I watched a fun video today, courtesy of my mom, about a man who built an adorable house in 3 months for only a few thousand dollars.
One of the comments on the video was that if we could only support land ownership (something like that), we could house so many more people. This idea really made me think.

I want to own land. I don’t know if it is possible. I live in the Okanagan, an area with large amounts of unceded land. In other words, land that was used (owned, if you will) by the people who lived in this area before Europeans came and was never sold or signed over to anyone else. This means that everyone who lives on this land, buys it, sells it, is illegally occupying the land. The university I work at is on unceded territory. And yet we continue on as if the truth doesn’t exist: that we are buying, selling and living on stolen land. Stolen even more fully than it has been in other cases where at a minimum treaties were signed.

Then there is the bigger question of what it means to lay personal claim to a plot of land. Does that mean you can do whatever you want with it? Does it deny others access to your land? What if you destroy your land? What if it plays a key role in the ecosystem in your area – can you still own it?

And why do we – do I – want to own land? There is something so magical about the thought that a beautiful piece of property, acres with trees and a stream, could belong to my family. That we could build a lovely home there, grow vegetables, care for the land and have it as OURS for generations. But why, why does ownership matter? Isn’t it enough that this land is the earth, our planet, and it needs to be respected and cared for?

I believe that in most studies of land ownership and land quality, ownership leads to better care of the land. People have roots, they have a commitment to being in a place for years or generations, so they invest in protecting the land. I wonder if, in different cultural settings, a concept of belonging to the land or being a guardian of the land might perform the same function as ownership does in western societies.

So, I still want to own land. I question why I want this. I am not sure if it is even a legal or moral possibility. But I do dream of having land for my family that we can care for and be nurtured by, and share with others.

Don’t read this book. Or this one.

I just finished looking through On Becoming Babywise by Ezzo and others, and Health Sleep Habits, Happy Baby by Weissbluth. I am now feeling disturbed, angry and deeply sad.
Babywise is a “parent-directed” program for raising children. It purports to be Christian, though it has no basis in Christian scriptures. Its goal is that parents direct (i.e., control) their children by determining from birth when they eat and sleep. Though it says that parents need to pay attention to baby’s needs, the actual practices it advocates (feeding when parents decide that baby is hungry rather than when baby indicates hunger; expecting babies to sleep through most of the night by 3 months) suggest no understanding of child development, baby needs or the realities of what babies actually need and do. The recommendations around feeding are completely out of synch with all current research and public health recommendations on breastfeeding. And importantly, the methods it prescribes have been linked with failure to thrive (since babies are not getting the attention or food they need) and even death. That’s right: this so-called program, based on nothing more than an unqualified man’s fantasies (he has absolutely no training in any of the areas he writes about) about how parents should be masters of their children, has resulted in babies being sick and dying. I am horrified.

Healthy Sleep Habits claims to be a research-based book on helping children sleep. It does cite some research. I am extremely doubtful about a lot of it. In much of the book the author claims that about 80% of babies are normal in terms of sleep, temperament, etc., but about 20% are colicky and temperamental. I don’t see in his work that he truly examined the diversity of methods of parenting and responding to children that might result in some children settling more than others. His comments on breastfeeding also show a real lack of understanding of the importance of breastfeeding for child emotional security and health. And even if a child is more needy than others – is that 20% of the population? I don’t know – it would seem to me that this child needs MORE love, touch, and attention, not less. Yet that is what he advocates. Children need to sleep, so do what you need to teach them how to sleep. Including letting them cry until they vomit repeatedly. See p. 301: the solution to repeated vomiting is to wait until the child goes to sleep (i.e., gives up all hope of being rescued by his parents and withdraws into himself in exhaustion) and then quietly wipe up the vomit. Yes. Or (p. 300), since you won’t be changing the diaper overnight, put on an extra thick layer of zinc oxide on baby’s bum to prevent a diaper rash. I am similarly horrified. Children do need to sleep. But they also need the security of knowing that their parents, their source of well-being and security, their representations of God in this world, will be there for them and respond to their needs.

