Tag Archives: Blog Carnival

Dear Children

Welcome to the May 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting With or Without Extended Family

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how relatives help or hinder their parenting. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

To my dear children:

By now, you have grown and started the path to your own families.  You’ve felt the thrill of a positive pregnancy test and heard that sweet first heartbeat over the Doppler.  Or, you’re still trying and working and praying for these things.

Whatever the reason why you’re reading this, I have a reason for writing.  This letter is solemn promise to be with you as much or as little as you need me.  This letter is my promise to support you, to stand by you, and to care for your needs how you need them cared for.  This letter is my promise to never leave you feeling alone in this world of parenting.

I’ve already been here.  I’ve already cried tears of loneliness.  I’ve already felt as though there was no one who wanted to just listen to me.  I don’t want you to feel as though I don’t care, because I do.  I care more than you will ever know.  Your hurt is my hurt, just as your joy is mine as well.

In my early days of parenting you, I could not have felt more alone.  The choices your father and I made were not championed by our families and many of our friends.  Home birth?  Foolish.  Breastfeeding?  A waste of time.  Cloth diapers?  A fad.  I would say to your father that I wished we weren’t so alone.  I would say to your father that I was pretty sure there was something we were supposed to be learning from the ache of loneliness when there was no one we could be candid with about our lives.  He would tell me that perhaps it was for you.

As long as I am alive, you have someone to come to.  I will listen.  I will empathize.  I will offer advice when you ask.  I will be sensitive to your needs, the needs of your spouse, and the needs of your children.  Even if I disagree, I will respect you.  I dreamed of this as a new mother and it is my gift to you.  Never feel as though you cannot share whatever burdens your heart.  There are no questions too stupid; I’ve probably already been the first person on the record books to call their pediatrician at 4 in the morning because I was certain you were dying of liver failure.

I love you.  I support you.  Between us is a safe space; one that I hope you will always feel comfortable to enter and call on my (and your father’s) experience, strength and devotion.  We love you.

Mama

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon May 8 with all the carnival links.)

  • Dealing With Unsupportive Grandparents — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, The Pistachio Project tells what to do when your child’s grandparents are less than thrilled about your parenting choices.
  • Parenting With Extended Family — Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy shares the pros and cons of parenting with extended family…
  • Parental Support for an AP Mama — Meegs at A New Day talks about the invaluable support of her parents in her journey to be an AP mama.
  • Priceless GrandparentsThat Mama Gretchen reflects on her relationship with her priceless Grammy while sharing ways to help children preserve memories of their own special grandparents.
  • Routines Are Meant To Be Broken — Olga at Around The Birthing Ball urges us to see Extended Family as a crucial and necessary link between what children are used to at home and the world at large.
  • It Helps To Have A Village – Even A Small One — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses how she has flourished as a mother due to the support of her parents.
  • The Orange Week — Erika at Cinco de Mommy lets go of some rules when her family finally visits extended family in San Diego.
  • One Size Doesn’t Fit All — Kellie at Our Mindful Life realizes that when it comes to family, some like it bigger and some like it smaller.
  • It Takes a Family — Alicia at What’s Next can’t imagine raising a child without the help of her family.
  • A new foray into family — As someone who never experienced close extended family, Lauren at Hobo Mama wrestles with how to raise her kids — and herself — to restart that type of community.
  • My Mama Rocks! — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment is one lucky Mama to have the support and presence of her own awesome Mama.
  • Embracing Our Extended Family — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares 7 ideas for nurturing relationships with extended family members.
  • Doing Things Differently — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares how parenting her children far away from extended family improved her confidence in her choices.
  • Snapshots of love — Caroline at stoneageparent describes the joys of sharing her young son’s life with her own parents.
  • Parenting with Relies – A mixed bagUrsula Ciller shares some of her viewpoints on the pros and cons of parenting with relatives and extended family.
  • Tante and Uncles — How a great adult sibling relationship begets a great relationship with aunt and uncles from Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy.
  • Tips for Traveling With Twins — Megan at the Boho Mama shares some tips for traveling with infant twins (or two or more babies!).
  • Parenting passed through the generations — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about the incredible parenting resource that is her found family, and how she hopes to continue the trend.
  • My Family and My Kids — Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders whether she distrusts her family or if she is simply a control freak.
  • Parenting with a Hero — Rachel at Lautaret Bohemiet reminisces about the relationship she shared with her younger brother, and how he now shares that closeness in a relationship with her son.
  • Text/ended Family — Kenna of A Million Tiny Things wishes her family was around for the Easter egg hunt… until she remembers what it’s actually like having her family around.
  • Two Kinds of Families — Adrienne at Mommying My Way writes about how her extended family is just as valuable to her mommying as her church family.
  • My ‘high-needs’ child and ‘strangers’ — With a ‘high-needs’ daughter, aNonyMous at Radical Ramblings has had to manage without the help of family or friends, adapting to her daughter’s extreme shyness and allowing her to socialise on her own terms.
  • Our Summer Tribe — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger shares a love of her family’s summer reunion, her secret to getting the wisdom of the “village” even as she lives 1,000 miles away.
  • My Life Boat {Well, One of Them} — What good is a life boat if you don’t get it? Grandparents are a life boat MomeeeZen loves!
  • Dear Children — In an open letter to her children, Laura at Pug in the Kitchen promises to support them as needed in her early days of parenting.
  • Yearning for Tribal Times — Ever had one of those days where everything seems to keep going wrong? Amy at Anktangle recounts one such day and how it inspired her to think about what life must’ve been like when we lived together in large family units.
  • I don’t have a village — Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama wishes she had family nearby but appreciates their support and respect.
  • Trouble With MILs– Ourselves? — Jaye Anne at Wide Awake Half Asleep explains how her arguments with her mother-in-law may have something to do with herself.
  • A Family Apart — Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings writes about the challenges, and the benefits, of building a family apart from relatives.
  • First Do No Harm — Zoie at TouchstoneZ asks: How do you write about making different parenting choices than your own family experience without criticizing your parents?
  • Military Family SeparationAmy Willa shares her feelings about being separated from extended family during her military family journey.
  • Forging A Village In The Absence Of One — Luschka from Diary of a First Child writes about the importance of creating a support network, a village, when family isn’t an option.
  • Respecting My Sister’s Parenting Decisions — Dionna at Code Name: Mama‘s sister is guest posting on the many roles she has as an aunt. The most important? She is the named guardian, and she takes that role seriously.
  • Multi-Generational Living: An Exercise in Love, Patience, and Co-Parenting — Boomerang Mama at The Other Baby Book shares her experience of moving back in with Mom and Dad for 7 months, and the unexpected connection that followed.
  • A Heartfelt Letter to Family: Yes, We’re Weird, but Please Respect Us Anyway — Sheila of A Living Family sincerely expresses ways she would appreciate her extended family’s support for her and her children, despite their “weird” parenting choices.
  • The nuclear family is insane! — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle is grateful for family support, wishes her Mum lived closer, and feels an intentional community would be the ideal way to raise her children.

 

Wiped away

Welcome to the April 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Personal Care

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories, tips, and struggles relating to their children’s personal care choices.

