Google+ Authentic Parenting: August 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Quote Of The Day

Not having children makes less work—but it makes a quiet house.
- Susan Glaspell 


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Remember

Image: Darkpatator on Flickr

Remember,
Your child is not here to
... follow in your footsteps
... compete with you
... make up for your mistakes
... do the things you never could
... be the man/woman you want to be
... steal your attention
... repeat your errors

These are things YOU should deal with.
Your child is here.
Your child is.




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Monday, August 30, 2010

Quote Of The Day

The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.
- Doug Larson 


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Authentic Parents, Authentic Partners?

Authentic Parenting isn't just about parenting - as you might have noticed if you are a regular reader - it is also about soulsearching, personal betterment, sustainable living, and much more. More than a parenting style, it is a way of life. But one factor I seem to have neglected is partnership.
Most of us are indeed raising our children in some form of partnership, wether it be married or unmarried, same sex or mixed sex... Is the fact that I have given little attention to partnership and relationship an indication of something fundamental?
Do we spend as much time on our relationship as we do on our parenting? On ourselves?
If you don't want to give your relationship any consideration for your partner, or for yourself, you should consider doing it for the benefit of your child. The relationship we have with our significant other is a strong influence on our child's life.
The way his parents treat each other is the closest look any child can get into personal relationship, and will taint every close relationship he enters with another human being.*

Comic: Geek And Poke
So ask yourself: are you being as authentic in your relationship as you are in parenting? Do you spend as much time resolvinig conflict? Do you approach your partner with the same respect and consideration?

If I am competely honest here, I have to admit that, whereas I do spend enormous amounts of energy in being an authentic parent, in creating the most loving and nurturing envrionment for my child, I do not when it comes to my husband.
I yell, I get angry, I get frustrated, I even call him names. I feel guilty about it and I know I should work at it, but I keep putting it off, finding excuses. I trick myself into thinking I haven't the time or energy to work at my relationship, or I tell myself it should come from my husband's side...
I know I am simply reenacting my parents dysfunctional relationship. I recognise the mechanics of what I do to my husband as those my father used on my mom - albeit in a slightly less evil manner.

'Working' on your relationship shouldn't be work at all, it is just a matter of tuning in. Tuning into yourself and your partner's feelings. Allowing yourself to feel the emotions, but finding creative solutions to frustrations and anger.

*Are You Programmed At Birth? by Bruce H. Lipton on Heal Your Life



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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Surf


For more Sunday Surfing, go visit Domesticated WomanThis Adventure Life, Maman A Droit, Hobo Mama and Baby Dust Diaries
Have you joined the Surfing fun on your blog? Leave a comment below and I will put a link to your blog here every Sunday. Feel free to add the Sunday Surf button to your blog, you can find it on the right of this page or under the Sunday Surf tab.



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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Quote Of The Day

For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness.
- Anonymous


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I'm crafty

And now for something totally different: what better place to show off my recent accomplishments than here?

Some stacking blocks I made as a present for a friend's newborn

My daughter's brand new bean bag chair

I'm really going nuts over amigurumi lately, they're so simple, and you have fantastic playfood in just an instant.

What about you? Have you been making something? If you've blogged about it, feel free to share the link, I am always looking for new projects.


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Friday, August 27, 2010

Quote Of The Day

Anger is one letter short of danger.
- Anonymous


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And They Turned Out Fine

During our holiday in Belgium, my grandmother (oma) visited while we were at my parent's house.
My grandmother was 16 when WWII broke out and her parents had been WWI survivors.
Thus, as many parents in her day, my grandmother held a very tight rule in raising her children. She smacked her children with wooden spoons on many occasions and often until they broke, all the while being deeply devoted to God.

Before I continue I want to add that I love my grandmother and she's generally a sweet and understanding person, but at the age of 87 - as many elderly people - she has radicalized in her beliefs and there is little room left for reasoning.

So my grandmother, my parents and my family spent a week together. Rather quickly my grandmother got annoyed by my free range child (my mother has learned to adapt early on to our parenting style, after all, she did her share with me and - the little one being my child - it is my turn now).
Whenever we were in another room we could hear my grandmother saying NO to my daughter. 'Don't do that' 'Sit here'...
We just let it pass as my daughter is a smart girl, she loves her great grandmother dearly and she already understood the rules are different when she is around Oma.

Now that doesn't mean I didn't get annoyed at the constant nay saying and correcting, but we let it pass.

Until one day it went over. Way over!
Maybe you remember how I talked about not letting people walk over me any more when it comes to my child?

