 pounds. I ran. I did boy push-ups (okay, only like ten of them and that was a major feat). At one point in high school I could do more sit-ups in two minutes than just about any of the girls in JROTC. I may have been the slowest girl on the cross country team, but I was on it.

And now I may be older and heavier and slow. But I want to run again.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tricker Treaker!

This is what Suzi says she did last night. She was a kangaroo, and she had in her pouch not only a little joey but also a stowaway. She wanted to take the blue puppy trick-or-treating too.

Last night was the downtown trick-or-treat in the town where I grew up. All the merchants gave out candy and there were little games for the children to play--mostly beanbag toss type things. Suzi was really too little for the games they had, but she wanted to try anyway. They congratulated for her hitting the platform even though she didn't get the beanbags in the hole, and gave her candy anyway.

And then she went back to the van and got started eating it. It kills me how much she looks like Jordan in this picture. I mean, this is exactly how he'd look if he were eating a Tootsie Roll Pop. I love it!

This is just the beginning. We have lots more fun (and another costume) planned for this weekend. Unfortunately I feel kind of funny today, like I might be about to get sick. I really, really hope it's my imagination. I recently made a few changes in my eating habits, so it could be that too. We'll see.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Harry, our Jack-O-Lantern

Jordan asked Suzi what the pumpkin's name was and she said "his name...... Harry!" It's not from Harry Potter because I don't think she's ever truly watched it (although we have!). I told her to reach down in the pumpkin once I got the top off, but she said yuck! and pulled her hand back out. Jordan carved it and then she was quite fond of him. I am so excited to go trick-or-treating with Jordan and the girls! Suzi is going to be pretty excited about all the candy this year, I bet. Plus she loves her costume.

Have a fun Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How to keep a toddler busy for at least 30 minutes

1) Give toddler a jar of Nutella that is scraped nearly dry and a spoon
2) Tell child she can have all the chocolate she can get out of the jar
3) Enjoy a cup of coffee while reveling in your cleverness (especially if baby is already napping)

You may end up with something like this to clean up, but it only takes a minute so it's totally worth it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The soles are worn out, and the heels are kicked about, and the toes are lookin out for better weather

When I was a junior in college five years ago I bought myself a pair of Birkenstocks that I loved. I wore them until they were perfectly conformed to my feet but were also getting slick on the bottom and didn't look good either. I almost took a picture but then I thought who wants to see my crappy old shoes? Probably nobody.

Anyway, it was time for a new pair but Birkenstocks have really fallen out of popularity over the years, giving way to Rainbow flip-flops, Earth Shoes and Danskos. I couldn't find another pair even similar to my old ones--and change is sometimes good. I'd seen someone at church wearing a pair of really cute mary-jane style clogs and she'd told me they were Danskos. I thought they'd be perfect for me because I hate shoes that come up behind my heel.

So when I was buying Suzi some shoes, I ran across these on sale. They normally run in the $100's, but I would never pay that for shoes. They were (and still are) 35% off with free shipping, which is part of the reason I am writing this. They only have black ones left though.

I was so happy when they arrived and they fit. They are perfect because they not only look nice but are also comfortable, which makes them a popular choice amongst women who work on their feet all day. This is the best deal I was able to find. I always check around before buying something.

(Title from a Barleyjuice song we listen to quite a bit because we like it and I listened to it while pregnant so yeah, Ivey likes it too.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Stand up for babies by not buying Nestle

There is a week-long Nestle boycott going on from today to November 1, and I am going to tell you why I think you should participate. I'll keep this simple and link to others who know more about the details than I do.

This is about infant formula. In the US, formula is in no way comparable to breastmilk, but if you do formula feed, your baby will probably grow up healthy and happy. Why? We have clean water. We can sterilize our bottles. We can afford as much formula as our babies need and, if not, the government will usually step in and help. We can read the words on the can so we know how to safely prepare the formula and can make an educated decision about whether or not formula is a viable choice for our babies.