 

Since we’re talking about cleanliness this month during the carnival, I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk about our diaper wipe solution.  When I first started using cloth diapers and wipes, I just rinsed the wipe (at that time a plain washcloth) with water and wiped Liam off.  I felt like he was always red and as he got older, he started to complain about the washcloths being too “hard”.  Line drying cotton loop washcloths wasn’t the best idea in hindsight.

With the birth of my daughter, I made a bunch of wipes from old receiving blankets and made a simple wash with just plain water.  She was ok with it, but in time I started to realize that as she started to teeth, she might have the same trouble with diaper rash as Liam did.  In talking with a friend, she told me how she just mixed together her own concoction and used it with her cloth diapers.  No problems with absorption or staining or anything.  I mixed my very own batch that night and have used it ever since.  Sylvia will be 1 this weekend and she has yet to have an official case of diaper rash and even after 4 rounds of antibiotics, she hasn’t had any diaper troubles!  I owe it all to a few drops of tea tree oil… so without further ado, if you’ve never made your own diaper wipe solution, this is simple enough that you can whip this up in less time than it’s taken to read these 2 paragraphs.

Wipes Solution

  • 2 cups hot water
  • a small squirt of baby shampoo
  • 2-5 drops tea tree oil
  • 1 drop baby oil
Place all the ingredients in a squirt bottle and shake well to mix.  Apply liberally to cloth wipes and launder with your diapers as needed.

 

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon April 10 with all the carnival links.)

 

Only make promises you can keep

 

Welcome to the March 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting With Special Needs

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how we parent despite and because of challenges thrown our way. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


 

This month’s carnival is on the topic of  special needs.  I have the blessing of a healthy home.  My kids have no major health issues and I’m thankful to only have the minor inconvenience of teething symptoms or colds here and there.   To be completely honest, I’m more grateful than most for the health of my family because I had the unique experience of growing up in a home with a chronically ill parent.  My home was a natural home and so life was lived with the goal of not only controling, but healing my mother’s condition with raw juicing, supplements, trips to the naturopath and the absence of wheat, dairy, sugar and meat in our diet.

My mother was diagnosed with Lupus as a young adult.  Her journals from that time period have detailed records of what she ate and how she felt as a result.  It seemed that every little stress in her life impacted her health and I find it amazing that in the early months of her marriage to my father, her symptoms were much abated.  In light of that, I do truly believe in the power of true joy and peace.  She had a rather uneventful pregnancy and delivery with me, but was unable to produce milk.  Considering the medications she was taking at the time, I’m ok with her “giving up” and feeding me formula at 2 months.  I’ve had my own struggles to produce enough milk, so her journal entries are heartbreaking for me to read knowing how painful it can be to feel as though you aren’t caring for your child.

A few years later, my mother had a seizure and went into premature labor with my brother.  He was born 10 weeks early and due to their complications, both my mother and baby brother spent many weeks in the hospital.  Lupus is an autoimmune disease.  As with any chronic illness, there will be periods of time when the patient is healthy and gets to live life normally, and then there are the inevitable periods of time when the patient cannot escape from the reality of how ill they are.  In my mother’s case, when she was healthy, she was healthy and we got to live like every other family out there.  But when she was ill, she was very, very ill.

As a result of her illness and me being the oldest child, I had an early education in housekeeping.  My mother taught me at a young age how to do the laundry, clean the house and make simple meals.  My grandmothers would come to help out and drive us to our activities while Mom was sick or in the hospital, but I do remember feeling a little more in control of life since I knew how to care for our home before I was even old enough to stay home alone.  When I was a freshman in high school, my mother became ill enough that she needed to be on dialysis 3 times a week.   In the next few years, my mother was hospitalized on a regular basis and spent countless hours getting treatments or at doctor’s offices.  My senior year in high school, the adoption of my youngest brother was finalized and we added another member to the family.  With the addition of my youngest brother, I got to watch my parents go back through the parenting journey with a toddler and learned a great deal about not only my parents, but how illness changes your perspective on what’s really important.

Exactly 2 months after my wedding day, I was called to the hospital at 5 o’clock in the morning only to arrive moments before they declared Mom dead.  It will be 6 years this May and as I raise my own children, I often wish I could talk to Mom.  She kept a journal detailing our life and the excitement of raising two small children while struggling with her health, but she never wrote down what the solution to a toddler problem was.  My son has the same temperment as I do and often behaves just like Mom wrote that I did… but I have no idea what she did to help diffuse situations.

Even though I am in excellent health and I take specific precautions to make sure my health doesn’t slide, I always have in the back of my mind the possibility of not being around to see my children grow up.  I realize it’s a bit morbid, but it’s been my reality.  In the event that I am not around, I  have very detailed journals, baby books, photo albums and blog entries that are dedicated to my children’s lives.  I never want there to be a question that could have been answered if only I had thought to write it down.  My husband and I have a will and provisional instructions written.  I never want my daughter to have to choose songs for my funeral or wonder if  I would have rathered a scripture from Psalms instead of Romans in my eulogy.  Most of all, growing up in a home with the special circumstances has made me a very purposeful parent.  I make a great effort to create special traditions and rituals.   We make a big deal out of birthdays because I celebrate the chance to have my children and husband in my life for yet another year.  I say “I love you” dozens of times a day.  On the rare occasion that I leave my children in the care of others, I am prompt when picking them up again.  I know what it is like to wait in fear for a parent wondering if something is wrong or if they’re just late.  And I never make a promise I cannot keep.  I know, on a very raw level that I am not in control of how life will play out.  As much as I want to promise I’ll be here in the morning, I never do.  I promise to always love my babies and right now, while they are so little, keeping things in the now is the best thing for them and for me.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon March 13 with all the carnival links.)

Why I used to hide the formula box


Welcome to the February 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Respectful Interactions with Other Parents

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have focused on how we can communicate with other parents compassionately.

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*Heavy sigh*  Interactions between parents can be tricky.  I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve sat in a conversation with my spine tingling with frustration and the urge to jump up and contradict the other mother (typically).  It would seem that in the world of parenting, it’s always one against another.  It’s the moms who have a c-section vs. the natural birthers.  It’s the natural birthers vs. the home birthers.  It’s breast feeding vs. formula feeding.  It’s co-sleeping vs. cribs.  It’s Cry-it-out vs. many, many sleepless nights.  The comparisons extend to schooling, feeding, television time, even inane topics like how much time outdoors your child should spend!

I remember being told that these differences existed and that I’d soon experience them when I was pregnant with my son.  For some silly reason, I thought it wouldn’t be an issue.  Even if I don’t agree with you, I very rarely will broach the topic unless you ask for my opinion.  I don’t really like to argue or debate, so if there’s a difference, I respect it while we are in your home, but I demand the same respect in my own.  I don’t criticize you, so don’t do it to me… I won’t put up with it.  However, 2 and a half years ago, I didn’t feel this way.  Every time someone felt differently for me, I took it personally.

