August 4, 2021

It’s now January 2017 and the wheels are coming off of America…

It’s January 2017, and I haven’t written here since 2012.

In 2012, Barack Obama was about to get reelected for a second term, there were things like health care for more people than ever (per the Affordable Care Act, etc.), abortion rates were going down, crime rates, unemployment, were going down, we were recovering from the previous years’ recession. Several years later, the Supreme legalized gay marriage.

Things continued largely that way for the next 4 years, (although the Republicans blocked much of Obama’s progress, and refused to fill a Supreme Court vacancy) until a nutcase started running for president in the 2016 election, and deeply hidden attitudes of racism, homophobia, Islamophobia and much more started bubbling up, and just under 3 months ago, America went off the rails.

On November 8, 2016, the popular vote was won by a Democratic legacy, Hillary Clinton, but in three critical states, that dude that hosted The Apprentice and and kept going bankrupt and had terrible hair and liked to sexually harass people and yell “You’re Fired!” WON enough Electoral votes to be president.  I kid you not.

Donald Trump is now President of the US.  I can’t even.  It would appear that Russia meddled in the election, and that Trump is somehow connected to them.  (I know, where did Russia come from in this?  I got nothing.)

The Affordable Care Act is on it’s way to being repealed, abortion rights are quickly being reduced, birth control options are fading fast, there are plans to build a giant wall to keep Mexicans from crossing our southern border (if you were just now hearing that, isn’t that a hilarious idea?).  Countries like Syria have been insanely unstable over the past few years, with refugees escaping in droves, and now our government is poised to stop letting any in (and this goes further than these particular refugees, as Muslims here in America, and others with non-American backgrounds are terrified).

States also appear to be losing their collective minds.
Louisiana passed a law that resisting arrest can now be a felony hate crime against the arresting police officer.  (And the past few years have brought a dramatic increase in police brutality and further brought to light severe issues of racism in police and criminal systems so this is absolutely terrifying and terrible.)

Oklahoma had a court rule that oral sex is not rape if the victim is unconscious from alcohol.
NO.  Just no.

Against all of this literal insanity, women are rising up, many Christians are rising up calling that this is NOT the way of Jesus, teachers are rising up to protect their students and their educational system, the National Park System is defying orders to not talk by literally leading the resistance.

Millions of women around the world marched on Saturday, the day after the inauguration, to make their voices heard on issues mattering to them (and this raised further awareness of the lack of intersectionality in feminist movements, key things to work on.)

I am so fortunate to have friends from so many different places and times of my life who are working together to fight on these issues and so many more.  I’ve been asked several times to blog, so I’m dusting off the old blog.

In addition to social/political/faith issues, I’ll also be attempting to write on parenting issues like breastfeeding, carseat safety, and peaceful parenting, because man, we’ve got to fight like crazy to raise kids who are going to tear down this damn wall that’s been proposed.

Top Breastfeeding Recommendations

1.  Feed on demand, your baby only needs your colostrum and milk, but does need to be nursing often to fill that tiny tummy and bring in a good supply.
2.  Be aware of the booby traps (institutional and cultural things that can trip up mamas), from the Best for Babes page.

What are the Booby Traps?

3.  Read this sweet letter on normal newborn behavior:

Baby Explains- Normal Newborn Behavior

4.  Know that bf babies grow at different rates than formula fed babies, (and have different growth charts, see the WHO ones), and that there are ways to effectively feed with a bottle, no matter what is in the bottle, as overfeeding is VERY common. This link is an excellent resource.

The Babe’s Guide to Bottle Feeding

5.  Have support! (this one is huge for me!) have a supportive, knowledgable (aka won’t suggest formula and will help you find answers) friend who you can call or text anytime when you have a question or need encouragement.
(If you don’t have a friend like this, that’s ok, meet your local La Leche Leader!)
6.  Attend a La Leche League meeting before baby is born and/or introduce yourself to the leader(s). A meeting is a great way to see other moms nursing, ask questions, and have the leaders info so you are ready if and when you need them after baby is here. Find a group at
7.  Find a group of bf moms to get together with, be it LLL, a hospital group (can often attend those even if didn’t deliver there). You can get support and meet great friends for you and baby!
8.  Know that few doctors have much training in bf, and may not give correct or current advice on bf or nutrition, not know that bf babies grow at different rates, or may make assumptions that you cannot bf if ___ happens. Rarely true. And many meds are safe, packages say otherwise to cover manufacturers’ butts! Know where to find correct info. On that note…
9.  Know your resources to be able to advocate for you, baby, and the breastfeeding relationship. Kellymom, La Leche League, IBCLCs, The Leaky Boob blog and page, the InfantRisk center, the LactMed database.
10.  Never quit on the worst day, and don’t let anyone stop you until you and baby are ready!

On beginning solid foods.

