Tag Archives: Blog Carnival

Learning to be pieces of the puzzle

Welcome to the November 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Service Projects

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 written about what service means in their families.

My parents took us to every single service project our church did. I hated it. For years, I’d grudgingly attend and complain enough that I’d have to hear my parents lecture me about fortunate we were and that I’d better suck it up and correct my attitude. I was in late elementary school when it suddenly hit me how fortunate I was. My family had been taking fruit to an elderly couple on the North side of town for years. We were there to visit and as I helped the lady move from her recliner so she could lead us to the kitchen, I realized how poor she was. I realized how ill she was. I realized how selfish I had been for years. After that day, I volunteered at the library, the hospital, church, nature center, reading programs… in short, I got over myself and realized that I’m a little piece in a big world, but I can make someone’s day by being kind.

Now, I’m the parent. I have a 3 year old and an 18 month old. I’m starting now with our involvement in service projects. In 2009, I took part of our Christmas budget and decided that for each child we had, we would make a box to send to a child through Operation Christmas Child. My MOPS group collects boxes every year to send to OCC and I am excited to be turning in 2 boxes this year. The kids and I have gone shopping throughout the year and picked out fun little toys, small stuffed animals, hard candy, toothbrushes and underwear. We filled boxes and this week during our art times, we’ll decorate cards to send with the boxes.

We’ve talked about how there are children out there who don’t get to open presents for their birthdays or Christmas. They don’t have big fluffy pillows and even one pair of shoes. Little by little, I see the dawning in my 3 year old’s eyes that there are more people out there besides him. I see him thinking as we talk and I’m looking forward to the day when it’s his idea to do something for another person. I look forward to teaching my children through this simple project to think beyond themselves and learn to be part of something. The world we live in is a giant puzzle of people and space and events… we’re each a part, just which part and whose lives we touch is determined by what we chose to be involved in.

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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 November 13 with all the carnival links.)

  • Acts of Service: The Great Neighborhood Clean Up — Sarah at Firmly Planted shares how her daughter’s irritation with litter led to eekly cleanups.
  • Running for Charity — Find out how Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction uses her love of running and a great new app to help feed the hungry.
  • 50 Family Friendly Community Service Project Ideas — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares a list of 50 family-friendly community service project ideas that are easy to incorporate to your daily, weekly, monthly, or seasonal rhythmn.
  • Volunteering with a Child — Volunteer work does not need to be put on hold while we raise our children. Jenn of Monkey Butt Junction discusses some creative options for volunteering with a child at Natural Parents Network.
  • Family Service Project: Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina — Erika at Cinco de Mommy volunteers with her children at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, where 29% of the recipients are children.
  • Family Service Learning: Advent Calendar — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school offers her family’s approach to some holiday-related community service by sharing their community focused Advent Calendar. She includes so tips and suggestions for making your own in time for this year’s holidays.
  • How to make street crossing flags as a family service project — Lauren at Hobo Mama offers a tutorial for an easy and relatively kid-friendly project that will engage young pedestrians.
  • Pieces of the Puzzle — Because of an experience Laura from Pug in the Kitchen had as a child, she’s excited to show her children how they can reach out to others and be a blessing.
  • Appalachian Bear Rescue — Erica at ChildOrganics shares how saving pennies, acorns and hickory nuts go a long way in helping rescue orphaned and injured black bears.
  • Volunteering to Burnout and Back — Jorje of Momma Jorje has volunteered to the point of burnout and back again… but how to involve little ones in giving back?
  • How to Help Your Kids Develop Compassion through Service Projects — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares service projects her family has done along with links to lots of resources for service projects you can do with your children.
  • Involving Young Children in Service — Leanna at All Done Monkey, the mother of a toddler, reflects on how to make service a joyful experience for young children.
  • A Letter to My Mama — Dionna at Code Name: Mama has dedicated her life to service, just like her own mama. Today Dionna is thanking her mother for so richly blessing her.
  • 5 Ways to Serve Others When You Have Small Children — It can be tough to volunteer with young children. Jennifer at Our Muddy Boots shares how her family looks for opportunities to serve in every day life.
  • When Giving It Away Is Too Hard for Mommy — Jade at Looking Through Jade Glass But Dimly lets her children choose the charity for the family but struggles when her children’s generosity extends to giving away treasured keepsakes.
  • Community Service Through Everyday Compassion — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children calls us to Community Service Through Everyday Compassion; sometimes it is the small things we can do everyday that make the greater impacts.
  • School Bags and Glad RagsAlt Family are trying to spread a little love this Christmas time by involving the kids in a bit of charity giving.
  • Children in (Volunteering) Service — Luschka at Diary of a First Child reminisces on her own experiences of volunteering as a child, reflects on what she thinks volunteering teaches children and how she hopes voluntary service will impact on her own children.