Many women in the developing world do not have these luxuries. Whether or not to breastfeed isn't even a choice if you don't have enough money to buy formula regularly--and this is often a giant chunk of a family's budget. Formula feeding is not a safe option if you have no clean water to mix it with, or if you have no way of sterilizing bottles. You might ask, then why WOULD any of these women elect to formula feed?

Well, because of bad information. Even here in the US, lies abound when it comes to breastfeeding. Many people think formula is "just as good" or "about as good," but it isn't. Some don't realize that it takes several days for mature milk to come in and they formula feed because they don't think their babies are getting enough to eat. Many people don't know that supplementing will hurt your milk supply. If we can read books and search for info online and have access to lactation experts, and we still sometimes don't have what we need to make a go of breastfeeding, how difficult must it be for women who don't have these benefits?

Formula which looks so innocent on the surface and claims to "protect" can deceive quite easily. A mother may acquire just a small amount of formula, not realizing that her milk supply will dry up within days if she uses it. She may or may not be able to read the fine print admitting that breastmilk is best. Even if the mother can afford the formula itself, not having clean water to mix it with can be deadly. Diluting formula with water to save money hurts babies even in the US. According to UNICEF, “marketing practices that undermine breastfeeding are potentially hazardous wherever they are pursued: in the developing world, WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that some 1.5 million children die each year because they are not adequately breastfed. These facts are not in dispute.”

No company should claim that their formula protects babies. They should not give any promotional items to doctors and healthcare workers which might sway them to promote one brand of formula over another. They should not push the responsibility for educating women on safe formula feeding off on health workers, especially because more women would be breastfeeding anyway if it weren't for their deceptive marketing.

Nestle is a big part of the problem due to their devious marketing practices, and they know it. If you doubt this, please see Annie's series of posts about Nestle at PhD in Parenting. This post in particular offers insight on how and why Nestle should change; be sure to read the comments, too. This article is also a good read if you'd like more evidence and to further understand the problem.

Nestle makes a ton of products, and I don't blame you for being overwhelmed at the prospect of giving them all up. If you can't do that, how about just avoiding the ones you recognize? If you aren't up for that either, how about committing to something small--a slight inconvenience this Halloween. Just buy anything other than Nestle to give to your trick-or-treaters. Here's a list of what NOT to get, taken from the full list over at Crunchy Domestic Goddess:

Baby Ruth
Carlos V (”the authentic Mexican chocolate bar”)
Kit Kat
Laffy Taffy
Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip
Nestle Abuelita chocolate
Nestle Crunch
Oh Henry!
Pixy Stix
100 Grand

I've heard so many people say "but I didn't know." Well, now you do. Shop wisely.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Shall we dance?

Last Saturday night we took Suzi and Ivey out to Oktoberfest in Walhalla. The field was one big mud puddle by the time we arrived and we felt like idiots for not wearing rain boots. I ruined a pair of shoes; luckily I'd had the foresight not to wear my beloved new ones (which are so great I may have to blog about them later).

The tent with the music and dancing was somewhat drier and still had a bit of grass left. We'd come for the music anyhow (not the rides or the greasy food), so we got a seat in front so Suzi could see. When the Little German Band began to play, she got her daddy to take her out on the dance floor. Then the other kids began dancing and she wanted to join them (see video). It was cute, and the kids were so sweet to her. We've noticed she enjoys playing with kids who are slightly older. She also loves dancing, and I definitely foresee us enrolling her in dance classes when she gets a bit older.

We had fun, despite keeping Suzi up several hours past her bedtime. We probably paid for it Sunday, but I don't regret it. There were dancers with the band as well and we videotaped one dance which I may post later. Someone with the band helped me pick out a CD for Suzi, and she listens to it in the car. She says "I like that music!" and kicks her little feet to it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Keepin it real

The other day I had a friend comment that the same day she'd written a post about some things that had gone awry while caring for her two daughters, I had written a lovey-dovey post about how wonderful being a stay-at-home-mom was. Well, that's because I try to stay positive and remember the good things. I have a tendency to be whiny that I have to fight against. But if you really want to know how a bad day looks, here goes.

