28 January 2011

I try to cook breakfasts for our family every morning so that we don't just eat cold cereal and/or end up hungry and grumpy part way through our mornings. I love this pancake recipe I got from my mom a few years back since not only are the pancakes yummy but the oats, eggs and the optional add-ins offer some protein (AKA Breakfast Staying Power). It also is really forgiving of substitutions and "ish" measurements.

Grandma's Oatmeal Pancakes:

2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups quick cooking oats
1/2 cup sugar or honey
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
4 cups milk
1/2 cup oil

In a large bowl, mix together flour, oats, sugar (if using honey wait and put it in the liquids later), salt, baking powder and cinnamon.

In a smaller bowl whisk together eggs, milk, oil, and honey (if you're using honey instead of sugar). Add the liquids into the large bowl and mix together.

Let stand 10 minutes to thicken and then cook in a frying pan over medium heat.

Extras (I typically do one or more)
- 1/4 cup ground flax seed
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts
- 1 cup frozen blueberries
- 1/2 cup finely ground pumpkin/sunflower seeds.

Today I put in a couple of mashed bananas also, and I thought that it made the batter crazy thick (as you can see by the beefy pancake in the photo) but I've now realized that I didn't add enough milk. This is the doubled version of the recipe and I doubled everything but the milk. Gah! Anyhow, the bananas were yummy but I can't say how they work if you actually follow the recipe properly.

23 January 2011

I've been pondering lately the profound impact children have on their parents. In studying my course material the other day, I was reviewing charts which show the ebb and flow of hormones in pregnant and lactating women. Prolactin, oxytocin, and estrogen are some of the main hormones which rise and fall during various stages and which continue to be impacted by a breastfeeding baby's actions until the very last nursing.

These hormones have numerous seen an unseen impacts. Any mom who has breastfed can tell you about the nap-inducing qualities of breastfeeding a newborn or about how the sound of her (or any other) baby can can cause an instantaneous ache within her breasts.

Oxytocin is the "love" hormone, and as part of the milk ejection reflex a mother's level of oxytocin remains raised for a few minutes after each feeding. It helps to foster feelings of affection and strengthens the bond between mother and baby.

Parents think and talk a lot about their impact on children. We debate whether nature or nurture plays a bigger role, where to draw the line between permissive and overly authoritative parenting, and which educational approaches will best help our children to flourish. So much is the focus on what we're doing to them, but I wonder if what they do to us is just as profound.

For 40 weeks of pregnancy and for up to years of breastfeeding after, a child creates daily physical changes in his mother's body. The literature out there shows us the huge impacts these changes have on things like reducing risks of some forms of cancers, osteoporosis and diabetes, but I really wonder on a personal, emotional level what being repeatedly washed in bursts of hormones does to a woman.

In her book Why Love Matters, Sue Gerhardt describes how our genes express themselves based not only on our genetic makeup but also based on environmental triggers. Her focus in the book is on how oxytocin impacts growth in an infant's brain, and I wonder about the awakenings that take place within a mother. 

A friend talked to me about a book called The Tao of Parenting. While, I haven't read the book yet, the section she spoke about has stuck in my brain. The act of parenting pushes us and refines us in a way that few other experiences do. In the book the author draws a parallel between monks who endure physical hardships as a way of seeking enlightenment with the parent who walks the halls hour upon hour with a crying infant. We are pushed beyond our comfort zone, forced to find a deeper place within ourselves when we truly feel we can't go on for another moment.

Being a mom of three kids has brought me to many places I never imagined I'd go. I've been so angry and overwhelmed that I've needed to walk away before causing physical harm. I've sat holding sleeping children, in tears at the beauty and perfection before me. I've gained an instantaneous bond with women I've never met before when we have nothing in common other than the role of mother.

I never entered the role of mother expecting for it to be a path of such self-development and deep personal change, but it has been. I frequently ponder the path my life would have taken had Nick not entered my life when he did, and I really wonder if I'd recognize that other person I would have become without the changes my children have stirred within me.

19 January 2011

Mesh produce bags. They're not just for your oranges, it seems.

