Food For Thought Friday: Silence is Golden

As one who talks for a living, I was overjoyed when the Human Cannonball began to talk. Finally, we could communicate verbally, my favorite thing to do.  He is a wonderful asker of difficult questions, "Mom, why are there eyelashes in this world?" or "do they have video games in heaven?" He seems to have a constant flow of thoughts exiting his brain by way of his mouth.  It has almost always delighted me (a little peace and quiet sometimes would be nice, and teaching him not to interrupt has been a major challenge).

So, it surprised me when he started going to school (preschool, Sunday School, all types of school), that when I picked him up and asked him what his favorite part of the day was, expecting to hear the flood of words fall from his constantly moving lips telling me every detail of his day, his response was a short, "I don't want to tell you."  Here, I had let my heart go walking around in the cold cruel world all alone, and he didn't want to tell me what it was like? Ouch.  Now, on the one hand, I respect the fact that his experiences when he is apart from me are his. The instinct to not share is one I can appreciate. On the other hand, I wanted to know how his day was, gosh darnit! I wasn't asking him for the frickin' secret recipe to the Colonel's fried chicken.  Seriously.

For whatever reason, he just wasn't ready to share his day.  So, I ignored my natural instinct to pepper him with questions, and told myself that when he was ready, he would tell me.  I reminded him every day that I cared by asking him the same question, "what was your favorite part of your day?" I paid attention to what he wasn't saying with his words, I asked his teachers how his day was, I looked for clues in the moment to moment.  Most of all, I kept a caring silence.  Reminding myself that when he was ready to tell me, he'd tell me.

Now it's been over a year of doing this dance, and the past week, each day when I pick him up at school and ask him, "what was your favorite part of your day?" He has answered.  First it was just one quick statement, and then I'd go back to listening between his words. Then it was a couple more things, and I'd keep listening when he was done speaking. Now, today, he could not stop telling me about his day. I sat quietly and listened TO his words this time.  It was almost magical.

As parents, it's easy to think that the sound of our voice is important. Reading aloud with our children, saying what is right or wrong, telling them the right way to handle a situation, being stern with our voice in discipline, and joyful in celebration. All of that is important, however, I think that what we say and how we say it is 20% of what's important, the other 80% that really matters is what we do with our children when we are silent. The silent moments are golden.

Do you consciously tend to the silence in your family? How do you communicate with your kids without using your words?

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn experts. Check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge. Also, be sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!


Why Four-Year-Olds Don't Carry Calendars

The Human Cannonball came bounding out of school at pick-up yesterday skipping, and singing, "tomorrow is picture day, tomorrow is picture day." His very un-photogenic mom (that's me) felt the anxiety bubbling up. Residual anxiety from my own years of school pictures. Never feeling like I looked good enough for the snapshot that would represent that year of my life each year. For the pretty girls, I always imagined this day felt almost pleasant, a chance to flash their cute grin for the shutter, and knowing that it would always capture their best side. For a funky looking redhead who was teased for her freckles and called "carrot-top," whose smile revealed an "open bite" and various orthodontic appliances through the years (I actually remember my 9th grade picture, taken just 2 months after I'd had major jaw surgery. The swelling had not totally subsided, and my cheeks looked like little chipmunks) picture day was a nightmare.

The Human Cannonball was so darned excited about picture day, I set aside my vicarious anxiety and celebrated with him (also pushing away thoughts about how I wished I'd known sooner what the dates of pictures were, the Human Cannonball is desperate for a haircut... oh well).  He looks at himself in the mirror and sees what I see, a handsome, joyful, perfectly made young man.  He has no reason to dread picture day.

I have had an unsettled feeling since yesterday, needing to frequently remind myself that my anxiety is around my own feelings about the weight of picture days from my youth, and those are not his. The truth is, I will adore a picture of the Human Cannonball even if his hair is sticking up, because he is perfectly who he is, and he is perfectly my son.  When he is eighteen, and we are celebrating his high school graduation, and we look back at this picture, I will remember the precocious, smart, hilarious, joyful child he is now.

So this morning, as he was getting dressed, I felt calmed as I was pulling the picture form out of his backpack. I began the process of looking through the different picture packages, and something caught my eye.  October.  It is still September.  PICTURES AREN'T UNTIL NEXT WEEK! I can't believe that I took a scheduling cue from my four-year-old.


