28 February 2011

Book Review: Super Baby Food

Technically, I haven't read this entire book. And, technically, it doesn't count in my goal to read 20 books because I read it when Benny started eating solid foods. But since Lila is now eating solid foods, I'll be consulting it weekly. If you have babies who are ready to eat solids, this is a great book to check out.

With Benny, we sort of fell into natural parenting. My cheapness helped in that regard. We decided on a natural birth at a birthing center because our neighbors had had such a good experience. I never even knew birthing centers existed before getting pregnant. Said neighbors also used cloth diapers, so we decided to check those out as well. When I realized how much money we could save, I was hooked. It also helped to know that we wouldn't be throwing two to three year's worth of diapers away. When it came to baby food, I never imagined that parents could make their own. I only knew of the canned sort in the supermarket. Nate's boss's wife told us about Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron. It's a step-by-step guide to making baby food.

It turns out that making baby food is ridiculously easy. So easy, I don't really understand why the baby food market is so huge. Plus, it's so cheap. So, so cheap. I made a tray of avocado and bananas yesterday in less than five minutes (for about $2) and now I have food for Lila for at least two weeks.

27 February 2011

Phat Pat in India

My parents just returned from a 12-day trip to India. For those of you who know my parents (particularly my dad), it is beyond shocking that they made the trek. My brother and sister-in-law traveled with them. Here are some highlights from my brother:

"Here are a few choice words of my Dad's:

1) Standing in line to see the nightly Indo/Pak border closing west of Amritsar, 'I didn't realize how white I was.'

2) After 5 days of eating vegetarian Punjabi food, 'I now realize it is possible to have a good meal without meat - just don't tell anyone I said it.'

3) Talking to someone in Nebraska on the phone about our visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar (one of the most holy sites in Sikhism) 'We just visited the top Muslim temple in India, which is in Ameristar'.

4) Discussing the cosmopolitanism of Doha, Qatar, 'Who knew that all of this could be in the middle of nowhere?'

5) When eating plain aloo prantha (b/c Dad doesn't eat yogurt, eggs or pickle) in the village 'This is the best breakfast I have ever had!'

6) Inquiring about the cost of construction of the fort in Bikaner (which was completed well over 400 years ago), 'How many Indian rupees do you think this cost back then?'

7) When we were flying out of Amritsar at the end of the trip, a very old bus shuttled us from the terminal to the plane. When we got to the plane, the automatic bus doors had some mechanical problems and wouldn't open. The ground crew had to kick them open. If Dad would have seen this at the beginning of the trip, he would have blown his top and would have wanted to return home right away. At the end of the trip, he thought it was hilarious and couldn't stop laughing about it."

Benny, Lila, and I had breakfast with Mom and Dad this morning. They are tired, but had such a wonderful time. They got to see so much and felt truly lucky to be able to see India. I'm so proud of them!

25 February 2011

Blog Contest

I'm entering a blog contest. I need to explain why I work for social change. Here's what I came up with... I would love feedback before I submit this to the contest. (And I'm not wild about the title, so I need some help there!) Feel free to let me know what you think! And when the contest is live, I'll ask for you vote!

The Fall of King Yertle

The recent events in Africa and the Middle East have been dominant topics of conversation at my dinner table over the past couple of weeks. My husband and I both agree that the demonstrations are inspiring, courageous, and a positive sign of change. We have discussed the role of cell phones and the internet in these demonstrations, their impact on world politics, and other abstract ideas. My 3 ½-year-old son often likes to chime in with questions like: Why were people in the streets? What were they doing? Why? Why? Why…

Explaining things like the events in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya to adults is hard enough. Explaining them in a way that a young child can understand is a challenge far beyond my parenting skills.

I want my children to understand and respect the power of people and social change. Social change is ingrained in nearly every aspect of my life. Since graduating from college, I have worked and volunteered at a variety of nonprofit organizations. One had a mission of educating voters and another existed to oppose war. I have organized independent family farmers and now I help raise money for a mental health advocacy organization.

I have struggled with how to communicate my passion for social change to my children. We do small things in my house: We recycle, compost, and garden to reduce our carbon footprint. We promote sharing and inclusiveness. These are important lessons, but they are only a portion of the whole picture.

Enter Dr. Seuss. Yes, Dr. Seuss. After one particularly confounding discussion about the current protests at dinner, I opened a collection of stories by Dr. Seuss to “Yertle the Turtle” before bedtime. For those who aren’t familiar with this story, Dr. Seuss describes the rise of Yertle the Turtle King. It all started when Yertle wanted to rule more than his pond. He wanted to sit higher, so he ordered nine turtles to his stone and using these turtles he built a new throne. But, his plan had a kink. And that kink was a turtle on the bottom of the stack, a plain turtle named Mack. Mack said, I’ve pains in my back and shoulders and knees. How long must we stand here, Your Majesty, please?

