Category Archives: life

Halloween Costumes and a Dinosaur Tail

This year was my bad, because we didn’t start considering Halloween costumes until this week. Halloween is only 2 weeks away. I was just going to buy stuff.

Then The Bump informed me that she wanted to be a dinosaur. “No problem,” I thought. “I will find a dinosaur costume and life will be dandy.” There were no dinosaur costumes at Walmart. There was only one at Costco. It was 6 months. The Bump is 4T pushing 5T. That was not going to fly.

So, two weeks before Halloween, I was saddled with a crochet project: a dinosaur hat and tail. The ensemble would be completed by a t-shirt of the same color. And, oh yeah, she didn’t want green, which I already had skeins of. She wanted orange. Back to the store for orange yarn.

I found an adorable pattern for the hat, which I got here: Mango Tree Crafts: Crochet Dinosaur Hat Pattern

I found an entirely different pattern for the tail here: The Artful Child: Dino Hats! but I adapted the tail because I was going to use polyfil as a stuffing and I don’t like using anything larger than a single crochet stitch with polyfil.

This was the result.1019141000 1019141000a 1019141000b
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Here is our dinosaur tail pattern

1R Magic circle 6 sc (6)
2R inc scx2 repeat (8)
3R inc scx3 repeat (10)
4R inc scx4 repeat (12)
5R-28R inc scx half the number of the previous row repeat.
29R-41R inc each row by 1
42R-46R sc around (74)
47R dec scx4 repeat x10 dec scx7 (62)
48R dec scx3 repeat x10 dec scx6 (50)
49R dec scx2 repeat x10 dec scx5 (38)
50R dec sc repeat x10 dec scx4 (26) stuff with polyfill
51R dec x13 (13)
52R decx6 sc (7)
sew shut and weave in end.

The spikes are another 3 just like the spikes on the hat pattern.

Waist band
1R 7 ch
2R 4 dc starting in third chain from the hook ch1
3R 4hdc ch1
repeat 3R until the waist band is long enough to go from one hip to the other around the front of the person wearing the dinosaur tail.
Tie off. Sew the hdc end to one side of the fat end of the dinosaur tail. weave in ends.

Button
magic circle 6 sc (6)
sc around (6)
tie off.
Sew button to the opposite side of the fat end of the dinosaur tail. Weave in ends.
Button through the row of double crochet stitches on the waist band.

8 Reasons I Support Breastfeeding in Public Without Qualifications

Love this picture.

I’m not writing much these days, and I’d apologize, but I feel like I do better with the things I actually have to say than if I were just trying to crank something out once a day or once a week that my heart wasn’t into. This topic has come up several times in the last few days, and I’m so sick of the crap I hear about this from the naysayers. “It’s about respecting the people around you.” “Have some common courtesy for other people.” “I shouldn’t have to see THAT.” “Modesty is key.” And the rhetoric used to describe breastfeeding: “whip ’em out,” “bare it all,” “flash everyone.”

I’ve tried. I cannot whip anything with my breasts. They just don’t do that.

I used to feel like breastfeeding was private. I used to think it needed to be done behind a closed door or under a blanket and that accidentally showing nipple was a social faux pas of epic proportions. I don’t feel that way anymore. Here is a list of the reasons why:

8. Breastfeeding can be hard. It isn’t always hard, but it really can be. It can be painful. It can be difficult. It can involve sleepless nights, hours of discussions with lactation consultants, doctors visits and even surgery to make it work. And even if it doesn’t involve all of those things, it can be hard. There is no reason to make it harder. If a mama has fought the battle and is making it work, you are not entitled to tell her she is doing it wrong. If you can’t seem to keep the criticism to yourself, go be somewhere else where she is not.

7. I’ve had children. I had one who was fine with a cover, who took bottles of pumped breastmilk and who slept through the night at 4 months. Then I had 3 more who wouldn’t. Not all children are the same. Just because I managed to birth one child who was willing to bend to other people’s expectations, doesn’t mean that all of mine will, nor does it mean that all of everyone’s will. Even if you had 20 kids who you managed to press into that mold, that’s still a very small sample. If you can make several thousand kids do it, then come talk to me about your secret. Even still though, several thousand other kids doesn’t make it the right choice for MY kid.

