Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Costume Contest!

Our favorite local record shop is running a costume contest!
How can you not love that scowling ladybug and sleeping monkey?
And that...whatever my husband was trying to be? ;)

The photo with the most likes at the end of their contest wins a $100 gift certificate! :)

Thanks, and have a Happy Halloween! <3 p="">

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

NPN Blog Blitz: Books, Books, and More Books!

 I am proud and honored to be volunteer with the Natural Parents Network (NPN), a community of natural-minded parents and parents-to-be where you will be informed, empowered, and inspired. 

When you visit the NPN’s website you can find articles and posts about Activism, Balance, Consistent Care, Ecological Responsibility, Family Safety, Feeding With Love, Gentle Discipline, Healthy Living, Holistic Health, Natural Learning, Nurturing Touch, Parenting Philosophies, Practical Home Help, Preparing for Parenting, Responding With Sensitivity, Safe Sleep, and so much more! The volunteers who dedicate their time and energy to make NPN the outstanding resource it is also spend countless hours informing and inspiring others on their personal blogs.

This month, the Natural Parents’ Network Volunteers are sharing posts that celebrate books and reading! You will read posts that share some of our volunteers’ favorite books and/or books they recommend you read for the sheer joy of reading. Other posts outline recommended reading as it relates to a wide variety of natural parenting topics. You will also find posts which outline favorite children’s books as well as books that inspire learning or have an educational focus. And of course, no reading list would be complete without our volunteers’ favorite cookbooks and health resources! We hope you enjoy reading these posts as much as we enjoyed writing them. We are always looking for new volunteers so please, contact us if you are interested. Just a few hours per month can help other mamas in a huge way!


  Lauren at Hobo Mama shares her review of two anthropologically minded books on motherhood and child rearing: "What Our Babies, Ourselves taught me about my baby & myself," a look into the attachment parenting our babies have been biologically primed to expect in a book by Meredith F. Small, and "Maternal ambivalence … and why it's ok," sort of the darker or more realistic side of attachment parenting based on a reading of Mother Nature, by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy.

Our Babies Our Selves In Our Babies, Ourselves, Small writes not just as an anthropologist, wanting to observe and record human behavior and how it relates to our biological and evolutionary roots as mammals, but also from an ethnopediatrics perspective, which seeks to advise us as parents how to integrate babies' innate needs with our culture in an infant-appropriate way. It's one of Lauren's favorite books for giving scientific justification for the benefits and longstanding history and cross-cultural popularity of attachment parenting.

Mother Nature  Mother Nature, also by an anthropologist, shares experiences of motherhood as witnessed across the world and various cultures, across history and a variety of time periods, and even across species. The text is often dark and disturbing — an unflinching look at how mothers don't always live up to what we've decided (as modern Western humans) is their "nature." While we might aspire to be self-sacrificing and perfectly nurturing, we have to acknowledge this salient truth: What babies need and what mothers need or want can be in conflict. Mothers don't always live up to the ideals of "maternal nature" — and, Lauren would argue in this review, that can be perfectly acceptable. You can purchase the books from these Amazon affiliate links: Our Babies, Ourselves and Mother Nature. Be sure to follow Lauren on Hobo Mama,, her newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

The Hour That Matters Most  Julia at A Little Bit of All of It shares her review of The Hour That Matters Most, a book that explains why the family dinner around the table is so important. She loves this book for providing families with the tools they need to get family dinners on the table and get to know your family on a deeper level as well. The book is available from Amazon. You can also find A Little Bit of All of It on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+

The Other Baby BookJulia also shares her review of The Other Baby Book, her absolute favorite baby book. She loves this book for presenting information on how to parent your baby outside of the mainstream and for the gentle, sometimes humorous way it is written. The book is available from Amazon.  

I Love Me  Joella at Fine and Fair shares her review of I Love Me!, a children's book of Affirmations filled with simple but powerful phrases that help children build self-confidence and shape a positive world view. She loves this book for its simplicity and uplifting messages; it quickly became a favorite both in her home and to give as a gift!