Right now, there is a lovely article directed to mothers who have had c-sections circulating the internet.  It’s popped up in my facebook feed 6 times today.  Some of the comments I’ve read from those I know have been laced with hurt and some have been celebratory that regardless the method, they got to have their sweet babies safely in their arms.  Quite frankly, that’s all it’s really about.  It’s your body and your decision.  You need to make the best decision for yourself.  Just because I had a homebirth, doesn’t mean that I think you’re less of a mother because you have a different scar than I do.   The author very kindly stated that “nothing in life goes as planned”.  It’s true.

After my son’s birth, I suffered from Postpartum Depression.  I don’t know that I’ll ever be completely honest with how awful it was.  PPD is not something you can explain, and I’d never, ever wish it on someone.  During that time, I was struggling with my milk supply.  I thought I was educated on breastfeeding, but looking back on it now, regardless of my education, the perfect storm was circling around me.  Breastfeeding, I’ve been told, can be an amazing experience that some women just adore (and an experience that has been very positive with my daughter).  With my son, I sobbed through almost every feeding.  He would scream and cry.  He was colicky and miserable.  I felt like I was actually going crazy.  With each day that passed, I got more and more depressed and after several weeks of looking into his crib and seeing him as though he were lying in a coffin, I finally sought help.  With that help came medications that couldn’t be taken while breastfeeding.

Life didn’t go as planned.  I came home from the hospital feeling as though every other mother was looking at me and judging me.  Those who were not yet mothers made comments that made me feel as though I were weak.  Older mothers didn’t understand why I couldn’t just “deal” with his colic and move on.  And mothers who were my peers who had never struggled with breastfeeding didn’t get it.  I was so ashamed of having to bottle feed my son that I wouldn’t do it in public.  I actually hid the box of formula so people wouldn’t see it if they visited.  I have only one photo of myself giving him a bottle… I’m crying in it.  During that time, I had friends who were still breastfeeding their babies who were unable to grasp the difference in our lives.  One friend did not speak to me for 3 weeks and quite honestly, our relationship has never fully recovered.  Other friends who had stopped breastfeeding earlier than I did welcomed me with open arms into the circle of moms with bottles.  And there was one friend who stood by me, no matter how many bottles I had to feed in front of her.

That experience had changed how I feel about interactions with parents.  I don’t care how different we are, I will not criticize you.  I may feel differently, and you may realize that we have differences, but I won’t tell you that you are wrong.  Why?  Because for 2 years I felt the pain of someone not handling a difference kindly.  I have friends who have had c-sections or bottle feed or (gasp!) use disposable diapers.  We a

ll get along.  We don’t bicker.  We don’t always agree, but that isn’t what is really important.  I never want anyone to suffer at the hand of my insensitivity.  I could never tell you what to do because I don’t live your life.  You do.  I want to respect you, so I will support you and love on you, no matter how different we are.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon February 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • How to Respond Respectfully to Unwanted Parenting Advice and Judgment — AtNatural Parents Network, Amy (of Peace 4 Parents) offers some ways to deal with parenting advice and criticism, whether it’s from your mom or the grocery store clerk.
  • Judgement is Natural – Just Don’t Condemn — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shared her views on why judgment is unavoidable and why the bigger issue is condemnation.
  • Four Ways To Share Your Parenting Philosophy Gently — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares tips for communicating with fellow parents in a positive, peaceful manner.
  • When Other Parents Disagree With You — Being an attachment parent is hard enough, but when you are Lily, aka Witch Mom, someone who does not enforce gender roles on her kid, who devalues capitalism and materialism, and instead prefers homeschooling and homesteading — you are bound to disagree with someone, somewhere!
  • Mama Bashing — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on the hurt caused on the blogosphere by mama bashing and pleads for a more mindful way of dealing with differences.
  • Accentuate the Positive — Joella at Fine and Fair shares how she manages interactions with the parents she encounters in her work as a Parent Coach and Substance Abuse Counselor by building trusting relationships and affirming strengths.
  • The politics of mothers – keys to respectful interactions with other parents — Tara from MUMmediaoffers great tips for handling the inevitable conflict of ideas and personalities in parenting/mother’s groups, etc.
  • Trying to build our village — Sheila at A Gift Universe tells how she went from knowing no other moms in her new town to building a real community of mothers.
  • Internet Etiquette in the Mommy Wars — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses how she handles heated topics in the “Mommy-space” online.
  • Parenting with Convictions — Sarah at Parenting God’s Children encourages love and support for fellow parents and their convictions.
  • How To Be Respectful Despite Disagreeing On Parenting Styles… — Jenny at I’m a Full-Time Mummyshares her two cents’ worth on how to have respectful interactions with other parents despite disagreeing on parenting styles.
  • Public Relations — Momma Jorje touches on keeping the peace when discussing parenting styles.
  • Navigating Parenting Politics — Since choosing an alternative parenting style means rejecting the mainstream, Miriam at The Other Baby Book shares a few simple tips that can help avoid hurt feelings.
  • Hiding in my grace cave — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants to forget that not all parents are as respectful and tolerant as the people with whom she now surrounds herself.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting – Respectful Interactions with Other Parents — Wolfmother at Fabulous Mama Chronicles explores how her attitude has changed regarding sharing information and opinions with others and how she now chooses to keep the peace during social outings.
  • Empathy and respect — Helen at zen mummy tries to find her zen in the midst of the Mummy Wars.
  • Not Holier Than Thou — Amyables at Toddler in Tow muses about how she’s learned to love all parents, despite differences, disagreements, and awkward conversations.
  • Nonviolent Communication and Unconditional Love — Wendylori at High Needs Attachment reflects on the choice to not take offense as the key to honest and open communication.
  • Respectful Parenting As a Way of Life — Sylvia at MaMammalia writes about using her parenting philosophy as a guide to dealing with other parents who make very different choices from her.
  • Homeschooling: Why Not? — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how parents can often make homeschooling work for their family even if, at first glance, it may seem daunting.
  • If You Can’t Say Something Nice… — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells her philosophy for online and offline interactions … a philosophy based primarily on a children’s movie.
  • Different Rules for Different Families — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how differences between families affect our children, and how that can be a good thing.
  • Respectful Interaction With Other Parents — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares the ways she surrounds herself with a like-minded support network, so that she can gently advocate in her dealings with those whose opinions on parenting differ vastly from her own.
  • Parenting as a mirror — Rather than discrediting others’ parenting styles, Kate Wicker discusses why she tries to focus on doing right rather than being right — and why she’s also not afraid to show others that she’s a heartfelt but imperfect mama just trying to be the best mom for her family.
  • The One Thing {Most} Parents Have In Common: They Try Their Best — Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry finds interacting with other parents easier once she accepts that they are all just trying their best, just like her.
  • Finding your mama-groove: 5 ways to eliminate judge/be judged metality — MudpieMama reveals 5 ways of thinking that have helped her find her mama-groove and better navigate tricky parenting discussions.
  • Speaking Up For Those Who Can’t — We’ve all had those moments when someone said something hurtful or insensitive, or downright rude that just shocks you to your core, and you’re stunned into silence. Afterwards, you go home and think “Gosh, I wish I said…” This post by Arpita at Up Down, And Natural is for all the breastfeeding mamas who have thought “Gosh, I wish I said…”
  • Thank you for your opinion — Gaby at Tmuffin shares her go-to comment when she feels like others are judging her parenting style.
  • Mending — A playground conversation about jeans veers off course until a little mending by Kenna at Million Tiny Things is needed.
  • The Thing You Don’t Know — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about what she believes is one of the most important things you can consider when it comes to compassionate communication with other parents.
  • 3 Tips for Interacting with Other Parents Respectfully When You Disagree with Them — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares what she has learned about respectful interactions on her parenting journey.
  • Peacefully Keeping My Cool: Quotes from Ana — How do you keep your cool? Ana from Pandamoly shares some of her favorite retorts and conversation starters when her Parenting Ethos comes into question.
  • Kind Matters — Carrie at Love Notes Mama discusses how she strives to be the type of person she’d want to meet.
  • Doing it my way but respecting your highway. — Terri from Child of the Nature Isle is determined to walk with her family on the road less travelled whether you like it or not!
  • Saying “I’m Right and You’re Wrong” Seldom Does Much To Improve Your Cause… — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment writes about how living by example motivates her actions and interactions with others.
  • Have another kid and you won’t care — Cassie of There’s a Pickle in My Life, after having her second child, knows exactly how to respond to opposing advice.
  • Ten Tips to Communicate Respectfully, Even When You Disagree — What if disagreements with our partners, our children or even complete strangers ultimately led to more harmony and deeper connections? They can! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares ten tips to strengthen our relationships in the midst of conflict.
  • A Little Light Conversation — Zoie at TouchstoneZ explains why respect needs to be given to every parent unconditionally.
  • Why I used to hide the formula box — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen finally talks about how judgement between parents changed her views on how she handles differences in parenting.
  • Assumptions — Nada at minimomist discusses how not everyone is able to nurse, physically, mentally, or emotionally.
  • Shushing Your Inner Judgey McJudgerson — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction knows that judging others is easy to do, but recognizing that we all parent from different perspectives takes work.
  • Respectfully Interacting with Others Online — Lani at Boobie Time Blog discusses the importance of remaining respectful behind the disguise of the internet.
  • Presumption of Good Will — Why — and how — Crunchy Con Mommy is going to try to assume the best of people she disagrees with on important issues.
  • Being Gracious with Parenting Advice — Tips for giving and receiving parenting advice with grace from Lisa at My World Edenwild.
  • Explain, Smile, Escape — Don’t know what to do when you’re confronted by another parent who disagrees with you? Amy at Anktangle shares a story from her life along with a helpful method for navigating these types of tricky situations (complete with a handy flow chart!).
  • Balancing Cultures and Choices — Dulce de leche discusses the challenges of walking the tightrope between generations while balancing cultural and family ties.
  • Linky – Parenting Peacefully with Social Media — Hannabert’s Mom discusses parenting in a social media world.