When will we learn to love and treat our children with the utmost respect we would give to an adult? If these methods were used in a hospital, for example, there would be a public outcry. But they are used quietly within private homes, and children are damaged, and we can’t do anything about it.

I don’t know what the answer is. I respect parents’ right to make choices that work for their families. I know that parents need sleep too. I know that there is a lot of conflicting information out there. But it hurts me to my core to think of innocent children crying out in despair or hunger and being ignored because so-called experts say it’s for their own good.

I’ve written a note to the library on each of these books. I don’t expect that they will stop carrying Healthy Sleep Habits. But I do hope that with some supporting documentation – e.g., the American Pediatric Association’s study on the dangers of Babywise – that they may stop carrying that book.

Choosing peace

I was going to blog tonight something about choosing peace in our lives. Just half an hour ago I was thinking through the post. However, it’s 9:35, I”m sitting down to write, and I have NO RECOLLECTION of what I was going to say. That’s right: complete writer’s amnesia. It might have been:

  • more about adorable daughter. Who is in love with her new socks, birthday gift from auntie, uncle & cousin, who wouldn’t take a bath because she couldn’t stand to be separated from her socks.
  • about my blech day at work, headachy, tired, miss my girl
  • About wanting to quit my job. Because my girl is growing up and I’m not with her enough.
  • about appreciating my job and the opportunity to contribute
  • about the weather, maybe? slow approach of winter?

Wait, I’ve got it! At least one blog idea today: reading Better Off, about life without technology, and appreciating the central lesson: (can you have two colons in one sentence? No. But i want to finish writing and go to bed. So here we go): reducing technology increases living. It increases our engagement with tasks. It slows us and gives us more time. The repetitive work of life without technology develops a new set of skills, and once developed, frees our minds to think, our mouths to talk wiht friends, promotes shared work, and can be more intrinsically rewarding. TEchnology exacts a price, something we forget too often. However, going without requires guides as there are so many skills which have been forgotten.

Now: to bed. With an angel. A little warm now-sockless, soft angel

Actions for Peace – or not

Two mini experiments in peace seeking today.
1. Last night, I went to bed with baby at 8 & slept 3 hours, nursing her a bit after 11. I got up then to blog and play on the computer. And for no good reason, I checked my work email, and read an email that left me stressed because it suggested I should have done more research and need to rethink something I’m doing.

I was having a hard time letting it go. Then I decided I was going to. I decided to focus on all the good things: what I am doing well at work, the emails that are happy or forward-moving, the great things in my life. I put that one email into context, decided to deal with it on Monday, and let it go. And it didn’t disappear immediately, but by mid-morning it had left my mind until I sat down to write this blog.

Our choices about where we focus attention have a big impact on our emotional state and our inner peace.

2. So, back to the sleep thing. As you may have noticed, I’m kind of passionate about responding to children’s needs. And I like to talk with people about this because I think our culture seriously undervalues the importance of being responsive. I responded a day or so ago to a mother posting in a facebook group about sleep questions and offered some thoughts and a link on the dangers of cry it out methods. Some of the responses suggested it works for some families and there is research to support sleep training. I considered what to do next. I’d already thrown in my two cents. Maybe just leave it? But I didn’t really want to. Everything I’ve read indicates that sleep training is unhealthy for babies.

I decided to keep going. Maybe my motivations were mixed: to drive home a point, perhaps? To point out [what I perceived to be] an error in thinking? (I do love to point out mistakes). But I also sincerely was curious what research parents who support sleep training are referring to. If it exists, I want to educate myself on it and understand this sleep issue – which fascinates me – more fully. So I posted a brief reply asking parents to post any pro-training research they knew about. And what do you know, some did.

