Monday, January 31, 2011

The Closet Cave

Dear Delilah,

Since you've made it clear that you enjoy spending time in your closet, I did a bit of re-organizing to make a little play area in there for you. I remember when I was a child myself how I loved to create little nooks in my closet for playing and reading. It was like a cozy little cave of comfort for me. You're quite a bit younger than I was when I started making closet forts, but you certainly aren't too young to enjoy a little closet nook of your own.

It took hardly any time at all to move things around to make it a better play spot for you. You're especially fond of the mirror! This has become one of your favorite places to play, and it has saved me from my original plan of making a play area on the front porch for you. Now THAT would have been a project! Your closet is warmer anyway, and now I don't have to relocate all my plants!



If you like this blog, and haven't done so lately, please vote for 'Dear Delilah, Fine and Fair' on Babble's Top 50 Mom Blogs. I'm currently at # 44. Thanks for your support!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

LuSa Organics Discount!

Hello friends of Fine and Fair! This is just a quick post to let you know about a special offer from LuSa Organics for Fine and Fair readers. I'll be filling you in on my very favorite LuSa product in an upcoming Featured Item Friday post, but in the mean time, they are offering a 15% discount* off of any order of $50 or more!

LuSa organics is a local business whose luxurious products I've come to know and love. From their website:

LuSa Organics is a natural body care company with a mission of enriching lives through the pleasure of our products and the positive impact of our business practices. That impact touches individuals, communities, and the world.

Take a look around LuSa Organics and enter FINE15 at check out to receive 15% off orders of $50 or more!

*Discount code valid through March 1, 2011

If you like this blog, and haven't done so lately, please vote for 'Dear Delilah, Fine and Fair' on Babble's Top 50 Mom Blogs. I'm currently at # 44. Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What's What Wednesday: Why Cloth?

When I found out that I was going to have a baby, I knew immediately that I wanted to try cloth diapers. When I started to share that desire with people, over and over again they recoiled in horror and asked "Why?"

Delilah in a Goodmama Diaper: "Groovy"

It's no secret that I embrace the 3 R's, (that's 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle', although I'm certainly not opposed to 'Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic') so I had a hard time understanding why it was so shocking that I'd prefer to avoid contributing to the estimated nearly 30 billion disposable diapers that end up in landfills each year. Plus, what's in that creepy stay-dry gel anyway, and why would I want it anywhere near my baby's skin when the ingredients list on the back of Johnson's Baby Shampoo makes me cringe?

My friends thought I was crazy. My mom spoke of safety pins and rubber pants. She and my sister declared that they'd refuse to use cloth diapers when they babysat. People chided me, telling me that it would be gross, that it would be too much work, and that it would never last because I'd give up. I'm nothing if not stubborn, and all of the nay-saying served only to strengthen my resolve. I'd show them!

For me, the decision to use cloth was an easy one. While cloth diapers do require the use of energy and water, overall, their environmental impact is less than that of disposables. They are free of chemicals that are either potentially or known to be dangerous. While they do involve an investment up front, they save thousands of dollars in the long run. Depending how many and what type of diapers you buy, cloth diapering can cost very little (alternately, it can cost quite a lot!). Believe it or not, cloth diapers have a high resale value, so if they are well cared for, much of that investment can be recouped when the diapering days are behind you. Purchasing gently used diapers as opposed to new ones in the first place further increases the savings over disposables!

Have I mentioned that they're cute? They're CUTE!

Delilah in a Goodmama Diaper: "Chord Progression"

I remember my excitement when my first package of fluffy new cloth diapers arrived in the mail. (They were FuzziBunz, which ultimately didn't end up being the diapers for us, but many people love them!) When I showed them to my mom, she was amazed at how far cloth diapers had come since I was a baby. She and my sister both use cloth with no complaints when they watch Delilah, for the record.

There's definitely a learning curve when it comes to using cloth diapers. I remember the feeling of defeat when my tiny newborn baby was absolutely swimming in the "newborn" sized diapers I'd bought for those early days. We've worked it all out, and Delilah has been in cloth full-time since she was a few weeks old. These days, when people ask how it's going, using cloth diapers, I'm not even sure how to answer. It's what we know, so it's what's normal to us. I can't realistically compare the experience of using cloth to the experience of using disposables, since we only used disposables for a few weeks.

As for the grossness factor? I'll let you in on a little secret. Poop is gross. It's gross no matter where it ends up. I don't care what kind of diapers you use, if you have a baby, you're going to end up with poop in your washing machine (and on the wall, the floor, your shirt, and probably even your dog).

There are pros and cons to consider with either choice, but for us, cloth diapers are the best option and we're glad we've stuck with it!

Don't forget, there's still time to enter to win the Knickernappies One Size Diaper from Simple Wonders Diapers!

--This is the first in a series of cloth diapering related 'What's What Wednesday' posts. Next week, I'll explain the different types of cloth diapering options including prefolds, fitteds, pockets, and all-in-one/all-in-two diapers!

If you like this blog, and haven't done so lately, please vote for 'Dear Delilah, Fine and Fair' on 
Babble's Top 50 Mom Blogs. I'm currently at # 43. Thanks for your support!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

And So it Begins

Dear Delilah,

Today, you have achieved a milestone that I naively did not anticipate. The sad, trembling, little pouty lip. The puppy dog face.

The only time your teeth become an issue during nursing is when you're teething. I'm nursing you down for a nap, even still as I write this, and a few minutes ago, you bit me. It hurt. I cried "Ouch! Take it nice!" ("Take it nice" is what I say to you prior to latching you on while you're teething, and it normally works well to remind you to latch on properly and not lead with your teeth.) You glanced up at me as you continued to nurse. You bit me again. Again, I cried out "Ouch!", but this time I slipped my finger between my breast and your mouth to break your latch.