Mama Talk  Joella also shares her review of Mama, Talk About Our New Baby, an attachment parenting friendly way to introduce to older siblings-to-be what it will be like to have a new baby in the house. She appreciates the inclusion of breast feeding, baby wearing, and co-sleeping, which she found absent from mainstream "big sister" books. This book was instrumental in preparing her daughter to welcome to her new baby brother into their family and home! Be sure to follow Joella on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and tumblr.

Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball
Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children shares her review on Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball, a picture book by Vicki Churchill and Charles Fuge. The book has been a favorite with all of her children and is one she often gives to other families. While it works for families of all styles, it particularly appeals to attachment parenting families and those exploring the joys of toddlerhood. You can purchase the book from AmazonBe sure to follow Mandy on her blog, Facebook, and Pinterest.

P.E.T. Mandy at also shares her review on Parent Effectiveness Training P.E.T. by r. Thomas Gordon. Styled on non-violent communication, the book is a wonderful guide with effective techniques for communicating with your children and others. It is one of Mandy's favorite, and most recommended, parenting books. You can purchase the book from Amazon.  

African Babies Don't Cry : Book Review : Evie’s Kitchen by Shazzie
Christine at African Babies Don't Cry shares her review of Evie's Kitchen by Shazzie, a raw food recipe book aimed at young children and packed with natural parenting tips too. Shazzie is a raw food chef, and nutrition expert, I found her chapter on supplementation especially helpful. If you are wanting to incorporate more raw food into your child's diet then this book is a great resource! You can purchase the book from Amazon or  Detox Your Follow Christine on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.
TheBodyEcologyDiet_zps4e62b10eChristine is also a huge fan of  The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates.  This book is the ultimate reference book if you are looking to correct intestinal flora issues, such as Candida. Donna Gates has been researching on the topic of Candida for years, and I would call her the ultimate expert. The Body Ecology Diet, which is not a diet, but a lifestyle WILL correct your intestinal flora imbalances leaving you symptom free! You can purchase the book from Amazon.

 Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama is a research bug, lover of all books, and someone who has a hard time putting a good book down! Today, she shares two of her favorites; Beyond the Rainbow Bridge and a collection of books about...poop.

2359098221_c691bb491b  Beyond The Rainbow Bridge, Nurturing Our Children From Birth to Age Seven is a beautiful book by Barbara Patterson and Pamela Bradley. First, it is a very concise book compared to a lot of parenting books. The authors cut right to the chase and get to what really matters without a lot of fluff and fancy philosophical BS. Although their approach to parenting is heavily influenced by the work of Rudolph Steiner, the way that they share information on development, discipline, play, and health is palatable for any parent whether interested in Waldorf or not. There is so much more that I adore about this book and it really has inspired me to retool my mothering ever so slightly. I think that it is a worthwhile read for any mama who wants to create a more harmonious and gentle environment for her child(ren). By implementing many of the techniques offered by the author as well as gaining a better understanding of development and play, an opportunity to better connect with and mindfully engage your child opens up.

Where's The Poop  In the post Books About Poop, for Children and The Adults in Their Lives, Jennifer shares her top 10 books about poop! Come on! You know you are curious. And trust her, these books are all great reads and lots of fun! Who doesn't love poop?

We hope you enjoy reading the above book reviews as much as we enjoyed writing them. At Natural Parents Network, we are always looking for new authors and volunteers in the areas of editing, social media, and volunteer support, so please, contact us if you are interested. We take great pleasure in the close-knit community we have at NPN, and we'd be happy to welcome you in. Just a few hours per month can help other mamas in a huge way! You can connect with the NPN family on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Tablecloth Mei Tai Tutorial with Wrap Style Straps

This TCMT tutorial will show how to make a Mei Tai Baby Carrier with wrap-style straps from a table cloth!

