My Dining Room Table

Welcome to the September 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Home Tour

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 opened up their doors and given us a photo-rich glimpse into how they arrange their living spaces.

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My dining room table is one of my favorite places in our home.  Although, I have to take into account that it is not an island – it is surrounded by the fabulousness of our hutch, school cabinet, chalkboard, and kitchen!  And since these are all things that we utilize the majority of the time we are awake, the dining room table just sort of becomes our landing spot.

20140902_115956To start with, I suppose I should point out that the table belonged to Micah’s grandparents, and we inherited it when we moved into the first house we owned.  It, along with the matching hutch, brought a beautiful sparkle to our dining room.  We eat all of our meals together, and most of them happen at the dining room table.  We do a lot of our schooling at the table, because it is a good place to gather and work.  Also, my kids spend hours every day drawing and crafting at the table.  Yes, the dining room table tends to be the center of our day.

But, while the table certainly makes a lovely landing spot for food, crafts, and conversation, it isn’t just because of this that we all gravitate to the dining room.

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Our school cabinet brings the kids to the table many times each day.  I have worked hard this summer to get it organized into bins and containers to make it easy to find everyone’s things.

In this picture, you can see our sorter.  It helps to keep handy the things that we use often.  The plastic flower pots make it easy to grab the kids’ scissors, pencils, pens and colored pencils.  Crayons and duct tape are handy at the sides of this cabinet.  My sharpies and special supplies are on the top of the top shelf, where they won’t be so tempting to little hands.  The other bins hold stickers, chalk, glitter glue, decorations (googly eyes, ribbons, etc), and index cards.

 

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This cabinet contains the less used items.  On the top shelf is a box of glitter, our dry erase board spray, math manipulatives, my chalk, foam shapes foam letters, ABC beads, ABC stamps, ABC stickers, ABC stencils, bottle caps which I’m going to put dot stickers on top of and add a letter to each sticker so that they can be used to build words, and small chalkboards.

The bottom shelf of this cabinet contains (behind the partition), chalk pastels, oil pastels, and twist up colored pencils.  In sight are dry erase markers, “tools” (like hole punches, compass, etc), fancy scissors, markers, stamps, “fasteners” (staplers and staples, paper clips, binder clips, etc), erasers, glue, counting popsicle sticks, counting acorns, counting buttons and counting cubes.

The kids love to get into the math and letter manipulatives.  They love building words with the letter things.  They love using the counting manipulatives to figure out math problems.  It is just an all around, fun cabinet!

 

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On the buffet part of the hutch is the printer, the paper, the sticker sheets, and the laminator pouches.

On the other end of the buffet is the nature table. We have several items we have collected from various places to fill it.  In theory, this gets changed seasonally.

20140902_120401Above the hutch is a paper stacker with watercolors, notepads, tracing paper, grid paper, our light table, my laminator, more stencils, and a few other random items.  There is also our microscope slide kit, a magazine sorter full of construction paper, envelopes, maps, and Montessori math beads.

Altogether, we refer to the hutch as “The School Cabinet”.  The other large cabinet, we refer to as “The Craft Cabinet”.

20140902_120435The top of the craft cabinet has aspirations of being as organized as the school cabinet someday.  For now, it is all manner of general crafting supplies, loosely sorted into bins or just set in the cabinet.  On top of the cabinet is our special paper supply (scrapbook, tissue, wrapping paper scraps), and a paper box full of craft paint and our smocks.
20140902_120444In the center shelf of the craft cabinet is a new area.  There are a few organizers that contain school supplies for the kids.  In the long organizer there is a section each for Sofi, Walter and Elliott which contain skill appropriate workbooks, worksheets, sketchbooks, lined dry erase boards, and folders for organizing work.  The next box contains textbooks that were gifted to us and are there for the children to peruse if they want.  The next box contains workbooks of the same genre and Sofi’s local bird identification binder.  The bottom of the craft cabinet is stuffed full of fabric which I refuse to show here.

20140902_120151The other side of the room has our chalkboard.  We use it over and over throughout the day – to break down tricky reading words into smaller parts, to write up lists, or to figure out how many pieces are in our new fractions set!  Our daily board is also there.  We also hang posters and other sheets on this wall for reference a lot of the time.  Right now, we have the Pledge of Allegiance and the 4H Pledge above with letter blend sounds below.

20140902_120141And very last, this rack holds aprons and bibs for keeping little clothes clean at meal times.  Big people aprons hang beside.  Above the rack hang 2 tiles that we made when Sofi and Walter were still preschool age.  The leaves were rolled into air dry clay and then peeled off, leaving their impression.  Just this year, I watercolored the leaves and made them stand out.

Wow!  There is so much to see and do in our dining room!  No wonder the table is always piled and there is always someone there!

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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 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • Being Barlow Home Tour — Follow along as Jessica at Being Barlow gives you the tour of her family’s home.
  • A Tour Of My Hybrid Rasta Kitchen — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama takes you on a tour of her kitchen complete with a Kombucha Corner, a large turtle, her tea stash, and of course, all her must-have kitchen gadgets. Check out Hybrid Rasta Mama’s most favorite space!
  • Dreaming of a Sisters Room — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, dreams, schemes and pins ideas for when her younger daughter is ready to move out of the family bed and share a room with her older sister.
  • Building a life — Constructing a dream — Survivor at Surviving Mexico-Adventures and Disasters shows you a glimpse inside the home her family built and talks about adaptions they made in constructing their lives in Mexico.
  • Why I’m Sleeping in the Dining Room — Becca at The Earthling’s Handbook welcomed a new baby but didn’t have a spare bedroom. She explains how her family rearranged the house to create Lydia’s nursing nest and changed room in spaces they already had.
  • The Gratitude Tour — Inspired by Momastry’s recent “home tour,” That Mama Gretchen is highlighting imperfect snapshots of things she’s thankful for around her home. Don’t plan to pin anything!
  • Our Home in the Forest — Tara from Up the Dempster gives you a peek into life lived off-grid in Canada’s Yukon Territory.
  • natural bedding for kids — Emma at Your Fonder Heart shows you how her family of 3 (soon to be 4) manages to keep their two cotton & wool beds clean and dry (plus a little on the end of cosleeping — for now).
  • I love our home — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings explains how lucky she feels to have the home she does, and why she strives so hard to keep it tidy.
  • Not-So-Extreme Makeover: Sunshine and Rainbows Edition — Dionna at Code Name: Mama was tired of her dark, outdated house, so she brightened it up and added some color.
  • Our little outdoor space — Tat at Mum in search invites you to visit her balcony, where her children make friends with wildlife.
  • Our Funky, Bright, Eclectic, Montessori Home — Rachel at Bread and Roses shows you her family’s newly renovated home and how it’s set up with Montessori principles in mind for her 15-month-old to have independence.
  • Beach cottage in progress — Ever tried to turn a 1980s condo into a 1920s beach bungalow? Lauren at Hobo Mama is giving it a try!
  • Conjuring home: intention in renovation — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama explains why she and her husband took on a huge renovation with two little kids and shares the downsides and the ups, too.
  • Learning At Home — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling helps us to re-imagine the ordinary spaces of our homes to ignite natural learning.
  • My Dining Room Table — Kellie at Our Mindful Life loves her dining room table — and everything surrounding it!
  • Sight words and life lessons — The room that seemed to fit the least in Laura from Pug in the Kitchen‘s life is now host to her family’s homeschool adventures and a room they couldn’t imagine life without!
  • A Tour of Our Church — Garry at Postilius invites you virtually visit him in the 19th-century, one-room church where he lives with his spouse and two kids.
  • Preparing a Montessori Baby-Toddler Space at Home — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the Montessori baby-toddler space she’s created in the main living area of her home along with a variety of resources for creating a Montessori-friendly home.
  • The Old Bailey House — Come peek through the window of The Old Bailey House where Erica at ChildOrganics resides with her little ones.
  • My New House Not-Monday: The Stairs — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl shows you her new laminate stairs in her not-so-new-anymore house.
  • To Minimalist and Back Again — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how she went to the extreme as a minimalist and bounced right back. Read how she finds it difficult to maintain the minimalist lifestyle when upsizing living space.
  • Our Life As Modern-Day Nomads — This family of five lives in 194 square feet of space — with the whole of North America as a back yard. Paige of Our Road Less Traveled guest posts at Natural Parents Network.