What happened next was one of the most heartbreaking moments in my experience as a mother thus far. You poked out your little bottom lip into a pouty frown, it started to quiver, and your eyes offered a genuine apology as you started to whimper. Not one of the cries I've grown accustomed to, just a meek little whimper. I hugged you close and explained that I was sorry to take away the boobah, but that you had hurt mama, before kissing your forehead and positioning you to finish nursing. You took it nice.

You've revealed your puppy-dog face, and it' a doozy. I can't wait until you have the opportunity to use it on your father. I can already see the puddle he'll melt into when he finds himself on the receiving end of it.



If you like this blog, and haven't done so lately, please vote for 'Dear Delilah, Fine and Fair' on 
Babble's Top 50 Mom Blogs. I'm currently at # 43. Thanks for your support!


Monday, January 24, 2011

Not-So-Manic Monday

Dear Delilah,

Last week was the first of my last year in class as an undergraduate. If all goes according to plan, (it doesn't always!) I'll complete my undergraduate degree in December of this year. After that, I'll start thinking about which direction I want to go for graduate school, but in the spirit if parenting: Baby Steps!

A new semester means a new schedule to adjust to, and I must say that you're having an easier time of it than I am. This is the first time since returning to school in 2008 that I've had class, morning class at that, every day of the week Monday through Friday. Since my classes start at roughly the time you and I were accustomed to eating breakfast each day, some big adjustments had to be made!

I've never been much of a morning person, but you seem to do just fine with the earlier wake-up. Since Grandma Bev recently had surgery on her shoulder, I don't currently have the luxury of her coming to our house to watch you while I go to class. I certainly took for granted the option of leaving the dirty work to her if we over-slept or I was just feeling lazy. The rush to get us both fed, dressed, and ready to head out the door in order to get you to daycare early enough to get me to class on time is a bit of a struggle for me. The sub-zero temperatures and extra car-heating and bundling up they require don't help matters!

Fortunately, you are about as laid-back and easy-going as babies get. (You get that from your father.) You wake up chipper and ready to greet the day. (I'm not sure where you get that from.) You leisurely eat your breakfast while I scarf mine down, get myself dressed, get your clothes ready, and start the car.

You've started to "help" in getting yourself dressed by offering up your limbs to be slid into shirts, pants, socks, and shoes. Even though pressed for time, I try to make a sing-song game out of it: The sock goes over your foot, the sock goes over your foot. The shoe goes over your sock, the shoe goes over your sock. You smile and giggle while I wrestle you into your coat and hat. You extend your hands to receive your mittens willingly, although I have to be quick with the second one or you'll snatch the first one off.

You've made the transition to going to daycare more often seamlessly. When we pass through the door at Jesse's warm and cozy house, you immediately reach for her, turn to me, smile, and wave "bye-bye". If you had more words, you'd be saying "I'm fine mom, now get out of here, I'll see you later!" The other girls shriek "Baby Delilah's Here!" and you relish the attention.

I can take a lesson from you in remembering to roll with the changes. All the while I'm cursing this new schedule, longing for the comfortable routine we've left behind, you are thriving. You remind me that change is inevitable, and that it goes best when you surrender to it and make the best of it.

You quieted my worries about feeling like I'm abandoning you at daycare for a couple of hours each day. As content as you are to be left to play with Jesse and the new friends you're making there, nothing beats the excited look and huge smile on your face when you see me come back through the door to pick you up. Even so, the other day when I picked you up, got you bundled up, and got ready to head out the door, you reached for Jesse again. When she took you into her arms for one last quick snuggle, you once again turned around, smiled at me and waved "bye-bye". Your sense of independence grows stronger every day, and serves as a reminder of just how effective building a secure bond early-on truly is. Just be careful little one, or you might hurt mama's feelings!



If you like this blog, and haven't done so lately, please vote for 'Dear Delilah, Fine and Fair' on
  Babble's Top 50 Mom Blogs. I'm currently at # 43. Thanks for your support!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Fair Compromise?

Dear Delilah,

Last week, I predicted that there might be some "discussion" today about which team's spirit we'd impose on you. At that time, it remained to be seen whether you'd be sporting this:

or this:

They say that compromise is essential in any relationship, so we settled on this:

Perhaps your father's wishy-washy football fandoms are destined to be your legacy. To be quite honest, I'm not so offended that you possess Packers apparel. I find it more off-putting that the only Packers apparel you own is a cheer-leading outfit. I'll spare you my rant on the ways in which cheer-leading sexualizes teenagers (and by extension, babies, apparently) for the time being. For now, it's back to my beer and chili and trying to teach you the Super Bowl Shuffle.



If you like this blog, and haven't done so lately, please vote for 'Dear Delilah, Fine and Fair' on
  Babble's Top 50 Mom Blogs. I'm currently at # 42. Thanks for your support!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I'll Grab Yours if You Grab Mine

I'm talking about blog buttons, of course.

Thanks to the tutorial on Manic Mother, even the decidedly tech-un-savvy (like yours truly) can make a blog button with a grab box! :)

Here's mine:

Fine and Fair

(It can also be found on the sidebar to the right.) Let me know if you "grab it", and I'll grab yours too to spread the love! :)

Also, as long as I'm asking for favors, if you like this blog, and haven't done so lately, please vote for 'Dear Delilah, Fine and Fair' on Babble's Top 50 Mom Blogs. I'm at #43 at the time I'm posting this and it would mean so much to me to stay in the top 50. Thanks for your support! If you're on there, let me know and I'll return the favor!

If you have ONE more click in your heart:

Shall we call this 'Spread the Love Saturday'? ;)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Instinctual Mama

Dear Delilah,

Late Sunday evening...well no, technically it was early Monday morning, I was up nursing you back to sleep for the second time that night. You've been working on more teeth, which means you're waking up more than usual, which means I'm waking up more than usual. The first day of the semester at school was upon me, and I desperately longed for a good night's sleep. I was feeling a little frustrated as I surfed around the internet a bit while you nursed, and then I happened upon Instinctual Mamas which lead me to a blog post encouraging 'Mommy bloggers' to write about what it means to be an 'Instinctual Mom'.

