Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Snapshot of a Year Ago

A photo posted by Laura Ziesel (@laura_ziesel) on

I posted this photo a year ago, the day we found out Cordelia would be a girl. I found it after a stroll down Instagram memory lane tonight. I am amazed at all that has happened in the past year. It has been hard and joyous and a treasure. Oh, Dec 23, 2015, what will you look like?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Justice, Power, and Why Naming Matters

Dispelling Darkness from Flickr via Wylio
© 2009 Asha Susan, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio
Tonight, like many Americans, I am sad for our country. I am sad because Michael Browns continue to die, and I am sad because men and women who are supposed to keep us safe do not feel safe themselves. I am sad that violence begets violence. I am sad that we are here again, and I am only 30. How many times must this story play out, again and again, before I die? 

I'm feeling a wee bit more radical than usual tonight as a result. There's been something on my mind that I've been wanting to write about for some time; it's doesn't feel like a big deal, and at the same time it feels hard to articulate. This combo is why I haven't tackled it yet, but tonight is pushing me over the edge. These little things that don't feel like big deals, maybe we need to give them more air time. And maybe I can't articulate it as well as I'd like, but I'm going to try. 

So this is my attempt to give a little air time to justice tonight. 

I'd like to talk about naming people. 

I've now named two little people; the process for us has not been easy for either child. But we've taken it seriously because naming a person is a big deal. People do it every day, so we forget, but in the Bible this is not something that is taken lightly. Some snapshots of how this has played out:

Adam names the animals.
Adam names Eve after sin's consequences enter the story.
God renames many of our fathers and mothers -- Abram, Sarai, Jacob, Saul -- all are renamed. 
In the Biblical birth narratives, women do most of the naming. 
Ancient people named places to remind themselves of important things. 
God's name itself is special, unspoken by millions even to today. 

Power and authority are key components of naming people. I get to name my children because I am their mother. 

So what? 

So, dear people of privilege, this is why we should stop naming other people groups, and why we should stop using names that were unjustly thrust upon others without privilege. Just to be clear about what I'm referencing, here are a few examples:

Indian (unless they are actually of Indian descent, as in, the country of India)
N***** (I can barely even write it like that; White guilt going bananas)

For those who still don't get why this is so offensive and unjust, imagine this:

You live in a small, quiet house in Cleveland. Your name is Joe Jones. Someone from across the world randomly shows up on your front lawn and tells you that your name is now Clifford Longeburger, and your house is actually in a town named Scottsdale. You've never met this person, and he is not your mama or your dada or your deity.

Seriously, just imagine this happens and it's not a joke. Then he starts drawing up documents to prove that his names for your world are the right ones. 

If you have any sense of identify, you're going to be like, "Hellllllllllll no, my name is NOT Clifford Longeburger, buddy. It's Joe Jones. And this is Cleveland, not Scottsdale." But, he has the power -- guns, germs, and steel most likely. So, he changes your name without your permission, changes the name of your town and expects everyone to adapt. And if you don't, you die. Like, die. You see one neighbor die and then you're probably going to suck it up and learn to survive, but a part of your heart is broken forever. 

This has happened time and time again, and it's not something that is okay. It robs people of integrity, and when we continue to use these names, we perpetuate deeply-entrenched systems of injustice. 

I know this seems obvious to 90% of you, and the other 10% probably think this is not a big deal and definitely not worth blogging about. I mean, come on Laura, you've basically blogged thrice in the past two years. Right, I know. But tonight, this feels more important -- it feels more important that each of us grow in our understanding of justice. It feels important that we listen to one another so that we can learn how to grant dignity to everyone. Perhaps if we start by listening about small things, we can develop the muscles to listen about bigger things. 

This is me, doing one of the only things I feel like I can do to fight against the darkness tonight. 

Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy. If history bends toward justice, please help us see it, taste it, smell it, hear it ringing out.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Cordelia's Baptism

About a month ago we baptized our dear Cordelia.

Here is the text of what we read for those who would prefer to read it:
At Glenkirk, we are continually encouraged to parent with long-term vision, with the realization that our children will be adults one day.  While we have yet to fully experience all the wonders and quirks of Cordelia’s personality, Laura and I have chosen three qualities that we hope to instill in her as she grows into a woman –we hope that she will be brave, shrewd, and anchored. We wish bravery for the moments she needs to go against the flow, doing and saying things that are unpopular or uncomfortable in order to extend love or truth in a broken world. We want Cordelia to be shrewd, able to discern the endless claims about God, the world, and herself that she will encounter during life. And perhaps most important to what we’re doing today, we want Cordelia to be anchored. We believe this baptism is a sign of her being anchored into the family of God from the very beginning of her life, and we want to live into the reality that we are only her biological parents, and August is only her biological brother, but she is also your daughter and your sister as well. May this family be her home.
And this fabulous photo was taken. Love it!

Monday, September 22, 2014

I Am Saturated

I don't spend time reflecting on life these days. I am in a different season now -- a season of survival. But I have the time and energy to reflect tonight, so I'm going to try. 

I'm sitting on a messy bed listening to the sound of the ocean repeat over and over on sound machines, one in August's room, one in the living room with Cordelia. Every night, this is what I hear. If I'm lucky, this is all I hear. Most nights, there is also coughing or crying or loud neighbors. Tonight it is mostly quiet. 

August has been in his toddler (aka "big boy") bed for a month now, and over this same month he has changed SO much. He is infuriating, but so wonderful as well. Tonight we told him he could watch one episode of Dora before bed if he was obedient, ate a good dinner, etc. During dinner, he started pretending as if he'd eaten all of his food: "All gone!" he'd exclaim while looking at bowls full of food. And then he'd laugh at himself. 