My grandmother said to my sweet, lovely, kindhearted girl, that if she would open the cupboard one more time, she would get a serious spanking - she had just the spoon for that purpose!
I lost it.
I told her to stop this idiocy immediately and let the child do as she pleases. There were only tablecloths in the cupboard anyway, and I didn't mind folding them and putting them back. I would not tolerate anybody spanking or threathening my child. If she could not handle that, then she would have to go. Period.

Of course, my strong willed grandmother did not like being contradicted. She spent the rest of the day babbling about child rearing practices (I'll elaborate on that in another post) and said she knew best because she has raised four children and they turned out great.

I asked her that if she had raised them so wonderfully, then why did the three girls each marry an abusive husband?

My youngest aunt got knocked up at 18 by an abusive drunk who smacked her and her children, then left the guy for a man who only smacked the children (at least now she was safe).
The second daughter married a verbally abusive emotionless drunk and had a loveless relationship.
The eldest daughter - my mom - married an equally abusive man who is equally incapable to bond and has strange sexual tendencies. Yet again since he was only abusive against her daughter, this mattered little. And for her it is exceedingly amazing to play the victim and create a scene.

My grandmother's response was that she had nothing to do with their choiice in men.

Lesson of the day: No matter how your children turn out, you can say you raised them right and wash your hands in proverbial innocence.




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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Quote Of The Day

He who angers you, conquers you.
- Elizabeth Kenny


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An Unschooled Life

Life begins at unschooling... at least a totally different life then the one you knew before.

Image: Muha on Flickr

For September's Carnival at Enjoy Life Unschooling, I got the assignment to consider how much of life unschooling has influenced and the only answer I can come up with is everything!
I cannot imagine a part of our collective lives as a family that hasn't been touched since we acquired knowledge of unschooling. I can't even tell you where unschooling begins and gentle parenting ends, where we're attached parents and where we're trying to live sustainable. That's why this blog is called Authentic Parenting, because it is beyond unschooling, beyond attachment parenting... To be completely honest, it even goes beyond parenting altogether. Maybe
I should have called it Authentic Living, but that would have sounded too much like a country living magazine, wouldn't it. Given that parenting is certainly a defining factor in our lives, let's just keep it at that.
To us, these are all things that are intertwined and have certainly shaped our lives.

No matter how hard we would try to 'keep it in the closet', after a few moments spent with our family, you will know that we are unschoolers, free range people, gentle parents etc. There is no hiding it, because it has become part of our very essence.

The gentle parenting and attachment parenting to us is the prelude to unschooling. Profound trust and respect for our child infuse our lives and form the base of our parenting. I wonder if it would be so if we had never heard of unschooling. We can ask ourselves if baby led weaning was unschooling, if the approach we have to sleep is unschooling...

Unschooling definitely changed the way we look at life as a whole, and has us looking for alternatives to the career life my husband is now leading. Hopefully, it will lead us to unjob, and maybe it will even guide us to a life in an intentional community.

The mere fact that we decided to unschool our child makes us want to change our lives completely, makes us want to choose those close to us more carefully.




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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Quote Of The Day

Nothing is, everything is becoming.
- Heraclitus of Ephesus


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Call for guest posts: Coming Of Age Series

Last week I posted two guest posts by DeAnna L'Am about coming of age and menstruation. These posts, and your reactions to them made me want to do a series about coming of age. After all, menstruation is the source of human life and transitioning into adulthood is a big step for both girls and boys. Therefor, I am doing a call for submissions on the topic.

Anything about coming of age and menstruation is welcome, but these are the topics I am specifically looking for:
- rituals and traditions surrounding coming of age
- the story of your first period
- how you plan to celebrate you child's transition into adulthood
- coming of age for boys
- what to tell your child about his/her coming of age

Image: Love&Hearts

All submissions should be mailed to mamapoekie at yahoo dot com and should include name and bio of the author, plus a link to your site or blog (if you have one). If possible, add a photo in attachment.



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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Quote Of The Day

If a small thing has the power to make you angry, does that not indicate something about your size?  
-Sydney J. Harris 


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Terrible Two's?

Image: Sean Dreilinger on Flickr

When my daughter was younger, everytime I would comment about how easy she was and how she really didn't cause me trouble, people would answer: "wait until she's two."
I was confident my daughter wouldn't become terrible when she turned two. I had read article after article about opposition, tantrums and 'terrible two's', and knew that - with the right guidance - this too will pass smoothly.

