Thursday, May 28, 2009

Handling Negative Comments, and misconceptions about EC

My mom has a very good friend, whom I love. But, she can be overly critical of a lot of things. I find it strange that I have not had any family arguments over my parenting choices, yet I have had quite a few with her. She argued that extended breastfeeding is ridiculous, despite the fact that the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least two years of age, and to continue for as long as the child and mother feel comfortable. The natural weaning age is between two and six, which is why children lose their milk teeth around the age of six. It made o difference to her, she still thought it was ridiculous.

Then, she spotted my book "Diaper Free" by Ingrid Bauer, which is kind of a guide to elimination communication. She said that it would be absolutely impossible, and went on and on about how it is putting too much expectation on infants. I had thought the same thing about elimination communication, until I really started to research it and learned that western cultures are actually very odd in the way they handle their babies' eliminations. So, I was understanding of her view, and I described to her what we do, how they do it in other countries, and how it works for us. She seemed accepting of the fact that we were trying it. A few weeks later, we were visiting my mom. For the first time I successfully used EC for Jonah's bowel movements when we were away from home. My mom was able to see how it worked, and she was amazed. And so when her beloved friend came to visit that day, she told her how I take Jonah to the potty to poop, and how wonderful it was to watch our communication over it. My mom's friend was acting a little skeptical still, but seemed like she didn't want to be argumentative.

This past weekend, we stopped by my parents' house for a barbecue. I had taken Jonah's diaper off of him for a change, and not bothered to put one on him yet. I wasn't watching him though; I was talking to my aunt, and preoccupied with all of the family activity going on. I looked down and saw that Jonah had his "pee face." I immediately said "Oh no!!!!!" I had nothing to catch it with. He went on his blanket. My mom's friend smugly said "I thought he was potty trained!"

I didn't know how to respond, other than trying to explain it to her again. It's a great misconception that using EC is potty training. It is most definitely not. Yes, there are similarities. People might think that the end result is the same, because the child goes to the bathroom on the potty in both cases. But the processes to get to the end goal are completely different. In EC, not only does the child become aware of his body functions, but so does his caregiver. In potty training, it is mostly one-sided, teaching the child to become aware of his eliminations. EC is a partnership between caregiver and child. If I am not doing my part and watching for Jonah's cues, then the relationship falls apart and EC fails, as it did at the barbecue.

I am aware that not everyone will understand the choices that I have made with Jonah, particularly the choices that are a little strange in our culture such as EC. When I meet criticism, I try to explain my reasons. It doesn't always work, because most people are set in their opinions. When people aren't willing to listen, I just go into a "live and let live" mode. I do my thing, and they do theirs, is what I have to tell myself. I chose the low road, where most people choose the high road. I'm bound to run into criticism from a lot of people in my life.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Adding a sign

Tonight at dinner, I decided to offer Jonah a biter biscuit. We call them cookies, and use the sign for cookie which is a C shape placed to the palm of the other hand, and twisted as if making circles for a cookie on a plate.We have been emphasizing the sign for apple at mealtime, because Jonah showed an interest in this sign while eating freezedried apple dices. I've been giving him the apples after his purees, and emphasizing the sign for apple as I talk to him about what he is eating. To do the sign for apple, I make an A shape with my hand and place the knuckle of that index finger to my cheek, then twist my hand back and forth. In this picture, an X shape is used, but it is the same basic signBecause he's been eating an awful lot of apples during this, I decided to offer him a cookie tonight instead. I said "Do you want your 'cookie?'" and did the sign. I showed him his cookie and said "Here is your 'cookie.' Yum, a 'cookie!'" I did the sign everytime I said the word "cookie." Jonah looked at me and did the sign for apple. I was a little taken aback, because up until now he has only managed to poorly mimic the sign. I said "No, it's a cookie!" and did the sign again. He would not touch the cookie, and signed "apple" again. I said "No dear, that's a cookie!" and he signed apple, and threw the cookie on the floor.

I got him his apples.

I am not sure if he was doing the sign for apple because it is what we have been doing so much of after his purees, or if he really was telling me that he wanted apples over a biter biscuit.

