Monthly Archives: September 2009

New Year’s thoughts

I  hope everyone had a meaningful Yom Kippur!  For us it was great – my older four kids spent all day at shul (except when dh sent dd13 home in the late afternoon to check on me, and then sent ds10 home around 6 pm for the same reason).  Dd8 and ds7 were amazing – they kept everything running beautifully and I basically sat in the recliner and nursed the baby all day!

(Note – my home computer is down so I might not be able to post as regularly until it’s fixed – hopefully it will be quickly and easily taken care of.  I’ll also have to delay announcing and setting up the new blog, but it won’t be long!)

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this last week about personal growth.  My breathing difficulties have been a wonderful health opportunity, and I’m looking at changing how I’m spending my time in several ways. 

I’m coming to think that most physical problems begin with an energetic/emotional block.  I read a book by Louise Hay called You Can Heal Your Life, and she correlates various physical problems with the emotional blocks.  Interestingly, what she wrote was what my chiro said about the breathing issues.

What I’d like to work on regarding this ties in with a lot of what I’ve been thinking about – where my energies are best spent and where they’re frittered away.  I recognize that in the name of being responsible, I’ve spent too much time reading the (negative) news online, and that’s making me less positive, less trusting, and more fearful.  That’s not the kind of person I want to be but if I keep spending my time reading negative things, it’s going to continue to influence me.  So first of all, I’m not going to be frequenting a couple of my daily sites that I get news from. 

Secondly, I don’t leave enough space in my life for quiet time for myself, where I can meditate, think deeply, or just breathe.  I tend to feel like I have to DO something.  Yes, I rest, but it’s not a purposeful connect with myself kind of resting.  So the next thing is to consciously take time to spiritually and emotionally ground myself.  During that time, I plan to do affirmations, writing, and reading, in addition to whatever else I do.  I’d like to do this is the early morning but will do it before bed if that’s when I find the time – I’m not making rules about this.

Lastly, I’m going to try to emotionally release the need to be in control.  That’s a much more subtle thing and it can even look positive on the outside, but it’s not good for me.  I can’t control the world, other people, or my family members.  I can just work on myself, and that’s where I want to stay focused.

What are your thoughts/plans on how to make this year even better than the past?


Making first aid salve

In the beginning of the summer, I shared how we made a salve for poison ivy.  That worked well, but we discovered one problem with it – since we used coconut oil as the base for it, it became liquid at the summer temps.  Then when we put it in the fridge, it would be hard as a rock when we took it out.  We managed with this, and the salve was great.  But one day when it was in its liquified state, someone knocked the open container over and it all spilled out.  And that was the end of that salve. :(

So I wanted to make another salve, but decided to improve upon what we did last time – namely to improve the consistency and make it less greasy.  I decided to base this recipe on the ingredient list of the all purpose salve that I bought last year.   Going along with the premise that the first ingredients listed are used more heavily, I weighted the herbs I included accordingly. The basic formula for a salve that I used is 3 T. herbs, 2 c. of oil, and 1 1/2 oz beeswax. (Note – in my opinion this isn’t enough beeswax.)

I chose the following herbs: comfrey – 1 part, plantain – 1 part, echinacea leaves -.5 part, yarrow  – .5 part, and a few olive leaves thrown in for kicks.  :)  I made four times the recipe above.  I simmered the herbs in oil for a couple of hours, then strained them out.  That gives you herbal infused oil.  Then you mix the beeswax into the infused oil.  I used pastilles (tiny little beeswax balls) that I bought for this purpose.

(A little off topic, but I ended up buying a huge amount of beeswax – I was going to buy a pound but saw that after shipping, it was $15.  And for $35 I was able to buy eight pounds including shipping from a different site – I had a frugal struggle with myself, trying to decide if it was better to spend less money or to get substantially more for my money – and now I  have enough beeswax for the rest of my life.  I think I’ll have to find a new hobby to use it up or my greatgrandchildren will be making herbal salves to take home with them when they visit me!)

