“One afternoon at the playground last summer, shortly after the birth of my third child, I made the mistake of idly musing about breast-feeding to a group of new mothers I’d just met. This time around, I said, I was considering cutting it off after a month or so. At this remark, the air of insta-friendship we had established cooled into an icy politeness, and the mothers shortly wandered away to chase little Emma or Liam onto the slide. Just to be perverse, over the next few weeks I tried this experiment again several more times. The reaction was always the same: circles were redrawn such that I ended up in the class of mom who, in a pinch, might feed her baby mashed-up Chicken McNuggets.”
Thus begins Hanna Rosin’s controversial article with it’s super-charged title, “The Case Against Breastfeeding” in this month’s issue of The Atlantic. And judging by some of the reaction to it, you’d think she had fostered an article titled “The Case for Disposing of Your Elderly Parents in Nursing Homes in Chad.”
She starts the article by describing her own journey from cheerful, diligent first-time mom, breastfeeding her babies for the full year recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, to third-time mom: “launching a new Web site and I had two other children to care for, and a husband I would occasionally like to talk to. Being stuck at home breast-feeding as he walked out the door for work just made me unreasonably furious, at him and everyone else.”
She goes on to describe how she and her middle to upper-class sisters, from Angelina Jolie to the other playground moms, have been sold a bill of goods; told they can have equality with their husbands in all things– marriage, career and child-rearing– and then told by the same feminists, that ”breast is best” and nothing less than 6-9 months of it will do. In an ironic twist of history, it was the branch of feminism known as the women’s-health movement, started in 1971 with the publishing of Our Bodies, Ourselves, that helped establish breastfeeding as the informed, strong, autonomous woman’s only responsible choice. And, Rosin argues, it is this mind-set that starts the shifting of the burden of child-rearing gradually to the mother. After-all, if she’s the one who feeds the child round-the-clock, she’s best suited to comfort him, should probably be the one to stay home from work when he’s ill, etc., etc.
Then the epiphany.
The writer says she was “sitting half-naked in public for the tenth time that day, the hundredth time that month, the millionth time in my life” when she happened across a Journal of the American Medical Association in her doctor’s office with an article about breast-feeding that planted the seed in her mind that the evidence for breastfeeding might be less conclusive than she had been led to believe.
“That night, I did what any sleep-deprived, slightly paranoid mother of a newborn would do. I called my doctor friend for her password to an online medical library, and then sat up and read dozens of studies examining breast-feeding’s association with allergies, obesity, leukemia, mother-infant bonding, intelligence…”
She proceeds to review the evidence, the literature, the pop-culture ads and articles and comes up with one theme about the breastfeeding vs formula debate: the evidence is inconclusive, but what we are being told in popular media is not.
She covers several topics from “the national obsession with breast milk as liquid vaccine”, the ethical roadblock to conducting truly randomized studies resulting in less than hard-science conclusions, the championing of breastfeeding by American Academy of Pediatrics in the ’90′s and the 2004 Department of Health and Human Services National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign, and the incremental changes that have resulted in a preachy attitude of ”formula as public menace”.
“The ads came out just after my second child was born, and were so odious that they nearly caused me to wean him on the spot. One television ad shows two hugely pregnant women in a logrolling contest, with an audience egging them on. ‘You wouldn’t take risks before your baby is born,’ reads the caption. ‘Why start after?’ The screen then flashes: ‘Breastfeed exclusively for 6 months.’ A second spot shows a pregnant woman—this time African American—riding a mechanical bull in a bar while trying to hold on to her huge belly. She falls off the bull and the crowd moans…..What’s most amazing is how, 50 years after La Leche League’s founding, ‘enlightenment from the laboratory’—judgmental and absolutist—has triumphed again.”
