Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Boobs on Deck

SO not a big deal.

What this has to do with a fashion magazine? Unless they are advertising designer fashions with easy access for nursing, I don't see any connection beyond the fact that the magazine wanted something sensational to rouse readers.  Granted this cover is just the subscriber edition.  The newsstand image is here:

While I'm always happy to see moms breastfeeding, I'm quite tired of the debate about a mother's right and what is and isn't appropriate.  I breastfed my babies and never faced in public shaming.  I did it on planes, buses, trains, park benches, stores, restaurants, parks, grocery stores, libraries, office buildings, bathrooms, etc.  Sometimes I covered up with a nursing cover, a scarf or a sweater, or the top hood of the baby carrier.  Other times, I just did what I had to do without making a big deal about it.  The main thing is, you don't have to look.  You know how when you spot roadkill and you divert your eyes so you want see the gory mess.  Well you can make the same choice if you don't want to see a bare breast feeding an infant if it grosses you out.

I can think of far more disgusting things I've seen happen in public to complain or tweet or facebook about, like stinky homeless people boarding the train or bus I'm on or obnoxious drunk people speaking loudly and inappropriately.  I'd much rather be surrounded by babies and boobs.

What do you think?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

No more writers block!

I've been a fan of MyBrownBaby for a while, and I decided to contribute a story.  You can check it out here.

Road Tripping With KidsBy DOMINIQUE CLAYTON
I’ve always been a busy body. Restless, imaginative, outgoing and fearless. I left home at 17 to go to college across the country and never looked back. My wanderlust has taken me to several places in the globe including Africa, Brazil, and Europe. In that journey I managed to pick up a husband and have some kids, but I have no plans of slowing down just yet. While most families are thinking about settling into their dream house in a neighborhood with a good school, my family is thinking of how we can teach on the road, acquire new languages, and fill the pages of our passports. We’re a family that loves road tripping with kids.
Shortly before I met my husband, I was seriously considering quitting my job in New York to move somewhere in Africa and to teach or work for an international organization. I had grown tired of the single life in NYC and was looking for a life reset button. While I never found that button, I did manage to find my husband. When we started dating, I told him that I was planning to leave the country, but his charm convinced me to stay and explore the possibilities of our relationship. Shortly thereafter, much to the surprise of our friends and family, we married.
We spent our first year of marriage exploring New York together since he was a recent transplant and soon discovered we had a baby on the way.
Our first was born in New York City. She arrived fashionably late to her due date, but just in time for summer in the city. I like to think of her as the capstone of my wild days in my twenties in the big apple. My family plans and choices haven’t always been understood or welcomed with joy. Within the first month of our daughter’s birth, I strapped her to my chest, threw some earmuffs on her, and took her to a African music concert in the park. My thoughts are that children and marriages aren’t a handicap to our lives. They become the reasons for living and gaining new experiences.
Of course I would get those looks and comments from other women, like “that baby is too little to be out of the house.” While annoying, I didn’t mind it. After all, I heard no complaints from my baby, so we kept it moving. She was one of those rare babies who never cried, slept regularly, ate regularly, was never sick. She was so easy. She just stared wide-eyed out at the world, like me ☺.
So why be stuck at home?
Not only did my husband respect my idea of parenting, he encouraged my trip planning. After a couple trips to our families in the states, we decided to go across the pond for a European adventure. Our baby girl was only 10 months, and couldn’t walk yet, so how much trouble could she get into?! And hello, traveling with babies is FREE! You just have to do a little research on how to make it practical and comfortable for your family. (I’ll write a separate cheat sheet for traveling with babies). In our case, since we were doing an overnight flight, I looked into what international airlines had sleeping options for infants, and got a sweet hookup with a complimentary on-board baby bassinet that hooked on to the seat tray so we could relax hands free on the flight. Did I mention it was free?
You know what else is free? Breastmilk! I didn’t have to pack a bunch of bottles and supplies. Her meals were ready whenever and wherever she needed them. And last but not least, baby wearing made getting around the airport and crowded places easier and much safer.
That first big trip was a great success, and she became our partner in crime. During the months following the European trip to London and Paris, we took her with us on more travels back to see friends and family in Canada, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and even New Orleans. My husband and I even managed to do a couple international trips without baby (thanks for babysitting, mom!☺).
The “rules” suggest that you should be married, live in a house, and then have kids. Daddy should work in an office and mommy should stay at home or, if she does work, there should be a grandma nearby, a nanny, or a daycare to drop the kids at. Well, none of those circumstances applied to us, so we had to write our own script for how we were gonna do this family thing. Here’s my take on it—the things you must do for your children in order of importance:
1. Keep them alive (the basics: food, shelter, water)
2. Development (how to eat, talk, walk, get dressed) – having multiple children makes this easier because the younger ones learn very easily from the older ones
3. Educate (how to read, write, think, create, explore) – you don’t need a traditional school to do this; homeschooling or learning on the road is an option
4. Establish a world view (what is the world, where are we in it, who else exists in it, how do they live)
The last point is one I hold dear to my heart because with a world view comes humility, understanding, compassion, creativity, communication, and growth. If we stay in one place, how can we grow? Like plants, many of us need more water or sunlight to grow to our highest potential, and if we aren’t getting it where we are currently planted, then we need to move somewhere else. The good news is there’s soil, sun, and water all over the world, so we can grow anywhere.
Just before our oldest turned two, we got pregnant with our second. At that point, we wanted out of the concrete jungle travelling pregnantand were looking for nature, an opportunity to grow food, and to spread out as a growing family. So we packed up our bags midway through my pregnancy and moved to Georgia. We appreciated the southern charm, beautiful country landscapes, and before long, we naturally birthed our new Georgia “peach.” As we approached our second winter season in Atlanta, my husband and I got that familiar itch to set foot again. Even our oldest asked when she could go back on the airplane. So just shy of our second daughter’s first birthday, we packed everything up again and headed out west to Los Angeles.
For now, Los Angeles feels right and the kids love it. And now we’re in for our 3rd baby. Based on our pattern, I imagine we will be making another major move in a year or so. Of course others have asked how the kids adjust and what to do about friends and schools. The good thing is we have multiple children, so they are each other’s friends, and wherever we are we always make a daily trip to the local park and playground to socialize with others. They aren’t school age just yet, so in the meantime, they are learning French and Spanish through books and videos and will likely be homeschooled by whichever one of us stays home. I also plan to look for international school or bilingual schools, so they can maintain an international connection. If we don’t go to another US city, our next move will likely be a stint in Europe or maybe the Middle East. But for now, we’re exploring the coast, the beaches, growing avocados, and raising vegan babies, one colorful day at a time. Stay tuned as we plan our next adventure!
Dominique Clayton is a former wild child turned wife and mom.  As a lover of travel, art, festivals, African and French cinema, Dominique has traveled and worked in several parts of the globe and hopes to continue doing so with her family in tow. Check out her blog, DominiqueTheParent, and connect with her on Twitter at @lookatdominique or on Facebook.