Changes

 

Welcome to the January 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Experiments in Natural Family Living

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have reported on weeklong trials to make their lives a little greener. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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It started because I had an appointment with my chiropractor in early December. I hadn’t been in to see him since a few days before I had Sylvia, so I was in serious need of an adjustment. The point was brought up that I really needed to take better care of myself, because as the mom, if I fall apart, the whole family suffers. I drove home in a sort of stupor. My mother died far too young from a chronic illness that brought a lot of pain to my family. Suddenly, it seemed that although I had gotten myself back on track through the October Unprocessed Challenge, I just wasn’t where I needed to be. I’m an all or nothing sort of person, so picking one area of my life to change isn’t easy for me.

I decided to change 3 things in my life: my shampoo, my makeup and my diet. I was about out of shampoo and foundation, so I wasn’t going to be wasting anything. I hate waste. I used be a vegetarian, so this change wasn’t going to be as hard as it was going to be an exercise in flexibility. My husband and son weren’t really on board with the elimination of meat, specifically beef. In the end, I decided that for myself, I’d only eat meat at supper when the rest of the family was eating, unless I had already planned a vegetarian meal.

Shampoo was the first experiment since I got to that one right away.  I decided that as this was such a major change since our hair and scalps would need to acclimate, I would allow 2-3 weeks for the experiment.  I checked out a post on The Crunchy Chicken and in reading through the comments, discovered that Deanna suggested trying shampoo bars from a company located about an hour away from my home. Thrilled, I perused the website and was even more delighted to note that they offered samples of the bars so one can determine which formula is the best suited for them.  I ordered 2 kinds and sat back to wait.  In the meantime, I used my children’s shampoo from Burt’s Bees since I had had to stop using the shampoo my husband used because in November, I suddenly developed a rash around my hairline after my showers.   The shampoo bars arrived in the mail a few days later and I eagerly tore into them.  Honestly, I debated whether or not I should just hop in the shower again so I could wash my hair right away.  I controlled myself and waited until the next day.  When it came down to it, washing my hair with the shampoo bar was… odd.  It lathered nicely, but my hair felt so strange.  I couldn’t run my fingers through it, with the hair slipping easily through.  Instead, it felt squeaky and thick.  I let my hair air dry and couldn’t keep my hands out of it.  It felt thick and fluffy and just plain healthy.  I only tried the one type of shampoo bar, since it was working and I didn’t want to add another variable into my experiment.  My husband tried both bars willy-nilly.

For about 3 days, there was a honeymoon period.  I loved my hair.  I loved that it wasn’t stripped of all the goodness and I wasn’t piling chemicals on my head every morning.  Then, I realized that my scalp was peeling all over the place.  Not like dandruff, but like I had a bad sunburn.  It was awful.  Bits of my scalp were everywhere.  For years, I’d washed my hair with the same industrial strength dandruff shampoo my husband used, conditioned it and went on my merry way.  I had no idea the damage I was doing to my scalp and the dependence my scalp was developing on the chemicals.   I talked to a friend who also used a shampoo bar and did some research online and came up with a solution.  Mixing together sea salt, tea tree oil and apple cider vinegar I made an exfolliant for my scalp that would not only scrub the scalp, but also aid in the healing process while my skin adjusted to not being bombarded with chemicals.  Finally, I added a vinegar rinse to condition my hair.  The day I added these products, my hair was back to being the way I remember it as a child.  Thick, curly and soft.  As long as I maintain these steps, which take all of 45 seconds, I’m pleased with my hair and scalp.  By the end of week 2, I was (and still am) convinced to keep the shampoo bars in our shower.  I’ve never tried the second kind I bought.  In this case, I found something that worked and I’m happy!

My husband’s hair?  I have bought that man serious dandruff shampoo for years.  I’ve tried natural shampoos, but nothing seemed to work for him.  I was so wrapped up in my own hair issues that I totally forgot to check in with him and see how things were going until almost a week after we had started.  He reported that he liked both bars of soap, except that since I tend to actually rub the bar on my head it had hair woven into the soap.  His complaint was that everywhere he turns, my hair is there.  What he didn’t complain about, though, was his scalp.  Suddenly, after years of him struggling with a flaking scalp, it was clear.  No more flaking.  No more itching.  Wow.