Some of the critiques of Rosin’s article I have reviewed are that she comes across as an angry feminist and doesn’t do an adequate job of weighing all the evidence. While I haven’t done much research into the science behind the breast/bottle debate, I think the angry feminist argument is a cheap shot. Hanna Rosin is simply too talented a writer for that type of dismissal. While her article does come across as passionate and sarcastic at points, the deeper reality is that it is altogether human. Even non-feminists who cherish their role as mother must have surely felt overwhelmed by the 24/7 responsibility of it all now and then, or wished they could be the one rolling over and falling back asleep after that waking cry at 2 am. And while the reader might not appreciate the sentiments that prompted her to review the evidence against breastfeeding, reviewing the science behind what the media and other establishments are pushing as the moral/scientific high-ground is never a bad idea. (Did someone just say “global warming”?)
Rosin finishes the piece off by saying that despite her scientific findings and her underlying desire for an equal sharing of child-rearing responsibilities between parents, she continues to breast-feed Baby Number Three part-time, admitting that she doesn’t even know why she doesn’t just stop. “I know it has nothing to do with the science; I have no grandiose illusions that I’m making him lean and healthy and smart with my milk. Nursing is certainly not pure pleasure, either; often I’m tapping my foot impatiently, waiting for him to finish…. My best guess is something I can’t quite articulate. Breast-feeding does not belong in the realm of facts and hard numbers; it is much too intimate and elemental. It contains all of my awe about motherhood, and also my ambivalence. Right now, even part-time, it’s a strain. But I also know that this is probably my last chance to feel warm baby skin up against mine, and one day I will miss it.”
This is the house before.
The yard before:
And the house before:
Was turned into this:
A few inside shots:
Every family has one I suppose. Atlas is our child who, left alone in the garage for an hour, would disassemble your car (as my Dad would say). He loves to manipulate little things with his hands, enjoys poking sticks and nails and screws into various key-holes and the like, and would have killed himself long ago if God were not sovereign.
As I was desperately trying to get out the door one day I found him digging around in his dirty diaper, rushed him up to the tub, was just getting him soaped up when I looked across the hall and saw the above sight. I just took a picture and said a prayer of thanks.
That being said, I decided to make him an activity board for his birthday. It has all manner of things to screw, open, lock, unlock, poke, button, unbutton…
- and the winner is…
Ok. I don’t do a lot of product recommendations so when I do, it’s because I really think the item is outstanding. My leather sofa was in need of some serious attention. It looked dry and sad and I was sort of falling out of love with it. In the past I’ve tried to condition it every 6 months to maintain it’s youthful allure, but to very little avail. I might as well have been applying Oil of Olay. My sofa needed botox. Or surgery. Or something.
Enter Leather Honey. This stuff is thick and sticky and messy just like it’s name implies. I coated my cushions and sofa in it and then left them to cure overnight. Leather Honey does not mess around- immediately I could tell it was something different from all the disappointing creams and lotions of my past. It was penetrating and healing and sealing. And after 12 hours of relaxing, my sofa looked amazing. I wish I had taken photos. I didn’t know it was going to be this dramatic! Just imagine your sofa looks like Mick Jagger and then overnight turns into Taylor Swift.
I haven’t tried it for these uses yet, but it’s also wonderful for leather shoes, purses, etc.
And just when you thought things couldn’t get more exciting- we have a give-away!
So if you’d like to take part, just share with a friend/on social media and comment to let us know you did, then we’ll add your name to a random drawing for an 8oz bottle of Leather Honey.
I will be making these for Aileen the invisa-sis when she comes. I put this meal together the other day when I wanted to use the jar containing peanut sauce for Valiant’s piggy bank, and thus needed to get rid of it. Paired with Butterflies and edemame, it felt like a Asian street food extravaganza!
One bunch each: cilantro, mint, basil, chopped quite fine
1/2 large English cucumber, julienned
handful bean sprouts
1-2 chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces and fried in olive oil in a pan
rice stick noodles or rice vermicelli ( I did not have any so I used cooked angle hair pasta)
bib lettuce or butter lettuce
mae ploy sauce
Cook or soak noodles (depending on if you are using real rice noodles or cheating with angel hair). To julienne the cucumber I use a tool Mom gave me once- makes it a breeze. I’m sure you can find them everywhere. Mix everything but the lettuce and sauces together. Set aside in a bowl.