Monday, May 18, 2015

where did the time go?

I hate that question.  Looking at old photos of my babies feeling a bit nostalgic.  they will never know how cute they were to me then and now.  Parenting is so bittersweet.  No one ever told me that as babies grow up, they morph into toddlers, then kids, and those memories fade and it's a bit sad.  Granted, we have new memories and experiences, but it's still a bit emotional, don't you think?

I have friends having babies very soon, and I will even have another soon, so there's new joy, love, and laughter to be had.  but take a moment every now and then to look at old photos.  get them out of your iphone and frame them or scrapbook them.  show them to your kids, and share an old story! 

because they grow.  we grow.  and sometimes we forget!

Friday, April 18, 2014

time flies when you have a toddler and newborn!

Yeah, it's a been a while.  In my head, I feel like I've been through a lot and got a bunch of writing done, but when I look here, it tells a different story.  Where have I been?  Well here's the answer:

January - having NATURAL water birth to baby Naima (ny-ee-ma) and converting into zombie life of tending to newborn all hours of day and night (Oh yeah and keeping my 2 year old entertained).  I'll post the birth story later.

February - still feel and look like a zombie but getting a couple more hours of sleep.  Newborn is still thirsty and I'm still breastfeeding on demand.  2.5 year old is even more demanding.

March - had a birthday.  hubby had one too. (those don't matter so much when you're an adult with babies)  newborn responding and not as fragile.  she laughs and smiles which makes dealing with my crazy toddler less annoying.

April - back in the saddle.  i'm going to write at least once a week from now on.  well maybe once every two weeks. now that the toddler queen has learned how to use netflix and you tube, I have to hide the laptop from her.  she can probably type and blog too (she's that smart ;) which is probably why she's always trying to get her sticky fingers on my laptop and iPhone.

ahh kids.

no complaints.

life is good.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Holidays came and went, where was I???