Packing Lunch – Foodie Friday

One of the things that I am flat out BAD at is packing lunches that meet our allergen diet requirements, and also fill us up.  This is especially true if I’m feeling concerned about things like nutrition.  At least, this USED to be true.

This week, we have been conducting an experiment, so to speak.  There has been some extra stress at our house this summer and heading into this fall.  As we started into our structured school year, Walter and I were fighting nonstop.  We decided that for our relationship (and some piece of my sanity), we would put Walter into school and see if it helped lessen the strain at home.

So, I took my baby who can’t eat dairy, soy, corn or gluten and I enrolled him in school.  And I’ve spent this week working with his teacher, educating the school staff about how to keep him safe, and what to look for to indicate that he has gotten a contamination.

And all of this means, I had to pack him lunch – because there is no way that the school can feed him.  And not only does he have lunch at school, but he has a breakfast/snack time in the morning, then lunch at noon, and an afternoon snack before he comes home for the day.  I pack him a LOT of food each day, I feel like!  And I decided that if I am going to learn to pack a stellar lunch, I’m going to document it!  So, here is our first week of school lunches (and snacks).

Monday it was another child’s birthday, so everyone had cookies.  Walter brought his own so he could enjoy a treat too.  But his real lunch was Easier Than Hamburger Helper in his thermos, a fruit cup, kiwi, sliced bell pepper, and a Lara Bar.

 

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Tuesday he had more Easier Than Hamburger Helper, sliced bell pepper, a fruit cup, trail mix and an apple.

Easier Than Hamburger Helper, fruit cup, apple, sliced bell pepper and trail mix.

 

Wednesday his new lunch tray had come, so he took rice in his thermos, salami roll ups, trail mix, grapes, dried apricots, baby carrots a fruit cup and a Lara Bar.  I *might* be afraid he is going to run out of food and be hungry at school.

 

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Thursday he took beans and rice in his thermos, and sliced bell pepper, sliced kiwi, grapes, baby carrots, and a Lara Bar in his tray.  I realized while snapping the picture that if I traded the yellow bar for a blue one, we’d have a whole rainbow!  I traded them but didn’t have time for another picture.  That bus thing is tough!

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Friday, today, he has gluten free crackers, salami suns, baby carrots, sliced bell peppers, sliced green apple, a fruit cup and a Lara Bar.

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So, a few things that I’ve figured out about packing lunches:

1. Freezer cooking is my friend!  I made a batch of Easier Than Hamburger Helper, a batch of plain rice, and a batch of plain black beans on Sunday.  I froze them in muffin tins, then moved them to a bag or a glass dish to store in the deep freeze.  I could easily pop them out and heat them up on the stove top in the morning and pop them into the thermos hot.  The beans and rice I could put together and season up in the morning, too.

2. The divided lunch tray helped me to think about how much food to pack, and how to divide it up into a fun meal.  I have aimed for 1 carb source, 2 protein sources, 2 veggies and 2 fruits in each lunch.  And while we love this particular tray, it is a bit large for Walter’s lunch bag, so we decided to trade it in for a Lunchbots Bento Cinco – and get one for each of the other kids too.  There is certainly one on my Christmas list as well!  We may not go to school, but we go places often and have to pack lunch.

3. Thermos!  Why do all of my children not have one of these yet?  And me?  Don’t forget me!  Again, Christmas list.

4. I’ve made a list on my white board of things that we have available for lunch options, so that when I am packing, I can just read the list to Walter and he can tell me yes or no.  I’m going to make us a list of good options that we can usually pull together and laminate it.  Then we can plan at grocery shopping time, on the weekends for freezer meal prep, and on the day that we are packing, so that we can use more whole foods and less prepackaged food.

So, what does your child’s lunch box look like this week?

 

 

Friends Near, Friends Far


Welcome to the August 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Friends

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 friends.

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Making and keeping friends has been one of the hardest challenges of my adult life.  I love people.  I love to just hang out, spend a few hours chatting, knitting, watching the kids goof off, play games.  Yet, as an adult, it can be hard to find a group of friends if you aren’t in an area you grew up in – which I am not.

 

When we moved to Kansas City, just before Sofiya was born, I knew only a few people.  I made a few friends here and there.  Then, when Sofi was about 7 months old, I started attending regular La Leche League meetings and I met my tribe.  Some of the moms from the group really clicked with me, and several also belonged to a larger parenting group which I was quickly invited to.  That group became my village in a time that I truly needed one.  In the years that I lived in Kansas City, this group of attachment parents was a source of joy, comfort, education, and resources.  They donated breastmilk to Walter when he was unable to nurse as a newborn.  Together we did co-op orders, playgroups, homeschool classes, and mom’s night out.  My kids and I formed some very close bonds with several of the people in this group.