You can either buy or make the peanut sauce. I always have mae ploy sauce around as it makes almost every Asian dish better- it’s a red sauce available in all asian food stores and a lot of regular grocery stores too. Put each in a dish for dipping and wash/dry the lettuce.
At the table fill a piece of lettuce with the chicken mixture and dip in each sauce- pretty amazing and pretty simple.
1 tin of canned crab
1 pkg cream cheese
1 pkg wonton wrappers
The simplicity of these belies their addictive qualities. Well, ok, it’s carbs and fat fried in fat, so it’s bound to be amazing. Mix the crab and cream cheese together, put a dollop on a wonton wrapper, wet the edges of the wrapper with water and seal them together, then fry in vegetable oil in a pan (or a deep fryer if you have it) till brown.
I won’t insult you here- just steam them and toss with salt.
And you have a feast!
At first I was going to try to make an indoor tent like any one of the myriad of lovely teepees I’ve seen pinned, but when I mentioned it to Tim, he said what Valiant really needed for his birthday was a bank. Well, three actually. One for tithe, one for saving, and one for spending. After hunting around for bit in search of some adorable bank that he would like to clink his coins into, and realizing that it probably wouldn’t arrive in time for his birthday, I finally decided just to make one.
I started with three jars I liked the look of, all with metal tops that don’t flex– in my case: horseradish, garlic and peanut sauce containers. I first washed them and soaked them in bleach. Why is it that the cutest little jars I could find were also holding such pungent stuff??
After removing the labels wit Goo-Gone and having Tim cut a quarter-size hole in the tops of the lids,
I took three Schleich-like animals and painted them and the jar caps with liquid gold leaf.
(Keep in mind if you use this type of paint you will need mineral spirits to clean up with).
Then I used stamps to make little labels of my own designating “Church”, “Saving” and “Spending”.
After affixing the labels I used some super glue to attach an animal to each lid.
I’ve decided to try to make a habit of celebrating birthdays by giving the boys their choice of an activity or place to go as well as letting them choose dinner/birthday dessert. Valiant is a little young for the concept. When I asked what he wanted for his birthday, without hesitation he said a butterfly. When I inquired further into what type of butterfly he didn’t have very many specifics. As for a birthday meal, he first asked ” what are my options?” When I suggested different things like pizza and so forth, he finally settled on “oatmeal”.
With that to start with, I got to work.
We had never been to the butterfly house at the Smithsonian, and since Tuesdays it is free, we went this week and stood in line with a bunch of tourists at the entrance to the Natural History Museum half an hour before it opened in order to get our free, timed tickets to the exhibit. At 1100 Tim cabbed down and joined us for a walk through the butterfly house. When the guide found out it was part of Valiant’s birthday gift she helped land two butterflies on him which is what he was hoping for more than anything.
He might look a little scared here but in fact Valiant was just trying his hardest to be quiet and still so the butterflies would stay.
They also happen to have an IMAX movie about the Monarch butterflies running at the museum right now so we bought tickets to that for the evening of his birthday.
As to the oatmeal…. I have decided to do breakfast for dinner as his birthday meal. I mean, I couldn’t really see sitting down to oatmeal– but a full-on breakfast could be great.
I felt a little like the Tailor of Gloucestershire laying out the boys Easter outfits tonight. I am trying to make Easter the biggest celebration of our year for them– that’s the goal– but I’m glad that I have a few years before things really start to settle in their memory, because starting great traditions takes time I’m realizing. Right now I am just thankful for store-bought cinnamon rolls.
Here’s what did get done this year:
1. I bought some Easter candy early (and even unwrapped the Peeps because I like them best when they are dried out!)
2. We got baby chicks to raise
3. Put together an abbreviated egg hunt (church starts at 9:15, plus they’re not very aggressive finders yet… Actually those are just excuses. I don’t really want to be personally responsible for consuming my weight in hard-boiled eggs and I didn’t get around to buying plastic ones. So it’s really more of a treasure hunt for their Easter basket– which if you must know is actually just a serving bowl filled with all their loot. I didn’t get around to the basket either.)
