Showing posts with label Crunchy Mama. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Crunchy Mama. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

{NPN carnival}: don't fear the tears

Welcome to the February 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Fears
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 and wisdom about parenting fears.
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Before I became a mother, there wasn't much I feared. Who needs fear when I knew everything already? For instance, I knew that by being calm, my baby would be calm. I knew that because I have always slept like a rock, I'd of course have a baby who slept well.

But I didn't. Instead of sleeping, my baby preferred to cry for three months straight from two months old to five months old. When people used to cite the incident where Michael Jackson held his baby upside down as evidence of his eccentricity, I would dryly reply they must not have ever had a "colicky" child. Like Chris Rock once said, I'm not saying he shoulda done it, but I understand.

If my experience taught me one valuable lesson, it's that you can't always control whether your child cries. 

You can cut out dairy, breastfeed on demand, co-sleep, burp the baby only while perching her at a 90 degree angle, swaddle her, un-swaddle her, use an amber pacifier, hand-knit diapers made from wool spun by Tibetan monks, add a humidifier and a noisemaker, and wash all your linens in vinegar or your own tears. You can do all that, and you might still end up with a baby who cries at all hours of the day and night.

Here's what I learned: it's okay to let them cry. 

I'm not here to judge any parenting style. I'm simply suggesting you can let your baby cry at times without applying a title to what you're doing. There's a fantastic article on Natural Parents Network that suggests allowing crying is not necessarily the same thing as the dreaded moniker "cry it out" (CIO).

You can't always prevent your toddler, preschooler, or kindergartner from crying either. You won't always understand why they are crying or be able to comfort them. That's certainly been true for my second daughter, who went from being one of the most content, sleepy babies I've ever seen to a three-year-old who cries at the drop of a hat. Literally, her hat could fall off her head, and she'd cry.



Speaking about parenting styles, there's a style referred to as RIE, Resources for Infant Educarers, that has been highlighted recently in a Vanity Fair article. [Update (2/11/14, 5pm): I added a link to the Vanity Fair article that was missing. When I first read it, I felt like the author sensationalized RIE, making it seem like a fad and conflating different notions about what RIE is and isn't. But you should be able to make up your own mind.] It will likely mean RIE will be in the limelight for a while, and some RIE principles apply to this discussion.

The foundations of RIE are built upon awareness and respect. You could say it's the opposite of helicopter parenting. Instead of making snap assumptions, interfering, and rescuing, RIE followers let their sensitive observations guide their actions and listen closely before responding. What would you call that, drone parenting? Okay, so maybe I'm not all that good at describing RIE either. But lucky for you, Janet Lansbury is; her RIE parenting basics (nine ways to put respect into action) is particularly useful.

I haven't always handled my children crying well; sometimes I interfere and attempt to rescue them or even try to silence them. And hey, I'm not judging you if you've done that too! But what works better is if I treat my child the same way I'd treat a doula client if she cried during labor, with patience and respect. I'd let her struggles happen because they bring her strength.

The important distinction here is the same as one I teach parents in a childbirth education class: There is a difference between pain and suffering. To prevent suffering, we must not numb or avoid pain but be mindful of its motivation. Just as there is physical pain in labor that serves a purpose, there is emotional pain in childhood that serves a purpose. Painful emotions can be self-correcting and self-healing. Trying to quell the expression of the pain won't make it go away, and indeed it could serve to stifle their ability to self-regulate their emotions. Part of childhood is learning to express and control emotions without our interference.

[A note for new moms: If you're anything like me, on days your baby cries you might end up crying too. Take heart. Feelings of loneliness and isolation are normal! You can relieve them gradually by seeking interaction with other new moms in a support group, yoga studio, or free library music class. Friendship is just around the corner.]


