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Written by Mama Monday

Blog posts written by mamas on cloth diapering, green living, natural parenting.

This is a re-post from July 23rd, 2012 by Elizabeth A. McKenzie

So here’s a little secret: I used to be a certified massage therapist. I actually only practiced massage for two and a half years or so, though because though I enjoyed doing it, I I found it was hard to support myself, pay off of student loans and pay rent because I couldn’t physically do 40 hours of massage a week. I ended up taking a part-time nannying job to supplement my income and a few years later, I found an incredible full-time nannying gig that I couldn’t turn down. And I haven’t done much massage since….except of course, trading shoulder rubs with my husband or massaging my babies.

Foot massage

My favorite type of massage to practice is Swedish. The long sweeping strokes from the end of the appendages, up towards the heart, are supposed to help with circulation, promote relaxation and depending on how much pressure is used, to ease muscles stiffness and tension. It’s also great to use on babies.

Touch is something that is highly important between a baby and his parents for bonding. It’s the most powerful gift of love that a parent can give to a newborn whose world has gone from warm, dark and safe to bright, noisy, too cold or too hot. Touch from a parent can be reassuring, comforting and the first way your baby experiences your presence.

When massaging my baby I like to use a mild massage oil. Almond oil, coconut oil or even olive oil will work quite well and will not hurt baby if he gets his hands in his mouth. Or you can buy specially formulated massage oils for use on babies though I never thought there was any need to spend the money on them.

Sitting in a draft free area, I’d undress baby down to his diaper, lay him on a towel across my lap and start gently massaging a small foot and gradually moving up the leg, towards his core with long, even strokes. Then I do the same for the other foot and leg and then move on to the hands and arms, always starting at the end of the appendages and imagining that I was pushing the blood back towards the heart. I’d also massage his stomach, clockwise from top to bottom, which is the direction that helps push what ever is in the bowels (stool or gas), out instead of in. This often seems to soothe a gassy or colicky baby. Another massage trick to relieve gas is to bend the baby’s knees towards his belly and move his legs as if he were riding a bicycle.

Tonight Cooper is having a hard time settling down. After I wrap up this blog I am going to break out some massage oil and give my little a guy a relaxing foot and belly rub. I have a feeling my big guy watching the news in the den will want his feet rubbed too.

Do you massage your baby? What oils or lotions do you use? Did it work to soothe your little one?

Father's Day 2015

Father’s Day 2015

Today we spent Father’s Day at the beach while visiting my parents in Florida. It was a great day and my husband did what he does best: he did the things the kids love to do that I just can’t because I’m too nervous. He takes them out into the water and jumps and floats and and lets the waves lift him and the kids off their feet for a second or two, or body surfs with them onto the sand. I, on the other hand, can barely watch because I can’t stop worrying that they’ll be sucked out to sea by a rip tide or rogue current. I am glad the kids have their dad to do those things with because he keeps them safe and they are definitely thrill seekers like he is. Their screams of glee and laughter tell me they are more excited than scared. While Burton, Kate and Cooper got their adrenaline rush, I walked on the beach with Lauren, our oldest and hunted for shells and interesting sea creatures.

My husband is also the one who has been teaching the girls to ski and he’ll be taking Cooper this year too. This is another task he’s taken on because to him, it isn’t a work at all. To him, it’s the best part of being a father and he’s been looking forward to teaching our kids to ski since they were born. For me, teaching the kids to ski would be a chore. It’s not that I don’t want them to ski but because I still have so many things to catch up on on the weekends that I’d prefer a few less kids in the house on a wintery Sunday than fifteen trips down a bunny slope at a ski mountain an hour away.

He has also taught the girls how to play chess, how to shoot a bow and arrow (with a beginner’s archery set) how to fish, how to do backflips on the trampoline and how to climb our rope swing in the backyard. I’ve been known to joke that husbands are more like having one more child to take care of but there is some truth there. Many dads seem to be great at re-living their childhoods when they have children and letting go and just having fun. It’s something I need to work on myself instead of constantly worrying about that load of laundry that needs to go in the dryer or what I’m going to scrape up for the next meal.

Now that our children are past the infant and toddler stages that often significantly limit the social lives and leisure time activities previously enjoyed by both new moms and new dads, my husband is able to really enjoy doing things with our children and it’s brought out the best in him.

He’s not the most patient person in the world, he can’t stand the whining (who can?) or the kids climbing the walls bored at home while we try to get household chores finished. But those are my strengths. I don’t always enjoy being the multi-tasking boo-boo kisser and fight mediator…but I am good at it. I’m patient, I’m forgiving, I’m firm but kind and I frequently use humor to ease tension. If one of the kids is in a funk or feeling emotionally fragile, they come to me. But for an adrenaline rush, for exercise, for tickle fights and anything outdoorsy and active, Daddy is the man. We don’t always agree but our parenting styles and strengths compliment each other and I think our kids are turning out ok.

What does Daddy do best in your family? Do you have different parenting styles?