The beeswax didn’t mix in well the first time I melted it – it melted but solidified in a layer on top of the oil.  When the pot with all its ingredients were remelted, it mixed in nicely – I don’t know why it needed a second melting.  After the mixture cools, you can decide if it’s the consistency you like.  If it’s too loose, add some more wax; if it’s too thick, add some more oil.  I wanted it a little firmer so I added about another 3/4 cup of pastilles (it was late and I didn’t feel like measuring it exactly), and remelted the whole batch another two times so it could be mixed in.  At the end I also added the last little bit of an aromatherapy oil mix that I’ve had around for about ten years from my doula days.

This morning my ds16 put all of the salve into jars – we now have about eight cups of salve.  (After he put it into the jars, he told me he thinks we should add a little more beeswax to make it firmer.  I told him that suggestion would have been more useful before he put everything in jars!  But it can be remelted and the wax added if I want to do that.)  I ordered different sized tins to package this in, but they haven’t yet arrived, which is why it’s all been transferred to glass jars.   I made a very large amount because I want to give this as gifts for Chanuka, but the basic recipe above will give you a nice amount.  It’s the kind of salve that most people would find valuable to have around, and to buy a 4 oz can of a similar salve would be about $17.  Using that as a baseline price, ds16 calculated the retail value for what we made to be $271!  It was a fraction of that to make it ourselves.

We tried it out first thing today – our cat got a bad cut on his foot sometime during the early morning, deep enough to see the bone.  So dd8 doctored him up (yes, my eight year old daughter does what I’m too squeamish to do :)).  He licked off the first salve she applied, and kicked off the strip of cotton that she tried to tie it on with, but she applied another thick layer and he left it on.  Even though he was clearly in pain, he seemed to appreciate her putting it on.  This should significantly accelerate the healing.

This salve is good for all kinds of cuts, abrasions, bug bites, itching, and diaper rash.  Good for kids, adults, or even pets.  Very useful stuff!


Herb recommendations

At the end of last week a couple of the kids pulled up the tomato plants (at my request) and picked all the green tomatoes.  So because I didn’t want them to go to waste, last night I made six quarts of pickled green tomatoes and 2.5 quarts of green tomato salsa.  I bought a few large bags of organic red corn chips last week that will go nicely with the salsa for a yom tov snack.  And the kids tasted the pickled tomatoes tonight and gave them a thumbs up. :)

Then yesterday my wonderful children put the sukka together, and I asked them to plant some seeds for me – but they went on to plant a bunch more than that!  They planted swiss chard, spinach, mache, lettuces, turnips, beets, rutabagas, and snow peas.  Since we all got so much done yesterday, I decided to treat everyone to a trip to the science center this morning, where we spent several hours and had a great time!

>>Your blog is wonderful and so helpful. I was looking to place my first order at Mountain Rose Herbs (perhaps tomorrow) and I recall you wrote somewhere that your midwife had a special mixture of herbs she told you to take postpartum to avoid the discomfort (pain) after the birth. Is there any chance I could have the “recipe” and how it’s prepared/taken?<<

As far as the recipe for minimizing afterbirth cramping, it’s a brew of Chinese herbs that this herbalist created for her clients.  I’d also love to know the recipe, but it seems to be a trade secret! 

>>Besides elderberry, is there anything else you advise getting or having on hand for general purposes?<<

What kind of herbs will be most useful will depend on what you foresee needing them for.  I started off using herbs by taking a blend of several for pregnancy and then I added on as they appealed to me.  I can’t claim that I was incredibly systematic about it – I got the herbs that seemed to have properties I felt would be valuable.  But it’s worked out pretty well since I’ve had on hand the herbs I’ve needed for the most part.  I have a couple I haven’t really done much with yet, though.  Before making an order, it’s best to have some idea of what it does as well as how you plan to use it.

The easiest to include in your collection are the food herbs, like cinnamon, mustard, ginger, cayenne, garlic, tumeric – I get those in the grocery store in the largest containers I can fine.  I have several I’ve harvested from my garden or yard – burdock (blood purifier), plantain (skin issues), fennel (digestive aid), and sage (colds).   Then when I bought herbs, I got several that are natural antibiotics – echinacea, yarrow, and olive leaf.  Comfrey is for contact healing of cuts – I think it’s a must have.  I have pau d’arco for yeast issues (never used this but it seemed like a good thing!), spearmint for digestion, mullein and lobelia for upper respiratory infections.  Then there are herbs like chamomile for calming. 