I am very pleased that he has finally added another sign to his repertoire. Up until now, he has only done "all done" and "milk." I was beginning to get frustrated, because he signed "milk" for the first time between five and six months. Then he finally added "all done" around seven months. He is just now beginning to refine these signs enough that people besides me can tell that he's doing them. It has seemed like forever waiting for him to add more signs to these two. He has also started to wave bye-bye in some situations. Like his "all done" he doesn't wave his hand much. It is sort of just showing his palm. But, it's recognizeable, and that's what counts to me. He's making the effort to communicate; who cares if it's exactly right. We wouldn't say that a toddler can't speak because he mispronounces words or uses forms that are easier for him to say. Daryl thinks that the sign doesn't count until he can do it "the right way" but I think as long as he is making the effort to do the movements, it counts.

Of course, all three of the cameras were loaded with dead batteries during the apple incident tonight, so I was unable to catch this sign on film. I'm hoping to be able to snap a picture or video of it tomorrow, but with my luck he will want a cookie rather than apples.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

We've been married a year; it's time to get some chickens

We spent the long weekend visiting friends in Pennsylvania. It was a wonderful getaway, as they live in a very rural area. It was nice to stay with friends who have the same naturalistic views that we have. On their one acre plot of land, they are raising a garden, and hoping to buy some egg chickens within the year. I've mentioned these friends on my blog before. They introduced the concepts of EC to me when Jonah was just weeks old.

We are currently looking at a home that sits on a five acre lot. If we are able to sell our home in Cleveland, we will try to make an offer on it. We are both crossing our fingers that we are able to buy this chunk of land, because it is everything that we need and is right in our price range. When Daryl's friend mentioned that they were getting chickens soon, I saw that twinkle flare up in his eye. "Hey Jess!" he said "If we get that place...."
me:"yes dear, we might look into getting chickens..."
him: "and a goat!"

a goat? Well, I guess it is easier than keeping a cow for milk. I'm honestly surprised that it was him who was making these suggestions. After all, I'm the "crunchy" one. I'm the one who in high school was voted as "most likely to live on a self sustainable commune." I wasn't raising my eyebrows at the thought of having a goat for fresh milk, I was raising my eyebrows at the fact that it was my HUSBAND making these suggestions. Maybe I've finally won him over to the so-called dark side. Maybe I've hippied him up a bit! Now if I could just get him to recycle his glass...

On another note, it was our first wedding anniversary on Sunday, and spending it with our friends was the best way that I could imagine. After putting the kids to bed, we snuck out to the firepit for smores and wine. A combination that doesn't get enough recognition, in my opinion. I couldn't help but reflect on how far we've come in a year. Last year at this time, we were seven months pregnant and living in a condo in Cleveland. Now we have a beautiful little boy, trying for our second child, and talking about buying chickens and goats in the rural outskirts of the Toledo area. It's been a very strange trip, for sure, but I wouldn't trade it for any other life out there!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Some Reflections on Baby Signs

I have been using sign language with Jonah since the day he was born. In the hospital I signed to him "milk" (for nursing) "I love you" and "Mommy." The only two that he has started using are "milk" and "all done." When we introduced bottles to him, I also introduced the sign for "drink." We used "milk" for nursing and "drink" for bottles and sippy cups. The idea was, I was going to continue to nurse Jonah as long as he wanted, but the bottles will soon be completley replaced by sippy cups. So it made sense to use a different sign for nursing, but the same for bottle and cup. Jonah has overthrown that idea, though. He has decided to use "milk" for every vessel that holds drinks. Bottles, sippies, and big people's cups. They all illicit the "milk" sign from him. I am a little perplexed at this, as he's never seen the sign paired with any of these things. This shows a great deal of spontaneous thought from his little mind. He was already using the sign for nurse when we switched to the bottle, so I'm sure that he made the connection between nursing and bottles, and then generalized it to sippies etc. It just amazes me, even though I know the probable psychology behind it. One of the great joys in my life is watching children learn, and now that I can watch my son go through these wonderful processes, it is even more miraculous.

The past couple of weeks, Jonah has really been refining the sign "all done." He's come up with two versions that he uses. For one, he holds both of his hands up, about to his head level. Sometimes he wiggles his fingers and sometimes he just holds his hands up.