My daughter turned two a couple of months ago. She had the phase of opposition when she was one, so that one got out of the way rather smoothly. It helps that we tried to minimize saying no to her, and that we did value her no's and not just dismiss them.
But now she's two, I really don't get what all the fuss is about.
I have to be honest, I think it only gets better with time. She's very cuddly and can express herself better, as she starts speaking entire sentences. She can now play on her own for long stretches of time. She understands when I have to do something important. Yes, she is slowly becoming independant, but that doesn't cause any issues.
She does have the occasional scream and cry. But most of the time that is a reaction to our parental inadequacy. A result of us - as parents - handling something in a way that is inappropriate for her age. Indeed, she will let us know loudly that we are wrong, that we should change our approach.But she was never easier or more fun.
I do not think that she spends more time crying or fussing then when she was a baby. Nor do oI think that she's more difficult to handle. I think that most parents just handle two-year olds the wrong way. I think where parents expect 'terrible' and such, they will indeed find it.

These cries and tantrums and oppossitions are just their way of expressing that they're growing up, their way to reject coercion, their way of telling you that they don't like the situation. We shouldn't try to change them or expect them to behave in a way that goes against their developmental stage. We should accept their growing independance and deal with it accordingly.

So as far as terrible two's go, I don't buy into it. Let's call them terrific two's and seek the fun and the enjoyment instead of seeing the occasional cry and calling it a 'terrible phase'.



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Monday, August 23, 2010

Quote Of The Day

It is a mathematical fact that fifty percent of all doctors graduate in the bottom half of their class.  
- Anonymous 


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Doctors And Breastfeeding

Recently, I have been really astonished by my OB/GYN and another doctor who specialized in gyneacological oncology. Before you ask, these people are specialists in Belgium and both of them are professors (!!!), I am not tallking about some local doctor here in Ivory Coast who only half made it through a local medical degree. I am talking about people who form the medical body of the future (yes, a lot becomes clear now).

OB/GYN
Note: He was the one who told me I had to breastfeed my daughter for at least a year, to significantly reduce her risk of developing diabetes.
at my one year check-up, he asked if I was still nursing, I responded positively. He asked when I would cease. I responded when she was ready. He asked if I was willing to wait that long for another baby.
At my two year check-up he asked again, and again I responded that we were still going strong and that she would decide when it should be finished.
He told me that breastfeeding would seriously mess up my fertility and that I would not ovulate until she was done. That breastfeeding causes highly irregular cycles with no ovulation.
I had been having regular cycles for about six months by then, of which I informed him.
At which he responded again that those cycles are always highly irregular and that it are cycles without ovulation.
Isn't it strange that you need someone to inform you about the regularity of your cycles? Who is the better one to judge? You or a doctor you only see once a year?

Image: Stefan Baudy on Flickr

ONCO dude
I have to go to Belgium shortly for a colposcopy, so I asked him if I had to stop TTC until we did the test.
He responded: "Actually yes, but since you are still breastfeeding, this would not be popssible anyway."
Seriously? Where did this guy study? What the hell was  he thinking.
It is generally known that the Lactational Amenhorrhea Method as a contraceptive only works for as long as the infant is exclusively breastfed and as long as the child is under six months and feeds at regular intervals, and for as long as menstruation hasn't kicked off again.
My daughter is two and almost three months, she sleeps for 7 to eight hours at night, sometimes I leave her at home with the nanny during the day. She eats tons and tons of solids and there are days she forgets to nurse. Oh and of course I have been having a rather regular cycle for almost eight months now.

Lesson learned: Don't ever trust your doctor, no matter how much credentials he has. Can you imagine if every doctor is this ignorant? What if your cardiologist doesn't know half of the stuff he is supposed to know? Would you ever find out?



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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Surf


For more Sunday Surfing, go visit Domesticated WomanThis Adventure Life, Maman A Droit, Hobo Mama and Baby Dust Diaries
Have you joined the Surfing fun on your blog? Leave a comment below and I will put a link to your blog here every Sunday. Feel free to add the Sunday Surf button to your blog, you can find it on the right of this page or under the Sunday Surf tab.



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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Quote Of The Day

It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.
- Buddha 


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And The Winners Are...

For the keyring giveaway I got to draw two winners!
These are (as drawn through random.org):
comment 2: freelearners will receive the flower keyring
comment 1: Niraja has won the apple tree keyring

The winner's email adresses are sent to Abbie and they will be contacted shortly.


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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Quote Of The Day

A man will fight harder for his interests than for his rights.
- Napoleon Bonaparte


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Waves of Interest

Children's interests come in waves. They can start off unexpectedly and then quickly take on autonomous dimensions in a heartbeat. They can take on such extreme proportions it can seem as if there is nothing else left. They can just as quickly vanish, or they can remain, as a part of the undercurrent.
These waves of interest can be very scary to parents, especially when these interests concern the axis of evil (TV, video games, ... the non accepted or 'in moderate quantities only' pastimes) or when it comes to food.

Modern recut copy of The Great Wave Of Kanagawa

I deliberately add food to this list, because food, for children, is just another part of their learning palette. Children do not distinguish between so called academic interests and other interests, they learn from life.

