Friday, October 29, 2010

Family Matters

I recently ventured across the country with the boys to visit my family. A last minutes, unplanned trip. Homesick, kind of down and in need of familiar faces, we were off.

I was amazed by how incredible the boys did on the plane. I planned ahead and packed a backpack full of activities for Tolliver. Snacks, toys and blankies for Holliday. Really, I didn't need most of what I had packed.

When we landed, my family awaited us. Well, I can safely say they were more so awaiting the boys arrival, I was just a bonus. Familiar hugs and smiles paved our welcome. Family.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pants that fit just right: Boodle Bottoms Review and Giveaway

It's a common issue for cloth diapering moms - finding pants that fit over bulky cloth diapers.  If you are like me, dressing your child often includes a bit of a shimmy shake to get the pants up over the fluff.  So when I stumbled upon Boodle Bottoms I had to try them.  Boodle Bottoms are pants designed to fit over cloth diapers!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

It's been a weird, busy (300 cupcakes, anyone?) week and I thought I'd try a little something different tonight.... I've seen 'wordless Wednesday' on other blogs, and since I could talk the ear off of anyone, I can't leave mine wordless-- hence (Almost) Wordless Wednesday...

This is a photo I've never shared with anyone.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Green Washing

“Non-toxic! Safe for children! Environmentally friendly!” my carpet spot remover says along side a list of other benefits like ‘not tested on animals!’ and ‘safe around pets’. But a quick read through the ATSDR fact sheetsummary of the active ingredient 2-butoxyethanol confirms that while it does evaporate quickly, it doesn’t look like any long term studies have been done to find out what environmental effects it was once in our air and that exposure to this chemical in animals has been shown to cause hemolysis, reproductive problems and birth defects, as well as respiratory illness in humans when exposed to large amounts.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Green your HALLOWEEN!

Photo credit: Mrs. Hart (Flickr)
It's almost here - my favorite holiday!  I love it not because of the candy, but because I get to make costumes.  I love to dress up and I especially love to get creative and make something fun for Halloween.  But lately Halloween has become another cause for concern for moms.  The number of Nestle products, candy containing high fructose corn syrup, and lack of fun, healthy alternatives is frustrating.

In the spirit of transparency, my son will be eating candy on Halloween and I will be, too.  However, I appreciate that not all families do eat candy, and many moms feel required to turn off the porch light rather than hand out apples to kids.  Not to mention that apples are expensive and homemade is out.  A lot of other green Halloween guides suggest pencils or small toys or crayons, but as a reader pointed out the other day many of the cheap toys contain parabens and plastics she doesn't want to hand out either.  What's a holistic mom to do?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday School: Resources for toddlers and preschoolers HALLOWEEN edition

Halloween is my favorite holiday.  I love to dress up.  I love pumpkins.  I love the weather!  So here's some fun things to do and read with your little one this week!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday Snuggles... under a tree :o)

Today was a beautiful day in Virginia! The weather was perfect and the sun was shining. I was up until about 2 a.m. working on a cake for a friend's 'Blessingway'. I (attempted) a henna inspired design of hot pink on chocolate fondant... the cake smelled so good the entire time I was working on it and during the car ride today!

Ben & I packed up the kids (& the cake) and headed out around noon. We dropped off the cake and were on our way to a Celtic festival being held about an hour and a half away. The kids took the ride as an opportunity to nap thankfully.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Have a greener period: LadyCup and Pleat Review and Giveaway!

Winner: Heather! 
In July 2009 I decided I was making the switch to sustainable menstrual products.  It seemed a bit hypocritical of me to promote cloth diapering while I tossed pads and tampons out each month.  I recall thinking before my revelation that mama cloth was just gross and it would be such a pain and what if it didn't work?  And then I realized all those arguments were the same ones being used against cloth diapers.  Well after this brilliant revelation, I got busy and made some cloth liners.  The tutorial is floating around on this blog, but since it embarrassingly poor, please skip it!  So I whipped them up eager to start my own cloth stash, and wouldn't you know it but this happened:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Homebirth Hypocrisy

As I was driving down the road today, I literally had to pull over to change my facebook status after being hit by something so obvious I just had to blurt it out.

After going through the past months with my grandpa, and as I have witnessed a few times in my life, I have come to realize something...