 

Self-esteem and all it’s pretty analogies

Welcome to the October 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Instilling a Healthy Self-Image

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 confessions, wisdom, and goals for helping children love who they are. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

I will never forget the day I realized the voice in my head telling me awful things about my post-baby body wasn’t my own. I remember standing in the mirror tearing down my stretch marks, saggy skin, and lack of shape and realized the words circulating in my brain weren’t my own, but words I had heard my mother speak over her own body year ago. I stood there looking at my body and wondered if I was even really seeing it the way it was, for in my mind’s eye, I was looking at my mother’s scars and skin. The dawning of this realization prompted a phone call to all my friends who had daugthers to ask them to not say anything negative about their bodies in front of their children.

We live in a world where body image is warped by what we see in the media.  When I was growing up, people compared me to Blossom. I hated this. We had the same akward nose and gangly limbs. In time, I grew into my nose and my limbs gained some substance. I notice the same can be said for Blossom’s lead actress, Mayim Bialik, as well. Not to mention she’s still a sucessful actress and incredibly intelligent scholar.

In time, my thoughts on self-esteem have changed. But just because I’ve finally realized I matter, it doesn’t mean I don’t have little lives to build. Dr. Sears has a great list of ways to help your child develop healthy self-esteem. Actually, Dr. Sears specifically mentions that if we want our children to have healthy self-esteem, we need to work on our own. And realize that our parents may have made choices in how they raised us that we shouldn’t repeat. He doesn’t say this so that we can develop bitterness for our parents’ mistakes, but so we can make better choices for our families.

We know a family that is a constant reminder to me that it is my responsibility to change how I  interact with my children. In all the years I’ve known them, I’ve not once heard the parents say anything kind about their children. They are all high-achieving children, with many talents, but their mother is hung up on clothing sizes and too-young engagements. It makes me sad to watch their interactions and yet reminds me how easy it is to start out with good intentions and watch them slowly fade away.

In my eyes, my children are the most beautiful humans on the face of this Earth. They know I think they’re amazing, but they need to think it too. We snuggle and we cuddle and I remind them many, many times a day how much I love them. And I tell them they are smart and handsome and talented and beautiful. As you well know, you are responsible to set the tone in your child’s mind for their life.

Self-esteem is something can either be fragile as a tea cup or diamond strong. The best way to build it is to build a strong relationship with your children. Be honest with them about how you love them. Praise them for their good moments, but be honest enough to correct their errors so they can grow. Spend time with them. Teach your children. Read to your children. Play with your children. Laugh with your children. Cry with your children. If you are real with your children, you can teach them to be real with themselves. And then, when your children can be honest with themselves about how they feel and what they experience, they can put together their self-esteem without fear and with the knowledge that they have your support.

