How to make a non-morning person love mornings

Add an adorable three year old.

I am not a morning person. I never have been, and I venture to say I never will be. Even when I was Lily’s age I was happy to sleep in and enjoy the comfort of my bed for as long as possible. I have thankfully cloned myself in my child and she enjoys late starts (most days) and our lazy slow wakings are some of my absolute favorite times together. For a complete non-morning person to say this means a lot.

I normally wake just before she does on my share of Mega Bed; we’re still on some magical cosmic connection as if she were still an infant and we typically wake together despite no stirring or noise-making. She flops herself over to my pillow and rests her head, usually wanting under my covers too. She’s slow to wake as well and usually doesn’t talk just yet, but snuggles and stretches and yawns her sweet little morning breath (is it gross to still like that? ’cause I do). When she does talk she normally says hilarious half-dreamy stuff that I really ought to write down because my sleepy brain never remembers any of it. We cuddle some more, she sings songs to herself while I do some morning internet’ing on my phone, she plays pretend with Pig and Fox and sometimes other guests from the stuffed animal collection, and eventually she says “I wanna get out!” meaning “open the door because I don’t know how to yet!” Is that bad? A three year old who can’t turn a doorknob? Eh, we never close doors around here anyway, so I can see how she wouldn’t have picked up on it yet.

Before we get out of bed I demand a hug and she throws herself on top of me. Today when she did that I remembered some of the first nights of parenthood when I would sleep with her on my chest, all of her tiny arms and legs all tucked in as newborns naturally do. Her head on my chest, her butt ending not far below that on my belly–we would sleep like that in bed at night every now and again for a few weeks until I figured out side-lying nursing and eventually side-carred her crib to our bed.

Heck, we even did that in the hospital when I started getting all panicky with her being so far away (the rolling bassinet next to my bed was apparently too great a distance for my freshly postpartum state)
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Now she lays on me for that hug with her head flopping over my shoulder, her butt down at my hips, and long skinny limbs dangling everywhere off of my body all over the bed. Turn your head sideways to help you visualize just how gangly she is now laying on top of me, my goodness.
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And she’s only going to keep growing. And it’s only going to keep getting better. So cliche and annoying, I know, but every age so far has been my favorite (just like my own sentimental mother says). Sometimes I miss the chubby cheeks and two-tooth grin, but as I sit here now after that sleepy bed hug, a quiet long hot shower while she ate breakfast, and am sipping my coffee in peace while she’s off in her room listening to songs on her CD player–yup, it just keeps getting better!

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A quick little doll bed

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The idea came to me last night as I was falling asleep and I put this together nearly entirely all before my mom even picked us up to go out to breakfast this morning. Well, Art did the cuts, I hammered it together, and got the white paint on it before she picked us up, that is. Then after breakfast and a stroll through the nature sanctuary I sewed the mattress, quilt, and pillows.

Lily’s a fan.
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It’s more so for 18″ dolls (I’d call it a double bed, not quite a queen, proportionately), but she’s used it with everything that resembles a “baby” thus far.

Extended breastfeeding

While Lily weaned toward the end 2011, I was recently reminded of this blog post I had written for another one of my many started-and-stopped blogs when someone happened across it and commented in support a few weeks ago. I’m still a huge breastfeeding supporter (uh, hello LLL leader) and I like what I had to say here. So, behold, my ranty rant on nursing your kid beyond babyhood (or not, because I am not you nor do I hold any power over your breasts–I’m also a huge “do what’s best for you and your kid” supporter)…

Well, to start, what defines “extended?” For some people it’s going beyond 6 months, for some a year, and for others they don’t feel it’s extended until they surpass the WHO’s recommendation for nursing until at least 2 years old.

It seems like there’s been a lot of talk about extended breastfeeding these days, from the well-educated and articulate Mayim Bialik (aka the former Blossom), to the, well, lesser so naysayers (I feel so bad for the mom in that article, I hope she had some warning about what a negative light she’d be cast in).

What do the opponents say? I’ve heard that it’s gross and wrong. That the mother must forcing the child to continue. It’s for the mother’s pleasure, not the child’s benefit. If they’re old enough to ask for it they’re too old. If they’re old enough to ask for a glass of milk, they should have that instead. It’s creating a child that’s too dependent and can’t self-soothe. There’s no nutritional need after a year–it turns to water, doesn’t it?

Double-u.

Tee.

Eff.

Pardon me while I bang my head on the wall for a moment.

For starters, I’d like to see any baby or child that can be FORCED to breastfeed. I’m sorry naysayers, but that’s impossible. For babies less than a year that go on a nursing strike for whatever reason, the mother should absolutely make all efforts to remedy it. These mothers know just how hard it is to coerce a baby to nurse. Now add into that the stubborn will of a toddler and you know what I’m saying here. If my daughter didn’t want to nurse, she wouldn’t.

And to follow up, I don’t like being made out to be a pervert. That’s the thing that gets me the most. Because breasts can be enjoyed sexually, the general public jumps off the deep end and dares to think I’m somehow getting off on breastfeeding? Shame on THEM for thinking those thoughts, and *gag*. Seriously. I’m not getting off on it. If your toddler grabs your butt is it the same as when your partner does? When you kiss your child is it the same kiss you give your partner? No? Really? So lay off on the perverted argument. It is not valid.

Oh, and babies are BORN asking to breastfeed. They naturally root and display all sorts of hunger signs. This is their age-appropriate way to ask. As these babies grow in ability, finding their hands and their voices, they learn to sign (if their parents teach them) and eventually speak. Should the 9 month old that learns to sign “milk” promptly be weaned for being clever enough to ask for what he wants? What about the articulate 18 month old that can say and/or sign “more milk please?” Biologically, communicative ability has no relation to the necessity of breast milk. So stop arguing that it somehow does, please.