I still don't have Ivey's birth certificate and I am freaking out because what if we need it? So while Ivey was sitting in her bouncy seat I went back and tried for the second time to fill out the confusing form. Then I realized I needed a photo ID so I tried to scan and print my driver's license but our printer is SO STUPID and it wouldn't work. I called Jordan at work to see if he had any insight for me. I thought I might have it working, so we hung up but then it still didn't work so I called him back and after he said we could just do it when he got home, I got a little upset because when does that ever happen? A few more things were said, the baby started crying, and I started crying too and told him I couldn't talk right now and I would talk to him later, GOOD-BYE! Suzi was asking me what was wrong, and it really wasn't anything I could explain to her. It was similar to Suzi's infamous fit-pitching, only bigger and I didn't lie in the floor and kick my feet. This is exactly where she gets it. I finally calmed down and nursed the baby, but once Ivey was happy, Suzi had to pee of course. I told her to go by herself and do the best she could, which wasn't too smart, but at least she didn't pee in the floor and I didn't have to get up. There was just a minor mess. So then in walks Jordan. He decided to come home for lunch after I hung up on him, just so he could fix the printer. Well he couldn't fix it either, but he did make me feel a little better and he said he'd get the thing printed and mail it when he got off work. The baby was asleep, so I put on the third movie of the day for Suzi to watch, which I feel terrible about, but I have to do laundry sometime and a movie is about the only way to keep her from waking the baby up. Since then, I have been running around like a crazy person working on our large piles of laundry and straightening up and whispering please don't wake up PLEASE don't wake up every time the baby makes a sound. I just took a short break to write this because I needed to.

Problems: The baby is happy in the wrap but only if I am bouncing her around or walking, and not sitting at the computer or folding laundry, etc. That's when she cries. Plus she is a really light sleeper, like me. Suzi won't pick up her toys unless I yell and lay a guilt trip, so I just pick the toys up myself. We recently put 95% of her toys away because otherwise I just spend all my time picking them up and it never makes a difference. It's like sweeping sand off the beach. Ivey's cry is SO loud. My period (or something like it) came back RIGHT after I hit six weeks postpartum and that is just so unfair because I am breastfeeding exclusively. In fact I have it right now and that's probably half my problem today. My house is a mess and I can't figure out why. I'm trying, but I can't seem to get anything done some days. I want to know how other people make this work so seamlessly.

That's about it. I hope you still like me. I feel like an ungrateful little whiner after writing that.

Now back to laundry.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Potty training: What did NOT work

In our experience, the key to potty training success isn't waiting until the right time to initiate; how will you know if it's too early until you try? I think our turning point was striking just the right balance. Potty training for us was like walking a balance beam. On one side there was a pit of toxic pressure, and on the other there was a sea of unproductive permissiveness. When we dipped a toe into either one of those, progress came to a standstill. When we stayed balanced by using gentle but firm encouragement, we had success. The tactics listed below fall on one side or the other of that, and were not useful for us.

1) Paying. My mom and dad gave Suzi change to put in her piggy bank when she pottied successfully. It sometimes worked, but other times it put a little too much pressure on her. Too much pressure, we learned, was the kiss of death to Suzi's potty attempts. One time she had a big meltdown after being promised a quarter if she used the potty. Also, if you start paying a child and she gets used to it, then you have the added task of tapering off and eventually stopping the incentives. We found a high-five, hug, or hearty congratulations to be more appropriate. Children naturally seek to please their parents, so this is all that is needed in most situations. Besides, not having to go around wearing a puddle in your pants is a pretty nice reward all by itself!

2) Candy. Basically the same thing. We did it sometimes, but it wasn't a long-term benefit. We used it to get past temporary resistance, because we figured it was better than letting her go in her diaper when she'd been doing well previously. I just don't think that getting a kid used to a piece of candy every time she potties is a good idea, if you can avoid it. Besides, if you give Suzi one piece of candy she's going to want the rest!