I am curious to read some of it and think about it more. I can say that the first article I saw – briefly – seemed to miss something as it talks about “sleep problems” but didn’t define what that means or consider, philosophically, why we might define night waking as a “problem” as opposed to a healthy thing for babies to do (reduced SIDS rates, anyone? Not to mention eliciting parental attention for a wide variety of needs) or a typical developmental stage. And while waking babies does seem to correlate with maternal depression, which is a problem and definitely something to take seriously, there are other things that can be done about depression including cosleeping, baby wearing, breast feeding, and others. These might not be possible for some families, but they can help for many.

I’m now hoping for a chance to continue the learning and dialogue. Dialogue across lines like this is hard. I’m a hard-core fundamentalist on a lot of issues and I know I need to learn better how to respect points of view that I … how to say this … don’t respect. Well, a good opportunity for growth and an example of the type of skills that, if developed by more and aggregated, would move us towards world peace. So there’s a motivation to talk calmly about sleep!

Incidentally, I was quite pleased and surprised to discover that I didn’t get postpartum depression. I thought it was highly likely that I would because I’ve been depressed in the past. And I did have a few days shortly after birth where I was feeling very sad and anxious. Fortunately, pulsatilla (homeopathic) worked like magic for that. And yes, I had a period of a month or more where I was incredibly angry and sad about my breastfeeding challenges. But it wasn’t depression, and I did get out of it. I don’t know why things went well for me, but I can say that the things we did with baby – co sleeping, skin to skin contact, breastfeeding, being with her so much – release positive and protective hormones that counteract depression. I believe that helped me. And I know that sometimes, this isn’t enough for some mothers, and I would never recommend judging a mother with depression as it is something that our bodies just do sometimes and mothers need support, not blame. All I’m saying is that I’m grateful I didn’t. And that I’ll do the same things next time if we have another baby and hope for the same results.


Baha’i blowout!

“Blowout” was a favourite expression of a friend in grad school. He used it to describe anything that was more abundant than usual. So, in my quiet life, today was a bit of a Baha’i blowout.
First incident: Reading an article in The Chronicle of Higher Ed. Actually, an advice column about dealing with interview questions that come out of left field. The lead line: “So you’re a Bahai. What’s that about?” This, without the apostrophe, used as an example of the type of inappropriate, random question you can be thrown during a job interview.

How much fun (for me; for you too?) to have the Baha’i Faith cited as a cultural reference point! Even if it’s being noted as a slightly weird and obscure reference.

Second incident: Attending a talk, sponsored by my Office, of a woman’s research on Bedouin women in northern Israel. I have a lot of reference points with this location because of the Baha’i World Centre and my dad’s early years. I introduced myself after, thanked her and explained that I was particularly interested because my dad was from there. She asked if I’d been and I said yes, I’m a Baha’i so …

And she jumped in: “I’m a Baha’i too! Allah’u’Abha [Baha’i greeting meaning O Thou Glory of the Most Glorious!]!”

So cool to meet a Baha’i I didn’t know! We then talked a bit more about Israel, pilgrimage, my roots there.

I love connections like that.

One wish

Imagine that you are given one wish for the planet. The big kahuna – world peace – is off the table. Instead, you have to choose one of the lesser issues to address: hunger, global warming, slavery, for example.
If I had my wish, I would abolish sleep training from the planet.

Why this, out of all the other possibilities?

First, it is a cruelty perpetrated on the most innocent of victims: millions of babies who have barely arrived in this world, who can’t speak in any language.

Second, it is cruel. It is ignoring another human’s cry for help. We would never do this to adults!

Third, it destroys trust. A baby who has been left to cry by its parents has its trust in them permanently affected. Parents who choose to ignore their babies’ attempts to communicate have chosen outright to distrust their children, replacing the baby’s perspective with that of the parents. I believe this to be true whether the parents were standing by the door or not, going in to check every 5 minutes or not. And we simply don’t have the research to show where this lack of trust will show up later in life.

Fourth, because it goes against nature. Babies are made to be close to their parents and to have their needs responded to. It is how humans have survived for thousands of years. Babies are born expecting and needing that closeness to survive and thrive. If we deny it, we deny nature.

