There is no parenting recipe

September 29, 2007 § Leave a comment

No matter what any expert says, there is no such thing as a recipe for parenting. No “to-do” list that’ll score you any amount of mommy or daddy points. There are, however, a number of people who write well about parenting. In my opinion, you can take or leave any of it. Look into it, use your instinct and stand by your thoughtful decision.

Crunchymama gave her thoughts on her blog on what crunchy parenting meant to her and I was thinking I’d like to put some thoughts down on my parenting style but then I read an editorial by Peggy O’Mara, editor of Mothering Magazine on what she thought Natural Family Living meant and thought it was so well written I’d have to share it here. I actually like it so much I’m going to leave it as a permanent fixture on my sidebar. So, instead of sharing my ideas and ideals of parenthood, I’d like to share what Peggy has to say in her editorial. She talks about following our maternal instincts and trusting your body, your baby and yourself.

Read it and see what you think.

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My theory about a thriller

September 28, 2007 § Leave a comment

I can’t get out of my head the following words:

Everything is something. 

I’ve thought before that I felt like I wasn’t doing anything and that thought got me all knotted up. I’d feel stunted. Today, it feels different. My daughter is going through something. I don’t know what. She’s been acting different. It’s not a cold. It always could be another tooth, but the signs are strong in that area. So I’m thinking that it’s probably something else. I remember reading somewhere that usually when your child seems to be possessed you can count on something big happening shortly after.

In other words, if you were to find yourself thinking your baby was “fussy” or “crying for no reason” or “out of it” or “tired all the time” or even “omg, that’s the third nap today!” (and they’re already 9 months old!), you can count on a developmental change. It’s a matter of patience and knowing that it’s all part of the ebb and flow of their ever-changing lives. Now, how long will it take before we see the marvels of our baby’s new skill? Who. Knows. I did mention patience, right? I should remind myself to mention it again.

What has she been working on so hard that she’s tired all the time? What’s got her so focused that she doesn’t even want a wet diaper changed…. And cries when we change it? It’s the suspense no thriller can match. In a movie you know the killer is right around the corner and that the writer, the producer and the director (among others) wouldn’t leave you building the suspense over several weeks. A baby works more like Shakespeare. She gives you a scare, a cry and some suspense. Then, right when you think you’re going to find out who done it, she comes in with comedy. You get all distracted and then bam! there’s something else.

We’ll see what flows… to be continued…

Sweet land of motherhood

September 27, 2007 § 2 Comments

An hour. We’d be out an hour. At most. But nobody would be around. No kids. No moms no dads. The children’s library would be deserted. No children for my daughter to play with. No moms to meet and chat with. No noise. Nothing. I head over to the old issues of Mothering magazine to see what I want to leave under my pillow for naptime reading. As I reach for an issue that promises a desperate solution to morning sickness, which I want to read to a friend, I notice a mom and her child playing by the window. I’ve never seen her before. I’ve never seen her daughter, who has to be the same age as mine. How can this be happening? Nobody ever comes to the library during universal nap time. The time between noon and 3 in the afternoon is when a lot of toddlers take their nap and this town is full of toddlers. Those of us with younger babies still quietly lay them down for 2 or 3 naps a day.

This mom and I get into talking. The regular chit chat that moms engage in when they first meet. In parenthesis I’d like to share with you what I think these questions translate to. Each question is returned by the answering mother. Reading body language helps decipher what each of us mean.

How old is your baby? (If they’re close in age, could we hang out?)

Where do you live? (If you don’t live too far, could we hang out?)

What’s your baby’s name? (I’m really interested in hanging out with you and I won’t forget your baby’s name. I promise.)

After we go through a mother’s repertoire of questions, the other mother invites us to her daughter’s birthday party, which requires us to give her our email. She also threw in that we could also get together besides the party. Woohoo! Houston, we’ve made contact!

You know, it’s the little things that get me now. I used to be much more outgoing than I am now, as you can tell by the things I think of when I’m going through the monotony of questions that we go through so we can step into the next phase of getting to know someone. Whenever I see a new mom with her little one (who could potentially be around my daughter’s age) I wonder if we could be friends. What’s great is that now that I’m a mom it doesn’t seem as important whether or not you get along great with the other mom. It’s nice if you do immediately but with a lot of these new frienships you grow on each other. It can just happen. From what I’ve seen you do sorta steer toward those moms who you *think* may parent similar to the way you do… but you don’t know. I mean, when you meet a mom at a La leche league meeting, you’re pretty sure they breastfeed. You could always miss out with this strategy. Anyway, what ends up being the most important thing is having some time for your child to play with another child.