3) Diaper-free days. I'm not talking about the diaper-free concept as a part of elimination communication, in which a child goes diaper-free regularly and from a young age. I'm referring to the extreme potty training days (or weekends) that some people swear by, during which they allow their child to run around the house with no diaper on. This way they can easily run over and sit on the potty if they feel like it, and if not, they will at least recognize when they've peed. Many parents will gladly take the inevitable clean-up in exchange for a major potty training advance. However, we experienced minimal success with this technique. Suzi would hold it and hold it, and often cried in refusal when we asked her to sit on her potty. Then when she was distracted (by a snack, most frequently) she'd pee down the side of a table or something. We had a few successes, but it was frustrating and messy more than anything. It was great for clearing up diaper rash though, which is the main reason we did it. Instead of no diapers, we opted to let her wear cloth diapers so she could feel when she was wet. It wasn't long before the regular potty breaks (every 1-2 hours) became easy for her. Her control got better and better and she started asking to go herself. Then we were on our way!

4) Waiting until she was "ready." You will never be able to convince me that this is anything other than Pampers and Huggies trying to weasel more money out of our wallets. I'm not saying you should put serious pressure on a child, but come on. Not even suggesting a child use the potty until he's two? Maybe even three? How is it that a child is ready to be weaned from the breast "when he can walk up and/or ask for it" (12 months or less?) but yet may not be ready to use the potty by the time he's four? What do these two scenarios have in common? The earlier a child weans, the more formula is purchased. The later a child potty trains, the more diapers are purchased. Wake up people, you're being fleeced! (As an aside, some of my friends' kids are completely potty trained before they wean from nursing, which makes so much more sense to me.) The point, though, is that I think Suzi could have learned to use the potty easier and earlier if we'd only worked with her. By the time we got serious about helping her, when she was around 20 months, she was attached to those diapers and had a hard time letting them go. She cried for them sometimes, and it was difficult. I'm not the only one who thinks it's likely to be harder the longer you wait. This is why I'm eager to begin EC with Ivey!

5) We did not try punishing Suzi in any way for not making it to the potty. I see this as inappropriate and unfair. By putting a diaper on your child's butt from birth, you have taught him that this is where you want him to go. (Read Early-Start Potty Training for elaboration.) It's your responsibility to patiently and gently help him learn the alien concept of using the toilet. Scolding, withholding privileges, and especially yelling and hitting for this reason could have lasting negative psychological effects. It's hard not to get frustrated when your child has an accident or isn't cooperating; we frequently did get frustrated, but we made an effort to control our reactions. She was trying so hard to please us! One time over the summer, for example, Jordan and I were talking in the kitchen when Suzi walked up and started whining unintelligibly. "Suzi," I said, "there's no reason to whine." She stammered for a second before screeching "I NEEDA PEEDA POTTY!!!" That's when a gushing puddle hit the floor. We had just fed her a bellyful of watermelon. It was completely our fault, and we apologized to her as we cleaned up. Even during times when it wasn't clear-cut like this, we didn't seek to make her feel bad. There is usually a reason for an accident even if you can't see it. I seriously doubt she would have done so well if we'd taken action to make her feel even worse when she was not successful.

So there are the stinkers--or at least they were at our house.

What worked for you?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Our potty training top five

August 2008, 15 months old. She was just playing around at this point.

The other day, on our way home from Jordan's parents' house, Suzi said something alarming.

Suzi: I need my diaper change!
Me: You're not wearing a diaper. What do you mean.

It could have been... interesting, but it wasn't. It turns out she'd spilled a few drops of chocolate milk in her car seat, and just had to pee. She hadn't actually done it yet.

Bless her heart, she's spoiled us. A lot of parents have to hound their toddlers about using the potty every hour or two. We, on the other hand, rarely bring it up because when we do she just looks at us, confused, and says "no, I don't have to pee pee." We've gotten so used to her telling us when she has to go that we don't worry about it anymore. So here's our idiot parent confession of the week: We let her go way too long. We totally deserved a puddle. Instead, we got a good scare, felt really bad, and stopped right away for a potty break.