6. I can’t stay home or feed the baby before going out every time. To avoid offending your delicate eyes that have never seen human mammary tissue before? Sorry, no. I have a family to feed and children who have to get to activities. I’m responsible for the bills in my home. I don’t have all day to not go out. And even if I didn’t have all of those things to take care of, why should I have to stay home, just because I’m a lactating woman? Seriously? Is this some sort of lactation chhaupadi? And as far as feeding the baby before I go out, babies are notorious for wanting to be fed when they want to be fed, even if they were just fed, even if they shouldn’t be hungry again so soon, even if you went to your witch doctor to get an amulet that ensures your child is never hungry when you are out in public. Your amulet will fail. The baby’s gotta eat.

5. Not all babies can figure out how to take a bottle. You know how not all babies can figure out how to properly latch on? Same problem but on a different nipple. They might get angry, feel like they’re drowning or it might simply be not as comforting as suckling, so they may never take a bottle. They may get uncomfortable gas. They might just scream at you because they get so frustrated and hungry. I’ve had 3 such. If it were a necessity because I was no longer around, they might have eventually gotten it, but for me, a work-at-home mom, to pump just so I could bring bottles with me when I go out in public, so that other people could be comfortable? When all I have to do is lift up my shirt? How does that make any sense at all? My conclusion is that it doesn’t. Baby’s right to eat comfortably and mom’s right to convenience at home and in public trump anyone else’s right not to see a nipple flash from time to time, directly correlated with breastfeeding. Being a mom is hard enough. Please, for the love of all that is good and holy, don’t place ridiculous cultural conditions on it that make it even harder.

4. In the same vein and for all the same reasons as pumping and bringing a bottle, using a cover. No. There is no reason to tell moms they have to use a cover. If they are more comfortable using one, that’s fine, but not all moms are, not all babies will eat with a cover over them and no one should be pressing more or other ridiculous cultural expectations on a mom. Being a mom is hard enough.

3. The top 4 reasons why women stop breastfeeding all stem from a lack of support. This speaks specifically about the top four reasons moms stop breastfeeding. #3 is discomfort nursing in public. I’ve said twice now, in a comment and in an email, that while we can’t be everyone’s lactation consultant, pediatrician or employer, we can all be supportive of moms who nurse in public. Say something nice, or say nothing at all. If you can’t be kind, look or walk away. You have options about dealing with the situation. The nursing mom, really, does not. She’s just trying to deal with a hungry, tired or otherwise upset kid.

2. Infant nutrition is the single most important public health issue. Period. It directly affects nearly every other issue. The way babies are fed as infants directly impacts them as children and adults. Rates of asthma, allergies, ear infections, obesity and general health are all directly impacted by the way children are fed as infants, not to mention how it helps with cancer rates for mothers and children. Babies deserve a start at life that is, at the very least, the way nature intended. Formula is sub-par, a last resort, and usually what mothers switch to because they don’t have the support they need to keep breastfeeding to their own goals, or the goals that public health agencies have set. The AAP says 6 months at the least, but much better a year. The WHO says 2 years. The CDC says some 77% of infants are breastfed at birth, but the rate decreases to less than 50% at 6 months and only slightly better than 25% at a year. Every drop of breastmilk is precious. If we’re serious about addressing public health in this country, we need to be serious about addressing public health. That means supporting moms who are nursing. They are the ones who are ensuring the next generation has lower instances of chronic and short-term illness. They are also the ones who will be less likely to need help with health care bills addressing women’s cancers and osteoporosis in the next 30+ years. Show some respect. They are decreasing your health care tax burden coming and going.

1. I don’t care anymore. Baby’s gotta eat. I shouldn’t hide that. Our culture shames women who don’t behave “appropriately.” If it’s not slut shaming, it’s mother shaming. Eva and Ave. We don’t mind breasts that are provocatively tucked into bras or bikini tops, or extensive cleavage in a shirt, but we mind breasts that are feeding an infant? Why the double standard? Viewing breasts as exclusively sexual is a cultural phenomenon, and it’s one that we can easily take charge of and change. If you see a nursing mother being harassed, stand up for her. Thank nursing mothers for nursing in public and helping normalize it. They are engaged in a cultural revolution, simply while sticking a nipple in a kid’s mouth. Above all, if you can’t say something positive, keep your mouth shut and walk away. Even on the internet. It’s not ok to reduce a woman to her breasts for any reason, even if she’s lactating. The baby’s gotta eat and being a parent is hard enough without being shamed. With it, it is well nigh impossible. Is it any wonder the rates of post partum depression we experience in our culture? 1 in 7 mothers.