When a person chooses to remain at home to see an end to their days and die at home, they are not only allowed to do so, but are given assistance by a nursing service to maintain their dignity and privacy during this time. Hospice will send nurses or assistants to check in on the person and the family is even given a kit with various 'just in case' items, such as morphine, to ease the transition at the end if necessary. You're given a number to call, and at times a box with a button that will simply connect you directly to a skilled person who can assist you. Everyone speaks so kindly about you being at home, where it's 'comfortable' and you can be 'surrounded by loved ones'. Being put on hospice as opposed to being placed in a nursing home is viewed as a wonderful thing... no need for intervention.. this is a normal part of life.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"That Wasn't To Blame"

On twitter a few months ago, one of my friends linked to an article summarizing a new study that has been done showing that birth weights of babies has gone down since 2005 and hasn’t continued to grow like it has yearly.
The article is HERE
What amazed me most about this article is that they took information from birth certificates and didn’t actually follow anyone or find out special cases of birth or anything.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Keeping Faith

Remembering those not with us on Oct. 15

Faith [feyth]
belief that is not based on proof

On Friday I lit a candle for the babies I never held in this life.  I think about them less these days, I am ashamed to admit, and whether that is the result of time passing or actually healing I'm not sure.  It felt nice to stop and remind myself what an impact they've had on my life.  Not all the things that came with those losses are sad.  I've made friends through loss, I've connected with women around the world, and I've been taught the fine art of compassion, and while those are all good things, these benefits are tinged with grief.  And while in so many ways I've moved forward, the scars of my miscarriages linger and ache in unexpected ways.

And now I sit writing this with a beautiful, healthy little girl on my lap and I feel very blessed.  Not because I deserved her.  Not because finally the timing was right.  Mostly just because she's here and that's all that matters, and a little bit because after multiple losses over a 14 month period, I still tried.

I won't lie to you.  There are many areas of my life where I've given up and walked away.  Bits of novels, craft projects, half-decorated rooms, graduate school.  I'm not proud of this, but I won't ignore the obvious.  I might not be a quitter, but I sometimes fall short in the faith department.  I lose faith that my novel is anything worth reading or that I'll ever get into better shape or that I can do laundry and still feel inspired.  I've never considered myself a Doubting Thomas, but I guess  we all are to a point.  So much of are lives are filled with what-if's instead of remember when's.

I'd given up the month we conceived our daughter, but only in the psychotic control freak way that is my form of trying to conceive.  No thermometers, no charts, no planned intercourse.  I had not given up faith though.  I still believed we would have another child even though there was no proof.  In fact, there was only proof against us having another.  I just believed and whether that was out of genuine optimism or a need to confront this nameless death in our life, I'm not sure.

In the end, I think faith is about more than proof or belief or hope - it's about having something worth fighting for.  We can't expect to keep faith in all our pursuits, we all have things that are worth all we have, and this child, nursing at my breast, was worth all the fight.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday School: Resources for toddlers and preschoolers LEAVES edition


If you have a little one under five at home, Sunday School is your ultimate resource for activities, projects, and resources from our pre-homeschooling home to yours! Whether you plan to homeschool/unschool or not, here's some ideas for the week. Check back next Sunday for more fun ideas and information!

Time to hit the library and grab some books, because is there a better way to spend an autumn day with the kids?

This week is all about trees!  The leaves are changing and there are dozens of fun activities right outside your door.

Recommended Reading

The Tree Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf Fall Is Not Easy Fletcher and the Falling LeavesOur Tree Named Steve Someday a Tree Chicka Chicka Boom BoomThe Giving Tree   [GIVING TREE] [Hardcover]The Apple King 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Oh Baby Baby! Nursing Pillow Giveaway

Update with winner: Congrats Miranda!

File this under the "I'm jealous" category. I am so excited to be giving away a BabyBaby nursing pillow in the limited edition Ruby Twirl ($74 value). I first heard about these pillows from a doula friend, who was raving about them, so I knew I had to give one away on Connected Mom.

Here's what makes them so cool:
-Filled with polystyrene beans which are incased in their own inner means you control the height and comfort of the pillow depending on your needs and that of your child.

-It comes in a machine washable, pre-shrunk 100% patterned cotton top with black cotton base, chosen to fit with your living room furnishings.

