Erin Clotfelter

I am a Minneapolis mom to three boys under the age of 3, two recently diagnosed with autism. I blog about autism, motherhood and my life outnumbered by boys at The Slacker Mom.

Posts about Society

The tree is dead. Long live the tree.

Posted by: Erin Clotfelter Updated: August 10, 2011 - 11:23 PM



A few weeks ago, a telltale orange ring was painted around the trunk of an elm tree right across the street from our house.  Dutch Elm Disease (DED) strikes again.  A story that is played out all across the city every year.  I know nothing about trees or what they look for when diagnosing these things, but I knew what that ring meant.  That tree was comin' down.

We had seen a handful of boulevard trees felled by DED in the 6 years we lived in our last neighborhood.  You would go to work in the morning and come home to a new patch of blue sky peeking through where you had never seen sky before.  Short stumps dotted the landscape until they were eventually ground down and in some cases, new trees planted in their place (if it was in the budget).

This morning, when the trucks pulled up and the crew got to business dismantling what was likely more than 100 years of growth, I was a bit sad.  It's not like I had an attachment to the tree, I've only lived in this neighborhood for a little over 2 months.  But still, it tugs at you a bit.  Something that big, something that old.  You can't replace that with a trip to Home Depot.

These monstrosities that line our streets are part of what makes the city so lovely to live in.  They shade us in the summer and create a picturesque wonderland when coated with fluffy snow in the  winter.  Their great canopies keep these urban neighborhoods feel a little less, well, urban.  An astounding 979,000 trees provide coverage to 32% of this fair city.

On Tuesday the weather was cooperating and a nice breeze was blowing, a few neighbors watched from their front steps as the process began.  But that was it.  There was no pomp and circumstance.  No moment of silence.  I don't know what I was expecting, but I'm pretty sure I could hear Taps laying in my head.

I stood at the fence and chatted with a neighbor while my one of my boys played on the front porch. He seemed oblivious to the destruction.  My youngest slept soundly in his crib as the noise of the wood chipper drifted in through his open window.

The first cut took out the branch that reached out across the street and shaded our front yard.  My options for next years gardening exploits just about doubled in an instant as I could now add "partial sun" to my vocabulary.  That seems like a big sacrifice for an upgrade from "full shade".

After a few hours, the crew called it a day, packed up and left.  The tree stood, half of her branches gone, a shock of green leaves still dancing on the branches left intact.  This morning, bright and early, they were back to finish off what they had started.  It took two days to finish the topping portion of the elm removal.  At some point they will drop the trunk, sooner or later I am not really sure. 

For now, she sits in stark contrast to the sky, limbs jutting out and up, leafless. 

In Which I Talk About Breastfeeding

Posted by: Erin Clotfelter Updated: August 4, 2011 - 12:29 AM

It's World Breastfeeding Week.  Did you know that?  Kind of a big deal in the circles I run in.  The moms like to talk about breastfeeding.  Whether they are doing it.  How awesome (or hard) it is.  How to deal with each new situation that comes up (nursing strikes, cluster feeding, latch issues, slow weight gain, thrush, weaning, biting etc.).

I've been seeing a lot of posts about nursing in public floating around the past few weeks.  On my reader, on message boards, on my Facebook feed, on Twitter.  A lot of them are in reaction to a blogger who posed the question: Do mother's openly breastfeeding in public make you uncomfortable?

I think back to my pre-baby, pre-nursing days and I am ashamed of the things I thought about women who chose to nurse in public (the few times I actually witnessed it).  Bottom line?  I thought it was disgusting, I thought it was distracting, I thought it was something that should be hidden away behind closed doors.  I thought women were just trying to get attention.  I'm pretty sure I shot a few dirty looks to nursing Moms.  

I was embarrassed to be in the presence of another woman's breasts.  And you know what?  That was my issue.  Before I nursed a baby, I didn't "get it".  It never occurred to me that a baby might be uncomfortable under a cover (would like to eat with a blanket over your head?).  It never occurred to me that a woman shouldn't be banished to another room to feed a child (If you think a bathroom stall is suitable for nursing a child you should be voted off the island.).  It didn't occur to me that anything was actually happening beyond a long slow flashing.  Who cares if she's feeding her baby...she's showing everyone her breasts!

