Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Mums & Tots: Erie Edition

I was lucky enough to make it into town for a Childbirth Reunion Party. I took childbirth class in the home of doula, Carol Peterson. There were multiple classes in attendance and I met some new people. We decided to start a mothers group and had our first meeting at the Zoo last week with 5 mothers participating. Most of the kids were too young to care much about the animals. In fact, Ian fell asleep, but not too much longer and I think they'll really enojy it.

Today, we met at Presque Isle. We took a walk and then let the kids play in the lake. The water was calm and refreshing. Ian really enjoyed himself. Tomorrow, we are going to the park as part of a meetup.com meetup. So far, 4 out of the 5 people signed up are from our group.

It is definitely different than the group in Cairo. Not only are we all Americans, but since we all went to Carol's childbirth class or Breastfeeding Support Group, we have similar parenting styles: breastfeeding, attachment parenting, and several of us are cloth diapering, also. This group is also smaller, so more manageable. The Cairo group was a good place to meet people, though, and since the location never changed, you never fell out of the loop. Not to mention that we met our good friends Caiden and Nicole!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Nursing in Public: Never Apologize, Sometimes Explain

I went to Breastfeeding Support Group last week and the subject of nursing in public came up. Several women talked about getting dirty looks or stares. I don't think I've ever had a problem, but maybe it is because I don't notice. I just go about my day feeding my baby when he needs to be fed. I've nursed in public everywhere from the Four Seasons to the grocery store. Once Ian and I got the hang of it, we went everywhere and nursed with ease.
I understand why women get angry when someone seems to be giving a dirty look or staring. The urge to rip into them with a nasty comment or flash of breast can be hard to resist, but I think we further our cause more by not retaliating. Here are my reasons:
1. People are not used to seeing nursing in public. They may be staring because they are surprised or shocked. They may not know what to make of it. You are doing your part by desensitizing them. If you let them stare, it gets filed in their mind as a neutral or maybe even positive experience. If you yell at them or flash them, it gets filed as a negative experience.
2. You don't know what is going on in a person's mind. They may be scowling and not thinking about you at all. If you just go about your day and your nursing and ignore them, you and your baby will be more relaxed and you won't see disapproval everywhere. In other words, assume the best.
3. Yelling and negativity disturb your baby. Just concentrate on the baby and ignore those around you.
4. If you are approachable, someone may stop and ask you questions. That is a learning opportunity, even if it seems like a criticism such as,"How long are you supposed to/going to nurse that child?" Don't get snippy or defensive, just state the AAP recommends at least 1 year, but 2 is better and the worldwide weaning age is 3. You can even go into the benefits or breast milk if they continue to talk to you.

In my opinion, if someone actually makes a nasty or negative comment to you, you should respond pleasantly with information about the health benefits (AAP and WHO endorsements) and the law. Keep it pleasant, informative and factual. My reasons for maintaining decorum:
1. Escalating the situation is not only bad/dangerous for you and your baby, but you might be asked to leave the premises for disturbing the peace if you engage in one- upsmanship of negativity.
2. Sometimes pleasant, informative factual statements will stop people in their tracks because they are looking for a fight and expect a certain response, when you don't give it to them, they don't know what to do. I'm not saying it will change their minds, but it might embarrass them if they realize how rude they are being. Even if they don;t realize that, in many cases they will just walk away.
3. It keeps your baby comfortable while nursing. Your baby's comfort is the point, is it not?
4. The law is on your side, so you need to be calm and confident.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Signing Update

Ian is finally using his "milk" sign to ask for milk instead of giving the sign after he gets the milk. The Signing Time DVDs are great. They are helping me learn the signs so I can teach him more signs.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Will Walk for French Ladies, Graham Crackers and Great-Grandma

Ian was in a (hands-free) walking frenzy after dinner tonight. It started with a step for a graham cracker and then 5 steps in a row to reach Great-Grandma and then he started running and falling. He has been walking holding onto furniture for a few months and can practically run if he is holding onto someone's hand. He just doesn't believe he can do it without holding on. Tonight, he was really experimenting. It won't be long!

Looking for Daddy

10 Months Old!

June was a busy month: eating everything from mashi (Egyptian-style stuffed vegetables) and fuul (Egyptian style beans similar to Mexican refried beans) to pickled ginger and vegetarian sushi; learning to go underwater; lots of travel and of course, first steps.

First Steps in Sharm el Sheikh

When you are an international jetsetting baby like Ian, you are bound to have milestones in fabulous places. He did his first, deliberate rollover in Doha (Qatar) and on June 28th, he took his first unassisted steps in Sharm el Sheikh.

I was sipping a Turkish coffee and Kate had a cappuccino while we were waiting for the Egyptian Folkoric show to start. Ian busied himself by making eyes at a voluptuous, blonde, French woman. She motioned for him to come to her and he put his hands out then turned back all the while smiling and making this crazy noise (sucking in air). After a few times he forgot that he wasn't holding on and took three steps! We started clapping and cheering and he promptly fell on his butt. We didn't get the steps on video but we did take his picture with her.

Masalema, Bye, Bye to Cairo*

Cairo Mama has left Egypt. Towards the end of our 3 month stay in Virginia, we learned Curt would be going to Iraq for 6 months. He left for Iraq and Ian and I headed back to Cairo to pack out. We will be staying in Pennsylvania until he gets back.

My sister came to help. She wrangled Ian while I sorted: ship, store, mail, suitcases, give away, throw away. It was a crazy week, but I was ready for the movers. We were sipping on lattes while the upstairs neighbors who were also packing out the same day were trying to sort and organize.

We also did a lot of shopping to pick up some things like Mashrebeyya tables, Bedoin jewelry, a large marmalite vase, more glass ornaments, more alabaster, etc. I hope they survive shipping!

Between packing preparations and shopping, I did manage to get Katie to the Pyramids of Giza, the Citadel, Cairo Tower, Mokkatem Church, a falooka ride on Nile, and invitations into two Egyptian homes. Afterwards, we recovered at the Sofitel on the Red Sea in Sharm el Sheikh.

We are supposed to go back to Cairo in January, but we may not be going back. I was not quite ready to leave. There is still so much in Egypt and in the region that we wanted to see. I guess Ian will have to focus on traveling in America. Poor guy won't be staying at 5-star hotels in this country!

*The Egyptians often say "Masalema Bye Bye" when talking to Americans.