Sunday, December 28, 2008

Night Weaning

It took me a long time to decide that I was going to night wean D. Let's just say that it was a process. My first two attempts, one at 26 months and one at 30 months, lasted one night. She was not happy about not nursing and I felt like her need to nurse at night out weighed my desire or need to not to nurse her at night. I had night weaned R and T when I had gotten pregnant again because when I am pregnant night nursing makes my skin crawl. Since I am 99.9% sure that D is my last child I've had to take a more active approach to it this time.

When D turned 3, I decided that I was ready to sleep through the night so I decided to give night weaning another try. Again, I spent a few weeks talking to D and telling her that my nah-nahs were tired and needed to sleep at night. I told her that they would wake up when the alarm clock went off. The first night she woke up at about 2AM. When I told her that my nah-nahs were sleeping she made a little whimper, rolled over and went back to sleep. She woke up a few more time that night and quickly went back to sleep but when she woke up at 6AM she got very upset when I told her that my nah-nahs were still sleeping so I nursed her. We fell into a pattern where she was fine about not nursing until 5 or 6AM at that point I would nurse her. So much for waiting for the alarm to ring.

I was actually OK with this. While I would have preferred to have her go back to sleep with out nursing I had nothing pushing me, such as a pregnancy, to make her wait until the alarm clock went off like I did with my other girls. That was until I took her to the dentist and found out that she had tooth decay and 4 cavities.

Yeah, yeah I know that nursing is not supposed to cause cavities and I also know that she probably got them because I was never very religious about brushing her teeth. (It is believed that it is not the breast milk that causes the problem it's the food left in the teeth reacting with the breast milk) At bedtime she often refused to brush and I took the easy way out. I never feel like I have enough patience at bed time and if I can avoid a stressful situation I will. The truth is I did the same thing with my other kids and never had a problem. It could be that D is just more susceptible to tooth decay or it could be that she nursed at night 6 month longer than T and 14 months longer than R.

The cavity situation gave me a reason to night wean her completely. I just didn't want to take any chances on her teeth. She was almost totally night weaned anyway. For the past few mornings she has been waking at about 6:30. We get out of bed to use the potty and then she will lie as close to me as possible till 7. Then we go into the living room and I nurse her on the couch.

I know that if I nursed her when she woke up she would go back to sleep for another 2 hours but I think that this will be our new morning routine. If she wakes up at 6:30 or 7 she will get to see her siblings in the morning, get to school on time and take an afternoon nap. These are all good things. I do, however, feel a little sad since this will most likely be my last time night weaning one of my babies. No more of those sweet moments in the middle of the night. I guess it's just one more step towards the next part of my life.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Blackberry

Yesterday the Blackberry that we had gotten for my son for Chanukah as an upgrade arrived. My son called Sprint to have the phone activated. At some point in the call the man who was helping him asked to speak to me to tell me about the $30 a month Blackberry fee. I hesitated at first but then told him it was fine after he told me that I had 30 days to return the phone.

About 10 minutes later I realized that $30 a month meant that over the next 2 years we would be spending $720 on his monthly Blackberry service. The thing that's so ridiculous about this is that both my husband and I have Blackberries so we should have been aware of this fact when we decided that we would get Z this phone. I started to think about how we could deal with this problem. It's really hard to give up a gift that was given to you but it was clear to me that he could not straight out have this phone, no strings attached.

When I mentioned to Z that I was not sure that he was going to be able to keep the phone I was prepared for him to get very upset. He was definitely disappointed but it was clear to him that $720 was a lot of money. He did offer to work for my husband to help pay for the phone which was very sweet but I was not sure that there was anything that he could do to help his dad at work. I know that if he could Z would happily get a job to help pay for the phone but the truth is there are not that many jobs out there that a 12 year old can do. (I also think that this would not be the best use of any money he earned)

The other option was to use the Blackberry as incentive to get him to do something. My first though was that maybe he could take the garbage and recycling out each day but I feel that kids should help around the house because it's something that all the members of a family need to do. I don't like the thought that his helping out was contingent on something. (he already has "chores" that he does with out any contingencies)

My husband was out with a friend so I knew that I had to wait till the next morning until we could figure out what to do. Later that evening Z came to me and told me that he understood why he could not keep the Blackberry. He told me that he would be willing to return the phone and get one of the phones that would have a free upgrade and no additional monthly fee but he also wanted to get a new ipod. This was an interesting negotiating tactic. His old ipod had been washed by mistake when he had left it in his pants pocket. Josh and I decided that we were not going to buy him a new one because we thought it was important that he learned to take care of his stuff. We gave Z J's old ipod so he would not be with out his beloved music.