It wasn’t until the 1960s when a typical middle class household had a television, but today, nearly all of us do—and not only that, but access to information and images of all sorts, all the time on our laptops and smart phones. One very useful and under-used tool that both the World Wide Web and Television can provide for modern-day children, other than keeping them entertained and quiet for a while, is the ability to look into the lives of others. What exactly do I mean by this? Read on.

“I am so hungry—I’m starving! No I do not want a banana or a sandwich or cheese and crackers or carrots and hummus….etc etc.”

To satiate this sort of starvation, I like to serve a hot, savory episode or two of “Survivorman.” “Do you see that man, there? He hasn’t eaten in three days and now he’s cooking up some juicy grubs that he found in a hollow log for dinner. He’s so hungry that even though those grubs aren’t the most delicious food in the world, he’s eating them because he’s really hungry and he needs to eat to stay alive. Oh, you think a banana sounds pretty good, after all? Good choice! I bet Survivorman wishes he had a banana right now too!” I am trying to teach Lauren, Kate and Cooper that food doesn’t have to be “their favorite” or the “one thing that they are in the mood for” if they are really hungry. Sometimes we need to eat for survival. You aren’t really starving if you have enough caloric energy to turn down half a dozen snack choices.

“I’ll clean my room later. It’s not even very dirty,” or “I’ll clean my room but I am emotionally attached to every scrap of paper I’ve ever scribbled on and every contraption I’ve ever made from paper-towel tubes, 8 feet of scotch tape, cotton balls and empty water bottles. That’s NOT trash. That’s a trap for bad guys!”

Time to Clean Your Room!

Time to Clean Your Room!

Time to watch Hoarders: Buried Alive. Yes, it is hard to throw things away sometimes and cleaning up isn’t always fun. But we do these things for a reason because if we don’t, we can actually be buried in our own possessions–just like that woman who can’t walk through her living room anymore on TV. I can relate to being emotionally attached to tangible possessions, books, my children’s artwork, old notes and souvenirs that I’ve saved since I was a child but I draw the line at holding on to actual trash. We don’t need to keep the ripped box Barbie came in—even though it is a pretty color pink and has pretty pictures on it. And the apple core under the bed? Yes, the way the mold is growing on it is really cool, isn’t it? It’s like a science project. In fact, it’s so much like a science project you can take it to school and show it to your class or you can throw it in the trash—where household science experiments involving old food belong.

“I hate brushing my teeth! Noooooo!”-followed by or while running away and/or kicking.  To combat the occasional  Toothbrushing Strike, I have Googled pictures of rotting teeth and shown them to the kids. I really have. Plaque, gingivitis, possible cavities and inevitable dental bills are something too abstract for a lot of kids to grasp and many remain convinced that toothbrushing is simply a cruel and pointless nightly ritual. Thank you Google for bringing Reality and Graphic Images into our home. A single close-up picture of rotting teeth truly does speak 1,000 words…while the 10,000 words spilling from a parent’s mouth often go unheard.

How do you use TV or the internet to convince your children to do things or to put things like “hunger” into perspective? Or maybe you don’t…but would you?

 

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Storms in Colorado

Storms in Colorado

Fourteen stuffed animals
One pair of clean underwear
A toothbrush (that was a surprise!)
A tin “Frozen” box with $1.83 inside
A water bottle
Three markers
A pad of paper shaped like a Halloween kitten
A box of kids’ energy bars stolen from the kitchen cupboard

Q: What do the above items and the picture of the ominous looking storm clouds have in common?

A: They are what a first-grader packs in an Emergency Preparedness Bag in case of a tornado.

Before last month, I never worried much about tornadoes. We do have them in Colorado occasionally but usually on the plains. We live fairly close to the Flatirons which are the beginnings of the Rocky Mountains. I had always thought the mountains somehow offered us protection from storms gaining enough energy to become tornadoes.  Apparently, that isn’t the case–see the article at the bottom of this blog called “Fact or Myth: Colorado’s Mountains Offer Protection from Tornadoes.” Rats.

The increasingly intense weather that much of the United States (not to mention the world) has been experiencing lately has made me more and more nervous Within two years both of my home states—Vermont and Colorado, experienced devastating 100 year floods where rushing water and steep terrain made perfect conditions for fast moving walls of river water and snow melt to destroy houses and roads, move boulders the size of small cars, rip trees up from the roots and generally wreak havoc upon anything in its path.

This past May and June we’ve had more flooding in Boulder. We had a month straight of rain, several damaging hail storms, lightening storms that lasted for hours and so much electricity in the air that the clouds flashed like strobe lights. We’ve also had dozens of tornado warnings—and at least nine tornadoes have touched down in Colorado. One of those was twenty miles from here in Longmont. That’s the closest I’ve ever been to a tornado.

Now I realize I need to stock up on bottled drinking water, canned food, batteries and flashlights and we now have a  “tornado plan.” If a tornado or super storm comes our way, the whole family will head to a large storage closet with no windows that is under the stairs in the basement.

For those of you who have experienced extreme weather, and especially those of you with infants and toddlers, do you have a designated place to go in your house? And if so, what supplies do you keep there? Drinking water, extra cans of formula or baby food? Do you have extra disposable diapers in case you can’t wash your cloth ones for a week? What else do you have on hand for your little ones?