Tuesday, July 26, 2011


So every so often something happens that gives you pause and causes you to take another look at your life. Yesterday, as I was trying to load up a pile of boxes into the car, the Eskimo was refusing to cooperate and insisted on standing on our front porch, staring at our neighbor who was loading up her own car. In an attempt to keep the Eskimo from wandering over and trying to climb into our neighbor's car, I started singing "if you're happy and you know it, stomp your feet". He immediately started stomping and dancing, which is adorable.

Anyway, my neighbor looked at me and said, "Your life is so much more meaningful than mine. All I do is go to a stupid job." My neighbor is a single, middle-aged woman who actually does some pretty important and valuable community outreach work. It's not a meaningless 9-5 desk job. So I've found myself thinking about her words over the past couple of days. Is there anything more meaningful than raising a child?

My neighbor's words made me take a step back and really appreciate how lucky I am to have been able to stay home with my son for the first 14+ months of his life. I've been here for everything. I've seen him grow from a tiny lump of baby to an active, strong-willed toddler. I've breastfed, cloth diapered, made baby food and been a nap-Nazi; all of which would have been nearly impossible if I hadn't been home with him.

Okay, so I have my days where I want to throw in the towel, stick the Eskimo in daycare and get a day job. Financially, this would probably be a pretty smart move. Because if you didn't know, I'm here to tell you, kids are freaking expensive. And I have every intention of finding a "real" job within the next few months. But until that day comes, I'm going to try to remember to enjoy this time with my son. He's growing so quickly it's almost frightening. Raising and shaping another human being IS enormously meaningful and I'm going to keep that in mind on the days when I feel like I do nothing but laundry and dishes. Or, at least I'll try. :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Recycling leftovers

Every day people all over the world throw food away because it has been sitting in their fridges for too long and it has spoiled. I am, without a doubt, guilty of this. And I'm actually worse than most. I have a very low tolerance for leftovers. I generally feel that if something has sat for more than two or three days, it's no longer good. I can't help but picture icky bacteria and molds growing, eagerly awaiting the opportunity to poison my family and me. This is, in part, ridiculous. But, having suffered food poisoning a couple of times in my life, I am not eager to risk food mistakes (incidentally, my food poisonings were always caused by restaurants, not my own cooking).

But sometimes you open up your fridge and see nothing but leftovers in there and you know it's time to act. I have two ways of dealing with this. One is to throw everything in a big tupperware I keep in my freezer. Things such as rice, pasta, leftover veggies and pieces of meat are frozen for future use in a big pot of soup that will be, if nothing else, interesting. But today I opened our fridge and saw a lot of leftover mashed potatoes and half an onion. Those two things scream Shepherd's Pie to me!

I immediately looked up recipes. Most of the simple ones seemed to call for cream of mushroom soup which we don't have and my husband abhors. But we DO have tomato soup, and lots of it. When my husband got home from work I told him I was kind of "winging it" for dinner. He looked a bit concerned, and rightly so. I'm not known for my cooking prowess when not following a recipe. But I was feeling ambitious, and really, how hard can it be? Here's what I ended up making:

1.5 lbs ground beef
Half an onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
Frozen organic veggies found lurking in my freezer
Tomato soup
Salt and pepper to taste

Simmer all of this together draining off any fat as required. Put in some sort of baking vessel. I used a round casserole dish. Top with grated cheddar cheese and mashed potatoes (I put cheese both under and on top of the mashed potatoes). Bake at 400 for approximately 20 minutes.

The end result was a nontraditional, but delicious, Shepherd's Pie.

There are a lot of different recipe search engines out there and many of them even allow you to search by ingredients. Take advantage and clean out your fridge! Happy cooking. :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Am I Crazy?

So, over the holiday weekend I had opportunity to spend time with family and friends who I haven't seen in a while. Inevitably, the question came up: "Are you still nursing?". Given my recent problems, the answer to this question is currently a bit complicated. It led me to telling the story of the Eskimo biting me and drawing blood and how he hasn't had nearly as much interest in nursing lately (incidentally, he seems to be regaining interest now, but that's not the point of this post). I was expecting perhaps some empathy from my family and friends. Both have nursed their children, though both weaned well before six months (no judgement here, just fact), so they have no experience with extended nursing. But what I got was pure, unfiltered shock with a touch of disbelief. They looked at me like I was crazy for continuing to nurse. I was not prepared for this.