Next up was my makeup.  Since the foundation was gone, I ordered new from HoneyBee Gardens.  Abbie at the Farmer’s Daughter had mentioned it a while ago in a blog post about her beauty product choices.  I ordered the powdered formula and was very excited to see it arrive in the mail.  It’s the same basic concept as Clinique’s Almost Powder Makeup which I had used in the past.  I’ve tried using natural products in the past and was always put off by cost, texture or a distinct herbal smell.  With this, I smelled nothing.  The texture was one I had used in the past and paid nearly double for.  I also added in the mascara since that week my suddenly began to burn whenever I put on what I had in my makeup bag.  Now, I smell honey whenever I put my mascara on.  My attempt to change the products in my makeup bag was a simple, painless change.

The diet was a much greater challenge than I had imagined.  I was a vegetarian from the time I was 9 all the way until I got married at age 24.  Every now and then, I’d have meat in college, but for the most part, I stuck with my vegetables.  I know how to meal plan as a vegetarian, I know how to grocery shop.  This experience for me, opened my eyes to the staples I grew up with in my cupboards that no longer took up residence in my own.  For instance, I am currently craving an Indian side dish comprised mainly of Dal.  I have no idea where to purchase this in my town.  My parents belonged to a food co-op.  I don’t.  Aside from the cupboard challenges, I realized that I needed to plan a little better so lunch wasn’t goldfish crackers and apples.  And I need to expand my protein sources.  I know I used to live on beans, eggs and cheese, but it’s taking longer than 2 weeks to get my digestive system back in order.  I checked a few books out from the library and am still working my way through them.  Since I’m still nursing, I am relearning some things concerning protein intakes.  The biggest lesson I’ve learned by changing my diet is that breakfast is absolutely essential.  Since I’m not eating a turkey sandwich after Sylvi’s 330am feeding on a regular basis, I can no longer justify coffee only until lunch.  Breakfast has changed my life.  Even just a bowl of Cheerios has an impact on how my day goes.  I have decided that while I won’t be returning to a vegetarian lifestyle, I am going to keep up with the general idea of my experiment.  Since the food I’ve been eating isn’t as heavy, I need to be a little more mindful about what and when I’m eating.  I’m still working out the details, but I’m enjoying trying new recipes and tinkering in the kitchen.

All in all, I’m glad there was the challenge to experiment since that challenge helped me to have a reason to try the shampoo bars and makeup.  And once I got to thinking about how I was changing these things on the outside of my body, it wouldn’t hurt to make a greater effort with what I was putting in my body.  I’ve made a decision that I need to take better care of myself and in order to do that, little steps needed to happen.  The reason why I rarely change course from the normal is because I hate the experimentation.  I don’t like to set up an experiment and then not have a successful outcome.  I was a little anxious starting these experiments.  To tell the truth, I didn’t leave my house for the first 3 days of the shampoo and makeup.  I already am a mother of small children and look like it.  I didn’t want my hair to add any more fodder to the thought that I don’t take care of myself as well as I should.  As a final result of this experiment, I’ve decided to keep the shampoo and makeup, be flexible with my diet and add in regular sessions of yoga to help strengthen my back.  I’m anxious to continue these changes in the new year and make even more as I seek to eliminate the toxins in our home, plant our first garden at this home and expand my culinary skills!

***

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 10 with all the carnival links.)

 

Kitchen Kids

Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids in the Kitchen
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how kids get involved in cooking and feeding. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


There are 2 children in my kitchen.  One of them begs to bake every chance he gets and the other has recently learned to love solid food.  Both of them are complete messes frequently.  I love to watch Liam as he tells Sylvia that she’ll “wuv” her applesauce.  And I love to watch Sylvia as she drools over whatever Liam is eating.  I love to watch her try as hard as she can to hold a spoon like he does and fit it into her mouth regardless of what’s on it.
My kitchen is a place that we all love.  My toddler lives to help me stir, fill and eat.  My infant loves to watch and drool.  And someday, there will be 3 of us having dance parties while we wait for the muffins to bake.

Half Pint Pumpkin Muffins
1/2 cup vegetable oil


1 1/2 cups sugar


1/3 cups water


1 cups pumpkin purée


2 eggs


1 ½ cups flour plus 2 Tbsp. flour


1 tsp baking soda


1/2 tsp nutmeg


1/2 tsp cinnamon



Mix all of the ingredients together and preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a mini muffin tin and spoon in the batter.  This recipe makes about 3 dozen muffins.  You can add a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar to the top of the muffins before you bake.  Bake for 22 minutes.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon November 8 with all the carnival links.)