4. Bought the boys a little gift– this year it’s flashlight/lanterns (I mail-ordered some really great ones but I’m pretty sure they were stolen off my front porch, so I went with the ones for $1.99 at the hardware store at the last minute. I don’t think they’ll care. It does bother me just a little that I provided a thief with two excellent flashlights though….)
5. Dyed eggs (Ok not very well… a friend and I forgot that you’re supposed to use vinegar instead of water for the dye which meant we had extremely pastel eggs… this is what I mean about improving this with each year)
Rather than dye eggs, Atlas chose to eat them. Shell and all.
These were the sorriest looking bunch of Easter eggs I have ever had a hand in making. The brown marks are due to the fact that once we realized we were missing that pungent smell of dying eggs– that we forgot the vinegar– we also discovered my friend had only balsamic vinegar to use. I think it was only fitting that as soon as we got home Atlas pulled the whole carton of them off the counter and smashed every one. The boys however thought they were amazing and proceeded to eat about six for breakfast the next morning.
6. Went to a Good Friday service as well as a kid’s program– we’ve been reading through the chapters on the Passover and Christ’s death/resurrection in the Jesus Story Bible so hopefully more than the candy will stick in their brains.
7. Made the boys Easter outfits
I have never been much good at following a pattern so I tend to make my own out of brown paper
8. We’ll have lunch with Grandma J after services. I’m assuming the boys will probably polish off their life-size chocolate bunnies, not eat lunch and crash in short order; but I think feasting to a toddler looks a lot more like a candy rabbit than it does a ham, so we’ll just let that one go.
No I have not turned into a sports enthusiast. I refer here to our foray into chicken farming. In the city.
With Easter nearing it occurred to me that we might be entering Spring although there are no visible signs. If you are anywhere in the contiguous United States you probably know what I mean. I got a text from Aileen showing large flakes of snow falling outside her apartment window and texted her back something thoughtful like “Ha. You’re screwed.” That was just days before I awoke to my own Spring snowfall here on the East Coast.
Nevertheless, I have Spring fever. I am wearing flip-flops today and shivering as I write this. Never one to keep a plant alive longer that a couple weeks, I have filled my kitchen with living plants. I dare them to die. I am feverishly planning my assault on the dirt in my backyard, drawing up war-plans on my dining room table- rows of marching peonies, snowball bushes, fruit trees, an arbor scaled by wisteria, and chickens. A yardful of chickens pecking and scratching around- but we have a small yard so that means about three.
It was really Tim’s idea but it sort of became my obsession after a visit to my Aunt Beth’s way out in the country and a conversation with her farmer-neighbor who had just picked up some chicks at the feed store. A trip to the feed store later, I was in possession of everything I needed to start raising baby pullets in our attic- except the chicks. Not wanting to make an impulse buy I went home and started researching every variety of bird available. I even put together my dream team of hens which included a Silver Laced Polish, a white Sultan and a Partridge Silkie Bantam. The problem was my dream team would not be ready until August based on hatching schedules, so in the end I made a return trip to the feed store and picked up several Silver Laced Wyandottes.
Silver Laced Polish (which are just haute couture in my book)
White Sultan (also stunning with sweet temperaments)
Partridge Silkie Bantam (minis and the lap-dogs of the chicken world)
Silver Laced Wyandotte (good layers, cold tolerant, mild mannered, don’t mind being cooped up)
I have a relationship with a fellow chicken-owner and he says one of his rookie White Silkie Bantams will be a free agent in April. I’m going to try to sign her so I’ll be that much closer to my dream team come summer.
Valiant was at first convinced that Penny and Atlas would be good names. When I told him it might be confusing to have two Atlas’ he warmed to the idea of Murvy and Curvy. Eventually they became Henny and Penny.
We made a block maze to see if they could find each other. They did, although Penny did most of the crying and Henny did most of the searching.
