Thursday, May 31, 2012

Family Life Daily Pictures (5/31/2012)

I first rolled to my tummy on Mother's Day :)  On Memorial Day I first rolled from tummy back to my back! :)  There is no stoppin me!  And, I love this toy!
Sometimes it's still hard to get from my tummy to my back ... but big sis is helping me!  aaaarrrrggghhh!!!

Uh Oh!  Now big sis is stuck too! 

I'm cute upside down too <3
She built a Thingamajiger (from the Cat and the Hat) for everone to ride on out of Megablocks.  Here we go go go go on an adventure; the thingamajiger is up and away ... do you know how cute it is to hear her say "thingamajiger" ?
4 months, 2 days old <3

I like this picture because the smile comes solely from her own fun time in the bath, no prompts from anyone :)

Big sis helping with the bath!

Doesn't your heart just melt looking at this <3

Yes, you can add whip cream and sprinkles to your milk! :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Our Tandem Nursing Journey

Welcome to the Carnival of Tandem Nursing

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Tandem Nursing hosted by Mommying My Way. Our participants have shared their personal stories of the highs the lows and information on what to expect if tandeming is in your future. Please read to the end of each post to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

January 29th, 2012 around 7:30am, Gumby woke up and came into the living room.  She crawled into my lap in the recliner chair and had nummies.  I was in labor and it was the last time Gumby would nurse before her baby sister was born.  Three hours later, a Lil' Dove and a tandem nurser were born.

I had not thought much about how long I would nurse Gumby, planning to wean whenever we were both ready.  I had seen some lovely pictures of other mama's tandem nursing children who were holding hands and I thought that if Gumby was still nursing when another baby came along that seemed like something I would like to do. 

Several hours after Lil' Dove was born, she was nursing with me on the couch and we asked Gumby if she wanted nummies too.  She was so happy.  She said she was scared and sad thinking the milk was gone and/or she would not be having nummies anymore.  She latched on, and petted Lil' Dove and held onto her.  It was lovely.

We have been tandem nursing for about four months now.  While nursing only Gumby for the first two and a half years of her life was nothing but a pleasureable experience, nursing two little ones, for me, has had its challenges along with it's positives.

The biggest challenge for me is feeling touched out.  A lot.  Ever since Gumby was born, she nursed a lot.  A LOT.  I was prepared for Lil' Dove to nurse all the time.  But she did not.  She nursed so much differently than Gumby that for months I wondered if she was getting enough to eat (she was).  Gumby on the other hand, wanted to nurse about every 45 minutes.  Duration of nursing session did not affect length between nursing requests.  Several times I questioned if I wanted to continue.  And, I always came to the same answer:
Yes, I want to continue to tandem nurse. 
The reasons are as follows:

Nursing is so very special to both Gumby and me.  It's our special time together.  If she's sad, upset, lonely, hurt, she finds comfort in nursing.  If Lil' Dove hadn't come along, Gumby would still be nursing.  I wanted our nursing relationship to continue along its same path, as best as it can, even though a second nursling has been added to the family.

Sibling Bonding
I enjoy nursing both of my daughters at the same time.  Gumby pets and loves on Lil' Dove and it's precious.  I do not nurse them together that often because it seems we all have difficulties getting comfortable.  But, when it does happen, it's special.  Lil' Dove looks at Gumby now and will hold onto her finger sometimes.

It is Natural
Nursing my two daughters just happened.  Gumby and I share a wonderful nursing relationship.  It did not come to an end one day because I went to work, she hit a certain age, she learned to eat, she learned to speak, I became pregnant, I had another baby.  Our nursing relationship simply evolved and grew along with us.  It would be unnatural for us to wean when we are not ready. 

There are lots of benefits to nursing past infancy.
For ten reasons that I personally chose to nurse Gumby past infancy, see here.

  • My Tandem Nursing Journey: Jenny at I'm a full-time mummy is sharing her tandem nursing journey so far...
  • Built for Two: No matter how much you read and plan, things may not always go as you expect. A few things that Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy wished she knew when she was planning to tandem feed her toddler and newborn.
  • Tandem Nursing - Magic Cure?: Jorje of Momma Jorje had high expectations of tandem nursing easing her toddler daughter's transition from being the baby to being a big sister.
  • Mutually Desirable - Navigating a Tandem Nursing Experience: Amy Willa at talks about limit setting and meditations that help her navigate an intense tandem nursing experience.
  • My Adventure in Tandem Nursing: Alicia at Lactation Narration tells her story of nursing her daughter through pregnancy and then tandem nursing.
  • 4 months in: the good/hard: Becca at Exile Fertility writes about the joys and struggles of having two nurslings 17 months apart.
  • Tandem Nursing: One at a Time: When tandem nursing resulted in a nursing aversion, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children looked for ways to meet everyone's needs.
  • Why Nurse a 4 Year Old?: One of the questions Dionna at Code Name: Mama keeps getting is, "but why breastfeed a four year old? What are the benefits?" Today she answers that question.
  • My Hurt Feelings: Shannon at The Artful Mama shares how her first son reacted to nursing after the birth of his brother and the gift she received the last time he nursed.
  • Carnival of Tandem Nursing: A Letter To Myself 7 Years Ago: Dulce de leche shares the advice and reassurance that she would have given to herself if she could go back in time.
  • Nursing Both My Babies: Cassie at There’s a Pickle in my Life shares her experience with nursing and transitioning into tandem nursing. She also gives tips for struggles.
  • Our Tandem Nursing Journey: Kim at Life-is-Learning describes her journey into tandem nursing and why it is important to her.
  • Based on her own experience, Lauren at Hobo Mama dishes about the benefits and downsides to nursing multiple children.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Ten Reasons I Choose to Nurse Past Infancy

