Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: First Foods

We have started the process of baby-led weaning! Here is a sampling of Canon's first foods:

Banana is fun to squish!

Spoon Success!


Cucumber from our garden!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Easy Raspberry Chia Jam

I was inspired by Thankful Expressions' Strawberry-Rhubarb Refrigerator Jam to create this easy Raspberry Chia Fridge or Freezer Jam!

There are just 3 ingredients in this quick and simple jam.

1 1/4 Cup Fresh Raspberries
1 TBSP Chia Seeds
1.5 TBSP Honey

Give the ingredients a whir in the blender, pour into a jar, chill overnight to set, and enjoy! Makes approximately 1 cup and keeps in the fridge 1-2 weeks. Double or triple the recipe and freeze some for later!

This pectin-free jam requires no cooking, no refined sugar, and the possibilities are endless! Try it with your favorite fruit! Make it sweeter by adding more honey! Thicken it up with more chia seeds! I'm going to try blueberry jam next, after our Wednesday walk to the farmer's market. :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

6 Months

Dear Canon,

Today, you are 6 months old.

Those words don't even look right. It can't be! How can half a year have already passed by since your birth? How can we be just half a year away from your first birthday? Why can't you stay my baby forever?

The joy you have brought to our lives in these short months is immeasurable. I do not exaggerate at all when I say that I'm certain you are the happiest baby who has ever existed. You have an easygoing personality and a smile for every person who crosses your path. You have picked up your sister's shrieking laughter and have begun to take after her love for banging on pianos and drums. The similarities between you and your sister otherwise seem to end there! Where she was tiny and delicate, you are ample and sturdy. Where she focused on fine motor skills, you are mastering gross motor skills with ease. Where she slept better in her own her space, you get the best night's sleep snuggled up in our bed.

At 6 months old, you can roll all over the place, and can sit unassisted. You have two teeth and more on the way. You can get up on your hands and knees, rock back and forth, and even push up into an impressive downward dog.

You love to be worn and to snuggle as much as you love to work toward crawling. You love watching the dog and cat, and giggle with glee when you manage to grab a fistful of fur or a mouthful of tail. (Ew, by the way.) You love when your daddy makes silly faces, and when I sing silly songs. You love your babysitter and her children. You seem to love everyone, but there is no one you love more than your big sister.

She clearly adores you, too.

You are the piece that completes the puzzle of our family. Our big, sweet, snuggly, smiley, beautiful baby boy. We love you Canon, and we thank you for all of the smiles, laughter, and love that you have brought into our life. We can't imagine life, or our family, without you in it!



Friday, July 19, 2013

Attachment Parenting and Circumcision

My son, perfect as he was born.
Earlier this week, I wrote about the Attachment Parenting (AP) philosophy, clarifying that Attachment
Parenting is a general philosophy of gentle, respectful, responsive, positive, balanced parenting; not a strict list of musts and must nots. Almost immediately, comments on the post turned to the topic of circumcision, with several parents declaring that circumcision is incompatible with Attachment Parenting.

Before I go any further, let me make one thing clear:

I am opposed to routine infant circumcision (RIC).

I have come to this position after very thorough research on the risks and benefits of both circumcision and of leaving a penis intact, in its natural state.

I advocate for the rights of all humans to bodily autonomy, and I am opposed to the practice of permanently altering the genitals of another person as a cosmetic or non-medically-indicated procedure without that person's consent.

I am opposed to routine infant circumcision.
I practice attachment parenting.

These two statements are not automatically true of every intactivist and every AP parent. The decision to circumcise one's child does not exclude them from the "Attachment Parent" label. There are very loving, very attached parents who decided to circumcise their children. Some of them regret the decision after learning more. Some do not. There are parents who are absolutely not practicing attachment parenting who have intact children. Attachment Parenting International does not declare a stance on circumcision, but includes it under the "Prepare for pregnancy, birth, and parenting" umbrella and encourages parents to thoroughly research the decision.

From Attachment Parenting International's Leader Guidelines:

Presenting other topics not directly related to Attachment Parenting (AP) should be avoided. When issues such as diapering options, homebirth, home schooling, circumcision, vaccinations, specific diets, etc. come up during a discussion, the leader should state that API takes no stance on these issues, but encourages parents to educate themselves to make informed decisions about them. Literature about various options may be made available after the meeting. Books on these topics may be included in the group’s library. Above all, parents need to feel accepted, and peripheral issues should not be allowed to distract from our focus on AP. [emphasis mine]

I am opposed to routine infant circumcision, not because it is an attachment parenting issue, but because it is a human rights issue. I encourage my fellow attachment parenting advocates who are also intactivists to avoid excluding parents of circumcised children from the AP philosophy. Doing so only further perpetuates the idea that AP is an exclusive club made up of strict guidelines that one is required to adhere to. It alienates parents who might otherwise be open to hearing the arguments against RIC and making different decisions for their future children. (Read how one woman chose to leave her second son intact despite intactivists HERE.)