We cannot stand in the way of these interest, we cannot halt them. Trying to interfere, stressing over it (yes even when they are toddlers, they know when you disapprove) or setting boundaries will only make your child fixate on these things even more. They will find a way to pursue their interests, whether you like it or not. Having them do it behind your back, or become obsessed with it because it is prohibited will only aggravate the issue.

Yes, it is stressful to see your child watch TV or play video games for the integrity of their waking hours, or ask for pancakes five days in a row three times a day; but this hardly ever lasts. The initial thrill of a new experience quickly dissipates. The interest can be added to their list of activities, or can be forgotten entirely. If it isn't something that can harm your child or others, just let them ride it out.

Think about it this way: haven't you ever started a book that was so good, you just read it out in one run? Or played a video game until the morning light peeked through your curtains? Or pursued a hobby until the point of driving your peers to despair?




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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Quote Of The Day

There are always two choices. Two paths to take. One is easy. And its only reward is that it's easy.
- Anonymous


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Freedom Of Choice, To What Extent?

Freedom of choice generally concerns individual choices. Legislation jumps in to ensure that your choices as an individual do not harm another individual's freedom.

When it comes to parenting, the choices we make are not merely choices that influence ourselves, they are choices we make FOR our children, parenting choices are choices made by one individual over another individual.

Now let's take a look at the 'choices' a parent gets to make and if they would translate to the adult world:

You cannot terminate a life unless the person in question has distinctly asked for it and only under closely described circumstances. You can, however, start your child's life early, just because your doctor wants to finish his shift early or you have prior engagements.

You can drink alcohol but you cannot force alcohol onto another. You cannot be drunk in public nor can your drinking hinder other people's activities.
You can take legal drugs, but you cannot force anyone to take drugs, or sell them without license.
You can smoke but your smoking shouldn't hinder others or put their health in danger (ie no smoking in public spaces).
You can, however, get an epidural if you do not want to feel anything during childbirth and force those drugs through your child's system.
You can, however, give your child substandard, chemical food that actually harms them.

You cannot maim or mutilate total strangers, at the risk of imprisonment or worse but you can cut off pieces of your child's genitals.

If you tap your secretary's ass it's sexual abuse. If you smack a stranger in the face, it's battery. If you smack your child's butt, it's education?

And all this under the loud and proud banner of 'Freedom Of Choice'.

What about our children's choice?
If they had the choice, do you think your children would choose to come into this world before they are ready? Do you think they would choose corporal punishment? Do you think they would want to come into this world on drugs? Would they choose bland formula or breast milk? Would they want their body parts cut off, or would they prefer to stay whole?

Seen from their point of view, any sane person would know the answer to these questions and revisit the 'choices' that are dangling before our parenting eyes.
Making these choices are hardly ever in the child's best interest (of course there are always exceptions, but these are rare and I am talking about choice here, not about being unable to breastfeed or emergency c-sections) They are selfish choices, no matter how you look at them.
Parenting is not about being selfish. It is about doing what is best for your child, sometimes at the expense of your own needs and desires. If you desire to lead a selfish and selfcentered life, having children might not be the best choice.



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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Quote Of The Day


“It is a curious commentary on our society that we tolerate all degrees of explicitness in our literature and mass media as regards sex and violence, but the normal act of breastfeeding is taboo.” 

– American Academy of Pediatrics


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The Virtues Of An Unplanned Childhood

Come September - if we were living in Belgium - would be about the time my daughter would enter the schooling system. Luckily, we are spared from that. We live on a plantation with two more kids who would attend school for the first time this September. WHile for our family, this September will be nothing different than last September, the other two families are already gearing up for homeschooling, or homekindergartening.
I will do no such thing. We were doing fine so far, why should I change anything?

But, shouldn't I be introducing some structure in my daughter's life?
She has plenty of structure with her daddy going to work and coming back for lunch and in the evening at scheduled hours. Actually, I feel that we already have way to much of a schedule going on and I'm trying to break free of it.

Image: Extaticist on Flickr

Shouldn't I at least give her some activities to do?
She has plenty of activities throughout the day, the only difference is that she chooses them herself. And yes, they are varied, even though she does go through pases where she prefers one thing over something else. Just today, she went swimming, baked crepes, played with playdough, did some drawing, went for a walk, played pretend games with other kids, went to see a bunny, a civette, a monkey and some chickens, she got to feed the civette a bottle. She climbed a mount of sand and ate an apple. It's only 4PM as I write this and I must have forgotten plenty of little things.

But what about her education?
Well, I think the things I've just summed up give her more education then anything she would see in a classroom.