  • Baking & letting go — Cooking with kids can be a mess. Nadia at Red White & GREEN Mom is learning to relax, be patient, and have fun with the process.
  • Family feeding in Child of Mine — Lauren at Hobo Mama reviews Ellyn Satter’s suggestions for appropriate feeding and points out where her family has problems following through.
  • Children with Knives! (And other Kitchen Tools) — Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy teaches her children how to safely use knives.
  • “Mommy, Can I Help?” — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment writes about how she lets her kiddos help out with cooking, despite her {sometimes} lack of patience!
  • Solids the Second Time Around — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes recounts her experiences introducing solids to her second child.
  • The Adventure of Toddler TastebudsThe Accidental Natural Mama shares a few things that helped her daughter develop an adventurous palate.
  • A Tradition of Love — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy looks forward to sharing the kitchen traditions passed on from her mom and has already found several ways to involve baby in the kitchen.
  • The Very Best Classroom — Alicia C. at McCrenshaw’s Newest Thoughts reveals how her kitchen is more than a place to make food – it’s a classroom!
  • Raising Little Chefs — Chef Mike guest posts on Natural Parents Network about how he went from a guy who couldn’t cook to a chef who wanted to teach his boys to know how the food we love is made.
  • In the Kitchen with my kids — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine shares a delicious soup recipe that her kids love.
  • Papa, the Pancake Artist — Papa’s making an incredible breakfast over at Our Mindful Life.
  • Kids won’t eat salad? Try this one! — Tat at Mum in Search is sharing her children’s favourite salad recipe.
  • Recipe For a Great Relationship — Cooking with kids is about feeding hearts as well as bellies, writes Hannah at Wild Parenting.
  • The Ritual of Mealtimes — Syenna at Gently Parenting Twins writes about the significance of mealtimes in her family’s daily rhythm.
  • Kid, Meet Food. Food, Kid. — Alburnet at What’s Next? panicks about passing on her food “issues” to her offspring.
  • Growing Up in the Kitchen — Cassie at There’s a Pickle in My Life shares how her son is growing up in the kitchen.
  • Harvesting Corn and History — From Kenna at School Garden Year: The kids in the school garden harvest their corn and learn how much history grows in their food.
  • My Guiding Principles for Teaching my Child about Food — Tree at Mom Grooves uses these guiding principles to give her daughter a love of good food and an understanding of nutrition as well as to empower her to make the best choices for her body.
  • Kitchen Control — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro writes about her struggles to relinquish control in the kitchen to her children.
  • Food — Emma at Your Fonder Heart lets her seven month old teach her how to feed a baby.
  • Kitchen Fun? — Adrienne at Mommying My Way questions how much fun she can have in a non-functional kitchen, while trying to remain positive about the blessings of cooking for her family.
  • Kitchen Adventures — Erica at ChildOrganics shares fun ways to connect with your kids in the kitchen.
  • Kids in the Kitchen: Finding the Right Tools — Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings shares some of her favorite child-sized kitchen gadgets and where to find them.
  • The Kitchen Classroom — Laura at Authentic Parenting knows that everything your kids want to learn is at the end of the ladle.
  • Kids in the Kitchen — Luschka from Diary of a First Child talks about the role of the kitchen in family communication and shares fun kitchen activities for the under two.
  • Our Kitchen is an Unschooling Classroom. — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle explores the many ways her kitchen has become a rich environment for learning.
  • Montessori-Inspired Food Preparation for Preschoolers — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares lots of resources for using Montessori food preparation activities for young children in the kitchen.
  • My Little Healthy Eater — Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares her research on what is the best first food for babies, and includes a healthy and yummy breakfast recipe.
  • Two Boys and Papa in the Kitchen: Recipe for Disaster?MudpieMama shares all about her fears, joys and discoveries when the boys and handsome hubby took over the kitchen.
  • Food choices, Food treats — Henrietta at Angel Wings and Herb Tea shares her family’s relationship with food.
  • learning to eat — Catherine at learner mummy reflects on little M’s first adventures with food.
  • The Night My 7-Year-Old Made Dinner — Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! shares how her 7-year-old daughter surprised everyone by turning what started as an idea to play restaurant into pulling off making supper for her family.
  • Cooking With a High-Needs Toddler — Sylvia at MaMammalia describes how Montessori-inspired activities and a bit of acceptance have helped her overcome hurdles in cooking while caring for a “high-needs” child.
  • Kids in the Kitchen – teaching healthy food choices — Brenna at Almost All The Truth shares her belief in the importance of getting kids into the kitchen using her favorite cookbook for kids to develop healthy food choices now and hopefully into the future.
  • Make Milk, Not War — Tamara at Tea for Three remembers the daily food fights as she struggled to feed a picky eater.
  • teaching baby birds about good food. — Sarah at Small Bird on Fire writes about the ways in which her family chooses to gently teach their son how to make wise food decisions.
  • 5 Ways to Enhance Your Baby or Young Toddler’s Relationship with Food — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares simple ways to give your child a healthy beginning to her lifelong relationship with food.
  • Toddler at the Table: 10 Creative Solutions — Moorea at Mamalady shares tips for preventing meal-time power struggles.
  • How My Child Takes Responsibility During His Mealtime… — Jenny @ I’m a full-time mummy shares how she teaches and encourages her 32 months old son on adopting good manners and responsibilities during his mealtimes…
  • megan — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares six tips for overcoming some of the the difficulties of cooking with multiple young sous chefs, and a recipe they all can agree on!
  • How BLW has made me a better parent — Zoe at Mummykins shares how baby-led weaning has changed her approach to parenting.
  • My Budding Chef — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom is no cook but is happy that her daughter has shown an inclination and manages to whip up yummy goodies for their family.
  • Kids in the Kitchen: An Activity for Every Age — Gaby from Tmuffin describes how she keeps her kids busy in the kitchen, whether they are one week old or two years old.
  • The Phantastically Mutlipurposed Phyllo — Ana at Pandamoly shares how Phyllo is used to create enticing dishes at home! Anything can be made into a Struedel!
  • Kitchen Kids — Laura from A Pug in the Kitchen shares her children’s most favorite recipe to make, experience and eat.
  • Independence vs. Connection in the Kitchen: won’t you please get yourself your own snack already? — Lisa at Organic Baby Atlanta wishes her daughter would just go make a mess in the kitchen. But her daughter only wants to do it together.
  • Grandma Rose’s Kitchen — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter reminisces about her childhood and dreams of filling her kitchen with people, love, noise, and messes.
  • Healthy Food Choices for Kids — Jorje offers one way to encourage children to make their own healthy food choices at MommaJorje.com.
  • Cooking food to thrive rather than survive — Phoebe at Little Tinker Tales is trying to foster a lifetime of good food habits by teaching her children about the importance of avoiding junk, cooking healthy meals, and learning about the whole food process.
  • Evolution of a self-led eater — Sheila at A Gift Universe shares the story of how her son grew from nursing around the clock to eating everything in sight, without her having to push.
  • 10 Ways Tiny Helps In The Kitchen — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama explores the ways in which her toddler actively participates in kitchen-related activities.
  • The Complexity of Feeding a Child — Feeding children a healthy diet is no straight-forward task, but Lisa at My World Edenwild shares some general guidelines to help your child thrive.
  • Lactation CookiesThat Mama Gretchen shares a fun recipe that will benefit both mamas and babies!
  • The Best Books and Websites to Inspire Kids in the Kitchen — Need inspiration to get your kids in the kitchen? Dionna at Code Name: Mama rounds up some of the best books and websites that can serve as a source for ideas, recipes, and cooking with littles fun.
  • A 4-year-old’s smoothie recipe — Jen at Grow With Graces and her son set out to make a smoothie without the usual ingredients. She let him improvise. See how it turned out.
  • Independent Food Preparation (My Toddler Can Do That?) — Megan at Montessori Moments shares simple ways for children to prepare their own healthy snacks.
  • Follow Your Gut — Amy at Anktangle shares her philosophy about intuitive eating, and how she’s trying to foster her son’s trust in his own inner wisdom when he feels hungry.
  • A TODDLER-STYLE LUNCH + RECIPEManic Mrs. Stone photographs how to have messy fun during lunchtime with a helpful toddler.

Cloth beyond the Diaper

We live in the kind of home where people spill something and when searching for a paper towel are confused as to why there aren’t any.  When I hand them a rag, they tend to blink in confusion before asking me if it’s actually ok if they “ruin” my rag.  Ever since my husband and I got married, there’s been cloth in this house.  We use cloth napkins I made from fabric scraps lying around from unrealized projects and rags that came from set of jersey sheets.  Everything else that we use to clean the house is reusable cotton or microfiber.  So when we chose to do cloth diapers, it made the most sense for us.  I then went one step further and added cloth wipes to my laundry piles.  
Last spring after almost a whole successful year of cloth diapering, I was really getting used to not throwing anything away in the house.  We were able to switch to a smaller trash pickup and with the money we saved, I put that into a recycling pick up from our home so that I didn’t have to haul my piles of recyclables to the next town over.  Then, I made an investment in plates and cups that we could reuse for all our parties.  A few months later, I found myself sewing reusable produce bags and birthday decorations.  Successes from both of those endeavors inspired me to try new food preservation ideas, baking more of my foods from scratch and learning to be less wasteful by relying more on myself than on conventional products.

Cloth diapering for me has been just a continuation of a frugal lifestyle.  I’m always on the look-out for new, green options for our home and I’m hoping that by keeping them in the forefront of our minds it will always be a part of our lives.  I’m proud to raise my children in a home with cloth.  Be it wiping up spills, covering a heiny or washing windows, cloth makes my life green and frugal.  Just like I like it.