Food For Thought Friday: Sleep Matters

I have to say that I don't think sleep gets the praise it should.  In a culture that seems to value productivity and connectedness at the expense of sleep, I'm afraid that we are becoming of the opinion that sleep somehow is synonymous with laziness.  I had a coworker once who told me I was lazy because I took a 45 minute afternoon nap every day.  I was pretty sure she wasn't the only person who thought that way, and that told me everything I needed to know about how our culture values sleep.  My fear is that we will begin to ascribe this "cultural value" to our children.

Sleep, in my opinion, is the key to world peace.  People can't get along? They probably need more sleep.  Feeling sick or in pain? You probably need more sleep. Indecisive? Sleep on it. I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that sleep is definitely the key to Lindstrom peace.  It's one of the ways we try to maintain the delicate balance of happiness in our house.  When the human cannonball is more cannonball-y than usual, we immediately prescribe a nap.  When the Twinstroms are acting a little more "two" than usual, they go off to bed for a good long snooze.  Sleep does amazing things.

The most amazing thing about sleep is that getting more sleep doesn't rob your children of more sleep later.  Sleep begets sleep.  The more they get, the more they'll get (up to a point).  So, it pays to have a working knowledge of what those sleep recommendations are for each age group.

How is the sleep situation at your house?

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn experts. Check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge. Also, be sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!


My Phone Rules. No, Seriously...

4:30 pm Tuesday, I walk out of the gym after my Pilates Reformer session, ready to tackle the world.  I'm going to have a glass of wine with one of my ladies at her house.  I've been there a couple times, I kind of know where I'm going, but I'm planning to use the navigation on my phone. Walking out to the car, I get a text from my babysitter, "should I feed the kids dinner?" I write back, "yes, please." and then remember that Mr. Lindstrom is on his way home soon, and he can do dinner with them, "wait... no." I reply, and then notice I have a voicemail. It's from the Director of Children's Ministry at my church wondering if I can volunteer the next night, and could I get back to her soon. I get ready to dial her back when I notice another text from my sitter, "I texted Mr. Lindstrom, and he said to feed them. What should I do?"

As I settle myself in the car, I make my mental list:
1. Enter Superawesome Girlfriend's address into phone navigation system to get directions.
2. Text back babysitter before pulling the car out of the spot.
3. Call Director of Children's Ministry and chat about volunteering.
4. Call Mr. Lindstrom to notify him of whereabouts and plans.

As I'm attacking #1 of my to-do list, the phone freezes up, and dies.  I tried to resuscitate. I did everything short of performing mouth to mouth. Nothing.

Here's what makes this all funny: The next few minutes went like this in my head, I need to call the Sprint store. Can't -- phone doesn't work.  Well, I should at least call Mr. Lindstrom to tell him my phone doesn't work. Can't -- phone doesn't work.  Ugh. My poor babysitter is probably confused by the conflicting information, I need to quick call her... CAN'T -- PHONE DOESN'T WORK!!!!!

I don't know that I have a healthy relationship with my phone.  I thought I did.  I thought I could act independently. I thought I could quit at any time.  I thought I'd be okay without it.  But my phone has sucked me in. With the constant facebook and twitter updates, the handy camera, the map system that ensures I will never be lost again, the games to keep me busy should my hands ever go idle, not to mention the ability to be constantly accessible to friends, family, and business associates.  How did I ever live without it?

The four hours without my phone were agonizing. Rather than being relaxed because I was inaccessible, I was anxious because I was inaccessible.  When I got home, my first priority was to activate my back-up phone (if I were on a couch in an office, talking to someone with lots of letters behind their name, they would point out to me that this is an excellent indicator that my relationship with my phone is unhealthy.  I have a back-up phone for emergencies.)

Should you be concerned, I managed to get to my friend's house un-aided (perhaps I followed the scent of good friendship and red wine), and no emergencies ensued during my time sans phone.  It really made me wonder how we ever lived without these tiny little computers on our person at all times.  Can you remember?  Is it better or worse now?


Manic Monday Blogarrhea

You know when you post things on craigslist and you have to enter the words they request in order to finalize the post so they know you are not a robot or something? Today, I was posting a couple of things and the words I had to enter were, "eat us." Disturbing.

One of the things I was posting was our Aquarium themed baby swing.  I google-imaged it to post an image (instead of taking a picture myself. I am lazy like that... or efficient.) One of the images that came up was of this shoe:
I need this in an 8.