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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 (list will be final around 5pm PST February 11):
  • When Parents' Fears Escalate — If we didn't self-doubt, we probably wouldn't care enough about our children to struggle with understanding them. But how do we overcome self-doubt? Read advice from Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., guest posting today at Natural Parents Network.
  • What ifs of addiction — After seeing how addictions of adult children is badly hurting a family close to her heart, Hannah at HannahandHorn shares her fears for her own child.
  • Sharing My Joy — Kellie at Our Mindful Life shares her fear that others think she is judgmental because she makes alternative choices for her own family.
  • Building My Tribe Fearlessly — A meteorite hit Jaye Anne at Tribal Mama's family when she was seven years old. Read the story, how she feels about that now, and how she is building her tribe fearlessly.
  • Fear: Realized — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen shares how her fear of car accidents was realized and how she hopes to be able to use her efforts to overcome the remaining fears to help her children overcome their own.
  • I'm a Negligent Helicopter Parent — For Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow, the line between helicopter parenting and negligent parenting is not so cut and dried.
  • My Greatest Fear For My Child — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama admits that she has struggled with not allowing her fears to control her and how the reality of this was blown wide open when she became a mother.
  • Proactive Steps to Calm Parenting Fears — Every parent has certain fears related to dangerous situations, That Mama Gretchen shares ways she is preparing herself and her children for emergencies.
  • Homeschooling Fears – Will My Children Regret Being Homeschooled? — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares an interview with her now-adult children that answers a question she had throughout their homeschooling.
  • An Uneasy Truce — Homeschooler and recent convert to unschooling, Tam at tinsenpup shares just a few of the things she tries to keep in mind when fear and insecurity begin to take hold.
  • Fearing the worst, expecting the best — Tarana at Sand In My Toes writes about fears that come with parenting, and why we must overcome them.
  • Can I be the parent I want to be? — Amanda at Postilius confronts her struggle to peacefully parent a preschooler
  • Out of Mind, Out of Fear — How does Jorje of Momma Jorje deal with her pretty steep, long-term fears regarding her son's future?
  • I Don't Homeschool to Manage My Kids' Transcripts — One of Dionna at Code Name: Mama's fears of parenting is that she will get so caught up in the monotony, the details of homeschooling, the minutiae of everyday life, the routine of taking care of a household - that she will forget to actually be present in the moment with her children.
  • Beware! Single Mom Camping — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her first adventures as a single mom. She laughed, she cried, she faced her fears.
  • Parenting Fears And Reality Checks — Luschka from Diary of a First Child shares her three biggest fears as a parent - that most parents share - looks at the reality behind these fears, and offers a few suggestions for enjoying parenting.
  • Parenting fear : to kill a pink rabbit...Mother Goutte tells us the story of a pink rabbit that disappeared, came back, and became the symbol of her worst parenting fear...
  • Roamingsustainablemum considers whether allowing your children freedom to explore the world safely is harder now than in the past.
  • Meeting my parenting fears head-on — Lauren at Hobo Mama had many fears before she became a parent. Learn how they all came true — and weren't anywhere near as scary as she'd thought.
  • Don't fear the tears — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger worried that letting her children cry when going to sleep was tantamount to the dreaded parenting moniker, CIO. She discusses what actually happened after those teary nights, and how she hopes these lessons can carry forward to future parenting opportunities.
  • Will I Still be a Good Mom? — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot worries about her mothering skills now that breastfeeding is no longer the top priority.
  • Pregnancy Fears: It Happened to My Sisters, It Will Happen to Me... — Kristen at Baby Giveaways Galore discusses the difficulties with pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding that the women in her family have had and how she overcame them.
  • Fears — Meegs at A New Day talks about how her fears before parenting led to a better understanding of herself and her desires for her daughter.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

natural birth stories: review, giveaway, and discount!

Author's Note: You can read more about pregnancy, birth, and motherhood on my site here. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to find out how you can get your own copy of Natural Birth Stories.

When I was nearing the end of my first pregnancy, I picked up a book one day that my mom recommended called Spiritual Midwifery. It was the first time I'd read any book that Ina May Gaskin published, and I was hooked from the start. Reading the stories of those women's natural births was empowering; it quelled my anxiety while also raising my belief that I could give birth without medical pain relief.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

building a tinker tent: {carnival of natural mothering}


Welcome to the November 2013 Carnival of Natural Mothering! 

This article is a part of the Carnival of Natural Mothering hosted by GrowingSlower, Every Breath I Take, I Thought I Knew Mama, African Babies Don't Cry, and Adventures of Captain Destructo. This month's topic is Incorporating Natural Into the Holidays. Be sure to check out all of the participants' posts through the links at the bottom of this page.


I recently wrote an article in the holiday edition of Rhythm of the Home about how we are trying to limit the amount of stuff we accumulate, both during the holidays and year-round. I have gotten such great positive feedback from y'all that I decided to share some of what we're doing gift-wise for the kids this year.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

treats, not tricks for a healthier Halloween


When it comes to Halloween, I usually go all out and let the kids loose with few rules about their activities, decorations, and the inevitable amassed pile of junk food and just plain junk.

Having said that, it was easier to ignore the junk when the kids were too young to know the difference; we'd just hide or throw away every piece of cheap crap/candy but a small handful of raisin boxes and pretzels. Now that we have a kindergartner who knows what's up, it would appear I have to be a little more conscious of the candy part of Halloween.

After chatting with mom friends and researching the issue a bit, I am happy to report that there are ways we can insert real food in the mix, and I'm sharing a few ideas on the blog today.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

it's beginning to feel {not at all} like Christmas

I know it's insanely early to discuss such things, so if you are a person who is easily offended by the slightest whiff of Christmas talk prior to Black Friday, this is not the post for you.

But if, on the other hand, you are a planner like me who is petrified that her girls will get more pink plastic crap instead of games and toys that challenge their minds, then step on down! You are the next contestant on...

The Price is Wrong...But We're Buying It Anyway Because of Guilt and Competitive Parenting

Tell them what they've won, Bob!

