Monthly Archives: November 2008

Challenge: baseline

Today is the baseline weigh-in, people.  I am not putting my weight up not because I am ashamed but because there might be some who are heavier (and probably taller and bigger-boned) who have set this weight as a target.  This is not about comparing with others but rather about reaching personal goals and supporting one another.  So, as of today, we have all lost zero pounds.  Weigh in again next Sunday to see the progress one week has brought.

If you feel so inspired, please make a note in the comments of one change you are making this week towards healthy living.  It may help others make some changes, too.

My family has switched our one night out a week to an all-you-can-eat soup and salad place.  It has the added benefit of being cheap and having no wait for the food.  Fortunately, they have muffins for Zachary, who would otherwise starve.  They also have soft-serve, although Benjamin usually quits his frozen yogurt to return to his peas.  That’s one kid who definitely does not need to make any changes for healthy living.

Up for the challenge?

            I am starting to hate ice cream.  Ever since I realized the correlation between eating a bowl of ice cream with peanut butter on top (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it) at bedtime and my milk supply the next day, I have eaten it every night.  Sometimes I am not in the mood, but I eat it anyway because if I don’t, my milk supply will be trashed for two days.  Ice cream has now become an obligation.

            My bedroom at 3 AM is the site of a reverse manufacturing process where my breasts turn ice cream into milk.

            Needless to say, I am unlikely to lose the baby weight anytime soon.  I am 20 pounds up from my pre-pregnancy weight.  Before you pooh-pooh that, let me explain that I gained 30 pounds.  Since the baby was 7 pounds and you have to figure another couple for all the fluid, breastfeeding for the last two months has clearly not helped me lose anything.  I have resigned myself to the extra pounds right now, as feeding the baby is my top priority, and I went down to the local consignment shop to get myself jeans three sizes larger than I usually wear.

            In an interesting turn of events, my husband also wants to lose 20 pounds., although he does not have a convenient scapegoat for the gain.  He’s having a rough time sticking to a diet, so I have challenged him.  We are going to see who can lose the weight first: him dieting or me breastfeeding.  Over Thanksgiving, a cousin who also wants to lose weight joined the contest.

            Now, I’m opening it up to the larger public.  If you are struggling to stay on a diet, please feel free to join in.  If you only have ten pounds to lose, you can compete for the first ten.  If you have 30, stick with us for the first 20.  Weigh-ins are Sunday mornings before breakfast.  You do not need to tell your weight, just the weight change from week to week.  If we get any participants, I’ll post my weight change each week and you can leave yours in the comment section.  (You can also do it without telling the world your change, but please tell me if that is your plan so I know whether anyone is interested; if no one speaks up, I’ll not bother to post it.)

            December may seem an odd month to diet, but I submit that it makes a good deal of sense.  You don’t need to decide each cookie on an individual basis if you have sworn them all off.

            I want to also note that I only want people participating if you are doing this to feel healthier and more active.  If you are a swimsuit model trying to go from thin to emaciated, fuck off.  We don’t need your kind around here.  This is a friendly competition for people trying to support one another in a healthy lifestyle.

            So, anyone in?  After all, how hard can it be to lose more weight than the chick eating ice cream every night?

Flat screen TVs

Please, please, think twice about buying a new flat screen TV.  We really only have one planet.

Step away

            Today is Black Friday here in the U.S.  Traditionally, this is the day that Americans, groggy from their obscene over-eating, head out to malls and Target and Costco where they indulge in obscene over-purchasing.  The naysayers would have us believe that this year we are all too freaked out by the economy to actually do any holiday shopping, but somehow I suspect a few of you are about to fire up the old Pontiac and head over there, anyhow.

            While you are at the mall, strolling past tween-targeted displays of skimpy clothing and kiosks filled with useless electronics, you will come upon a Yankee Candle.  Actually, you will probably smell it first, that distinct mix of fake spice and wax.  You will look down at your list of obligatory gifts, and you will see the names of several of your children’s teachers on it.  You will think to yourself, “If I go in here, I can cross three gifts off the list all at once.”

            As a former teacher, as a mother, as an environmentalist, I beg you: Please, do not give in to temptation.  If you buy that teacher a scented candle, here is what will happen.  The cellophane wrapper and ribbon will end up in a landfill.  The candle will go onto a shelf or into a box with all the other scented candles the poor woman has received over the years.  There, it will gather dust, forgotten except for once a year when the teacher opens the box to shove in the latest installment of holiday gifts.  Decades from now, her heirs will find the stash as they clean out her house to put it on the market.  And, unless someone has found a use for scented candles by that time, it too will end up in a landfill.

            Step away from the Yankee Candle.

            Your child’s teacher does not want another vanilla-pumpkin-spiced candle.  She knows it, I know it, and, deep down, you know it, too.  While we’re at it, let’s go over a few other things she does not want.  She does not want a coffee mug.  She does not want yet another $5 picture frame.  She does not want a gift book of sweet platitudes to put in her bathroom.  And, I am so sorry to inform you, she does not want homemade cookies, although in that last case she’ll appreciate the effort before throwing them away.  Because, you see, you were not the only one with that idea, and if she eats all the fudge and cookies that parents prepare for her, she will not fit her teaching clothes anymore.  On her salary, she really cannot afford to buy new ones.

            This person (who I have gendered female for simplicity’s sake) spends all day trying to educate your precious offspring.  Please, please, get her something useful.  Get her a freakin’ gift card.

            “But,” you protest, “that’s so impersonal.”  To which I answer: who gives a shit?  If it is the thought that counts, show the woman that you think enough of her to give her something to help make up for her pathetic salary.