- Its unique 'U' shape ensures this feeding pillow moulds to baby and you, easily, comfortably and correctly. The larger than most surface size means you can use it to feed your infant longer than smaller feeding supports allow.

Did I mention how much I want one of my own?

BabyBaby was kind enough to offer one during our October sitewarming party!

Want to win one of your own?

Mandatory entry:
Visit BabyBaby and tell us what other cool product you'd love from their site. Include your email address please!

Extra entries (leave a comment for each w/ email address)
1. Share our Breastfeeding on the Street campaign on twitter. You may do this daily!
2. Follow us publicly on google friend connect.
3. Subscribe to our RSS feed.
4. Follow @theconnectedmom on twitter
5. Join our community.
6. Follow us on Facebook.
7. Blog about the Breastfeeding on the Street campaign.
8. Add either our Connected Mom button or one of our Breastfeeding on the Street buttons (2 entries if you do both)
9. Follow us on Networked Blogs.

Giveaway open worldwide. Winner will be drawn October 22 at noon CST!

Lots and lots of ways to enter! Many will enter, only one will win!

Disclosure: I received no compensation or sample for this giveaway. This is purely me hooking you up :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Breastfeeding: It's the Word on the Street Campaign

Recently I came across a post from Code Name: Mama about breastfeeding on Sesame Street in 1977! The beautiful video showed a mom explaining to Big Bird why breastfeeding is normal, healthy, and natural - talk about awesome. Pretty soon I came across a second video featuring Maria breastfeeding and showing a little girl how!

With all the recent controversy surrounding Sesame Street, it was awesome to see Sesame Street has a history of promoting breastfeeding and nursing in public as well as engaging kids on what breastfeeding is and why it's important. And we want to see more of it! When kids grow up seeing breastfeeding as normal, everyone benefits.

So can you tell me how to get breastfeeding to Sesame Street?

Join our Breastfeeding on the Street campaign:

Write to Sesame Street and let them know you want to see breastfeeding back on Sesame Street.  Carla from Life as a Reader has a great form letter to get you started.

Tweet: @SesameStreet Breastfeeding: it's the word on the (Sesame) Street #BFINGSTREET ##sesamestreet

Share this post, or write your own and link it back, so we can send people your way!

Grab one of our graphics!

Get your street cred!

Get your street cred!

Get your street cred!

The Fine Art of Maternal Apologetics

Recently I've had a breakthrough in the form of a breakdown over the birth of my daughter in March.  For those of you unfamiliar with the story, or how I'm dealing with it, let me break it down.  I planned a homebirth and wound up with a hospital induction and repeat cesarean, but this isn't about that.  Not really.  This is about maternal apologetics, or more simply put, defending your mommyness.

At first sight
My breakthrough was actually the result of a question I got about breastfeeding from an anonymous user on formspring.  This mom wanted me to write a post about how she could talk to other moms about her not breastfeeding.  You see, she hangs with a lot of our crowd (AP types) and she really wanted to breastfeed and could not.  How could she explain that?

It's been months and I don't have an answer.  I asked for advice on twitter about it once and received a lot of "she shouldn't have to explain herself!" comments.  And I agree with that, but I also understand that this isn't about just explaining or excusing, it's about defending.  I met a similar mom in person recently and she looked embarrassed as she pulled a bottle out in a circle of breastfeeding moms.  She hurriedly told us the whole story.  How hard she tried.  How much she pumps.  I recognized the defense mechanism immediately, because it's something I do myself.

Maternal apologetics, or the practice of explicating our experiences or self-perceived shortcomings.

We do it to "fit" in.  We do it because we don't want to be judged by those we admire.  We do it to show we are educated and informed.  We do it because we feel like we failed even though we didn't.  We do it because we don't want our maternity to be defined by our shortcomings in the eyes of others.

I am a birth apologist.  I will tell a stranger walking down the street about my birth stories if they show the slightest interest.  This is partially because I'm the world's most open person, but mostly it's a chance at obtaining the validation I so desperately need and can't find in my own analysis of the events.

I hang out in the birth community, because I love birth.  I believe in birth.  But it sort of exacerbates the problem.  A nice woman at a homebirth event on Sunday sat down to sign me up to support a new Friends of Missouri Birth Centers group, and then she pointed to my daughter and asked the million dollar question: Did you homebirth her? Cue my verbal birth saga.