The second version, he holds just one hand straight up, high above his head. I think that this second variation came about because I sometimes only have one hand available to sign, so two handed signs become one handed.
and here is a video of the sign, after we were done putting sunblock on to go outside:

Today, Jonah tried the sign "apple" as he ate freeze dried apple dices. I was surprised, because it was the first time that I tried the sign with him. He was doing well with the apples, so I said to him "You're eating apples today!" and did the sign when I said the word. A few moments later I said "You like those apples!" and again did the sign when I said the word. This second time, Jonah tried to mimic my action, making a fist and touching it above his ear. Then he smiled, and went back to eating. Sometimes it seems like when he is mimicking my signs, he is playing a game. Like "peek-a-boo" or "so big." A social mimicking game, that gets a reaction from others. I am hoping that this game turns into the basis for language and communication.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Our Weekly Adventure

I try to plan at least one trip out of the house each week, that isn't errand related. I think it's important for both me and Jonah. Usually it's the zoo or the library depending on the weather. Today, however, I decided to try something new that is right down the street from our house. Well, the site itself isn't new; it's been around since 1813. But we have never been there before or learned much about it, even though we drive past it any time that we leave the house.

I took Jonah to Ft. Meigs, a historical fort that played a pivotal role in the war of 1812. Between the fort and the naval efforts of Commodore Perry on the Maumee river, the British and Canadian Army was stopped from entering the US further south. The war of 1812 played a huge role in the establishment of this little town that we moved to this year, which is why it is named Perrysburg after Commodore Perry.I'm sure that the fort has a lot more to learn from on days that they do historical reenactments. Today was kind of a boring day as far as that goes, but on a day with such beautiful weather it was the perfect outdoor activity. When we first walked into the welcome center, I didn't quite know what to expect. There was a large museum in the welcome center, and a nice woman gave us maps of the fort, telling where there were blockhouses turned into small museums along the walk. I decided to go out into the fort first, because I didn't want to spend such a beautiful day stuck inside a history museum. Walking up to the fort is pretty impressive.

Once inside, I realized that it is very different than what I expected. I'm not exactly sure what I expected the inside of a fort to look like, but this wasn't it. It seemed so... empty. It was a huge field, with massive mounds of earth and grass strewn throughout. I was guessing that the mounds were to hide behind during battle. Later in the walk I found that this was the case, and that the soldiers had actually dug into them and hid inside the earth. Navigating a stroller around these mounds was a little tough, but a good workout. I had thought about taking the sling or our new carrier, but I thought Jonah might enjoy the stroller for this trip. It took us about two hours to walk around the whole fort. It kind of gave me the creeps to be honest, thinking about all of the battles that took place along the very paths that we were having a leisurely walk. I've always been a little sensitive to places where someone's spirit has left them, but historic battle grounds seem to effect me the most. War creeps me out in general. But I still think that it's important to visit such places and learn the history. I think that it definitely makes history more real, and not just some story that we hear about what happened long ago. That is important for preventing war, I think, so this is the first of many historic battle grounds that Jonah will visit.
Although the history of the site was grim, today it was beautiful and serene offering many wonderful views of the Maumee river. Jonah and I enjoyed being at the fort pretty much alone, enjoying the sunshine and nature, and learning the history of the place that we now call home.

Introducing Dairy: revising my view on weaning to cow's milk

This week, I have begun to introduce dairy products to Jonah. His formula is soy based, so he has never had anything made with milk that comes from another animal. I was nervous about introducing dairy to Jonah too early, as I've read that immature digestive tract lacks the ability to keep allergens out of the blood stream, making future allergies more likely if exposed to them too early. Here is a website that contains information on this:

I discussed it with Jonah's pediatrician at his nine month check up this past Monday and she said that if I think that we're ready, we can slowly start to try dairy products, but that it wouldn't hurt to wait if that is what I wanted to do. Then, I talked to Daryl about it. Of course he took the "why are you being so obsessive, just give the kid some cheese" attitude towards it. He thinks that I blow things out of proportion, and put too much thought into things. Well, someone has to think about these things, if we're ever to make informed decisions regarding our children.

