Wednesday, November 27, 2013

C'mon, Breastmilk! WTF?!!

Two tips for dealing with sick kids:
Acetaminophen is easy to overdose, and the effects can be deadly.
If you've got a sick baby who is likely to nurse all night long,
you may want to have some lanolin on hand.

I was anxiously rushing through the grocery store with Bellybean strapped to my chest in the Ergo, radiating heat into me from his 102-degree fever.  I knew I had to stock up on some supplies in case I got sick, too.  I had this weird sense that I was the only one in the store aware of the coming Apocalypse.  Well, Flupocalypse. 

I have been properly conditioned to fear the flu.  Poor Glenn
& the gang from The Walking Dead have been on my mind
while I've been freaking out a bit about my little ones being
so sick.  Photo credit: Gene Page/AMC, found here.

I smiled only thinly if at all as I passed other shoppers.  I was a little extra annoyed when people were oblivious to their shopping carts blocking my way as I hurried about, grabbing applesauce and eggs and four different over-the-counter medications.

Anxious that I was spreading germs, I didn't check my raspberries for moldy fruit on the bottom as I usually would.  I just hoped for the best, because I wasn't going to put them back and have some poor unsuspecting fool pick them up and catch flu from us.  When I checked out, I guiltily suggested to the cashier and the bagger that they should use antibacterial gel as I tried to rub some of it onto the credit card machine's stylus.

On my way out I grabbed some complimentary antibacterial wipes.  After I loaded my groceries into the car, I wiped down the sides and handle of the shopping cart before pushing it into the cart corral.  I thought I must look like I was wiping off my fingerprints, and wondered if there was anyone suspiciously watching me through a security camera.

Magoo had perfect attendance last year, but Monday morning when he'd crawled into our bed, I could tell as he snuggled up to me that he'd probably be missing school.  Though he'd been breastfed well past his third birthday, he tested positive for flu on Tuesday morning.  Sweet Pea already had an appointment for a persistent cough, and he was diagnosed with walking pneumonia.  When his fever spiked Tuesday afternoon, we knew he had the flu on top of pneumonia.  And he'd had over two and a half years of Liquid Gold!  By nap time, the baby spiked, as well - despite getting antibodies through my breastmilk the whole time we'd been exposed to Patient Zero.

C'mon, breastmilk!  WTF?!!

We're supposed to have a virtual force field, aren't we?!  Shouldn't my children be immune to all bugs?  They aren't supposed to be able to get colds or ear infections or stomach viruses, dang it!

For that matter, I was breastfed - I shouldn't be overweight or have Celiac Disease!  And my husband was breastfed - he shouldn't have diabetes!

Of course I know that the benefits of breastmilk are measured in percentages of reduced risk - they're not a sure thing.  But still.

I remember being truly flummoxed when Magoo caught colds as a baby and toddler.  I was downright ticked off when Sweet Pea was literally sick without a break for more than half a year.

And when the whole house is hit with 103-degree fevers and Tamiflu is being vomited up in the night (worst.smell.ever.), well - then I get to feeling, albeit irrationally, a little betrayed.

But of course they get sick. It helps build their immunity, too, and they're sick less now as they get older.  Did I mention the perfect attendance last year?

And at least when they're little and sick, like Bellybean, I can comfort them by breastfeeding.

Do you ever get frustrated that your Liquid Gold isn't living up to its "promises?"  
That your Miracle Milk has failed to prevent this or that?

Monday, November 25, 2013

In Search of Balance

Me & my boys at Quintessence.  I was so busy
that I didn't nurse Bellybean until the latch on
at 11am.  So yeah, that's a wet spot from
leaking on my shirt there...
I haven't blogged in close to a month.  I haven't written about receiving a Breastfeeding Hero Award from Central Texas Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, or the TXBC Fall Meeting with Representatives Walle and Farrar, or seeing the documentary "Breastmilk," or hearing back from AISD since my last update.  I still hope to write about these, but I'm trying to focus on my family right now.

I love the sense of purpose that breastfeeding advocacy has given me.  I love the friendships I have made the past year.  I am thankful that, with the help of many people, I have affected some positive changes.

But through all of this advocating for optimal infant nutrition, my older kids are not getting as much whole, healthy food as they need.  Too much pizza, too many frozen vegetarian chick-un nuggets.

My house has been clean only twice in the past year.  I don't mean anal clean, I mean presentable clean.  Willing to open the door to the UPS guy clean.

I've been overweight for more than two and a half years now - since going on a gluten free diet and suddenly absorbing from food what I hadn't the 15 years prior.  Attempts at dieting repeatedly fail and I haven't even tried consistently exercising - I'm too busy.

My middle son doesn't get any play dates and still talks about the kid who moved over a year ago because he's not close to anyone new.  I want to be homeschooling him at least for his pre-k year - and if I can't be organized enough to do it now I can't keep him home for kindergarten, making this my last year with him home with me.  I want to make it a good one.

I have three borrowed books on dyslexia and though my oldest was diagnosed last winter, I've yet to read them.

I don't really do balance.  I love projects.  I love compartmentalizing.  I'm disorganized overall, but I can be organized at working on the school's silent auction.  I'm no good at home maintenance, but if we host Christmas or I get pregnant, suddenly I'm all about painting the bedroom and hanging shelves on the walls.

The past year, advocacy has been my project.

I want to continue.  It's not just a project, it's my passion.  But I need to step back and try to find some balance.  I need my kids to be my main focus.  I am a stay-at-home mom for that reason, and this year it's more like I'm a work-at-home mom.  And as I said, I suck at balance.  That's not how I want to parent.