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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 updated by afternoon October 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • Why I Walk Around Naked — Meegs at A New Day talks about how she embraces her own body so that her daughter might embrace hers.
  • What I Am Is Not Who I Am — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses her views on the importance of modeling WHO she is for her daughter and not WHAT she sees in the mirror.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Verbs vs. Adjectives — Alisha at Cinnamon & Sassafras tries hard to compliment what her son does, not who he is.
  • The Naked Family — Sam at Love Parenting talks about how nudity and bodily functions are approached in her home.
  • How She’ll See Herself — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis discusses some of the challenges of raising a daughter in our culture and how she’s hoping to overcome them.
  • Self Esteem and all it’s pretty analogies — Musings from Laura at Pug in the Kitchen on what she learned about self-esteem in her own life and how it applies to her parenting.
  • Beautiful — Tree at Mom Grooves writes about giving her daughter the wisdom to appreciate her body and how trying to be a role model taught Tree how to appreciate her own.
  • Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Nurturing A Healthy Body Image — Christy at Eco Journey in the Burbs is changing perceptions about her body so that she may model living life with a positive, healthy body image for her three young daughters.
  • Some{BODY} to LoveKate Wicker has faced her own inner demons when it comes to a poor body image and even a clinical eating disorder, and now she wants to help her daughters to be strong in a world that constantly puts girls at risk for losing their true selves. This is Kate’s love letter to her daughters reminding them to not only accept their bodies but to accept themselves as well in every changing season of life.
  • They Make Creams For That, You Know — Destany at They Are All of Me writes about celebrating her natural beauty traits, especially the ones she passed onto her children.
  • New Shoes for Mama — Kellie of Our Mindful Life, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, is getting some new shoes, even though she is all grown up…
  • Raising boys with bodily integrity — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants her boys to understand their own bodily autonomy — so they’ll respect their own and others’.
  • Sowing seeds of self-love in our children — After struggling to love herself despite growing up in a loving family, Shonnie at Heart-Led Parenting has suggestions for parents who truly want to nurture their children’s self-esteem.
  • Subtle Ways to Build a Healthy Self-Image — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM discusses the little things she and her husband do every day to help their daughter cultivate a healthy self-image.
  • On Barbie and Baby Bikinis: The Sexualization of Young Girls — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger finds it difficult to keep out the influx of messages aimed at her young daughters that being sexy is important.
  • Undistorted — Focusing on the beauty and goodness that her children hold, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children watches them grow, loved and undistorted.
  • Off The Hook — Arpita at Up, Down and Natural sheds light on the journey of infertility, and how the inability to get pregnant and stay pregnant takes a toll on self image…only if you let it. And that sometimes, it feels fantastic to just let yourself off the hook.
  • Going Beyond Being An Example — Becky at Old New Legacy discusses three suggestions on instilling healthy body image: positivity, family dinners, and productivity.
  • Raising a Confident Kid — aNonymous at Radical Ramblings describes the ways she’s trying to raise a confident daughter and to instil a healthy attitude to appearance and self-image.
  • Instilling a Healthy Self Image — Laura at This Mama’s Madness hopes to promote a healthy self-image in her kids by treating herself and others with respect, honesty, and grace.
  • Stories of our Uniqueness — Casey at Sesame Seed Designs looks for a connection to the past and celebrates the stories our bodies can tell about the present.
  • Helping My Boy Build a Healthy Body Image — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school offers readers a collection of tips and activities that she uses in her journey to helping her 3-year-old son shape a healthy body image.
  • Eat with Joy and Thankfulness: A Letter to my Daughters about Food — Megan at The Boho Mama writes a letter to her daughters about body image and healthy attitudes towards food.
  • Helping Our Children Have Healthy Body Images — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares information about body image, and her now-adult daughter tells how she kept a healthy body image through years of ballet and competitive figure skating.
  • Namaste — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares how at barely 6 years old, her daughter has begun to say, “I’m not beautiful.” And while it’s hard to listen to, she also sees it as a sign her daughter is building her self-image in a grassroots kind of way.
  • 3 Activities to Help Instill a Healthy Self-Image in Your Child — Explore the changing ideals of beauty, create positive affirmations, and design a self-image awareness collage. Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares these 3 ideas + a pretty affirmation graphic you can print and slip in your child’s lunchbox.
  • Beautiful, Inside and Out — It took a case of adult-onset acne for Kat of MomeeeZen to find out her parenting efforts have resulted in a daughter that is truly beautiful, inside and out.
  • Mirroring Positive Self Image for Toddlers — Shannon at GrowingSlower reflects on encouraging positive self image in even the youngest members of the family.
  • How I hope to instill a healthy body image in my two girls — Raising daughters with healthy body image in today’s society is no small task, but Xela at The Happy Hippie Homemaker shares how choosing our words carefully and being an example can help our children learn to love their bodies.
  • Self Image has to Come from WithinMomma Jorje shares all of the little things she does to encourage healthy attitudes in her children, but realizes she can’t give them their self images.
  • Protecting the Gift — JW from True Confessions of a Real Mommy wants you to stop thinking you need to boost your child up: they think they are wonderful all on their own.
  • Learning to Love Myself, for my Daughter — Michelle at Ramblings of Mitzy addresses her own poor self-image.
  • Nurturing An Innate Sense of Self — Marisa at Deliberate Parenting shares her efforts to preserve the confidence and healthy sense of self they were born with.
  • Don’t You Love Me, Mommy?: Instilling Self-Esteem in Young Children After New Siblings Arrive — Jade at Seeing Through Jade Glass But Dimly hopes that her daughter will learn to value herself as an individual rather than just Momma’s baby
  • Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul.
  • Poor Little Chicken — Kenna at A Million Tiny Things gets her feathers ruffled over her daughter’s clothing anxiety.
  • Loving the skin she’s in — Mama Pie at Downside Up and Outside In struggles with her little berry’s choice not to celebrate herself and her heritage.