I decided to give Jonah one of the jarred foods that we bought: spaghetti and cheese dinner. I bought him some jarred chunky foods. Whenever I try making his homemade foods with textures, he gags until he throws up. If his green beans or carrots are even the slightest bit chunky, he gags. Yet when we were at my mother's house, he had some jarred chunky food (I do opt for convenience when traveling!) and loved it. So, I've bit the bullet and bought the jarred chunky foods, just to get him used to the texture.

So anyway, this spaghetti and cheese dinner seemed to me to be like spaghetti-o's. The label had ingredients that I would normally use myself- all organic, no preservatives, just veggies noodles and cheese- but it still seemed like spaghetti-o's. All jarred food seems that way to me. It doesn't taste or smell like the food that the label says is supposed to be in there. It's like a shadow of the existence of the food that it's supposed to be. It all has this strange "baby food" taste and smell to it that I can't quite explain.

Jonah ate it and loved it, regardless of what I thought about it! Today he had yogurt, and again loved it. He was mad that the container was empty when it was finished. Most mothers are thrilled with this milestone. Their baby can eat so many more things now that he can have dairy. I feel kind of terrible about it. I don't really *want* Jonah to have dairy, but I'm kind of doing it because that is what is done.

I guess my reservations came about because of my original plan for introducing milk to Jonah. He wasn't going to have cow's milk until he self weaned- which I projected to be at least the age of two. He was going to get his milk from me. I did not see a reason to make him stop drinking my milk- the milk that is made for him specifically- and start drinking the milk that was made for a baby cow. I felt very strongly about full-term breastfeeding. Of course cheeses and yogurt and other dairy products would be introduced to him, but he would get all of his drinking milk from me.

Now he has stopped nursing completely, and I can only express so much milk for who knows how long. His diet is mostly formula. And so, given this situation, it DOES make sense to wean him from formula to give him cow's milk. Cow's milk is more natural than formula. It makes obvious sense now to introduce whole cow's milk at the age of one, whereas before it didn't fit with how I parent my child.

And so, giving him cheese and yogurt now, seems like the first step down a path that I didn't want to take. I didn't choose this path, but for whatever reasons, I am on it. Sometimes I have to remind myself that he is no longer a breastfed baby, and I need to change the way I'm handling his nutrition. I'm sure that in a few weeks, I will feel better about it, and I will be adjusted to our new schedule for introducing dairy.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Our New Carrier

I recently bought a Baby Bjorn carrier from a children's consignment store. I love going to this particular consignment store called Once Upon a Child. They are a chain, and I had a couple that I went to in Cleveland. When we moved here to Toledo, one of the first things I did was find out if there was one near us. Lucky for me it is only a five minute drive! All of the items they sell are like new. They are really picky about the items that they accept, and since infants only wear clothes for one or two months before they outgrow them it is so nice to be able to find name brand in-style clothing at a price that fits our budget.

The last time I made a stop to this store, I noticed that they had a huge intake of baby carriers. There were several different types, and because Jonah was sitting in the cart I was able to try them all on. I must have looked like the biggest dork, as I stood in the middle of the aisle trying to figure out each strap and buckle. I wanted to make sure that I bought one that fit right, and was easy to put on by myself.

The reason I was looking for a new baby carrier, is because Daryl has informed me that my slings are too feminine. I do agree, they are pretty feminine. I want Daryl to be able to wear Jonah when we go out this summer, to places like the park and the zoo. I want him to see what a convenience it is! I also have noticed that the sling is killing my posture. Women have worn babies in slings and been perfectly comfortable and had no ill effects, but for whatever reasons the sling is not being very gentle on my back. And so I wanted a carrier with straps that distribute the weight evenly and would be comfortable for long periods of time. I had ideally wanted a carrier that could be worn as a backpack style, but they did not have one.

I finally settled on a Baby Bjorn carrier. Just to make sure that it was the right carrier for us, I finished the shopping trip while wearing Jonah in it. Oh what the cashiers had thought of me, I can only guess, but if I'm coughing up $20 for something I'd better make sure it will work!

It's nice enough, and the more that I practice using it, the faster it is to put on. At first it took me forever to figure out where the straps go, how to get Jonah in, how to position the straps. It is a bit complicated. Because of this, I still prefer my sling when I need something that I can just slip Jonah into quickly.