Fifth, it is a loss for parents and for babies. The comfort, fun, bonding of being close with baby and responding to her needs is replaced by stress, tears, anxiety, and managing the relationship. This is not fun for any of the parties involved.

Sixth, the scientific research is firmly stacked against sleep training. In various studies, sleep training has been linked to emotional withdrawal, loss of trust in parents, physical distress and raised hormone levels, emotional problems, and – get ready for it – sleep problems. Yes, the very tool that is promoted as a solution to sleep “problems” has been shown to create greater sleep challenges down the road as kids are afraid of sleep and develop assorted sleep difficulties.

For more technical information on sleep, please check the following links:

Dr. Jay Gordon

Co-Sleeping and SIDS

Dr. Sears and Sleep

International Patterns of Sleep

Continuum Concept: parenting in traditional cultures

Safety of Co-Sleeping

So please: hold your babies. Love your babies. Sleep with your babies. Respond to your babies’ needs. You will be rewarded with a deeper bond and a grateful child. And you will have the satisfaction of knowing that in the face of strong social pressure, you stood up for your child’s well-being and took a stand to protect her.

Peace and Productivity and Computer Time

Today I had a lovely, relaxed 45 min. to myself. My husband took my daughter for a walk after breakfast and I sat in front of my laptop at my writing desk (how great that I have a writing desk now! Though the area can get cluttered, I love it and all the things I’m using to outfit my space.) While listening to a YouTube lecture (Decline of Empires: The Signs of Decay) I made my way through my craft gift for my daughter’s birthday. I’m clipping pictures of animals and food from magazines and pasting them into old photo album pages to go into a binder. Today I was able to sort the remaining 2 magazines I had, clip and label pictures, and fill the rest of the pages. Ready to wrap for her birthday! I also had a Gchat call from my sister while sitting there.
Wonderful. Productive, peaceful, enriching, relaxing.

Later in the afternoon, while baby was down for a nap, I took advantage of the quiet and my newly clean(er) desk to tackle some of the small business things that needed doing: balance and pay my MC bill, add up receipts for September’s expenses, pay a power bill, check the balances in the accounts, transfer money for the car insurance. All quick but important work, accomplished in a short period. Leaving me with a feeling of peace as opposed to the ongoing dis/ease I feel when tasks remain undone.

And now tonight. Putting baby to bed took over an hour between bath, nursing, play time, walking in the dark, walking around the block, and a final nurse/bottle/pat to sleep. Husband and baby are sleeping; I’m eating, writing, enjoying the time to myself yet again. Looking for the balance between productively getting things done (diapers in the wash; pumpkin into the fridge; on and on with what could be done) and peace (blogging; listening to an interview with a colleague; maybe something else enjoyable before bed?)

Time and the computer allow me to relax, to get done, to obsess, to overdo, to complete, to get ready to move on.



Tonight I kind of felt like writing about appearance. Specifically, how I wish I could be okay with the way I look, dress, etc., instead of being disappointed on a regular basis for not taking care of my appearance.
On the other hand, I could write about things that are a lot more important. Global warming. Somalia. Break-down of families. The Congo. Even my baby’s teething, crying, growing, changing. All things that are a lot more important.

Living with two sets of priorities simultaneously is strange, but I think it’s something we all do. We know and care about the really big problems in the world. But somehow, we’re able to let go of them to enjoy or worry about the smaller situations we face on a daily basis. It might be seen as a character flaw. It might also be a universal human reality, brain-based perhaps, that requires us to give the most attention to that which is right in front of us, that allows us to function in a super-busy and chaotic world without being overwhelmed.

As in tonight. I’m exhausted. I care about everything – but right now, all that really matters is getting to bed. Soon.

Good night.

