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.


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.


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.


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



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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.

Library Bags: Mom Hacks Monday

All of my children love books.  We read daily and Sofiya is able to read beginner books by herself now.  She and Walter both have their own library cards and love to go to the library to check out a whole pile of books.  When they got their own cards, I wanted to make keeping track of their cards and books as simple as possible, so I made them each a library bag.  They each already had their own decorated tote bags.  To each of these, I put a keychain around the handle; the kids each chose a fun chain of their own.  Then I added the handy key tag library card that our library gives out alongside the credit card sized card.  If your library doesn’t use a key tag card, you could ask about punching a hole in the corner of a full size card.

Library Bag: Our Mindful LifeAnd, voila!  The cards can’t get lost because they are attached to the bags.  The books the kids check out go into the bag as they are browsing, so they know how many they can check out.  They come home in the bags.  When they are taken out and read, they go back in the bags.  They are stored in the bags until they are ready to go back to the library.  And then the bags are toted back to the library to be emptied into the book return!

Tasty, Hearty Rice: Foodie Friday

I’ve confessed that I was a very picky eater growing up.  One food, in particular, that I loathed to eat was rice.  Rice!  My entire family loved rice.  We ate it quite often.  In fact, one of my parent’s original attractions was that they both ate a bowl of rice for lunch every day – what a fun thing to have in common!  I was the lone dissenter.

And I grew up.  I still hated rice.  But, the thing about rice is that it is everywhere.  It is used in so many different cuisines!  And, it is cheap.  Oh, so cheap.  And, if you get the right type, pretty darn good for you too!  But, I hated it.

But I WANTED to like it!  I wanted to like it SO MUCH, that I tried cooking it every way that I could, hoping to find a recipe that I would like.  For years, this went on.  Most people’s favorite recipe was to simply microwave up some white rice with butter, salt and pepper – perhaps a little bit of sugar.  Coincidentally, this is my LEAST favorite way to eat rice.  I tried steamed rice.  I tried pre-made rice packets. I tried sweet rices.   I tried pilafs.  I tried cold rice dishes.  I tried hot rice cereal (another of my least favorite foods).  I tried steaming wild rice, and long grain rice.  I finally found sticky rice, and adored it!  I found that I like homemade beans and rice, so long as I get the combo just so.  I found that I love risotto (just in time to find out that I can no longer tolerate the cheese substitute we were using).  And ultimately, after close to a decade of trying different rices, I have finally found that I really enjoy savory, long grain, brown rices.

Tasty, Hearty Rice Recipe; Our Mindful Life

And I can’t have come this far on my journey with rice and not share my favorite recipe!

Tasty, Hearty Rice

1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil – I use olive oil, but this is pretty forgiving.  Use any light, low flavor oil
1/2 C Chopped Onion
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1/8 tsp each of parsley, sage and paprika
1 C Long Grain Brown Rice – or whatever type of rice you have on hand
2 C Chicken Stock
1 C Water, plus more as needed
*Optional veggies

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  When it is good and hot, add oil.  Let the oil warm for just a minute, then add onions.  Saute until the onions are translucent, then add garlic.  Cook, stirring gently, one more minute, until garlic is browned.  Add parsley, sage and paprika, and cook, stirring, for another minute.  Next, add rice, and toast it, stirring to combine.  Continue toasting and stirring occasionally for 3-5 minutes.  When rice is all lightly toasted and fragrant, add the chicken broth and water to the pan.  Stir well, then bring to a simmer.  When the liquid is bubbling gently, reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for approximately 40 minutes, or until rice is as tender as you like.  I prefer to cook mine with the lid off, so I can smell it and hear it to monitor its progress.  However, it is just as good if it is cooked covered.  Just keep an eye on it, stir it often, and add water as it cooks off.

When the rice is nearly done, it is easy to add in some other veggies, if desired.  I love to toss in peas or green beans.  Carrots are fantastic as well.  I often grab leftover veggies from the fridge and toss in when there is just enough time left on the rice for the veggies to warm up.

This rice reheats well and freezes well, too.  I usually make a big batch at once and then use the leftovers for lunches, along with leftover veggies and meat.

Finally, I am at peace with rice, and I, like my parents, often enjoy a bowl of it for lunch!

What is your favorite way to cook rice?

Helping Out

A dozen years ago, when Micah and I first moved in together, we agreed to a division of the household work which we deemed fair.  Basically, we both did the things we enjoyed, and we found that this got all of the jobs done without either of us feeling stressed.  I loathed washing dishes – Micah found it cathartic.  My physical condition made emptying a full kitchen size garbage bag painful – Micah found it simple and far prefered this system to my myriad 1 gallon trash cans around the house which I could easily empty daily.  I loved to deep clean, and far prefered to scrub a bathroom over doing a sink full of dishes.  I ironed so often that our ironing board had a permanent place in our open living/dining rooms.  I did the pet care, the laundry, the dusting and the floors.  Micah did the cooking.  And we were perfectly happy with that arrangement.