It also took me a couple times of wearing it to figure out where the straps are the most comfortable on my back. At first, it seemed like Jonah was too low to my belly, causing me to lean forward and my back to ache. After some help from Daryl and my mom, I have figured out how to adjust the straps between my shoulder blades and get Jonah up where he belongs.

I wore Jonah in it when we went to the zoo with my mom (that trip is for another post.) It was great. Jonah could look out and talk to everyone. He loved his new view! The only complaint that I have about it is that the flap kept popping up into his face. The front flap folds up so that the baby can be carried belly to belly and have his head supported. This is great for younger babies, or sleeping babies. The flap folds down and snaps on the sides so that the baby can be turned to face out. The side snaps just don't do the trick, and I think that I will be adding a snap or some velcro there myself.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


A good friend who also has a baby on purees has pointed out to me that I do not post any fruit recipes. I do feed my child fruit, I swear! In fact, sometimes I think I feed him to much fruit, because he loves it so much. Veggies sometimes make him gag and throw up because he does not like them much (especially the green ones) I have to make his veggies exciting for him to eat them. His fruit, however, he gobbles up plain. I do not need any novel recipes- he eats them how they are. Plain apples, plain plums, and especially plain pears (those are his favorite food, above anything else)

But, there are a few times when I make some different fruit dishes for him. His two favorites are BananaRama, and Fruit Cocktail.

BananaRama Recipe:
1/4 cup Frozen blueberries
1/4 cup Frozen Mango Cubes
about 1/2 of a ripe banana (bananas are ripe when they're turning brown)

Thaw the blueberries and mango in the microwave and puree using a food processor. I like to do the blueberries separately, because when processed and chilled they make sort of a jelly. The natural sugars cause the blueberry puree to set, and this tastes good on toast and ice cream! So I make a bit more blueberry puree than needed for my own use. Mash up the banana using a fork. I use ripe bananas because they are easier to mash, a bit creamier in texture, and sweeter in taste than the yellow bananas that most people prefer (I hate yellow bananas! Give me brown and spotty!) Mix the purees into the banana. This makes about two servings of BananaRama. Sometimes I use peaches instead of blueberries.

Fruit Cocktail recipe:
1 oz Pear Puree
1 oz Peach Puree
1 oz apple puree
1/4 banana
1tbs grape juice

Mix all ingredients. For Jonah, this is one serving (he eats about four-five ounces per meal) This is kind of our version of Tutti Fruiti, but I believe tutti fruiti has orange juice and pineapple juice as well. I would use 1/2 of a banana instead of just 1/4 if you add orange and pineapple juices, and use only 1 tsp of each juice, to keep it from getting runny.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Combining Sign Language with EC

I would like to give a bit of a warning and an apology at the beginning of this post. By now, my readers have probably become aware that I write a lot about my son's bathroom habits. It is because of my scientific nature that I do this. I began our journey in elimination communication (EC) partly out of curiosity. I was curious to see how it would work, and IF it would work. I wanted to create a journal to chronicle each step, and because I'm sure others are curious, I wanted to make that journal public. That is in part how my blog started. And so I will give a warning that this post contains details about how Jonah eliminates. And I will apologize just this once, for all of my posts containing the somewhat messy details. I have actually gotten several messages asking that I post more about our methods of EC, and so I genuinely believe that people want to know more about it. As such, there will be detailed posts about the topic so many mommies are eager to discuss (I'll just come right out and say it: poop.)

There are three methods of dealing with Jonah's eliminations. The most preferable is to see his cues, take him to either his training potty or the big person's potty, hold him over the potty and give him the signal of "ssssss" (for urination) or "poopoo" (for bowel movements.) This is what we are striving for, because it is the easiest and takes the least amount of effort (once cues and signals are established.) The second, and probably the most used method in our house, is to see his cues and catch the eliminations in a diaper. The diaper is not actually on him, but is under him (the top is held out in front to catch urination.) I still use signals for this method, but the whole process is less intrusive on his activities. Sometimes I will take him to his changing table to use this method as well. For whatever reasons, taking him to the potty seems to disrupt his urge to go, but taking him to his changing table encourages elimination. I have my theory as to why this is, but that is for another post. This method is second best. Jonah is never actually in his eliminations, but I still dirty a diaper. This method is about the same amount of work as changing a dirty diaper (except the diaper usually does not need to be pre-rinsed.)