My kids are milk-o-holics. This actually comes as no surprise, because they are descended from two self-described milk-o-holics. It's in the genes.  It used to be that we had a fridge full of milk; skim and whole. Mr. and I drank the skim, and we pumped our kids full of the calories and fat from the whole.  Well, in recent weeks, I've just stopped buying skim for the Mr. and me, because we are spending half of our monthly income on milk. What we really need is a cow. I just want to chalk up the lack of milk in my diet as one of the very serious sacrifices I've made for my kids.  I know, the martyr wins Mother of the Year.  (If I were the kind of blogger who incorporates emoticons, I would use this one ;-) to show you that I was being sarcastic.)

Whenever I see an actor or actress who looks familiar, but I can't place where I know them from, I say to Mr. Lindstrom, "I think they were on Night Court." You know Night Court, the late 80s to early 90s. Yes, for some reason, I think that all familiar actors and actresses at one time had a bit part on Night Court, and that I remember them clearly from that role.  Does anyone else do this? I should also state, for the record, that Mr. Lindstrom (who has an equally obscure knowledge of pop culture) can almost always tell me with a certainty both that they were, in fact, not on Night Court, and what I do know them from.  Also, I haven't watched an episode of Night Court for more than a decade.  


Food For Thought Friday: Food... For People...

We are a lucky family. With five hungry mouths to feed, Mr. Lindstrom and I are able to make enough money to put food on the table.  For so many people this is easily taken for granted.  I'm ashamed to say, that for us, it often is too. Despite the fact that I am a meticulous meal planner, and try to plan meals so that we have no waste,  I feel sick when I clean the refrigerator and throw away food that has gone bad because we actually have too much. On a day to day basis, we take for granted the fact that meals and snacks are not hard to come by at our house.  I don't know what it is like to be hungry. I don't know what it's like to not be able to feed my family.

The other day, the Human Cannonball came home from school with a note in his bag.  In our particular public school system, at our particular school there are food programs for less fortunate families.  This note gave instructions on how our family could receive 30 pounds of food a month per student we had enrolled in the school system.  This gave me pause, 30 pounds of food a month.  I picked up the Human Cannonball to give him a hug.  He weighs 45 pounds.  This feels a lot like the weight of the bags I carry in from the grocery store once a week.  I looked around our kitchen. We have food that we can't fit into the cupboards decorating our counters.  We are so lucky.

The fact is that one in five families right here in Minnesota has trouble feeding their entire family.  As I picked the Human Cannonball up from school today, and I watched the parade of kids going to their buses, I wondered which of these kids isn't going to eat a healthy dinner tonight?  One in five families.

Our family has volunteered in a few ways to help facilitate the conversation about hunger in our house. One thing we have done, which was not through any organization, was to make "blessing bags." We simply filled some small brown paper bags with snacks, a washcloth, some hand sanitizer, chapstick, lotion, and bottled water to keep in our car. When we stop at a stoplight and see someone holding a sign that says they are hungry, we roll down the window and hand them a bag.  Many will argue that some of those people aren't really hungry, and frankly, I don't care. What my kids are learning from that experience is more valuable to me. They learn that we care about people in our world, and that when someone is having a tough time, we can reach out.

Another thing we have done as a family is make sandwiches for an organization called 363 Days.  This organization is founded on the notion that people are hungry 365 days a year, not just on Thanksgiving and Christmas when many people flock to the shelters to feed the hungry.  The other 363 days, people are hungry too. So, on your own time, with your own resources, as a group or as a family, you make sandwiches. Then, you drop them at one of many local Drop Locations and they are distributed from there to many shelters in the area.

Something we are planning to do this year, on Thanksgiving with the family is the Walk To End Hunger.  This walk, which takes place at the Mall of America, is an excellent time and space to open up the discussion of what hunger is, and how we can help.  The Walk to End Hunger is presented by the Twin Cities Hunger Initiative which is a coalition of many hunger relief agencies aiming to raise awareness and collect non-perishable food items to help fight hunger.

When I was young, we frequently talked about the children who were hungry in other areas of the world. The fact is that people are hungry right here.  In homes in our neighborhoods, at our schools, in our churches.  This is our community. I encourage you to open up the conversation of hunger in your homes, and consider what you can truly do to help.