I can't claim to have homebirthed, but I'm a homebirther.  I know this in my heart, but it seems ludicrous to say "nope, I had a repeat cesarean" when someone asks me that question.  They have to know.  I have to explain.  I have to defend.  I have to validate.

And you know it would be easier for me if I didn't know the assumptions most birthy people would jump to if I said I'd had two cesareans.  If I didn't know they were wondering what mistake I made or if I hadn't educated myself or if I could have advocated better - or worst yet, if I chose to have a repeat cesarean.

I know I fought.  I know I was educated.  I know I didn't  fail.

But why do I feel like I did?  Why do those unanswered questions outweigh the truth?  Why do I have birth story diarrhea?

I suppose because at the end of the day those stories do matter as much as the truth.  We can get so caught up in advocacy that all we hear is "couldn't," "formula," "c-section,"..."tried."  But us apologists offer a valuable  balancing point for advocates.  We remind them that there is no cookie-cutter formula to success.  We remind them there is still work to be done to promote policy change regarding birth, breastfeeding, and so many other  maternal issues.  We remind them that advocacy is important but so is every woman's story.  We remind them not to be dismissive.

Someday I think I'll be done telling my story.  I'll smile and say, "No, I didn't homebirth.  She was a cesarean."  I'll leave it at that.  I'm just not done yet.

I've learned something valuable from my experiences - a deeper, more genuine sense of compassion for a woman's story.  I've learned to listen. I've learned to welcome with outstretched arms.  I've learned to open my heart.

I'd like to close by thanking those who have listened to my story and who have understood its importance to me, with particular thanks to my midwife, who always refers to me as a homebirther.   Your compassion has made all the difference in my story.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A B C D E F..... G?!

Today has been quite the interesting day....

For about the past month, my right shoulder has been giving me a fit. It all started with a mini cupcake marathon consisting of baking & decorating about 350 cupcakes. I honestly thought it was stress brought on by my grandpa's condition and the fact that he was close to passing. My mom, a massage therapist, managed to get me to make time to climb up on her table once to try and help me. I can't make time to do that every night or as much as I need to, and the pain has gotten increasingly worse.

I finally went to the doctor-- something I do not enjoy. I felt more at ease this time since an osteopath just joined the practice-- I felt like she would help me figure this out in a more natural manner before suggesting cortisone shots or surgery or something.

She listened to me as I explained the pain, how it developed, how it had progressed, and why I had waited a month from the onset to come in. She then asked me to turn around and ran her hands over my spine and shoulder.

She made a noise-- that noise that lets you know she just found out what I was talking about... "Oh....!". I was worried, & responded "oh?????????".

That's where it gets funny-- she let me know that it was my boobs. Mainly my right one. It's larger (I knew that) and is pulling on my back causing me all this grief (I didn't think it was *that* big).

The solution should be fairly simple... Stop buying my bras at Target (& discount department stores).

"But," I protested, "I'm wearing a 40DD!... I'm mainly spilling out on the one side, so I guess that's probably a triple D?" (not even really thinking that was a recognized size)

She laughed.

But it was that kind laugh.. the 'I've been there' laugh... She said, "I'M a double D. You are not a double D. You are going to be surprised...."

She suggested I go get fitted properly and said I should go to Nordstrom to do so. She then promptly pulled up their website, gave me the name of a few brands that she has found to be supportive and that also hold up well. (Gotta love WiFi, right!?) FYI: those brands are Chantelle, Wacoal, & Natori.

Well, today I finally broke down and went. My own feeble attempt at measuring last night let me know I was probably looking at a difference of about 7 inches between my 'band' & 'cup', which corresponded with a 'G' cup. *Yikes*. The guide I found also stated to add inches to my 'band' measurement, but that evidently isn't accurate, as I was measured to be a 38 today.

I tried on a ton of different bras, and the one thing I realized is that there is a serious need for GOOD SUPPORTIVE (stylish?) nursing bras. I've seen 'stylish' nursing bras, but I have yet to find one that is truly supportive. In general, I've given up. I just pull down the cup of a regular bra (though my new ones fit so well that's not easy). (If you think you have a nursing bra for larger cup sizes that is the bees knees, I'd be happy to review it for you!!)