And then, we moved to Ohio…

Ohio has been good for us on a lot of levels.  I get to be back with my family, which means more to me than I can adequately express.  My husband went from inside sales (talking on a phone all day, which he really doesn’t enjoy) to outside sales (walking in doors and talking to people face to face) which he really enjoys.  We are in a small town, which we have really enjoyed, and we feel like we are a part of a greater community because of that, as well.  We are much closer to the agricultural roots that we feel so strongly about, and are sourcing a large quantity of our food locally these days.  There are many things that we are grateful for here in Ohio.  But moving meant leaving behind all of those great friends that we had in Kansas City.

We’ve worked hard at building up friendships in Ohio like the ones we had in KC, but we aren’t quite there yet.  I know that one day, we will again have regular play dates, mom’s night out, and co-op orders.  I know that one day we will have friends close enough that I know I could tearfully ask if they would donate breastmilk for a baby who can’t seem to get latched for some reason.  I know that I am hard at work building those connections again.

In the meantime, we go back to Kansas City every year to visit old friends.  While we are there, we usually hop in on a Frontier order, plan a big play group day, and try to make a homeschool class (or 3).  It’s a lot of fun to hook back up with those old connections in our old stomping ground.

Our best friends have also made a huge effort to make it out to see us.  A few friends have come once or twice to Ohio.  We keep the camper stocked, plugged in and ready for company.  Anyone is welcome to come spend a few days or more in it.  It’s a great arrangement because it gives us all our own space to breathe, gives the kids a break from each other when tensions are high, and lets everyone have a place to retreat for some calm time before bed.

One of my best friends, who was there for Elliott’s birth in Kansas City, upon finding out that I was pregnant with William in Ohio responded with, “Congratulations!  I can come out for a week when you are due.  Let me know what timing you think would be best.”  She should have left on Thursday to be back home on plan, but decided to stay one more night and got to be there for William’s birth.  It was so special to have her there for both of my babies, even though they were born 600 miles apart!

My kids and I are looking forward to a camping trip at the end of the month with this same friend and another close friend.  Some of the kids’ friends will be in this group as well.

It really is special, watching my kids navigate the waters of making new friends in a new community without all of the homeschool cooperation and collective that we are used to, while they retain their relationships with their friends from Kansas City as well.  Walter still counts Kieran as his best friend, though they only see each other a few weeks a year.  When we are getting close to time to see him, Walter has such grand plans for all of the things they are going to do.  He always boasts that he will be getting up “early, early, early” so that he and Kieran can just “play, play, play!”

I’m really looking forward to the day that my kids and I have friendships in Ohio that are as strong as our friendships in Kansas City, but I also love how my children have learned that you don’t have to see someone regularly to love them, think of them, and have a strong friendship with them.

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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 updated by afternoon August 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • Sibling Revelry — At Natural Parents Network, Amy W. shares her joy in witnessing the growth of the friendship between her two young children.
  • Making New Mama Friends — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama muses on how she was able to connect with like-minded mamas and form deep friendships both in ‘real life’ and online. Learn how these life-long friendships, both between Jennifer and other mothers but also between Jennifer’s daughter and the other children, formed and flourished.
  • Family, Friends and Family Friends — Vidya Sury at Vidya Sury, Going A-Musing, Collecting Smiles is reflecting on family friendships, past and present.
  • Arranging friendships in a modern world — From a free-range childhood to current parenthood, how can an introvert like Lauren at Hobo Mama navigate the newly complicated scheduling of playdates and mom friends?
  • Mommy Blogs: Where Moms Make Friends — Mothers make friends with other mothers in new ways. The options from earlier decades remain, but new avenues have sprung up with mommy bloggers. Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. at Parental Intelligence shares her thoughts.
  • Friendship and Sacrifice: Guardians of the Galaxy — Shay at 4HisGlor y learned that friendship lessons can be found in unlikely places, like blockbuster summer movies.
  • Friendship – Finding, Forming, Keeping, and WishingLife Breath Present‘s thoughts on finding, forming, keeping, and wishing for friendships as an introvert.
  • Consciously Creating My Community: Monthly Dinners — How have you intentionally created community? Dionna at Code Name: Mama‘s goal for the year is to cultivate community. One way she’s done that is to help organize two different monthly dinners with friends.
  • Adults need imaginary friends, too — Tat at Mum in Search shares why it’s a good idea for adults to have imaginary friends. You get to meet Tat’s friend and download a playbook to create your own.
  • Friends Near, Friends Far — Kellie at Our Mindful Life helps her kids keep in touch with friends 600 miles apart.
  • Which comes first, social skills or social life? — Jorje of Momma Jorje frets about whether her daughter can learn social skills without experience, but how to get good experience without social skills.
  • Snail Mail Revival — Skype isn’t the only way to stay in touch with long distance friends, That Mama Gretchen and her family are breaking out the envelopes and stamps these days!
  • Montessori-Inspired Friendship Activities — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares a roundup of Montessori-inspired friendship activities for home or classroom.
  • How I used the internet to make local friends — After years of striking out at the park, Crunchy Con Mom finally found some great local friends . . . online!
  • My How Friends Change — Erica at ChildOrganics knows entirely too much about how to comfort a friend after a loss.

Welcome to the Beach House!

Welcome to the July 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Vacation

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 their family-travel tips, challenges, and delights. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Two years ago, when we first moved to Ohio, our house in Missouri was on the market, and we couldn’t afford to buy or rent a house yet. We were able to buy a 31 foot camper trailer, park it at a campground, and live in it for 4 months. It was a great solution when we didn’t have a lot of options.  The problem with the camper was that we didn’t have anything we could haul it with.  Our van has some towing capabilities, but not for something that heavy.  So, every time we needed to move the camper, we had to have someone haul it for us.  It was kind of a pain.  But, we used the camper as the guest house when our friends and family came from Missouri to visit us, and as office space when Papa was working from home.   So, we I hated to get rid of it, even though we couldn’t pull it.

Spring forward to this year.  This week, Micah and I will have been married for 10 years!  For a few years now, we have talked about going somewhere special for our 10th anniversary.  The kids have always wanted to go to the beach (because, who doesn’t want to go to the beach, right?).  We have tossed around if it would be a possibility to make the beach happen for us.  But, trips like that can get pretty expensive for us, pretty quickly; not because we fall into the tourist traps, or because we have to hit the outlet malls.  Mostly, it is because of the cost of feeding our family.  To start with, there are 6 of us.  That is a lot to feed to begin with.  But, add to that the fact that we have such extensive food allergies, and the grocery bill goes through the roof.  Cooking at home isn’t too bad, but food that we can travel with is much pricier.  Most hotels offer a microwave, at best.  We have a tiny camp stove, but it isn’t always a great, or safe, option in a hotel room.  And, um, hotel rooms for 6 people are also not cheap.  So, how on Earth to make a beach trip possible for us?!