Did you know that purees are largely an invention of the formula companies?
(And no, this post really isn’t a pro-breastfeeding post, but it is a pro-baby post! :-))

In the early twentieth century, as many of our grandparents and great-grandparents trusted the advances of science above almost anything else, including what had been done for centuries, formula was seen as superior to breastfeeding, and became the standard of infant feeding.  However, that formula was nutritionally void, and babies needed to get nutrients elsewhere.  So, babies were given solids earlier and earlier.  (My husband talked to a long-practicing nurse recently who showed him an old document where they recommended certain foods at 4 weeks!  I about died. Those poor babies!)

But, with infants under 6 months of age, they can’t chew, they can’t sit up, and everything must be pretty much liquid, or at least with no texture.  As one author notes, with the strong tongue thrust reflex still very much active, “In order to “feed” very young babies, they must in fact be tricked. The food must be liquefied because they cannot chew.  They must be spoonfed to get past the tongue reflex, circumventing an important safety mechanism (though in most cases, you still have to push the same spoonful back in several times before it stays).  And it must be bland, tasteless, indistinguishable from their accustomed milk, or else they will reject it.” (Heather Dunham on EcoChildsPlay).  And so, purees came into play.  (And I could get into how this played right into the greedy manufacturer’s hands, with “booby-trapping breastfeeding mothers, who must then turn to formula, and then must turn to early solids, but I won’t. ;-))  This method of feeding babies also takes any control away from the babies themselves, as whoever is feeding them tries to get that next bite in… or the whole jar.

Thankfully, it’s no longer the early twentieth century, and formula is much more nutritionally complete.  And, we know now that babies have something called a “virgin gut”, where anything other than breastmilk before about six months of age can pass through the not completely ready lining of the gut, and cause allergies, etc.  Even though formula can introduce issues, it is still better to give prior to six months than solids.So, what happens at six months?  Unlike that baby who must be tricked, a six-month-old is able (or almost able) to sit up on their own, to chew, and to reach for and put food in their own mouth.  Hold them too close to your plate, and you might just find your pita bread stolen right under your nose.  Not that I speak from experience or anything…In fact, research is now showing that purees are not needed.  Yep, that’s what I said.  Instead, by waiting until baby is able to sit on their own, and simply begins to feed themselves, they are indicating that they are ready for solids, which coincides with the virgin gut closing and being ready for solids.  Further, research is showing that babies fed in this way are healthier down the road, with a lower BMI, and a healthier attitude towards food, showing in toddlers that aren’t quite as picky (possibly because food isn’t seen as the control battleground and because they have been exposed to so many different foods), and later in life.

So, wait, I just give my six-month-old a cheeseburger?
Well…you could.  And frankly, you might not have to give it…they might just take it!  ;-)In all seriousness, there are many ways of doing what is commonly called “baby-led-weaning” (where weaning refers the UK definition of weaning, which is to add anything to milk, instead of to cut back on milk), or baby-led solids.  One common approach is to start with soft “sticks” or “fingers” of roasted vegetables, like squash or broccoli.  Other first foods include avocado (full of awesome fats that baby needs!) or banana split longways. Our baby’s first food (at a few days before 8 months, 6 months adjusted) was a piece of pita at our favorite Mediteranean restaurant, and his second was gnawing on a whole apple, after we took one bite to break the skin.  Always adventurous, he has always been willing to at least taste whatever we eat, and now won’t let us eat without wanting some.  (This is one side effect, it often causes parents to really analyze their own diets!)  Where we have friends who comments that their children will only eat pasta or hot dogs or what have you, and they were amazed to see our little guy eating Pakistani food before a year old, and loving it!  Many parents who practice this method of feeding find that their children are less picky as toddlers (recognizing that all toddlers do have picky phases, of course).

In short, you can start with softer foods to let baby get used to how food works in their mouths or you can simply begin giving pieces of your own dinner, or some combination of the two.

How will I know when they are ready? 
Being able to sit up by themselves is a very important milestone, as it helps prevent choking.  Reaching for food and actually putting it in their mouth (and not just wanting to mimic what you are doing) is another.  These often happen around six months, and help indicate that baby is ready and that the virgin gut is ready.  If baby seems ready at 4.5 or 5 months, one helpful technique to get them to wait is to sit them at the table and give them utensils (baby-sized or a real spoon) to play with, as they often just want to mimic, and it is often mistaken for wanting food.  Some babies may be ready a week or two before six months, and others, well, they may be perfectly content and fine with their milk until 8, 9, 10 months!