We are both so thankful for how quickly Suzi learned to use the potty. We know it was a gift from God and probably not too much due to our superb parenting skills. Still, there were some things that seemed to help. It's important to note that some of these things are great for a toddler just learning to use the potty, but not for elimination communication (EC) with an infant, and would also likely be obsolete for a toddler who has already been exposed to EC as an infant. We didn't do EC with Suzi, so I have no insight on that subject yet. Anyway, here they are:

1) Prudence the Potty Doll, and the DVD (Once Upon a Potty) to go with her. If you have a boy, you want Joshua instead. We had the book as well, but the DVD kept Suzi's attention much better. It's only a few minutes long. "I wanna watch Proonce!" she would say. There was also a "potty song" on the DVD, which I found annoying, but Suzi enjoyed. Sometimes, when Suzi seemed totally turned off to the idea of using the potty, I could turn on the DVD or get out the Prudence doll and she would sit down and cooperate. After watching the DVD, she liked to take Prudence's diaper off and sit her on her little toy potty. I think it helped her wrap her brain around the concept. It's a pretty wild idea to a kid who's known nothing but diapers for two years!

2) Cloth diapers. Cloth diapered babies have been known to potty months sooner than babies in disposable diapers, probably because they can better feel when they're wet. There are special disposable training pants you can buy that also allow a child to feel when he's wet, but I doubt they'd be as effective. Think about it: When you buy your toddler these "cool alert" diapers, he will only begin making the connection between pee release and that wet feeling at a time when you are already wanting him to be using the potty. When you cloth diaper, your child will be familiar with that feeling from the get-go. No wonder it's faster! We thought about buying Suzi some cloth training pants, but by the time she was big enough to wear most of them, she was practically done learning. (She's little.) We did just fine with our Bumkins and Bumgenius diapers. She wore them full-time just as she always had, and we started encouraging her to use the potty. She got better and better at it, and eventually we realized she was going full days without wetting. Then we got her some underwear. Now she only wears a cloth diaper at bedtime, but she has done so well with staying dry through the night that we are thinking of discontinuing that as well. We have gotten our money's worth out of our cloth diapers!

3) Elmo's Potty Time DVD. My brother and his fiance gave Suzi this for Christmas when she was 18 months old. We turned it on right away and she watched it with an adorably serious expression. It's a long DVD, but she took it all in, carefully considering the benefits of what Elmo was proposing. It was this DVD that prompted her first pee pee in the potty. Although this DVD is much longer than the Prudence one, I'd definitely recommend it, if only to plant the seed of thought in your child's mind. The more your child loves Elmo, the more effective this will probably be.

4) Baby Bjorn potty seat and toilet trainer. Not wild about their baby carriers, but love their potty-training stuff! We started with the stand-alone potty seat, because Suzi didn't feel secure sitting on the toilet. Also, the stand-alone potty allowed her to watch her Prudence DVD while she sat and tried. Most importantly, I didn't want a potty with a bunch of cracks and crevices to get dirty. I didn't want something that sang a song or put on a show. I just wanted a simple, easy-to-clean, durable potty, and that's what we got. It also comes up a little higher in the front, which is great for boys (and girls, as we learned!) who like to spray up and over the seat. Later, when Suzi had the technique down and no longer needed to watch Prudence when she went, we easily transitioned her to the toilet trainer--a seat that goes on top of the adult toilet. It sits lower than most other seats, and it adjusts with a dial to fit a smaller or larger toilet seat. It is more expensive than other brands, but worth the money. It's most effective in conjunction with a little stool so your child's feet aren't left dangling. Baby Bjorn makes one of those, too.

5) The Potette Plus. Be sure to get the plus and not just the regular Potette. The Plus will allow you to use the seat as a freestanding potty and also as a portable seat on a toilet. Once your child is successfully pottying at home, it can be a challenge to keep things going while out and about. Use this seat on top of a public toilet and your child will have a safe, familiar place to sit and clean handles to hold (the legs, which fold out). It comes in a plastic drawstring bag so you don't have the seat touching the other things in your diaper bag. And yes, it is small enough to fit. I love it.