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We looked into condos, but they were still a bit out of our price range.

And then Papa mentioned one day, off-handedly, that if we sold the big camper, we could use the money to buy a little one that we could pull with our van…  And the lightbulb came on!

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A camper would allow us to take our own food, prepare less expensive whole foods instead of existing on lunch meat and potato chips, and have a comfortable place for all of us to sleep without having to get a hotel room!  Suddenly, the price of the beach was much more within our reach!

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So, we sold our big old friend, and bought a tiny little vintage camper.  It is a 1969 Trotwood, and it is adorable!  We brought it home and went to work on cleaning it up, checking out all of its systems and making it our own.  One weekend, when I was in particular need of some fun and relaxation, I announced that I was going to the beach, and hung out in the camper all weekend.  The camper was promptly dubbed, “The Beach House” and the name stuck.  We’ve been out on 2 camping expeditions in it so far, and it is pretty great!  We are still hopeful that we will be able to go to the beach this year – although we’ve decided that rather than go ON our anniversary, we will hold out until fall when the beaches won’t be so busy and hot.  But, even if the beach doesn’t happen this year, the camper will make travel generally easier, cheaper, and more comfortable for us – so we will be able to do more travelling in general.

 

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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 July 8 with all the carnival links.)

  • Favorite Family Vacation Recipe: Staying at Home — The best family vacation Laurie Hollman at Parental Intelligence could ever recommend requires minimal packing, no hotels, unrushed travel, easy meals to everyone’s taste without a bill, no schedules, everyone’s favorite interests, and three generations playing together.
  • Scared of toilets and other travel stories — Tat at Mum in search is an expert at flying with kids. She shares some of her tips and travel stories.
  • Staycation Retreat for Busy MamasLydia’s Handmade Life gives Budget-friendly, eco-friendly staycation ideas for busy work-at-home moms.
  • How We Leave It All Behind — At Life Breath Present, they don’t take traditional vacations — they go on forest adventures. Here are some tips in planning for an adventure, if you don’t just go spontaneously, as they have before. Plus, many pictures of their latest adventure!
  • Traveling while pregnant: When to go & how to manage — Lauren at Hobo Mama discusses the pros and cons of traveling during the different trimesters of pregnancy, and how to make it as comfortable as possible.
  • Our Week in Rome: Inspiration and Craft Ideas for Parents, Teachers, and Caregivers — If anyone in your family is interested in learning about Ancient Rome, if you enjoy crafts, of if you’re a parent looking for a fun staycation idea, check out Erin Yuki’s post for a Roman-themed week of crafts, food, and fun at And Now, for Something Completely Different.
  • The Real Deal: A behind the scenes look at our “Western Adventure” — Often Facebook and blog posts make vacations look “picture perfect” to outsiders. If you only looked at the pictures, Susan’s recent family vacation was no exception. In this post at Together Walking, she takes readers “behind the scenes” so they can see the normal challenges they faced and how they managed to enjoy their vacation in spite of them.
  • Welcome to the Beach House! — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is in love with her family’s new “beach house”!
  • Road Trip to Niagara Falls — Erica at ChildOrganics writes about her first trip out of the country with just her and the kids.
  • 5 Essential Things to Take on Vacation — Five things Nurtured Mamas should be packing in their suitcase for their next trip, in a guest post at Natural Parents Network.
  • The Many Benefits of Camping with Friends — Do you want to go camping, but the very thought of it seems daunting? Make your life easier – and your kids happier – and go camping with friends! Dionna at Code Name: Mama discusses how much better camping can be when you join forces with others.
  • My Natural First Aid Kit for Camping, Travel, and Everyday Use — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama gives us an insiders looks at her natural first aid kit for camping, travel, and everyday use. These natural remedies have saved her hide and those of others many times! You might be surprised what made her list of must-haves!
  • Traveling Solo and Outnumbered — Alisha at Cinnamon and Sassafras shares lessons learned from a recent trip with two toddlers and no co-parent.
  • Compromise and conviction on the road — Jessica of Crunchy-Chewy Mama shares the reality vs. the dream of travel and dishes on the compromises she makes or won’t make while traveling.
  • Camping Trauma — Jorje of Momma Jorje offers why she loves camping and why she and her family are a little gun shy about it, too.
  • First in our Books — Writing fresh from her first family vacation, Laura from Pug in the Kitchen has realized that helping pack her parents’ station wagon made for a smooth and pleasant trip that was more than she hoped for!

Beanies Bunnies

Welcome to the June 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Animals

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 kids and pets.

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We have long talked about the farm that we hope to buy (if our house in Missouri ever sells!!) one day. Each of the children has big plans about what their special animals will be on the farm. And Sofi Bean has talked, and talked, and talked some more about having bunnies on the farm. She has been saving money for about 2 years now – birthdays, Christmas, allowance. She is a 4H Cloverbud this year, and next year she will be 8 years old and able to show at the fair. She, of course, plans to show bunnies.

And when we moved into this house in December, it just so happened to come with a bunny hutch already built into the shed. It seemed providential.

So, my Beanie Bean got herself all prepared. She researched the care and maintenance of bunnies. She learned about the breeds, and assessed which qualities would be important to her. She researched the items she would need to purchase for her own bunnies. She researched where to buy the types of bunnies she was interested in.

She talked Daddy into checking out the hutch for safety and security.

And she made the leap. Or, perhaps, the hop, so to speak…

And she bought Blackberry and Patch!

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Blackberry and Patch are Mini Rex bunnies.  Blackberry is a doe and Patch is a buck.  They were born in mid-March.  They are happy little bunnies, who are good friends.

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And my Sofi Bean is over the moon about her new bunnies.  She has even taken into consideration making her own arrangements for their care while we are away a few times this summer.

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She is one HAPPY little girl with her new friends – and doing an excellent job of taking care of them.