A Brand New Scooter!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

about that time I had an IUD for two days

 A few months ago, I had an IUD for a brief moment. I struggled with whether to write about my experience here, but then Jamie (aka the grumbles) blasted through with all her badassery and Hell Yeah Unicorns, and I was inspired to share my story, although luckily my story is not nearly as horrible and gory as hers. Sorry Jamie.

I am sharing my experience because my story wasn't one of the many I read about prior to getting my IUD. As a doula, I want my clients to have as much information about birth so they can make their own empowered choices. I support whatever those choices are, so long as they are accompanied by corresponding evidence. I feel the same about your reproductive choices, Reader. The More You Know, and all that jazz.

...............................

Last night I watched Lena Dunham's show Girls for the first time. We got the first season from the library, and because binge-watching is our favorite way to get into new shows, we watched three episodes in a row. I am really not quite sure how Girls is related to the rest of what I'm writing about today, but somehow it seems vaguely intertwined. Something about solidarity, mothering our female friendships, hoes before bros, or along those lines. Plus, it's really hard for me to start out by saying "So y'all, about my vagina..." and this side note is my way of stalling.

...............................

So ya'll, about my vagina.

Looking back, I can't even remember exactly why I thought the IUD was the way I wanted to go, except that I was sick of swallowing The Pill's nasty hormone cocktail, and hormone-free birth control seemed like a good option. What I had read about diaphragms wasn't all that gung-ho either, so I figured in the realm of the sucky contraception options available, maybe ParaGard would be okay. ParaGard is the IUD made of copper, and my gynecologist assured me it's been on the market for a long time and is substantially improved from previous versions. I asked a few friends who used it, did some brief questioning of Dr. Google, and then jumped in, vagina-first.

{Warning: some graphic details will follow. Put down your sandwich}.

I'm not exaggerating when I say IT HURT LIKE A BITCH to have the IUD put in. Something about expanding a balloon inside my uterus to check its size (BLARG! hmhmhmhhmhm...I can't hear you...), then some bleeding that resulted from her pinching me from the inside. Yup, you read that right. She stabbed me in my uterus. Ever been poked in an internal organ while under no anesthesia? Doesn't feel great, amiriteladies?

Let me put it this way. I have experienced two unmedicated births, and this experience was hands-down more traumatizing. With my births, I was fully expecting the pain, and I knew it was natural, serving the amazing purpose of bringing my babies to my arms. That kind of pain I can handle. But the kind of pain where she doesn't bother even telling me it's going to hurt, beyond a flippant "this will sting a bit" as she was putting her hands in me, is another story. Once I started up my Lamaze breathing, she glanced over my splayed legs with a half-alarmed, half-annoyed look and said "You're not going to pass out, are you? I've had some women pass out on me and fall off the table." OH REALLY, thaaaaaat's quite interesting. Maybe you could have mentioned that in addition to the sting. A bee stings. This was not a sting.

I went home feeling a little shaky and tried not to think about it.

Cut to a morning less than 48 hours later. I was making eggs in a cast-iron skillet, and even when still cool, it felt hot to the touch. I ran over to the sink and scrubbed my hands clean, but the itchy, burning feeling didn't subside. The closest I can come to describing the feeling is that it's like accidentally touching fiberglass. You can't see the stuff, but it hurts acutely like you want to remove a splinter right away. My hands stayed swollen, splotchy, and red all morning.

I didn't yet connect the trouble to my IUD (Would you have? Three feet away inside me, it seemed like a non-issue), but I did consult Dr. Google with the query, "Why is my skillet giving me hives?"

[This part in the story is where I should probably pause and tell you that no earlier than a week before this problem, I had an exchange with my husband about how I never wear earrings because they are so itchy and uncomfortable. He postulated that like his mom and sister, I probably had a mild nickel allergy. It explained so much, including why some earrings were bothersome and others were not.]

Back to my kryptonite skillet. Google revealed the most common answer to be that modern iron skillets are sometimes plated in nickel because it is virtually indestructible and a good conductor of heat. Aha! That piece of information also helped me understand why our smaller heirloom skillets weren't posing a problem to my hands. They were likely made prior to nickel-plating.

What I hadn't yet figured out is why I suddenly was more allergic to the skillet now. What had changed? The IUD was made out of copper, not nickel...or so I thought? Not so fast, oh-ye-who-trusts-pharmaceutical companies. With some digging, I turned up others saying they had spoken with reps at ParaGard, who explained that while the IUD is coated in copper, it is actually comprised of a nickel core. Say what?

It's not difficult to understand why they chose this make-up because nickel is quite cheap compared with copper. What might be more difficult to understand is why it isn't written ANYWHERE ON THE PACKAGING that nickel is in the ParaGard. Is it still tough to put it together when you hear that nickel is one of the most common allergies? It's no surprise to me that ParaGard isn't advertising the nickel in their product when so many women would potentially be excluded from its use.

I immediately called the doctor, who was actually also surprised to hear that nickel was in the ParaGard. I would have almost preferred her saying "OH, you didn't tell me you were allergic to nickel! Yes, I know about it." She agreed that I should come in immediately and have the offending IUD taken out, which I did. While I may not have had any unicorns dancing around, I definitely saw Bob Marley's three little birds doing a happy dance around me on my way out of the clinic.