So the question is, what do you see as being the issues you want to deal with?  If for example, I had restless sleepers or issues of depression, I’d need different herbs than what I have.  I decided this winter to prepare remedies to address the following: flu, colds, upper respiratory distress, ear pain, cough syrup, digestive issues, and a basic first aid salve.  So I’ve made  elderberry syrup (colds and flus) and tonight finished the , echinacea glycerite (colds).  I plan to make ginger syrup for sore stomachs or indigestion (in addition to having fennel and spearmint, as well as peppermint oil), mullein oil for ear pain (this is something we rarely experience – I’m not even sure why I’m preparing it except it seems to be worth having just in case) and am astragulus and wormwood for a couple of other remedies.  I have a first aid salve simmering on the stove right now, my own creation. :)  I’m also planning to make a muscle cream and got arnica flowers and St. John’s wort for that.

So for me at this stage (remember, I’m relatively new herbal healing), the most important herbs would be: echinacea root and leaves, elderberries, mullein, lobelia, comfrey, yarrow, plantain, and licorice root.  For anything else I think I could manage with whatever is in my spice cabinet, garlic, apple cider vinegar, and good nutrition!  


Sleep issues with young child

>>Ds is I can’t handle him anymore. He’s 3. A couple of months ago, we finally cut his nap. It was becoming a nightmare. We also have a 10 month old, and ds3 will not go down easily, he never has. For a while, I would wear him on my back in an Ergo to put him down for a nap – not such a big deal when he was smaller, but it became really impossible after the baby was born. 
So, I figured, cut the nap. I can’t wear him to sleep anymore, I just can’t. The thing is, without the nap, ds turns into a different person. He’s Mr. Hyde, or whatever it is. Just a complete terror. His whole personality changes when he doesn’t get that nap. So, we moved his bedtime up an hour to make up for it, from 8:30 to 7/7:30ish. 
By the time 7 comes, he’s completely exhausted, and is pulling his Mr. Hyde routine. I know, I know, he’s 3, come will say he’s acting like a three-year-old. But.. I know my boy, and I know when something’s.. off. Screaming, tantrums over nothing.. I just know him, and I know this isn’t him.  I don’t know what else to do. I feel like he still needs a nap but I simply can’t force him to sleep. I regret that I put him to sleep in the Ergo for so long, I guess he doesn’t know how to fall asleep on his own at all now (what do I do about ds10mo so I don’t repeat this horrible pattern?). I feel like he could go to bed at 5 in the afternoon, and he’ll fall asleep. But I don’t really want to wake up at 5am. Please help me figure this out. I really don’t know what to do anymore.<<

Though I’ve gotten questions relating to sleep issue in the past, this is the first time I’m touching on this issue on the blog.  I generally prefer to answer this directly so that I’m not publicly misunderstood, and I’ve significantly delayed answering this because of that reluctance.  But the sleep of young children is a very important issue that really affects the functioning of the parents and the children, physically and emotionally.  There are a lot of things to touch on, but I’ll try to tackle it here because it really is too important to ignore.

It’s very important to realize that you’re doing your child a favor to help him learn healthy sleep habits, because a well rested child is a happy child. Whenever my ds3 starts to whine or act like an obnoxious brat, I don’t bother with any discipline – he goes straight into bed and wakes up a pleasant child again.  Making sure he gets the proper amount of sleep deals with the root of his behavior – it’s very hard to moderate your emotions (even as an adult!) when you haven’t gotten enough rest.  Crankiness can become chronic if a child day after day isn’t getting enough sleep, and a cranky child becomes a difficult child, and a difficult child and parent generally have to work a lot harder than a happy child and parent to bond and get along.

I’m concerned about a trend I’ve noticed – because ‘crying it out’ is considered child abuse, parents are doing anything to keep their kids from crying at night or at naptime.  This leads to a lot of sleep issues for the kids because they aren’t given a chance to learn to fall asleep independently – and it is a learned skill.  Of greatest concern to me are moms who are bouncing off the walls emotionally due to severe and ongoing sleep deprivation – sometimes a little grumpy, but often filled with rage and frustration, overreacting to any little thing, screaming at their young children or wanting to hurt them – far from loving behavior, and usually in the name of  attachment parenting.  I see this expressed online all the time.  I think if the only choice were letting a child cry for a while for a couple of nights or having a parent who is often filled with hostility towards him as a result of her exhaustion, letting them cry is much, much better.