 

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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:

  • What Animal Rescue is Teaching My Children
  • Tips on Picking the Perfect Kid-friendly Dog — Lactating Girl at The Adventures of Lactating Girl shares some tips she’s learned on how to find the perfect child-friendly dog for your family.
  • All New Animals Are “Woof” — Baby Boy is still learning animals. Life Breath Present doesn’t yet have any at home, but he still believes that all animals are “woof.” Here’s the proof.
  • Dude, where’s my Horse? — Adora loves horses, but Erin at And Now, for Something Completely Different really doesn’t. However, Adora’s longing wins out; learn about their interactions with horses here.
  • Weighing the Pros and Cons of a Family Pet — When is a family ready for a pet? Donna at Eco-Mothering discusses her worries as well as the benefits of adopting a dog, including how it will affect her seven-year-old daughter.
  • Parenting Challenge–Learning from Animals–running the emotional gammut — Survivor at Surviving Mexico writes about the emotional learning her family has experienced through sharing their lives with animals.
  • Puppy Love for our Family — In case you didn’t catch it from the blog title, Pug in the Kitchen, the family pet is an integral part of Laura’s family and home life!
  • Vegetarianism and Animal Rights: Explaining to Children — Becca at The Earthling’s Handbook is mostly vegetarian…not 100%, and not because of animal rights…yet she has found that the idea of not hurting animals is the aspect of vegetarianism most easily understood by a young child. She explains what her son has learned about not eating meat and how it has affected his social life.
  • Pets & kids: The realities — Lauren at Hobo Mama lays out the benefits and drawbacks of pet ownership when young kids are involved.
  • HOW PETS CONNECT WITH EMOTIONS: KIDS & PETS AFTER 9-11 — Parenting Expert Laurie Hollman at Parental Intelligence discusses the importance of pets in lowering stress after traumatic situations, why children choose certain pets, the loss of a pet, and the role of parents in teaching care-giving to animals in a warm, gentle way.
  • It’s not our house without a dog! — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work describes why giving a loving and disciplined home to at least one shelter dog at a time enriches the life of her family, and has become a vivid memory in the minds of her children.
  • Canine Haikus —Kids, dog, haikus, atDionna (Code Name: Mama).

    Pet-centric poems.

  • Beanie’s BunniesOur Mindful Life‘s Sofi Bean has gotten her first pets!
  • Montessori Care of Pets — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about her experiences with kids and pets and shares Montessori resources for pet care.
  • How to Nurture Your Child’s Awareness of Spirit Guides — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama hosts a post from her regular contributor Lauren of SpiralElixir.com. Lauren looks at the concept of animals as spirit guides and how deeply children are connected to this realm. She also encourages us to open ourselves up as parents to the reality that children are naturally more connected to the animal world, giving us ideas on how to nurture their relationships with their Spirit Guides.
  • No Puppy! — Meg at the Boho Mama shares her tips for dealing with toddlers and the (very real) fear of animals.
  • Year of the Pets — Jorje of Momma Jorje wasn’t sure she ever wanted pets again, but things have changed a lot this year!

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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:

  • What Animal Rescue is Teaching My Children
  • Tips on Picking the Perfect Kid-friendly Dog — Lactating Girl at The Adventures of Lactating Girl shares some tips she’s learned on how to find the perfect child-friendly dog for your family.
  • All New Animals Are “Woof” — Baby Boy is still learning animals. Life Breath Present doesn’t yet have any at home, but he still believes that all animals are “woof.” Here’s the proof.
  • Dude, where’s my Horse? — Adora loves horses, but Erin at And Now, for Something Completely Different really doesn’t. However, Adora’s longing wins out; learn about their interactions with horses here.
  • Weighing the Pros and Cons of a Family Pet — When is a family ready for a pet? Donna at Eco-Mothering discusses her worries as well as the benefits of adopting a dog, including how it will affect her seven-year-old daughter.
  • Parenting Challenge–Learning from Animals–running the emotional gammut — Survivor at Surviving Mexico writes about the emotional learning her family has experienced through sharing their lives with animals.
  • Puppy Love for our Family — In case you didn’t catch it from the blog title, Pug in the Kitchen, the family pet is an integral part of Laura’s family and home life!
  • Vegetarianism and Animal Rights: Explaining to Children — Becca at The Earthling’s Handbook is mostly vegetarian…not 100%, and not because of animal rights…yet she has found that the idea of not hurting animals is the aspect of vegetarianism most easily understood by a young child. She explains what her son has learned about not eating meat and how it has affected his social life.
  • Pets & kids: The realities — Lauren at Hobo Mama lays out the benefits and drawbacks of pet ownership when young kids are involved.
  • HOW PETS CONNECT WITH EMOTIONS: KIDS & PETS AFTER 9-11 — Parenting Expert Laurie Hollman at Parental Intelligence discusses the importance of pets in lowering stress after traumatic situations, why children choose certain pets, the loss of a pet, and the role of parents in teaching care-giving to animals in a warm, gentle way.
  • It’s not our house without a dog! — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work describes why giving a loving and disciplined home to at least one shelter dog at a time enriches the life of her family, and has become a vivid memory in the minds of her children.
  • Canine Haikus

    Kids, dog, haikus, at

    Dionna (Code Name: Mama).

    Pet-centric poems.

  • Beanie’s BunniesOur Mindful Life‘s Sofi Bean has gotten her first pets!
  • Montessori Care of Pets — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about her experiences with kids and pets and shares Montessori resources for pet care.
  • How to Nurture Your Child’s Awareness of Spirit Guides — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama hosts a post from her regular contributor Lauren of SpiralElixir.com. Lauren looks at the concept of animals as spirit guides and how deeply children are connected to this realm. She also encourages us to open ourselves up as parents to the reality that children are naturally more connected to the animal world, giving us ideas on how to nurture their relationships with their Spirit Guides.
  • No Puppy! — Meg at the Boho Mama shares her tips for dealing with toddlers and the (very real) fear of animals.
  • Year of the Pets — Jorje of Momma Jorje wasn’t sure she ever wanted pets again, but things have changed a lot this year!
  • 3 Reasons Why Keeping Backyard Chickens is Good for my Toddler — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, started keeping backyard chickens for the benefit of their eggs, but what she wasn’t prepared for was what they would teach her two year old daughter too.

Making Space

Welcome to the May 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Ages and Stages

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 talked about their children’s most rewarding and most challenging developmental periods. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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We tend to think of our kids in sets of 2.  The 2 older kids, “the big kids”, tend to be doing something together most of the time.  The “babies” tend to be on or near me, or crying, or both.  I spend a fair amount of time trying to get William to sleep, to get Elliott to get involved in something that will actually keep him happy for a little while, or to get William to play on the floor for 10 minutes straight so that I can get something done – him learning to crawl and such wouldn’t hurt anything either.  But, a lot of days, it seems like I’m not succeeding in any of those endeavors.

So, yesterday, a friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook.  This isn’t unusual – my friends list is full of other moms, and we all know how moms are when it comes to posting pictures of our kids on Facebook, right?  But, this particular friend has a baby who is about a month younger than William.  The picture was of the baby, who had made his way across the floor to the toys housed along the side of the room.  I just kept looking at that picture and thinking that if only William had some different toys to play with, perhaps he would stay occupied a bit longer at a stretch.  Then I thought about how my other kids had spent so much time playing with their toys at this age.  But William seems so bored with all of his toys!

