Thursday, July 22, 2010

My vintage machine and a wearable shirt!

  Last week, the fam and I went to the local Habitat for Humanity thrift (you know, the one with the ghost!) and bought a vintage Sears & Roebuck sewing cabinet. I wanted to use it to hold my newer model Brother sewing machine, but when we got it home and cleaned it up, I decided to see if the old Kenmore inside it still worked. Well, I changed out the bobbin thread and played with the tension, and lo and behold, it hums like a bee. The Kenmore is a heavier duty machine, and it stitches beautifully. It has a knee control, which I have gotten used to very quickly. 

  For a couple weeks, I have been sewing the little dresses I posted about before, so I took a little break and tried something a little more challenging, and I sewed this shirt:

   The pattern is New Look 6499, the fabric is from a vintage sheet, and I also used it to make one of my little dresses. Yeah, I know, by the standards of many, it is positively fugly, and it is My sisters would cringe and roll their eyes at me. Anyway, I actually tried my best to take my time and follow the pattern instructions carefully, and that resulted in a wearable shirt! Who knew? I did use the Brother to sew the sleeves on, as it has a free arm, and I used it to sew buttonholes and buttons. Everything else was done with the Kenmore. I used the reclaimed fabric from a dust ruffle (the part that goes under the mattress) for my interfacing, and though it works well, I burned some of it a little pressing it with the iron up too high. No worries though- overall this was a success as much for what I learned in the process of sewing it as for the final, finished product. 

Giveaway Goodies

So a while back I posted that Jessica at was hosting an
awesome giveaway. Well, I won! I got my goodies in the mail today.
There were several prizes if all different sorts, and I won the
kitchen/cooking lot, including funny, critter shaped tools and a
reversible apron. Thanks again to Jessica; we have already put the
peeler to work on some carrots.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Her Momma is a Moo Cow

Breastfeeding is hard. Who knew someone so small could be so hungry? Who knew she could make me so sore and tired? I sure didn't, and the first few weeks of breastfeeding my daughter were very difficult for me. To shed some light on the situation, when my baby frantically tried to latch on to my sore breasts, I started singing "her momma is a moo-cow! A moo-cow moo-cow!" It seemed so ridiculous, I would laugh at the idea, and nursing eventually became a painless endeavor. Four months have passed, and I am still going strong, despite a few bumps (pun intended), not the least of which has been the attitudes of others toward breastfeeding mothers.
In fact, the more I think about our society's weird breastfeeding hang-ups, the more irritated I get. The CDC's national Breastfeeding Report Card for 2009 reports that I, and any other exclusively breastfeeding moms that make it to month four are in the minority. Nationally only a third of babies are exclusively breastfed at three months. In NC that number is even lower. What's this all about? The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that mothers breastfeed exclusively for six months and continue to breastfeed for at least a year, so why aren't we listening? Well, my own experience so far tells me that a society that sees drug abuse, sex, sexual violence, murder, assault, and more everyday on the television is somehow really offended or embarrassed by the sight of a female breast in a baby's mouth.
My older sister, who lives in NYC and sees all kinds of vulgar and oddball goings on every day of her life, seemed more than a little abashed when I told her I was breastfeeding during a recent skype conversation. My younger sister informed me during a visit that she had "warned" her boyfriend that I was breastfeeding, but had assured him that I wouldn't feed my daughter in front of him. She was wrong. In a later discussion from the same visit, I asked her if she planned on breastfeeding when she had kids. "I might pump..." she responded hesitantly.
When I asked my mother how long she breastfed my five sisters and I, she said "I think the longest I went with any of you was three and a half or four months. I wasn't trying to make a career out of it."
One of my sisters told me she might breastfeed "until the baby gets teeth," at which point, it is generally understood that a woman would make the switch to formula. To me, what used to seem logical is now a mind blowing concept. Somehow, it makes sense to scores and scores of people that at a certain age you will stop feeding your baby the milk that hundreds of thousands of years of evolution have adapted to be the perfect food, and you will switch your milk out for the milk of another animal. Really? Is this logical? People, even my own family members, think it is weird if I breastfeed for "too long," past the teething stage, or make a career out of it, but the same people find it perfectly acceptable for me to feed my baby milk from an animal that grows to be over 1200 lbs and eats grass. It's bizarre how we come so far from what is natural and healthy. Even if you are religious and don't believe in evolution, then you believe that God made us as we are based on his divine and perfect knowledge, and that he gave women breasts to feed their babies. How can there be anything dirty or embarrassing about God's intent for our bodies and our babies? I personally believe in evolution, but when my husband asked how I would respond to criticism over public breastfeeding in our prudish, bible belt community, that was my response. He said, somewhat sarcastically, "Just ask them, do you think Mary fed Jesus formula?" My husband was being facetious, but he is right. Man or God, Jesus lived on Earth 20 centuries ago, and his mother fed him from her breast.
I told the sister who made the "I might pump" comment that I was writing this post, and what some of my feelings on the subject were. She responded, "It just seems like you are making it hard on yourself- no one else can feed the baby, and you can't be away from her for very long." Herein lies the secret to another breastfeeding and general parenting hindrance. Should I be making parenting decisions based on what is easiest for me? Should I have a child based on the assumption that I can just wrap her in a super absorbent diaper, drop her into a sling where I can't see her, and shove a bottle in her mouth when she cries? Shouldn't I expect my life to change, and perhaps even become more difficult with the understanding that the reward will match the difficulty- kind of like when I earned my college degree?
And to round out the "no one else can feed her" subject, I have even had people ask me whether or not I thought my husband was missing out on something because he could not feed our daughter. My response is, yes, to some degree, he is missing out on being a mother. I am missing out on being a father. Those are two different roles that embrace different responsibilities. I didn't make it that way, but it is that way just the same. Are either of us all broken up about it? No, I believe we are each too busy enjoying our respective roles and our beautiful daughter.
So how long do I plan to continue this breastfeeding madness? As the AAP recommends, I plan to continue breastfeeding for hopefully at least a year, and then for as long as we both are happy and comfortable with doing it. We'll see how it goes- I'm in no hurry to wean, and there is no mistaking how relaxed and peaceful my daughter is while nursing. Although I never expected to say this, I rather enjoy our breastfeeding relationship. Yeah, I'd like a martini and to sleep for 9 hours in a stretch, but there is plenty of time for that. I only have so much time to caress my little daughter and stare at her little content nursing face. I only have so much time to drop everything and give my full and undivided attention to nurturing her and fostering her sense of security, not to mention her lifetime health and wellness. I'm her own private moo-cow, and we're both okay with that.
In a final note, I will say that aside from my husband, I got most of my early breastfeeding support from an unusual source. My stepmother, who has never had children, assured me that I had an innate knowledge of how to take care of my baby, and she encouraged me to continue breastfeeding with a kind thought here and a quick email to say how much baby had grown there. She was right. Thanks Oma.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Playing Catch Up- Farm Fresh Eggs!