Big & Little Peace

Tonight we went to an interfaith prayer gathering. They’ve been having this one for a number of years on September 11. Its focus is more broad than just the events of 9/11; the participants spoke about peace, global injustices, unity, our responsibilities as global citizens. I spoke as a member of the Baha’i community, reading a short quote on true religion and a prayer for unity.
It was wonderful being there as a family. Baby thoroughly enjoyed herself, listening to the music, getting to know the people sitting around her, clapping and speaking out when appropriate, such as when the MC referred to her as the hope for tomorrow. She brings such joy wherever she goes – everywhere I turn I see people smiling at her. My husband enjoyed himself and was wonderful, playing with baby and walking around with her when she was more vocal.

After the service we also enjoyed meeting people. We have been thinking a lot about friendship and community and that we need to do a lot more to build good friendships and strong community support. We want this for our daughter to grow up in, for ourselves to be healthy and happy. For whatever reason, this is something that hasn’t been super successful for us lately.

Baby was still awake after, and resisted going to sleep so after feeding her and playing with her I took her for another walk around the block in the Ergo. She was alternately happy and miserable. Happily bouncing her face against my chest, singing “waa waa waa!!!” loudly into the night. Softly falling asleep on my chest. Miserably waking up and fussing and stretching and crying. Once home and after a bit more milk and tears she finally succumbed to sleep. Poor sweetie hasn’t been happy lately – resisting sleep, crying much more than usual.

And boy, I”m tired. No nap this weekend. Full week ahead. I want to write more – I want to write about building community and being a small part of peace and about talking about religion, spirituality and raising our daughter with my husband. But I’m going to bed.

Blogging by proxy

Yesterday was a bit of a challenging day. Baby was up a lot the night before with a fever and fussing. I wasn’t sure how she would do during the day but I had a presentation and meeting so I brought her to mom’s and checked up on her throughout the day. By 1:00 she was crying after a short nap, hadn’t eaten much at all and had barely had anything to drink. Priorities: I left work to go and be with my angel.
Once I was there things got better. She nursed right away (relief for both of us) and was in a better mood being with me. She ate some too. After a couple of hours we headed home. She slept on the way home, then enjoyed a walk with me. She cheered up in particular for her visit to the doctor – heaven forbid he see her in an unhealthy state! Then she ate dinner (I – for reasons mysterious – decided to try a new soup recipe + baking powder biscuits = delicious) which was encouraging. After a shower with mom and some nursing, she was asleep.

And I was nearly asleep too. Wiped out from some sleepless nights and an intense day. However, I had one big thing left to do: blog. My husband, wanting to encourage me to get some much-needed sleep, offered to blog for me. We agreed that I would tell him what to write and he would log in and post it for me. Though I wouldn’t have typed the actual words, I would have composed the blog and thus, I felt, fulfilled my daily writing commitment. The post was to read:

“Baby sick. Mom tired. Will write more tomorrow.”

Short, to the point, relevant to the theme (to keep my personal peace I needed more sleep!).

However. Though he tried diligently, he couldn’t make it work. So my blogging by proxy never actually happened. My mental blogging never made it to the stage of physical incarnation.

In the spirit of personal acceptance and inner peace, I am going to say that in intent and effort, I blogged yesterday. And here I am again today.

Baby is better today, though not well yet. A sick child is a huge unsettler to one’s inner peace. I find it remarkably hard to focus at work when I’m worried about her. It’s hard enough anyways to relax when I’m away from her! Even now, knowing she’s just two rooms over sleeping soundly, I feel uncomfortable being this much physically separated from her. And again in the spirit of inner peace, I accept that this is my reality as a mom. I am okay with it. Now that she exists, I need to be with her. I love her unconditionally and always. Everything about her amazes and delights me. She is my daughter and I love her.

My heart is breaking tonight for a missing child and his family. I can’t talk about it or think about it too much – it’s too horrible. I don’t understand some things about the world. And then there is the famine – and I get upset when I have to get an extra bottle of milk for my daughter because my body doesn’t make enough. I am reminded deeply that I want to do a lot more to change things in the world so that these types of aberrations stop happening.