This was originally published as a guest post on one of my favorite blogs about a year ago.
One year later, these ten reasons are still applicable.

When I was pregnant, it seemed like everyone wanted to know if I was going to nurse and then for how long. I don't think I even knew humans breastfed prior to becoming pregnant; I had never seen it, but for some reason, my answer to the questions was always "Yes, I'm going to give breastfeeding a try for at least six months and then it depends on how it goes after the baby gets teeth." For some reason, I was doubtful and kept those free formula samples in the cupboard "just incase" (never did use them). I had read about the risks of feeding babies with formula and I knew I wanted to give breastfeeding a try. What I didn't know was about the amazing aspects of a nursing relationship *other* than food. We have blown past 6 months, 12 months and 24 months. I definitely didn't plan on extended nursing, but why stop a good thing? We wean when she is ready. Gumby still nurses very often and we both absolutely love our special time together.
1. Bonding, Cuddling and Snuggling Time
As your little angel gets more and more mobile, you may find that the little baby that wanted held and snuggled and rocked begins to change into a little toddler that can't stop moving! Gumby is always on the go, and nursing the little squirmy critter that seemed to somehow grow eight eight-feet long legs is how she got her nickname Gumby the Octopus. But sometimes, that little octopus of mine retracts her extra legs and just wants to lay and nurse. Sometimes she runs her hands over my face; sometimes she wants me to sing to her; sometimes she wants me to hold her and hug her as tight as I can while I'm mooching her; sometimes she just gazes lovingly into my eyes ... and, all times, I melt and am so grateful for our special time together.

2. A Soothing and Calming Experience

Christmas Morning Cuddles, Gumby age 27 months.

When I nurse Gumby, there is a certain calm and peacefulness that enters into both of us. Science will tell you that it is because of the hormone prolactin that is released during nursing and that the act of nursing blocks stress receptors, but I think it is so much more. Nursing a toddler continues to be about, not just feeding, but also about nurturing the relationship between mother and child, just as it was with an infant.

3. A Way to Reconnect
Anytime I am gone from Gumby, when I return, I am greeted with a vivacious "I need nummies!" Whatever it is she was doing is immediately stopped. Whatever thoughts or negativity that I returned with are put aside. Our focus is soley one each other. It is almost as if we were never apart. With mamma's milk flows the hormone oxytocin which releases feelings of love and nurturing.
Nursing also helps promote reconnections during the day. Sometimes toddlers and mamma's do not quite see eye to eye on everything; sometimes the two of us have what I call an "off" kind of day where we just can't seem to get on the same page with each othes. Whatever the case may be nursing serves as a wonderful time for us to stop what we are doing and just remind each other and ourselves that we love each other.

4. Finally Confident Enough

Nusring Gumby at 22 months on a bench at a Zoo.

It took me until Gumby was 3 months old to stop hiding to nurse. I spent so many of her early days, hiding in the bedroom when visitors would come. Not because I was embarrassed, I have always been proud of breastfeeding my baby. But, I have also been a very private person. I don't even like V-neck shirts. But, as Gumby grew, I, too, grew ... and got tired of sitting in a room alone. I finally realized that I could nurse discreeting, protecting my privacy, but also any time and any place in order to meet my baby's needs. Okay, so maybe it didn't take me until she was considered a toddler, but the longer we nurse, the more confident I am, both in my actions and my decisions.

5. Dental Benefits
Breastfeeding itself requires the use of different facial muscles than sucking on a bottle or pacifier. The exercising of these muscles results in better jaw alignment and a lowered need for future orthodontic work.1 Breastmilk contains lactoferrin which kills the bacteria that causes tooth decay. In addition, the milk proteins coat and protect the enamel. I am not saying this is a substitute for regular brushing, but I am saying that toddlers have teeth and this can't hurt.2 As a side note to anyone who may be worried about nursing a little one with teeth ... it is physically impossible to nurse AND bite at the same time ;)

6. No Other Lovies Needed
Gumby doesn't really have a favorite toy, blankie, etc. If we go somewhere, while we do pack things and sometimes it seems as though we pack the entire house, there isn't any one item that we really need to remember to take with us. Whether she makes the request "Nummies go too." or she doesn't, nummies go too. I have never left home without them.