I've been struggling a lot with this need for balance, with depression, with not knowing what direction to go with this blog, with keeping up with social media.  But things are getting better.  A few friends are helping me admin on Facebook.  I've spent a few weekends starting to de-clutter.  I took Sweet Pea to a great homechool co-op class and took Magoo on our first-ever date.

So I'm finally posting here again, and I'll share more about all that other good stuff I opened with when I get to it.  For now, I'm going to nurse Bellybean back to sleep and get some sleep myself.  Because I've got three energetic boys to focus on in the morning.

How do you find balance when there are too few hours in the day to accomplish all there is to do?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wonder Woman Likes My Page!

When I started the Keep Austin Nursing in Public Facebook page, I used a breastfeeding Wonder Woman photo  as my profile picture.  I couldn't find the original source, I only knew that

I LOVE it!  It's such an empowering photo!  And there's the whole "I make milk, what's your super power?" tie in, not to mention the fact that NOBODY's going to ask Wonder Woman to nurse in a private room!  Lovelovelove it!


I got a message, "Lol That's my picture you have as your default."

And I thought, "Oh my gosh, oh mygosh, ohmygosh!!!  WONDER WOMAN!"

I looked at her name on the message, checked the recent likes - there it was.  And I thought, "WONDER WOMAN LIKES MY PAGE!"  (Yes, I know I just said that.  It bears repeating.)

This was about as exciting as when I met Jessica The Leaky Boob or when I had a guest post on The Badass Breastfeeder.  I was chatting with WONDER WOMAN!

Wonder Woman - Sundri Balani is her actual name - told me that the photo was taken by her friend Jennifer Gabriele on Halloween 2010.  They were trying to get a family photo but Sundri took a break to nurse, and her friend snapped the picture.  Her son, Sirius, is now 3 and a half.  She said she nursed him anywhere and everywhere for three years.  And this Halloween she's nursing her new three-week-old baby, and is already donating her breastmilk!

She said she's flattered that the picture is going around and that, although it was unintentional, it serves to empower women to nurse their babies as it was meant to be.  I'm thankful that the picture exists for the same reason!

Thank you, Sundri, and congratulations on your new baby!

Share your Halloween, breastfeeding, and breastfeeding on Halloween
photos on my Facebook page!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Press Release & Radio Ad for the Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge & Family Fun Fest

We sent out a press release to TV stations today (revised from the one provided by the Quintessence Foundation), and sent a radio ad out to local stations asking them to please air it if they have any unused inventory.  Check 'em out!

Radio Ad:

Press Release:

When: Saturday, October 5 10 am – noon
Where: Central Market North (4001 North Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78756)
Why: To celebrate and promote breastfeeding as a public health issue
Contact: Gail Gresham, HMBH President – (512) 799-6155
Kim Updegrove, MMBA Director - (512) 494.0800

Central Texas Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition and Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin are co-hosting the Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge as part of a free family festival this Saturday, October 5 from 10 am to noon at Central Market on North Lamar. Support of the community and of a mothers’ family is vital to improving breastfeeding rates, making a family festival a perfect way to celebrate breastfeeding! The breastfeeding challenge will start promptly at 11am, with registration and activities beginning at 10am. The event features popular children’s singer-songwriter Staci Gray, as well as the band Rockaroni & Cheese (a dad and his son, an eight-year-old drummer). There will be face painting, family-focused vendors, a stuffed animal petting zoo, fire truck, door prizes, breastfeeding trivia tournament, and more! Details at

Why this challenge: Breastfeeding has many well-documented benefits including better health for both mothers and babies. According to UNICEF, of the 136.7 million babies born worldwide, only 32.6% of them breastfeed exclusively in the first six months. In the U.S., that number is just 16.4%. The recommendation of the World Health Organization is for exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and continued breastfeeding for two years and beyond, together with adequate, appropriate and indigenous complementary feeding starting from the age of six months. Many women fail to meet their own breastfeeding goals and wean their children prematurely, well before meeting recommended guidelines. Two of the biggest hurdles for mothers continue to be lack of support and marginalization by the community. In North America many women find breastfeeding in public to be a major barrier.

About Quintessence: Annually, mothers and children at sites across Canada, the United States and other countries around the world compete to set the record for the most children breastfeeding at one time. The winners of the competition will be the site with the most children breastfeeding in a geographical area. The Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge began in 2001 in British Columbia Canada with 856 children at 26 sites. By 2012, there were 3,934 children in nine countries at over 211 sites with a total of over 20,000 supporters!

The Quintessence Foundation, a non-profit group providing education to parents and professionals about breastfeeding and human milk banking, sponsors the Breastfeeding Challenge. For more information contact Quintessence Foundation at 604-228-9331 or visit the website:

To learn more about the local non-profits hosting this year’s Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge and Family Fun Fest, visit Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition at or Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin at

Friday, September 20, 2013

Comfort Food

When we speak up for a woman's right to nurse in public, we usually stick to the most important, basic need of the baby to be fed.

Nursing mothers know that breastfeeding is so much more than just food and physical health benefits.  Among other things, breastfeeding is a comfort for a child.  Whether they're tired, hurt, or overstimulated, breastfeeding is sometimes a cure-all.  But not just for baby.

Do you find nursing to be a comfort to you?  A moment to sit and find peace, soothing for frayed nerves, healing for a sad heart?

Last night my 16-year-old Yorkie mix couldn't breathe well as his heart began to give out on him. He held his nose in the air, breathing shallowly, rapidly.  I knew that the end was near, but hoped we might be able to keep him longer or at least ease his suffering.

By the time Adam had him at the after-hours emergency vet, our three sons were asleep.  I had stayed behind with them, waiting for Adam's call. 