We have to stop being so afraid that if our children cry they’re going to have hangups and feel abandoned and unloved.   (If a child grows up never having his cries responded to, yes, he will develop issues and shut down. But that’s almost never the issue.)  Let’s say my ds3 sees a chocolate in the store and asks for it.  Knowing it’s not good for him, I say ‘no’ and he starts to cry.  Does the chocolate become good for him because he is crying for it?  No.  Should I give him the chocolate because he cries?  No.  If you’ve determined your child needs to go to sleep (and sufficient sleep is a serious need), you can’t let him go without it just because he doesn’t want it or it’s hard for him.  Crying before bedtime and naptime doesn’t mean that he isn’t tired enough or shouldn’t go to sleep; it means he wants to stay up later and is going to try to convince you with crying that he should get what he wants.  Just like the chocolate.

I’m not saying that letting a child cry is the only or best option – it’s not and it’s not generally what I do.  I just want to be clear that I think that it’s not the big hairy deal that moms are making it out to be.  I think the easiest method is preventing sleep issues in the first place.  My babies sleep in my bed for the first 6 – 8 weeks after they’re born.  Then I move them to a bassinet right next to my bed.  This is close enough that as soon as the baby wakes up (not every time he stirs – often they stir and fall back asleep if left alone), I wake up and can nurse him, and we both sleep more soundly like this – babies tend to wake up much more frequently because of the movement of their parents.  And every time they wake up, they end up being nursed back to sleep. Before you know it, you’ve created a cycle of repeated night wakings.  Generally my babies wake up once in the night to be nursed, and start sleeping through the night on their own without much conscious effort on my part.

Here’s a tip that is counter intuitive, but this is crucial.  Put your child to sleep before he is showing signs of being tired.  This is true for a child of any age.  A few weeks ago, my baby was being super cranky.  Crying all day, sleeping about five minutes after being put down and then waking up.  All day long.  After a week of this, I realized what was happening (remember, there are other people besides me putting him to sleep and picking him up when he cries).  He wasn’t being put down until he was overtired, and because he was overtired, he couldn’t easily fall asleep.   What I immediately did was start putting him to sleep before he looked like he needed it and explained to my kids what I was doing and why, as well as showing them the signs of when it was the right time for him to go in for a nap.  The first day he slept a huge amount – it was literally like he slept all day long except for very short waking periods when he would nurse and then go back to sleep.  He had a week long sleep deficit to make up for!  Since then, he hardly cries at all – we put him down for a nap when he starts to look relaxed and mellow (vs alert and bright eyed), and he falls asleep without whimpering.

I’ve shared my general thoughts on the importance of sleep, of preventing sleep issues in the first place, and told you when the best time to put your child in bed is.  Now, to the specific question – you’re right, your son is acting exactly like a seriously overtired child.  So the question is how to help him get more sleep.  First of all, I would try to go back to a nap during the day. He clearly can’t handle the long day without it.  In the earlier half of the day, around 12 or so, I’d suggest you have a nice long story session to get him feeling mellow.  Being in one place snuggled next to you is going to naturally relax him.  When he’s looking drowsy, or even just very relaxed, it’s time for a nap. He may suddenly pop up and start insisting he’s not tired and doesn’t want to take a nap.  That’s okay.  Tell him he doesn’t have to sleep, just rest in his bed for a little bit.  Let him get up after a half hour if he doesn’t fall asleep.  Then do the same thing the next day, but let him stay in bed a little longer.  Do this for at least a week or two.  Soon he should start relaxing enough to fall asleep.  What you’re doing is setting up the situation to help him learn to fall asleep without being carried (I have no idea how you did this for so long – it’s amazing the things mothers do for their children!).   Remember, falling asleep independently is a learned skill and it’s going to take him some time to learn how to do it – but you have to give him the chance to learn.

Until he starts sleeping during the day again, he needs to go to bed earlier.  I don’t know when he wakes up, but since he’s already overwound by 7 pm, I’d suggest trying for 6 pm.  Remember, don’t wait for a child to show signs of being tired to put them to bed.  I understand the concern about him waking up early – go to sleep early yourself just in case he does so you have the energy to deal with it.  But it’s more likely that because you put him to sleep earlier, he’ll sleep longer- the irony is the more rested a child is, the more they sleep.