Over the years, some things have changed.  For instance, we split the cooking, most of the time, and Micah has taken over a lot of the pet care.  Plus, we’ve gone from the 2 of us and one small cat to 2 parents, 4 children, a large cat and a pretty large dog.  The household chores take much longer than they used to, and need to be done far more frequently.  When we were first together, Micah could fry a couple eggs for breakfast and I could fix myself a bowl of cereal and breakfast was over in 15 minutes.  Now, pancake mix must be made a few times a week, and pancakes are made daily for 5 people.  Breakfast can take an hour or more, if everyone’s wake up times are staggered just right.  By the time breakfast is cleaned up (usually my job), we have anywhere from 1 to 3 hours before lunch time.  I make lunch for myself and “the troops” during the week.  Daddy usually handles it on the weekends.  I meal plan and do most of the weeknight dinner cooking.  Micah does a lot of the weekend dinner cooking.  He still cleans up the kitchen and does the dishes after dinner.  We’ve both taken on additional “kid” chores, like diaper duty and bath time.  I still do almost all of the house cleaning, the majority of the laundry, and now 99% of the homeschooling.

So, for the past seven and a half years, there has been a LOT of household work to do.  But lately, things have changed, a bit.  Suddenly, Sofi and Walter have gotten old enough to make meaningful contributions to the household chores.  They are able to clear their own dishes from the table, scrape their plates, and put them in the dishwasher.  They are able to put lids on condiments and carry them to the fridge.  They are old enough to unload the dishwasher.  Sofi is old enough to sweep the front entry and throw away the dust.  She is old enough to do a load of laundry by herself.  She is old enough to put her own laundry away.  Walter is able to put away his own laundry and feed the dog.

Kids Helping Out: Our Mindful LifeNow, it isn’t as though they miraculously began doing household work.  They have always worked side by side with Micah and me.  But now they have learned well enough that they are able to do the chores by themselves.  They have gone from needing us to be beside them as they worked, to being able to do the job alone, while I work on another project nearby.  It may seem small, but clearing the table and emptying the dishwasher has really decreased Micah’s work load and left him more time in the morning and evening, and less stress.

I’m looking forward to seeing all of the children mature into being able to make more and more meaningful contributions to the household.  How do your children help you at home?

Expanding on “No”: Parenting 101

Parenting 101 is a series of posts that I have written to help out new parents by teaching them little tricks and tips to make this whole journey a bit easier. They are not Earth shattering revelations, and they do not follow any certain parenting philosophy. They are simply tips to make life with children a bit easier for everyone.

No is such a tedious little word.  It can be both empowering and infuriating.  It can be reassuring, or devastating.  It can be the end of a conversation, or part of a negotiation.  This is pretty powerful considering that the word “no” really says very little.  Yet, the word no is often like a grenade.

Helping our children to understand what we want them to do.  Expanding on "No" - Our Mindful LifeThere are 2 major problems with using the word “No” with young children.  The first is that when we simply tell a child “No”, we actually don’t tell them anything.  I can clearly remember one time, when Sofi was about 18 months old, and we were visiting at Grandma’s house.  Sofi was playing something, and Grandma suddenly said, “No, no, Sofi!”  She said it sweetly, respectfully, and without at all insulting Sofi.  And Sofi and I both sat and stared at her.  Neither of us had any idea what she had done wrong.  And this is the big problem with the word “No”.  It doesn’t explain what behavior is undesirable, and it certainly doesn’t explain what the expected behavior is.

The second big problem with telling a young child “No” is that our kids learn what we model.  Which means that, rather than discuss their ideas and feelings with you, your child is soon going to start using the word “No”.  A LOT.  And a toddler yelling “No” at you all of the time wears through patience, quickly.  Once upon a time, I knew a lovely little 2 year old who answered every single question by yelling, “NO!” and then answering the question.

“What color is this?”
“NO!  …  Blue.”

“What would you like for a snack?”
“NO!  …  Carrots!”

“What book should we read?”
“NO!  …  Go, Dogs, Go!”

As you can imagine, at the end of the day, the adults were completely worn down with her.  If you don’t want to find yourself in a similar situation, seriously consider your use of the word “No”.

A better solution is to avoid the word “no” in all but the most dangerous of situations, or when it is time to completely end a conversation.  Instead, use a short, descriptive sentence to tell the child what the problem is and what to do instead.

“We don’t play in the garbage can!  Let’s go wash your hands and read a book instead.”

“We don’t write on the floor with the crayon.  We only write on the paper.”

“The electric outlet is HOT!  Let’s put your toy keys in the door instead.”

