The Battle of Stuff

There is a war going on in our home. It is a fierce battle which I am losing because the enemy out numbers me by many. Daily I struggle with the amount of things this family accumulates and, as of late, the kids are the biggest conspirators with the enemy.

Elves and Angels
Now, I get it, I'm a bit of a collector, I collect books and dishes. So I know the allure of having THINGS and I am not altogether against it. But we live in a ranch built on a concrete slab, with no accessible attic space and only 2 med sized closets to store all the stuff people with basements or garages store stuff in.

Already at 3.5 and 14 months my kids have boat loads of toys. Plastic things that light up, make noise and are just generally annoying. But the fact that these things are taking up precious space in my house is actually my second problem with much of it.

Every time one of my kids gets a toy that moves on its own, talks on its own and essentially plays for them, I think of the quote, "active toys make passive children." (One I have read many times, but cannot find anyone to attribute it to.) I am so on board with this. It's gotten to the point where my kid asks for me to change the batteries in toys that don't even have batteries. He wants everything to make noise or light up. And I really don't like it.

If my house was filled with toys that promoted imagination and true play, I don't think I would care as much about how little space we have. My dream play space for them (pictured) is full of toys made of natural materials that assist in their play, not dictate it.

Here's the problem though: these toys are expensive. Although I was inspired the other day to just sell all of the plastic, made-in-China crap that they have now and use the money to buy creative and sturdily designed new things. But...I think that might be a little traumatic, at least for my son.

The other problem, and probably the bigger one...and maybe I can't call it a problem, more of an issue... is that we are VERY lucky to have a huge family who love my kids more than anything and they revel in seeing their faces light up when presented with shiny trinkets. And, don't get me wrong, I like it too. Kids getting gifts, so fun! It's just after the fact, when I'm throwing another broken plastic toy away because they are made so poorly, that I start to think maybe I should totally be one of those super controlling people who dictate how and what people gift my kids. But I just don't think that's me.

And the battle wages on...

Looking for some inspiration for replacing some of your dictator toys? I was too, so I made a Pinterest board. Check it out. 


Fight! For Our Right! To...Nurse In Public

Yesterday my mom and I had a long gChat about how Americans need to rise up and do something about the general low wages most people in this country get paid. We need to lose the "you're lucky to have a job at all" mentality that employers spoon feed us so CEOs can have ginormus paychecks while the middle class slowly melts away and demand a living wage for all. She seemed pretty confident that the turning point will be sooner than later and got all "revolucion!" on me. I took a more cynical view, maybe a lot more cynical.

I think my exact quote was, "The majority of people in this country aren't paying attention or they don't care. They just want to be left alone with their guns, Mountain Dew and diabetes."

Daaaam, right? Harsh words for my fellow countrymen. Well I mean it...sometimes.

I witnessed something last night that made me take heart. Moms, standing up for other moms and their choices.

A mom in the Mama's Hip Facebook Group, Lacy Phillips, stated it nicely:

First of all, here's what went down for those not in the know: A young lady was nursing her infant, under a nursing cover, on a bench at Kentucky Kingdom while her older children rode a ride nearby. A young male staff member stood looking at her for some time, walked away, but soon returned with a young female staff member who told her that she needed to relocate to the restrooms if she wanted to continue feeding.
Let's be clear, this is a direct violation of Kentucky state law which states that a woman may breastfeed her baby or express breast milk in any location, public or private, and that any and all interference is prohibited. No stipulations are made in the law that require nursing covers be used, and there is legal protection from indecency laws written into the language of the law.
Simply put, a woman has the right to breastfeed her child in any location in the state of Kentucky, and can do so in the manner she sees fit even it that means leaving her bare breast exposed. And no one can interfere with a woman exercising this right. Period.
Throughout the day, Kentucky Kingdom has been deleting comments from their Facebook page that ask for clarification regarding their policies on breastfeeding, informing the company of state laws, and criticizing their apparent ignorance of the issue and unfriendliness to the young woman asked to stop breastfeeding in the park.

From the moment the mother who had this experience posted on the Facebook group, which has over 2,200 members, many from Louisville and Southern, IN; moms started giving Kentucky Kingdom a piece of their minds via Facebook and Twitter. Clearly, much to the chagrin of Kentucky Kingdom since they deleted most of the largely polite comments. The office number of the President of the park was circulated around and voice mails, expressing disappointment at the policy, were encouraged. Within a couple of hours a nurse-in was organized, with an official Facebook invite and everything. The Louisville pro-breastfeeding community was on top of it! 