After many questions and more tears, we decided to wake the boys and take them to the vet, where we said goodbye as Thurber fell asleep for the last time.

He was our first baby.  The snooze button on our biological clocks when we considered children in our early twenties, as I craved the mother-child connection I'd lost when my mother died of breast cancer months before.  He was so healing, our little dog.  Caring for him helped me to wade through my grief.

And now it's him I grieve.

This morning the air feels heavy, weighing on me, slowing my thoughts, trying to slow my feelings as shock fades and I realize repeatedly that no, the little noise I just heard in the other room isn't Thurber.  No, I needn't set out a plate of food.  No need to pay attention for a break in this rain to let him outside.  No need to worry that the baby will toddle over him and pat him too roughly.

The baby.  My last little boy, my sweet nursling.  He's lying across my nap, having nursed to sleep easily in a matter of minutes after the sleep he lost last night.  Every time this morning that he has nursed, to sleep just now and earlier even just for a sip, has been a comfort to me.  Each sweet snuggle, each moment of connection, I have breathed easier. 

It's not always like that, of course.  Sometimes I'm touched out, or so busy I don't want to stop every five minutes even for that quick sip.  But so often, and especially today, breastfeeding is a comfort not just for my baby, but also a comfort for me.

In labor with Bellybean.  Thurber curled
up at my back & he was like a little heating
pad, comforting me through contractions.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Happy Breastfeeding in Public Story - A Guest Post

My friend Mandi shared this on my Facebook page, and it's too good a story to just let it scroll down the page over time until it's too far down to be read again, so I asked if I could share it here.  

Breastfeeding advocate Mandi Chase Wolfe is a working mother of two girls, ages 3 years and 6 months. When she isn't hard at work interpreting for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing she is busy hanging out with her family, breastfeeding and playing princesses, sometimes at the same time.

Yesterday my family went to eat and play at Southpark Meadows. My three-and-a-half-year-old daughter waltzed around the empty stage and made a new friend, a(n almost) two-year-old boy. I wore my six-month-old on my chest as I sat with my husband and the boy's dad, laughing and taking pictures while our kids did the most adorable little dance together. As the mom and pop-arazzi took their shots, up walked the little boy's mom.

She was nursing a seven-week-old baby boy using a cover. The show stopped and the dancing fiends came over to us as we all started to chat. My daughter - who has never seen me breastfeed with a cover - soon realized there was a baby under there and started trying to peek in through the top and lift the edges so she could see the tiny baby. I swiftly grabbed her hand and reminded her about privacy, concerned that she was going to embarass the little boy's mom.

"I'm so sorry, she is so used to seeing me nurse that she doesn't realize you might not want to show yourself," I apologize.

To my surprise the nursing momma tells me, "If it's ok with you it doesn't bother me if she looks."

I let go of my daughter's hand and tell her it is OK to look. She lifts the cover, sticks her ENTIRE head in there and looks at the little baby, still latched on.

"Aaaawwwwwwwwww! CUTE baby!" She squeals.

Then... nothing. There was no talk of breasts, milk or how babies eat. She made no judgement on her new friend's exposed breast, how her baby ate or the choices she made. Just an observation of how cute that tiny little baby was and then we all moved on with our conversation.

It struck me later how insignificant this was to my daughter because breastfeeding is so NORMAL to her. I am so thankful to this mom, whom I didn't even know, for being open to sharing her nursing experience with my daughter so that I could witness this beautiful "nothing."

What if we lived in a world where women could breastfeed their babies, exposed, in public, and the only whisper to be heard would be, "Awwwwwwww! What a cute baby!"

Normalize breastfeeding. It works.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Happy Anniversary to Me! An Update on Austin ISD

A year ago today I had one of the crummier experiences of my life. 

In the lobby of my sons' school while waiting for my middle child, I nursed my baby to sleep.  I was told to move to a private room, as though what I was doing was something shameful to be hidden away.

I was hurt, deeply.  And I was furious.

And now, I am grateful.

One year later on the bench where it all started - I tried to nurse him, but he wasn't hungry!
  The greatest need for support is in those early days and months.  Mothers nursing in public
and employees needing to pump aren't asking for the moon.  Just support, just for a little while.

I went home that day fighting tears and I immediately sought support from Facebook friends.  I was overwhelmed by the response.

I started a letter that night of which I am proud.  It is informative, diplomatic, and firm.  It set the tone for all of the advocacy that I have done since that day. 

And (tooting my own horn here which is a little uncomfortable for me, but) I have done a lot.  I've heard from mothers who say that they have been inspired to nurse in public by my blog or Facebook page, and that means the world to me.  Hays CISD has a new breastfeeding policy that I got to influence.  I got to be a part of breastfeeding legislation that, while it did not become law, laid the groundwork for passing pro-breastfeeding bills in the future.  And finally, fiiiiiiiiiiiinnaaalllllllyyyyyyy, Austin Independent School District has a breastfeeding regulation that is in accordance with Texas law!

I have by no means achieved anything on my own.  The number of people who have played a part in these accomplishments is tremendous.  2,049 people signed the petition asking AISD to adopt a policy that upholds the law.  More than 1,600 people have liked my Facebook page.  My letter has been viewed 9,961 times and my blog has over 42,000 views.  I have no idea how many people wrote and called the school district or their legislators, but I know that AISD administration took note, and that staffers I talked to at the Capitol knew what bills I was talking about, often just by their numbers.  An impressive number of people have spoken at school board meetings and testified at a House committee hearing.  SO many mamas gathered information and drafted sample letters to make contacting the lege easier.  Every person at the Education Austin (teachers union) board meeting I attended was in support of breastfeeding mothers.  Not one vote opposed the final recommendation of the Student Health Advisory Council (SHAC) supporting a policy that reflects the law.  Some of the AISD board members supported our efforts.  And my family has given so very much support, too, and made many sacrifices (like never having a clean house).