How does your family talk about hunger? What kinds of things have you done to facilitate conversation or lend help?

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn experts. Check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge. Also, be sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!


Manic Monday Blogarrhea

I am wondering when children should stop being called babies.  My "babies" are 20 months, and they are definitely more "toddlers" than "babies."  Still, every once in a while we refer to them as "the babies." In fact, at our house, they are probably far more frequently referred to as "the babies" than "the twins." What's the cut-off? Is it a period of time, like 2 years of age? Or is it more an experience or milestone situation, like when they are out of diapers, or don't sleep in a crib anymore, or start rolling their eyes at you?

I ask this question all the time, and if I were an Anthropologist, this would be my area of study (and since I am primarily a talk show host and blogger, I'll just ask about it): Who figured out that sex was what made babies? How did they figure it out? There is a major delay in cause and effect with sex, pregnancy, and delivery.  Many women don't even know that they are pregnant until they are a couple months in and some never know at all until the baby emerges (don't even get me started on the level of denial that that must take).  So, I brought this up at a little party the other day (because I'm that girl. The one who brings up weird questions at the party.  I usually hang out somewhere near the guitar guy and the loud cackling girl.) and my one girlfriend says, "well, when Laura Ingalls and Manly had sex..." and I fell apart because I totally understand using television shows as a reference to history, and am amused at the fact that Little House On The Prairie is as far back as we can go... Thank you, Michael Landon.  For the record, I still don't know the answer to my question.  Probably because there has never been a popular TV show to clear it up for me.

The other day I was bumming around the adorable city of Excelsior.  Who am I kidding, I haven't bummed around since I was 20. I don't even know what one does when one "bums." I was actually in Excelsior for a very important meeting with a very important friend (Katie from KeikiB Salon Spa, you must go to there) and we witnessed a gentleman wandering in full Captain Jack Sparrow regalia.  Katie spends a lot of time in that neighborhood and she assured me that this is quite normal behavior for this young man.  The thing is, he looked like a darn good Captain Jack Sparrow. He was handsome, and his costume looked real, not like something he'd purchased on clearance last November first at his local party supply store.  I was impressed.  He may stick out like a sore thumb wandering around looking like Johnny Depp dressed up as a pirate, but I bet this guy pulls serious chicks. And honestly, when I hear the words "Captain Jack Sparrow," I think of this:


Food For Thought Friday: Going It Alone...

You may (or may not) have noticed that I disappeared from Bloggy-ville this week.  I like to try to post between four or five days a week. This week, I'm chalking up an unimpressive one post. The list of excuses includes the fact that it was a holiday week, and I worked at the radio station a little more than usual, but the real reason is that Mr. Lindstrom has been away on business for the last three days.

Now, I want to be very clear about this, women and men who are single parenting do it 24/7. I parented alone for three days.  I cannot say "Oh, I know what it's like to be a single parent" because I only did it for three days. I think it's an insult to call the temporary type of parenting alone "single parenting." I parented alone for three days. I did it with the knowledge that after three days, my partner would be back and we'd fall back into the same routine of partner-parenting that I think we do pretty well.  For so many reasons that I hope I don't have to outline, parenting alone for a few days is different from being a single parent, please know that I do not claim to understand the myriad of challenges and intense emotions that the experience of single parenting is fraught with.

I think I got the teeny tiniest glimpse, though. As I was between drop-offs and pick-ups the other day, plotting and planning a day that included some conference calls and meeting arrangement in addition to lunch making, kid bathing, and outdoor playing, I suddenly felt this wave of isolation.  Of course, my kids were keeping me good company, but I missed the companionship of an adult.  I missed having that one person there who knows as well as I do what life with my kids is like. This is no small thing.  The physical act of parenting is a hard and tiring job, I find it exhausting when my co-parent is present and involved.  With him away, I reached a new level of physical and mental exhaustion.

To my single parent friends, I want you to know that I don't always have the level of appreciation that I should for the hard work that you are doing. In so many ways, I don't and can't know the true challenge of what life is like as the one and only for your children. I know that you have amazing times with your children, but that the hard times are doubly hard, and I want to honor you (and give you a high five, buy you a drink, pat you on the back, whatever floats your boat) for your parenting, and for being my friend because all of you are not only amazing parents, but all around super great people.

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn experts. Check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge. Also, be sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!