After a few false starts by their PR team that just incited the rightfully angry mamas, Ed Hart, the President, issued this statement this morning: 

And the crowd goes wild! The community posted their thanks and appreciation for this mea culpa from Mr. Hart and the nurse-in was canceled. 
Now, this community of mothers, with whom I'm friends with many, is not exactly the demographic I was snarking about in my comments to my mom. But it was a well timed reminder to me that we can change things if we all work together. And I'm so proud that this is a group of women who are bringing up the next generation. 
Okay, now let's take this motivation and go fix some more things! A living wage would be a good place to start. 

P.S. I would encourage anyone who is into supporting and normalizing breast feeding to attend this Live, Love, Latch event in August. 

Update: Nurse-in may or may not be canceled. It seems up in the air right now. 


It's A Good Day For a New Year

I'm not one for resolutions. I think any time is a good time to start new habits. But 2014 is feeling extra fresh-starty to me. Perhaps it's because in 2013 I transitioned from being pregnant, to having a preemie to putting in my time as the mom of a baby under 6 months old - you parents know what I'm talking about. Those months can be brutal...although I have to say my little Marlowe took it pretty easy on us. Hillary became a father of two and went from being a stay-at-home-dad to working (more than) full time outside the house. And my little dude, Beckett, became a big brother and had to get used to not having his best pal, his dad, around to play with all the time. It was a year of constant change.

But 2014 will be different (as far as my crystal ball can see.) Now that we've completed our contribution to the family lineage, I feel a renewed claim on my body. I'll probably be nursing for a while, so there are no crazy nights out in my immediate future, but copious amounts of yoga and toning exercises are in the cards and I can't wait to feel the energy and healthy glow that comes with that.

We're still working out the logistics of being a family with two full time working parents, but the kinks are slowly melting away.

Marlowe is nearly 8 months old now! Her gestational age (can I still use that term?) is still only 6 months, but we are headed into that sweet spot of babydom that includes more scheduled and extended napping, going longer between meals, which means more sleep at night and, super cute stuff, like sitting up and trying solids.

The world feels fresh and new.

To commemorate that feeling Beck and I planted a tree on New Years day. The Honest Company - which I subscribe to for my monthly soap and family essentials - sent us a sweet little Cedar as a holiday surprise. I am continually impressed with that company and highly recommend all their products.

It waited patiently in it's nice little package for the crazy days of Christmas to be over. It was chilly out, but not too bad as long as we bundled up. Beckett loved pushing the dirt back into the hole with his shovel, but would not touch the dirt with his bare hands.

He was worried about it being too cold for the little tree. He has good instincts. I told him we'd bring the tree in and let it grow through the winter and then we'd bring it outside in the spring.

It's his job to water it when the soil feels dry - he makes me check, but has been very diligent about it.

Every so often he walks over, quietly examines it and says, "It's sure taking a long time to grow..."

Perhaps we'll make this a New Year's tradition.

Wishing you a wonderful 2014, full of fresh and new feelings.


Christmas Quick Change

It's the holidays! I love this time of year and always look forward to it, but somehow no matter how cozy, comfy, romantic, fluffy-snow-filled or completely organized my dreams are, I always end up running around like a Christmas goose with its head cut off. This year, we're not traveling, so that lessens the stress load a bit. However, my husband has been working 60 hour weeks (Mon-Sat) and we only have one car. I know, I know, but we're trying to keep our carbon foot print small, here people.

All this led to us shoving breakfast in our faces, last Sunday morning, throwing clothes on and packing the kids in the car. We dropped Beck over at our/his best friend's house so they could make some salt dough ornaments and he could be entertained while we shopped for his gifts. We kept Marlowe, my little nursling, with us, since she's too young to know who Santa is anyway.

I like to do a lot of my shopping at local stores and businesses and I had five stops on our list. Looking back, it may have been a little ambitious since they were all over town and we had to take M in and out of her car seat every time, but I wouldn't have a car available to me during the day for a whole week, so I felt we needed to accomplish much.

At our first stop I got a quarter of our list knocked out, a stocking for Marlowe, and the top secret Santa wrapping paper that is required to perpetuate the magical ruse. I was feeling good.