These are the most precious days. Yesterday was the first day he got out of bed by himself and came into our room in the morning. He did it at the proper time (after the bunny on his alarm clock woke up) and we were so proud of him. (We are trying to train him to do this without needing us so that he can quietly exit the bedroom to allow Cordelia to continue sleeping.) Last night he came into our room around midnight, said "Hi," climbed into bed, and laid down next to my legs. I was half asleep, and while I'm usually firm about such clear violations of rules, I couldn't bring myself to move him. I didn't do a thing, I just laid there, enjoying the fact that my baby had just gotten out of bed, walked himself over to our room, climbed into our bed, and laid himself down at my feet. (That sentence just made me sob.) Josh took him back to bed.

You know the people who say, "Soak up every minute; it'll be gone before you know it"? To them, I would like to say, "I am saturated. I cannot soak up another drop."

And I mean this. There are moments when I am so overwhelmed by the wonder of my children that I have to distract myself or else I feel as if I might be crushed. Of course, there are those other moments when I feel I might burst in anger, but those are not the ones I want to remember tonight.

 Tonight I want to remember the moments I go to Cordelia when she has woken up after a good sleep and she gives me the biggest grin as my face hovers over her crib. 

I want to remember the moments August leans his head on my arm and says, "I wuv you." 

I want to remember the moments August sees Cordelia after a day of preschool and says, "Cordy!" and runs up to hug attack/kiss her. She is so tolerant. 

These are truly the golden days. In twenty years we will look back and cherish the years in which we filled this cramped apartment with life and love and mess. Right now we want more -- space, time, money, patience. But we have enough; we have an abundance. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

New in Pumping: The Freemie

I've found non-breastfeeders are curious as to why breastfeeding women talk so much about the private business their boobs are doing. My quippy answer? If you suddenly started spending 6-10 hours a day doing something, you'd talk about it a lot too. My serious answer? My body empties itself every few hours to provide nourishment for another person. In feeding my daughter with my body I am giving her not only amazing food, but also medicine, healthy attachment, and an embodied theology.

While I wish I could breastfeed flesh-on-flesh all of the time, I work away from my baby sometimes (and have a desire to be away from my babies sometimes for fun things too!), so I pump. And pumping? Pumping is my least favorite thing about breastfeeding. But something has come along that has made me hate pumping a lot less, so out of a spirit of gratitude I want to tell you about it. I hope it helps you or someone you love as well!

Introducing, to many of you for the first time, the Freemie pump!

Now, before I get started, let me preface by saying the Freemie isn't perfect. It's not going to make pumping fun or sexy. But for me, it is a big step in the right direction! 

I have an Ameda Purely Yours pump already, so I opted to just buy the Freemie collection cups, which connect to the pump I already own. So I cannot review the Freemie Freedom electric pump or the Equality manual pump. (Although it is worth noting this is the first double manual pump I've seen!) 

But for the collection cups, here are some brief thoughts:

-Instead of dealing with flanges that connect to bottles, I have a flange built right into a milk reservoir. Smart! I then pour my milk directly from the collection cups into freezer bags. Less washing!

-These fit INSIDE my clothes, so I don't have to strip to pump. This is the biggest perk right now in my world. Now, as a disclaimer, they won't fit inside all of my bras/shirts, but if I unhook my pump clasps at the top of any of my nursing bras (thus far), they fit inside and rest on the bra. These have also worked in nursing camis for me. But if my shirt is tight, or I'm wearing a normal bra, these wouldn't work. Bonus: not freezing while pumping! I used to wrap a blanket around myself at times.

-I could feasibly wear these discreetly, though someone would have to not be looking very closely for them to not notice my awkwardly-shaped chest. But in some situations, these could be worn in public, especially if it's darker or you use a sweater to camouflage, and they could go unnoticed. As someone who has been walked in on while pumping, that would certainly be an improvement! These might also be handy for pumping on flights or in cars. I haven't tried that yet because travel for work hasn't picked up, but I'm pretty sure by the end of this breastfeeding journey, I'll have done it on a plane and a car. These could certainly be used while on a conference call, unlike normal pumping systems. 

-I have been able to say goodbye to Pink Passion, what we jokingly named my pink hands free pumping bra. Come on, those things are horrible (but so useful). 

-In terms of effectiveness, I haven't noticed any problems with the Freemie cups. As of now (with a 3 month old), they're working fine. 

The flange and collection cup taken apart, with my trust Ameda in the background.

Now, is there room for improvement? Sure! Here are some tips, which Freemie says they're working on:

-Make the plastic see-through so that we can see what the heck is going on. At times it helps to reposition or assess which ducts are emptying. 

-Add ounce markings to the cups so that when they are laid flat I know how much I pumped. 

And this goes for all pumps, not just the Freemie: Can't we make a flange that isn't hard plastic? Something that feels a bit more like skin? It definitely seems like there's room for improvement here. I usually place flanges on my tummy for a minute to warm them up before beginning a pumping session because of how cold they are. 

Now, to be clear: I wrote this review because I want more people to know about the Freemie. While it is perfectly fine to accept freebies (punny!) or compensation for blog reviews, I have not done so in this case. I wrote this simply because these collection cups have helped me not loathe pumping, and I believe more women will successfully breastfeed if pumping technology progresses beyond the machines we've been stuck with since 1988. (I just made that date up.) And the Freemie is a big step in that direction!

Why I pump. Isn't she adorable?
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