Aren't you afraid she'll never be social?
Seriously, I think my 26 month old daughter is about the most sociable toddler I have ever seen. She plays with kids of any age (her regular 'gang' are 7, 9, 11 and 17 years old, all boys), any sex. She talks to adults and to animals. She asks about her friends and family and wants to see them as often as possible.

I am so thankful we discovered unschooling and have relieved ourself of the education anxiety.


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Monday, August 16, 2010

Quote Of The Day


“The way a society views a pregnant and birthing woman, reflects how that society views women as a whole. If women are considered weak in their most powerful moments, what does that mean?” 

– Marcie Macari  (reused form Talk Birth)


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Coming Of Age: How To Start Welcoming Your Girl Into Womanhood

written by DeAnna L'am www.deannalam.com 



Most of us were not welcomed into womanhood, and so our INNER MAIDEN is left inside hanging, waiting, unsure... As mothers, we vow to create a different experience for our daughters, only to find them running away! What is wrong with this picture?
The first stepping-stone to welcoming your daughter into womanhood is addressing YOUR Inner Maiden, who may have never been welcomed, or empowered, when you came of age!
The story of Menarche, our first period, is rarely told. 
It is interesting to note that women, who tend to share everything with one another (from first sexual encounters to stories of survival and recovery), are silent about this one...
We have come a long way as women... 
We became assertive. We broke through '
glass ceilings.' We combined careers with motherhood. We decided whether to become mothers or not. We can do it all... but do we enjoy the blueprint of our womanhood: our cycle???
The adolescent girl you once were, who may have never been welcomed into womanhood, is left inside you, dormant and waiting... You are mostly unaware of her presence, except you may have menstrual cramps, hate your periods, or see them as "nuisance," "bother," or "the curse."
Like Sleeping Beauty, the coming-of-age girl inside you is waiting to be awakened. 
But no Prince Charming is coming to wake you out of THIS sleep...
 
This is an internal job. YOURS!

So where do you begin? 

As Einstein said: you can't solve a problem from the same mindset that created it! Since the problem was created by rendering you invisible and ignoring your needs as a coming-of-age girl, the healing balm lies in being heard and witnessed...
Make time with one (or more) of your close women friends to tell the story of your first period. You will be astounded by the feelings of relief, comfort, and bonding that this simple act brings. Breaking this silence holds the key to your health and strength as a fully integrated woman. It also serves as the first stepping-stone to welcoming your daughter into womanhood...

I traveled a long way from seeing my period as a nuisance, to reclaiming it as my spiritual wellspring. 
Sharing the story of my first period, and holding space for women around the world to share theirs, is the essential ingredient in waking the Sleeping Beauty inside each of us.
Share your first period story with a close woman friend in your living room, in cafes, on park benches, or anywhere women get together to support one another through conversation. This is one step you can take today to start reclaiming the fullness of your "Woman Being." And it is a NECESSARY first step to prepare you for your daughter's Coming-Of-Age!

Is your daughter approaching puberty? Is she already there?
DeAnna invites you to discover what you need to know about talking to your her with comfort and ease right now. Visit www.deannalam.com to receive a free report: "The Most Common Mistakes Moms Make With Coming-Of-Age Girls, And How To Avoid Them!"

DeAnna L'am, speaker, coach, and trainer, is the author of Becoming Peers - Mentoring Girls Into Womanhood. Her pioneering work has been transforming girls' and women's lives around the world for over 20 years. DeAnna specializes in training Moms, Grandmas, Step-Moms, Aunts, and any woman with a special girl in her life - to become an inspiring role model; to deepen trust with her girl; and to develop ease and confidence about her girl's puberty and coming-of-age.

Image: Independentman on Flickr


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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Surf


If you haven't entered yet, check out this giveaway for a set of handmade keyrings, it is open worldwide.

For more Sunday Surfing, go visit This Adventure Life, Maman A Droit, Hobo Mama and Baby Dust Diaries
Are you a blogger and you've joined the Surfing fun? Leave a comment below and I will put a link to your blog here every Sunday.


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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Quote Of The Day

"The time you ENJOY wasting is not wasted time." 
- Laurence


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And The Winner Is...

The winner of Sarah's herbal pillow's and more giveaway - as drawn with random.org - is comment number 19:
Sarah
(sarahslette)
Sarah will be winning a wrap in the color of her choice.

Both Sarahs will be notified by email.


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Friday, August 13, 2010

Quote Of The Day

“You cannot teach a person anything; you can only help him find it within himself.” 
- Galileo


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Authentic Parenting vs Permissive Parenting

Give your child a piece of candy when they ask for it and you are immediately labelled a permissive parent. Worse... do anything your child want and you're 'that type' of parent, the kind that is frowned upon. The kind that lets their respectless children run around stomping on others without as much as a word. The thing my grandmother calls free education.