Both in the work with school districts and with legislation, many, many people have contributed to our successes.

You made an impact.

Thank you.

For the teacher who saw me nurturing my infant and complained, that day one year ago was just a butterfly flapping its wings.

But it could have damaged my breastfeeding relationship, had circumstances been different.  Thankfully, being confident in my right and in the importance of breastfeeding, being very experienced as a breastfeeding mother, the impact of that moment has been positive.  And this has been one heck of a hurricane!

It has been thrilling, and exhausting.  I write at slothspeed, so it's been awhile since I posted much of an update about AISD.  And now I have so much to share!  So this is a long post because it is long overdue.

In May I spoke at another board meeting. In June I went to a board policy meeting.  That night, I got to post this:

It was a very happy night, despite my concern that it was not yet official.

My reservations were well-founded.  Sort of.

There is now a regulation!  Sort of.

I received this via the grape vine:

I cannot find it online, so I assume either it awaits a webmaster or TASB approval.

What I don't love about the wording is that it retains language from the right-to-pump law that the district confused with the nursing-in-public law months ago when they had an abysmal regulation that was rescinded in December.  I feel like either they're thumbing their noses at me (we can write a law-abiding reg and still imply that y'all should be locked away - nana-nana-boo-boo!) or the editing of that rescinded policy was intensely lazy:

Rescinded Reg:
The District shall provide a parent or visitor who has properly
checked in at a campus during the school day, a place, other
than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from in-
trusion by students, employees, and the public, which shall be
used to breastfeed or express milk.

The principal or designee shall direct the parent or visitor to
the place designated by the principal for breastfeeding or ex-
pressing milk.

New Reg:
A visitor who is breastfeeding her baby will not be denied ac-
cess to any area she is otherwise authorized to be. Adminis-
trators will identify and make available a designated area,
other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free
from intrusion by students, employees, and the public, which

shall be available to breastfeed or express milk.
A staff mem-
ber that offers a private room must clarify that the mother is
welcome to breastfeed wherever she prefers and is author-
ized to be.

I suppose it seems like I'm being nitpicky, and maybe I am a bit.  I'm sort of joking, too.  Sort if.  I know a lot of AISD peeps put a lot of time into this issue (which could have been avoided if the right thing had been done from the get-go...).

Nitpicky, maybe - BUT, the reg has already been misinterpreted.

A principal who received the new reg has interpreted it to mean that she has to offer a private room to a parent or staff member who wants to breastfeed.  She understands that mothers can't be forced to a private room and can nurse where they're authorized to be, but takes the reg to mean that she must try to offer a private room first. 

I know some women - and some babies - would prefer a quiet, out of the way spot to nurse.  I support that, of course.  But I want a regulation or policy that respects a woman's right, not one that tries to circumvent it.

I am so tired.  So, so, so, so, so so so so tired.  I want to look at this and say, "Well, okay, it's far from perfect, but at least it reiterates to administrators that a private room must be identified for pumping employees, which is awesome."  And that fact is awesome.

But I can't just ignore that the reg as written can be interpreted as saying that breastfeeding mothers must be hunted down and politely offered a private room where they can lock themselves away to nourish their babies.

So.  Next steps in this project-that-just-will-not-end:

I will email administration to let them know how the regulation has been interpreted, and to offer for Central Texas Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition to present a training on the importance of breastfeeding and of community support as Mr. Waxler once discussed with one of our members.  Because hopefully the misinterpretation was just because of the language.  If principals have already had training and that's where this interpretation comes from, then I am at a loss.  I would feel so defeated and disappointed that I'd want to crawl into a hole and sleep there for a week. 

But not today.  Today is my anniversary.  And I want some gluten-free, egg-free cake to celebrate!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Keeping Legoland Nursing in Public

A snack break at Legoland California. 
In the $15/day stroller we rented for carrying our stuff, you can see my 7-year-old
Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin tote from donating milk when Magoo was a baby. 
I'm a huge fan of the milk bank, and I'm glad I got to
donate at least a little milk from Bellybean
before he turned a year old.

This post started as part of my Photo Challenge, but we had so many great non-nursing photos from our 1.5 days at Legoland, and enjoyed it so much,
that it's also a bit of a review.  Kind of a diversion from my typical post,
but I hope it is enjoyed, and maybe informative for
anyone planning a trip to California!

was so much fun.  We had a shared birthday party for the boys this year with an Elephant and Piggie theme, but it was very nearly Lego-themed.  Eight-year-old Magoo likes them, four-year-old Sweet Pea really LOVES them, & fourteen-month-old Bellybean loves finding them on the floor and putting them in his mouth.

I highly recommend planning your day.  As I looked over the map writing this, I see now we missed more than we realized.  It's smaller than Disneyland so it's easier to do most things in a visit.  (It also wasn't as busy and wasn't as hot, so we weren't quite as overstimulated as we've often been on our few Disney trips.)  But there really is a lot of cool stuff, so if you know your priorities, you may miss less than we did.  Check out the interactive park map - I wish we had! 

Nursing in line for a ride before handing Bellybean off to his Nana.
The amusement park rides are best for Sweet Pea.  Magoo would prefer more daredevil rides.  Bellybean wasn't allowed on most of them (which was ridiculous for some of the super tame ones).  But they were perfect for our most ardent Lego lover. 

