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Dreamy movies for kids and grownups

If you’ve tried to find kids’ media that is gentle but edgy enough, that respects a kid’s need for safety and curiosity about danger, then you know you’re in for an epic and unsatisfying quest.

We’ve waded through all sorts of “kids” movies. Some left Jo huddled in the corner of the couch with hands clapped over his ears (Cars), others that had great moments (and songs!) but required tons of challenging explanations and fastforwarding through scary parts (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang). We came really close with the Herbie the Love Bug movies, but there was some sexism in those that pissed me off.

So it was a profound relief to discover My Neighbor Totoro. Jo and I were both completely transfixed and delighted. The main character girls are curious, vulnerable, angry, kind and determined as hell. Totoro naps in a huge, soft cuddly heap, and carries the girls, safe in his tufts of fur, as he flies on a spinning top in the night sky and bellows a fierce, resonant roar.

We reveled in this story — it doesn’t dumb down intrigue and fear at the expense of delight, and spins characters out of wonder–six-legged Catbus with furry interior, anyone?

catbus

Now I’ll tell you why we’re all damn lucky. The studio (Studio Ghibli) and director (Miyazaki, who has quite possibly the most sparkly but respectable elderly man face ever) that made Totoro was pretty prolific, so there’s also Ponyo, which is Jonah’s favorite. And why wouldn’t it be? A five-year-old boy named Sosuke lives on a house that teeters over the ocean, where he gets to go and play by himself. He makes friends with a goldfish-turned-girl and names her Ponyo.

Ponyo --- One of my favorites scenes from the movie (I have a weird obsession with underwater scenery)

Among other things, they float on top of their world–which is flooded by the ocean and all of its creatures–in a toy boat that uses a candle as its motor. And voila! Another gender-norm-bending, tender-hearted, just-spooky-enough adventure.

ponyo-500And for those of you who have the time and desire to cook after a good bout of movie watching, I stumbled across this, a recipe for Ponyo noodles on a rad blog dedicated to “cooking and eating through children’s literature.” Recipe for crisp apple strudels and schnitzel with noodles, anyone?!

But I digress.

Apparently, the other Miyazaki movie that’s gentle enough for little kids is Kiki’s Delivery Service.

If you haven’t seen any of these, whether you have kids or not, run to your nearest video store (you can’t stream them online).

You’ll thank me later.

An Honest Mom's top 3 breastfeeding tips

Since breastfeeding (“Giving C some boo boos” as J likes to say) is something that I am once again doing, say, 10-15 times a day, I figured I’d share a few of the tips and resources that have helped me navigate my cumulative total of 3.5 years of boo boo feeding.

1.  The “laid back” breastfeeding position. I discovered this when I visited Janaki at East Bay Lactation Associates in the midst of the breastfeeding crisis I had a few years ago with J. I was worried about my milk supply and we’d been supplementing with formula and J just seemed, in general, unwell. In the hour I spent with Janaki, her kindness, wisdom and humor sunk into my tired self like a salve. And she showed me the “laid back” position. It changed everything for J and me. I’ve been using it with C from the beginning. It magically turns breastfeeding into the relaxing break it was meant to be. Here’s me, a few days ago, all laid back in our front yard. Yes, I breastfeed in our front yard.

Image
Yes. We have a wheelbarrow in our front yard. And yes. Those are A’s feet in the bottom of the picture. He was going the extra mile and taking pictures from multiple angles after I said, “Quick, go get the camera–I want a picture of this breastfeeding position!”

The great thing about this position is how easy it is. You…uh…lay back. Wherever you happen to be. Couch, chair, bed. Prop yourself up with as many blankets and pillows as you need to be 100% comfortable relaxing every muscle in your body. Really. Every muscle. Janaki told me that you’ve done it right if you could fall asleep in that position. Then drape your babe across your abdomen diagonally, so that you’re belly to belly. I like to position C so he has one leg on either side of my leg, sort of horsey ride style. Then you just support the baby’s upper back, where their shoulder blades are, with your hand. When you support them like this with firm pressure, babies gain some leverage and are able to move their heads more freely to initiate the latch. (The same way that sit ups are easier when you brace your feet under the couch.) Then you sit back and relax. That’s it, folks.

And a side angle...just so you can see how laid back I am.

This somewhat upright position makes it easier for babies to feed, instead of having them in those perfectly horizontal positions that breastfeeding pillows encourage. (Would you rather guzzle down a big glass of water laying flat or propped up?) It also has the extra added benefits of giving your tired mommy arms a break, giving tired mommy a break, and making it more pleasant for your baby to breastfeed, since you’re a relaxed mommy.  So throw your breastfeeding pillows out the window, ladies, cause all you need is to lean back!

