I'm passionate about philosophy, but after having my girls I'm even more passionate about Mommy Matters

Friday, June 28, 2013

Trying Solid Foods for the First Time?

     "People who love to eat are always the best people." ~Julia Child

     So, Squeaker is coming up on five months old and the next big step in her life is that of beginning to eat solid foods. There are a lot of different people telling me different things concerning when and what to feed my daughter. Now I just have to figure it out and make the decision myself I guess. Squeaker is a pretty good sleeper sometimes, but I would really like for her to be more consistent with sleeping through the night. I've heard a lot of people say that starting to feed your baby solid foods, maybe adding a little oat meal or rice cereal to his/her meal before bedtime, helps to get them sleeping through the night better. My pediatrician says that I can start feeding her solid foods whenever I want, but breast milk is still the best for her nutritionally and in an ideal situation she would go six months of being solely breastfed before starting to eat other stuff. However, I know that there isn't some magical transformation that occurs at six months and Squeaker is within the time frame of being "around" six months. I found this website that gives advice about how to tell when your baby is ready to eat solid foods. I like the advice in it and it looks like according to the milestones that a baby should go through before being given solid foods are all ones that Squeaker already has passed, except for one: she has not yet doubled her birth weight. She is only a pound off right now, so maybe I'll wait until she has done that as well? 
     I'm not sure when to start feeding her solids, but either way I'll need to get started in about a month if I haven't already. So, I'm also wondering what I should start out with. Here is an article I found about constipation in babies, signs to look out for and common foods that cause it. One of the constipation-causing foods listed is rice cereal, which I have discovered to be a very common starter food because it is so easy to add to milk and thicken it up. A lot of other parents say they started all in and gave their baby some puréed fruit or vegetables for their first solid meal. I'm really excited to try and I know that is all I have to do, try, because every baby is different. However, I am a worrier sometimes and I want to start Squeaker off right. I know I'm making a bigger deal of all of this than I should, but at the same time it's hard to know and this is my first time going through all of this. 
     I have decided that I will be making my own homemade baby food, trying to buy the processed store products as a last resort on a vacation or something. My mom recently gave me a Ninja for my graduation gift and I'm excited to test it out and use it to make Squeaker's food. I think this process will help me to feel better about what Squeaker is eating because I will still have control over it and know exactly what is in it, instead of looking at the ingredient lists on labels (which are always written so you pretty much need a degree in chemistry to understand them). I'm thinking that sweet potatoes will be a good one to start out with, bananas, avocados, apples, and carrots all seem like safe ones too. Squeaker's pediatrician also mentioned the possibility of adding Pedialyte to make foods thinner or as a supplement if she needs extra liquids. Did anyone else use Pedialyte and find it helpful? There are so many different options out there, it is hard to choose and know when to use them. Anyway, this is my little rant for the day on being a confused new mother. Thank you for taking the time to read it.
     I would love some feedback here, how did you other mothers decide when it was the right time to start feeding your babies solid foods? What solids did you start out with and why? How do you feel it worked out/would you have done something differently?


I have found that Squeaker likes to eat her foot, I'm not sure it is very safe or nutritious... Husband and I think it's pretty funny though.

This pillow shaped like an owl also appears to be a hit.

This picture is just cute, I love my baby!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Books That Have Changed My Life

     Oscar Wilde said, "It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it."
     And Marcus Tullius Cicero said, "A room without books is like a body without a soul." 
     
 Squeaker likes to fill her body by eating books...