 

Farmer’s Market discoveries

Welcome to the August 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Farmer’s Markets

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 written about something new they’ve learned about their local farmers.

When Matt and I first got married, I discovered the joy of farmer’s markets.  I don’t know why I’d never really been to one before, but once I got started, it was hard to imagine ever purchasing my food anywhere else.  Over the years, I’ve met many vendors, tried new vegetables and learned so much.

Through farmer’s markets, I met the man who supplied us with lamb for the past 5 years, half a sheep at a time.  Because of him, I know how to grill lamb chops and can make a killer shepherd’s pie.  I bought my first chicken that had been butchered mere hours before and roasted it up for the most flavorful meal I’d experienced up to that time.

Before the market downtown, I’d never had a purple carrot or an orange, heirloom tomato.  I didn’t know you could raise shrimp right here in Ohio.  I had no idea that one could subsist solely on food grown/raised within 50 miles of your home.  I didn’t realize how diverse the agriculture in Ohio could be! I wasn’t aware that an average housewife could make her own cheese from a gallon of milk.  And don’t even get me started on the baked goods I didn’t know even existed!

Throughout the years, I’ve met new people, tried new foods, learned how to store and prepare vegetables, fruits and meats.  Now, I’m learning how to make these foods appealing to a preschooler who only likes bananas and watermelon.  I’m learning the best markets to go to that I’ll be able to corral my little ones and still shop.  My children?  Well, they are learning the names of the vegetables, even if they won’t eat them.  They are learning patience as they wait and wait and wait as I circle the stalls and taste and sample and talk.

Every year as the Downtown Farmer’s Market starts announcing it’s coming in the paper, I find myself waiting anxiously for the vendors to set up and my stroller basket to fill with fresh produce.  And while the market is here, I’m happy to try all kinds of new recipes and stock my shelves with home canned goodies to open in the dead of winter and give me hope for next year’s Farmer’s Market!

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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 August 14 with all the carnival links.)

 

Memory creation

Welcome to the July 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Creations

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 crafts, recipes, and philosophies of creativity. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

We cook and bake and eat in the kitchen together.