Please, continue to fight the good fight, as I will, against RIC, but don't do it at the expense of Attachment Parenting. Focus instead on basic human rights. Focus instead on the risks of circumcision and on the benefits of the intact penis. Focus instead on the functions of the foreskin that are lost with circumcision. It is by education, and not by alienation, that we will continue to see infant circumcision rates in the US falling year after year.

For more information on circumcision:

Top 10 Reasons to Leave your son Intact
My Doctor Says my Son Needs to be Circumcised
Commentary on AAP's 2012 Circumcision Policy Statement
What is the Foreskin?
Collection of Research on Circumcision

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: In the Garden

It's been a tough year in the garden, but we're starting to see some fruits of our labor!

First Cucumber of the year!

Picking Beans

Sampling the goods!

Our meager Bean harvest

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Flexible Structure

Welcome to the July edition of the Simply Living Blog Carnival - With Kids cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. This month, we write about keeping things simple with our kids. Please check out the links to posts by our other participants at the end of this post.
One of the most common topics among new parents is schedules. Whether or not to keep one, what they should look like, and when we should start to use them. I remember being asked when my youngest was just 2 weeks old what kind of schedule he was on. Taken aback by the question, I muttered something about how he couldn't tell time yet. Just as we did after our first was born, we've fallen into a fairly regular structured routine while allowing for flexibility, now that the bleary newborn days are behind us.

In my experience in talking to other parents, there is a lot of variation in schedules. There are very rigid schedules which seem to account for every waking moment, there are schedules so loose that they can hardly be called scheduled, and there is everything in between. Our family falls somewhere in the in between. Rather than a rigid schedule, we have more of a consistent flow to our days. While we don't necessarily wake up, eat, play, have nap time, take baths, or go to bed at precisely the same time every day, we have a general order in which we do things, most days.

Our schedule changes from day to day for a variety of reasons. Some days, our children go to our sitter's house. Some days, their Grandmother comes over to watch them, and some times they go to her. Fridays, there father is home with them. We know that most children tend to well when they can anticipate what comes next, but we also know that with children, we must prepare for and being willing to accept the unexpected. So while we see the value in routine and keeping things consistent as possible, we also have the necessity for some built in flexibility.

Where on earth is the simplicity in that, you ask?

By having a flexible but consistent routine, we allow some wiggle room in our days for when things don't go exactly according to plan. We generally keep the first hour or so of the day leisurely as we make and eat breakfast and get dressed and ready for the day. Then depending on the day, the next 1-2 hours is for free play, an outing, or a play date. The hour or so after that is spent preparing and eating lunch if Grandma is coming over, or getting everything ready to go if we're going to the sitter's. The hour or so between when my husband and I get home from work is play time with daddy, during which he usually washes dishes and gets dinner started. When I arrive home, we eat dinner. After dinner, if it's a bath day, that comes next, and if not, more play time, which usually involves music or a family walk. I often do some light cleaning or some blogging before joining in the evening play time. After the kids go to bed, we take care of any other housework that needs tending to, and prep for the next day (I pack the diaper bag and make sure I have all my pump parts clean and ready to go, he gets the coffee maker ready and organizes what he needs for work.) To help keep track of which end is up on a given day, we have a large marker board calendar hanging in our kitchen so I know whether and where to drop the kids off, and my husband knows whether and where to pick them up.

By not planning everything to the minute, we are able to go with the flow and roll with the changes as they come up. If the baby sleeps late or needs an extra nap, it doesn't throw off our whole day. If we have errands to run or housework or yard work to do, we work it into a play time. We can accept invitations for play dates, parties, or plan extra outings while leaving enough time on either side to transition to and from the activities. When we travel, we work to maintain the same consistency while allowing flexibility with times.

Our method isn't perfect, and we tweak it as we go, but maintaining flexible structure in our daily lives helps keeps them simple and less stressful!

Thank you for visiting the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. Read about how others are incorporating simple living and parenthood. We hope you will join us next month when we discuss celebrations!    

Monday, July 15, 2013

More "AP" Than You Think

If you're a parent on the internet, you've likely heard of a parenting philosophy called "Attachment Parenting" or "AP". You've also likely developed a strong opinion about it, one way or the other. Proponents of AP swear by its principles and credit it with fostering healthy, balanced, secure children; while its critics revile it as overly permissive, too difficult to maintain, and even anti-feminist. Allow me to reveal my bias: I'm a proponent. As with most aspects of the "Mommy Wars," there is little middle ground...or is there?

Let's start with defining Attachment Parenting. Contrary to a common belief, "Attachment" does not refer to literal, physical attachment, although it's true that AP parents are often within close proximity with their children in infancy. It refers instead to emotional attachment; a feeling of security, trust, and bonding between parent and child. While Dr. Sears (who I adore) and his "7 Baby B's" (which I, personally, find to be a bit too specific and restrictive in how they are interpreted) are often associated with Attachment Parenting, my preference is for Attachment Parenting International's (API) 8 Principles of Parenting. They are as follows:

  • Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting
  • Feed with Love and Respect
  • Respond with Sensitivity
  • Use Nurturing Touch
  • Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
  • Provide Consistent and Loving Care
  • Practice Positive Discipline
  • Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life

  • That sounds pretty balanced, right? Pretty attainable? Pretty adaptable to the lives of most parents? But wait, what about the part where you MUST have an un-medicated birth at home? What about the part where you MUST exclusively breast feed? Or the part where you MUST use cloth diapers? Or the part where you MUST sleep in bed with your baby? Or the part where you MUST invest in an arsenal of slings, wraps, and carriers? Or the part where you MUST make your own organic baby food and sew all of your own clothes? Or the part where you CANNOT leave your baby in the care of anyone other than the mother and therefore CANNOT work outside of the home? Where are those parts of AP?