We did it. We made another friend.

Mommy, why does my tongue have to live in my mouth?

September 26, 2007 § Leave a comment

The May-June 2004 issue of Mothering magazine had an article titled, Children are our spiritual teachers, by Cheryl Dimof about how having children can be seen as a way to master the art of Zen. To see the article in its entirety click here. Dimof had been interested in Buddhist philosophy and wanted to get back into meditating with a Zen group after her children were born. She found a group but was conflicted as she didn’t see the connection between meditation and life as a parent. There was never time to meditate in her role as a mother- which I can understand. She was looking for a teacher and found, in the end, that her children were the best Zen masters. Her article reads:

In his book Wherever You Go There You Are, Jon Kabat-Zinn compares children to “live-in Zen masters,” and raising them to having an “18-year meditation retreat.” As Zen masters go, my older daughter isn’t bad. At five years, she has just the right mixture of fierceness and . . . well, we’re still working on the compassion, but I know it’s there. As I sat at the table one morning, eating breakfast and reading the newspaper, she exclaimed, “Mommy! When you eat, don’t read, just eat!”

Jessica also asks the most wonderful koans. (In Zen practice, a koan is a story or question that cannot be solved using the rational faculties and is designed to bring one closer to enlightenment.) One day, she was anxious to play with a friend who would be home in an hour. Every ten minutes or so, she asked me how much longer she had to wait. Finally, she asked me, “How do you know?” When I said, “Because I’m looking at the clock,” she asked, “How do you know you’re looking at the clock?” Question reality! Other favorites of Zen Master Jessica: “What was here before the universe?” “Mommy, why does my tongue have to live in my mouth?” and “How do you know you’re not dreaming right now?”

Dimof, like many of us do, tried to separate the spiritual from the nonspiritual. During one of her Zen sits, the chant, “Not knowing how close the truth is, we seek it far away – what a pity! We are like one who in the midst of water cries out desperately in thirst”, rang all too true. She found that being a mother would be her best way to practice the art of mindfulness. Though it’s hard to find the repetitive actions of a mother as meditative, with time and effort (I hope) it can be done.

In a world that wants to know results (from how quickly your child crawls, walks, cuts teeth, says their first word, learns to write their name, to how they test in school), being able to slow down and see things through a child’s eyes is something that can be judged as indulgent and naive. I’ve been told by a number of people that I am naive in some of my parenting ways. They say, “once you’ve been a parent longer, you’ll find out.” Or, “when you have your second you’ll see. You just won’t be able to do those things.” As per Dimof’s article, “Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh recommends posting a note to oneself saying, ‘Are you sure?,’ reminding us to check the reality of our perceptions.” I guess it’s another way of staying humble. As a mother, doubt is inherent and with it comes the “gift” of this question. Sometimes it’s not a good thing. But, am I sure?

Vote for my cousin

September 25, 2007 § 2 Comments

My (second) cousin Luis wants to be a torchbearer for the 2008 Olympics. The last day to vote is near. If you have already voted once, another vote would be most appreciated.

Click on this link to go to the page where you can vote for him. You’ll also get to read a bit about him there. If you’d like you can also leave him a comment telling him how you found out about him. He’ll get a kick out of it.

Thanks in advance!

She signed back!

September 24, 2007 § 2 Comments

A week ago or so our daughter signed back to us. It wasn’t the clearest sign I’ve ever seen but given the context it made sense. The reality is that every baby is different (duh) and so every baby will sign back at a different time. I don’t know any other babies whose parents currently use baby sign (and only know one mama who used baby signs with her son who’s now 3) so I don’t have a comparison point- which is probably good on one hand. I won’t be worried that my daughter isn’t advancing as quick as so-and-so. But I also don’t have a support network. Being on my own on this one, I was starting to get a little impatient and began wondering if I should scrap the baby signing stuff altogether. As if she knew that I needed some encouragement, my daughter signed!

Now, I can’t stop introducing more signs. I figure if I’m consistent and use them at home, while we’re out, while I talk with others, etc. then she’ll see them used in context during the day and pick up a couple more. It’s also helpful when others sign with her, too. Having bilingual daddy sign with her increases the sense of purpose. I had started with 2 or 3 signs and wasn’t really introducing more because I thought I should wait until she got those. Then I read Baby Talk by Monica Beyer and thought about how language is acquired. You would never use only 2-3 words with a child until they started talking so why would we do that if we wanted to encourage signing. You speak normally and when addressing the child you emphasize certain words through repetition or gestures. So, I’ve been using more signs for things as I talk with her. She gets certain ones repeated by the mere fact that we use them more often.