You can see rides by height restriction here.  We were told that we could have taken turns riding without having to wait in line twice (if we told the Model Citizens beforehand - yes, employees are called Model Citizens), but since Nana's "too short" for any ride with height restrictions, Bellybean always hung out with her while we were on rides he couldn't go on.

We read a tip to go to the back of the park first and start with the big rides that get long lines.  We kept getting distracted, but luckily I'm still not sure which rides have really long waits, because most of our lines were pretty short.  I did think that the staff and the set up for the rides was consistently and incredibly inefficient, though - so thank goodness lines were short! Rather than try to go to the back of the park again, I'd go over the interactive map and go to the coolest rides early in the morning. 
We all wore out Eat Local breastfeeding shirts from
Central Texas Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition

on this day (except for Bellybean - the smallest was way
too big for him).  I loved being able to find Adam, Magoo,
or Sweet Pea so easily by looking for one shirt color)

The Lego displays were really fantastic. Miniland, especially, was so impressive.  Miniland rocks.  Totally rocks.  Some of the displays are even interactive!  Sweet Pea loved sending the lego people to get married in Las Vegas! 
And In the Miniland Marina the boys had fun steering small (not Lego) boats from afar for a couple of dollars each.  Lego Star Wars Miniland was super awesome.

Nursing in Miniland while the boys
marveled over the Star Wars displays
The water park was fun but unnecessary.  Actually, you can get plenty wet in the Pirate's Cove area, and may want to plan your trip accordingly.  Maybe spend the hottest part of the day there, or maybe go until before lunch, then take a break to change - or dry off (for a fee) in the hysterical family dryers - before eating and moving on to dryer areas.  The Aquazone Wave Racer will also get you wet, and it's not in Pirate's Cove.

It would have been nice to have checked out the Sea Life Aquarium instead of the water park, since we're boycotting the Austin Aquarium. Oh, well.

You can (or we could at the time) take your own food in - always good for saving money, as well as time when you just want a quick snack.  And good for picky eaters, too, of course!  We had lunch and snacks with us thanks to my mother-in-law.

The Pizza and Pasta Buffet was great.  We lucked out and were there during a period in August when kids ate dinner free!  Everyone liked their pizza, and when Sweet Pea special ordered chocolate milk, we each got a bottle.  The best part, though, is how they handled my food allergies.  A manager or someone in-the-know talked to me, and confirmed with the chef that there are eggs in the gluten-free pizza dough.  So while I couldn't get a special GF pizza, they did have GF spaghetti.  And they made me a salad with oil and balsamic vinegar, so that I wouldn't get sick from gluten cross-contamination, trying to eat off the salad bar.  My food was really good and the service was stellar.

While we were there, the world's largest Lego model, the Lego Star Wars X-Wing, was on display.  It.  Is.  Awesome.

This is what more than 5 million Legos look like.
The kids liked the Legends of Chima 4D movie.  You'll want to check showtimes when planning, and there are also certain times when costumed characters are out for photo ops and there are your standard dorky amusement park live shows, too (Sweet Pea loved the phoned-in one that we saw).
NIP in line for Lost Kingdom Adventure. 
They have Lego tables set up in the middle
of the line area to entertain kids while they wait!

We ran out of time to check out the hotel.  If you go, tell us about it! 

Phaoroah's Revenges was a favorite!  There are foam balls that kids can shoot, and send through air tubes.  The boys didn't want to leave! It would have made a neat social experiment to be a psychologist in there.  I saw the coolest thing happen.  In the center of the space, there was a big tube thing (see below).  If you put the balls in that big bowl-shaped part, they just sit there until you push the green button, and then they're blown up through the top section and come out the top.  Kids would do this with a few balls at a time.  I kept thinking that someone should round the kids up and get them to fill the bowl.  My son Magoo is an awesome leader, so he did try to yell loudly enough to get kids to work on a "cannon" with him in another area, but that didn't end up working out.  One girl, though, saw the potential of the bowl-tube-thing.  I never saw her holler for help or try to engage other kids in her goal.  But I saw her mother call to her that it was time to go, so she brought down the huge number of balls she'd been collecting in her jacket.  She loaded them into the bowl and as she struggled to get a ball out of her sleeve, someone hit the button, and boom!  It rained balls!  It.  Was.  Awesome.  And the rest of the time that we were in there, the kids were all working together to collect a ton of balls, and then hit the button once the bowl was full.  I thought it was a wonderful metaphor for leading by example.  Maybe for nursing in public.  Do it, others will see how awesome it is, and they will do it, too!  And you'll have made some really awesome changes. 

Photo Source
And now, because I just might have OCD, I have reviewed for you each ride we rode (and noted some things I wish we hadn't missed), and a few other entertainment things.  If you're not bored yet, this may do it.  But I know if/when we go back, I'll check over this list and make sure we hit the rides, etc. we like best first.  Scroll down to the end for some of our Legoland photos!  (The numbers correspond to the interactive map.)

7 Coastersaurus - Almost lame enough for Nana, so great for mid-level daredevil kids.
10 Safari Trek - FYI, 1 adult per car.  This is not the only ride for which this is true, as they're mostly not thrill rides but geared toward the kids.
11 Fairy Tale Brook - Perfect Nana ride - so we went around twice!