So, I just kept looking at that picture.

And I thought about how Sofi’s toys were right in the living room, on a book shelf, when she was 7 months old.  I thought about how Walter joined Sofi in the playroom, crawling from the play kitchen to the bookshelves, to the play stands at 7 months old.  Elliott started out with a handful of toys on the lowest shelf of the built-in at our old house, and then scooted right into the playroom with “the big kids” at about 7 months old.

But William just isn’t going that far yet.  And he is so bored.  And I am SO ready for him to be ready to play.  And I just kept looking at that picture!

And then I looked REALLY hard at my living room.  And I found the last little bit of space hiding in our living room, and got to work.  I cleared off the cubby shelves in the playroom, and Sofi and I hauled it to the living room.  We found all of the toys that would be safe for William and put them in the cubbies.  Then, we hauled the play kitchen in.

William was so interested in what I was doing that he sat there and played and chewed on his toys while we moved furniture.  When we were done, I moved him over closer to the cubbies and he got SO excited that he didn’t fuss for an hour, while I made dinner and cleaned up!  He wiggled, and scooted, and tried to pull up on the shelves.  He did all of those things that I have been praying he would do soon!  Even Elliott played happily for a few hours.  It was a dream come true!

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It’s funny, because I know that very young children have an intense need to be close to their caregivers.  I know that they need to play close to where the adults are working.  But, in moving, and planning, and WISHING about the set up of our house, I had hoped that having the toys in the room right off the living room would be enough to keep the kids playing happily while I get to have a sparkly living room.  And when it wasn’t working, it took me a while to come around to the fact that my lack of happy children was because of my desire for a toy-free living room.  I’m so grateful that my friend posted that picture on Facebook, and reminded me that the toy-free living room might be on my five-year plan, I’ll be happier overall with some toys in the living room for now.

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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:

  • When Three-Year-Olds Stand Up For Themselves — Parenting Expert Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. at her blog, Parental Intelligence, enjoys the stage when three-year-olds dramatically wow their parents with their strong sense of self.
  • This too shall pass — In the beginning, everything seems so overwhelming. Amanda at My Life in a Nutshell looks at the stages of the first 1.5 years of her daughter’s life and explains how nothing is ever static and everything changes – the good and the bad.
  • Age 5 – Is It Really A Golden Period? — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at the developmental norms for the five-year-old set and muses over if this age really is the ‘golden period.’
  • How much do you explain to your preschooler when crime touches close to home? — When tragedy strikes someone your preschooler knows, Nathalie at Kampuchea Crossings wonders how parents can best help young children cope.
  • Thoughts on ToddlerwearingThat Mama Gretchen‘s babywearing days are over, we’re living it up in the toddlerwearing days now!
  • Parenting Challenges—Almost a man — Survivor at Surviving Mexico talks about leaving childhood behind as her son turns 12.
  • How Child Development Works — Competence Builds Competences — Debbie at Equipped Family shares how each stage of childhood builds on the next. Focus on doing the current stage reasonably well and success will breed success!
  • Making Space — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is adjusting her thinking and making room for her babies to stay near her.
  • The Best Parenting Resources for Parents of Toddlers — Toddlers can be so challenging. Not only are they learning how to exert their independence, but they simply do not have the developmental ability to be calm and logical when they are frustrated. It’s the nature of the beast. I mean … the toddler. Here are Dionna at Code Name: Mama‘s favorite books and articles about parenting a toddler.
  • The Fab Five Stages so Far — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen couldn’t choose just one stage for this carnival and is sharing her top five favorite stages in the young lives of her son and daughter at Natural Parents Network.
  • The best parts of ages 0-6 — Lauren at Hobo Mama gives a breakdown of what to expect and what to cherish in each year.
  • Lessons from Parenting a Three-Year-Old — Ana and Niko at Panda & Ananaso are quickly approaching the end of an era — toddlerhood. She shares some of her thoughts on the last two years and some tips on parenting through a time rife with change.
  • Feeling Needed — Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders which developmental stage is her favorite and why. She bares it for us, seemingly without fear of judgment. You might be surprised by her answer!

Crafty Cohorts

Welcome to the April 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 family pastimes.

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Our family is a family of makers.  We create.  Micah works with wood.  We both cook.  I knit, and sew, and generally craft.  And the kids have inherited the gene as well!  Elliott has lately taken to painting.

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Walter’s specialties involve refurbishing items from the recycling into a variety of projects, making jewelry for his doll on the rainbow loom, and weaving pot holders – although he never calls them that.

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Sofi cuts, glues, colors, and decorates.  General crafting is a passion for her.  She has recently learned to knit and sew.

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Sharing my crafting passion with the kids has been very fulfilling for me.  I love watching their ideas develop about how to create things.  I love that they can look at a cardboard box and see a dollhouse, or a stable, or a Dr. Suess Jeep.

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I love that they are developing the same passions as I have.  But more than that, I love that they have learned how to think about things in new ways.  I love that they can look at something that most of us see one way and they can see through that to what its potential is.  This is a skill that doesn’t stop at tuna cans or yarn.  It means that as they grow, and face bigger problems, they will be able to think about them in ways that others can’t.  It means that they will have innovative solutions.  It means that when life hands them lemons, they will make lemon meringue pie – probably dairy, soy, and gluten free.  It means that in their jobs, they will be more valuable because they will be able to come up with new ideas that their coworkers or competition can’t.

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I love that this is how we spend our time together, and how we are shaping our futures.

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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:

  • 8 Reasons to Go Camping with Your Kids — The weather is warmer, and it is time to think about taking a break. As you plan your family vacation, Mandy of Living Peacefully with Children, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, explains why you should consider hitting the trails with your kids.
  • Crafty Cohorts — Kellie at Our Mindful Life enjoys crafting with her kids, and the skills they are learning.
  • 10 Hobbies For Families With Young Children — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama knows that finding hobbies families can do together (with young children in tow) isn’t always the easiest of feats. She has compiled a list of 10 family friendly hobbies that children of all ages can enjoy and that won’t break the bank!
  • Helping Himawari — Sophelia’s family at Sophelia’s Adventures in Japan share a passion for helping when a dog is abandoned at the nearby elementary school.
  • The ‘Art’ of Having FunMarija Smits shares some thoughts on family art and fun.
  • How we made our own Family Day — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares how her family celebrates the best day of the week, a chance for connection and adventure and endless possibilities: Family Day!
  • Our Family Hobby — Survivor talks about how animal husbandry has become her family’s favorite hobby at Surviving Mexico Adventures and Disasters.
  • Sowing the Seeds of Passions — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs wonders if her interests, and her husband’s, will shape her children’s passions as they mature.
  • Harry Potter Potions Party — One of the best activities Dionna at Code Name: Mama has ever done with her family has been a Harry Potter Potions Party. She is sharing the resources she used to create their potion recipes, the ingredients and tools they experimented with, and the recipes themselves. Feel free to use and adapt for your own budding wizards and witches!
  • Pastimes Have Passed Me By — Kati at The Best Things takes a new perspective on projects that never get done.
  • Food as a cultural experience for preschoolers — Nathalie at Kampuchea Crossings finds that food is a good way to engage her preschoolers on a journey of cultural discovery.
  • 10 Reasons I Love Thrifting With My ChildrenThat Mama Gretchen has always enjoyed shopping, but with a growing family she’s become more frugal and thus, her little ones are now in tow on her thrift store adventures.
  • Pastime with Family vs Family Pastime — You can share lots of pastimes with your family, but Jorje of Momma Jorje discovered a family pastime was much more pleasant for sharing.