Now that I have the time and motivation, I am going to start catching the blog up on some of the neat things that go on around the farm. Today I start with farm fresh eggs and some clingy chickens. Check these out:
We purchased our hens from Dowdle's Feed and Seed in April of '09, and they began laying in late September. At first, they were so cute!

They free range, so the eggs are delicious and healthy, but the chickens do love a special treat now and then. They adore pasta, fruits such as apples and pears, cooked veggies, yogurt, and many other foods that come out of our fridge on the verge of being no good any more. When we step outside to feed them, we yell "here chip chip chip chip chip!" They come running from wherever they may be to see what we have for them. As they have gotten older, of course they have lost much of their former cuteness, but they are productive and tame. They are actually rather fond of us. You might even say they are a bit clingy. Sometimes, it seems a bit bird-stalkerish, and I am reminded of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds:

It's a bit creepy, and I might be tempted to make chicken and dumplings, but the eggs are so damn good- four a day!

F.H.G. for Africa

  We have had a flurry of visitors the last two weeks: friends from DC, Tampa, and Charlotte, my sister and her boyfriend came up for a wedding, my cousin that I haven't seen in 3 years came to the farm, a friend of my husband's from his childhood visited with her family, and my in laws came to spend a week at their cabin. It was lots of fun, and also very exhausting.
  I guess just about everything becomes a bit exhausting when you are still doing middle of the night nursing sessions with an almost (!) four month old baby. Arabel is sleeping very well though, and she is a total joy. In the last two days she learned to squeal a high pitched, delighted sort of squeal, and she has been practicing her technique every chance she gets. She is getting bigger, and though still a pipsqueak at around 11 lbs, she has nearly grown out of her smallest clothing, so my husband and I were going through the hand-me-downs and gifts in larger sizes that we had stored away. We found that Arabel has a wardrobe that will keep her stylishly dressed for the next 2 1/2 years, easily. We and our daughter have been treated so generously by family and friends, that when I saw the Little Dresses for Africa link on the Sew, Mama, Sew! blog, I knew I had found the perfect project for my mother in law and I to work on during her visit. Check out the link! 
We have made seven dresses so far using upcycled fabric from sheets, pillowcases, and curtains that we found thrifting. My MIL is a very experienced seamstress, so with her tutelage I intend to continue making scores of these little beauties! It is a great opportunity to do something productive, use my serger, practice my basic sewing skills, and express myself creatively all at once. 
  Oh, and on the topic of sewing, I have two favorite fabulous blogs I am now following obsessively- Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing and The Sew Weekly. These ladies are inspiring in so many ways!