Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer solstice

When we first moved to Alaska it seemed really strange to basically never see darkness at this time of year. It would be really late and we realize we need to make dinner. The first summer with Delia as a baby was an adjustment too. My baby who had a good routine all of a sudden was hard to get to sleep at night. We went through many summers of interrupted night time routines before it didn't seem like a big deal anymore. The kids have a later summer routine and we have days where we stay out late but we still follow a routine and stick to it and they are usually good about bedtime. Now it would probably seem strange to live where it gets dark in the summer and the midnight sun is just a part of life in Alaska. The solstice was on Tuesday and now we are moving towards shorter days again.

We have been trying to get outside a lot in the summer. I usually try to do a hike and an outdoor playgroup once a week. I have been hiking with the kids since Delia was a baby in my belly. Some hikes were with just me and Mike or family that visits and sometimes with different parents groups. Last summer I did the parent and me hikes through the municipality and hikes with a church group of moms I met at the park that were really nice. The summer before it was a different hiking group.This summer I am going with a outdoor meet up group or with the kids by myself. It has progressed through the years from carrying Delia on my back to pushing her in a stroller or wearing her on my back while pregnant. Then it was adjusting to hiking with two carrying Teddy on my back while Delia was in a stroller. Last summer Delia started hiking and did really well. I was pregnant so I was perfectly fine going at a kids pace. She could hike 3-4 miles. This summer Teddy either rides in the stroller or walks and Delia hikes and Cora is on my back. I hiked with a toddler on the back and a babe in the front at time or a toddler on my back with a babe in my belly. Sometimes it doesn't go well  especially now with three kids who can protest but we all mostly enjoy it and I hope it instills a love of the outdoors and nature in them.

We also spend time in the garden at my friend Sarah's house. The kids enjoy riding their bikes. Teddy has gotten really good at his balance bike in a short time and can run and glide. Today he went up and down a ramp and down a big hill and glided down. Delia loves riding her two wheeler and spends a lot of time riding her bike. On sunny days we like to go to the lake and the kids play in the sand and the water. We had a nice warm and sunny May but June has been cooler and cloudier but we still try to get out. Mike usually plays outside with them after dinner while I clean up and we found some new neighbors with kids for them to play with.

The solstice also marks the day the Alaska food challenge begins. I did not get to make it to the kick off party. I was hoping to be eating mostly Alaskan this summer once the produce starts really coming in aside from spices and oils that are hard to get. I am falling very far off that goal with the condo being on the market. We have been doing improvements on the condo to hopefully help it sell and I have been trying to keep it neat and clean all the time. The kitchen is really small and we have been doing  improvements in there. I don't want to fill our tiny kitchen while we are trying to sell our place so my plans for making cheese and yogurt from local milk has been put aside as well as the plans to make breads, pizza crusts, tortillas, pastas etc from the grain. I don't think our tomato crop is going to do as well as hoped this year since we lost some and the rest are small. We don't have the chicken coop. I don't have my own yard to plan for next year. I will try to do what I can. We expanded the garden this year with the pallet cold frames. I will buy more local produce once it is in and freeze some of it for the winter We hopefully will be able to catch a lot of salmon dip netting. This year I will do better with foraging for berries and then freeze some and make jelly out of the rest. The  food challenge group did make the news at the kick off party and people gave pledges both big and small to eat  more of there foods that are Alaskan for a whole year. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Cora is 9 months

Cora turned 9 months on the 14th. Time is flying by. She has been on the outside just as long as she was on the inside and is closing in on a year. It seems like only yesterday my surprise girl arrived who almost had a different name. I am glad we went with Cora my favorite. It definitely fits.

At 9 months Cora is going through separation anxiety big time and doesn't like being put down. She loves taking baths in the sink and with her brother and sister in the big bath. She loves eating and has quite the appetite for a 9 month old. Luckily she is still in the eat anything phase before toddler-hood pickiness sets in. Unfortunately that means dirt, sand, rocks and other chokeables look pretty tasty as well. She still has a hint of torticollis but most people wouldn't notice it anymore. It affected her gross motor skills but not too bad. Her physical therapist tested her at 6 months when she was 8 months. That doesn't stop her. She is army crawling and power rolling to get where she wants. Cora is signing milk, more and sometimes potty, clapping and babbling up a storm. She had a pincher grasp for a while and handles food like a champ.


She weighed 16 pounds 9 ounces is 26.85 inches long and has head circumference of 45.8 cm. That puts her at around the 20 percentile for height and weight and 90 percentile for her noggin. That makes her my smallest 9 month old. The pediatrician luckily thinks she is doing great and that is the size she meant to be.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Shades of grey and judgement

I love the general trend towards environmental stuff, sustainability and natural parenting I see online and in the area I live in. I found though in both aspects people lose sight of the big picture and get dogmatic about certain things. I enjoy a good debate but not personal attacks or judgment and that happens all the time.

With certain topics people can get dogmatic. A while back a mom on a local AP group had a baby who was waking a lot and the mom was seriously sleep deprived and described her situation.  Instead of getting helpful advice people said to do things that she already tried and told her to basically suck it up buttercup. The same thing happens on message boards. This mom tried to breastfeed but it didn’t work out and a mom told her to start breastfeeding again.  They questioned why she was even on an AP board. That poor mother was obviously driven away. I gave her the best advice I could and advocated for her but it was too late. The damage was done.

I see similar scenarios all the time with other topics. People get so passionate and dogmatic that they miss the person and that not everything is black and white.  This happens with breastfeeding, CIO, the use of strollers and leashes, birth, nutrition vaccines, discipline styles, organic food and baby wearing.  We live in an independent culture and we are left alone to watch small children all day. There is no need to tear each other up over differences in how we parent. Sharing why we do things and why we feel we do about certain topics is one thing. It is another to judge or tear up other mothers or exclude them because they do things differently.

Another thing I see this with is with nutrition and chemicals. There are a lot of fads around in nutrition right now that people touted as being the way we should eat but their facts leave much to be desired. Another way is to not see the shades of grey that some products do have a use. Monsanto has terrible terrible practices. The things we grow in this country for livestock and huge industrial agriculture is not a good thing nor is the way they engineer seeds for use with their product round up. They go to other countries where there wasn’t a problem then make them use their herbicide and seed and create problems.  Despite all that herbicide has its place and in some instances with restoration or invasive species there is nothing as effective. The way you use it in those instances it does not pose a threat. I don’t agree with the way they genetically engineer crops for their seeds but there are more benign ways where “genetic engineering” does serve a purpose.

People often get stuck up on small details and miss the big picture.  There are a lot of sites out there that put on the guise of being an expert on a certain topic but the information is very bad.  The most important thing you can do is do your best. To be more sustainable live simply, buy used when possible, evaluate the products you get and cut back wherever you can.  Keep in mind the big picture of how you use energy, what you do about transportation, where your food comes from and what you need. For parenting do the best you can, learn from your mistakes and find the right balance.   It is ok to be a work in progress and to not be perfect. We can learn from each other.