I also came to see that a good bra (fit) really does make a difference. My shoulder isn't miraculously better, but it is much better-- I paid for my bra and promptly went to the bathroom to change into it!

Here is a guide to help you determine the fit of your bra and if you should be wearing a different size.

And here is me.... poor quality cell pics, but it's me before & after. The difference isn't so much in what you can see, it's really in what you can't & what I can feel... but I think you can still see some subtle changes.

(L to R) Before, in a $15 40DD / After in a $71 38G Chantelle C Chic

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

10 Delightful Ways to Make the Daily Fun!

Photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography
As a stay-at-home mom too much of my day is devoted to the daily tasks that keep my house running. Finding a way to balance daily chores, errands, and activities with having fun with the kids can be challenging, but it doesn't have to be mutually exclusive.

Walk to the store! Leave your car at home and walk to your local quick stop or grocery store for those little necessities. Play I spy or watch for different colors of car as you go. Suddenly everyday drudgery becomes a special fun experience for you and the kids.

Think outside the bread and make meal time more fun. It's much more fun to eat a peanut butter on a rolled up tortilla or to have your apple made into a ladybug. Kids eat better when they're enjoying themselves.

Parent playfully! Avoid the no-win daily power struggles of parenting by approaching them through play. In our house, when our son isn't listening, everyone can start to get frustrated and angry. Now we play the "Oh, no! Are your ears broken game?" We pretend to look inside them, dig for wax, etc until we're both feeling more light-hearted.

Go on adventures with your kids instead of running errands. Make grocery shopping into a safari by hunting for items you've cut from the store ad. Pretend you are journeying out in a spaceship instead of your minivan, and you'll find that boring trip to the hardware store is as cool as a trip to the park.

Use puppets for storytime. We read books every night, and a lot of times, my son wants to read the same books over and over. Breathe new life into beloved books for both parties by making a few simple sock puppets. Let your child help tell the story.

Go swimming even in October! Who wants to take a boring bath? Turn bath time into swim time and encourage your child to splash around and pretend to swim while you scrub them down. Pretty soon they won't even realize you're washing their hair.

Pump up the jams and get the sillies out. When it's time for me to nurse the baby or plan my menu, it can be hard to convince my son to let me. A quick station creation on Pandora provides hours of music set to your tastes that will keep your little one moving even during down time.

Give them a rag and a spray bottle of vinegar water and let them go to town while you clean the bathroom. It turns out that doing chores can be lots of fun if they have something safe to spray. Since the solution is non-toxic, you can relax and let them have fun.

Sing a song. Mary Poppins knew that song is a powerful way to make anything more fun! Turn off NPR and sing your kids' favorite tunes loudly in the car. Engage them in a round of Old McDonald while you make dinner.

Make picking up playtime by playing I Spy instead of pointing at items to clean up. When your little one has made a big mess, turn cleaning into a game by asking them to find something green to pick up or tell them you spot a bear on the loose. Kids will enjoy cleaning up as much as getting it all out.

Finding a fun way to look at your routine makes it less ho-hum and helps your child to think outside the box while encouraging development of their imagination and creativity. Just remember what Mary says: "In ev'ry job that must be done there is an element of fun. You find the fun and snap! Thejob's a game!"

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and The Hub blogging program, making me eligible to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.” (make sure you link to

Carnival of Natural Parenting Guest Post: Balancing the Teeter-Totter

Welcome to the October Carnival of Natural Parenting: Staying Centered, Finding Balance
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 how they stay centered and find balance. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. Connected Mom is pleased to host this guest piece from Becky!