This time around, we are hoping to start elimination communication. We haven't started it yet, mostly because we don't know quite where to start, but I will be reading about it and getting things rolling soon. We already have Early-Start Potty Training, and there are other books I may end up getting. I'm pretty sure I've had friends recommend The Diaper-Free Baby. Hobo Mama has an awesome post on EC, too, which discusses resources and products I never knew existed! I don't think Ivey would object to never (or rarely) being wet or messy. It would save us from a lot of laundry, too. I'll let you know how it works out.

Stay tuned for a related post about the techniques that did not work for us!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I love a love story

On the advice of a friend and out of curiosity, Jordan and I picked up the movie Twilight and watched it. It was good. Then, back when I was pregnant, I started reading the book. The first few chapters of setup made it hard for me to get into, and on top of that, I didn't have much time for reading it because there were several pregnancy/childbirth books I was trying to finish. After the baby was born and I was spending long stretches of time rocking and nursing her, I decided to pick it back up.

Once I got going, I couldn't stop. I polished off Twilight and the next three books faster than anything I've ever read in my life, and then I was left fumbling around for something even half as good to read.

I don't care about vampires in particular, but I love a love story, and Twilight is one. Now my husband is on book three and we are passing the books to my mom as he finishes them. She is on the second one.

Now I am in a quandary over what to read next. I want to read Pushed, but it'd also be nice to have something fun too. I am pretty picky, I guess, because there are a lot of unfinished books on my shelf that just left me... underwhelmed. I love short stories because they aren't much of a commitment.

What are you reading? What would you recommend I read next?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Suzi playing, learning

She does love the magnets. She found them on our fridge, gasped, and immediately began rearranging, sorting, and trying to spell words. Suzi has already learned so much just through play. She knows her colors and shapes and can count to ten. She knows some letters, too, and has an excellent vocabulary. No one has forced her to learn or memorize anything. (I can only imagine how well that would work with a two-year-old, anyway!) What she has learned has been picked up through interaction with others, teachable moments during play, and reading books. When I was working, Suzi spent time with an experienced former kindergarten teacher (my mom). She taught in public school for nearly her whole career and had a deep respect for open-ended play. I have frequently heard her say "children learn through play!" We were talking yesterday and she agreed that by the time Suzi is old enough to start kindergarten, she will probably already know most of what they are going to teach. This boosts my confidence that when the time comes I will be able to homeschool her, and that it will be the best choice for her.

According to Suzi, the letters were animals of some kind, which is why she has them arranged this way. Gotta love her imagination.

Just as we are appreciating the value of play, our president wants kids to spend even more time being drilled in a classroom. I have lots to say, but I will save it for another post. Baby Ivey is calling.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Copper or Two--my husband's blog!

I told Jordan a couple of years ago that he needed to start a blog, but he wasn't into the idea. I gave up on it, but then a couple of weeks ago I happened upon something interesting. I was logging in to blog, and when I went to the Blogger dashboard I saw someone else's info. Then I realized it was my husband Jordan's, and there was the name of a blog on it: A Copper or Two! I couldn't believe he had started a blog without telling me. When I clicked on it, nothing had been done. No posts, no header, nothing. But what a cute name! I asked him about it later, and he said he'd seen a news story about people who had written about saving the money they'd found on the ground and donating it, and he'd thought about trying it himself. Then he'd found nothing.

I recently convinced him that this was a waste. He's a DIY kind of guy. He made my nursing stool and built a media center computer for us, and likes to find ways to get free stuff. I think he's a smart guy. Today he's writing his very first post and I'm excited for him. He'll blog about things we've found, some ideas we've tried out to save money, and maybe talk about our family too.

Here is his first post at his new blog, A Copper or Two!

And before I get busy helping him with his new header and stuff, here's one thing I have to say about yard sales. You should go to them, and go late. This is what my brother taught me when I went to the sales with him in college. If you shop late, like around 11:00, the sellers want to ensure that they don't get stuck with a bunch of leftovers and will be more likely to give you a good deal. You may even want to start out at 7:00 or so, and if you see something you like that is a little pricey you can go back near the end of the sale to see if the seller is more willing to negotiate. Here are our goodies from just one of our favorite sales yesterday:

The muscadines in the background are from Jordan's dad, not a yard sale

Suzi'll love these

We got all this and a little more for just $5! It was a good, good day that reaffirmed what we already knew: trust God and He will get you what you need. See Jordan's blog for our big find!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Little, for a little while

I wrote this on Tuesday the 29th and am just now getting around to posting it.