7. Health Benefits for Mom

Still Happily Nursing at 29 Months :)

Besides the fact that Gumby was over 2 when my ol' Aunt Flo came to visit for the first time in a long time, breastfeeding lowers the risk of several cancers (breast, ovarian, uterine, endometrial), rheumatoid arthritis, and protects against osteoporosis.5 Often, the health benefits continue to increase the longer nursing is continued.

8. Health benefits for toddler
The same reasons that mother nature designed breastmilk for infants still applies for as long as the child nurses. They will continue to have less illnesses, fewer ear infections, fewer allergies, lowered risk of asthma, lowered risk of obesity, lowered risk of diabetes, lowered risk of heart disease, lowered risk for central nervous system degenerative disorders, lowered risk of digestive diseases, lowered risk of multiple sclerosis, lowered risk for sleep apnea, better eyesight, and increased cognitive development.3, 4, 5

9. In Times of Sickness
Breastmilk is alive and changing all of the time. As toddlers become more active and social in the word, they are exposed to more germs and potentially illesses. Should a toddler pick up a virus, it will be transfered to the mother while nursing. Not that mom will get sick (though she may through any of the close contact that comes with having a little one), but her body will make the antibodies *on the spot* and pass back to the toddler via breastmilk. This could happen before your nursling even shows signs of illness. Breastmilk is very gentle on the stomach and intestines. It provides a protective lining against germs in the intestines. It could be the only thing your little one wants to consume and/or can hold down. All of this, in addition to the emotional closeness and comfort.

10. Comforting an Upset Toddler
Over the summer, we were on vacation and staying at a hotel. We had just finished swimming, but Gumby still had some energy to run off, so we were in the common area playing and she was running around. And then, it happened. She took off at full speed and turned, smacking her forehead right into the corner of a table. It grounded her instantly and she screamed like I had not heard before. We sat right down to nurse, while Deeda tried to figure out what to do next. She was so upset; and, have you ever seen forehead bumps swell? They swell right before your eyes and look horrible. But, she latched on. The screams turned to whimpers and the whimpers turned to calm... within *minutes*. I was grateful to be able to sooth her when she was so upset and in so much pain. Toddlers fall. The comforting aspects of nursing are still very neccessary at this age.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

What Derails my Peaceful Parenting

Lately, Gumby and I seem to clash ... so much more than we used to.  I suppose it has something to do with all of the development that is happening with a three and a half year old and the adjustment to having a new member of the family.  But, it also has something to do with my response to her.  Sometimes, my responses are not what I want them to be and are also probably not what Gumby is expecting of me.  I have become aware of a few things that derail me from my peaceful parenting track.  I hope to use this awareness to pause, see that my responses are not coming from the heart but from these other issues which are my own, acknowledge them and get back on track.

1.Expectations & Controlling Outcomes
I can get so caught up in expectations that I forget parenting is about the journey and the relationships we are cultivating along the way.  As my energy goes towards controlling a certain expectation or outcome that I have perceived as important or correct in my own mind, I find myself wrapped up in that control, in a battle, which makes me angry.  The more my focus turns towards these outcomes and away from Gumby, the more it seems like I am struggling against a tide of increasing strength.  Except I am the one giving it strength.  And, Gumby isn't struggling against me, she's simply struggling.  She's asking for my help because the tide is sweeping her away.  When I let go of my expectations and understand that I cannot (nor do I need to) control outcomes, I am more able to focus on Gumby's needs and how I can help this situation in this present moment.

2. Minimizing Feelings
I know that it is not beneficial to minimize feelings.  Gumby's feelings are important, real and often times for her very strong.  It is a challenge for me to empathize when I interpret her feelings as exaggerated or silly.  Duck poo around the pond, bright sunlight and unpleasant smells may not be unbearable for me, an adult with a fully mature and (mostly) regulated system, but for a little one with an immature brain and not fully regulated system, these things can be a real bother.  When my mind dubs a catalyst to Gumby's feelings as insignificant, I struggle to respond in the nurturing way that Gumby needs.  What I strive to remember is that these things are big to her and she needs a hand  when things are feeling out of control for her.  She would not ask for something if she did not need it.

3. Privilege
Thoughts of my own privilege can provoke irritation, anger and a shortage of patience.  I cannot empathize or empower Gumby when I am viewing what I "deserve" as being at odds with Gumby's needs and feelings. Framing my needs as a privilege that I deserve invites a conflict that I am loosing, that I must fight to win.  While it is important to acknowledge my own needs and feelings, I want to act in a way that works to meet every one's needs as best as possible.