We garden, build sandcastles, dig in the dirt and play in the water outside.

We make racetracks and have tea parties in the living room.

We draw, paint, cut, stamp and glue our artwork.

For our family, life in and of itself is the creation.  We want to create a life that is peaceful and yet wildly fun for our children.  So instead of all our creations being edible or art, my husband and I have set about to create memories with Liam and Sylvi.    We want to grow strong children who respect themselves and others.  We want to challenge their minds and help them grow into well-rounded, compassionate individuals.  Along the way, it’s my dream to create memories for them to look back on and draw from.

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 updated by afternoon July 10 with all the carnival links.)

  • Garden Soup — Bailey finds a way to help momma Katy (from Muse of a Daffodil) in the garden.
  • This One Time, I Tried To Make a Car — Ashley at Domestic Chaos tries once again to make something crafty from stuff around the house.
  • Pin-tastic creative ideas — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares how Pinterest is inspiring creativity in her family this summer.
  • Baby Hiccups In The Womb — Alinka at Baby Web shares one of the ways she bonds with her unborn baby.
  • Turtle Mosaics — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school and her little family spend a quiet hour making a turtle mosaic inspired by the work of Melanie Mikecz.
  • Edible Art Plus 8 Art Supply Recipes — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares some natural, chemical-free art supply alternatives, which are gauranteed to be tons of fun for children or all ages. They taste great too!
  • A surprise art lesson — Tat at Mum in search has been taking art lessons from her 5-year-old son.
  • Memory Creation — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen talks about how her family aims to create as many memories as they can as a family.
  • A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words — Melissa at Momma Beer tries to replace cars with crafts.
  • My Creative Family: Sometimes Messy, Always Fun — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM embraces the messes that sometimes accompany creative play but admits you don’t always have to get dirty to have fun.
  • Fun Family Learning: Constellation Cave Tutorial — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter gives step-by-step instructions for building a fun new twist on a cardboard box playhouse.
  • Cooking… Kind Of — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings makes pizza with her daughter, hoping to inspire a love of cooking and encourage a bigger interest in food. As well as making mess and having lots of fun, of course!
  • Crockpot Refried BeansThat Mama Gretchen‘s family loves to experiment with new recipes, and today she’s sharing a kitchen success!
  • Creating Memories — Andrea at Tales of Goodness reflects on how the best creations can emerge from just letting kids be kids.
  • Making Beautiful Things … And Sometimes Just Average-Looking Ones — Tamara at Tea for Three looks for ways to add more craft and creativity into every day family life.
  • Making Fruit Leather Together — When Amy Willa at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work took some time to involve her children in the process of finally trying a fruit leather recipe stored on her Pinterest food board, she got more than just a scrumptious homemade snack as a result!
  • Making Glasses from Children’s Art — Mandy at Living Peacefuly with Children used her children’s artwork to make some very special glasses for her husband for Father’s Day.
  • Preparing Family Meals Together — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares how she started the tradition of creating meals together with her children, which makes family gatherings more fun.
  • It’s a trap! — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares the innovative snares her son and husband have set for her.
  • How To Make The Most Of A Very Wet Summer — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shows us the first few weeks of the Summer Camp At Home project for keeping boredom at bay.
  • Creating with… well, what do we have? — If necessity is the mother of invention, Momma Jorje thinks perhaps boredom is (or at least can be) the mother of creativity. In a pinch, she got creative with a household item to entertain herself and her toddler.
  • Creating Joy! Felt Counting Fish and other Fun — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle started creating Felt Counting Fish and then fell down the rabbit hole of fun with a number of other games.
  • I Am Going! (A Code Name: Mama Homemade Theater Production of Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie book) — This might be the finest example of child and baby acting ever recorded. Enjoy this Mo Willems treasure via video from Dionna at Code Name: Mama.
  • DIY Summer Sleep Sack for Baby Tutorial — Shannon at GrowingSlower made an organic summer sleep sack for baby, and you can too with her easy tutorial.
  • Chalk It Up! — Amy at Anktangle recounts how an impulse buy has turned into a fun collaborative activity that she hopes will continue to foster creativity in the whole family.
  • The Family Garden — Excited that her son has been a big help in the garden this year, Ana at Pandamoly shares how her garden grows and offers up some secrets on how a toddler can be a great assistant in the garden.
  • Getting my craft on — Jona at Life, Intertwined takes a trip down memory lane — and finds it in stitches.
  • Easy DIY Sandpit for Toddler Play — Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares her easy DIY toddler sandpit tutorial.
  • Building Without Nails — Laura at Laura’s Blog builds a swinging bar using just sticks and twine.
  • Family Talent Show — Erika at Cinco de Mommy holds an after-dinner family talent show.
  • Ar matey! Fun and Learning with Pirate Play. Positive Parenting Connection is sharing lots of really fun Pirate-themed learning activities for the whole family.