The benefits of this type of language are plenty.  Speaking to your child this way tells them what you don’t want to do, and what you DO want them to do.  It reinforces the desired behavior.  Most children remember and respond only to the last thing they hear.  When you say, “Don’t stick your toy in the electric outlet!” the child mostly comprehends, “Toy in electric outlet!”  When you finish with the desired behavior, that is what the child remembers.  Also, saving the word “NO” for when you REALLY need them to listen means that when you REALLY need them to listen, you will have their attention.  So when your 2 year old is running toward the street, hearing the word “NO!” actually gets their attention and has a much better chance of getting them to stop – or at least pause so you can catch them.

Wordless Wednesday At Natural Parents Network

Check out my pictures at Natural Parents Network on today’s Wordless Wednesday!

Sharing My Joy

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.


As a parent, I do things a bit differently than the majority of Americans.  I am aware of this, and I am ok with this.  There are some things that I don’t even begin to expect others to do – even if in my utopian dreams, everyone does them.   There are some things that I wish others understood better.  There are some things that I am passionate about and that I believe that most families could do, to the benefit of the children or the family.  However, I also understand VERY well that every family is different and the same things don’t work for every family.

One of my biggest parenting fears is that other parents may feel that I am measuring them against myself, because I do things differently than they do.

I will admit that once upon a time, I was a new mom, with only one baby, and a lot of loneliness in the world.  I was in a bad place in life, and feeling isolated and judged.  And in that space and time, with only the experience of one baby, I was in a place that I sometimes judged other parents.  This is one of my few regrets as a parent, and I am truly, deeply sorry for making that mistake.

But now, 7.5 years and 3 additional children later, I have a different outlook on life.  I have got a great network of supportive friends.  I am no longer in that lonely, sad, scared place I was once upon a time.  And I really do not have the time to sit around judging other people’s choices.  Unless a choice involves outright parental neglect or abuse, I don’t really think twice about it, these days.  So, I am always taken aback when it is implied that I am being judgemental, or as though I am coming from some high and mighty place.  And it is implied, and even outright stated to me that I am, every now and again.

The reason it is always such a shock is that I have only made the decisions I have made for my own family.  I have chosen to do things that bring me and my family great joy.  My entire family loves the benefits that we have enjoyed from breastfeeding.  We all love our cloth diapers.  We all love eating whole foods that help our bodies to be strong and healthy.  We all enjoy the dynamic that homeschooling has brought to our lives.  And on, and on, and on.

Our Mindful LifeOur family doesn’t sit around thinking about what families who aren’t breastfeeding, cloth diapering, eating whole foods, or homeschooling *are* doing.  We spend our time enjoying ourselves and each other.  We spend our time spreading love.  And we spend our time telling other people about the joys in our lives.  That means that sometimes, we talk about breastfeeding, cloth diapering, eating well, homeschooling, or one of the other plethora of things that we do.  We talk about these things because they bring us joy and we want other people to know that they are options that bring us joy.  We do not talk about them because we think that it will change the minds of people who find joy in formula feeding, disposable diapering, eating processed foods, schooling at the school building (as we call it), or any of the other things that people do differently from us.

So, I always feel a little bit sad when I am talking to someone about something that we do, and they start defending the reasons that they do what they do.  People will see our cloth diapers and ask a few questions.  And after a minute, they inevitably start saying things like, “I thought about cloth diapering, but it just didn’t work out for us because it was too much laundry, and Lenny hurt his back at work, and I couldn’t do the stairs to the basement all of the time, and so, even though I’d really LIKE to be doing cloth diapers, it just isn’t going to work out for us to do them – now or ever…”  Or, I’ll post an article on Facebook about breastfeeding and someone will often say, “Not everyone can breastfeed!”  Or we’ll be hanging out with friends when some comment will come up about some current TV show, and I’ll mention that we don’t have a TV.  Inevitably, the mom will blush, and stammer, and start talking about how they only watch such and such channels, and only for so long every day, and how if only dad would turn off the TV that mom would happily live without one, and how it would be so great if the kids didn’t watch TV…

HomeschoolingAnd in any of these situations, I can feel that tension.  That feeling that I am being judged as being the mom who thinks she is better than all the other moms because my family does things differently.

The thing is, when I am talking about what we do, I am not judging anyone.  I am not feeling superior to anyone.  I am not saying that any one person should do things the way that I do them.  What I am saying is that these things that we do bring our family joy.  I am saying, this is my authentic self, and I won’t lie to you about who I am to make you feel better – I believe that you can feel good knowing who I am and who you are.  I am saying, if you find that what your family is doing doesn’t bring you joy, and you want to ask me about what I do, I am happy to talk about it!  I am saying, I am happy and I hope you are happy too.




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 (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.
  • Procactive 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.