I glanced down at you, peacefully nursing with eyelids drooping, and my frustration melted away. I remembered that this very scenario, which happens far less frequently these days, is a part of my own personal brand of instinctual motherhood.

For me, instinctual parenting means anticipating, recognizing, and meeting your varying needs. It means that your needs are just as important to me in the middle of the night as they are in the middle of the afternoon. Instinctual parenting means that you are welcome in my lap, at my breast, and in my bed. It means that I will not leave you to cry alone, because the visceral reaction I have to the sound of your cry compels me to respond to it with care and concern.

Instinctual parenting means smiling and nodding when I receive unsolicited parenting advice from strangers that goes against every fiber of my being, feeling confident that our choices are the best for our family. It means recognizing that you have more than an 'Instinctual Mama', you also have an 'Instinctual Papa' who is a fully and equally capable parent. Being an instinctual mother means that I appreciate that in order to be fully present as a mother, I must not neglect the entirety of my person. It means that I should ensure that my own needs are met, and help your father meet his own needs, so that we can be more available to meet yours.

As an instinctual mother, I will do my best to cherish rather than detest your night time wakings and all of the minor annoyances of childhood. I know that the time will come all too soon when I will miss those quiet moon-lit snuggles, because eventually,being an instinctual mama will mean watching you set off on your own path, guided by instincts of your own.



 If you like this blog, and haven't already done so, please vote for 'Dear Delilah, Fine and Fair' on Babble's Top 50 Mom Blogs. Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What's What Wednesday: Communicating with your Baby

A Guest Post co-written by Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas:

Communicating With Your Baby

Possessing the ability to speak and communicate in more than one language in today's society is priceless. This type of study usually begins in middle school, or high school for many kids in America. However, these days bilingual education is being taught at a younger age, before kids attend preschool, before they take their
first step, and even before they say their first word, through sign language.

The ability to communicate articulately in a variety of ways and languages to the widest possible audience is a great way to stay ahead and ensure a decent standard of living in our suffering economic state. This is not limited to speaking different languages but also non-verbal communication: signing.

As a result of the shortage of American Sign Language interpreters the job opportunities in this field have really opened up, and if current trends continue, it is likely that why will stay this way.

First Words

The toddler years and beyond – ages 2 to five –are an ample time to educate children in different modes of communication and language because of their brain development course. This goes beyond the spoken word (though it is an optimal time for children to learn a second language); many young children have an aptitude for signing as well.

American Indian nations have used sign language for centuries to facilitate communication with other tribes with whom they do not share a language. Some paleontologists and anthropologists theorize that Neanderthals – who apparently lacked the vocal mechanism to produce many spoken words – depended a great deal upon hand gestures to communicate. Therefore it is not as strange as one would think.

In fact, recent research suggests that sign language is innate. An article published in the Boulder Daily Camera in 2003 presented strong evidence that babies as young as six months old communicate with their hands:

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development are also referred to by the author, demonstrating that young children who are taught sign language at an early age whether at day care or at home, actually develop better verbal skills as they get older. The ability to sign has also helped parents in communicating with autistic children; one parent reports that "using sign language allowed her to communicate with her [autistic] son and minimized his frustration...[he now] has an advanced vocabulary and excels in math, spelling and music" (Glarion, 2003).

Lasting Results

The benefits of early childhood education through signing are endless. In addition to giving kids a way to communicate, it also provides them with an opportunity to form a bond with their parent(s). The hope is that eventually it will become know as one of the "firsts" that no parent wants to miss, such as the first time they walked or their first tooth. Signing is likely to allow communication much earlier than verbally. It creates a closeness that will allow parents to be more in sync with their child's thoughts and needs.

Emily and Kathleen are Communications Coordinators for the network of Austin day care facilities belonging to the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose day care schools. Primrose Schools are located in 16 states throughout the U.S. and are dedicated to delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning® curriculum throughout their preschools.

--Mama's Note: I started using sign language with Delilah when she was a newborn, and was thrilled to see this article appear in my inbox as a contribution to Fine and Fair. To get started with using sign language with your baby or toddler, I recommend The Baby Signing Book.

If you would like to contribute as a guest poster on Fine and Fair,   please click HERE to learn how!

 If you like this blog, and haven't already done so, please vote for 'Dear Delilah, Fine and Fair' on Babble's" Top 50 Mom Blogs. Thanks for your support!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

And I Think to Myself...

Dear Delilah,

Last week, on a very cold and gray day, we went to the hospital to pay a visit to my Grandfather's widow, who you know as your Great Grandma. She had fallen mysteriously ill, and your Grandma, who was going to be leaving town for the weekend and wished to see you before she set off, was spending the day there at the hospital with her.

As we entered, that uncomfortable feeling that I imagine most adults get upon walking into a hospital came over me. That feeling of being in a place both sterile and sick, a place filled with both hope and despair, a place that you just want to leave as soon as you arrive. You, my beautifully innocent child, were blissfully unaware of these facets of the atmosphere. You smiled and said 'hi' to the silently grim folks in the elevator, you stared wide-eyed at machines and wheel-chairs whizzing by, you pushed away from me, longing for me to put you down so you could explore this exciting frontier.

When we found your Great-Grandma's room, she was sleeping, but your Grandma was thrilled to see you, as always. When your Great-Grandma woke up and saw you, she was overjoyed. She was having a hard time talking, but repeated over and again how pretty she thinks you are, and how seeing you was an answered prayer. She loves to play patty-cake with you, so much so that you associate that particular game with her almost exclusively, and when I brought you over to her you started patting her hands immediately, bringing a bright smile to her ashen face.

You and I accompanied your Grandma to the cafeteria so she could get a bit to eat while Great-Grandma got some more rest. When we returned, Grandma glanced out the window and announced that it was snowing. "Great," I grumbled, annoyed. We were short on time, and when I saw the flakes falling, I saw more time to brush off the van, more time on the road to get home, slick roads to drive on, and a whole bunch of yuck.