We can and we must do better for this generation of nursing moms and for the next.

If It’s Not About Choice, It’s Not Feminist

0051 Family Photos 12-2-13

Another post related to feminism and motherhood! *Gasp*

I obviously believe that our culture’s treatment of women in general and mothers particularly are integrally linked.

I read a piece designed to infuriate me. It was judgmental and sanctimonious to the core. I realize I was being manipulated. It was designed to upset me and use that emotional response to bump hit numbers to be able to command more advertising dollars. I won’t dignify the piece with a link to it though. If you really want to read it so you know why I am so bothered, do a search for “I Look Down on Young Women With Husbands and Kids and I’m Not Sorry” by Amy Glass. Even though this piece inspired my thoughts here, my thoughts here can stand on their own, so you don’t have to read it if you don’t want to lend your implicit support to the people making money off of others’ emotional responses. You will still understand what I am saying here.

Any statement indicating something that women should or should not do is inherently not feminist. Feminism is about providing choice and options so that women can make the right choices for them. And the right choice for one woman might be different than the right choice for every other woman on the planet, but she should still be free to make that choice. Laws or social expectations that curtail women’s choice on an unequal ground with men’s choices are the ones feminism seeks to change. Should a woman be free to steal? No, because men aren’t free to steal. We want women to have the same legal freedoms as men.

A woman should be free to seek a career, even after having a family or while raising her children, even if she doesn’t need the money. She should be free to stay home with her kids if she wants without social pressure to work, especially if she has no financial need to work. Her husband should likewise have those same options and both should be able to make those choices without being told they are in some way inferior to people who made different choices. Women should be free to make their own medical decisions, even through pregnancy and childbirth. Obstetrics is the last refuge of misogynist doctors who want to tell women to lie down and shut up and that needs to change. Any argument that seeks to box all women into any choice, even if it’s the most popular one, is not feminist.

If a woman is making choices that make her happy, celebrate with her, even if those choices wouldn’t be right for you. The point is her happiness, right? There is no one-size fits all solution for all women. We all have different personalities, different wants, dreams, emotional needs and we all have different methods for trying to achieve them.

Any method that attempts to achieve the same ends but with force is inherently misogynist. No one, not even another woman, can know what is best for a specific woman better than herself. To tell a woman that you know what she needs or wants better than she does is the essence of misogyny. Rather than attempt to force one very limited view onto an entire gender, we should seek to free women to make the choices they feel are best for themselves, without fear of social repercussions. Denigrating women for choices we might not make ourselves is just rude.

It Is OK

I have a secret that I want to share with all of you new moms. It’s for moms who have had kids for awhile too. And for dads. It’s for everyone who takes care of kids. Are you ready? Seriously, are you ready for it?

No mom has it all together.

Incredible right? No, none of them do. Not one. It might seem like some of them do, but you are not seeing what they are letting slide.

This image appeared in my Facebook newsfeed recently and it seems particularly appropriate.

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It is absolutely true, because you cannot have all three. And I would like to add to that: Please be gentle with yourself. If you are a parent, your job first and foremost is to raise your children. Everything else is a way to accomplish that or a distraction from that. That means that:

  • Sometimes people will ask you to do things and you will have to say no. It’s OK; you have kids.
  • Sometimes the house will not be clean. It’s OK; you have kids.
  • Sometimes dinner will be takeout. Or from the freezer section. Or from the canned section. Don’t beat yourself up.
  • Sometimes the laundry won’t be done.
  • Sometimes you won’t get a shower.
  • Sometimes you will be late.
  • Sometimes it will feel like you have it all together, but
  • Sometimes it will feel like it is all going to pot. Probably more of the latter than the former.

It is OK, it is OK, it is OK because you have kids.

  • Sometimes you will need a break from everything because you have kids. Sometimes, you will even need a break from your kids.