Fast forward a few years and I am thankful that I have never run into the likes of me.

I nurse in public.  More often then not, without a cover.  I'm discreet, yes, but that could quickly change depending on the mood of my son.  Nursing in Public is not about putting on a show.  It is not about getting attention.  It's about feeding your child.  If you want a show, put a cover over my sons head, I guarantee you'll see more that way as he flails about and I try to keep him covered.

I am lucky, I have never come across a dirty look or heard a nasty comment.  On the contrary, I have had many knowing glances and very positive words of wisdom bestowed upon me as I've nursed my son.  In the grand scheme of things, nursing in public has been fairly easy to do considering all of our struggles.

Nursing in public will never be fully accepted if more women don't nurse in public.  Obviously there are some women who would rather not ever be in that situation to begin with, for various reasons, and that is fine.  That doesn't mean ALL women need to stay home, go into the next room or cover up their baby.  

Next time you see a mother nursing her child, give her a smile.  Tell her she's doing a great job.  I promise you will make her day.

Not an Expert, Just a Mom

Posted by: Erin Clotfelter Updated: August 1, 2011 - 9:31 AM

Finally!  A big ol' platform from which to plot my world domination! Well, not really. I may love to share my point of view (don't we all) but I have no designs on world domination.  (I would however like to master the art of sorting recyclables, but that's for another day.)

As I'm figuring my way around this new space, there are some things I thought I'd share a little about myself (in no particular order):

I am a mom. A Stay at Home Mom. A SAHM. I worked for Target (stores, not HQ) for over 15 years until I left the company in January to stay home with my three sons after my 2 year old twins were diagnosed with Autism in December of 2010. The SAHMs vs Working Moms debate holds no water with me, I've done both. At the end of the day, we're all moms and we all have our hands full.

I live in Minneapolis. My family and I recently moved from St. Anthony West to Kingfield. I have learned two things since moving across this fine city. My neighbors are terrific gardeners, every single one of them* and, Sun Street Breads has pretty much put my husband out of the biscuit making business on Sunday mornings.

I like to eat good food and drink good beer. We are currently on the hunt for a neighborhood place to call ours. We were able to discover Northeast before kids were even a blip on our radar and it's a whole new ballgame now.  A recent trip to the Blackbird Cafe has left us with a bad taste in our mouths (we *want* to love it, but the vibe just left us feeling...unwelcome) and although The Lowbrow fills our family dining needs, we need someplace with a drool-worthy tap list.

I am pro Minneapolis Public Schools. I had no idea I'd be thrust into dealing with schools this early, but here we are. I cannot tell you the number of times the people in our building have gone above and beyond for my kids in the past 7 months. And yes, I know 7 months isn't really a lot, but as a special needs parent I have heard all of the horror stories in dealing with schools and I am happy to have gotten this far with nothing but positive things (and progress for my kids!).

I'm kind of obsessed with Social Media. Twitter. Facebook. Pinterest. Google+.

I have a few crunchy tendencies, but only a few. I cloth diaper part-time. I breastfeed my youngest and will continue to do so until he self-weans, which may or may not be soon (he turns 1 on Thursday!). I try to use green cleaning products as much as I can but I still love my bleach. I love the idea of eating local and supporting local businesses but it usually translates into skipping the chains when we dine out, we have a hard time bringing this one all the way home on our grocery budget. We like to drag out the wagon and the Ergo and walk the neighborhood as much as we can but I could never live without my car.

I am a blogger. I blog at The Slacker Mom. I have been blogging for years, I am not afraid of comments (and judging by the comments left for the last Mom who dared to tread these un-moderated waters, I think a thick steel skin is in order). My voice is no less valid because I am a blogger or a Mom (or a blogging mom at that!) or because I talk about motherhood or any number of parenting related things.  Let's all keep it respectful, shall we?  

So, that is me in a 600 word nutshell. I plan on hanging around for awhile, jumping in whenever I feel like I've got something to say. Stick around, make yourselves comfortable, introduce yourselves! How can I make my neighbors not wince at the sight of my acorn covered lawn? Who's got the best beer list in Southwest? Where can I follow you on Twitter?

*Sorry neighbors, I'm a terrible gardener. I promise to try harder!


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters