Thursday, September 16, 2010

Transforming Tomatoes

This marks the second year of gardening for us. We tried some different crops, and it ended up being a completely different growing season than the last chilly summer we had. This year we failed miserably with green pepper, eggplant, watermelon, and broccoli. The girl got to eat a handful of peas fresh from the garden. We enjoyed two meals with our own corn on the cob. We picked, ate, and shared eight awesome cantaloupes. We ate all six of our zucchini (we STILL have some frozen from last year's bounty). We ate garden fresh beans with a handful of salads and as a side for a few dinners. We had so much lettuce that most of it went to waste. As for cucumbers, we made some into pickles, sold at least 25 for a quarter each, gave many away, and ate as many as we could. We haven't dug up our carrots yet, but we are optimistic!

But the tomatoes - the tomatoes - are almost overwhelming. They are seemingly never ending; every time I went to the garden to "just look", I always came back with arms overflowing with sweet cherries, juicy rutgers, and hearty beefsteaks. I was set on canning this year, until I learned that freezing tomato sauce and chunks works just as well with much less work. Really, we have enough work around here with these kiddos!

This is only a fraction of the cherries and (smaller) rutgers. We washed, dried, chopped and froze in bags to be thawed for lasagna and pizza toppings.We blanched, peeled, cored, seeded, and boiled down at least 20 beefsteaks to make this sauce.
We mixed in 4 packets of spaghetti sauce spices and let it simmer for about 4 hours, tasting along the way - so yummy! We let it cool before spooning into freezer bags.
We have eight quart size bags in all - four with sauce and four with chunks. I think we'll be able to do this same process at least one more time this summer, while still enjoying as many fresh tomatoes as we like!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Even Just One

Today was the first day of the mom's group that meets annually in town.  Some of the girls know all the grisly details pertaining to my PPD after the boy's birth, but most only have a vague understanding that I "wasn't feeling well or something".  A few asked how I'm doing, but one girl looked right into my eyes when she asked, "Are you doing better, now?".  She has a son only a few months older than mine.  I knew by the look on her face, the intensity of her question:  she needed to hear my story, to hear that it can be all right again. 

I told her that it was terrible at first.  I didn't know what was going on with me.  I honestly, through-and-through believed - no, I knew - that my husband, my kids, everyone, would be better off without me.  I was the problem.  I was messing everything up simply by existing.  Taking me out of the equation would fix everything.  It wasn't a pity party.  It was my secret - my secret gift that I would give to my family - me gone.  I told her how my husband realized something was wrong, very wrong.  He called a good friend who has dealt with depression and anxiety.  She urged my husband to take me to the doctor.  I balked, thinking how I was messing things up even more.  He ignored his wife and listened to the friend - probably the only time that will fly in our marriage. : )

Then I got help.  I got medicine.  My brain wasn't making enough of the hormone known as serotonin.  It took about 5 weeks, but I began to steadily feel the effects of my hormones balancing out.

When a person's pancreas doesn't make enough of the hormone known as insulin, people take medicine to get back in balance.  And no one looks down upon them for doing that.  No one says, "What's wrong with you?  Just make more insulin!"

The girl from mom's group thanked me for sharing.  She promised to make an appointment today. 

If my story helps even just one mom, then telling it is worth it.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Breastfeeding Basics

~This is not a post to put down bottles or formula. I found this list yesterday and could relate in many ways. I have had to breastfeed while sitting on a public toilet. I felt shunned and shamed, as if I was hiding. Breastfeeding simply needs to be seen as normal and equal to bottle feeding. Barnyard animals? Your call. . .

Human Rights

1. It is illegal to discriminate against or harass a woman because of her sex, including pregnancy and breastfeeding. (or if it isn’t where you live, it should be!)

2. Telling a woman to cover up or to strip down is a tactic used to control women.

3. Telling women not to breastfeed in public is a mechanism for marginalizing women.

4. Child’s right to eat. Period.

5. Child’s right to eat without a blanket over their head.

6. Child’s right to eat under sanitary conditions (i.e. not in a washroom).

7. Child, especially baby’s, right to eat when they are hungry and in need of nourishment (not according to a schedule arbitrarily imposed to convenience others).

8. Person with disability’s right to use the handicapped stall in a washroom when needed, rather than having to wait for a shunned nursing mother to finish nursing or pumping in there.

9. Because a baby’s right to nurse is more important than your non-existent right to not have to look at things

you do not like to look at.

Logistical reasons

10. To avoid nipple confusion (giving a bottle or pacifier before breastfeeding has been fully established can cause the baby to reject the breast).

11. Because it is a lot easier to just nurse anytime, anywhere than to try to plan the nightmarish logistics of having enough pumped milk with you for the time you will be out, as well as finding a private place to pump before your breasts explode.

12. Because babies often will not allow you to put a blanket or nursing cover over them and will push it off.

13. Because it is hard enough as it is for new moms to get their baby latched on properly, without having to worry about whether they are covering every inch of skin all of the time while doing so.

14. So that mothers can toss a diaper and some wipes in their bag and then go out, rather than being weighted down by having to prepare and lug around a huge diaper bag full of bottles, formula and/or pumped milk on ice, nursing covers, etc.

15. So that moms do not always have to be on the lookout for somewhere to warm a bottle while in public.

16. So that moms do not always have to be on the lookout for somewhere private to express their milk while in public.

17. So that when a mom ends up stuck somewhere longer than she planned, she doesn’t ever have to worry about running out of food for the baby (or getting a breast infection because her breasts haven’t been emptied in a long time).

18. So that a mother’s older children are not prisoners of their younger sibling’s need to nurse – a nursing mom can go with her older child to the park, to swimming lessons, to school pick up/drop off, etc.

19. So that breastfeeding moms do not lose their place in line by stepping out to nurse a baby in a private place.

20. So that other women do not have to wait even longer in line at public restrooms because all the stalls are full of breastfeeding moms.

21. So that breastfeeding moms do not end up with a soaking wet shirt when their milk lets down in public because their baby is crying.

22. So that breastfeeding moms do not need to leave their companions hanging in the middle of an interesting conversation by saying “excuse me while I go into the other room to nurse for 30 minutes.”

23. Because frequent nursing helps mothers to maintain a good milk supply (inadequate milk supply is the most frequently cited reason for giving up on breastfeeding).

24. New moms have enough to worry about in their sleep deprived state without having to make special arrangements in order to accommodate your opinion about how they choose to feed their baby.

Financial reasons

25. So that mothers do not need to purchase unnecessary bottles, breast pumps, infant formula, nursing covers or other apparatus just to make a few squirmy people feel comfortable.

26. So that mothers do not waste gas going back home between errands in order to nurse at home, rather than in public.

27. So that mothers continue to be good consumers, spending their money in stores, cafes, restaurants, movie theaters, airlines, resorts, sporting events, and more all while nursing their child (instead of staying at home).

Societal reasons

28. To allow women to continue to be full participants in society even when they have an infant.

29. To cut down on unnecessary noise from babies and toddlers who are crying, when it could easily be fixed through the nourishment and comfort of their mother’s breast.

30. So that you don’t have to listen to a screaming baby while waiting for the bottle to be warmed up.

31. So that you don’t have to wait longer for your meal or drink because the waiter or flight attendant is busy heating up a bottle.

32. Because nursing in public is a better (easier, quieter, more attractive) alternative to pumping in public and then feeding a bottle.

33. Because it is actually a lot more discreet to nurse without a cover than to have one of the “HELLO LOOK AT ME I’M BREASTFEEDING” covers over your baby.

34. Because if you are staring with your jaw open at a mom who is breastfeeding in public, you might miss some of the truly atrocious things that you would otherwise have been exposed to in public.

Normalizing Breastfeeding

35. Because breastfeeding should be seen as normal, and not something that needs to be hidden in the washroom or under a cover.

36. Bottles, rather than breastfeeding are often seen as the universal symbol for baby feeding, despite breastfeeding being the preferred method of feeding and more imagery of breastfeeding is required to combat this.

37. The infant formula and baby bottle industry flashes images of bottle feeding all over the place and since there is no money in the advertising of breastfeeding, breastfeeding moms are needed to combat that imagery with the “real thing”.

38. Most women haven’t had the advantage of seeing their mothers, aunts, and sisters breastfeed, so it is important for them to see others doing it so that they can learn how it is done. The 2 minute whirlwind breastfeeding positioning education given in the hospital just doesn’t cut it compared with years of observation.

39. Women in certain socio-demographic groups have never seen another woman breastfeed and that is a huge barrier to them considering breastfeeding their own babies.

40. Women who do not nurse in public or who use nursing covers are likely to wean their baby earlier than those who nurse without a cover in public, which could mean that they do not meet their own breastfeeding goals and and that fewer women meet the goals prescribed by health authorities, such as 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding and continued breastfeeding until at least age 2.

41. Children need to see breasts being used to feed babies before they are introduced to them as sex objects. This means that they should see their own mother (if possible) and other mothers breastfeeding, so that they understand the natural function of the breast.

42. Images of sexualized breasts are everywhere – from advertising to women walking down the street. If there is no breastfeeding in public, but sexualized images of breasts continue to be flaunted in public, our youth will grow up thinking that breasts are only sexual. This will make more women think it is “icky” to breastfeed and make more men have the attitude of “no baby is going to suck on those tits, they are all mine.”

Just because

43. Because babies like it.

44. Because breastfeeding is beautiful and I’m sure there are more people who appreciate seeing babies being breastfed than there are people who oppose it.

45. Because mothers do not deserve to be belittled or humiliated when giving the best thing there is to their baby.

46. Because an awful lot of women show more breast when they are not breastfeeding than breastfeeding mothers show when they are breastfeeding.

47. Because I don’t like the way you look, but you don’t see me debating your right to be in public or suggesting you should undergo surgery or change your wardrobe before leaving the house.

48. Because companies like facebook continue to have screwed up policies that do not allow breastfeeding photos, but yet serve up ads with topless women in them.

49. Because you can turn your head or overt your eyes.

50. Because even one of these reasons is a good enough reason for continuing to ensure the rights of breastfeeding mothers and breastfed children and because every one of these reasons is more important than the “ick, I don’t want to see that” excuses of those who oppose it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fresh Growth

Lazy, hazy days of summer have produced much growth around here. Growth of the soul through tears and embrace, growth of the mind through academia, growth of love through shared time and commitment, growth of bodies in the form of ever-changing kiddos, and growth of vegetation through rain, sun, and some extra long sprinkler watering.
Here are some portraits of our growth:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ice Cream for Dinner

Just once a year - maybe twice if it's super hot - we indulge in a cold creamy dinner. 
One rule:  it must be eaten outside!