     Lately I have been reading more, it has always been one of my favorite past times. While I was in college I didn't read as much as I used to, unless the book was required to read or it was summer. Even in the summer sometimes I found my mind overrun by work and I simply wanted to turn off, not continue learning or developing. So now that my life has found a kind of balance again, and I'm not watching TV anymore, I have been reading as much as I did during high school and when I was less overwhelmed by college required works. I have been enjoying using the website goodreads.com again as well, if you want to by my friend just search A.R. Braithwaite and send a request. I love writing book reviews and looking at what other people are reading, it is almost like a whole counterculture within ourselves. I'm defining "counterculture" as: a subculture whose values deviate from the norm of mainstream society or the values that dominate the majority. When people read and share what the are reading, as well as what they think, they are letting the rest of the world into their little counterculture. We each have our own minds filled with questions, reactions, opinions, experiences, it is what makes each of us so unique and interesting. I love getting to know people and I think one of the best ways to do that is to find out what they read and how they think about it. 
     All of this stems from my mother reading to me before bed almost every night while I was growing up. We read all of the Harry Potter books together, Anne of Green Gables, Holes and more amazing books than I can even name off. I am so grateful that she did this with me, I know it served as a catalyst for my own personal philosophies, as well as my passion for philosophy. I want to discover knowledge and what other people believe to be the truth, which is another reason why I love to read so much and think that is so important to do. I have already started the tradition again with Squeaker, not only reading picture books with her but also starting to read The Giver to her. I know she's only four and a half months old, but it will make a difference in her life down the road. Especially if I make it a habit now and keep doing it until she's older. 

     Here are some books that I believe have changed my life and a short explanation of why:

     The Giver by Lois Lowry. This book is, to me, a celebration of life, of what is most difficult and what is most precious in life. We all become who we are and choose who we will become because of the difficult times in our lives and also the happiest times in our lives, I can't think of a better book that truly encapsulates what this means to the human experience. 

     My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok. Potok is more well known for his book The Chosen, which is also good, but My Name is Asher Lev has haunted my soul since I read it in a way that not many books can. This book is a pilgrimage, Asher's journey to discern what his religion means to him and his artistic talent in the context of his life, it is so beautiful and heart wrenching that I want to read it again just thinking about it now. 

     East of Eden by John Steinbeck. This book is also a journey, one that deals with familial relations, politics, racism, religion, and just everyday life. It is difficult to see why the world is the way it is, why the beauty in it is so hard to see sometimes, but in the end it is always there. This world started as the garden that Heavenly Father created for Adam and Eve, it is disturbing but also incredibly exquisite looking around to appreciate what mankind has done with it.

     The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. While reading this book and even years later I have I found myself asking why I treat the people around me the way that I do and conscientiously trying to see the world from other people's perspectives, especially my own family who I so often take for granted. What we care about, as individuals or as a generation may not mean anything to other people or other generations, but it isn't the thing itself that matters anyway, it's why we care about it so much.

     Maus by Art Spiegelman. If you haven't ever read a graphic novel then now is the time. It gives a truly fascinating view of WWII that is different and simply astounding. I found not only the art work amazing, but the entire organization and writing of it as well. I liked graphic novels before reading this one, but Maus made me see the true value in them and continue to seek them out as another source of personal development via reading. 

     So these are just five of so many books that I know have changed my life, not even really touching on many of the ones I read as a child, but I think that will do for now. I don't want to get carried away and turn my blog into an epic book review. A book that I am currently reading and really enjoying, I'm not sure it's life changing yet, is The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. It has made me cry twice and I'm only half way through it, I think it will be one worth reading multiple times as well. Here are a few more books on my favorite's list: The Secret Life of Bees, The Help, Ender's Game, The Way of Kings, To Kill a Mocking Bird, A Wrinkle in Time, Numbering the Stars, I really could go on forever. 
     So, do you like to read and see it the way I do? If not, how do you see it and why? If so, what are your favorite books and why? 
 