18 Kid Power Towers
- Looked pretty cool - sorry we missed them.
19 Sky Cruiser - At the end of our second night, the wait was 45 minutes (which the employee was not thrilled about - they were closing the lines at 8, not the rides).  If/when we go back, we'll want to ride this first.
22 Legoland Driver License - Wasted some time messing with this thinking it was like Disneyland's Autopia license before realizing it costs a lot to have them printed.  A lot.
Magoo at the Volvo Driving School
This Lego gal was getting her photo taken near the
Volvo ride.  The Legos really managed to draw
attention to her breasts, which I may be the only
to take note of, since I'm looking at it from a
"sexy boobs are okay in our society but
lactating breasts get the stink eye."
23-24 Volvo (Junior) Driving School - These two rides are split up by age.  Sweet Pea almost cried when he thought he wouldn't get to drive a Lego car, but thankfully we realized the Junior ride was right next to the one for 6- to 13-year-olds.  Wish we'd planned better for splitting up with only one camera, but there was a car to pose in afterward, too.

31 Lego Factory Tour - Somehow we missed that this was an option.  I'm really disappointed that we missed it.  Really, really, really.  Again, take time to check out the map and plan your priorities.  Something like Miniland is so cool you could spend hours looking around, but you may want to budget your time there and other places so you don't miss the things you think you'll like the most.
38 Treasure Falls - My guys got out of line because they were so unimpressed with the looks of this ride.
39 Soak 'N' Sail - Magoo had a great time running around this area while Nana and Grandpa tried to warm up Sweet Pea, who was freezing after being soaked on Pirate Reef.
40 Swabbie's Deck - Bellybean loved playing in the water here when he woke up from his nap.
41 Captain Cranky's Ride - Kind of silly and short spinning ship ride, but I'm a thrill seeker.
43 Splash Battle - Bellybean napped while the guys went on this.  They seemed to really like it!
44 Pirate Reef - The boys loved this - they rode it twice!
51 Hideaways - I lost track of Sweet Pea in here for long enough that it made me really nervous.  It's a really cool playground, but I'd have preferred to have done more of the rides.  I guess if lines had been awful, this would have been a more welcome respite. 
The smack-talkin' knight on the Royal Joust,
sword-fought by Sweet Pea.
57 Royal Joust - This is just for ages 4-12.  I thought 8-year-old Magoo would be bored by it, but he had fun on the little horse that went around a track.  Sweet Pea loved it, and I loved watching him pretend to sword fight a huge Lego knight as he passed it.

60 The Dragon - This ride starts out all Nana-friendly, riding calmly through some cool Lego scenes like one of the old Disneyland rides in Fantasyland.  And then suddenly you're outside and it's a fun roller coaster.  Would not have been Nana-approved! 

Dragon at Knights' Tournament
62 Knights' Tournament - Best ride in the park, maybe.  Would definitely ditch the kids and ride with Adam on a future visit.  You select your intensity level - or it's determined by the height of your child.  Magoo was really mad that he had to be a level two.  He tried to stretch and stand on his toes to look tall enough, but he was stuck with me at a two.  He's just lucky I didn't make him ride at a one with Sweet Pea.
65 Cargo Ace - They actually let Bellybean ride this one even though the map lists a height restriction.  I had to show that he could stand, and had to grab shoes to put on him, but the fact that he could ride made this one a favorite for me.
66 Lost Kingdom Adventure - One of those shoot-targets-with-your-laser-gun rides.  Which was awesome, for once, because I beat Grandpa, Magoo, Sweet Pea, and Adam!  (This is one ride that definitely should have allowed Bellybean).
71 Lego Technic Roller Coaster - This ride scared the crap out of me.  I am a thrill seeker.  I LOVE rides and I'm never scared (except maybe on traveling carnival rides)!  But this one feels more like there's nothing around you than any I remember.  Maybe it's just that I had my slim little Sweet Pea next to me and I felt like he could slip right out and just fall and fall.  But of course that couldn't really happen, so I'd totally ride again!
73 Bionicle Blaster - a fun spinny ride, just right for getting you a wee bit dizzy-sick just before dinner!  The Pizza and Pasta Buffet is just across the way.
74 Aquazone Wave Racer - very fun ride!  But it's a get-wet ride even though it's not back in Pirate's Cove. 
77 Xbox Family Game Space - I hate video games.  My kids love video games and do not have an Xbox.  I'm sure they'd disagree with me saying that the time we spent in there was wasted (even though watching them test driving a Kinect game was pretty cool). 
78 Lego Mindstorms - I was sorry we missed this until I realized it's for kids age 10+.  Sign up for a hands-on tutorial to build and program a robot.  Cool.
80 Duplo Play - This looks like it would have been a cool place to play!  (Definitely going to have to go back!)
81 Build and Test - Just adding to the "Wish We Hadn't Missed This" list...

82 Coast Cruise - Fun whole-family boat tour of some fantastic Lego models - like the elephant in the photo.
87 The Model Shop - Missed it, but would have liked to have watched the Master Builders work.

In the water park, the Build a Raft River was fun without much waiting.  Sweet Pea was cold, so he played near the Legoland entrance of the water park with a legos in water thing (Imagination Station), and then with some brick-sized legos.  We waited too long for the fun but super short water slide, Orange Rush, which you go down in a huge tube with a few other people.

And that's it.  That's the end of my review.  If you make it to Legoland, have a great time!  If you've got a nursling, be sure to keep Legoland nursing in public, and if you see a nursing mama, give her a high five!

Miniland - California

More Miniland

Star Wars Miniland

It looks like Bellybean is checking to see if Leia is lactating.

And that's the end of our Legoland California adventure!

Breastfeeding in an 1899 Car Ad

Found in a history of cars book, this is a car ad from 1899. 

The mother in the picture is nursing her baby, back in the "old days when women were modest."  She's nursing without a cover(!), and even out the top of her dress - not with a sneaky nursing tank.