            And, please, spare me the argument that you don’t want to spend very much.  I know times are hard, really I do.  But, the first place to economize is not your kids’ teachers, nor, for that matter, is it your postman, your trash collector, your place of worship, or your favorite charity.  The first place to cut is the gifts you give immediate family.  I’m not suggesting you deny your children holiday gifts, but do they really need as many as you have on that list?  Can they do without a fancy video game so you can instead show gratitude to those around you?  And, if the budget is tight, can you and your spouse agree not to give one another gifts this year?

            Of course, many people have already made these cuts, and I am certainly not suggesting you must spend a lot on teachers. For those who really cannot afford to spend anything, I promise the teacher will know that and be grateful for simply a kind word, but the rest of you can funnel the cost of baking ingredients into s small gift card that will not go bad in a few days.  If all the parents in the class gave a very small contribution, you could probably get a pretty nice gift card, which I guarantee the teacher will appreciate more than twelve scented candles, eight batches of cookies, and a couple of coffee mugs.

            If you don’t want to organize the class or perhaps all the parents in the group despise one another, consider a small gift card to a place where $5 can actually buy something: a coffee shop or a card store. Or, if you must buy a tangible gift, how about stationery?  After all, she will need something on which she can compose thank you notes for all those scented candles.

Kits, cats, sacks, wives

Litlove writes a fantastic blog, which is ostensibly about books she has read but seems to also bleed out into gentle yet powerful musings on so many other topics.  She does not write short, pithy posts, but if you are up for a healthy dose of intelligence with your blog reading, she’s your girl.  Which is why I was honored (should there be a U in that word, as she’s English?) that she awarded me the “I love your blog” award.  The bling got lost along the way, but the rule is that I am to pass the love on to seven others, a game that reminds me of the man coming from St. Ives.  I have chosen blogs that may or may not continue the chain but that I consider gifts to you for their consistently high quality.

Yankee Fog

Full Hands

Woman on the Verge

Blogs Are Stupid

Julie Pippert: Using My Words

The Musings of a Defiant Mother

Missing in Iraq

I’m off to enjoy some quality family time this weekend.  Happy Thanksgiving to those who are celebrating.

Flying the banner

            My post last week led to a few very respectful dissenters who wondered why I couldn’t respect other people’s desire to raise their children to believe in modesty.  Well, actually, I am not all that immodest a person these days.  If you want to know about high school, you’ll have to ask Chris to comment, and Poker Chick could probably tell a few tales about college, but nowadays I tend to keep my shirt on even while drinking.

            However, breastfeeding is not an issue of modesty.  Modesty is about not letting your seven-year-old prance about with words on her perky little butt.  Modesty is about buying a Prius even though you can afford an SUV.  Modesty probably entails not letting your four-year-old still see you undressed, but I’m still working on that.

            Breastfeeding is an issue of feeding a hungry baby.  It is also about health, because it is far better for the baby and the mother than formula.  Breastfeeding is about the environment, as it saves all those canisters of formula and the gasoline required to get it to my front door.  And, it sure helps out on the pocketbook.

            None of this is to say that I think those who don’t breastfeed are ogres set on tormenting their children.  Like the rest of us, they have their reasons for the choices they make (and for some it is not a choice).  But they ain’t doing it the way I do it.  I won’t judge them if they promise not to judge me.

            To be honest, I do think there are limits on when breastfeeding is appropriate.  But those limits have to do with age, not location.  Unless you have a very precocious child, once the child is able to say, “No, I’d prefer the left one, please,” it may be time to think about weaning.  Until that time, it is essential that women feel comfortable breastfeeding where and when they need to.

            Because public breastfeeding is about a commitment.  When I feed my baby in public, rather than hiding in a corner or trying to cover her head or letting her scream till I can get her home, I am denying the shame that people try to attach to the act.  The moment I accept heavy limitations on breastfeeding is the moment I start to fail.

            When I lived in London, I found that the women in my area were very uncomfortable feeding their babies in public.  They only nursed in private.  And, soon, they began to feel stuck in the house.  So, they would supplement with bottles when they needed to go out.  Their milk supplies began to decrease because they were using the bottle any time they were not in their homes.  Pretty soon, they had given up altogether.  Nursing for only a few months is considered successful breastfeeding in that neighborhood, and I think it has to do with the anxiety over public feeding.  While that might be fine for some, I feel very, very strongly that my kids deserve at least six months of exclusive breastfeeding and another six months of plenty o’ Mama Milk if they are willing.  Benjamin, it turned out, was not so willing

            So, despite the taboos, I breastfed my second child in London much as I had my first in Philadelphia, which is to say everywhere.  Walking to the Tube, on the Tube, listening to a string quartet in Covent Garden.  “Fly the banner,” the violinist commented.  Sadly, many of the English were somewhat less supportive.  Not that they actually said anything to me.  That would have been terribly un-English.  But they looked at me and then looked away, which is English for “WTF?”

            Being American, I kept right at it, which is how I found myself on a bench outside the Science Museum one fall morning, feeding Benjamin while Zachary and J went inside.  Next to me sat a couple about my age.  The man was right beside me and he looked over.  Actually, he stared right down at the little head as it took care of business at my bosom.  “Great,” I thought.  “Another Englishman appalled by my behavior.”  Except it turns out these folks were Italian, and the man said something to me as he gazed down at the suckling child.  The woman proceeded to translate, but there was no need; I know what “Bella” means.

            These are culturally constructed attitudes, and we can decide as a society that nursing is something to be hidden or something so lovely we cannot stop staring.  If I cover up, I am agreeing that there is something to hide.  I am telling other mothers that they should keep it under wraps, which is the best way I know to sabotage breastfeeding.

            I’d rather fly the banner, thank you very much.

Please disperse

Today, I have an article up at Mamazine, a fantastic zine that I hope you will check out regularly.  Click on over and read my article.  Pretty please?