I got you bundled up and we said our goodbyes. By the time we'd hit the ground floor, you were getting heavy, and I was silently bemoaning the fact that I'd forgotten to bring a sling to help support your ever-increasing weight. We made our way outside, my eyes glued to the ground in front of me, stepping carefully so as to avoid slipping and falling. I awkwardly shifted your weight around, taking care not to let your jacket ride up in the back and expose your delicate skin to the elements.

I drove home impatiently, muttering under my breath that this was Wisconsin, and this was hardly any snow at all, and why are people going so slowly? I kept glancing at the clock as if to keep it from creeping forward. I needed to get you down for another nap, feed you, and bundle you up again to take you to daycare so I could get to work, and time was running out.

When we arrived home and I released you from your car-seat, I once again fixed my eyes on the ground ahead of me, all set to hurry into the house and take care of business. Just then, I glanced at you, and saw that you cared not about the slick sidewalk, nor the nap, nor the fact that I had to leave soon for work. Your eyes were set toward the sky, watching some of the most gigantic and fluffy snowflakes I've ever seen dance down from it. You batted your eyelashes when a flake got caught up on them, and cautiously stuck your tongue out for a taste.

The wonder and amazement in your eyes took my breath away. Seeing you take in this beautiful spectacle of nature grounded and refreshed me. You brought me back to a time in my own life when snow was magical, not an inconvenience to be brushed off, plowed away, and walked carefully upon.

If I hadn't glanced at your face at just that moment, I would have missed much more than the most beautiful snowfall I've seen, I mean really seen, in years. I would have missed the realization that through your eyes, the world is brand new all over again. As you discover all of the intricate, complex, beauty in the most simple things that life has to offer, I will have the opportunity to re-discover them, as though for the first time myself.
"They say that every snowflake is different. If that were true, how could the world go on? How could we ever get up off our knees? How could we ever recover from the wonder of it?" 
--Jeannette Winterson
The world does go on. It goes on because as we grow, we lose some of that wonder. We don't see the difference in each snow flake, we see poor driving conditions and sore backs from shoveling. However if we're lucky, we notice a precious child noticing, tasting, discovering it, and we drop to our knees and get some of that wonder back.

Thank you for helping me to see the snow that day. It truly was a sight to behold.



 If you like this blog, and haven't already done so, please vote for 'Dear Delilah, Fine and Fair' on Babble's Top 50 Mom Blogs. Thanks for your support!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Miss Independent

Dear Delilah,

As time goes on, you are becoming increasingly independent and your unique personality shines through more and more. You often prefer playing by yourself and sometimes express the slightest bit of annoyance when I try to join in your fun. You move from one toy or activity to the next with purpose, and trying to distract you from your intended task is proving to be a challenge.

If you're looking at a book, and I start reading it to you, you'll often lose interest and start flipping through a different one instead. I cherish the times when you nestle into my lap and let me read to you since they are becoming fewer and further between.

We don't interfere with your explorations of our home (unless there's a safety issue, of course), and you've started wandering (well, scooting) off into other rooms, leaving us behind to set off on your next adventure. The other day, you went off into the bathroom to engage in one of your favorite past-times: banging the cat's food dish against the sink. This action, in and of itself, was not unusual. What was unusual was that you shut the door behind you, as if to express a desire for some privacy, please.

When I retrieved you from the bathroom, you set off for your bedroom, where you've been enjoying pulling every book off of your shelf and emptying your basket of stuffed toys. Things got quiet. One of the most basic lessons of Babies 101 is that a baby who is quiet is either sleeping or getting into trouble, so I went into your room to check on you. Except...I couldn't find you.

Your bedroom is smaller than many people's closets, so I panicked a little bit when I didn't see you upon scanning the room. The only room between the living room where I had been and your bedroom was the kitchen, and you weren't in there, either. Just when I was about to start really worrying, I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye in your closet.

You had pulled down a pile of clean clothes that I'd been meaning to hang up in your closet, buried yourself under it, and were rolling around in it and admiring yourself in the mirror.

After nearly giving me a heart attack, you nearly killed me with cuteness! While watching you grow and blossom into your own person can by nerve-wracking at times, it is truly one of the greatest joys I've ever beheld.



If you like this blog, please vote for me on 
  Babble's Top 100 Mom Blogs
 Thanks for your support!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Da Bears

Dear Delilah,

I'm not going to claim that we're the Chicago Bears' good luck charms. Okay, I totally am.

Their win today means a re-match of epic proportions for the NFC Championship next weekend between one of the oldest rivalries in the NFL. It's always interesting being a Bears fan in a sea of cheddarheads, but never more than when the Packers and Bears are matched up. If I get my way, you and I will be sporting our Bears gear again next Sunday. Your father hasn't decided yet which team he'll be rooting for; (he's got a history of being indecisive when it comes to football) so there's a chance that there will be a battle of equally epic proportions as your father and I "discuss" whether you'll be donning your orange and navy or your green and gold.

I never really understood football until your daddy and I started dating. He made it his mission to enlighten me and make me fall in love with the game. Thanks to his patience, sense of humor, and creativity, he was successful in his endeavor. I live to make him regret it!



If you like this blog, and haven't already done so, please vote for 'Dear Delilah, Fine and Fair' on Babble's Top 50 Mom Blogs. Thanks for your support!

Knickernappies Giveaway from Simple Wonders Diapers!

-This contest is now closed! Thank you!-

When I mentioned to Sultana at Simple Wonders Diapers that I am working on a series of cloth diaper posts (Kicking off next Wednesday, January 26th) and that I plan on featuring Knickernappies One Size diapers (my stash of which I purchased from her website) she offered to sponsor a giveaway!

Knickernappies Image from Simple Wonders Diapers

One lucky Fine and Fair reader will receive 
in the color of your choice with your choice of microfiber or loopy-do inserts. 
(I recommend loopy-do!)