Oh right, I'm 9+ months pregnant and can't see my feet!  It's been a minute since I've posted and the only real developments have been my expanding belly and increasingly needy toddler.  I'm trying not to spoil Leena-Deen too much in her last days as an only child, but she's willing it anyways :)  My husband and I can't really fight it. 
We're not so much into the consumer chaos that is Thanksgiving and Christmas, so it was essentially stress free for me with the exception of an obligatory family dinner or two.  No decorations, no tree, no crazy gift shopping although we were very grateful for those we received.  
In lieu of presents for our family, I had Leena-Deen make several artistic masterpieces (i.e. toddler watercolor and fingerprint) and bought cheap frames from the dollar store.  Wrapped those up and voila - instant sentimental gift for loved ones.  A few of her pieces would give some of the artists showing in contemporary New York art galleries a run for their money.  
Anyways, I'll do a bigger update once our new bundle of joy makes her arrival, which could be any day now!
Peace and Blessings for the New Year,
~Dominique and family

Take Some Peace On This Day

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Candy is Crack for Kids!

So Halloween just passed and while we didn't really celebrate, we did grab a bag of candy to give to any kids that came by our house.  Even though I have problems with the promotion of poor nutrition for kids, I'm certainly no Scrooge and since we're in a new neighborhood, I didn't want to be empty handed or be the weird house that gives out organic raisins (which was my original plan).



Leena-Deen was very interested in the kids coming to our front door and cried after each left!  It was like she was being teased by the prospect of a new friend only to have them leave a moment later.  When we ran out of candy, I ran to the store to grab another bag.  When I came back, LD was literally acting crazy.  My husband said she found a tootsie roll I dropped by our front door and managed to open it up and eat it. OMG!  She was bouncing off the walls and muttering incoherent baby sentences while simultaneously laughing out loud.  This is what happens when a kid who doesn't regularly eat sugar eats one small piece of candy!  Her candy "high" lasted for about 10 minutes and tapered off to general silliness.

While I felt sort of bad for breaking our cardinal rule of giving her candy, it was interesting to see her reaction.  Of course that won't be happening again.  After her withdrawal and return to normal, I noticed her looking around for the candy (like a fiend!).  I distracted her with water, toys, and dancing around until she was tired enough for bed.  Hopefully she doesn't relapse and start scouring the house for bits of sugar.  I think I'll give my raisin plan some more thought next year!

Dominique's Healthy Parenting Tip-

Don't feel bad when you break your diet or you kids.  A slip up is not big deal provided you acknowledge it, address it, learn something from it and move on.  Life is short, so if you cave into the ice cream craving or give your baby something you never said you would (i.e. candy, juice, soda), don't sweat it.  Just discard the evidence, stock up on healthy replacements, and hope that they forget about it.   Out of sight, out of mind!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Midwife, Husband Doula, and Water - fun combo right?

Saw my Midwife last Monday.  Her name is Hope which I truly believe is a good sign of the positive experience to come.  The birth of my first little girl wasn't exactly my ideal.  My birth plan wasn't exactly followed and I had to argue with nurses and staff to avoid an unnecessary c-section.  My husband was the saving grace who helped me stand my ground and push, literally, to birth Leena-Deen the good old fashioned way.

I've explained my first birth story to Hope and my interest in having a doula (nonmedical person who assists a woman before, during, or after childbirth, as well as her partner and/or family, by providing information, physical assistance, and emotional support ~ Wikipedia). 

Hope then recommended that my husband and I look into the Bradley method this time around which focuses on husband coached birthing.  To be honest, my if you know my husband, you'll understand that that he doesn't need any method, class, or lesson to ward of scalpel -hungry doctors and impatient nurses.  He's tough yet sweet and beautifully protective of me and our daughter, so I think he'll be perfect as my labor support this time around.

We're also going to have a water birth.  I thought it best to use the water as meditative pain relief during labor.  After all, I'm a Pisces and love water, so this is probably the best place for me to be.  Why didn't I think of doing this before!?!? Me and hubby have to go check out the birth center and do a quick tour of the birthing tub/pool.  I'll keep you posted on how that goes.  If you are curious about water birth, check out: http://www.waterbirth.org/

water birth figurine - Bellyrinas - etsy.com

Dominique Healthy Parenting Tip - while books, manuals,  classes, and Google searches are widely helpful, also remember the natural human survival instinct we all have.  I'll bring up hunter-gather case here.  It argues that men are wired to go, collect, and get back home.  This is why they apparently like strippers and why they don't like prolonged shopping or other more thorough processes.  Women might be more interested in the totality of an experience and while generally more efficient, they are more observant, thorough and can make best use of what they have around them.  So with that said, I'll be centered and focused on my surroundings during birth while my husband goes to get me what I need, fights off unwanted intervention, and helps me and our soon to be new born make our natural transition to new life.