It's okay Bob, I'm not worried about a thing any more.

...............................

When I told my cousin this story, she pointed out how much worse it could have been if I had paid for that IUD. So true! Did you know those things can cost upwards of nearly a grand? I didn't until I had it taken out. I won't toot my horn too loudly with this next bit of info, but we have no copay for office visits. As in, I walked in and got the IUD, then two days later I had it removed, and it cost me zilch. But for people who are paying out of pocket, you'd think that medical personnel would be more committed to discovering the ins and outs of their expensive products. What do you think?



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

we are the FDA

Welcome to the September 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Staying Safe
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 stories and tips about protecting our families. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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FDA Quotes

I steer clear of giving too much advice to new parents; what I know, they either won't understand or aren't ready to hear yet. Besides, being a mom for five years doesn't make me a parenting expert, and I am far too aware of the foibles I've made along the way to feel I would be any good at telling others what to do. There is an exception to this no-advice rule, and it's concerning the food and drug choices we make as parents. Here is the sum total of that advice: as a parent, you are the funnel by which all materials will reach your children. You are the screen, the poison detector, the regulation. In essence, YOU are the FDA.

One difficult truth I learned in public health graduate school is that the FDA is an agency under extreme political pressure to make profit-based rather than evidence-based decisions. The integrity of their decision-making process has come under scrutiny in recent years for good reasons. The FDA has repeatedly been accused of or directly confessed to succumbing to pressure by Congress, whose members are funded by big companies peddling myriad faulty products.

Note that this pressure isn't exerted by one political party or another; it is a problem that crosses the aisle. Even easier to demonstrate than the political pressure is the whacky organizational make-up of the agency where food is concerned. Let's take frozen pizza as an example; if you want inspection information about a frozen pepperoni pizza, you should seek out the USDA, but if you want the same information about a cheese pizza, go to the FDA. The same could be said about egg regulation, which this article cutely and aptly calls "scrambled."

The problems in FDA regulation aren't limited to processed food but rather extend to sunscreen (see EWG's July 2013 letter to the FDA here), cleaning products, produce, seafood, vitamins*--which the FDA doesn't currently regulate at all (see footnote about vitamins below)--etc. Problems aren't limited to the FDA either. There's bad news for other regulatory agencies as well. Take the FTC (please!), which regulates all advertising, including for children's and infant products, but chooses to provide less regulation and more frustrating "guidance."

A particularly frustrating example of this lack of adequate FTC regulation concerns infant formula. Back in the late 1980's, pediatricians were outraged at a change in formula advertising to direct-to consumer-as opposed to doctors; some pediatricians even went so far as to boycott formula companies. The AAP then and now recommends against direct-to-consumer advertising, but they wield no regulatory power, and even though other countries have banned the practice, the US (via the FTC) continues to allow it.

Why were pediatricians so up in arms? They knew what could (and did) happen; formula companies now manage the information you receive and lead women to believe failure to succeed at breastfeeding is normal and expected. The hazard boils down to this likelihood: if you don't do your own research to become educated, you know only what they want you to know. Perhaps more importantly, you don't know what they don't want you to know.

What all this evidence means, unfortunately, is that parents can't rely on the federal agencies** to protect us; we need to do our own research when making decisions about purchases, particularly when they are for our children. If you're looking for a place to do such parenting research, Environmental Working Group is a good place to start.

*Should you take a multivitamin? This Harvard School of Public Health website discusses the evidence both for and against synthetic supplemental vitamins.

**It's not all bad news at the federal agencies of health protection. The CDC does a fantastic job of relaying transparent and evidenced-based data to the public. I highly recommend checking out their website for child-related health and safety information.

Author's Note: This post was shared with Works for Me Wednesday.

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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 September 10 with all the carnival links.)
  • Stranger Danger — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares her approach to the topic of "strangers" and why she prefers to avoid that word, instead opting to help her 4-year-old understand what sorts of contact with adults is appropriate and whom to seek help from should she ever need it.
  • We are the FDA — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger makes the case that when it comes to food and drugs, parents are necessarily both their kids' best proponent of healthy eating and defense against unsafe products.
  • You Can't Baby Proof Mother Nature — Nicole Lauren at Mama Mermaid shares how she tackles the challenges of safety when teaching her toddler about the outdoors.
  • Bike Safety With Kids — Christy at Eco Journey In the Burbs shares her tips for safe cycling with children in a guest post at Natural Parents Network.
  • Spidey Sense — Maud at Awfully Chipper used a playground visit gone awry to teach her children about trusting their instincts.
  • Watersustainablemum explains how she has used her love of canoeing to enable her children to be confident around water
  • Safety without baby proofing — Hannabert at Hannahandhorn talks about teaching safety rather than babyproofing.
  • Coming of Age: The Safety Net of Secure AttatchmentGentle Mama Moon reflects on her own experiences of entering young adulthood and in particular the risks that many young women/girls take as turbulent hormones coincide with insecurities and for some, loneliness — a deep longing for connection.
  • Mistakes You Might Be Makings With Car Seats — Car seats are complex, and Brittany at The Pistachio Project shares ways we might be using them improperly.
  • Could your child strangle on your window blinds? — One U.S. child a month strangles to death on a window blind cord — and it's not always the obvious cords that are the danger. Lauren at Hobo Mama sends a strong message to get rid of corded blinds, and take steps to keep your children safe.
  • Tips to Help Parents Quit Smoking (and Stay Quit) — Creating a safe, smoke-free home not only gives children a healthier childhood, it also helps them make healthier choices later in life, too. Dionna at Code Name: Mama (an ex-smoker herself) offers tips to parents struggling to quit smoking, and she'll be happy to be a source of support for anyone who needs it.
  • Gradually Expanding Range — Becca at The Earthling's Handbook explains how she is increasing the area in which her child can walk alone, a little bit at a time.
  • Safety Sense and Self Confidence — Do you hover? Are you overprotective? Erica at ChildOrganics discusses trusting your child's safety sense and how this helps your child develop self-confidence.
  • Staying Safe With Food Allergies and Intolerances — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is sharing how she taught her son about staying safe when it came to his food allergies.
  • Don't Touch That Baby!Crunchy Con Mom offers her 3 best tips for preventing unwanted touching of your baby.
  • Playground Wrangling: Handling Two Toddlers Heading in Opposite Directions — Megan at the Boho Mama shares her experience with keeping two busy toddlers safe on the playground (AKA, the Zone of Death) while also keeping her sanity.
  • Letting Go of "No" and Taking Chances — Mommy at Playing for Peace tries to accept the bumps, bruises and tears that come from letting her active and curious one-year-old explore the world and take chances.
  • Preventing Choking in Babies and Toddlers with Older Siblings — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now gives tips on preventing choking in babies and toddlers along with Montessori-inspired tips for preventing choking in babies and toddlers who have older siblings working with small objects.
  • Keeping Our Children Safe: A Community and National Priority — September has many days and weeks dedicated to issues of safety; however, none stir the emotions as does Patriot Day which honors those slain the terrorist attacks. Along with honoring the victims, safety officals want parents to be ready in the event of another disaster whether caused by terrorists or nature. Here are their top tips from Mary at Mary-andering Creatively.
  • A Complete Family: Merging Pets and Offspring — Ana at Panda & Ananaso shares the ground rules that she laid out for herself, her big brown dog, and later her baby to ensure a happy, safe, and complete family.
  • Be Brave — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about helping her kids learn to be brave so that they can stay safe, even when she's not around.
  • Catchy PhrasingMomma Jorje just shares one quick tip for helping kids learn about safety. She assures there are examples provided.
  • Know Your Kid — Alisha at Cinnamon&Sassfras refutes the idea that children are unpredictable.
  • Surprising car seat myths — Choosing a car seat is a big, important decision with lots of variables. But there are some ways to simplify it and make sure you have made the safest choice for your family. Megan at Mama Seeds shares how, plus some surprising myths that changed her approach to car seats completely!
  • I Never Tell My Kids To Be Careful — Kim is Raising Babes, Naturally, by staying present and avoiding the phrase "be careful!"

Friday, August 16, 2013

should we join Costco?

costco logo


We've been pondering whether to join Costco Wholesale Club. Generally speaking, a way to buy food in bulk--both to save on cost and cut trips to the store--appeals to me. I do also have one very fond memory of an epic shopping trip at Sam's Club with my mom as a teenager, and we stumbled upon what could only be described as a pallet of medjool dates. Heaven! However, as a family committed to eating unprocessed, local food as much as possible, we are undecided about the discount price club movement. Would we be able to purchase enough to justify the $55/year membership fee?

I set out on the internet to discover the opinion of fellow real foodies. A few articles are positively persuading me that it is a decision that would make sense for our family's desire to eat real, sustainable food:
They do seem to carry plenty of organic products! Who knew?! Based on the articles I read, I have decided to give it a shot. Here's my shopping list (not all in one go, since we're still trying to go unprocessed and local as much as possible, but these are the products I could see us buying at some point):
  • Kellygold grass-fed butter and Dubliner cheese
  • organic sugar
  • organic coconut oil
  • Gilt organic unbleached flour
  • Newman's Own caesar dressing (the hub's absolute favorite, must-have salad dressing)
  • organic strawberry jam
  • organic peanut butter
  • organic tomato sauce & diced tomatoes
  • Harry's organic creamy tomato basil soup
  • organic carrot juice (the girls love it and think they are getting a treat!)
  • Annie's organic fruit snacks (I'm not proud, but they are excellent tools of bribery. Look away!)
  • Clif organic fruit rope (ummm, organic fruit by the foot? heck yeah!)
  • TruRoots sprouted rice and quiona blend & sprouted bean trio
  • Tazo tea
  • raw honey (they carry Nature Nate's, which has a nice explanation of what raw honey is)
  • organic frozen produce (peas, corn, edamame, etc.)
  • Amy's frozen lasagna
  • Morningstar frozen veggie sausage
  • Alexia organic frozen french fries
  • Larabars & Clif bars
  • raw nuts
  • Mary's Gone organic crackers
  • canned fish (tuna, sardines, salmon)
  • Kirkland Toscano olive oil (see this guide that gives Costco oil a thumb's up)
  • Made in Nature organic preservative-free dried fruit blend
  • steel-cut oats
  • almond butter
  • organic ketchup
  • vanilla beans
  • Izze soda
  • Better than Bouillon
  • white vinegar
  • baking soda
  • eco-friendly dish soap
  • Oxyclean
  • cat food, wet and dry