 

All of it

Welcome to the June 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Embracing Your Birth Experience

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 written about at least one part of their birth experience that they can hold up and cherish.

***

I stumbled around writing this post.  This month’s carnival topic is on embracing your birth experience.  I didn’t have dramatic births.  Both of them went essentially according to plan, even though Liam’s birth was much harder than I had imagined.  I wasn’t short on education in the field of birth.  I had the best instructor and a wonderful team mate.  When labor started, I felt prepared.  After all, I had watched many, many births both in reality tv format and Old Western Movie format.

That being said, I didn’t count on how I would feel.  I didn’t realize I was going to be in such an unladylike… ah… position for so long.  I didn’t count on my personal modesty being such an issue.  While in labor I kept apologizing about being so… ugh.  Ok, look.  Other women I know were freaked out about pain or tearing or vomiting or pooping.  I did not care one cent for any of those certain moments.  Not at all.  The hardest challenge for me above missing my mom, above Liam twisting and turning inside me with each contraction, above the agonizing back labor… my biggest challenge was that I was at my most vulnerable for much longer than I had planned on being vulnerable.

When my friends would talk about their favorite moment of delivery, it always had something to do with the birth itself.  I love that first contraction.  I love the last contraction.  I love even that freakishly wobbly feeling as your child slips out.  Honestly, I even loved the moment I tore right before Liam came out because I knew all the pain was over and I was finally getting to hold him.  I did not love not wearing my underpants for 16+ hours.

When I was in labor with Sylvi, I was still embarrassed that I wasn’t as modest as I’d like to have been.  I tried all sort of ridiculous options to be covered, but as it turned out, they just wound up on the floor and I had to give up.  The moment I embraced the whole process of my labor and got over the fact that I was embarrassed that I had asked for help and for Tylenol (again!) and had sat in the bathtub and sobbed, my labor came to a complete lull.  For one glorious, peaceful hour, I got to embrace the nearness of birth without fear, without care, without pain.  Of course, at 1001am, the wicked contractions kicked in again and 24 minutes later, I was holding Sylvi in my arms.

This isn’t a really cohesive post and for that I apologize.  I don’t have one epic moment to embrace in my birth experiences.  I have to embrace it all.  If I hold on to fear of failure or pain or potential “failure” from my plans, I can’t embrace the method by which my child comes to my arms.  If I allow myself to focus solely on the fact that while in labor, I am decidedly unladylike and downright primal, I cannot let go enough to birth my child.  I know that if we have another child, I will struggle to accept naked vulnerability once again, but I know how to do it now.  I’m grateful for simple birth experiences that are filled with my own personal struggles.  I’m grateful I’ve gotten to have my own desires in how these births have played out.  And I’m so grateful for healthy, beautiful children.  I grateful I have birth experiences to even embrace.

***

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 June 12 with all the carnival links.)

 

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!

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