Will they start eating full meals at once?
No.  A few might just start eating like crazy, but the beauty of baby-led is that it is just that, baby-led.  For parents, it really helps to have a mindset of trusting that your baby knows what they need, when they need it.  And so if milk is what your baby needs until they are 9 months old, and they they start eating like they’ve been eating all their lives (haha), then that is what they needed.  One key principle of BLW is to give baby a milk feed before each meal through the first year, as that is to be their primary nutrition for at least that long.  In the breastfeeding community, a common mantra is “food before one is just for fun”, as breastmilk is providing all the nutrition they need, and offering food is simply for them to explore the textures and tastes, how it feels and squishes, and learn how to move food around in their mouths, chew, etc.   At sixteen months, our son, still breastfed, has days where he eats quite a bit, and other days where he just doesn’t.  We trust him to know what he needs (and know that growth slows drastically after the first year), and trust that breastmilk fills in any gaps in what he eats nicely.
Many start with giving just one meal a day, often when the parents have the most time, and build up to more meals as baby seems to want more.  Some parents only give solids while baby is home with them for awhile.  Many daycare providers are understanding of the principles, and resources are available to help educate them if needed.  (Just leave a comment reminding me, if I forget to link that!)

I know exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months, but my baby is fomula-fed.  Is it really enough for the first six month?  Can I do this as well?
Yes, your baby can start solids this way as well! One author points out that regardless of what milk they get, your baby is still a human baby, and learning about food (to chew, about how the mouth handles food, etc.) is exactly the same!  And the bottom line is, regardless of the milk they drink, research is showing that babies do not need solids until they can feed themselves.

But don’t they need rice cereal?
In a word, ABSOLUTELY NOT!!   I was leery, started researching, and it turns out that not only does it have NO nutritional value, but it converts to pretty much pure sugar (glucose) in the body!  Why would I feed my baby that?  And why would I feed them something that tastes like wallpaper paste AND isn’t good for them? One researcher argues that this popular beginning food is the leading reason for the childhood obesity epidemic.  Click here to check out the White-Out campaign for succinct, easy to share information on why it’s a great idea to say no to rice cereal.

My baby has no teeth.  I have to feed purees. 🙁
Um, has your baby ever bitten on your finger (or your nipple!) with those toothless-gums?!  Did you feel how hard they were?  Actually, they can gum LOTS!  With just a few teeth, our little guy was gumming and loving steak, and a friend’s baby was eating whole meals with NO teeth!

What about choking?
As baby’s learn to eat food, they will gag.  But gagging isn’t choking.  Instead, it’s a beneficial process that teaches them how to handle food and is there to protect them from foreign intruding bodies.
I’m not going to reinvent the wheel, check out this page for great info on choking.  🙂

In conclusion…
I plan to write more on this, so what would you like to know? 

For our family, this made so much rational sense!  We try to eat largely organic and unprocessed, especially when at home, and we want our son to have a healthy relationship with food.  Armed with this, we realized that his body is built to handle food in pretty much the same way ours can, and that he did not need purees.  While I won’t say it’s not messy, ha, it has been SO much simpler!  No pureeing, no freezing, no trying to shove a spoon in a reluctant baby’s mouth, just cooking healthy food that benefits all of us.

Several very helpful resources:
Baby Essentials That Aren’t: Baby Food from  Eco Child’s Play:  This is one of the most easy-to-understand but thorough write-ups I’ve seen!
Forget the Mush – Baby-led weaning puts the joy back into mealtimes by Gil Rapley:  Written by the foremost author on the topic, this gives the general principles of BLW and what they research is saying about it, such as helping to ward off obesity.
Note:  Rapley is from the UK, and some terminology may be different.  Health visitors, for example. I’ve gathered that they instead of seeing a doctor every few months, there are intermediaries that come to your house.
Baby-Led Weaning.  The original page.  Great summary on the homepage, and helpful getting started page.  Quite a bit of slightly head-scratching British phrasing though. 🙂
Medical News: Baby’s First Foods Should be Finger Foods.  More powerful reasons from scientific research.
On baby-led weaning for the formula-fed baby.  Not so scientific, but an interesting point.

Website Design Lessons Learned #1

I build websites using WordPress and Elegant Themes, and several times I have come across a problem that is so quirky and hard to solve.  You would think Google would help, but no.

Some of these issues have come in learning the backend, with hosting, and especially FTP servers.

And some have come from WordPress and especially  Elegant Themes.

So, today, here’s my tip.
If you ever have ‘featured images’ or other content just not show up, even though it looks like it uploads, check out where the content is set to upload.

Under Settings, Media, look at the folder it is set to use.  As one person recommended, paste the default in, save, refresh your site, then remove it, and save again.  Try uploading your image.  For me, it’s worked!  (This has happened twice when moving a site, so it must be that folder path just gets botched.

Hope that helps someone!

Life Update

I’ve been trying to work on my photography and develop my photography site, so I haven’t taken too much time to write.

But, I do have several recipe posts ready to go, just need to add the pics from iPhoto! And some friends and I have had some great conversations lately on Facebook, on several interesting topics, such as what “spoiling” a child is and how to guide a child to do chores and generally be a responsible person. I’m hoping to bring those thoughts and more here, and keep the conversation going!