Beyond the Diaper – Inspiration and Resources for Reusables

  • Cloth wipes are a perfect addition to your diapering routine.  I had a few extra receiving blankets that were worn to the perfect softness and in a mere 10 minutes trimmed those blankets into a pile of wipes.  I kept mine super simple and just cut squares out of the fabric, but you can bind the edges with contrasting thread.  Simple Organic has a wonderful tutorial on how to make and store your new wipes!  Not a lot of time or spare flannel?  Head on over to Etsy for a wide range of styles and fabrics.
  • If you’re interested in making the leap to cloth wipes for the whole family, Crunchy Chicken is responsible for everything I know about reusable wipes in the bathroom.  
  • Once I was fully invested in bringing my own bags to the grocery, I thought it was time to cut out the produce bags as well.  I found good inspiration and ideas in this post from Mindful Momma, but in the end, wound up making something more like what I found on Etsy.  I was able to find cotton mesh fabric and used scraps from a misguided attempt at curtains to make them stand out in my cart.
  • There are a lot of tutorials out there for UNpaper towels, but I’m here to tell you it’s as easy as finding some absorbent fabric and cutting to the desired size.  You can serge the edges if you’d like or leave them free.  In my case, I had a jersey knit sheet set with a giant hole in it thanks to my dog.  Instead of throwing the set away, I cut both the sheets and the pillowcases into large squares and have them stashed all over the house in baskets just waiting for a spill. 
  • If you’re looking for a way to ditch the plastic baggies as you head out on your picnics this summer, here’s a great tutorial for sewing reusable wrappers that will add some fun to your lunches!

ABBA said it!

Welcome to the October Carnival of Natural Parenting: Money Matters
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how finances affect their parenting choices. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
***

As the song goes: I work all night, I work all day to pay the bills I have to pay. We live in a culture that encourages debt and overspending and when Matt and I bought our first home in 2005, we got sucked right into the sparkle of “buy now, pay later”.  But you know, one tiny bill easily spreads and soon you’re thousands of dollars in debt.  At the time, both of us were working full time and I made very good money.  So we continued to buy and spend and get nowhere.  In 2007, I quit my high-paying career track job in an attempt to slow down and be more healthy.  I was driving an hour and a half every day and would take on overtime to the point that I was stressed out, angry and run down.  So, we bought health insurance through Matt’s company and decided to simplify. In the years since then, my income has dropped to a mere 10% of what I had been making when we first got married.  We have eliminated as much debt as possible and don’t spend needlessly.  We have a strict budget and have to maintain it since we don’t have tons of wiggle room.  I work as a tutor in the evenings after the kids go to bed, but other than that, I don’t bring in anything extra.  

So since we aren’t in a position to pay full price for everything, I’ve learned how to economize as much as possible.  If it can be made from scratch, I do it.  And if it isn’t really worth it for me, I buy in bulk.  We do eat local and organic as much as we can, so when figuring out our food budget, I prioritize based on nutritional content.  I’m learning how to coupon so that I don’t have to pay much, if at all for things like toilet paper and dish soap. Saving money has become a lifestyle that began as a necessity and then became a habit and now is something I do without a thought.  I’ve blogged before about my precious laundry line and how I can like a mad woman to save in the winter.  We use an all cash system to keep the budget totals  as an easy reference to remember.  We’ve planned ahead for things like birthday gifts and as morbid as it sounds, funerals.  Our money system isn’t perfect and there are months that we barely squeak by, somehow (mainly by the grace of God) we make it.  Last year, we became owners of my grandmother’s home which needed serious work.  It’s been a long, slow, challenging process, but we’ve done everything in cash.  It’s nice to know that as we look around the house, we only have a mortgage and not credit card bills.  (We still own our starter home, but it is being used a rental property that isn’t exactly a money-maker, but at least keeps us from paying 2 full mortgages.)
I want my children to grow up knowing how to manage their money.  This morning, I was thinking about college… it’s time to start those funds!  Both Matt and I left our educations with loans and I’d like to help my children not to have those debts hanging over their heads as they start their own families.  I’m hopeful that our children will learn how to weather financial storms wisely and gracefully as they watch us.  And maybe someday, we’ll be able to help them as they step out on their own.

***
Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon October 11 with all the carnival links.)

  • Money Matter$ — Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy shares her experiences on several ways to save money as a parent.
  • A different kind of life… — Mrs Green from Little Green Blog shares her utopian life and how it differs from her current one!
  • Show Me The Money! — Arpita of Up, Down & Natural shares her experience of planning for parenting costs while also balancing the financial aspect of infertility treatments.
  • Material v Spiritual Wealth – Living a Very Frugal Life with Kids — Amy at Peace 4 Parents shares her family’s realizations about the differences between material and spiritual wealth.
  • If I Had a Money Tree — Sheila at A Gift Universe lists the things she would buy for her children if money were no object.
  • Financial Sacrifices, Budgets, and the Single Income Family — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at the importance of living within your means, the basics of crafting a budget, and the “real cost” of working outside of the home.
  • Overcoming My Fear of All Things Financial — Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares how she is currently overcoming her fear of money and trying to rectify her ignorance of all things financial.
  • Confessions of a Cheapskate — Adrienne at Mommying My Way admits that her cheapskate tendencies that were present pre-motherhood only compounded post-baby.
  • Money MattersWitch Mom hates money; here’s why.
  • Money? What Money?! — Alicia C. at McCrenshaw’s Newest Thoughts describes how decisions she’s made have resulted in little income, yet a green lifestyle for her and her family.
  • What matters. — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life wishes parenting through play was her only responsibility during the day.
  • Making Ends Meet — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares about being a working mom and natural parent.
  • Poor People, Wealthy Ways — Sylvia at MaMammalia discusses how existing on very little money allows her to set an example of how to live conscientiously and with love.
  • The Green Stuff — Amyables at Toddler In Tow shares how natural parenting has bettered her budget – and her perspective on creating and mothering.
  • Jemma’s Money — Take a sneak peek at That Mama Gretchen’s monthly budget and how Jemma fits into it.
  • 5 Tips for How to Save Time and Money by Eating Healthier — Family meal prep can be expensive and time-consuming without a plan! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares five easy tips for how to make your cooking life (and budget) easier.
  • Belonging in the Countryside — Lack of money led Phoebe at Little Tinker Tales towards natural parenting, but it also heeds her from realizing her dream.
  • Total Disclosure and Total Reform — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl gets down to the nitty gritty of her money problems with hopes that you all can help her get her budget under control.
  • Save Money by Using What You Have — Gaby at Tmuffin is only good with money because she’s lazy, has trouble throwing things away, and is indecisive. Here are some money-saving tips that helped her manage to quit her job and save enough money to become a WAHM.
  • Two Hippos & Ten Euros: A Lesson in BudgetingMudpieMama shares all about how her boys managed a tight budget at a recent zoo outing.
  • ABBA said it — Laura from A Pug in the Kitchen ponders where her family has come from, where they are now and her hopes for her children’s financial future.
  • Money vs. TimeMomma Jorje writes about cutting back on junk, bills, and then ultimately on income as well ~ to gain something of greater value: Time.
  • An Unexpected Cost of Parenting — Moorea at MamaLady shares how medical crises changed how she feels about planning for parenthood.
  • 5 Ways This Stay at Home Mom Saves Money — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares 5 self-imposed guidelines that help her spend as little money as possible.
  • Frugal Parenting — Lisa at My World Edenwild shares 8 ways she saves money and enriches her family’s lives at the same time.
  • Conscious Cash Conscious — Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares her 5 money-conscious considerations that balance her family’s joy with their eco-friendly ideals.
  • Money, Sex and Having it All — Patti at Jazzy Mama explains how she’s willing to give up one thing to get another. (And just for fun, she pretends to give advice on how to build capital in the bedroom.)
  • Money could buy me … a clone? — With no local family to help out, Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama wants childcare so she can take care of her health.
  • Spending IntentionallyCatholicMommy loves to budget! Join her to learn what to buy, what not to buy, and, most importantly, where to buy.
  • New lessons from an allowance — Lauren at Hobo Mama welcomes a follow-up guest post from Sam about the latest lessons their four-year-old’s learned from having an allowance.
  • How to Homeschool without Spending a Fortune — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares tips and links to many resources for saving money while homeschooling from preschool through high school.
  • It’s Not a Baby Crisis. It’s Not Even a Professional Crisis. — Why paid maternity leave, you may ask? Rachael at The Variegated Life has some answers.
  • “Making” Money — Do you like to do-it-yourself? Amy at Anktangle uses her crafty skills to save her family money and live a little greener.
  • Money On My Mind — Luschka at Diary of a First Child has been thinking about money and her relationship with it, specifically how it impacts on her parenting, her parenting choices, and ultimately her lifestyle.
  • Spending, Saving, and Finding a Balance — Melissa at The New Mommy Files discusses the various choices she and her family have made that affect their finances, and finds it all to be worth it in the end.
  • Accounting for Taste — Cassie at There’s a Pickle in My Life shares their budget and talks about how they decided food is the most important item to budget for.
  • Money Matters… But Not Too Much — Mamapoekie at Authentic Parenting shares how her family approaches money without putting too much of a focus onto it.
  • Parenting While Owning a Home Business — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, Lauren at Hobo Mama lays out the pros and cons of balancing parenting with working from home.
  • Crunchy Living is SO Expensive…Or Is It? — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about her biggest objection to natural living – and her surprise at what she learned.
  • Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems — Sarah at Parenting God’s Children shares how a financial accountability partner changed her family’s finances.
  • The Importance of Food Planning — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro discusses how food budgeting and planning has helped her, even if she doesn’t always do it.
  • Kids & Money: Starting an Allowance for Preschoolers — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings discusses her family’s approach and experiences with starting an allowance for preschoolers.