Our Homeschool Year

We have had so much fun doing school this year!  I haven’t talked much about it, but we’ve really been enjoying ourselves.  We’ve covered a lot of ground this year.  We started out in the summer with basic plant parts, and did a lot of science experiments with plants.  It was a LOT of fun!  Then, we moved into a long unit on Native Americans where we learned about many tribes of Native Americans all across the United States.  Again, a lot of fun!  Over the winter, we took some winter break time and then did some handwork.  Sofi learned to knit, and to use the sewing machine.  We did some tie dye.  Again, tons of fun.  All along, Walter has been learning his alphabet, since he is doing KINDERGARTEN this year!  And he has done so well!  I am super proud of him.  He wasn’t sure he wanted to do Kindergarten this year, but he has enjoyed himself so thoroughly, he is really glad he did.  And today, he learned his final letter!  He knows the entire upper case alphabet now!  Super proud!

We just have two units left for the year.  We will end up with storytelling and fables, and we are just starting into a math unit.  We’ve had the tiniest bit of trouble with the math unit.  Namely that Sofi is acing it and eating up my lesson plans in days instead of weeks!  We started off with patterning.  We’ve never worked on anything like it before, and I thought she might struggle with it.  Was I ever wrong!  So, we stared into place value and number recognition half a week early.  Again, I have several days of this planned and she has just breezed through it in 2 days.  She learned her numbers from 1 to 100 last year, as part of first grade.  This year we needed to do from 100 to 1000.  I thought the best way to teach this was through a thorough understanding of what the numbers meant, instead of just trying to memorize the numbers themselves.  I found this great base 10 place value kit, and used it to give Sofi a concrete understanding of what the places meant.

Sofi and I cut out the pieces for the ones, tens, hundreds and thousands.  We used the provided sheet with the ones, tens and hundreds column and I explained how if we count out 10 of the ones squares, that is the same as the 10 squares on the tens strips.  So 1 strip is the same as 10 ones.  Then I explained that the 100 squares on the hundreds square was the same as 100 ones or 10 ten strips.  The visuals really helped her to grasp the idea of all of this.  Then, we started putting it into action!  I found a deck of cards and divided the suits.  I pulled out the 10s and face cards, and shuffled each suit.  I put one suit, face down, above each column on Sofi’s sheet.  She flipped the top card of each deck and that became the number for that column.  I would write the number on the board and we practiced reading it.  Then she used her paper manipulatives to create the number on her paper.  And she caught on so fast!  And she loved using the playing cards to determine the numbers.  I loved that it completely randomized the numbers.

Teaching Place Value: Our Mindful Life

 

After she had done several numbers, I slipped a 10 into her hundreds deck.  When she flipped it, I showed her how to add the column for thousands and make that work.  I gave her the thousands cube, and she added it right into what she was already doing.  Bam!  Number recognition to 1000, and understanding place value!  She practiced yesterday and today, and she’s doing great with it.

Teaching Place Value: Our Mindful LifeNext, we work on counting money!

 

Nursing Shirt Hack: Mom Hacks Monday

When I first began nursing Sofi, 7.5 years ago, I invested in a few nursing tank tops.  I wanted to be able to nurse without having my stomach and sides exposed.  Some moms like to pull the neck of their shirts down to nurse, but this didn’t work for me, logistically.  So, I used the typical nursing tank – shelf bra with clips at the straps that allowed a flap of fabric to be raised and lowered easily to allow baby access to the breast.  But, about six months into nursing, I realized that my recurrent plugged ducts were being caused by the elastic in my nursing tanks and bras!  As I experimented, I learned that any amount of elastic surrounding my breasts caused plugged ducts – which are somewhat excruciating, if you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing them yourself.  So, for many years, I didn’t have anything that provided the coverage of a nursing tank. When William was born, I found myself constantly lifting my shirt and freezing my stomach and sides!  He was my first fall baby, and as such, it was just colder to be nursing with nothing under my shirt, and I was nursing more frequently in the cold weather because he was younger than my other babies had been at the same time of year.  So, I delved into nursing tanks again, looking for an option with no elastic.  I found a few that were very intriguing.  They were stretchy knit tanks with holes cut where the breasts would be located.  These shirts were to be worn under another top, and most moms wore their own nursing bras beneath, it seemed.  But these seemed perfect for my needs!  I ordered a few and tried them out.  The first thing I noticed was that the tanks were not long enough to reach my pants, let alone to be considered full coverage when nursing.  I chopped the tail off of a stained tank and sewed it to the bottom to make it longer.  But, the holes seemed to be a bit high on me, as well, and the top was constantly slipping up and covering the breasts I was supposed to have access to.  Also, tanks were great, but I also really needed some long sleeved options, which were not offered. Consequently, I asked some opinions, and took a close look at the tanks I had ordered.  I realized that there was not a lot of finishing going on with the shirts.  I could easily make these myself!  I took my kids to our favorite thrift store and bought a stack of shirts.  Over the next few days I set to work on them, and made myself a stack of nursing shirts!  It was so easy and even no sew. I started with a regular stretchy shirt.  It is important that the shirt be stretchy knit fabric, or the edges will ravel.  I first put the shirt on, then used a sharpie marker to make a mark on the shirt over very tip of my nipple.  I removed the shirt and used a circle stencil, centered around the mark I had made, to mark where I should cut the holes. A few notes here: 1. I am small chested.  I made my marks approximately 3.5 inches across, which was plenty for me.  If you are larger breasted, you may want to make your marks larger. 2. Placement of the holes is important, also.  The holes in my purchased shirts were placed high, and were pear shaped.  This was why they were constantly slipping up on me and covering my breast instead of allowing access to it.  This created problems when the shirt I was wearing underneath it would be cut low or wide in the collar because it showed the holes in the shirt!  When I made my shirts, I put the holes lower, more centered over my breast. Once the holes were placed and marked, I simply took my sewing scissors and cut out the holes.  Voila!  Instant access! I now have an entire stack of nursing shirts in a variety of colors, patterns, and sleeve lengths.  All of them were inexpensive, and easy to make.  They all fit well because I got to pick which shirts they were made from and was sure that they fit before I started.  And finally, I have my sides covered while nursing, without plugged ducts from elastic.