They seemed a little bewildered by the hard empty expanses in the kitchen.
We are planning a long over-due girls’ trip for the end of April and after much debate over dates/locations, we have finally settled on New York City. Now I’ve done many posts that include New York City but I’m not sure that I have ever posted a Big Apple bucket list. It seems a little cliche- as though I am some sort of authority on the city and could add anything that a billion people haven’t covered in a million blogs, but here it goes. Selfishly, the point is, I would like to have readers include their favorites in comments so we don’t miss a thing!
Places to Go:
The Plaza- on a cold day a friend (Laya) encouraged going there for hot toddies. Haven’t done this yet, so it’s still on my list.
ABC Carpet and Home- I have always seen this place in my design magazines and was not disappointed when I finally went. It’s magical to go from floor to floor of this enormous building drinking in each new gorgeous theme.
Eataly- I list this under places to go because it can’t simply be boiled down to a place to eat. It’s much more of an experience than that. Imagine a huge covered market that contains several different restaurants and coffee shops, not divided by actual walls but by different menus, interspersed with isles of food like an Italian grocery.
The Highline- an elevated park built on a 1.45-mile section of the former New York Central Railroad. I think this is a little over-rated. People (mostly New Yorkers probably) rave about this place and I think it’s worth a walk-through. Building a park on an old rail-road is cool but probably less cool to people from areas of the country where you could buy that park and 15 thousand acres to go with it for about $10.
Tenement Museum: could be fun. I was there pregnant, in the freezing cold which made me feel like a poor immigrant so my memories are somewhat tinted by that. It is historically interesting though you will probably have a tour-guide who tries to make you think that life was incredibly awful back in the day for new folks coming to America (i.e., and better now that the soft bigotry of low expectations reigns).
Chelsea Market, The Met, Guggenheim, Central Park, Soho shops…
Mom will definitely want to make a pilgrimage to Redeemer. She teeters on the edge of idolatry when it comes to Tim Keller so I just hope she isn’t devastated if he isn’t preaching that day.
Places to Eat:
I was exposed to Norma’s on my last all-girl trip to NYC which may or may not turn out to be a good thing. The food is amazing, the service is 5 star but you may have to choose between shoes for your children and 4th smoothie-of-the-day. It’s a little spendy but well worth it.
Waverly Inn: Tim and I went here on a day-trip when we didn’t do much of anything and hung out in the warmth of their glass-domed courtyard having brunch and sipping our hot drinks. I sort of reveled in not being a tourist that day.
Upstairs (that’s the name of the place) at the Kimberly hotel if you want a roof-top brunch with a view (recommendation of The Mari-Scarlet)
The Ace Hotel: I would like to grab coffee here. The last time I went I just gawked.
Prune: Mom has written about Blood Bones Butter so I am wondering if she will want to go to this restaurant.
Tim treated me to a trip to NYC specifically for the AD Home Design Show. We left the boys with Grandma (thank you!) and spent the night in in the city. I’d read about the show in my magazines and was curious to see what it was all about.
The Cherry Blossoms were debuting early this year and Central Park was floating on them.
Even display windows were full of blossoms.
The AD show, held at Pier 94, basically consisted of three elements: the Dining by Design section where designers put together different table settings representative of their distinct styles, the MADE section with display booths of different artisans and their items, and the main section which was devoted to larger companies (think Farrow and Ball paint, La Cornue ranges, Michael Gold and Bob Williams, etc).
There was a section in the main hall for individual complimentary consultations with designers from the top 100 design firms selected by AD.
There were also several seminars a day– we walked in on one featuring Barry Dixon (a DC area local) and several other designers.
By a fluke, we were able to get a 15minute walk-in consultation with a designer and I plied him with questions about wallpaper, cabinet colors, and all sorts of other queries I’ve had as we plan our fourth home renovation.
Dining by Design
I have to admit I took that line from a website called “Homicide Watch DC”. I’m glad that there’s attention given to the death of every person in our city who “counts”, but what about those who don’t? And why don’t we ever talk about the fact that abortion is our own form of ethnic cleansing, especially in a city where race tensions typically run so hot and no-one is afraid to call any number of things “racism”.