We hopped back in the car and jetted off to our next destination. That's when I heard it. A noise coming from the nether regions of Marlowe's car seat that indicated we were going to need to make an emergency, unplanned diaper change stop. Knowing the next boutique shop on our list wouldn't have a changing station I mentally tried to rearrange our schedule. And then....panic. I had a flashback to the night before when I had taken the last diaper out of the diaper bag because Beck had just fallen asleep and I didn't want to wake him. I hadn't replaced it. Nooooooooooo!

I had to think quickly. I told my husband to make a left and swing into the CVS parking lot. Marlowe was already getting fussy about her uncomfortable situation. We pulled into a parking space and Hillary jumped out of the car. It wasn't our normal CVS, but I knew it would have want we needed. Hill was out of the car to grab a pack of Pampers Baby Dry and a new pack of Pampers wipes, because we usually buy them together. I yelled, "get her threes," because her little baby booty crack was hanging out of her size twos.

I always go with the Baby Dry because Beck was a heavy night wetter, due to his heavy night nursing, and we've never had a leak issue, so I just started buying them for Marlowe too, why mess with a good thing?

Changing kids on the go is always a bit of a hassle, but I have it down to a science by now. Our car has a front seat that folds flat, with a hard back that works perfectly as a changing spot. I will opt for the in-car option as much as possible, because public changing stations skeeve me out and my kids always feel like they are going to fall off them...I think it's something about the wall mount. A floating changing table just doesn't give a kid confidence.

While waiting for Hillary to return with our Pampers, I laid out the changing mat, pulled out the wipes and unbuckled the baby. Just laying her in the familiar place where she so often gets her diaper changed instantly changed her mood.

Hillary trotted back out with our Pampers, the predicted wipes and a candy bar for each of us. The diaper was changed, the shopping recommenced and we even had time for a quick bit to eat, Marlowe included, before we picked Beckett up just in time for a nap. Holiday disaster averted.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


The Happy Place

I've mentioned that we've been going through some change here at the Rust abode. From Beck's perspective, having a nanny here 3 days a week might be the biggest change of his life. Before this his dad was with him everyday, and on the occasion he wasn't, it was his Grammy - which is pretty much the 3 year-old equivalent of Mardis Gras, all party, all the time.

But now, three days a week, Erica, our nanny, comes over. From my perspective, she seemed like a big party too, immediately the two of them were forming a rock band, having dino adventures, making huge Play Dough feasts and having Pandora fueled dance parties. Still I knew this was going to be an adjustment. I mean essentially, this was a total stranger and until we all got used to her, it was going to be a little weird. So when Beckett started crying, inexplicably, when he would wake up from naps or inquiring nervously each morning who would be with him and his sister that day, I expected it and tried to comfort him as much as possible.

Then a side of him we don't often see started coming out a little more frequently, an angry side. I am not one for time outs or yelling and screaming to combat undesirable behavior. I read a quote from Dr. Jane Nelsen, who wrote a book on making time-outs positive and I really love it. "Where in the world did we get this crazy idea that in order for children to do better, first we have to make them feel worse? Children do better when they feel better."

Nelsen talks about the useful side of time-outs - giving the parents and the kids a break from their emotions or separating themselves from the thing that made them angry. She suggests having a "feel good spot" where the child can go, alone or with the parent to collect themselves. (Note: I haven't read the whole book, just a good article on it by Kelly Bartlett.)

So when I told Beckett to choose a plate for his dinner and he clenched his fists and screamed, "I DON'T WANT TO!" and then gritted his teeth and collapsed in a heap on the floor, I asked him if he could go anywhere in the house to feel better, where would it be. He mumbled "the sofa," from the bottom of his heap.

"Okay, let's go there," I said. He got up and half crying, made his way over to the sofa in the family room. I sat down next to him and he snuggled in a little. I said, "You got pretty angry back there." He nodded and I asked if he knew why.

He said, "I'm just so tired of everyone telling me stuff." I understood this as he was tired of being told what to do, most likely by all the tall people around him. This was a sentiment he had expressed to his dad recently too. He promised to ask Beckett if he would do things instead of demanding and I told B, there on the couch, that I would be better about that too. The poor kid was feeling very out of control of his life. I have to say, I completely know the feeling. So we sat for a little while until he felt better and was ready for dinner. Luckily Marlowe was napping through all this.

He's been pretty angry and sad a few other times since then and he has kept going back to the happy place - his term, that always makes me giggle a little. Sometimes he wants his dad or me there, sometimes he wants to be alone. But it's working for him and that is something to be thankful for.

And speaking of thankfuls - I am thankful to everyone who honors me by reading this blog. Wishing you all some quality family time over the next few days. Much love ~S