 





Monday, June 24, 2013

23 Years Old Does Feel Different

    So, you know how every time you have a birthday at least one person asks you if you feel different? Well, obviously most of the time you say "no" because no one changes all at once overnight. Even though this still holds true for me this year, I also can't help but ponder about how different I am at 23 years old and how quickly I have changed. It still wasn't an overnight/all at once change, but my priorities are so different now and I feel more at peace about life than I ever have before. This change has been within only a couple of short months as and weeks.
     Saturday was my birthday and it started off with the best birthday gift I have ever been given, a letter from my husband. The contents of which described not only his love and appreciation for me, but his desire for us to continue to have a wonderful relationship into the distant future. He is an amazing man who is perfect for me, without him I don't know that I would have ever gotten married to be honest and if I did I can't imagine anyone else in the world making me as happy as he does. Another very special thing about my birthday this year was the fact that I am a mother and I was able to share it with Squeaker, which my father-in-law pointed out is much better than the morning sickness that accompanied my birthday last year. When I turned 22 I spent some of the time with family and I threw up 3 or 4 times on the car ride back home. I'm really glad that I get to change dirty diapers instead of being sick, a pretty good trade off considering that Squeaker smiles and talks to me the whole time. 
     I just have to say that I love my family and my close friends. My mother-in-law was generous enough to babysit for us so that Husband and I could go on a date Saturday night. We saw the new Star Trek movie, which was pretty good and I'm glad that I got to see it in the theater. We used to see movies all of the time, but since Squeaker was born we have seen two (which is still pretty good since some couples go years without stepping foot into a movie theater after having their first baby). Two of my closest friends also made sure that my birthday was fantastic, spending time with me Saturday morning and making me an incredible birthday dinner last night!

My best friend even made me this awe-inspiring berry pie from scratch. (I'm more of a pie person than a cake person and berry pie is my favorite!)


     When Husband asked me that age-old question, "do you feel any different?" I actually had to stop and think, because I do. Not only am I a mother this year, but I also live in a unbelievably perfect little house, I feel more appreciated and loved than I ever have before thanks to my close friends and family, I value being a full-time mother more than I thought I ever would and actually chose it for my career, I'm not going to graduate school like I would have chosen to just a few months ago, even though we don't have very much money I feel more at peace and less anxious than I ever have before, and I trust my Heavenly Father more than I thought could be possible because he has worked miracles for me in the last few weeks. Us being in this house is a miracle, being able to afford all we need and then some is a miracle, having a healthy baby is a huge miracle as well when I know so many people who struggle with their babies having birth defects or being sick often, and being free from feeling guilty/anxious/stressed/nervous (which unfortunately not too long ago was my default setting) is the biggest and best miracle I could have ever imagined. Not many people know this about me, but I have been to therapy a few times in my life because I simply worried about things beyond my control and didn't have good coping skills. Striving to be close to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ while raising my child has turned out to be the best therapy for me. I am so grateful for my life journey that started 23 years ago and I am so grateful to have so many amazing people to share it with. 


This is one of my favorite pictures of Husband and I, we were at Moab in May 2012. (I was pregnant, but didn't know it yet)





    Our best friends and Husband on the same Moab trip. It was a crazy amazing trip! We camped out for a couple of days and the first night was soooooo windy, our tent almost collapsed in on us.



     

   
    I just haven't posted this picture of Squeaker before when she was a month old and I love it.










 No further explanation necessary
   

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Television

     So, I recently took Squeaker to her 4 month doctor's appointment. She is growing well and everything is going great (she is actually in the 90th percentile for length!). She had another round of immunizations and this time there were some things that went worse than last time (she is much more squirmy now and broke the poor nurse's necklace that was holding her name badge), but some things went better (she must trust me more now and comforted easier because she didn't cry as hard or for as long after). I'm so proud of my strong baby! She rolls over from her back to her stomach AND from her stomach to her back now, which is wonderful but also bad because I can't leave her alone for anymore without her squirming into some kind of trouble. Sometimes I get frustrated when I'm taking care of her all day, overwhelmed might be a better word, but it only lasts a moment because when I look at her I can't help but feel proud and honored to have her in my life.
     One interesting thing that Squeaker's pediatrician talked to me about at this last was visit concerned television, but more generally screen time. She told me that I should be limiting Squeaker's screen time to pretty much no time at all, trying to make her avoid all computers, tablets, smart phones, and televisions until she is TWO years old! I had no idea, I knew that having her watch too much of it was a bad thing, because it is bad for adults too really, but I didn't think that even educational shows like Baby Einstein were off limits. The doctor said that even though these educational shows and games do help with learning new things and they are entertaining for babies, they actually end up being linked to raising the percentage of children with learning disorders and ADD. She said that although it is not a 100% chance, it does raise Squeaker's risk and she did not advise taking that risk, obviously. 