It’s hard to believe that stopping the massacre of unborn children is a disputed issue in this country. It’s impossible to understand how simply mentioning it could somehow be offensive. It reminds me of a White Stripes song:
“I guess you have to have a problem if you want to invent a contraption
First you cause a train wreck, then they put me in traction
first came an action and then a reaction
But you can’t switch em’ round for your own satisfaction
Well, you burnt my house down then got mad at my reaction
Well, in every complicated situation of a human relation
Makin’ sense of it all takes a whole lot of concentration
Well you can’t blame a baby for her pregnant ma
And if there’s one of these unavoidable laws
It’s that you just can’t take the effect and make it the cause”
Valiant, Atlas and I were among the hundreds of thousands of wing-nuts who turned out in sub-freezing temperatures on the National Mall to force the recognition of America’s on-going holocaust. It was a pretty sobering event.
While Mom et al were doing hand to hand combat with a crazed lumberjack, we were having the perfect Christmas tree cutting experience, complete with snowfall.
Last night I was up with Atlas who was repeatedly vomiting from midnight to 4 or 5am. As soon as he managed to drift off to sleep he (and I) would be jerked awake as he dry heaved, struggling to catch his breath. Tim made a speedy exit to the guest room while I turned our bedroom into the sick ward, and tiptoed around the boys’ room trying not to wake Valiant as I shoveled bedding into a towel and disinfected the crib.
This morning as I attempted to give Atlas some Gatorade he again threw up all over me, himself and our bed. Enter Valiant, who has been in the process of potty training for several months now, walking rather delicately, having just filled his pants and gotten poop on the floor.
So while Atlas slept off his rough night, Valiant and I made a barn out of the raisin box from breakfast, covering it with brown paper, using Washi Tape for a flower boarder and window trim and topping it with a glitter-snow roof. Then I covered the coffee table in more paper, drew roads and streams on it and pulled out some farm animals from Great Grandpa Leroy. And that was enough to keep him occupied for a couple hours.
Meanwhile I am trying to shrink my laundry pile using my doll-house size washer and dryer.
But since this is a blog post, here are some photos which, if viewed without the text, could be rather misleading. (although the observant person might notice that it’s about noon and Valiant is still in his bed-time shirt with only underwear on his bottom)
Sound disgusting? I assure you it is not. This is a recipe from Mom and our family cookbook but I add salmon to make it an entire meal instead of a side dish. Vegetable, protein, dairy– we are in survival mode in our household lately, so dishes like this come in handy. And my kids will actually eat it!
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed
pinch of salt (if this scares you, just add 1/4tsp)
1/2 lb cottage cheese
1/2 lb monterey jack cheese cut into small pieces
1/2 c sour cream
1 c flour
1-1.5lbs salmon uncooked, cut into bite sizes
1/2 c butter
Drain thawed spinach and mix with remaining ingredients except butter. Melt butter in the bottom of a 9×13 pan and pour spinach mixture into it, bake at 350 for 45min.
I dont always use monterey jack cheese, be creative. It just needs to melt well (and obviously not be something like Velveeta)
Once a year we get a break from real life and escape to a little village full of tiny white cabins just a few miles down the road from my in-laws for a week of cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles, someone else cooking and cleaning up, all the ice cream you can eat, dunk tanks, slip n slides on a giant scale, rock piles and toy trucks, evening entertainment for the kids, morning and evening bible teaching for the adults– all surrounded by corn fields and giant trees.
It’s the perfect retreat for just about anyone, but especially two boys being raised in the city. We can’t wait till next year!
I mentioned the Christians in Nigeria in my last post. The press in general is, of course, silent on this issue. The only reason I actually know that Muslims in Northern Nigeria have made it a kill-zone for Christians is because of an organization I support called International Christian Concern. If you want to read about real persecution you can find it here.
(And if you, like me, are skeptical of a lot non-profits and their effectiveness, check out their financial information).