Not only does it seem that depicting uncovered breastfeeding was no big deal in the nineteenth century, the adults with the mother are not giving her dirty looks, or averting their eyes, either.  In fact, the other woman in the De Dion car is looking on while holding the baby's hand, and the man - the father, perhaps? - is watching and distracted from driving to the point of being a danger to others on the road.

If this was a modern-day sitcom, the man would be ogling the woman's breast (I'm picturing "Joey" from Friends), and a laugh track would play when the pigs barely escaped their doom as the car-driving pig was driven to distraction at the sight of a bare breast.  "How you doin'?"

But the man is clearly not distracted by thinking he wants to hook up with Mom, but by the sweetness of a baby being nourished.  More "Mister Rogers" than "Joey."

This is the kind of support mothers need for nursing their babies.  The kind where mothers are surrounded by people who clearly care that baby is getting optimal nutrition - and care enough that it matters more than the things our society allows to sit as a barriers on a mother's road to meeting her breastfeeding goals. 

Thank you, Tammy B., for sharing the image!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Photo Challenge Delay

Day 17
Shared on Facebook by The Natural Parent Magazine,
originally posted by Nursling Photography
This is kind of the whole point of the Photo Challenge.  Normalizing breastfeeding. 
We work to normalize it for other mothers, but ultimately, that work is
intended to normalize it for our children!

I am so behind on my Photo Challenge!  It's been giving me major guilt/stress not to be posting much at all on Facebook like I want to, but I'm trying to let go of that feeling because I just needed a break to refuel.  Since the last photo I posted on the 17th, I've had:
2 days at Legoland, with limited wifi access in the La Quinta hotel
     (but at least it was pet-friendly!)
1 very long day of travel (coolest part of that was just happening
     to meet KANIP supporter Megan at the airport in San Diego!)
1 day of lazing about, recovering from our vacation - well, starting to recover
2 days of back to school prep (clothes & supply shopping, meet the teacher,
     etc. - and meeting KANIP supporter Sherry while shopping!)
1 day of coddling a sick baby
1 last day of summer fun, topped off with an un-fun ER trip for a head wound
1 first day of school
1 full day of struggling to write about Black Breastfeeding Week
1 day spent in a social media coma, I guess, cause I can't even remember what I did yesterday
We're still, after only a week in California, adjusting back to our time zone.  Ridiculous, I know.  My big kid has trouble falling asleep without being all mixed up by late nights in another time zone, so now he's still a mess.  I've had so. many. hours. of sitting with my boys keeping them company while they fall asleep.  I spent way too many of those fooling around with Picasa for the first time.  I was going to put photos on a blog post as a slide show, but  - let's just say... Picasa is not my friend. 

I'm going to just cheat and use the scheduling function to backdate and post photos to Facebook on the days they should have been posted, but first, I'll put them in posts on my blog.  I hope they hope normalize nursing in public for some mamas out there, and ultimately, to normalize it for our children!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I Support Breastfeeding, So I Support Black Breastfeeding Week

When I was a little girl, I told my head start teacher, "We're just like Easter eggs.  We're all different on the outside, but we're all the same on the inside." 

My mom was so proud.  And as I got older and forgot having ever said this, she'd tell me now and again, and I was proud, too.  What a smart cookie I was!

It was insightful for a four-year-old, yes, but it was also indicative of what my generation was taught.  As a child, the differences didn't matter to me, because I was taught to be color blind.

As a pre-k teacher ages later, I taught a social studies lesson using hard boiled eggs, both brown and white, as a hands-on metaphor for teaching that we are all "the same on the inside" regardless of our color.  But what I had come to learn by then was that we must also honor differences.  In my classroom we had multicultural crayons, and dolls, and construction paper.  We compared our skin colors to the many shades on paint samples.  We had books in different languages and sampled foods from different cultures.  We read books like Two Eyes, a Nose, and a Mouth and Whoever You Are

It is important for many reasons to acknowledge both our commonalities and our differences.  Among the reasons to acknowledge differences is that we have different needs. 

I have a son with dyslexia.

All of the kids at his school deserve terrific literacy instruction.  But no one would deny that my son needs and deserves special support. 

All breastfeeding moms need support, regardless of differences.  There is a huge racial disparity in breastfeeding rates, though.  A CDC report from this year states that by 2008, breastfeeding rates among white mothers were up to 75.2%, yet among black women, only 58.9% breastfed at all.  That disparity alone is a clear signal that special support is needed.  For this and many other compelling reasons, several breastfeeding advocates launched Black Breastfeeding Week.

Source: Black Breastfeeding Week on Facebook

When I was four, or even eighteen, I might have thought that the idea of a Black Breastfeeding Week was divisive.  I thought I was color blind.  I thought that's how I was supposed to be - that that was proof that I wasn't racist, that it was how to not be racist.  I think that for some people, this color blindness is a factor in the backlash against a World Breastfeeding Week image shared on The Leaky Boob's Facebook page.  This, and/or not being aware of the race-specific needs outlined in this brilliant and compelling article by Kimberly Seals Allers.

Others seem to think that it excludes white people.  White people are free to support Black Breastfeeding Week.  It's existence is not discrimination any more than is the existence of the International Dyslexia Association.

And then, of course, some people are just racists.

I'm a white, college-educated, middle class woman.  I am lucky enough to be in the group of women most likely to breastfeed - that's one aspect of my white privilege

The only time I've ever experienced discrimination was for nursing in public.  Other advocates and I have drawn parallels between discrimination against public breastfeeding and discrimination based on disabilities, gender, age, race. 

I realize not everyone self-identifies as an advocate, but if a person is following a blog/page in search of or to offer support, I don't understand how that person might speak against NIP discrimination yet perpetuate discrimination against anyone else.  And denying people a sense of community and need-specific support IS discrimination. 