 
(This image is a link to a TIME article on the debate)

     Her reasoning, her theory and research on the subject of why this risk occurs, had to do with the development of neural pathways in the baby's brain. She said that these shows, even educational ones, can help the baby to learn new things but it's like skipping a step in their development. The baby shouldn't be learning these things before taking simple learning steps from what is directly around them. The best way to learn is slowly and with direct activity, which in turn actually creates neural pathways for the best possible learning patterns within the frontal lobe. I found this very interesting and it seems to make sense. She also said that this neurological development and the skipping of learning steps has to do with over-stimulation of the brain, because babies can become over-stimulated by simply looking in the mirror or at their parent's face. This is why when a baby is looking at your face they sometimes have to look away for a minute before continuing on. So when over-stimulation occurs so easily, it is even more overwhelming for the baby's brain when seeing so many colors and movements in such a small space. 
     Do any of you have opinions or thoughts on this subject? I found it very enlightening, but also a bit daunting thinking about how I am going to have to keep Squeaker away from so many screens as much as possible when we live in such a technologically advanced society. These screens are everywhere and I use them ALL day. So far it hasn't been quite as hard as I thought it would be, but she isn't crawling or walking yet, which makes it easier for me to position her in such a way that she can't see our television set. I guess it will just take one day at a time and more research to figure out the most productive ways for Squeaker to learn. This article, published by Education Nation, from awhile back also helped me to begin my personal research on the subject. 


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Social Stigmas of Parenting and Housewifery

     If you haven't heard already, "it is no longer socially acceptable to be a housewife". Don't take my word for it, just click on the link for yourself. Why does this stigma against housewifery exist? I think feminism has taken a step too far and women are fighting against women, judging each other for staying at home when before it was the other way around. The finger used to be pointed at the working mother, which wasn't right either. Can't we just be at peace and help each other claim our femininity without putting each other down? Many people don't seem to even consider motherhood an occupation anymore, what is it then? This article was fun to read when considering how much of a career motherhood really is.
     Another social stigma, one that is just as damaging but not as overtly stated as the stigma against housewifery, is the stigma against parenting in general. Everyone has a right to choose to not have children, that is fine, but I don't like the use of excuses, such as a bad economy, to back up such personal decisions. I also don't like it when people go around making it seem like they are some sort of hero out to save the world somehow simply because they have decided to not support "overpopulation". 
     In my personal opinion, parents are the heroes on this earth, I mean for the term "parent" to include those people in the world who either choose to not have children or cannot have children of their own and still are good mentors to the kids and people around them. Not everyone has to have a child in order to be a good person, but everyone should support the next generation and go out of their way to help the people around them, not judge them for having kids and trying to make themselves out to be the good guy when they decide that having children is the cause of terrible happenings in this world.  
     Children are the reason this world is as beautiful as it is, they are the innocence and peace givers, and they are the ones we should be focused on. There is never a good time in life to be selfish, isn't that something our parents tried to teach us? After all, we were all children once and had parents, does that mean that we are also the reason for things that are bad in the world and our parents shouldn't have ever had us? This form of logic could work its way back all the way to the beginning of time and become an argument to God for why he shouldn't have created man and had children on earth at all. What a depressing and worthless way to live one's life.
     What is most sad to me, however, is when parents themselves talk about parenting as though it is too difficult of a burden. I understand that simple human nature necessitates some complaining, at least it appears that way to me, but some parents honestly talk to me as though I will regret being a parent in the first place. I hate it when I'm talking to other parents about how happy I am, that I enjoy taking care of Squeaker all of the time and they say something like, "Oh, you will understand when she gets a little older and is into everything." I say that I actually don't mind diapering her, cloth diapers have actually become a fun hobby for me, but "Oh, you won't like it when she starts eating more solid foods and you've been doing it for two years, trust me." Not to mention when people belittle having only one child and say things like, "Oh, you will understand when you have a couple more running around." Can't a young mother be happy to be a young mother? Not to mention, I'm not trying to say that what I do isn't hard, I'm just saying that the benefits outweigh the costs.
     I know that parenthood is hard, Squeaker isn't an angel all of the time and I don't get much sleep or the things done I set out to do at the beginning of the day, but does complaining about it really make it better? Parents need other parents to vent to, but I want to make my job to build other parents up, not bring them down. When I was pregnant it was a similar thing, women were making me scared to death of pregnancy and labor. I thought I was pretty much going to die and have to be resuscitated, but hundreds of thousands of other women have done it before and lived. Hundreds of thousands of people have survived parenthood, while still smiling! I hope that I don't become so jaded and stigmatize parenthood too because although it is the most difficult calling in life, it is also the most rewarding.
     Squeaker can keep me up all night, wanting to be fed every couple of hours when I know she can go much longer, but when I see her smile it all makes it worth it. She isn't just a burden, a pet, or a project that is difficult, she is part of me and I helped to give her life. Maybe more people should think about that fact before stigmatizing motherhood and parenthood.  
     I am proud to be a housewife, to be a parent, and I am grateful to have the wonderful occupation of being a mother.  