Their reactions left me questioning myself. Am I insane for wanting to continue to nurse my son even though he has bitten me repeatedly, hits me while he's nursing and shows little interest anymore? He eats and enjoys plenty of solids, doesn't need to nurse in order to fall asleep and has never really used nursing for comfort. So why am I so stubbornly fighting this uphill battle? I have a few reasons.

My first reason is a bit selfish. I am not ready to be done nursing my baby. I don't know if I will have another child and this might be it for me. I am having a difficult time accepting the fact that my baby is now a toddler and is growing more quickly than I ever thought possible.Weaning seems like a very big signpost in the middle of the road telling me we have left baby-dom and are now entering the world of toddler-dom and beyond. Next thing I know he'll be headed to college. I kid you not, this is where my mind goes. I am not ready.

The second reason is the obvious health benefits for my son associated with nursing. He has been incredibly healthy throughout his first 13 months and I want this to continue as long as possible. If I can prevent or lessen the symptoms of one cold, then this has all been worth it. And I know he'll be receiving balanced nutrition from at least one source. I try very hard to provide healthy foods, but let's face it: sometimes it's frozen pizza night.

Another reason, and this is where the crazy comes in, is this sense of failure that comes over me when I feel like he's weaning too young. What did I do wrong? Yes, we've used bottles and pacifiers and I'm sure we introduced them too early. We don't cosleep. I introduced solids early and he took to them like a fish to water. We night weaned fairly early, too (though the Eskimo did this mostly on his own) and he's been sleeping 11-12 hours a night for a few months now. Check, check, check. But with every one of these actions, I was doing what I thought was best for my family. So who cares what anyone else might think, right? Except I do care what others think. I've established myself as a breastfeeder and I'm not prepared to fail at that just yet.

But, here I am, with my 13 month old, battling to keep him nursing. My friends and family think I'm nuts. I'm starting to think so too. No wonder so many mamas wean early. Were it not for my ridiculous stubbornness, I'm sure I would have given up weeks ago. But I'm one of those people who doesn't know when she's fighting a losing battle and who perseveres. Sometimes it's a waste of time and energy, but sometimes you end up with something amazing.

I've been told by multiple people, "You've done an amazing job nursing for so long. It's okay to wean." This is not what I need. I'm not looking for permission or an "out". I'm looking for support. For someone to listen and say, "It's awful that he bit you! How has it been going since then?". Choose your words carefully, mamas. Something you may think is supportive may actually be undermining another mama's confidence.

So, here's a final thought. Mamas, let's be supportive of one another. Parenthood is difficult on the good days and next to impossible on the bad days. We are all doing the best we can with the information and resources we have. Lend a sympathetic ear and a shoulder to cry on when necessary. We all have our own ideas on parenting and I think that's amazing. And I'm not going to wean yet because, well, I'm crazy. :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Spoke too soon

There I go getting ahead of myself again. We have not weaned. I swore I was done after the Eskimo drew blood and my husband was very understanding. He listened to me vent and told me I'd done a great job getting to 13 months. Then, the next evening, seeing that I was actually pretty upset about weaning the Eskimo, he encouraged me to try again. So, at bedtime, we went through our normal routine and I sat down with the Eskimo to nurse him and it worked! He nursed and he didn't bite me! Okay, he was hitting me the entire time, but I'm going to go ahead and put this one in the "win" column. Same deal last night. And this morning I even got him to nurse a little bit upon waking. Still no interest the rest of the day. Friday nights are a bit different for us because I work Friday evenings and miss bedtime. The Eskimo was asleep when I got home this evening, but around 10:30 he woke up screaming. Who knows why, but I ran up to his room and he nursed for a really long time, on both sides. He hasn't done that in, I don't know, a month or two? I don't know if we're turning a corner here or if it was just a lucky break, but even if I can only nurse him at bedtime, I'm going to do that as long as I possibly can. I want what's best for him, I want him to be happy and healthy, and I feel like breastfeeding is a vital part of this.

I will be the first to admit that I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing here and I'm winging it from day to day. And just when I think I have something figured out, the Eskimo goes and changes the game on me. I have control-freak tendencies, so this has been one of the more difficult adjustments for me in parenting. I guess the point here is, don't give up. Or, better yet, find a partner who won't let you give up. :)