4.Thinking I Do Not Have a Choice
When I find myself thinking I have no choice in a situation, I feel helpless, entrapped and act with annoyance at best.  I do not have to play, pick up, carry, nurse or anything.  I must remember that I choose to do these things because they are important.  And, if I need a rest, then I need to acknowledge that as well.  It does not model self limits and respect to Gumby if I sigh or roll my eyes while fulfilling a request of hers.  I must remember that everything is a choice, my choice.  It makes me happy knowing that I do have a choice which enables me to interact and respond from a place of peace.

Tonight at bedtime, all four of these things crept into my mind.  But I was ready for them.  Laying in bed trying to help a little one sleep when it takes long has always been a challenge to me... Because I want to control the outcome (she should be asleep by now) ... I inadvertanly minimize her feelings anad needs (This is ridiculous, just go to sleep) ... I stew about what I deserve to be doing instead (I've laid here long enough, go to sleep so I can shower, clean, watch shows, blog, cuddle with my husband, etc) ... and I think I have to lay there.  But, I didn't.  I didn't have to lay there.  And, I didn't have to control the outcome.  She's never stayed up forever before, surely, tonight would not be any different.  Her inability to settle in to bed tonight was not ridiculous to her, otherwise, she would have been asleep!  Yes, I had things I wanted to do.  But, most of all, I wanted to act out of compassion to meet my daughters needs.  And, I did.

What things sneak up on you to derail your peaceful parenting?
How does identifying them help you get back on track?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Daily Life Family Pictures (5/14/2012)


Playing together

Look in the mirror, sis!

Lets build a house; this is going to be the door!

Cookies!  Coconut trees for Mama, Feet for Deeda and Flowers, Dinosaurs, Butterflies, Fish and Handprints for Gumby!

Rainbow Pasta and Squinkies!

I've been wanting to dye some pasta and create a new sensory bin of some type.  I had not decided on what to do, then Gumby discovered these "Squinkies" at the store the other day.  Specifically, she discovered this amusement park world for them with a working ferris wheel (among other things) that had the button available to push to test it out which turned it on, made it spin, play music, etc. You know, exciting things! It also cost over $50. 
Deeda and I looked at the Squinkies that were for sale and showed several packages to Gumby.  She loves pretend play, so a pack of these was a reasonable choice.  Gumby choose Hello Kitty with a fruit theme. 

I thought that was just begging to be put into some rainbow pasta! :)

Contents of the box:
  • thin spaghetti broken into 1/2 inch to 1 inch sized pieces and dyed with a tablespoon or two of vinegar and 10-20 drops of food coloring.  Make sure it dries completely before sealing it up anywhere!  This was my first time dying pasta.  Dying rice, I use little quart zip lock bags.  Those did not have enough room to mix the colors on the pasta, so I used recycled shopping bags to have a lot of room to shake the pasta around.  It worked fine.
  • containers for pouring, scooping, making food, houses, etc
  • spoons
  • tongs
  • containers to fill, dump, pour, open, close, etc
  • silicon muffin liners
  • some cool spikey balls
  • and of course, the Hello Kitty Squinkies
I had not quite decided when to give this to Gumby.  I usually wait for a lull in the day.  I had it sitting in the living room under a pillow, thinking she would not notice it among the rest of our lovely clutter.  But, she did.  I heard "MAMMA!" and saw a HUGE GRIN.  Since she was working on opening it, I quickly laid down our sheet that I use to help contain messy messes ... She literally DRUG the box onto the sheet in excitement!

The little glass canister has the same open/close mechanism as our sugar bowl.  Gumby promptly filled it with "sugar" for me.

 Time to open up those Squinkies!
The balls are as much fun as the toys themselves.  Gumby loaded them into their "boats" so they could enjoy the "water"
Gumby thinks of everone and doesn't want our dog to be left out of the fun!
Something for the Lil' Dove.  She got a muffin liner full of pasta too from Gumby :)

The pasta definitely had a different texture than the soft, smooth, and small rice that Gumby has played with on numerous occassions.
One of the first things Gumby said was "How do you scoop this?"
She found that hands and tongs worked the best.
The tongs could even be used to chop up the pasta.
The open and close containers provide practice with fine motor skills and patience.  The squinkie balls were very good for that. 

The Squinkies themselves are actually pretty neat.  They are soft and a little squishy.  Kind of addictive.
Gumby practiced counting and one-to-one correspondence.

She told stories and added more characters to the play.
She shared with her family.
Gumby loves the colors, matching, sorting and of course mixing! 

I love how Gumby lines things up!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Then & Now

Then (Gumby, age 2.5 yrs):

Now (Lil' Dove, age 2.5 months):