Enter to Win

Up to 10 Entries per person: 
Leave a comment with either what you like best about cloth diapers if you currently use them, or your top question about cloth diapering if you don't.
Like Fine and Fair on Facebook
Follow Fine and Fair on Twitter
Follow Fine and Fair via Google Friend Connect (Click 'Follow' in the upper right corner of this page)
Tweet this entry (comment with link)
Facebook share this entry (comment with link)
Link to this Giveaway in your blog (comment with link)
Visit Simple Wonders Diapers and leave me a comment telling me what you like best about the site
Like Simple Wonders Diapers on Facebook
Comment with a suggestion for a What's What Wednesday post topic

Fine Print
Leave a separate comment to this post for each entry! 
Be sure to include your e-mail address in your comments so I can easily contact you if you win.
Giveaway is open to US residents only.
Contest is open until Midnight CST on 1/27/11.
Winner will be selected by
Winner will be announced in the Featured Item Friday post on 1/28/11 and will be contacted by e-mail.
Winner will have 48 hours to respond or a runner-up will be chosen at random.

I was not solicited nor am I am being compensated for this giveaway or the review to follow.
The only thing I've received from Simple Wonders Diapers is outstanding service. :)


If you like this blog, and haven't done so lately, please vote for 'Dear Delilah, Fine and Fair' on
  Babble's Top 50 Mom Blogs. I'm currently at # 43. Thanks for your support!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Coming Soon: What's What Wednesdays

Dear Delilah,

As someone who has made some parenting choices that are seen as unconventional by many, I field a lot of questions about the hows and the whys of the decisions I've made. As such, I hope you won't mind if I stray a bit from my letters to you (don't worry, there will still be plenty of those!) to share the ins and outs of some of the hot topics I get asked about.

Next week, I'll debut "What's What Wednesdays" where I share my opinions, experiences, and information on a variety of topics related to parenting, family dynamics, home life, and maybe even a political issue here and there. I'll kick it off with Fine and Fair's first-ever guest poster, followed by a series on one of the topics I get asked about most: Cloth Diapering.

What's What Wednesdays will also provide exciting opportunities for guest posters!

When the time comes that you're reading this blog for yourself, these informative (and/or opinionated) posts interspersed among my letters to you will help you gain a deeper understanding of how and why your father and I have made the choices we have, and for my values and priorities not only as a mother, but as a human being.



--If you'd like to suggest a topic for 'What's What Wednesday', or would like to contribute as a guest poster, click HERE to find out how!

If you like this blog, and haven't already done so, please vote for 'Dear Delilah, Fine and Fair' on Babble's" Top 50 Mom Blogs. Thanks for your support!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Just a Spoonful

Dear Delilah,

I love to bake. I started helping my mother with the baking as a little girl, and eventually became the primary chocolate chip cookie baker in the household. Your daddy is constantly asking me to bake cookies. He recently attempted a batch on his own, and let's just keep a long story short by saying that you really shouldn't make the full recipe when you've only got a quarter of a bag of chocolate chips, and that I'll stay the primary cookie baker in this household, too.

When your daddy got home from work the other day, he was excited to see two sticks of butter sitting out on the counter, a tell-tale sign that baked goodies are in his near future. He asked if I was going to make cookies, and his eyes started sparkling when I confirmed that I was.

He played with you while I mixed up the dough and got the first batch in the oven, and then brought you into the kitchen to give you your first shot at licking the dough-covered spoon and beater.

Perhaps I should explain the mouse thing? Daddy happened upon your Halloween costume while we were cleaning out your closet (which is a story for another day) and you were so delighted to have it on that we let you wear it to play in for a while.

Anyway, suffice it to say, you are your mother's daughter, (and grandmother's granddaughter, for that matter) and you love a good spoonful of chocolate chip cookie dough. Upon sharing those photos above, a friend who used to babysit me commented that she remembered my mother keeping a bowl of cookie dough in the refridgerator to snack on at will. Around here, I use it all up to make cookies, but plenty of dough gets taste tested before that final result. While licking the beater is a small part of baking, it's a fun and important one. I enjoy that you're starting to get involved in the process!




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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Born to Strum

Dear Delilah,

You've been interested in musical instruments practically since your birth. Daddy started singing and playing guitar for you in your first week of life, and you've been 'helping' him strum practically from the moment you could sit up without help. While you have no shortage of toy versions of musical instruments (here's a video of you playing some of the percussion toys from your Parum Pum Pum Drum with Daddy), we've encouraged you to be "hands on" with our instruments. Still, moments like this do make me a little nervous:

Nevertheless, we continue to make our instruments accessible to you and allow you to touch and explore them. More and more often, you even manage to get pleasant sounds out of them!

When we travel to Grandma Laurel and Grandpa Bruce's, you're greeted with an abundance of musical instruments. Grandma Laurel is a music teacher, and their home is filled with instruments of every type. When we were there to celebrate this past Christmas, Daddy and I got to try our hands at Grandpa Bruce's new Dulcimer, and Grandma gave you your first piano lesson.

As much as you love a variety of instruments, your favorite is still playing guitar with your daddy.

I think your Grandma's caption when she sent us the pictures she took of you and Daddy playing guitar together on Christmas night was right on. You do indeed seem to be 'Born to Strum'.



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Monday, January 10, 2011

Poor Phase vs. Poverty: No Comparison

Dear Delilah,

I've been known to joke that we're currently going through our "Character Building Poor Phase" while I work on finishing my education, but the truth is, poverty is no laughing matter. Our 'poor phase' means that Daddy and I live paycheck to paycheck. True poverty means no paycheck. Our 'poor phase' means the roof over our heads covers a small home in need of some minor repairs. True poverty often means no roof at all. In our 'poor phase', "nothing to eat" means the cupboards are only half full and that we don't really feel like eating what's in them. In true poverty, nothing to eat means empty bellies. Our 'poor phase' means we need to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. True poverty means no boots.