I'll report back with how it goes and will make an attempt to calculate my savings. In the meantime, tell me, are you a member? Do you love it?

Image Credit: Steve Lovelace

Thursday, April 11, 2013

on not becoming The Goops

Alternate title: But I still refuse to eat snails.

Have you read French Kids Eat Everything yet? I'm not finished with it, but it's already a game-changer for us. A lovestruck Nate turned to me at dinner last night and wistfully said, a hint of a glistening tear in his eye, "This is just how I wanted dinner to be." Okay, I'm kidding about that. That kind of husbandly praise is the stuff of dreams...

With how much I talk (read: gloat) about feeding my kids real food, it might surprise you I have a lot to learn about teaching kids to eat well. Yes, I usually manage to get my kids to eat healthy food, BUT I have come to dread meal time due to their whininess, messiness, disregard for normal decibel levels and decent personal space, and sibling rivalry that accompany every meal. I was becoming a cross between a hair-raising psycho and a punch-drunk lunatic at dinner, getting into immature discussions with my kids about who was going to get the purple plate and which child would be allowed to sing the third verse of the rainbow song.

Then, the clouds parted, and this book fell into my lap. Or something like that.

But, seriously y'all, I was skeptical at first about whether the tricks in this book would work for us. I have employed some aspects of attachment parenting, and one of them that I associate with the trend is to offer children choices and let them articulate their preferences and control aspects of their food world. If I had to pick one thing I've learned in the last week, it's that the science does not agree; in fact, it suggests children aren't capable of deciding what they should eat, and these decisions actually stress them out.

But the proof is in the pudding: how did the experiment work for us? I am dumbfounded by the fact that not only did these fancy tricks work, but they have made ME enjoy food more. Who could have thought that was possible?

Here's a nutshell about why I give this book two enthusiastic thumbs up, with a few caveats (so maybe, one enthusiastic thumb and another regular thumb):

Caveat first: I don't have as many ingrained issues with food as the writer apparently does [Example: she is a self-professed lover of McDonald's. Gag me with a spoon.], so I had trouble identifying with her tendency to whine about her great luck. She seemed to have begrudgingly taken on the challenge to feed her kids French food--WHILE LIVING IN FRANCE AND MARRIED TO A FRENCHMAN--whereas I look at these opportunities to mold and change my kids as fun experiments. To me, a person who doesn't thank her lucky stars that she can benefit from the wisdom of the best foodies in the world has a bit of a chip on her shoulder. But then again, I try never to judge a woman for a reaction to her mother-in-law's advice.

Having said that, I learned loads from this book. I've only been to France once and then only to Paris, but even after a few days there, I learned easily that the French have figured out how to make good food. They enjoy food so much and so well. What I didn't know was that they have many rules about what, when, and how to eat. Being someone who likes to cook and eat--and someone who is sometimes painfully attempting to teach my kids good manners--I appreciate a culture that is willing to take time in crafting good, well-mannered eaters.

I also didn't realize how many bad American eating habits I have--and even worse--that I'm passing down to my kids.  I had become resigned to my fate, forgetting--or perhaps never knowing to begin with--that I have role in their meal-time education (Rule #1). Could it be as simple as they were misbehaving because they weren't aware that there were meal-time rules?


French Food Rules

Food Rules
Illustration by: Sarah Jane Wright for French Kids Eat Everything

Here are few of the rules she discusses in the book that I am most taken with (in my own words):


Up the formality! 

The French lay a tablecloth (!!), even for small children; they forgo paper napkins and sippy cups, opting instead for glasses, cloth napkins, and real silverware; and they announce the beginning of the meal with a quick phrase, "To the table!" When everyone is seated, they say "Bon appetit!" to signify that everyone may begin eating. My kids love rituals so took to these improvements like buttah. Vivi sets the table with a purpose, as though she has been lying in wait for the chance to be given this task. We've always said a blessing, which is now like icing on the cake instead of the only ritual.

Documentation of our first foray into tableclothing. It's a Kenyan wrap skirt. Cute, huh?


Respect each other...and the food! 


Imagine a meal with small children in which you don't have to endure loud interruptions and whining. Wonderful, right? How is this magic accomplished??