Today I went to my old workplace to visit my friends and to pick up Ivey's handprint and footprint. It felt strange to walk through that door and see how everything had changed in my absence. The Halloween decorations were up and all the displays were rearranged. Kelly and Vicky buzzed around doing neb setups and answering the phone as I just stood there with a baby in my arms and did nothing. I could've easily picked up the phone and said "thank you for calling AnMed Health Jennie G's, this is Jenny!" It feels weird, but I'm glad that chapter of my life is over.

I would have been back at work today if I hadn't quit. Ivey would have been staying with my mom and dad, and they would've had their hands full. I would have come home to a baby who'd had bottles instead of nursing sessions and had done several cute things while I was gone.

Instead, I took her to visit and when we were tired we went home. She nursed and then had her worst blowout poop ever. Out the diaper, into the pants, down the leg, yuck. She cried while I feebly attempted to undress her without making a mess and was so pleased when I put her in the sink for a warm bath.

Then my parents brought Suzi home (they had taken her to the library). While I was helping her in the bathroom, she told me "you're my best mama." Then she hugged my leg and told me she loved me. She is also telling her first knock-knock jokes... "Knock-knock, who's there? It's me, Suzi!" and "Knock-knock, who's there? It's Tigger, knocking on the door!" She tells the whole joke herself without waiting for a response and none of them make sense.

Even though I do miss my friends, it's not as bad as I thought to go without "adult interaction." It's not so bad having to drink cold coffee or none at all in the morning because I'm either nursing Ivey or running upstairs because Suzi's woken up. Suzi cries and then shouts Maaaamaaaa! at 7:30 and when I run in to tell her good morning, she smiles through the tears and hugs me.

Above are my sweet girls' prints. Suzi's hands and feet haven't been that size in a long time, and Ivey's are getting bigger before our eyes.

I'm glad to have them. I'm glad to be with them. I want more of them.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Let them eat cake

This post has been burning a hole in my brain.

A couple of days ago I mentioned on Facebook that it is Jordan's and my policy, when approached by someone claiming to be in need, to help them. This means that if someone comes up and says they need just $2 for gas to make it to their friend's house, we give it to them. I recognize that sometimes these people are lying, but sometimes they aren't. What if we write everyone off as a liar and pass up an opportunity to truly help someone as a result? Therefore, we try not to judge. A couple of dollars or some spare change means very little to me and I'd rather take a chance on wasting it.

Someone replied to my statement, though, saying that people asking for money (in the gas scenario I gave) are ALWAYS scammers. He went on to say that this is 2009 and anyone with a gas emergency can use a credit card.

That is like saying people who have no bread should eat cake. Not everyone has a credit card. Jordan and I don't, by choice. Others don't have them because they can't get them. To get a credit card you need credit. At the very least, you need the promise of cash coming in. I believe Jordan and I were required to provide proof of income to get the ones we had before. But let's just say for the sake of argument that they handed them out to anyone who asked. Some people have no money. Some people have no job. Even if those people wanted to pay their credit card bills, they couldn't, and they would soon be taken away. Why are more people not aware that we are the haves and there is another culture of have-nots right here among us?

Both my parents have college degrees and had good full-time jobs with benefits, so I grew up with everything I needed at my feet. However, there are three times I can remember (probably many more) when I depended on the kindness of others.

1) I was 14 years old and on a class trip to Six Flags. I went to the bathroom only to discover that oh NO, I'd started my period and I hadn't thought to take a pad. I was going to be there all day with a bunch of guy friends. I had no change for the pad machine. What the HELL was I going to do? It may not seem like a big deal to a 25-year-old, but to a little teenage girl it was horrific. I came out of the stall and tearfully began asking the other girls in the restroom, strangers from other schools, if any one of them had a pad. No one did. Just when I thought all hope was lost, one of the girls pulled a quarter out of her pocket so I could get a pad from the machine. God bless her. And I still remember it 11 years later.