Good luck, and don’t give up!


Mango Ice

Here’s a new dessert we created for Rosh Hashana.  It took advantage of two recent finds: a) coconut milk at Trader Joes for .99 a can (versus $4 something at Whole Foods), and b) 24 ounce jars of mango for .50 each that I bought this past week.  Anyway, here’s the simple recipe.

Mango Ice

  • 2 c. coconut milk
  • 2 c. mango

Blend everything together until smooth.  Freeze until mostly frozen, then blend again.  Let freeze once more until solid.  Serve.

We had a guest who was a vegan and only eats raw food, and even he had this (I warned him that the mango was from a jar).  If you’re used to a very sugary ice cream, you might think this needs more sweetener.  But for our family, it was just right – mildly sweet and pleasant tasting. 

You could probably substitute other sweet fruits like banana for an alternative flavor, or combine two or more fruits.  The Trader Joe coconut milk is ‘light’, and I think that full fat coconut milk would also work well – it would probably solidify faster and have a creamier, less icy texture.


How to make elderberry syrup

Last night I made my first batch of elderberry syrup.  It is filled with antioxidants and is good for preventing colds or treating them, depending when you take it.  I bought dried elderberries online, but if you are able to pick them fresh locally, all the better!  Here’s how simple it is to make:

Elderberry syrup

  • 1/2 c. dried elderberries (or 1 c. fresh)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
  • 3 c. water
  • 1 c. honey

Put the berries in a pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover.  Let simmer for 30 – 45 minutes.  Mash the berries with a potato masher, and strain through a fine strainer.  Add honey while liquid is hot, stir, and bottle.  Keep in the fridge – should last 2 – 3 months when refrigerated.

I made four times this recipe and I ended up with three full quarts plus one 16 oz honey jar. I forgot to mash the berries, but since they were dried to start with, I think this was probably less important than when using fresh berries.  I added the cinnamon sticks because they taste good, but also because cinnamon kills bacteria and is great for fighting infections.   I used crystallized honey that was sitting around not being used because the kids said it doesn’t taste as good when it’s crystallized.

Here’s a breakdown of the cost to make it: I bought the dried elderberries for 7.95 lb, and used 2/3 of that (wanted to save some to tincture), so the berries were $5.30.  I used three cups of honey, and if I figured the cost correctly, each cup was $3.33 cup.  That seems high to me (I thought I paid about 2.50 per cup, less when I recently bought small 16 oz containers for 1.99 each), but I based it on googling how many cups of honey are in a gallon (supposedly nine); I buy a gallon/twelve pound container for $30.  So the honey was $10.  I’ll add in .14 for the cinnamon sticks, since I got a container that had thirteen sticks in it for .88 so each stick rounds up to .07.  The total for 12.5 cups of elderberry syrup came out to 15.44.

When you consider 4 fl. oz of Sambucol costs around $12.99, or to use their cheaper price for a larger bottle, 7.8 oz is $21.99, that’s a real bargain! Elderberry syrup from Mountain Rose Herbs is similarly priced with a 4 oz bottle being $13.25.  To put it further into perspective, 4 oz is about a quarter of a cup and 8 oz is half a cup – so I’m getting about thirty five times as much for the same price (my price for 1/4 c. is .31; 1/2 c. is .62).

Because this has a limited shelf life and I don’t want to use up my fridge space hosting three quart sized jars for months, for immediate use I kept one quart plus the little honey jar, and canned the other two quarts so I can keep them on a shelf out of the fridge.

This can be given when a child is showing signs of the cold or a flu, a tablespoon every hour or two, or you can give them a teaspoon each morning as a general immune strengthener.  This could easily be added to tea or (if you let the water boil down more so the final result is thicker) poured on top of pancakes or waffles.  Getting kids to have some of this isn’t hard at all.  This morning we gave the younger kids a teaspoon each, and a minute after ds3 got his spoonful, he came back holding out a cup and asked for a cupful!


Contest – need new blog name!

I’ve been wanting to move my blog away from my business site to an independent  blog site for quite some time, for various reasons.  And since we’re starting a new year, now seems to be the right time to do it. I’ve thought of several names, but none of them seem to be just right to me.  I’m looking for something that includes all of what I share here – not just homeschooling, parenting, or frugal living.