Friday, October 25, 2013

9 Months

Dear Canon,

You are 9 months old today! You are barreling quickly toward toddlerhood, and I am wishing you would slow down and stay my baby a while longer. You crawl everywhere, pull up and cruise along furniture, and have pushed yourself up to an independent stand a few times. You seem to have a flair for danger and always seek out electrical cords, stairs, and lamps to pull up on. We definitely have to be diligent with baby-proofing with you, which is a whole new world for us after your naturally cautious sister!

Lucky for me, your love for adventure is matched by your love for snuggling. You erupt into a huge smile when you see me pull out a wrap or ask if you want "uppies," and you snuggle right in and patiently wait while I wrap you up. You are a snuggly sleeper, and as much as I look forward to having the bed to just your father and I again, I love having your sweet sleeping head nestled in the crook of my arm and waking up to your smiling face.

You have 6 teeth and 4 more that are days away from cutting through. You like to play with a variety of foods, but mama milk is still your favorite. Scrambled eggs, bean burritos, and a sampling of fruits are your favorite "real foods" to eat. You have started to sign for milk when you want to nurse; your vocabulary otherwise consists of lots of babbling, humming, and laughter.

You adore your big sister and want to do whatever she is doing. You love to bang on the piano, whack at guitar or ukulele strings, and play with blocks, trucks, and play food. Your face lights up when your Daddy walks into the room. You love to chase the dog and cat (they don't like it so much) and watch your sister's goldfish. You practically jump into your babysitter's arms when I drop you off in the morning, and are a beloved fixture in their household. We frequently hear comments like "He must be the happiest baby ever!" or "He's always in a good mood!"

To know you is to love you, Canon. Your happy energy, sense of adventure, and enthusiasm for life add to the vibrancy of our family and our home. You complete our family in ways I couldn't have anticipated, and I am blessed and honored to be your mother.



Sunday, October 20, 2013

Reconnecting with my Dear Delilah

Dear Delilah,

The last few weeks have been challenging ones. Between you starting preschool, me working a few more hours, and all of the small but significant ways those changes impact our routines, there's been a whole lot of adjusting to do that hasn't always been smooth.

Sometimes, it's been downright ugly.

If I'm being honest, and as I'm seeing more clearly now that I'm taking some time and space to process just how and why things have gone off the rails as much as they have recently, my expectations have been unrealistic. I've been expecting too much from you, and I've been expecting too much from me, too. I have ignored what I know to be the limits on my energy, my patience, my time. I have pushed aside or postponed until later your very real needs for my affection and undivided attention. You have expressed those needs in the best way that you know how, which sometimes involved refusing my requests, or whining, or crying and stomping feet. I have lost my temper, which sometimes involved yelling, slamming doors, or crying and stomping feet.

We have been caught in a cycle of pushing each other's buttons, and of responding poorly to having our buttons pushed.

I, being the adult here, am committed to being proactive in healing the dynamic between us, and in better expressing and managing my uncomfortable feelings, like anger or frustration. Some of that is work that I have to do on my own, like using my knowledge of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) to be mindful of my thinking errors, which lead to uncomfortable feelings, which lead to inappropriate behaviors. (Being angry or frustrated is fine, yelling and slamming doors because I'm angry or frustrated is not fine.) I can't count the number of times in the past few weeks that I have let flawed thoughts spiral out of control. Thoughts like: "I can't handle this." "I'm not capable." "I'm a horrible mother." "I'm not cut out for this." Those thoughts do not serve me, and I must be mindful not to let my mind run away with them.

I need to be more aware of my own self-care needs. I need enough sleep, I need enough physical activity, I need enough quiet and peaceful time to myself, I need enough coffee, and I need enough yoga.

This is about more than just me, though, and I have some work to do with you, too. Primarily, I need to pay more attention to your needs and your cues, and I need to have realistic expectations about how patient a nearly 4 year old is capable of being. I need to give you bigger helpings of my undivided attention. I need to play, really play with you more, rather than expecting you to be satisfied with helping make dinner or handing me a wipe during your brother's diaper change as quality interaction. I need to sit down and just snuggle and be with you.