Food For Thought Friday: Saying Goodbye to the Baby Stuff

I'm shedding a couple of tears this week. As I type, I'm selling off all the itty bitty baby gear in a garage sale.  I am no longer really attached to stuff (my mom is laughing right now because I used to be a first class pack rat), and often tell the story about how I threw away entire unopened boxes when we moved from our old house. Stuff, in my opinion, weighs you down and doesn't allow you to move forward.

But this stuff that is surrounding me right now with price stickers on it, this is the last six years of my life.  I am looking at the chair that our first child, Brady (who died of SIDS in 2005) played in. I remember watching her learn to reach and react with joy when she touched a toy and it made a sound.  I had that memory each time my other three sat in that chair for the first time. The human cannonball jumped for hours in the Jumparoo.  Some days I wish there could be a bigger version. It would be nice to keep his jumping contained.  When the twins came along, we borrowed another Jumparoo, and the Twinstroms would jump side by side and giggle away the hours.  Now, that Jumparoo is going for $40 (I think I priced it with my emotions, I can be negotiated with).

The hardest part, of course, is the clothes.  Folding each piece of clothing and remembering when each of my babies wore it.  The hardest of all were the clothes that my first daughter wore, and now my last daughter has worn.  This ritual cleaning out of the baby stuff is a rite of passage for a mother.  Dare I say that it is part of the grieving process when you have decided that your childbearing years are behind you.  Six years worth of life as I have known it, is in my garage waiting for a new home. Thankfully, my memories aren't for sale.  All this stuff has a cameo in my memories, but the real memories are locked up safe and I get to keep them forever. I am happy to sell it off to someone else, so it can have a role in the memories they will create.

How have you said goodbye to the baby years? What did your ritual cleaning out rite of passage look like?

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn experts. Check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge. Also, be sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!


What Would You Say?

Last night, sitting around on the couch like I do when evening falls, Mr. Lindstrom (who was checking Twitter on his smartphone) hollered to me, "fake pregnant woman drinks beer at the state fair." He was remarking about this article on wcco.com. Basically, an organization that is trying to educate people about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome planted a fake pregnant woman at the MN State Fair, and had her drink, looking to see how people reacted.

Now, I am going to share some thoughts with you here, and this is all just my opinion.  Feel free to agree or disagree respectfully.  Please understand, I am not saying that I think pregnant women should drink.  I am saying that if a pregnant woman drinks, that is her decision.  I honestly think it's virtually impossible to dodge the overwhelming information that women should not drink during pregnancy.

I liken it to this, as a mother of a child who died of SIDS, more specifically, a child who suffocated in her mattress at daycare after being placed to sleep on her stomach, I am virtually (and unfortunately) an expert on SIDS risk reduction. I cannot tell you how many of my friends and peers don't take the guidelines seriously and are doing things that I know increase the risk of SIDS.  Or do take the guidelines seriously, but don't really think anything bad could happen to them.  It makes me sad, and it makes me angry, but I bite my tongue. It is not my job to save babies.  Parents are fiercely protective of their decisions and methods, and I have to trust that they are well informed and are making choices that are right for them, whether they are right for me (and the majority of the general public), or not. Sure, you won't see a baby sleeping in a bassinet with bumper pads at the State Fair in order to intervene, but I've had friends boast to me that their newborns sleep better on their stomach, friends who know that the one time my first daughter slept on her stomach, she slept forever.  Friends who know that the recommendation is to place babies on their backs to sleep.

Now, you may think, "well, a baby sleeping on their stomach, and a mother drinking alcohol and potentially harming her baby in utero are two totally different things." You see, to me they aren't.  I don't personally know anyone who has a child who was affected by alcohol in utero, but I know plenty of moms who lost their children when they were suffocated by stomach sleeping, bumper pads, or rolled over in a shared bed (and no, alcohol wasn't involved).  In fact, there isn't one mother I know who isn't intensely informed about the risk of drinking during pregnancy, and they all seem to be equally informed about SIDS risk reduction, and frankly, I see mom's violating both sets of suggestions. At the end of the day, I can only be responsible for my own pregnancies, and my own babies (BTW, that ship has sailed as I will never be pregnant again or have infants).

For info on safe sleep for babies, please watch this video:

And to see the Twinstroms in their TV debut (over a year and a half ago), hear a little more about my beautiful Brady, and learn about the most recent strides in SIDS research, please watch this:

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