12 January 2011

Recently, I wrote about my thoughts on my career path and whether an online program to pursue midwifery was in the cards for me. Long story short, I rolled the idea around in my brain for a few weeks and came to the realization that the program was too time-intensive for what I'm able to take on right now.

Not long after I made this decision, a conversation with my friend about the upcoming changes for writing the IBCLC exam got me wondering if becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) was perhaps a more fitting area of continuing my education. Currently, with my four years of experience being a La Leche League Leader, my only additional requirement before qualifying to write the exam is to complete 45 education hours. The time investment is relatively minimal in comparison to the midwifery program and it's more central to my current skill set.

I've registered for some online classes through Health-E Learnings and as I've been chipping away at the hours I've realized two things.

Firstly, becoming an IBCLC is definitely the right path for me. The more I learn about breastmilk composition and the mechanics of breastfeeding, the more passionate I become about sharing this information with mothers to help them avoid and overcome breastfeeding difficulties. We've had so many moms come to LLL looking for help with issues that range from simple and easy to complex and heart-breaking, and I feel like this added depth of knowledge gives me so much more of an ability to help. Even if I never seriously pursue paid IBCLC work, the value through my LLL work will make all this a worthwhile pursuit.

Secondly, learning new things has helped me to further appreciate unschooling. Since learning about and encompassing this educational style for our children, this is the first formal education I've participated in and it has truly reaffirmed my belief in unschooling.

The two goals in front of me are to complete my education hours and to prepare myself for writing the IBCLC exam. Because these are my own goals that I have set, I'm extremely motivated to meet them. When I'm nursing Olivia down for naps or at bedtime, I read my course material on the iPad. When the kids have gone to bed at night I pore over more material before I go to bed. I usually have one afternoon nap each week where the big kids are at my mom's and I happily dedicate my only alone time to afternoon reading (which, I've discovered, is worth double time since I'm actually fully awake and able to concentrate properly). With a big enticing goal set out in front of me, I'm very willing to make reading a priority.

I'm excited about the things I'm learning. I see the practical application of my new knowledge and I can't wait to share it. Two of my three textbooks just arrived and I've spent some time browsing through them (and maybe hugging and sniffing them if I need to be brutally honest here). I'll be reading through Breastfeeding and Human Lactation along with the study guide on my own, a much different experience from the times I've done textbook work for marks in past classes.

I've had the opportunity to further explore my learning style and how to best understand new information. I was really struggling with a section in a course where I had to learn the components of breastmilk along with their functions and fluctuations. I realized that I couldn't "see" the concept and so I spent a few hours taking notes and drawing out a breastmilk composition flow chart. It added significantly to the time it took me to complete that course, and I didn't need to do it in order to get credit for the hours, but it's the activity that helped to firmly plant that information in my brain.

My oh so pretty flow chart on our kitchen wall.

Reflecting on this has me looking at optional education as compared to mandatory education, and what type of experience I want my children to have.

I want for my kids to find things they're passionate about and to dive into them. I want them to feel driven to pursue education and skills because they believe that these things are vital to their personal development. I don't want education to be something my kids "have" to take part in without any understanding of how it will have a practical implication in their lives. I want them to be excited about the incredible things they can learn, and the way they can impact the world around them with these new abilities.

I thought that unschooling was simply an educational approach for my children but instead it has turned into a lens through which I view the world we live in. And so, the experience of unschooling my children has become an experience of unschooling myself as well.

01 January 2011

I came across a nifty idea the other day called Project 365. The idea is that you take a picture a day for the year as a way of documenting your life and having fun. Since my rocking husband got me a rocking camera for Christmas, I'm totally on board. I figure I can learn the ropes of my new camera while exploring ideas during the year.

I'm putting the pictures over on a Flickr stream I started up and you're more than welcome to take a peek and make comments. I'll be updating it far more regularly than this blog if all goes according to plan. ;)

Happy New Year!!

Random awesome photo that I wanted to put in my 365 stream but it was taken a day too early. Not only is it pretty, but I stood in a freaking cardboard box in my pajamas on my deck and nearly froze my arms off to get this shot. And it's still not quite what I was aiming for. Bah.

Copyright 2010 In desperate need of entertainment.

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