How does a young mother of a 1-year old find balance? Good question. As a new stay-at-home mom, it’s easy for me to get caught up in the perfection of the ’50’s housewife: vacuuming wearing pearls, having dinner on the table exactly at 5:00, and all the children behaving superbly when father comes home, to boot. While reading The Feminine Mystique, I found author Betty Frieden painting another picture. The first chapter of the book “The Problem That Has No Name” examines the link between a growing number of women’s general unhappiness or uneasiness about their life, many of whom left college early to marry and start a family, with the role of being a housewife. That ideal image of complete dedication for home and family is admirable, but isn’t a good example of being balanced. Instead it's like trying to ride a teeter-totter alone - not very much fun and ultimately frustrating.
For most of my first year of motherhood, frankly I’ve been lazy. It is much easier to watch TV and surf the Internet all day, but in doing so my teeter-tooter is glued to the ground. No one can deny that it’s a much better feeling at the end of the day when something has been accomplished. So, the question remains, how can I find balance without becoming either a permanent couch potato or a Stepford wife?
One reason that I’ve been so lazy and have lost my way (What are my passions? What do I want to do when I grow up?) is forgetting what used to give me joy: reading, traveling, playing the piano, going to classical and jazz concerts, or just simply talking to people. But what have I been doing right? And what do I want to improve?
I have a starting plan that worked for me in the past and maybe it will benefit me again. During one summer in high school, I wrote down daily what I did in these categories: Mental, Physical, Spiritual, Social, and Fun (going back to the keyword passions). For me, fulfilling something from each of these categories helped me to feel well-balanced. Skipping ahead ten years later to today, what am I doing to fulfill each one?
Mental: I miss my college days, the structure of going to classes, listening to lectures and reading textbooks, so I need to find my own way to learn. I have come across a few enlightening blogs that have expanded my horizons and vocabulary. I have been able to write a couple book reviews for an online German bookstore, and hopefully there will be more opportunities in the future.
Physical: I have been consistently working out with videos and DVDs two to three times a week. I want to add family walks and some weight lifting.
Spiritual: I write in my journal regularly. I have figured out my personal beliefs and feel content with them. My inner-struggle with organized religion keeps me away from church, but maybe I’ll go back sooner than later.
Social: I go out monthly with a friend. We do anything from seeing a play, to attending local concerts, to walking through a corn maze. I want to try Yoga with a group of neighbors and take my daughter to the library’s story time program.
Fun: I have a cooking/baking blog where I post pictures of what I make and recipes. What would be really fun? Traveling again. Sometimes I forget about all the fun local places to see. I want to research and find things to do just around the corner. Hooray for family outings!
When “that” side of the teeter-totter is leaning too much one way, reminding myself of what I enjoy and what wakes up my senses will hopefully tilt the teeter-totter closer to the center.

About the author: Becky loves being a mom and has a passion for German culture and language. She likes to keep in contact with friends and family and makes her home in Utah with her husband and daughter. You can visit her cooking blog at


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 October 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • Balance — Sheila at A Gift Universe has put her baby first — and has no regrets. (@agiftuniverse)

  • A Moment for Mama — Starr at Earth Mama has learned how to recharge on the run, so she doesn't miss a moment with her children.

  • Take a 30-Minute or 5-Minute Me-Break — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now discusses the merits of taking small daily breaks to maintain balance. (@DebChitwood)

  • Achieving Balance — In a guest post at the new Natural Parents Network, Heather explains how yoga has helped her find balance in her personal and family life. (@NatParNet)

  • A Stitch in (Quiet) Time Saves Momma’s Mind — Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch Momma didn't realize she needed "me" time — until she got it and had no idea what to do with herself. (@kitchenwitch)

  • Attachment Parenting and Balance — Michelle at The Parent Vortex believes that the last item on the "attachment parenting" list is both the most important and the most overlooked. (@TheParentVortex)

  • Little Breaks Bring a Little Balance — Jen at Grow with Graces finds balance - some days! (@growwithgraces)

  • Finding Balance — Are you a Type A mama? Dionna at Code Name: Mama is, and she needs your help to find balance. (@CodeNameMama)

  • (high)Centered — Stefanie at Very, Very Fine has had a spa gift certificate sitting on her nightstand since last year, a symbol of her inability to take time for herself.

  • Taking Time for Me — Marita at Stuff With Thing takes refuge in the world of books, with her daughters immersed in reading beside her. (@leechbabe)

  • Writing as a parent: October Carnival of Natural Parenting — Lauren at Hobo Mama didn't let parenting put her passions on hold. (@Hobo_Mama)

  • The Dance of Balance — Balance isn't static. It is dynamic, it is a dance, it is about keeping in touch with you. Read this wonderful bit of wisdom from Seonaid at the Practical Dilettante. (@seonaid_lee)

  • Rest Hour - a Primer — Do you get 15 minutes to yourself each day? How about an hour?! Mrs. H. at Fleeting Moments shares her tips on how to incorporate a "rest hour" for adults and kids.