I have felt a little guilty about the ipod since I was the one who washed his pants. There was a part of me who felt like maybe I should have been more careful. It was also the second one of his ipod I washed. A few years earlier while cleaning for Pesach I washed his knapsack. I forgot to check one of the pockets and washed his ipod by mistake. (I also washed his phone once but it was a magic phone and still worked after it was washed!) This strategy worked well for him because it tied into my guilt. I thought it was a great idea. Z was going to willingly give up his Blackberry and all it would cost would me was $50. (That was a $670 savings).

The next morning I told J about Z's proposal He also thought it was a great idea and a shrewed negotiating tactic. Z's new ipod should be here by next week.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Adelle Shayna

I have totally been ignoring my blog since my last post in March. I was inspired to write again after reading another blog Introducing Yael. Yael is my neighborhood Mikvah Lady. Her family experienced the unspeakable tragedy of losing a child. What I am awed by is her unbelievable strength and her unshaken faith in G-d. 

I first met Yael when I returned to the Mikvah after a 2 year and 8 months absence ( I have been breastfeeding my now 3 year old and did not get my period for almost 3 years). She was pregnant at the time with her baby girl Adelle Shayna. We spoke briefly about her being pregnant and I found out that she was into attachment parenting like I am.  I can't say that I know her well but I felt that AP mother bond with her. After her baby was born I always asked how she and her brother were doing because I knew what she was experiencing as a breastfeeding, co-sleeping, babywearing mother. I understood the kind of bond she had with her children. 

I mentioned this bond when I was with some friends after I found out what had happened and I got the sense that this was the kind of thing that could get people upset. It sounds like you are saying that one who does not practice AP does not love their children as much as one who does. That's not what I meant at all.  I did not know about attachment parenting when I had my first child. We did things very conventionally. Luckily I slowly began to learn about attachment parenting. I vowed that when I had my next baby that we would do things differently from the beginning. I want to make clear that I do not love my son any less than I love my 3 daughter who were attachment parented from day 1, but my bond with my girls when they were babies was stronger and deeper. (I know that my bond strengthened with Zev the more that we changed our parenting technique).

So I know the kind of bond that Yael had with her baby and the kind of bond that Adelle Shayna had had with her mother. Yael has written about how blessed she feels that she was to have Adelle Shayna for 4 months but really they were both blessed. 

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Please Pick Up Your Baby!

I was in the market a few days ago when I saw a scene I see played out over and over again, almost every day. A newborn baby was in his stroller while his mother was ordering a sandwich. He began to make some very obvious hunger cues. Since he was so far away from his mother she didn't notice these cues until he began to whimper. The mother started to rock the stroller. When he started to cry she rocked harder. When that didn't work she tried the pacifier. He kept spitting it out so she had to firmly hold the pacifier in his mouth in order to get him to take it. It was obvious that the pacifier was not what he wanted but I guess that he had already figured out that it was all that he was going to get so he reluctantly took it.

A few days later, I was on line at the supermarket when I witnessed yet another baby fussing in their stroller but this was one of the few times that the mother immediately picked her baby up. While she was picking him up she said to him "I know that I shouldn't pick you up but I will any way". I smiled at her and told her that she was doing the right thing by picking him up. She told me that she had thought that it was the right thing to do but that everyone was telling her that she was going to spoil him by doing this. I told her that she was just being a good mother by responding to his obvious need to be held.

This fear that a baby will be spoiled if you pick them up when they are crying is totally unfounded. In Africa, mothers almost always wear their babies in a traditional baby carrier for most of the day. In their carrier, close to their mother, the baby's need are instantly met. In New York City babies generally spend large amounts of time in their strollers, with a pacifier in their mouth, not being held by their parents. I think it's pretty easy to guess which children have a greater chance of being spoiled and apparently it has nothing to do with being held.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Vegan Squash Corn Muffins

This is a variation on a muffin recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair. My girls love them and they make a great snack, breakfast or side dish. They also freeze well.