Cut yourself some slack. No mom has it all together. You just aren’t seeing what they are letting slide.

So the next time it feels like everything is spiraling out of your control, take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is the nature of having kids.

And that it is OK.

For Your Consideration

I was pondering this morning on how everything follows the rules to which it was constructed. All animals act on instinct and never deviate from it. All inanimate objects behave in the way they are constructed, always. The only animals that don’t behave that way are humans. We can choose to act as we are designed or we can choose to act differently. We are built on a genetic template and we are further refined by the actions our parents choose, but we also have the option to break those molds and move forward in a way that we choose, independent of either of those things.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I decided on an unmedicated birth, mostly because my mom had had me that way. I felt like I would breastfeed for about a year because that was how long she nursed me. After a lot of research, I have actively chosen to birth my babies without medication and to nurse them as long as we are both comfortable, rather than putting a glass ceiling on at a year, but that was long after my son was born. I parented him based on my instincts, which came straight out of how I was raised. Our child-rearing choices can have far-reaching consequences for many generations because so many people do as their parents did without question. Makes me think much more carefully about the kind of parent I want to be.

Taking Offense is How the Cows Get Out

A friend told me that joke about 10 or 12 years ago.

I find the phrase “taking offense” to be fascinating, mostly because it implies right in the phrasing that the action comes on the part of the offended and not the offender. As is often attributed to the first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt “No one can offend you without your consent.” Whether or not she said it, I believe it is true.

I had a conversation with my oldest daughter the other day about this very thing. She told me about something her brother “made” her do. I realize that as an 8-year-old, her big feelings do seem out of her control and that she probably responded from her gut without really thinking about it. That is age appropriate, and not outside of expectations. I totally see where she is coming from. I still don’t believe he “made” her do anything though, and however she was feeling, she still chose to react from her instinct, rather than thinking it through and reacting differently. Do I think she gets this concept yet? No, not at all, but I do think it’s one of those things she will hear me saying in her head for the rest of her life because I say it so often now.

All feelings are valid, but even if you feel bothered by something someone else said, the idea that they said it simply to offend you is almost certainly not true. Most people aren’t trolling you just to get a response. My dad does that, but most of the other people I’ve ever met are more interested in honest and sincere dialogue than in irritating people for their own amusement. By the way, I didn’t figure that out until I was 25.

And here is a picture of a cat because I like pictures and I like cats.

But, lets get back to the phrase again:

Feeling: upset.
Reaction: taking offense.

My opinion can upset you. You can feel however you feel about it. Have the feeling. What you choose to do with that feeling though, is separate. If you want to know how I deal with those feelings without taking offense, read on.

Some people are blatantly honest, even to the point of rude. Some people take pride in that. Both of those things are fine, even though it will likely alienate them from others. That’s their choice. I take pride in it being really difficult to offend me. No matter what someone says to me or about me, I don’t have to get upset about it. If I do, I allow that person to live rent free in my brain and ain’t no one getting a free ride in my head. I usually focus instead on how ludicrous what they said was or how difficult it must be to be that _insert negative word here_. Truthfully, I feel sorry for people when they get huffy at me, and I find it more than just a little amusing that they are allowing ME to live rent free in their heads.

Can you choose how you feel? Sometimes you have some control over that, but generally, no. But we can choose how to react to how we feel. I choose to laugh, rather than to get offended. And I’m much happier now than when I used to choose the reverse.

Making Baby Booties

Yes, I am crocheting baby booties. No, they are not for my baby. Actually, they are not for any baby. Actually, I guess you could say they are for a lot of babies. In this convoluted way, I’m trying to say that I’m making booties for the Gendercide Awareness Project. It will be 11,700 pairs of baby booties meant to symbolize 10,000 women each who are not here because of cultural situations where girl babies are not valued and are often aborted, killed or abandoned because of their gender. So the pair I am crocheting will be for 10,000 babies.

If you also want to contribute to the Gendercide Awareness Project, (they do need 11,699 pairs besides mine) I used this pattern Golden Slippers Baby Booties or they have several other patterns if you would rather knit or sew. You could also use your own pattern. Check out the project and help honor those women, girls and babies who would’ve been here with us.
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