Lately

I know, I know… again with the lack of blog posts.  There’s a lot going on here!  I’m busy with the October Unprocessed challenge and beginning some Tot school work with Liam.  And I’m writing other places!
Sunday, my first Opinion shapers column was in the Mansfield News Journal.  So far, I’ve gotten negative comments, so if you’d like to read and have the desire to leave sometime positive, go for it!  I got an email tonight from a reader and it really made my day to hear that she had appreciated my article.
Today, I guested for Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter.  She’s teaching Physics this year, so I got the chance to write about my sewing skills.

Speaking of which, I made Liam a little apron this afternoon to wear while we cook.  Matt made him a Helping Tower to keep him from falling off the chairs in his excitement to help me.  I’m pretty excited about it and so is he.  So much that at night in his attempts to not go to bed, he asks begs to bake with Mama.  Anything to not miss out on the excitement of staying up late!

Tomorrow is the October Carnival of Natural Parenting.  Our topic is Money Matters and I personally, am really excited to read the other submissions and maybe learn something new.  Or even get some couponing tips.  I don’t know about you, but I get nervous thinking about stacking coupons.  You know that show on TLC about extreme couponing and how those people are always freaking out at the check out over their totals?  Yeah.  Their totals are in the hundreds to thousands.  I stacked coupons for the first time for toilet paper last week and was sweating in anxiety that I wasn’t doing it right.  Clearly, I could use a few more tips!

Dance Party Parenting

Welcome to the September Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Through Play
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how challenging discipline situations can be met with play. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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The Pre-tackle Face!

I’m fairly certain there will be a fair amount of posts in this carnival that talk about how the parents have learned to diffuse toddler tantrums with play.  And how play has helped in some of the most stressful times in their families.  These are wonderful topics, and since that’s what this carnival is about, it’s wonderful these contributors stuck so closely to the theme.  But I want to take this opportunity to talk about how play can be transformative for the parent.  

I’m talking about myself, of course.  I’m not what you would call fun.  Prior to having children, I babysat a lot.  I was good for potty training, bandaging skinned knees, homework help and tidying up after the kids went to bed.  But I never had a reputation for being great at hopscotch or dress up. When I got pregnant with my first child, I bought every book
on pregnancy and childbirth.  I wanted to
be prepared.  I researched, I questioned
and I made my choices. If parenting were all about statistics and theory, I’d be
set.  However, no matter the shear
perfection of your schedule and how organized your routine, there are days that
everything is just thrown to the wind and you have to just deal.  My son was colicky and grumpy.  Everything he does, he takes seriously.  He’s intense about life and the level it
should be lived at.  

I read all my books and followed the suggestions for “playtime”.  I felt awkward and uncomfortable as I tried to sing The Itsy Bitsy Spider to him.  I tried to teach him Pattycake and it just wasn’t even remotely amusing to him or I.  I had high expectations for myself as a parent, and I felt like I wasn’t even connecting enough with my son to have all this fun we were supposed to be having.  For several months I felt like a failure as a parent until one day I discovered the Black Eyed Peas and how much Liam enjoyed the beat of their music.  I had put him in the doorway jumper to see if he could bounce at all and I was shocked at how excited he got!  So there we were, in the kitchen bouncing like nuts to the music and having fun.  Real fun, not scheduled, age appropriate, APA approved fun.  


When my husband came home that night, I think he had thought I had gone insane.  Suddenly, I realized that my parenting wasn’t all about schedules and organization, it was about my son.  We started to play with trucks and I learned how to make silly noises.  I taught him how to splash in the bath water irregardless of the amount of mess it made.  Now we have laughing contests, dance parties, and wrestle.  Liam is still relatively high needs as far as his personality and what he needs from me on a daily basis.  Because we can play together, I can use our physical play to deal with his toddler temper or his over-excitement towards his baby sister.


For myself, I’ve found that when I’ve been too long between play days, I’m a stressed out parent.  I’m not as patient and understanding as I should be.  Just as children need play to work through their stresses and learn how to deal with life, we adults still need play for the same reason.  Liam and I connect far better when I can set aside my to-do list and draw with him or play soccer.  Quite frequently, the answer to the tantrum is to play tag.  He needs the endorphins from the run, just as much as I do!  And never, ever underestimate the power of building a train track masterpiece not only for the sake of your child, but for your own mental health!


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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon September 13 with all the carnival links.)