Actually, it isn't that hard. Once I got started, I figured out quickly that the rules I was implementing were exactly what they were already doing at school. Duh. If they say "But I wanted the purple plate!," I say "You get what you get, and you don't get upset." If they say "I don't want tabbouleh!," then I say "You don't have to like it, you just have to taste it." And after both of those phrases, they pipe in with "That's what my teachers say!" Oh, right.

I can't believe I didn't use these rules sooner. I always imagined that if I stopped them from jumping around and yelling, I would somehow be stifling their joy. But while I previously would have used my "Let kids be kids!" go-to parenting rule, I now realize that what I was doing was robbing everyone, including myself, of a chance to eat a peaceful meal. By stopping the chaos, I offer respect to my dinner guests and myself--and to the food we are eating, for that matter.

Plus, I've added an element of fun by asking them a few questions about their day, like their favorite thing, something they didn't like, a funny part of the day, and a time they helped someone. Both of the girls relish this time to shine with everyone listening. And I relish the opportunity to start new Mom catchphrases.


No food bribes or rewards (Rule #2). 

This rule is actually harder for me than I had thought. In my opinion, this rule exempts the once-a-year bribe of "If you do well at the doctor, you can have a lollipop!" But it also means that you can't stuff your kid's face with animal crackers every time you're in line at the bank. You can't jump into the car knowing you're going to get stuck in traffic and bribe your kids with fruit snacks and chips to make it the duration. You can't swoop in after your kid falls down or doesn't get the purple plate and say "If you eat your peas, you will get a popsicle!" What I failed to realize is that I was teaching my kids to fill their voids with food, and by doing that, I was making their relationship with food emotional. Yikes.


No snacking (Rule #7). 

This rule is tied with the rule above. "It's okay for them to be hungry" has become my new internal mantra. Once I attempted to stop our constant snacking, it occurred to me I had been teaching Charlotte to be a snack monster (see: toddler terrorist post). Her hunger monster still rears its head on occasion; however, just as I wouldn't back down when I tell her it's time to brush her teeth, I feel confident that keeping her from simple carbs and sugary juice is going to pay off in the end when she learns to reward her patience with satiety instead of stifling it with empty calories.


Eat family meals together (Rule #4).

I always wanted to enact this rule, and I had done it sometimes, but I admit there were many occasions that I would spend their meal doing dishes or reading blogs in the kitchen instead of sitting with them. Now I look upon meal time as an important part of their education and sit at the table with them, even if I on rare occasion am not eating a meal myself (and I try to make sure I am eating with them). When they are finished with the meal, I let them have time to blow off steam and be silly (read: not at the dining room table), and I take that time to do my quiet recharging or cleaning.


I've been reciting a poem to the girls called "The Goops" that my parents recited to me as a child, and it has taken on a new meaning lately. Turns out that "The Goops" is actually a series of books written in the early 1900's to teach children manners, so it's no wonder it stands out now.

The Goops 
by Gelett Burgess (1900)

The Goops they lick their fingers,
The Goops they lick their knives,
They spill their broth on the tablecloth-
Oh, they lead disgusting lives!

The Goops they talk while eating,
And loud and fast they chew,
And that is why that I 
Am glad I'm not a Goop--are you?


the goops
Image credit: Gutenburg.org
Author's Note: I shared this post with Tasty TraditionsWorks for Me Wednesday, and Whole Foods Wednesday.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

methods of conserving water: a gardening season primer


I'll never forget my first lesson in conserving water. I was at summer camp, and our head counselor stood in front of the group and explained how we could use less water when brushing our teeth by turning off the water when not using it. As an adult who has been doing this practice most my life, it seems so elementary as to require no explanation, but I remember feeling astonished at this news as a child. Oh, right, I don't need to run the water when I'm not using it!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

rebuilding your gut & immune system after antibiotics

IMPORTANT: Please do not put your children on Miralax to prevent or treat constipation. PEG (Polyethylene Glycol), the active ingredient in it, has been reported by FDA to cause neuropsychiatric episodes. Read this article for more information.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or nutrition expert, so please use your own judgment when making decisions about your health.

When the girls were prescribed antibiotics last month for complications from upper respiratory infections (Charlie also had conjunctivitis. They were a mess!), our pediatrician was surprised at the lack of antibiotics (or medical chart at all) in their history. To be honest, at the time I was disappointed they needed antibiotics; note this article in the journal Pediatrics that discusses over-prescription of antibiotics for upper respiratory infections. I was hoping it would be asthmatic bronchitis (viral) that we could treat with rest, NSAIDs, and/or steroid inhalers.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

get your flu shot!

