Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sling for a day

After I wrote about babywearing (which is carrying a child in a sling or other carrier) a few months ago, a reader asked if I would do a more detailed follow-up and I’m happy to oblige.

Here are more reasons why babywearing is beneficial:

• The baby’s primal survival needs are met by being held close to a parent or caregiver. This is essential for good neural development, muscle tone, and overall health. Babies are calmer because of these needs being met.

• Infants develop better socially, because they are able to see social cues and facial expressions more easily than being in a stroller or carried almost at floor level in an infant seat. They’re also able to turn away from stimuli, since they are facing in toward the parent, not out into the world.

• Plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome) is reduced, because infants who spend less time in a car seat or flat on their backs are less likely to develop cranial distortion.

• Close contact means your baby will likely cry less, and, as a parent, it is much easier to be mobile and carry on with everyday activities in and outside the home.

• Babywearing reduces back, neck, and arm strain. Imagine trying to carry a bowling ball at arm’s reach from your body and then cradling it next to your body, and you know which is more comfortable. Toddlers can be ‘worn’, too. I still wear Calvin, my two year old, easily. He likes to wear a bike helmet while riding on my back.

There are many excellent baby carriers out there, which can be overwhelming. The latest issue of Mothering magazine, available at Barnes & Noble, has a great babywearing article and resource list.

Maybe you’ll see us around town, bike helmet and all.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

letters to my children

(by my husband, Rob.  I took the week off)

On a business trip to Wisconsin in 2003, I had a lunch meeting with a regular contact, Nancy, at a small town lunch counter. Our conversations over the years almost always gravitated toward our kids at some point and this time was no exception. But this time in particular stands out in my mind four times a year now. With a thick Brooklyn accent that defied her 13 years in Packerland, Nancy described to me how she would write a letter to each of her boys every year on their birthday.

In these letters she would recount milestones they achieved, special memories, joys, sorrows and her wishes for their lives. Each letter is unique and deeply personal. She kept the letters stashed away only to be given to them after she has passed away. It struck me as a beautiful way to share with a person how much joy they brought into your life. Upon my return home I started my first letter. My oldest was already five so I had a lot of catching up to do. I recently re-read that first letter for the umpteenth time and the same wave of emotion still consumes me just as wholly now as it did then.
I try to use these letters not just as isolated moments in time but as a reminder to live so that my children know how much they mean to me on a regular basis. I have done a lot of growing through my children and these letters will chronicle my journey with them. I have yet to decide if I will wait until I am gone to release the letters—perhaps just before they go off to college. But they will know they are my great joy and they are loved.

Historic Homes of Noblesville--1012 Monument

Location: 1012 Monument St.

Owners: Tim and Paula Hardin, since 2005

Constructed by: Bicknell Cole, circa 1840

Style: This brick I-house reflects both the Federal and Italianate styles, due to alterations at different time periods. Around 1856, a one story rear addition was constructed, and thirty years ago a second story was added on to the one story rear. The home was constructed with solid walls three bricks thick on a 153 acre farm, which was subdivided in 1891 into 204 housing lots.

What work have you done on your house? “We’ve replaced two windows, installed a new fence and exterior doors, remodeled the kitchen, and put new roofs on the home and cottage house. Oh, and it takes about 20 yards of mulch to do the garden. We do take volunteers for help with that every year!”

What are your favorite features? “The location. We love to be able to walk and enjoy the downtown or the park. We enjoy the garden-- just being in it for the sights and smells, and sitting in the swing talking to neighbors as they walk by. Inside, we love the large rooms. We enjoy eating breakfast and looking out at the garden with the birds and hummingbirds.”

What do you like about this neighborhood? “The neighbors are very friendly and many people have stories about the house. Noblesville is such a cool town--we love the car shows, the historic tours, the bands on the square, the Farmers Market.”

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Breastfeeding 'creepy'? No, but ignorant comment from woman is

A couple weeks ago I tuned in to NPR (90.1 FM) and stumbled upon the BBC program “World, Have Your Say.” What drew me in this day, besides the accents and the turns of phrases that I find so lovely, was the topic. Kathryn Blundell, the deputy editor of a UK parenting magazine, had referred to breastfeeding as being “creepy,” and listeners were weighing in.

Oh, great, I sighed. Here’s another woman not only dismissing, but demoralizing another woman’s choice to breastfeed. Demoting breastfeeding, which is a natural and beautiful way to nurture a baby, as “wrong” and “gross” and “creepy” is—to use some UK slang—absolute bollocks.

Is this why many women debate whether or not to even try breastfeeding? Is this why women are made to feel ashamed when nursing in public, or maybe even in private too, even though they aren’t doing anything wrong? And to get these comments from other women is really baffling. I wouldn’t be able to understand it from men, either, but hearing and reading that some women have bought into the lies of the culture that breasts are only for pleasure and have no practical purpose whatsoever is sad.

There’s a taboo against breastfeeding, it seems to me, and I find it mind-boggling that anyone would take issue with a mother feeding her child the way nature intended. I also wonder why other people care about me or any other woman who has nursed her children. Really? Aren’t there real problems in the world to address and spend energy on?

What I’d like to see is a culture where breastfeeding mothers are embraced and not undermined, where they can nurse anywhere and everywhere without fear or embarrassment, and where ignorant comments such as these are never even thought, much less spoken.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Like hitting oil, commentary about spill strikes a nerve with readers

My column on the oil spill and my premise that the reason for my feelings of guilt and the pollution is our greed touched a nerve with readers. I wanted to respond to just a couple of comments which I have taken the liberty of paraphrasing - with the approval of my editor - because of space reasons:
Comment No. 1 “We aren’t greedy when we take advantage of the things provided to us by way of the oil companies. It’s not BP’s fault they’re drilling one mile underwater. All fault lies with the environmentalists and politicians of both sides. Want to blame someone? Blame them.”

I agree with part of this. The professional environmentalists and the politicians are, on the whole, corrupt. Yes, they’ve made a mess of things! But to say that consumers are not greedy, that it’s not the big oil companies fault? That all fault lies squarely with the politicians and environmentalists? Who made BP "mount their money making machine" (CPE) without safety backups? Oil companies are corrupt and greedy, too! Had they simultaneously drilled a relief well, this disaster could have been avoided. Why didn’t they? And why are they so desperate to drill for oil? Because of the consumer demand for it!

Finger pointing aside, this is a wakeup call. A wakeup call that this trajectory we’re on is devastating and can’t continue. That ‘plastic makes it possible’ only goes so far when you can see and feel the destruction deep inside and you ache for people to wake up and see that ‘life as usual’ isn’t working out so well. When you can’t imagine the world for your children when they grow up. When the marshes will be contaminated to the seventh generation and beyond, all so we can have our ‘stuff’ (and lots of it).

Comment No. 2: "the ocean is the biggest washing machine there is and breaks down everything sooner or later."

I ask, if you would want to walk on your favorite beach that is weeping with oil and strewn with plastic debris and dead wildlife? It doesn’t matter how ‘natural’ oil is, I doubt that any of us will live to see this devastation cleaned up.

Here’s what I say—outrage is good. And if you’re not outraged, I wonder about your survival instincts. Go do what you can. Conserve. Raise your thermostat temperature in summer. Buy less (and refuse plastic bags), drive less. Buy gas at Countrymark on S. 10th Street—it’s drilled in the Midwest and refined here in Indiana.