    Those are not parts of AP. It is true that many AP mothers give birth at home and breast feed. It is true that many AP parents use slings and carriers. It is true that many AP families share a family bed. It is true that many AP families embrace more "natural" choices like cloth diapers or organic food. It is also true that many AP families have a stay at home parent. These are some of the specific tools and choices available that work for some families and help them to put these philosophies into practice. They are not the only way.

    You can give birth in a hospital (even with medication or surgically) and be an AP parent. You can feed your baby formula and be an AP parent. You can own a stroller and be an AP parent. Your baby can sleep in a crib, and even in a separate room from you, and you can be an AP parent. You can use disposable diapers. You can work outside of the home. You can even *gasp* be a man and be an AP parent.

    Am I watering down Attachment Parenting? Am I trying to make the label so free and easy that every parent can call themselves AP? No. There are certainly some choices that are not consistent with Attachment Parenting. Bottle propping? Not loving or respectful. Spanking? Not sensitive or positive. Putting your baby to bed in a place where you can't hear their cries and not checking them until morning? Not emotionally safe sleep. Staying home every second of every day, to the detriment of your personal interests, social life, or desired career? Not balanced.

     Not everyone is an AP parent. But if you take a balanced approach to family life, if you strive to respond sensitively and positively to your children, if you seek to consistently meet their physical and emotional needs in a loving and respectful way, then you just might be more AP than you think.

    I am pleased to share this post with Tales of an Unlikely Mother today. Check her out for frank feminism, hilarious Pinterest fails, adorable photos and videos of her twins, and parenting tips and tricks. 


    Wednesday, July 10, 2013

    What a Difference a Year Makes

    Last Year, we ended a whirlwind of summer adventures with a weekend at our family's lake house right after the 4th of July. This year, in what we are officially making an annual tradition, we spent the long holiday weekend there with my sister's family, once again. Last year, my niece, Harper, was a tiny little not-quite-3-month-old baby. This year, she was keeping up with her clearly adored older cousin, and fascinated by her equally adored younger cousin, who last year, was but a tiny fetus in my womb! It's amazing to look back and see how much everyone has changed in the past year, and our time away was as fun and relaxing as ever. We are so fortunate to have a beautiful little slice of paradise to get away to, to enjoy the fresh air and water as much as we enjoy watching these little people grow up together.

    Me and Harper, cozy on the boat:

    The loves of my life, Delilah, Ty, and Canon:

    Driving the boat all by herself!

    Driving the boat with Uncle Jamie this year:

    Driving the boat with Uncle Jamie last year:

    Nursing Canon on the boat this year:

    Gestating Canon on the boat last year:

    Babywearing on the boat:


    Our sun-kissed, tired but happy family:

    I'm already looking forward to next year's adventures in fun in the sun, fireworks, campfires, barbecues, late night games, and days filled with joy and love!

    Monday, July 8, 2013

    July Simply Living Blog Carnival: Call for Submissions

    Welcome to the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. We hope that you will join us on the third Tuesday of each month as we share posts about simple living in our lives. Submission deadline will be the second Tuesday of each month. With Kids

    Despite what the media may have us believe, many families are finding that simplifying their lives is very important to keeping life with kids running smoothly. Many families are cutting back on the number of activities. Others are cutting back on the number of possessions. Still others are insanely organized. What does your family do in order to simplify your life with kids?

    To submit an article to the blog carnival, please e-mail your submission to mandy{at}livingpeacefullywithchildren{dot}com anddelilahfineandfair{at}gmail{dot}com, and fill out the webform by July 13. Please write a new, unpublished piece for the carnival. We will e-mail you with instructions before the carnival date. We ask that you publish your post on July 16.

    We want you to use creativity and to express yourself as you see fit. To that end, you are welcome to post at your discretion with a few guidelines in mind. Please be respectful in your posts. Avoid excessive profanity and poor grammar or spelling. As the co-hosts of the carnival are all advocates of peaceful living and gentle parenting, we ask that you not post about non-gentle practices or violence toward others. While we will not be editing your articles, we do reserve the right to not add your post to the carnival if it is not on topic, is poorly written, or goes against the guidelines which have been set forth.

     Blog carnivals are a great way to generate blog traffic and build a supportive community. Your blog will receive links from many other blogs and you and your readers will have the opportunity to discover other blogs with similar goals in mind. Please join us as we embrace Simply Living through Simple Living! We hope you will consider joining us every month as we discuss ways we simplify our lives.
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