I've been called a socialist and a bleeding-heart liberal. Why? Because I firmly believe that in a world in which there is a market for diamond encrusted bras and gold-plated toilet seats, there should not be people dying in the streets from starvation. Now I know that many of the people buying those bras and toilet seats worked hard for the money to be able to afford such frivolous luxuries, but I also know that the majority of them were born into a world of affluence in which abundant opportunities were made available to them and doorways to success were opened for them left and right. It follows that most people currently living in poverty were born into a world of despair with few opportunities and in which doors slammed shut as soon as they neared them.

When people talk about poverty, the discussion often and all too quickly turns to blame. Rather than working toward resolving the problem (which, yes, might mean that the richest 1% should loosen their grasp on some of the money that they couldn't possibly need to survive their lifetime anyway) we blame people. While I won't turn this into a feminist rant (although I easily could) we most often blame women. They should get off their lazy butts and get a job. (Who's going to care for their children, provide them with work-appropriate clothes, or drive them to work?). They should get on birth control and stop having babies they can't afford to support. (What about the men impregnating them?) They should get an education. (See: They should get a job.)

In an ideal world, everyone would have ample opportunity to acquire sufficient education to enable them to work to make enough money to support themselves and their families. In an ideal world, 'minimum wage' would be sufficient to live on. In an ideal world, every child would be born into a situation in which his or her most basic needs can be met. This is not an ideal world.

If Slaughterhouses had Glass Walls...

Dear Delilah,

When I was pregnant with you, your daddy and I agreed to raise you as a vegetarian until you're old enough to make an informed decision about whether or not you want to include meat and byproducts of animal slaughter in your diet. My on again/off again relationship with vegetarianism started when I was seventeen, and didn't know enough about nutrition to manage a meat-free diet in a healthy way. Over the years, I became more informed about my nutritional needs, and started gradually cutting meat out of my diet. First I cut out red meat and pork, then poultry, then finally fish. I got over my fear of commitment, and the last morsel of meat that has passed my lips was in September of 2005. It was salmon.

When I met your father, he was a vegetarian, but by the time we started dating, he wasn't. He doesn't eat meat often, and tries to be conscientious about its origins when he does. When he moved in with me, he happily agreed to maintain a vegetarian household. It followed that when we discussed how we'd handle your diet, he happily agreed that whether or not to eat meat should be your choice to make when you were mature enough to understand it.

I won't go on and on about why we made that decision or how we manage sticking to it in a not-very-vegetarian-friendly town, because I was fortunate to have the opportunity to write about that on Nature Moms in a piece entitled "Raising a Vegetarian: A Matter of Choice". As with the other parenting choices we've made that are considered un-conventional amongst our immediate family and circle of friends, we've been blessed with support and respect for our values.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Like you Mean it

Dear Delilah,

School is still several years away for you, but your father and I started discussing your education before you were even born. Would we send you to public school? What about Waldorf education? What is Montessori all about? We haven't made the final call yet, but one thing is certain, your future will be filled with teachers. Some of those teachers will be in a school setting, some will be in extra- or co-curricular activities, and still others will be friends, family members, and other trusted individuals. Some of these teachers you'll love, and some you'll detest. Some will challenge you while others annoy you. You'll remember some by name, some by the subject they taught, and some by random details like the scent they wore or that weird string of drool they always had in the corner of their mouth.

I've had a plethora of instructors in my day, and every one of them left a lasting impact on me in one way or another. I remember the way my kindergarten teacher pronounced the word "gums" as "gooms", and that she was very thorough in her lesson teaching us how to check for lice. I recall that even at 6 years old, it struck me as nonsensical that my 1st grade teacher sent me to the library to re-do the math problems I'd gotten wrong, 10 times over for each of the 10 problems I'd made errors on. It seemed to me it would be more logical to remain with the class and avoid multiplying my confusion about arithmetic. Maybe that's why I lack confidence in my ability to excel in math courses to this day!

There was the 2nd grade teacher who loved ladybugs, and the 5th grade teacher who lived in a house with giant solar panels on it in the next neighborhood over. This was long before "going green" was the hip thing to do, and it fascinated me that the sun helped to power his house. I remember the 6th grade art teacher who brought his snake to school, and the middle school choir teacher with the sweaty armpits. I could go on for days about memories of my numerous high school teachers, but there's one that stands out in the crowd.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Tidying Up Trepidation

Dear Delilah,

As a newborn, loud noises didn't phase you. You would never flinch when Sadie started barking to announce the arrival of a guest. At just 6 weeks old, you slept through one of your uncle's basketball games, the noise level so high I was worried your hearing would be damaged.

Your seeming unawareness of shifts in decibels started to change when you were around three months old. Suddenly you started jumping at Sadie's bark. Bursts of applause frightened you. The worst of all? The vacuum cleaner.

Your reaction to the obnoxious whir of the vacuum was one of terror. For nearly a year now, we have painstakingly avoided traumatizing you with the vacuum cleaner by taking care of that chore while one or the other of us has you out of the house, during the narrow window of time between the moment when you first start stirring from your nap and the moment when you become annoyed that you haven't been rescued from your crib yet, or as a last resort, when we leave you in your room and shut the door for a few minutes so we can get it taken care of.

No more.

I decided that enough was enough, and fell back on my education in counseling theories to get you past your fear. I figured it was nothing that a little Exposure Therapy couldn't take care of, and it turns out I was right!

I started out by just putting the vacuum cleaner in the room with us while you played and I tidied up and swept the floor. I explained that I was going to be vacuuming soon, and it was going to get noisy. After little more than a curious glance, you returned to your toys. When I started to push it around without turning it on, I reminded you that it was going to get loud soon, but that there was no need to be scared, because the noise meant the floor was getting clean and was nothing to be scared of. A look of concern passed over you face, but it was short-lived.

Finally, I secured you on my hip in a sling and got ready to get down to business. I gave you one last warning that it was going to be loud, and then flipped the switch. I was slightly taken aback when you didn't start crying, but merely clung to me a little bit tighter and buried your face in my shoulder. After a few moments, you grew more and more brave, and started gazing at the vacuum cleaner inquisitively, as though you were trying to remember what the fuss was all about in the first place.