  • Separation Is Critical — Only through enforced separation with the end of her marriage did Jessica at This is Worthwhile realize she should have taken time apart all along. (@tisworthwhile)

  • Bread, Roses, and a Side of Guilt. — Betsy at Honest 2 Betsy isn't ashamed to admit that she enjoys a pint once in awhile, or that her daughter recreates it during pretend play.

  • The World from Within My Arms — Rachael at The Variegated Life finds balance despite her work and her husband's commitment to art through attachment parenting. (@RachaelNevins)

  • Balancing the Teeter-Totter — Rebecca is rediscovering balance by exploring her interests and passions in several different categories. She shares in this guest post at The Connected Mom. (@theconnectedmom)

  • Balancing this Life — Danielle at is slowly learning the little tricks that make her family life more balanced. (@borninjp)

  • Uninterrupted Parenting — Amy at Innate Wholeness has learned that she does not need to interrupt parenting in order to find balance.

  • Knitting for My Family — Knitting is more than just a hobby for Kellie at Our Mindful Life, it is her creative and mental outlet, it has blessed her with friendships she might not otherwise have had, and it provides her with much-needed balance.

  • Taking the Time — Sybil at Musings of a Milk Maker has all the time she needs, now her girls are just a bit older.

  • Please, Teach Me How — Amy at Anktangle needs your help: please share how you find time for yourself, because she is struggling. (@anktangle)

  • A Pendulum Swings Both Ways — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment found herself snapping with too little time for herself, and then veered toward too much.

  • Finding Balance Amidst Change — It took a season of big changes and added responsibility, but Melodie of Breastfeeding Moms Unite! now feels more balanced and organized as a mama than ever before. (@bfmom)

  • At Home with Three Young Children: The Search for Balance, Staying Sane — With three young kids, Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings knows parents sometimes have to adjust their expectations of how much downtime they can reasonably have. (@sunfrog)

  • Attachment Parenting? And finding some "Me Time" — As a mother who works full time, Momma Jorje wants "me" time that includes her daughter.

  • A Balancing Act — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes has concrete ways to help keep centered with a little one and a new baby on the way, from exercise to early bedtimes to asking for help. (@sheryljesin)

  • Aspiring Towards Libra — Are your soul-filling activities the first to be pushed aside when life gets hectic? Kelly of aspires to make time for those "non-necessities" this year. (@kellynaturally)

  • SARKisms for Sanity — Erica at ChildOrganics has found renewed inspiration to take baths and laugh often from a book she had on the shelf. (@childorganics)
  • Monday, October 11, 2010

    Quality or Quantity?

    Is it quantity time or quality time that creates that secure attachment we attachment parents are striving for? I don't know that the answer is simply one or the other, but rather I would argue that quantity time in infancy leads to quality time later in childhood.

    In infancy the quantity of gazing, nursing, snuggling, and holding is likely the highest it will ever be, and all of this time we spend in direct contact with our newborns helps ease us into motherhood & teaches us to communicate with our babies, making caring for them second nature. The mother who gently brings her restless & irritable toddler close to her & offers her breast, or a soothing song or distracting story without missing a beat or breaking in stride has likely learned this behavior through the quantity of time she spent with her infant. In short, quantity time hones our maternal instincts and develops our parenting skills. One could say that in infancy, quantity time is quality time.

    In my opinion, it is this quantity time that allows for real quality time down the road.

    My quantity time meeting all of the physical needs of my infant: nourishment, security, and hygiene, has given Oliver and I a special communication. This communication with one another, allows me to accurately predict his needs, limits and reactions, and allows him to take emotional & physical cues from me to guide him through social encounters, physical and emotional developments, and problem solving.

    But more than that, this instinctual non verbal communication allows me to be more relaxed and open to those moments of memory building quality time. With our communication growing and evolving with our changing needs I can be more present, more mindful and connected and therefore in a better position to take advantage of quality moments.

    Right now that means being present to share a proud smile when he figures out how one stacking cup fits into another, or pick up on and share in the obviously hilarious joke that is throwing thanksgiving turkey to the dogs then looking around confused as though it's magically disappeared.