As alluring as the terminology 'free education' sounds, that is not what we do. What my grandmother was pointing at (when she said that was what I was doing and I would reap sour grapes) was the kind of education Dutch kids got while we were growing up. Basically they just ran around unsupervized and weren't even adressed when the vandalized other people's property or physically or verbally hurt others.


Gentle parenting/discipline, or even radical unschooling, as far as I go is nothing of the sort. It is not about raising disrespectful children, quite on the contrary. It is about respecting the child and its integrity. About offering them choices and freedom, yes, but not without boundary. Not when it surpasses common logic or borders criminality.

Permissive parenting is allowing your child to do whatever, even if it goes against everything you believe in. In gentle parenting/authentic parenting, it's about offering choices, but within certain limitations.

For me, the boundaries are (not in any specific order):
vandalising people's property (while at home I see to it our property doesn't get vandalized by keeping the things I don't want broken away - for now. Everything that's around can be smeared and crayonned... except the walls but that wasn't a problem for long)
physically hurting others (animals and people alike)
endangering themselves
and later on verbal abuse will be on the list

But apart from that, yes, basically anything goes. Which does mean that indeed when she wants to watch the simpsons for two hours, she can. When she asks for candy, se can have it... But these things don't happen quite as often as you would imagine.


Image: Leonid Mamchenkov on Flickr


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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Quote Of The Day

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
- Dr.Seuss


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What To Do With Old Clothes

There's no better time to clean up your wardrobe then after having a baby. That said, any time is good for cleaning out your closet. It's a little rule of mine that nothing lingers in my closet that makes me feel bad. And there are plenty of things you can do with these old clothes before they end up in the garbage.


Repurpose
There are about a million ways to repurpose clothes. You can easily make children's dresses out of tops by just sewing the sides smaller. You can make pillow cases or bags for your shoes out of old T-shirts. Track pants that don't look flattering anymore can become make-up remover pads... Sweaters become stuffed animals... Let your imagination run wild, or if you lack inspirations, google it and you are sure to find many a great project with your old rags.

Give away
There are always people around who are very happy to receive clothes. If you don't know anyone personally, there are charities who sort these clothes and send them to people in need.

Swap
You are not the only one with an illmatched wardrobe. Seek out friends or family who have the same problem and swap clothes. You can even make a little party out of it, invite friends with their boxes of hand-me-downs and then have an improvised fashion show.

Sell
Find a good second hand store and make them your friend. You can even make a little money off it, which can add to your new wardrobe. If you don't have a secondhand store nearby, there are some of them online, too.

work it
If your clothes look really tired/unfashionable, but they still fit, keep them for the dirty jobs. Maybe you want to paint the house, work in the garden... better use your preloved clothes then your new ones, right.

Rags
If your old clothes are really really dirty/smelly/torn, they are still not ready for the trashcan. Cut them up and use them as rags for cleaning etc.

What do you do with your old clothes? If you feel I've left anything out, feel free to add it in the comments!


Image: gorgeoux on Flickr


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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Quote Of The Day

 ‎"Whenever I held my newborn baby in my arms, I used to think that what I said and did to him could have an influence not only on him but on all whom he met, not only for a day or a month or a year, but for all eternity - a very challenging and exciting thought for a mother." 
- Rose Kennedy


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The Meaning Of Stay At Home Life

When I was pregnant with my daughther, I met a very interesting woman, who had been a stay at home expat wife for around fifteen years. She told me something very interesting, something I will probably remember for the rest of my life. She said the hardest thing about staying home was to give meaning to your life outside of the generally accepted standard that is work/employment.
It was indeed something I had been struggling with for a long time.



As you might know, I moved abroad straight out of university, I hadn't even finished my thesis by the time we got married, so I have never been employed in my field of 'expertise'. (I did a lot of different jobs growing up, from the age of 14 and onward, so it's not like I don't know what 'working' is like).
When I would meet Westerners, even the friends I had from uni, they would always ask me what I did. Then I would answer that I stayed at home. That I was not employed, nor chose to be. I always ended up explaining, as if staying at home is not a valid choice, there must be a million reasons behind it - and eventually, I must be bored off my ass.

I did set off to Cameroon with the idea of maybe volunteering at some NGO, but that was no option, as the only two existing NGO's were at an hours drive (we didn't have a car) and they both were involved in lawsuits against my husband's company. But more importantly, I didn't want to be away from my husband all the time.

And indeed, the first couple of months, I struggled being alone, in a strange country, 'unemployed'. Not 'having' to do anything unless I wanted to. I felt useless, and I had nothing to say when people talked, because 70 percent of all conversations with Westerners are work-related.