The last few Sundays have been really good for reconnecting with you. Last Sunday, you spent the afternoon outside with me while I planted tulip and crocus bulbs. I could have had it done in an hour, but I let you help dig and fill in the holes, and when you got bored and wanted to play in the leaves instead, I went and grabbed a rake, burying you in leaves as requested, then letting you bury me, our giggles drifting through the neighborhood. Today, we spent the day snuggled up and reading books, singing, and chatting the day away. A few times when I'd return from throwing a load of laundry in the dryer or stirring the stew, you'd pat the couch next to you and ask me to sit by you. Rather than asking you to hold on or wait a minute, I simply sat where you asked me, pulled you in close, and kissed the top of your head while you seemed to melt right into my body, the body that carried you for 9 months, then nursed you for over 2 years.

These close, connected, joyful moments with you recharge me, and I will make a conscious effort to have at least a brief moment of true, uninterrupted connection with you each morning, before the hustle and bustle of getting ready and leaving the house carries us both away. Despite this phase that has been difficult for both of us, I am grateful and humbled to be your mother. You continue to teach me about myself, about parenting, and about the world. You continue to delight me with your energy, your creativity, your wit, your spunk, your sass, and your kind and gentle nature. I know that I'm not a perfect mother, and I hope that you'll forgive me my mistakes, knowing that I tried to recognize and learn from them, learning and growing right alongside you.



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

All About Ring Slings

12 Day Old Canon in a
Rockin' Baby Ring Sling*
The ring sling is a basic, versatile baby carrier that can be used from newborn to preschooler. It is constructed of sturdy fabric and two rings (typically either nylon or aluminum rings manufactured specifically for this purpose) that are used to adjust and secure the sling. The most common way to wear a ring sling is over one shoulder, carrying the baby in tummy-to-tummy in front or on the hip. Ring slings can also be used for back carries, however these should only be attempted by those who are very experienced with back wrapping and back carries. The fabric is threaded through the rings similar to threading a D-Ring belt, like so.

While there is a slight learning curve in figuring out how to thread and adjust a ring sling, with practice, it is one of the fastest and simplest carriers to use. I often keep mine in the car so it's handy for quick errands when I want to wear the baby so I have my hands free, but don't want to put in the time and effort to wrap him.

I also love ring slings as a nursing-friendly carrier. With some practice, it is quick and easy to adjust the sling and lower the baby to nursing level, then tighten it back up when the baby is done eating. The tail of the sling can be used to cover the baby or the top of the breast if privacy is preferred.

5 Month old Canon in a Wrap Conversion Ring Sling
made from Didymos Anthracite Hemp Indio
Newborns should be carried upright and tummy-to-tummy in the sling. To avoid the risk of suffocation"Cradle" positions should only be used while nursing. Toddlers, preschoolers, and older babies who are able to sit unassisted can also be carried on the hip. Always be sure to follow basic babywearing safety protocol.

This video demonstrates wearing a newborn in a ring sling:

And this shows hip carry with an older baby:

Ring slings are available in a wide a variety of colors, patterns, and fabric blends. Some popular brands include Maya Wrap*, Babyette, Sakura Bloom*, and Zolowear*.

Check out this collection of Riveting Ring Sling photos from Julia at A Little Bit of All of It for a sampling of the different styles available!

*Amazon links are Affiliate Links

Baby AND Preschooler Wearing

Delilah has had some challenges with the transition to preschool and all that it entails, and has been seeking more closeness lately. After some serious resistance to being worn since Canon's been around, she has started actually requesting it!

Wearing Delilah when we're out and about means Daddy gets in on the Babywearing fun too. ;)

Then there are those times when Daddy's not around to help, and I get to wear them both! ;)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Simply Living Blog Carnival: October 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.

 Enjoyment What is life if we aren’t enjoying it? What do you do that you enjoy? Do you have hobbies or other things you love? How do you fit those things into your life? Tell us what you enjoy doing! To submit an article to the blog carnival, please e-mail your submission to mandy{at}livingpeacefullywithchildren{dot}com and delilahfineandfair{at}gmail{dot}com, and fill out the webform by October 8. 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 October 15.

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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