    Perhaps in the teenage years it will allow me to recognize those fleeting moments of being receptive to affection, or help me know when it's right to let go and when to hold on tight. I hope that I can nurture the kind of relationship I want with my teenager with the foundations we are setting now.

    The respect, communication, and love we nurture and developed through all that quantity time with our infants lays the ground work for the kind of respect, communication, and love we all want with our older children. As parents we need to hold onto it, to keep working at it & nurturing it so that the respect and communication changes & adapts to accommodate our children as they grow. By doing so we can stay mindful & connected and ready to jump in & soak up that quality time every chance we get.

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    Fostering creativity in kids

    I was perusing the Cotton Babies site today, the home of BumGenius diapers and stumbled upon the question: How do you encourage a creative, artistic spirit in your baby, toddler or young child?  Creativity is paramount in my family.  My mother is an oil painter as was my husband's grandmother.  We both grew up around creative spirits and we love art galleries, concerts, films, and plays.  My own experience shows me how art and creativity helps solve problems, create connections, and inspire emotional development, so we've tried to encourage our children by fostering their own creativity.

    We started by creating an inspiring environment.  Drawing off resources like freecyle and craft stores, we've created a bedroom ripe for imaginative play and creativity for less than $50.  Our son can cook up dinner in his kitchen for us, or draw pictures in the small art station, or curl up to enjoy imaginary worlds on his homemade bean bag.  We imagined the coolest room we could have had as children and made it happen, stocked with crayons, colored pencils, blocks, and imaginative toys.

    Living in a large metro area, we try to seek out local cultural events.  My kids love the music and costumery that accompany many countries' traditional ceremonies and it's wonderful exposure to the creativity and originality of world cultures.  Try looking for local magazines that keep trackof upcoming events in your area and take advantage.

    Take a day and visit a children's museum near you.  These museums often offer a variety of hands-on, learning activities as well as arts and crafts room.  If you are lucky enough to have a local museum, see about supporting them through a family membership and organize a meet-up with other parents and kids.  Giving kids a creative environment and the fresh perspectives of other children their age can inspire kids to think outside the box.  Children connect over art.

    Encourage their creative endeavors by giving them a gallery to show off their latest creations.  Consider hosting an open house for family members where you display their drawings, paintings, and crafts.  Not only will Grandma and Grandma get a kick out of seeing their excitement, it will help them articulate how they feel about their art, creating emotional connections with the place it has in their lives.

    And parents don't foget to get messy!  I mean you not just them.  The best way to foster creativity is to get down and dirty with your kids - fingerpaint, jump in rain puddles, dress up and put on a play.  Playful parenting helps kids work through the emotional and developmental stresses growing up comes with in a healthy way.  The best we can give them is time to play.

    Sunday School: Resources for toddlers and preschoolers

    If you have a little one under five at home, Sunday School is your ultimate resource for activities, projects, and resources from our pre-homeschooling home to yours! Whether you plan to homeschool/unschool or not, here's some ideas for the week. Check back next Sunday for more fun ideas and information!


    Make an Art Gallery - This easy-to-make art gallery costs less than $5 to make and only takes 10-15of time, but your little one will be proud to display their masterpieces.

    1 piece of stiff felt
    1 piece of regular, contrasting felt
    5+ clothesline pins
    Glue gun

    Cut your piece of stiff felt into two or three length-wise pieces and glue them together. Lay out your clothespins equal distances apart and glue on. Cut out "My Art" or "Works of Art" or "Art Gallery" and glue to the stiffened felt. That's it! Hang it low enough that your child can easily hang their new drawings each day.


    Making Faces - Using a mirror talk with your child about emotions like anger, sadness, excitement, etc. Make an angry face, a scared face, and so on and examine what you look like in the mirror. This activity will help to build your child's sense of empathy.

    Face puppets - Cut out facial features from magazines and help your child choose the pieces to make a face. Discuss proper facial symmetry and the what each feature does (we need two eyes to see the world, we need a nose to smell). Glue the pieces on a paper sack and create puppets for afternoon play.

    Make a body buddy - Lay out a long piece of paper and have your child lay down on it. You can get rolls of paper at your local teacher supply store. Trace the outline of their body and cut it out. Let them color or paint their body buddy.

    Website of the Week:
    I Can Teach My Child
    This fun website is full of great educational activities created by a former first grade teacher.