2.  Kelly Mom. By far the best online breastfeeding resource out there. If you have a question, they have a helpful, well-resourced article on it. Like this one that helped us navigate our first bottle feedings with both C and J. Or this one that helped me through a painful bout of mastitis that I had when J was 2.

3.  If you have a partner (or a really generous friend) and a baby who will take a bottle, and you want help with night feedings to get more uninterrupted sleep, consider how your Crock-Pot could help.

Here’s a how-to on how to duplicate our life-saving, DIY, middle-of-the-night, on-demand bottle warmer:

 

As a parting shot, I have to share this sketch. A year(ish) ago, I audited a birth class for my doula training and gaped over the shoulder of one of the dads in the class as he whisked his pencil ever so lightly across the page and created this gem in a couple minutes.

barbaby

When you’re breastfeeding, think of it like your baby is at a bar. You don’t want her to just occupy a stool at the bar, you want her to get drunk.

So go forth, lay back and get ’em drunk, ladies.
Cheers.

What becoming a mother looks like for T at 3 weeks post-partum

Remember the video I posted of my conversation with T when she was 38 weeks (roughly 9 months) pregnant? Well, here she is a month after we had that first talk–3 weeks after giving birth to her baby boy.

I love her willingness to share and how she captures that kind of floaty, coming-back-down-to-earth feeling that I remember from my first few weeks after J was born. Even at more than 2.5 years post-partum, I still feel the challenge that T talks about: to “connect my life before with this new life.”

How are you managing with that epic challenge?

What I thought motherhood would look like

Other than a couple brief moments of rocking a swaddled newborn to sleep, I just started having some moments of, “now THIS is what I thought being a mom was going to be like.” And J will be 2 and a half next month. Do tell, what were the images you had in your head of what being a mother looked like? And what do they say about the whacked out ideas (or not?) our culture has about “motherhood.”

Also, here’s a link to the “Becoming a Mother” video series I’m producing.

On becoming a mother

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I recently assisted a childbirth class as part of my doula certification. On the last night of the class, all of the couples took turns talking about their fears, how excited they were, what they’d learned. One woman said something to the effect of, “It’s crazy that we’ve prepared so much for and have so many feelings and anxieties about a journey that is, essentially, one foot long. I mean, the baby only has to get from here (gesture to belly), to there (gesture to crotch).”

I was struck how funny and truthful and earnest they all were, and how it seemed that we were all in awe of the same thing—birth as a rite of passage. You’re on one side of that fence your whole life, and then you’re pregnant and know you’re gonna have to cross it. And then, by the grace of god and medicine and your own body and the support around you, you reach the other side. It’s endlessly mysterious and inspiring to me. And it’s just nuts. There’s this baby on the inside. And you have no earthly idea what its actually going to be like until it comes out. And then it’s there. Sheesh.

I decided to pursue my endless fascination with this whole process by having a couple of conversations on video with two women who volunteered from the group – one when they were around 38 weeks, just weeks or days away from having their babies, and one when their babies were a few weeks old. A sort of video time capsule, as it were.

Here’s a glimpse of the chat I had with T before she had her baby. (Turns out, we recorded this conversation 6 days before she birthed her baby boy.) My next post will be a little video time capsule from chat we had last week, when the wee babe was a month old.

On discipline


If sleep was our million dollar question when we had an infant, discipline is the biggie now that we have a toddler. Since my initial love affair with time-outs in this post, I’ve decided that I want more options in my toolbox, and I’ve been trying other things I’ve been learning from reading the discipline chapter in Hold On to Your Kids. After a particularly despairing day, I’m casting out to see how you all think about discipline. How do you see the discipline strategies you use as fitting into your ongoing relationship with your kids?

p.s. There’s an awesome comment thread for this post at Get Born, a blog I write/video for.

On celebrating holidays now that I have a kid


Who knew how much pressure would be added to CELEBRATE HOLIDAYS now that you have kids?? Halloween just came and went, and with it, quite a few images to add to my collection of how to look like a “good parent.” I spent the pre-Halloween season jockeying with these judgments and assumptions, and came out the other end feeling more comfortable with celebrating my way. (If you related to this post…you’ll probably also dig this one)

On zen and the domestic arts


I spend most of my days doing housework. For the last 2 years, I’ve wrestled with what that means about my identity and value in the world. After my recent reality tv bender, I found that doing the dishes isn’t the worst thing on earth after all.

On priorities, the internet, and my jumpy, all-over-the-place brain


My latest challenge? Beginning and finishing a task. Between my toddler and the internet, I seem to be more distract-able than ever. How do you keep your focus with kids and the interweb and a million and one things seeking your attention?