Ottawa Public Health

"Mieux est l'ennemi du bien"
{Perfect is the enemy of good}
-Voltaire

I try to practice a "live and let live" mentality when interacting with people. I find it doesn't bode well to push my advice on others; if they don't want to hear what I have to say, they aren't listening and will come away feeling like I'm a bully, not a help. However, when I consider not telling people about why the flu shot is a good thing, I'm forced to reconsider my stance. "Live and let die" is perhaps a more apt description of what I'm doing.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

a loaded tootsie: on kids and food bribes

Vivi marched in the door of her school yesterday proudly holding in two hands a sheet of homework--her very first, a page full of scribbled As--and gave it to her teacher, announcing "I get a prize now!" The prize would come at the end of class. I spent the three hours away from her occasionally pondering what the treat could be, and I found myself saying "Please let it not be candy." Upon picking her up I learned the prize was, of course, a tootsie pop. Greaaaat.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

homemade room and linen spray

We are moving in a few weeks. I don't want to get into too much about it now, lest I jinx the process, but sufficed to say there are lots of cleaning and arranging movements happening around here. Hence all the talk of purging. I've also been getting this house ready round the clock for new potential renters to come check it out.

Monday, September 10, 2012

who's afraid of the big bad germs?

Image credit: Prevention article about air freshener

Newsflash: Antibacterial soaps are bad, and public toilet seats are cleaner than your kitchen sponge!!

I'll never forget the first time I heard that antibacterial soap might not be the wonder cleaning cure it's touted to be. I was a freshman in college, and my new boyfriend was learning about the subject in his microbiology class. It occurs to me college freshmen must be the primary target group for changing beliefs and attitudes because I only vaguely remember feeling momentarily taken aback about the news, and then I quickly accepted it and moved on.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

conditioner: great for wavy toddler hair! {and a giveaway}

I was given some of Dove's new nourishing oil care conditioner to try. For those of you who have been following my hair saga, I'll start by saying it is ongoing. I continue to lose more hair than I think I should, then it grows back, and on and on. At some point I switched to using the "no poo" method of baking soda and vinegar, and I have never looked back. Vivi has similar hair to mine, so her hair needs almost no maintenance. Now that it is short, I don't even brush it any more. However, Charlotte still has the adorably wispy angel hair that needs a bit more maintenance.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"kidyasa" yoga: an any-time mommy exercise



No matter what I am doing for work, no matter where I live or how many offspring I am raising, there is one universal constant in my life, and here it is: Just about the most difficult thing I ever do is force myself to exercise on days I don't feel like it. Maybe I want an afternoon cocktail on a day I was planning an evening run. Maybe one of my kids is cranky and doesn't want to go to the gym. Maybe my knee is acting up again. Maybe I am hungry and tired and have too many loads of laundry waiting for me to fold.

I may lack energy, but one thing I never tire of is excuses.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

thoughts on "natural" skin care & the oil cleansing method


I'll get to the tips in a moment, but first I have to tell you what led me to ponder this subject in the first place, when it's so out of my typical element. Stick with me--we're going somewhere. During my girly weekend, I happened upon the Bobbi Brown makeup counter in a Lord & Taylor department store. How I wound up there is in itself a small novel.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

back to basics

Welcome to the June 2012 Simplicity Parenting Carnival: Green Living
This post was written as part of the monthly Simplicity Parenting Carnival hosted by The Lone Home Ranger and S.A.H.M. i AM. This month we are discussing how we find ways to be more natural parents and stewards of the environment. Be sure to read to the end to see a list of the rest of the excellent carnival contributors.
***

A few months ago I wrote about my switch to the "no poo" method of washing my hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar. In case you didn't read it or my updates, I still love it and have never looked back. My hair is shiny, less greasy, and never has tangles. I also wash the girls' hair in baking soda, and when combined with Vivi's pixie hair cut, I basically never need to brush her hair. It's like magic!

Using more natural personal care products has motivated me to find other green and natural uses for these magical kitchen items that previously took a back seat on the shelf. Prior to having kids, my method of being "green" was to buy Seventh Generation and leave it at that. But once I started delving deeper into the types of products I use, I realized you can go so much further toward sustainable, earth-friendly methods of cleaning without even needing to purchase new items. A little know-how goes a long way.

Just in time for my desire to learn, I stayed with my grandmother for a week, and she gave me some great tips. My great grandmother used to work at a professional laundry service, and as a result, she passed along some wonderful cleaning advice. For instance, did you know the "treat animal with animal" stain trick? If you soak blood stains overnight in milk, they come right out!

Friday, April 13, 2012

the library: an urban homesteader's most trusted companion

As a budding urban homesteader, I often felt disconnected from my rural counterparts, who I imagined were spending their days picking up tips and tricks from each other in knitting circles and at community pot-lucks. Whether they actually ever attend these events is unknown to me, but these scenarios have been firmly entrenched in my fantasy of rural life. I felt left out of their knowledge loop, like a shy schoolgirl who sits on the periphery of the cafeteria.

I'm happy to report I have managed to join the homesteading reindeer games, and the instructions weren't as difficult to come by as I once imagined. My take-home point is an old lesson but a good one: Ask, and you shall receive. Today I'm sharing a prodigious source of information for the urban homesteader that connects me to the past, present, and future of natural family living and DIY homesteading: My library!

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