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup oat flour
1 cup almond meal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups squash puree
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup water

Cook and puree the squash or sweet potato (I like to use a hand blender) Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil muffin tins or line with paper muffin cups. Mix cornmeal, oat flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a separate large bowl whisk together squash, oil, maple syrup and water. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Top of muffins should be slightly cracked when done.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Getting My Kids to Eat Healthy

I sometimes feel like I’m swimming against the tide when it comes to feeding my children healthy food. It’s as if there’s someone lurking around every corner, conspiring against me and feeding my children food that I don’t want them to eat.

At school, while they serve whole wheat bread, they also serve these delicious white baguettes that my son has a weakness for. Refined pasta is an option everyday. The lunch menu is designed to have everyone in mind so it’s made up of foods picked from the lowest common denominator, i.e. lots of pasta, chicken and hamburgers. They do have a salad bar that is actually pretty good and I encourage my kids to take from it but I’m sure that they are not eating as much salad as I would like them too.

For snack at school my younger children get fruit 2x’s a week and graham crackers 2x’s a week. On Fridays the kids take turns bringing in a Shabbat snack for their class. These snacks are almost always something that I would not voluntarily give to my children. When it’s one of my kid’s turn to bring in a snack I try to at least send in something not laden with fat and artificial ingredients. These selections don’t always go over well with their classmates. My son once brought in organic lollypops and came home with all of them. Apparently they were not “gross” enough for 6th graders.

When they go to their friend’s homes they are often served snacks that I would never serve. Cookies, candies and all sorts of junk can be on the menu. When I hear that my kids have had something healthy at their friends’ homes I am always thrilled.

So how do I manage to get any healthy food into my children? These are some tricks I’ve come up with over the years:

1. I keep almost no junk food in the house. I give them a cereal bowl of smart puffs and an 8 ounce cup of chocolate milk on Saturday morning for a Shabbat treat and occasionally give them some dark chocolate. That’s about all the “junk” they get inside my home

2. I try to serve a good dinner that at least 3 of the 4 kids will eat. This means that if I make some thing that numbers 1,3 and 4 like on Monday night on Tuesday night I’ll make sure that I serve something that number 2 will eat. This way each child gets a good dinner about 4 nights a week.

3. I try to make sure they eat a lot of fruit. One of the best ways to get kids to do this is to clean and cut up some fruit (or veggies) and put it in a room that they hang out in. I like to put it on our dining room table because my kids spend a lot of time there doing art and homework.

4. 90% of the grains in my home are whole grains and this includes what I bake and any pizza I order in. Even if I don’t use all whole grains while baking I try to make sure that I use at least ½ whole grains.

5. I don't chase my kids down with a fork to get them to eat a meal. If one of my kids does not want to eat dinner that is their choice to make. All my kids know that if they don’t eat dinner they can have a yogurt, fruit or cereal after everyone else finishes. I have them wait until after dinner so they have a chance to change their mind about what is being served. They will often end up eating at least some of what I have made for dinner.

6. I try to be aware of what my kids have eaten during the day so that I can help them make good choices. For example my daughter Ravi just asked me if she could heat up a piece of pizza. I asked her what she had eaten so far today and when she told me that she had eaten a bagel with cream cheese and one piece of apple I suggested she have some strawberries before she had the pizza. This is an easy way to get extra fruit and veggies into your kids.

7. I sometimes give my kids treats outside of the house so they don’t feel totally deprived. While they may not be healthy I try to make them as natural as possible. Instead of letting my kids get a frappaccino (or as my friend’s 9 year old son mistakenly called them when they first came out, crappaccinos) at Starbucks, I let them get a hot chocolate or a vanilla steamer. They may contain sugar but at least they are all natural. We are also quite fond of Hagen Daz ice cream!

8. I try to remember (but I have been known to forget) to send healthy snacks to school.

Like everything in life I try and strive for a balance that works for my family. It’s important that my kids eat healthy but I also don’t want to always be a killjoy. While in a perfect world junk food would not exist, it does in my world. I have known some parents who have forbidden their kids to eat any food that is not 100% healthy and I think that that is a lot to ask from a child. I do, however, think that placing limits on what your kids eat is a smart thing to do. I can already see that if it’s done with care and love, your kids will learn how to make the right decisions when it comes to eating the right foods. Well, at least most of the time they will.

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