The story goes on to read like a simplified version of what has happened in Tunisia and Egypt and Libya. The king got greedy with power and shouted, SILENCE! He ordered more turtles to pile on the thrown. They were afraid, so they obeyed. All of them stepped on the head of poor Mack. Just when King Yertle thought he was on the top of the world, that plain little turtle named Mack said, I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down at the bottom we, too, should have rights. We turtles can’t stand it. Our shells will all crack! Then Mack did a plain little thing: He burped and shook the throne of the king. That was the end of the throne of the king. Yertle fell off his high thrown and plunk into the pond.

And the lesson of the story, like the lessons we have learned time after time with social justice movements, empowerment, and organizing: Yertle became King of the Mud.

So now when I struggle with how to explain current events, I’ll consult Dr. Seuss and remember that the concept isn’t too abstract: And the turtles, of course … all the turtles are free, as turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be. It’s something that a 3 ½ year old understands. And it’s exactly why I work for social change.

20 February 2011

A Big Day

All the stars aligned last night, so we decided that today was the day we would introduce Lila to solid foods. She was ready. She watched, with keen interest, whenever we ate. So, she got a small portion of rice cereal this afternoon. She spit out the first few spoonfuls, but was very interested in taking more bites as the meal wore on. She did fantastic!

But the big news is that she rolled over! I didn't even get to see it. Nate put her in her crib for a nap while I was out for a walk. He went back in her room because he said she seemed upset. All the the sudden, boom, she rolled over! (Note: Lila is a belly sleeper. Don't tell our pediatrician.) So, she's ready for the next milestone: Sitting up. She's not too far away from that either. She can sit up with some minor support now. Exciting times in the Struckman-Brown house!

17 February 2011

Life at 4.5 Months

Lila is going to have serious second-child syndrome. I have to REMIND myself to take pictures at least once a month. By the time Benny was four months, we probably had at least 1,000 photos of him. I also kept track of all of his developments in a baby book. I haven't even found a baby book for Lila yet. So, this blog will serve as her baby log (blog if you will) until I get around to finally writing things down in ink.

What is life like at four months?

Well, Lila has great head control now. She can sit up with support and is much easier to carry around. She hates tummy time, but can push her upper body off the ground. No rolling over yet, but she's gotten quite close several times. The best development is her giggle and smile. She has to be in the mood to really charm people, but she can pull it out when needed. Today she giggled at me without prompting - just sat on her changing table and giggled.

Lila definitely recognizes me now and likes to smile at me. She wants to be a part of the action and will make lots of noise to get our attention. She LOVES to talk (rather, screech) at me when we're at home together. She's doing great at daycare. I am grateful that I get to spend two days a week at home with her.

Benny is still relatively ambivalent about Lila, but he isn't jealous. And I'm OK with that.

At her 4-month appointment, Lila weighed 14 lbs., 4 oz. She measured in at 24 inches. She is getting so big. She was 90th percentile for her height and 80th percentile for her weight. She's tracking just about the same as Benny.

16 February 2011

More Mini Benny

Guess which one is Benny and which one is Lila... They're wearing the same overalls!

15 February 2011

Spring Break 2011: Pump and Party!

The annual spring break trip is here and gone. It was our seventh year meeting as an almost group: Jayne, Smaifeld, Katie, and me. Year 1: San Diego. Year 2: San Diego. Year 3: San Francisco. Year 4: Denver. Year 5: Greater Des Moines Area. Year 6: Minneapolis. Year 7: Minneapolis. This was the first year one of the SB ladies couldn't make it. Katie lives in China now and has an 7-month-old little girl. She wanted to come, but the jet lag was too much for Elsa to handle. So, it was the three of us, plus Lila.

We had such a wonderful time. Lila was amazing. And, as always, I'm already looking forward to next year. Three short days isn't long enough. I love those ladies. They brighten my life!

I flew to Minneapolis with few expectations of a great weekend. I was traveling with a 4.5-month-old baby. It could have been incredibly challenging. But, it was incredibly easy and amazing. Lila was a perfect baby in every way shape and form. She didn't cry once on the plane and she charmed everyone at the airport.

Jayne had planned a surprise party for a friend before we decided to schedule SB, so Smaifeld and I tagged along. She also lined up a babysitter so I could enjoy myself. With that knowledge, I packed my pump and planned some pumping and dumping so I could enjoy myself all night. With my pump safely secured in my purse, we set out for the night.

Lo and behold when I attempt to pump (in the bar bathroom, no less), I realized that I forgot a really important part of the pump in Denver. Crap. After three beers, that was not good news. When I broke the news to my friends, someone checked on their phone and discovered that there was a Target about five blocks away (oh, Minneapolis, bless you and your throngs of Target stores). So, I set out for a replacement. One $35 manual breast pump later, I was ready for bizness. The night took a serious turn for the better and I danced until 11:30. Oh yes, we sure are a wild bunch! Pump and PAR-TAY!