But after those first six months, I did find things to do I was passionate about, I was happy, I got pregnant.
When the baby arrived, I had a little less explaining to do, because everyone accepted the fact that the baby took up most of my time. Now, however, as she got older and we have a housekeeper, a nanny/cook and a gardener, people start to wonder - again - what I DO.

Employment - working for 'the man' is not the most important thing in life. Nor is it the most interesting or the most meaningful. Especially when you dread doing it. What you are doing in a company will be of little matter in the big picture. Mothering your child will, making a warm and cosy home will, weaving memorable moments and concocting delicious meals does.

I don't mind that much any more. I think I am doing the most important thing I could do. I am taking care of my daughter, I am present AND I manage to find time to do things I am actually passionate about, like this blog (and a couple of other projects currently stored in the fridge).


Image: Die Hausfrau - Ludwig Richter


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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Quote Of The Day

‎"A child whose life is full of the threat and fear of punishment is locked into babyhood. There is no way for him to grow up, to learn to take responsibility for his life and his acts. Most important of all, we should not assume that having to yield to the threat of our superior force is good for the child's character. It is never good for anyone's character." 
-John Holt


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Who Is In Control Of Your Life?

As you might know, I am a SAHM, so technically, I don't work (for someone other then my family), but my husband does (for now). Lately, I've been wondering how much of our life is being controlled by the occupation of only one family member. An occupation he has out of nescessity and because right now, we are still searching how we can do it differently.

We chose the expat life to break free of a lot of the contraptions of standard living in Europe (and to discover the world). But have we broken free? Or have we just changed one set of limitaions for another?
Sure, there are a lot of benefits we have in choosing this life, and we probably reached a higher level of freedom, just by opening our eyes to the possibility of something else.
But are we free?

Not at all.

I think we might be even more controlled by work then we would be when we'd be living in Belgium (which would mean we would both work).
They control the schedule we live by during the day, and if my daughter and I are not awoken by my husband's alarm, we sure are by the morning bell, that rings three times, to make sure the workers get to the factory. Same scenario at lunchtime and again in the evening. Since my daughter falls asleep later and later every night, she is still pretty tired in the morning, so she generally sleeps until the second ringing. This causes my husband to arrive late at his job, so he gets complaints, even though half the time he's working lunches and stays in late.
And this happens seven days a week.

Our housing and what we do with it is company controlled, so is our furniture.
Our car and where we can drive it.
When we take our holidays, when we move, where we move, or how long we will be staying; sometimes we don't even know until we get a ticket in our hands.
Even our weekends and evenings are often planned by the company, because there's always some official dinner to attend, or some formal party to be at, and our abse

Since we are living in a compound, our only contacts are people working for the company. And there are things you do not say to your colleagues, things you automatically censor.

Of course there are ways around this, we could buy our ow furniture - but it makes more to move when the time comes. We could rent a house, but then there would be little left on his salary to live on. We could try and make friends outside the company, but that would mean an hour drive to get to them every time we want to see them and we only have a one and a half day weekend...

And there are so many little things...
I don't particularly appreciate the strict distinction between my husband as the breadwinner and me as the stay at home wife.
We moved here to have more time together and more time as a family, but we have very few of either. If we were to benefit from time as a couple, we would feel guilty abouot leaving the little one, and my husband would feel bad because he hardly gets to see her at all.

We are in no way free, and have indeed traded in a set of limitations for another.
I think it is rather difficult to work as an employee and be free, even if only one family member works, and the same goes with school. The entire family regroups around an opposed schedule until paralysis occurs and one cannot see his way out - nor think that they need one.
We intend to brake this paralysis, and find a way where we can be free, where we all can do things at our own pace, at our own schedule. Where we would work as we choose, when we choose, how we choose.

What about you? Are you in control of your life? Or are you being managed?


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Monday, August 9, 2010

Quote Of The Day

‎"300,000 women will be giving birth with you today. Relax and breathe and do nothing else. Labor is hard work, it hurts and you can do it."
- Anonymous 


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Flying with baby

Flying with a baby can bring on a lot of anxiety in a parent. To an individual adult, the hassle of flying might already be stressful as such, add a baby to that and you've got yourself one stressed-out insecure and frustrated parent.
What to do with baby on a plane and in the time before and after boarding seems to be of great concern. We don't want to be the parent of the child that screams the entire flight.

Since my daughter and I are frequent flyers ever since she was six weeks old(with as many flights as she is months old, and multiple international destinations, I think the little one can be called a flight expert, really), I thought I'd share some tips with you.