I have struggled to write this post for the entire day, I've been so afraid of getting it wrong.  Words can be hard to find, especially when something is deeply felt.  My husband and I were just talking about what I've been writing, and he said to me, "Sometimes you don't want to have to use words."  He was talking about a grief support group I went to in 1999 for women who had lost their mothers, and how important it was to me then to get to connect with people who shared the specific experience of mother loss.  It mattered so much to be able to communicate without always needing to have the right words, because they got it.  They understood, even without words.

As a white woman, I can't claim to know what it is to be a black breastfeeding mother.  But I can certainly understand that black women have a shared history, a shared experience.  And that it could help a new mother to have support from those she can communicate with about that shared knowledge without needing so many words.

We all look for things we have in common with the people in our lives.  A love of "Doctor Who," a preferred parenting style, a penchant for gardening.  We celebrate our differences, yes, but we still want to connect with people who share them.  Especially when we need support. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

NIP at the Beach

I knew I'd want a NIP picture at Coronado Beach today (Bellybean was too distracted to nurse at the Cabrillo Tidepools), but I was concerned about nursing in a bathing suit.  I'm adjusting to the idea of not covering like it's part of my religion, but nursing top down is still something that's awkward-feeling for me unless I'm wearing him in the Ergo.

As it turns out, I was even concerned about just plain being in a bathing suit, too.  I thought I was alright.  I don't love my suit anymore, since I weigh more than I did when Adam got it for me for Magoo's swim lessons when he was around one year old.  And the suit, at seven years old, has seen better days, the elastic in particular.  But I tried it on and figured I'd get by.  I thought I might prefer to head straight for deeper water, but I didn't expect to decide I'd rather keep on my skirt and T-shirt in the ocean than bare anything more than my calves (which was a bit weird as it was, since I hate to shave so I rarely wear shorts). 

That should have made nursing at the beach much easier.  If it weren't for the sand.  My poor baby kept trying to latch, but there was a little sand on my nipple that I just couldn't seem to get rid of.  He'd start to latch on, and then he'd pull off looking disconcerted, until he finally gave up and just played in the sand.

By the time we showered off and changed to go home, he was very excited to get to nurse, so he didn't waste any time or milk on being distracted, even when his brother Sweet Pea wanted in on the photo op. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Boobs and Bubbles

Today we were at the San Diego Zoo, and when Bellybean needed to nurse I asked Adam to take some photos for my Photo Challenge.  I'm posting a breastfeeding picture each day of National Breastfeeding Month on Facebook.  The challenge is mostly just to remember to do it, and the point is to normalize nursing in public.

Today's pictures aren't fantastic, which is too bad, because I am psyched about a snazzy new camera we got.  But what occurred to me as I clicked through them - besides that my baby has gotten so big! - is that, depending on what angle Adam was taking them from, you couldn't even tell that I was breastfeeding.

I wasn't careful to cover.  To be honest, I had to zoom in to make sure Bellybean hadn't unlatched in the first photo, because I didn't want to break Facebook's "actively nursing" rule for bf photos.

Even so, as Adam sort of circled me, trying different angles, it looks as though I could just be holding a sleeping baby.

And it occurred to me that this illustrates that so often, people are unaware that a baby is being breastfed.

Of course, sometimes it feels like all eyes are on us as we nurse our babies.  Like every person in a one-mile radius is staring at your breasts and even judging you for using them as designed.

If you feel that way, look at the photo just above.

This is what nursing in public looks like. 

Most people aren't near enough to notice or at an angle to ogle.  Most people, in fact, are too caught up in what they're doing to be aware of public breastfeeding.  Even when it's obvious, they may well be oblivious.

And if maybe they're not?

Then you can be.

I like to breastfeed in a bubble.  I may have gotten dirty looks for NIP before, but I wouldn't know it.  I'm not looking around to check.  I'm talking to my kids or my husband or staring adoringly at my baby - or my smart phone - and I'm just not aware of other people.

Even if I hear a little chuckle.

Tonight on the elevator Bellybean was nursing (top down) in the Ergo when he became distracted.  My fingers flew to my nipple, covering it and then yanking my clothes over my breast.  And the man next to me chuckled.  I think.  I don't know if he saw.  Or if he was amused in a creepy-guy way that he saw a bit o' boob, or that I rushed to cover in what I'm sure was an amusing little scene, or that my cutie pie was so distracted.  Or maybe he wasn't amused at all, or not over me.  For all I know he was looking at a funny text message, or maybe Adam was picking his nose and he saw.  I don't know.  I didn't want to know.  I guess I was a tad embarrassed, but at the same time, I didn't care.  Him maybe seeing a flash of skin, him maybe thinking that was funny - it doesn't matter to my life.  The opinion of some stranger on an elevator isn't nearly as important as the fact that I ate a(n undisclosed) number of mini Reese's cups tonight even though I want to eat healthier.  It doesn't matter as much as my kids getting to bed very late tonight, or my computer being on the fritz, or that I'll be exhausted when the boys wake up at 6am CST even though I'm still up after 1am Texas time.  In fact, there's such a gap between how much those things matter compared to the minute amount of embarrassment I felt at being exposed for a second that I can honestly say that it just didn't matter at all.

So why yammer on about it for a long paragraph?

The bubble.  I stayed in my bubble.  I could have peeked over to see if he saw.  But why bother?  What good would it do me to know?  I was feeding my baby, and that was all that really mattered.

My suggestion, if you're NIP nervous, is to try being unaware of the people around you when you breastfeed.  After all, they are likely unaware of you.