This book is great to start you off on a number of need-based and high-impact signs. The need-based are signs like “milk”, “eat”, “more”, “help”, etc. High-impact signs are ones that impress the baby/child like “mother”, “father”, “fan”, “light”, etc. The signs your family uses more often depends on your family. In our case, our daughter doesn’t like having a wet diaper, so we sign “change” (for a diaper change) often. We also sign “toilet” (for going to the bathroom) because our daughter will pee/poop in the toilet. (I’ll post something separate on that.) Here is the authors’ site where she has posted a number of photos of kids doing the signs. There’s also some more candid photos of babies doing different signs. Very cute. You can also check out LifePrint that includes an ASL dictionary. With this site, I’ve been able to sign “wind” and other things that weren’t covered in Beyers’ book.

If you want to find out what baby sign is about, click here, here or here. While I don’t think that babies should be asked to produce signs for the sake of showing off, I appreciate this video of a mama and baby signing.

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Between starting to write this post and now, our daughter has also started to clarify her wave. We were video chatting with my mom in California when our daughter just started waving back. She knew exactly what she was doing and seemed to get a kick out of it. I can’t wait to see what the next sign she’ll make will be.

more babywearing coats- Updated 11/4/2011

September 21, 2007 § 4 Comments

Hi! Welcome to bilingual baby! I wrote this blog post over 4 years ago and every year, as Autumn starts to descend on the Northern Hemisphere, I reconnect with this entry and update all the links because it’s quite the popular piece. I’m so very glad this has been helpful to so many.

So, here you go. Updated with fresh links, corrected prices, and a couple of new additions. And don’t forget to check out the baby carrier I make on my facebook page. My carrier, the Podegi, can take you from the first days of your baby’s life through to 35lbs or as long as you can stand the weight. 🙂

Have fun wearing your kids!

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Even though I’ve made a babywearing poncho, I’m still looking around for more options- either to buy or to try to make. I just know we’ll need more warmth. I also know a lot of us are looking so I’m trying to put some of these ideas on one page.

Little turtle knits offers a babywearing poncho pattern for $10. If you don’t knit, you can always checkout the Mamaponcho for a knit babywearing poncho.

Peekaru (formerly Nori) offers a fleece vest for about $80- a nice option for layering. I think it’s adorable.

Almost as pricey as the Mamaponcho is the Aiska Poncho, at $180 (when I originally wrote up this post). UPDATE 11/2011: The Aiska website says:

Unfortunately we are not able to deliver to North America due to liability reasons. If you have a company wanting to start distributing/wholesaling our whole range of products in larger scale, please contact us for closer discussions.

There’s also the new Suses Kindercoat, at $139. A 2 layer coat that sounds good for somewhat cold weather…but how cold?

Suses also has the Suses Kinder Babywearing Vest, at $65, which sounds like a good idea. This is one I ended up buying. I like it. I have to say, though, that the zipper is not the best zipper I’ve had on a jacket. I’ve replaced the zipper head and now I’ll have to repair the base as it’s falling apart. I do like it enough to replace these pieces.

The Ergo site has two new winter coats. The Winter Papoose Coat is currently $220 and looks like a winner, especially if you like to get out and walk in the middle of an icy/snowy/frigid winter. I know it’s expensive but you could probably resell it once your kids are done being worn all the time and want to walk more.

The Lighter Papoose Coat is $160. You could always layer this one on top of another coat or sweater or a combination thereof, but just be mindful of the amount of cold you want to walk around in.

There’s also the Mama Jacket Babywearing coat at $247. This is another beautiful coat. If I had known about it when I was pregnant with my first child and I knew I wanted to wear my kids for as long as I have, I would’ve made this investment. Remember, too, to consider the resale value. Plus, reselling it once you’re done, or passing it along to a new mom, is a great way to support them in their babywearing.

Oh, Etsy, how do I ❤ thee. For the sewing aficionados, you’ve got to see this babywearing coat and fleece sewing pattern. This coat is amazing:

You can also buy a ready made coat from the seller.

There’s also a fleece pullover on Etsy that is set at a reasonable $60. I can’t quite tell how it would work for back carries but for the front it looks pretty nice. I especially like babywearing coats that, like this one, has the neck of the wearer covered. I’d be curious to know if you can breastfeed while using this pullover.

That’s all for now. Do some more google searching. I missed a lot, I’m sure.

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