The third, and less desirable method, is just an old-fashioned diaper change. We've been using this a lot more frequently in our house, because Jonah has been asserting his independence. He hasn't been as "attached" the last couple of months. He would rather play indepentently with his toys instead of ride in the sling while I do chores. As much as I love to play with him, I do have a household to run and that includes laundry, cooking, scrubbing toilets... He isn't in my direct sight as much as he used to be. Therefor cues get missed often. His cues are also forever changing. I'm finding that to be the biggest obstacle in EC; his cues have been changing since we started.

Until recently, I've been using the ASL sign for "potty" when I take him to the toilet, and the sign for "change" when I put a diaper on him. I am not sure why it did not occur to me to include sign language with my signals while he is pottying, but it is something that I am trying to incorporate now.

To sign the word potty, make the ASL letter T by closing your fist and placing your thumb between your middle and pointer fingers. Wiggle your fist back and forth as if knocking on a door.
To sign the word "change"cup your palms together with the left hand on the bottom and the right on top. Rotate your palms so that they change positions, and the left hand ends up on top.

I have recently read that infants consider urinating and bowel movements two different things. It is not all "going potty" but is actually two seperate actions. This makes sense, because I give two different verbal signals to Jonah for each elimination. Since my verbal signals are each unique, the signs that I use for each must also be unique. I have decided to continue to use "potty" as the sign for bowel movements. I am still trying to figure out what sign to use for urination. I chose to pair "potty" with bowel movements because Jonah already seems to have that association. I think that he may already be trying to use the sign as he is giving me his cues for bowel movements. I have seen him wave a closed fist before several bowel movements, however it is difficult with baby signing to tell at first if the child is actually performing the sign. The more I see it, and the more that Jonah fine tunes it, the more confident I get that it is in fact the real sign. With his first sign, "milk" (which I used as a sign for nursing) it was difficult to tell if he was really signing it, or just opening and closing his fist randomly. It is typical for only close caregivers to be able to recognize an infant's signing.

I am still a little stuck though. I am not sure if I should only use these signs when I take him to the potty, or if I should also use them when I catch his eliminations and when I change his diaper. In a way, they are the same because the signs are referring to his act of elimination, not the method of disposal. But, I would kind of like to use sign language to differentiate the methods and hopefully to encourage going to the potty full time in the future. I think that to keep it less confusing to Jonah, I should use the signs to refer to his eliminations in all situations, and that is most likely what I will end up doing. It seems to be the simplest solution.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My mother and I didn't always see eye to eye. Growing up, I was what most people would refer to as "Daddy's Girl." We are very similar, my father and I, and my mother and I are extremely different. I got along with my mom. We didn't fight or do things out of spite for each other. It is just that my dad and I clicked. Anything that my dad did, I wanted to do.We were two peas in a pod. It was my dad who I went running to when I fell and scraped my knee, my dad who I let hold onto the back of my two wheeler bike, and yes even my dad that I went to when I had teenage boyfriend problems. I loved my mom very much; I just didn't think she'd understand.
However that relationship has changed very much in the last year and half. Something, or rather someone, has come along and made me realize exactly how much I am like my mom. Last year, on August fifteenth at 2:00 in the morning, as I was pushing my baby to come into this world, I was calling for my mother, not my father. I had called her when my feet swelled up so big that the only shoes I could wear were my crocs; I had called her when Jonah decided to kick me in the bladder on the way to my OB/GYN appointment, to borrow a pair of dry uderwear; I called her after holding my wrinkly, wiggley, new Jonah in my arms for the first time. It was my mother, not my father, who would understand this time.

And still, when Jonah has a fever, when I've been up for three nights dealing with a screaming teethig baby, and when Jonah goes on a nursing strike causing my milk supply to drop. I'd been told before that a woman's bond with her mother becomes stronger when she becomes a mother herself, but I didn't know to what extent. It doesn't seem like our bond has strengthened, it seems as if we have created a whole new bond between eachother.

Although it is a little late for mother's day, I would like to take this moment to say thank you to my mother. Thank you for helping me in my own journey through motherhood.My mother and me (about 3 wks old)