On a slightly lighter note, we’ve also been discussing the journey toward eating more healthily (which can take many forms it seems), and the journey toward organic eating.
On that note, I’m working on a post about steps to start eating organic. Any particular questions or tips you think I should cover?

On the home front, little dude is not walking yet, but he is eating more, and yesterday he said “bye-bye” AND waved at the same time, both of which were firsts! Silly boy, you can do one at a time, we’ll still be totally impressed! 🙂

Oh, seeing this is SO on the bucket list!

Check out this picture! What an amazing statue in Italy!

(What on earth?! I thought this had published weeks ago?)

Wordless Wednesday: On nursing a toddler.

Instead of tiny little arms and legs and soft sleepers, now it’s long limbs and running shorts. But he’s still just as cuddly!

New skills!

It’s been a busy week or two for our little guy! Seeing a neat explosion of skills! He kisses “mmm muh!” when he hears a kiss sound or the word kiss, he woofs like a dog when he hears barking or the word dog, he is getting even more musical, and had a blast dancing at our local Greek festival over the weekend, just a few blocks from our house.
AND, he just woke up from an hour and a half nap in his crib,
I think the longest nap in there to date! Haha kid, now we KNOW you can do it!

What’s the deal with Nestle? Part One: Formula Marketing

So, why do I boycott Nestle?

Globally, there has been a 30+ year boycott going on, regarding their unethical and dangerous marketing of baby formula, but there are multiple reasons to consider boycotting, and if this issue doesn’t make you mad, just wait, another might.

One of the key ones for me centers around baby formula.
I frequently say there are three key reasons why I have issues with Nestle, in regards to their baby formula, and the marketing of such in particular.  First, per the WHO code (see below), they are not allowed to be giving samples in hospitals or doctors offices, yet, they do, particularly in third world countries.  By giving samples, a mother’s milk dries up, forcing her to then have to buy formula.  In the US, we are commonly told to spend no more than 30% of our income on housing.  In some parts of the world (Laos, etc.), there have been documented cases of families spending 50% of their income on formula!  Further, if a mom is breastfeeding while drinking dirty water, our bodies are designed to filter out diseases before they pass to the milk.  However, if formula is made with dirty water, there is no such barrier.  And clean water is not available in many parts of the world.  Finally, parents have to have at least a minimal level of literacy to be able to buy the correct product.  Nestle has come under fire for having labels on formula containers in either the wrong language or dialect for a region, making it next to impossible for parents to buy the right thing, even if they can read. There have been documented cases of parents feeding their babies powdered milk because they thought it was formula, or because they simply couldn’t avoid formula. Further, in other countries Nestle commonly uses a blue bear logo on their baby products.  In at least one instance, doctors were baffled as to why babies were coming in severely malnourished.  They eventually traced it back to the packaging of COFFEE-MATE, which also had the blue bear!  Illiterate parents were unwittingly feeding their babies Coffee-Mate instead of formula!!

        • The World Health Organization (WHO) has a code for marketing breastmilk substitutes (aka formula).  Nestle and other companies blantantly break this code year after year, but the code has very little “teeth” to try to stop them.
        • Resources to read more:
          • Nestle boycott Wikipedia page
          • Great blogger PhD in Parenting sums it up well:
          • Baby Milk Action site, leading the charge in the UK, has great resources!
          • Blogger Crunchy Domestic Goddess (Amy Gates) has great stuff on her blog, including her take on the boycott, a great history, and a boycott list.  In that first post, Amy links to a GREAT documentary called Formula for Disaster, available in segments on YouTube. I highly recommend it!
          • I’ve since updated that boycott list (I’ll post this as a separate post soon) as Nestle bought more product lines, including all of Kraft’s frozen pizza lines!  There are only a few non-Nestle frozen pizzas now, two of which are Red Baron and Freshetta.
            • In all honesty, as we try to eat more locally and organic, we don’t find ourselves buying many name-brand foods at all, so cutting Nestle out has not been that hard.   (Ok, except for my husband’s beloved Nestle Quik, that he refuses to give up, and refuses to let me try to make a substitute. :-P)
          • A couple of easy ways to get involved are with an annual No Nestle week (typically the last week of October), as that’s a good way to get started, by doing it for one week, and by committing to saying “Boo Nestle” when buying Halloween candy.  The Boo Nestle site even has labels to print out to put on your candy explaining why it isn’t Nestle.

Looking for a visual way to learn more about global issues surrounding formula, in a format that is easy to share with others? Check out the documentary referenced above, Formula for Disaster.  Here’s part one:

Weekly Kitchen Goal: Research making kefir

Hmm, this is a favorite of the little guy, and of mine too. I hear friends talk of making it, time to see how, and why, I might do that!