So I decided to ask all of you for feedback – what does this blog represent to you?  How would you sum it up, with a blog name and a tagline?  (For example, my business site is called Vibrant Moms, the tagline is Real Support for Real Moms.)  To help get your creative juices flowing, I’ll be giving a $25 Amazon gift card to the person whose idea I use.  You can submit as many ideas as you want, however specific or general they are – post whatever bursts of inspiration you have in the comments section of this post so I can keep track of who suggests what. :)  To give everyone time to think about it, I’ll make the final decision right after Yom Kippur, on Sep. 29.

Thank you all in advance for your help – I’m really looking forward to tapping into your creative energy!


Holiday davening and small children

Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are very important times in the yearly calendar, times that even those who aren’t very religiously affiliated go to synagogue.  It’s no suprise that a time like this can become confusing for mothers to navigate – how does mothering young children and going to shul fit together?

I can only share my own decision – everyone handles this differently.  I believe there’s a time and season for everything, and the expectations we have of ourselves have to change accordingly.  For me, that means that as long as I have young children, my way of serving H-shem/G-d can’t be to spend long hours in synagogue.  H-shem sent me these children to raise to serve Him, not just on humdrum days of the week but at times that are deeply meaningful.  I believe my job is to mother them and to serve H-shem in this role – that no longer means spending uninterrupted hours in shul on holidays.  I choose not to enroll my children in the available babysitting at the shul because I don’t feel that’s the right environment for them on such a special day.  I can’t say that I would never consider it in the future, and I certainly understand mothers who make a different choice than I do.  But until now this has been my feeling, one that doesn’t seem to be widely shared.

Some mothers find time in their busy days to pray at home.  I’ve done that and continue to do that, but honestly it’s not usually inspired – probably because it’s usually when everyone is sleeping and I’m already at the end of a long day.  If it’s in the middle of a day, I’m sneaking the time during the naptime of the littles, hoping to get in as much as I can before they wake up.  What is most important for me is to appreciate whatever I can do and in whatever way, instead of comparing it to how I davened before children.  It may be different, but one way isn’t better than the other – the question is what is better for me at this particular time.

I generally go to shul for shofar blowing – I used to go at the regular time but that wasn’t relaxing because there’s the pressure of keeping everyone quiet.  Then I started meeting dh at the end of davening and being there for the second blowing.  I was blessed for the last couple of years with a neighbor who blew for the women on the block, but he just moved.  :(   That was especially wonderful two years ago when I had a week old baby and the walk to shul would have been physically taxing for me. 

Wherever you do or don’t daven this Rosh Hashana, I wish all of you a wonderful yom tova and a year filled with happiness, health, meaning, and abundance of all good things.  K’sivah v’chasima tova – may you each be written and sealed for the good!


Fall garden clean-up

Despite me being out of things this week, the kids got a lot of yard work topped off!  It will be nice to go into the holidays having most of the signs of summer yard projects cleared away.

The 12,000 pound mountain of excavated dirt has finally all been moved – this is a major accomplishment!  Just today dd13 was talking to the daughter of one of you in a different city who mentioned seeing a picture of our yard (Google maps?) and commented on the huge pile of dirt.  Yes, that was our yard. :)  Once the dirt was moved, the fourth new raised garden box was put into place and filled.  Ds dumped the grass clippings from the three yards he mowed this week into these beds to boost the soil – grass clippings are high quality soil enhancers.  Since the grass that would have lined the paths was killed when the dirt was on top of it, the kids spread a thick layer of the wood chips we got for free last week around the beds.  It looks nice and neat now.

My plan is to build up the soil for the coming season by starting now and let the beds ‘cook’ over the next few months.  Soil strength/quality in large part determines the size of your crop, the nutritional value, and resistance to disease, and once I’m taking the time to garden, I want to get the most value out of it that I can.

As I write ds8 and ds10 are pulling up the summer garden plants in the lasagna beds. When they’re done, the last load of dirt will be spread on top, and then the rest of the wood chips will cover all of it.  The dirt and wood chips provide a lot of biological ‘brown’ and will need to be balanced with ‘greens’ to eficiently break down. I’ll be adding the usual kitchen vegetable/fruit scraps and whatever grass clippings and leaves I can get before winter.  I have about 3 – 4 gallons of ashes from our campfire that we’ll sprinkle over all the raised beds and the lasagna beds.  Then I’ll let the sun and rain and time do the rest of the work. :)

One thing that will remain of the garden will be some of its fruits – several of our simanim (symbolically eaten foods) for the Rosh Hashana dinners were freshly picked today and are being roasted together – butternut squash, leeks, and beets.  And the apples weren’t  ones we grew, but we did pick them yesterday afternoon.