1. Relax
Baby picks up the signals you are sending, so if you are stressed out already, chances are, your baby or toddler will be fussy too. This is the first rule, and probably the most important one. Even when your child gets a llittle uncomfortable, maybe cries a little, don't freak out, don't be bothered by the way people look or what they think. What matters is you and the baby, so just concentrate on soothing the both of you.
Most of the 'stressed flyer syndrome' starts at home, so be sure to have everything packed and ready the day before you fly. That way, you can enjoy your breakfast and getting ready in peace, without running around like a nutjob.

2. Ask for help
In the airport, you can always ask for help from one f your fellow travellers, or a shop attendant.
During the flight attendants are there to help you, even though they may seem to have forgotten that is their job. If you are thirsty, if you need to go to the bathroom, if you need anything really, don't hesitate to ask them.

3. Bring an adequate carrier
A stretchy wrap is my personal choice for a small baby. Baby is close to you while you go through the motions at the airport, and you can use the wrap as a blanket on the plane. The flight attendant might ask you to get the baby out of the wrap while on the plane for safety reasons (not all airlines demand this, so you can still ask to keep your baby in the wrap if you would like to).

4. Strollers are a big nono
A stroller might seem convenient to stash your hand luggage etc, but believe me, they will cause you more grief than actually helping you. When your child decides that he/she does not want to be in the stroller any longer, you will find yourself in a pretty uncomfortable situation (trust me, I've been there), plus it is a mess to fold when you're boarding if you are holding your baby (and passengers or crew are not alwayys very helpful at this point).

5. Take-off/landing
Put them on the boob for takeoff or landing, or take a bottle for these moments. You are allowed to carry a bottle with water for your infant on board. If they have a runny nose, you might want to give them some nasal drops before take off and a little while before landing.

6. Avoid the crowds as much as possible
Baby can get seriously overstimulated and anxious of big crowds, especially if you are already a little on the edge. As much as possible, avoid the crowd. Sit down at the quieter part of the gate, don't go for last minute tax free shopping in crowded shops, walk around in the terminal if there aren't too many people.

7. Don't mind the others
When your baby cries or fusses, don't worry about what others thing. If you get all strung out because 'people are watching', there is no way you will be getting that baby calm. Just create a mental bubble for you and your baby and only focus on him/her. If people are annoyed, they'll just have to get over themselves. Your baby's wellbeing is much more important then their intolerance.

8. Don't forget yourself
Especially if you're still breastfeeding, hydrate yourself adequately. Drink plenty of water and/or juice before you get on board, and don't be afraid to ask for water while on flight.


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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunday Surf



And don't forget to enter the two giveaways I've got up right now, one is for a wrap (continental US only) and one is a pair of handmade keyrings (worldwide)
If you are participating in Sunday Surf weekly, please leave a comment below, so I can put a permanent link to your mainpage.


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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Quote Of The Day

"Judgment has never helped any mom breastfeed, but empathy sure has." 
- Anonymous 


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All About Breastfeeding

Since it's still World Breastfeeding Week, I thought I'd give you a little overview of the articles you can find on here about breastfeeding, let me know if there is anything you would like to have covered that isn't on here already.


The International Breastfeeding Symbol


Overcoming problems



Musings about breastfeeding



Breastfeeding in Africa
My thoughts on breastfeeding as a white woman in an African country

Tips and pointers



NIP



Breaking myths

  • Dismanteling silly arguments against nursing toddlers
  • In 'Lamest Reasons To Not Breastfeed' I tackled some of the reasons that are frequently given and how they can be overcome.



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Friday, August 6, 2010

Quote Of The Day

Freedom is for honest people, no man who is not himself honest can be free - he is his own trap.
- L. Ron Hubbard 


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Keyring Giveaway

I am very happy to be able to give away these two wonderful keyrings, made with love by Abbie Kennedy, see some more of her creations on her facebook fanpage. Since there are two keyrings, I will be drawing two winners.





This giveaway is open to Worldwide on Friday the 20th of August. 
My family will not be able to enter, nor will I
To enter, leave your first name and email adress in the comment box below. 
The winner will be drawn using Random.org

You can have additional entries to increase your chances by:


  • Becoming a new fan on facebook - Comment: fanned you on FB in the comment box, plus first name and email
  • Become a new follower - Comment: became a new follower, first name and email
  • Become a new follower on Twitter - Comment: follow you on Twitter, first name, email
  • Suggest my fanpage to some friends - Comment: suggested to friends, first name, email
  • Share this giveaway or any other post on you facebook page - Comment: I shared *enter post title* on facebook
  • Tweet this or any other blog post - Comment: tweeted *insert title* + add link to tweet
  • Blog about this giveaway or this blog (or both) - Comment: blogged about *enter topic*, link to your post, first name, email adress
  • Link to this or any post on this blog in a group or forum you attend - Comment: I linked to *this post* on *this forum/group*, name, email



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