I was impressed with how quickly and easily you overcame your aversion to the vacuum. By the time we got to the last room on the itinerary, your bedroom, you were leaning precariously over the edge of the sling, reaching for the handle to "help" me push the vacuum around. I'd like to think that it's my stellar therapeutic skills that got you so swiftly past your apprehension, but I've got to give credit where credit is due, and you're becoming more confident, curious, and independent with each passing day.

Next on the agenda, I need to figure out how to gradually expose you to sudden bursts of cheering and applause. Your uncle's basketball season is over, but baseball season is just around the corner!



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Friday, January 7, 2011

Embracing Balance: Mama's First Guest Blog

Dear Delilah,

Many of the parenting choices that your father and I are committed to come from the Attachment Parenting philosophy. Staying consistent with Attachment Parenting ideals can be challenging for any parent, but especially for parents who work (or like me, go to school) outside of the home.

I had the opportunity to write a guest blog for Alternative Mama about how we strike a balance and make Attachment Parenting work for us, even with other obligations that need tending to. The piece I wrote can be found HERE.

Every bit of tricky scheduling and every sacrifice have been worth it to ensure that you are cared for in a  safe, sensitive, loving, consistent, positive way. You've already begun to demonstrate the independence and confidence that secure attachment provides, and it is a joy to watch as you come into your own in unique and charming ways.


--Thank you to Alternative Mama for the opportunity to write this piece! Check out her blog, and if you like it, follow her on facebook and twitter, too!

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Featured Item Friday: The Snoogle

This review has moved! You can find it HERE on Fine and Fair Favorites!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

When do Babies Learn to Mop?

Dear Delilah,

I realize that along with practical skills like feeding yourself, you're also learning exciting concepts like gravity and cause & effect.

Here's a quick lesson in the latter:

When you cause food to be on the floor, the effect is an annoyed mama.

Believe it or not, I didn't spend half an hour  making a nice breakfast just so you could feed it to the dog and throw it on the floor. It's fine if you don't want to eat all of something, but maybe you could...I don't know...just leave it on your tray so it could be saved for later? Like a reasonable person? Oh, who am I kidding? Who in their right mind would expect a 14 month old to behave like a reasonable person?

Hmmm...perhaps it's me who needs to behave like a reasonable person and realize that babies throw food. It's part of the learning process. I'll let you in a not-very-secret secret though. I hate mopping. I won't even admit here how rarely I mop, because I'd hate for anyone to recoil in horror or call CPS about the food on the floor.

Honestly, the pets "clean up" most of it, but there are some things even they won't eat. What does every living thing in this house have against prunes,  anyway?

As much as I think that most of the baby product marketing out there misleads parents into believing that their children won't survive without piles and piles of latest and greatest stuff, I think it might be time for something like the Booginhead Splat Mat. While this product seems like a good idea in theory, in practice, it might end up being just another thing I hate to clean. It's certainly prettier than our current kitchen floor!

When all is said and done, when this little phase passes and you learn to keep your food on your plate instead of flinging it on the ground or handing it right to the dog, it will have proven to be yet another exercise in teaching me patience. So far, every lesson I've taught you has resulted in a lesson for me, often more powerful and poignant than what I managed to teach you.

On the bright side, by the time you stop throwing food on the floor, you'll probably be big enough to mop yourself!



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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

(Not So) Rhetorical Questions

Dear Delilah,

I'm not sure why it is, but from the moment babies are born, people love to ask them questions that they are unable to answer. Grandmas have a certain knack for this, but almost everyone does it to some degree. There's often a high-pitched, sing-song kind of lilt to the questions. Babies are inundated with questions like "Whose the most beautiful baby in the world?" or "Who loves her Grandma?" or "What should you wear today?" or "What's the square root of 257?" (Okay, so maybe that last one isn't as common.)

Well, your daddy and I are just as guilty of this as anyone. Ever since your closest sound to talking was a little un-controlled squeak or squawk, we've been quizzing you. Every time we hear a bit of 'thunder down under', we ask "Poop or toots?" before having a look into your diaper to see whether or not a prize awaits us.

Your squeaks and squawks have transformed into babbling, syllables, and actual words, but it was still surprising yesterday when you started actually answering the question "Poop or toots?" with "Pup!" Daddy and I looked at each other in disbelief. "Did she just say poop?" "She just said poop!"

Alas, we checked your diaper, and there was no "pup" to be found. We've been working on teaching you body parts, but I think we need to take a break from that to get clear on the difference between poop and toots. Y'know, something actually useful.



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Monday, January 3, 2011

Better World Blogshare

My first blogshare may not have resulted in a huge quantity of posts, but the quality cannot be beat! A huge thank you to Witkowski Family Happenings and Teaching Ain't For Heros for your participation!

 Happy New Year

In her post, Chrissi resolves to 'pay it forward' in 2011 by signing up as a Literacy Volunteer at her local library, involving her whole family in donating time at a local homeless shelter, and living by the motto "faith, hope, love".

I was especially moved by her desire to work with native Spanish speakers who wish to improve their English and adults seeking a GED, as well as her comittment to leading by example by involving her children in helping the homeless in their area.

A Teacher's Resolution

In this post, 'A Kentucky Teacher' commits to enriching and improving her students' educational experience by using diagnostic assessments. She discusses the importance of going beyond merely presenting information by determining the existing knowledge base and including fun along with learning.

Given that the children really are our future (Cue Whitney Houston Music!), her better world resolution stands to make a huge and lasting impact!

Since there were two prize awards promised, and two posts written specifically for this blogshare, both of these bloggers get to choose a charity or cause to which I will make a $10 donation. I will be contacting you both to find out where to send your prize! :)

If you missed it, here is my own Better World Resolutions post.