2) When I was 17 I went for a walk in the woods with my then-boyfriend. It was on a trail that we thought was a loop, so we didn't turn straight around when we were ready to go back. It wasn't a loop. The trail took us on a 3-hour hike into the next state and the park was about to close when we ran into another couple to ask them where we were. There was absolutely no way we'd have been able to get back to where my parents were waiting before (long after) dark. This was a guy I'd met online so I'm sure they thought I'd been murdered and would have called the police soon. The couple gave us a ride in their car back to where we'd come from.

3) In the lunch line one day at work, I had my food all picked out only to discover they were unable to accept credit cards that day. I had no cash, so I was about to walk all the way out to the ATM and pay a fee to get just three bucks. The man behind me handed me a $5 bill without being asked so I wouldn't have to. I was really grateful.

I'll bet if you think hard, you can come up with some stories like this in which you have come up a little short and were helped by a stranger. Stuff happens! If things like this happen to us, the haves of society, is it so inconceivable that someone else with no job and no support system might need our help as well? I'd say they deserve to be treated the same way we would want to be treated, wouldn't you?

There seems to have been a rash of Marie Antoinettes recently. Have you heard about the #NestleFamily controversy on Twitter? It seems that many people were unaware of Nestle's unsavory business practices. If you don't know, they have a history of engaging in deceptive marketing practices (particularly in third-world countries) that undermine breastfeeding and sometimes cause the deaths of innocent babies. (Please read the full account here.) You would think that once someone understood this, they would be concerned and ready to avoid buying Nestle or at least eager to do more research, right? Some of them are, but others are saying it's ridiculous to blame Nestle for those babies' deaths because no one can take away a mother's right to breastfeed. They are saying that if mothers didn't have clean water or enough money to buy plenty of formula, they never should have started formula feeding. This is a tragic lack of understanding. Here, we have the benefit of hearing that breast is best. Most people know this is the general consensus of health professionals. In third-world countries, however, women may think that if formula is so popular in the United States, it must be good for babies. They might try the free sample without knowing that by the time it is gone their milk supply will have dried up. They may not realize how expensive formula is and that they are only getting it free for a limited time. Here, we have lactation consultants in most hospitals to help with our breastfeeding issues. I know I would have had a hard time without the help I received with breastfeeding both my babies! It is unreasonable to expect women to be able to breastfeed successfully without these resources and knowledge, and in the face of a product that seems so helpful and innocuous on the surface. These women and babies do not have what they need.

Lastly, I think this applies to healthcare. I have avoided mentioning this issue until now because I have friends and I'd like to keep them. I'm not saying I have all the answers, but I am saying that the current system has failed people. It has left hardworking people in financial ruin. It has left people without the care they need and deserve. I can appreciate that people may not agree with Obama's brand of reform; however, what I cannot appreciate is the opinion that nothing is wrong with our current system. I'd wager that the people who hold this opinion either have sufficient health insurance or have never had a serious health issue, or both. "Yes, I have cake!" they say. "I worked hard for my cake! If these (uninsured) people want cake, they can get a job with benefits and eat cake too!" The problem is that there have been fewer and fewer jobs available that offer benefits. Jordan and I are thankful beyond words that he has his. I have seen friends get their affordable coverage yanked out from under them as their companies try to save money. Many people are willing to work and earn subsidized healthcare, but don't have that privilege. Yes, it is a privilege. Other people may have a hard time getting insured (or getting insured affordably) because of pre-existing conditions. I have friends and family with serious, expensive ongoing health problems, so I feel passionately that things need to change in some fashion.

Until college, I was at least mostly unaware of people in all these situations. I had a college professor who strongly believed some people were stuck in poverty and could not get out by themselves, and he advocated for them. He opened my eyes to the fact that there are impoverished, even homeless families living right here under our noses--not just in other countries and faraway places the way we'd like to imagine. It's just pathetic that some people grow up and still do not know these things. They ought to teach it in schools.

Be thankful for the cake you have. Understand that others have none. Share your cake without judging.