Toddler traumatized by separation

>>I was wondering if you can give me some advice on my situation. Ds2  was always very attached. I let him be as clingy as he needed, and eventually he became more independent and not so attached anymore. Then I gave birth (edited – and was in the hospital for two days). Now I know a homebirth would have prevented this issue, but the issue now is:
He is traumatized that i left him.  He asks me to hold him whenever i’m nursing the baby, is biting me and hitting me, has asked to nurse (though he’s weaned 5 mos already) and is just in general being VERY clingy. He insists on coming with me to the bathroom and watching me when i shower…

So my question is- what do i do now?
Just let him be as clingy as he feels the need to, to reassure him that i’m gonna be there for him and won’t leave him, and let him become more independent when he is ready to do so?  Or be very loving and warm to him, but set limits like “no coming with mommy to the bathroom” or “no watching mommy shower”?  And what do i do when he wants to be held while i’m nursing the baby?<<

Today on the way home from our full day of shopping, we listened to a cassette that I got a couple of years ago – it was a talk on parenting given at a homeschooling conference in 2001.  The speaker was extremely funny – my kids were cracking up, and so was I (though laughing hard isn’t a good idea right now for me, since it caused me to throw up several times – but it was worth it!).  The premise of the talk was that there’s not much support for parents nowadays, and that though people complain that kids today aren’t disciplined, parents who do what is necessary to develop a disciplined and well behaved child who knows his limits and has self control are criticized.  It was a great talk and I mention it here since he shared a philosophy very similar to mine, and touched on a point that you’re asking about – the place of discipline. 

I don’t encourage clinginess, but I do support giving a lot of love and warmth.  It might seem it’s two ways of saying the same thing, but there’s a significant difference.  When you give a child a message that he is emotionally needy and you’re there for him (that was the first option you mentioned), that’s a very different message from he’s healthy and fine and you’re there for him (option number two).  One encourages his weakness and one supports his strength. 

Kids need discipline.  It’s not a kindness to refrain from establishing clear limits with your children.  It’s no favor to give them all that they want (hmm, this is sounding like what I wrote about last night that was lost even though it was on an entirely different topic).  

When a child goes through a situation like this, they do want your presence.  It’s frightening for the person who is the center of your universe to disappear for two or three days, especially when you’re little and have no sense of time, and may even be afraid that they aren’t coming back at all.  He’s not asking just for your physical presence, but for  your reassurance that you won’t disappear again.    There are lots of non verbal ways to do that, but you don’t need to aquiesce to all that he’s asking for if it’s uncomfortable for you.  I don’t mind letting my toddler watch me brush my teeth, but that’s about it as far as my comfort level goes regarding my time in the bathroom and the company of little people.  Moms are entitled to at least that tiny bit of privacy, aren’t they? :)  Practically speaking, I suggest you take a shower either before he wakes up or after he goes to sleep to avoid the issue for 2 – 3 weeks.  With time he’ll become increasingly secure about your presence. 

In general, give him a lot of attention, but don’t overdo it so he thinks that you’re trying to make up for bringing the baby into his life.  Then it will reinforce his feeling that you’ve done something to wrong him.  Newborn babies nurse alot, but they sleep a lot more than they’re awake.  That gives you loads of time when your attention is totally on him.  But even when the baby is awake or nursing, he doesn’t need much of your emotional attention.  When you’re nursing the baby, you can make a point of gathering him into one arm and hugging him – he doesn’t have to be on your lap if you can’t manage that.  You also can give him a special hug right before you feed the baby.  Right after I have a baby, I make it a point to make nursing sessions special reading time for my toddlers.  So instead of feeling resentful that Mommy is spending so much time holding the baby, they love it because when I feed the baby it means they get to cozy up on the couch next to me and hear a story of their choosing. 

Congratulations on your new baby and enjoy this period – it goes by soooo fast!