 



Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Moving With a Baby

     Husband, Squeaker, and I moved into the upstairs apartment of a house this past weekend. I can already tell this place will be our home for a long time, it feels like we belong here. I haven't felt this good about a house since when I was a kid in the one I grew up in. Now or little family has the room to grow with 3 bedrooms instead of two. We also are privileged enough to have air conditioning, a dish washer, a washer and dryer that we don't have to share or dump quarters into, high ceilings, and a general area that will be much easier to baby proof than our last little place. It's pretty amazing is all I'm trying to say and I am so grateful!



Husband and Squeaker the morning of our last moving day. 


     We moved little by little (over the course of about 5 days) instead of all in one day, which went well. No matter how we would have done it though, moving is just harder with a baby. The last time we moved was only about a year ago and it was a terrible experience, I was pregnant and sick. We did it all in just a day or two and I was so stressed the whole time. After we moved I didn't feel like unpacking anything and even after being there for 10 months we didn't have our pictures or other decorations put up. 
     This move was better in some ways and worse in others. Squeaker seems to be going through a phase where even when she is totally fine and has plenty of toys around her to play with she still cries. When I look at her and ask, "what's wrong?" she starts smiling at me and even sometimes laughs. Kind of like in this picture: 

     It's as though she is saying, "Nothing is wrong as long as all you do all day everyday is look at me and talk to me." I love her so much and it is wonderful to see her sweet smile, but this attitude made packing and moving much harder than it would have been otherwise. I did a lot while she was napping, but Squeaker only takes 30-45 minute naps lately, which leaves little time to do things during that time. I actually feel good during this move and have the desire, as well as the energy, to unpack everything and decorate, but that desire is somewhat thwarted for the same reason it was difficult to move in the first place. 
     I love being a mother and having Squeaker around of course, but she is just bipolar crazy sometimes. She doesn't even know what she wants sometimes. She just knows that she wants me to know it and do it for her. I imagine it has been stressful and hard for her to move as well, but I'm not sure what else I could have done except do my best to make she was taken care of and entertained while I worked. Sometimes we would be in the same room together and she would be on her play mat happy as can be until the moment I turned around to start boxing things up. My husband works full time this summer and that made it harder as well because I did most of the packing so he could help move the stuff when he got home. I'm grateful we had the option of moving in little by little because I have no idea what I would have done if it would have been a one or two day event. It was quite the experience that I hope I don't have to go through again, at least for another 4 years or something. Maybe by then Squeaker will be able to help a littler herself, but I won't get my hopes up for that. Anyone else have fun moving experiences with their kids or ways they coped with multitasking? 

 Husband and I in front of our new house. He likes to pretend he isn't as stoked as I am.