Additionally, two bloggers linked up their existing New Year's Resolution Posts:

By Word of Mouth's 2011 and What Makes it A Happy New Year


Teacher.Mom.Crazy Lady's Just Do It

Last but not least, thank you to everyone who commented in support of the idea! I plan to host another blogshare in the next few weeks related to the topic of feminism, so get your thinking caps on for that one and stay tuned for more details!


Special Section for the better late than never crowd! ;)

The Better World Resolution Blogshare...better late than never?
Tish writes about continuing and increasing her family's fundraising work from 2010, canning her own veggies and sauces, (which she reminded me that I need to get on board with this year too!) and volunteering her family's time and efforts with a local non-profit that provides outreach and recreational opportunities to people of all ages.

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Better World Resolutions

Dear Delilah,

Last week, I encouraged my readers to 'think outside the box' with their New Year's Resolutions and challenged them to include some goals for 2011 that help to benefit the world around them in some way.

I've spent some time during this past week refining my own goals for 2011 and considering what I can do to help our community and the world around us. I took the quiz on Practically Green to see where I was at in terms of being green in our home and found that while we're doing pretty well in a lot of aspects of green living, I've got plenty of room for improvement in water and energy usage. I also thought about how I've let my involvement in volunteer work fall by the wayside since becoming a mother. Since my roles as mother, wife, student, and helper leave with me limited time and resources, I knew it was important to prioritize what was most important to me and what could be integrated into our lives with relative ease.

I have narrowed down my 2011 goals to the following five Better World Resolutions:
  1. Family Cloth We're already a pretty cloth-heavy family. We use cloth diapers and wipes, cloth napkins, and I use cloth pads. What more could I do, replace toilet paper with cloth? Yes. This might squick some people out, and I've got some work to do to get your father totally on board, but I'm committing to replacing at least some of my toilet paper usage with cloth. If cloths wipes are good enough for you, why not me? For starters, I'll be using cloth only for "number one", which is where the majority of our toilet paper usage comes from anyway. (Even I'm a little squicked by the prospect of using cloth for adult "number twos".) Don't worry family and friends, there will still be a roll of toilet paper at the ready for your use, but by making this change, we'll drastically reduce the amount of toilet paper we buy and use, thus reducing the associated packaging and waste.
  2. Shorter Showers This should be simple. It's almost embarrassing that I haven't made this change already. I don't leave the water running while I brush my teeth. I only run the washing machine when it's full. I make a modest effort to re-use some of our gray water. So then how is it that I don't give a second thought to hopping into the shower and staying there for 20 or more minutes? For starters, I'm going to time my showers for a week to figure out what my average shower time is. I'm convinced it's about 15 minutes while your father insists it's half an hour. Once I've got that number, I'm going to use a timer to shave 5 minutes off of it every few weeks until I'm down to 5 minute showers most days, with an indulgent 10 minute shower once or twice a week.
  3. CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) I'm going to go beyond our weekly Farmer's Market runs in the summer and invest in a CSA share this year. This will not only support local farmers and keep our kitchen stocked with locally grown fresh produce, it will challenge me to get more creative with my cooking and try fruits and vegetables that I skip over at the market because I'm intimidated by (or ashamed of) my lack of knowledge on how to eat or prepare them.
  4. Support Local Women I'm going to go above and beyond the service project requirements to complete my Women's Studies minor in volunteering my time to support women in our community. I have more research to do on this one, but this week I will complete my application packet to volunteer at Options Clinic. I will also do more work in support of the New Horizons Shelter and Women's Center. At the very least, I will organize another donation drive for items and funds for their shelter. While time constraints may prevent my completing this last goal in 2011, at the very least, I will start the ball rolling on determining when and how I can start the process of becoming a WIC Peer Breastfeeding Counselor.
  5. SMART Recovery When I started on my journey to become a Substance Abuse Counselor, I was disappointed to find that there were no local SMART Recovery face-to-face meetings. This year, I will develop a plan to start a SMART Recovery program in our area. If there is enough demand, I'd like to include meetings specific to both women generally, and pregnant women specifically, which will further accomplish goal number 4!
Some of these changes and goals will require more time, energy, and planning than others. As you grow and learn, I hope that you will take notice of the efforts I make to be mindful of meeting the needs of the world around me, and that you will follow my lead and find your own ways to do the important work of making this world a better place for all of us to not just survive, but truly thrive.



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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Easy Like Sunday Morning

Dear Delilah,

As expected, you were a trooper throughout your Aunt's wedding festivities. I was on sensory overload myself, so I can't even imagine how much courage it took you to get through it all! By the family brunch yesterday, you'd had about enough, so we headed home to settle in and relax for the day. I was a little nervous when you started looking ready for bed at about 6:30 last night. I had visions of a 5:00 a.m. wake-up call dancing in my head as I laid you down to sleep just before 7:00.

You obviously needed the extra sleep (we all did!), because when I heard you happily babbling away over the baby monitor this morning, I rolled over and glanced at the clock to see that it was already 8:00 in the morning! It was such a nice change of pace this morning, getting to do our little family Sunday Morning routine. It kicks off with my favorite part of Sunday mornings; family snuggle time, with you nestled in between daddy and me, rolling back and forth between nursing and smiling and babbling at us. When you've gotten your fill, you and daddy let me have the bed to myself for a little bit while daddy makes breakfast. Since it's not often that I get to stretch out in bed without a partner, I relish every moment of stretching, rolling, and snoozing without a baby (or husband) attached to me.

This morning, those moments were brought to an abrupt halt when your father yelled "Joella, come here, hurry!!" A slight wave of panic washed over me as I jolted out of bed, the urgency in your father's voice worrying me just slightly. I grabbed my glasses and burst into the kitchen to see this:

No big emergency, just an adorable baby who managed to balance a banana slice on her bed-head hair-do. It stayed there for a good 10 minutes, and was later joined by a handful of cheesy grits! Now that we've all got full tummies and a good night's sleep behind us, we'll get on with some other Sunday routines, including lots of laundry, lots of football watching, lots of snuggling, and lots of play time.



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