Nursing Shirt DIY - Our Mindful Life

My Village

Welcome to the March 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Everyday Superheroes

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 talked about the remarkable people and characteristics that have touched their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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When I became a mom, I had an inkling of the mom I wanted to be, but no idea how to get there.  I knew that I wanted my babies to have “good food”, “safe products”, “appropriate developmental toys”.  The problem was, I didn’t necessarily know what that meant, and I didn’t know how to figure that out.  None of my long time friends had children.  The parenting magazines and stores put out the information that their corporate sponsors dictate.  I knew that the one sided information from the mainstream media couldn’t be the entire story, because one size never fits all.  But I didn’t know where to find other information.  I think there are a lot of people out there who are in this same position.  6959751408_826ab8fecf_b

I was lucky in that a friend from a due date club invited me to an internet forum for crunchy moms, when Sofi was 6 months old.  On that forum, I met a group of women who grew with me, learning about the alternative options to the mainstream offerings.  I learned about whole foods, traditional diets, cloth diapers, chemicals in our typical household products, vaccines, differing educational philosophies, and natural baby care.

9535658967_ef4e2a16dc_bAbout 6 months later, some friends at La Leche League invited me to a local Attachment Parenting group.  In this group of families, I learned about community.  I learned about homeschooling, about gentle parenting as children grew and matured, about physically supporting families on a daily basis.  I learned about vulnerability, about encouragement.  I learned what it meant to be real, and to allow others to help us.

Together with these women, I researched, I learned, I experimented, I GREW.  Were it not for these women, these families, I would not be the mom I am today.  It wasn’t because these people were better than me, and taught me to be a better person.  It was because together we were genuine with each other.  It was because as a group, we found out about who we want to be and how we want to parent.  261593_10150289482925155_1444356_n

Now, 7 years later, I am the mom I wanted to be.  I have learned about so many of the concerns that I had as a new mother, but more than that – I have learned that I am capable of learning about any topic I want, and of realizing great change in my life.  I have learned that I can find a community for myself, no matter where I am, and no matter what my beliefs are.

The people who taught me these things – they are my everyday heroes.  They are the people who get me through every day.

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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 March 11 with all the carnival links.)

  • I Am A Super Hero — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she learned the hard way exactly what it means to be a real super hero and not a burned out shell of a human simply pretending to be one.
  • Quiet Heroics — Heroism doesn’t have to be big and bold. Read how Jorje of Momma Jorje is a quiet hero…and how you probably are, too.
  • Not a Bang, but a Whisper {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs at A New Day talks about the different types of “superheroes,” ones that come in with a bang and ones that come in with a whisper.
  • Silent courage of motherhood in rural Cambodia — Nathalie at Kampuchea Crossings marvels at how rural Khmer women defy the odds in childbirth.
  • Super PappyMother Goutte‘s little boy met a superhero in checked slippers and Volkswagen Polo, his grand dad: Super Pappy!
  • An Open Letter to Batman — Kati at The Best Things challenges Batman to hold up his end of the deal, in the name of social justice, civic duty, and a little boy named Babe-O!
  • My Village — Kellie at Our Mindful Life reflects on the people who helped her to become her best self.
  • 5 Lessons My Kids Taught Me — Children are amazing teachers, when we only stop to listen. They remind us to choose happiness, to delight in the small things, to let go and forgive. There is so much we can learn from our children. Justine at The Lone Home Ranger shares a few of the lessons she’s learned.
  • Could you use some superpowers? — Tat at Mum in search shares a fun activity to help you connect with your own superpowers.
  • Like Fire Engines — Tam at tinsenpup tells the story of the day she saw a surprising superhero lurking in the guise of her not entirely mild-mannered four-year-old daughter.
  • Everyday Superheroes — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her list of Walker Warburg Syndrome Superheroes that have touched her life forever.
  • My Superhero of the Week: Nancy GallagherTribal Mama muses about the transcendent things her superhero mom has done.
  • My choice in natural birth does not make me a super hero — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, discusses her thoughts on her experience with the perception of natural birth and putting those mamas on a different level. Does giving birth naturally give cause for an extra pat on the back? No! All mamas, no matter how they birth, are superheroes.
  • Someone’s Hero — Sometimes being a parent means pretending to be a grown-up, but it always means you are someone’s hero. Read Mandy’s lament at Living Peacefully with Children.
  • Growing into a Super Hero — Casey at Joyful Courage shares how owning our behavior and choosing to be a better parent, a better person, is an act of courage.
  • A Math Superhero — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling writes that her 7-year-old daughter’s superhero is an MIT-trained mathematician.
  • It Starts With Truffula Trees And Tulips — Luschka of Diary of a First Child takes a hard look at the realities of her relationship with her mother, and through this post goes on a journey of discovery that ends in a surprise realisation for her.
  • We Don’t Need an Excuse — Maria Kang (aka “Hot Mom”) asks women #WhatsYourExcuse for not being in shape? Dionna at Code Name: Mama asks Hot Mom what her excuse is for not devoting her life to charity work, or fostering dozens of stray dogs each year, or advocating for the needs of others. Better yet, Code Name: Mama says, how about we realize that every woman has her own priorities. Focus on your own, and stop judging others for theirs.
  • It’s not heroic when you’re living it — Lauren at Hobo Mama knows from the inside that homeschooling does not take a hero, and that much of what we choose as parents is simply what works best for us.
  • Superheroes, princesses and preschoolers — Garry at Postilius discusses why his preschool-age son is not ready for comic book superheroes.
  • The Loving Parents of Children with Special Needs – Everyday Superheroes — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares posts with resources for parents of children with special needs along with posts to help others know how to support parents of children with special needs.
  • Everyday Empathy — Mommy Giraffe of Little Green Giraffe shares why her secret superpower is everyday empathy.
  • The Simplicity of Being a Superhero — Ana at Panda & Ananaso explains what superheroes mean to her wise three-year-old.
  • My Father, The Hero — Fathers are pretty amazing; find out why Christine at The Erudite Mom thinks hers is the bees knees.