A common point proponents make is that it’s common practice to feed our children the breast milk of another species (that’d be cow milk), and yet human milk is shunned despite its purpose being obviously for the nutritional benefit of humans. Ironic much?

Dr. Jack Newman (and many others) back me up in saying that extended breastfeeding does not create an over-dependence. A child that is secure in knowing his mother is there for him will grow up confident and assured of her love and support. And what mom doesn’t want that?

And for the opponents that argue “well just pump it into a cup and feed them that way!” Um, no thanks. To start, a cup of milk doesn’t offer the same closeness and emotional comfort that nursing does. Also, not all moms respond to breast pumps as they do their own child, especially later in the breastfeeding relationship when an oversupply is much less common. And lastly, YOU come over here and clean the pump and glasses if it’s so important I use them.

I’m not saying everyone should breastfeed; I’m not laying on a guilt trip for those that didn’t try, those that tried and were unsuccessful, or those that chose not to go the extended route.

What I am saying is to lay off on the judgment of those mothers and children that choose to continue their nursing relationship beyond whatever arbitrary age you’ve applied as being acceptable. I can pretty much guarantee the mother is not forcing the child. She is not getting any pleasure other than knowing she is providing nutrition, immunities, and comfort to her child. She is doing what is right for her and her child and that’s it. You are not a part of that relationship.

And for those that like this sort of thing, science backs me up here (thanks for all the well-organized quotes, KellyMom):

The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that children weaned before two years of age are at increased risk of illness (AAFP 2001).

Nursing toddlers between the ages of 16 and 30 months have been found to have fewer illnesses and illnesses of shorter duration than their non-nursing peers (Gulick 1986).

In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breast milk provides: 29% of energy requirements, 43% of protein requirements, 36% of calcium requirements, 75% of vitamin A requirements, 76% of folate requirements, 94% of vitamin B12 requirements, 60% of vitamin C requirements (Dewey 2001).

The AAP even states: “As recommended by the WHO, breastfeeding should ideally continue beyond infancy, but this is not the cultural norm in the United States and requires ongoing support and encouragement. It has been estimated that a natural weaning age for humans is between two and seven years. Family physicians should be knowledgeable regarding the ongoing benefits to the child of extended breastfeeding, including continued immune protection, better social adjustment, and having a sustainable food source in times of emergency. The longer women breastfeed, the greater the decrease in their risk of breast cancer.” (AAFP 2008)

And a thanks to the medical professionals who are a voice of reason and encouragement. Dr. Jack Newman has a nice little .PDF about extended breastfeeding. Even Dr. William Sears has written on how to handle the criticism.

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Here Lily is about 6 months before she self-weaned

So, nurse on, mommas, if you so choose! I hope some day our society will not only grow tolerant but encouraging of such a special gift we can give our kids.

Summer in March?

Well, I’ll take it, even if it is supremely confusing (and disheartening knowing we’re going to go back to normal Illinois March soon).

Lily and I have been outside every. single. day. since this heat wave has rolled in. Weather in the 80s = absolute perfection when you’re three.

Some visual documentation of these past days…

Morton Arboretum – Lisle, IL
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A small little manmade waterfall that you’re actually encouraged to enjoy
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Messed up loading my Land Camera and couldn’t figure out where the $%&! the little tab was supposed to come out and this was the result. I’ve since resolved the issue after extensive Googling and then, uh, reading my manual. Duh.

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Off to meander the neighborhood on what may be our last summer day in March. Rumor has it we’re supposed to only hit *gasp* 60 degrees tomorrow.

A tiny outdoor play space

Another step in the “making this house a home” agenda: a tiny outdoor play space for Lily…

We have had some unseasonably warm weather these past few days (80 degrees in March?!) and the tiny human has apparently gotten over her sensory quirks (hopefully not just temporarily). All winter she was a freak about being wet or dirty and these past few days she’s been literally jumping in mud. So I set out to make a townhouse-friendly play area since this is the only space we’re entitled to modify outside; and even then it’s not technically ours, we don’t own any land, the HOA just approves our end units to this garden-able area.

Prior to this it was just the perennials and some dry hard dirt. From left to right the perennial plants we bought with the house are as follows: hosta; bush that turns red in fall; butt ton of Queen Anne’s lace; in front of that are daffodils, an iris, and peonies; then another unknown bush, more peonies, and some columbines. I love our perennial garden, but it wasn’t very calling to the child.

So I climbed Mt. Junk in my parents’ backyard yesterday and gathered some old logs and tree cuttings and large rocks, and then bought $10 worth of small rocks and a bag of sand at Home Depot. I spent the evening doing this, thanks to Daylight Savings Time, and I’m calling it a success! I’d had grander plans of tearing out some of the Queen Anne’s lace, but those suckers are rooted a little too well and I promptly abandoned the mission.

Here are some close ups of the tiny “features”…

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I mean, yeah, it is just some hunks of old tree, rocks, and dirt, but isn’t that the best stuff for a kid to play with anyway? šŸ™‚ Oh, and a squirt gun too, I suppose…

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Patience

Oh give me patience when wee hands
Tug at me with their small demands.
And give me gentle smiling eyes.
Keep my lips from hasty replies.
And let not weariness, confusion, or noise
Obscure my vision of life’s fleeting joys.
So when, in years to come my house is still–
No bitter memories its room may fill.