Google+ Authentic Parenting: July 2011

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Surf

Pregnancy and Birth

Visit the newest Sunday Surfers: TmuffinLove Notes MamaBecoming CrunchyAdventures of a Thrifty Mama and Touchstonez. If you want to find out who else is surfing, go to the Sunday Surf page.
If you've joined the surfing fun over at your blog, leave a comment below, and I will add a link to it in the next edition of Sunday Surf. Feel free to add the Sunday Surf button to your blog, you can find it on the right side of this page or under the Sunday Surf tab. Newest Surfers will be added to the following Surf, older Surfers are listed on the Sunday Surf page. If you're Surfing and you have a button for me, email it to mamapoekie at yahoo dot com.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Father's Perspective On Homebirth

Written by Jeff Sabo

Finding out that you’re going to be a father is a very crystallizing and defining moment in a man’s life. Some men run from it, others embrace it, and still more are frankly puzzled by it – and some fears and uncertainties, once believed to have been overcome, can come flooding out again:

  • Will I be a good father? 
  • Will my children love me? 
  • Can I escape my own upbringing, and do better? 
  • Can I parent with my heart, more than with my head? 
  • Will my partner still love me if I was not a good father? Will she even tell me if I was doing poorly? 
  • Will I ever learn enough, know enough, and contribute enough to our parenting relationship? 
  • How will I respond if the kids get sick? How will I respond if one of them dies? 
  • How can I keep them safe, provide for them, provide for my partner, and stay happy at the same time? 
It can be completely overwhelming under the best of circumstances. There is a sudden sense of being responsible for someone else, of having to provide for them and our partner. And we may still be grappling with the other uncertainties and inadequacies that we have carried around with us for years.

There is an immediacy to being a new parent which requires us to handle stressful situations in a calm, thoughtful manner. But if we have not been willing or able to reconcile our fears and uncertainties, "calm" and "thoughtfulness" are states of being that are difficult to attain, and even more difficult to maintain. I think that, under stress, we are prone to default to our most basic personalities, to use whatever familiar coping mechanisms we happen to have used in the past. Sometimes, the only way to really work through this effectively is to latch on to something familiar that helps ground us a bit so we can deal effectively with the swirling emotions and seismic shifts in . . . well, just about everything, that come with being a new parent.

For me, in order to grasp my new life I had to rely on my old paradigms of what a parent “should” be for guidance. In my head, I had mapped out exactly what it takes to raise a child, be a husband, have a productive household, and be an accepted member of society. For me, it was pretty simple, really. Dad works, mom works; breakfast as a family with a healthy meal; lunches and book bags all packed the night before; kids on the bus and doing well at school; work being hard but rewarding; home by 6:00, kids all there, dinner together then chores; some time to play, then homework; then time to brush your teeth and put on your PJs, and off to bed by 9:30 or so. Of course, the kids would play sports, and I'd be a member of the Jaycees, mom would be on the Chamber of Commerce, etc, etc, etc. We might even go to church on Sundays and sing in the choir. It's important to note that these "expectations" of what my life would be like were not some mere abstract, or some societal norm that I simply bought into. These were things I wanted; they were what mattered; they were the way it was done. If we did it this way, everyone would be happy, no one would get hurt, and we would raise our kids to be responsible members of society. And as a Dad, my role was critical - I had to be the driver to ensure all of this happened on schedule.

But as a soon-to-be Father, all of that was overwhelming. I had to focus on finding ways to control things as early as possible, to make the wonder of pregnancy easier for me to process and deal with, despite the flurry of changes. I had to establish some sort of comforting paradigm for how my children would spend their time in utero, and how they would come into the world. So for our first child, I approached the birth process in ways that were familiar and made sense to me. In fairness, I should mention that both my wife and I were raised in traditional ways, and although we knew that we wanted to be more connected to our children that our parents were to us, we still agreed that the birth would be in a hospital, and that the pregnancy and delivery would be with the help of an OB-GYN.

Our first son (Kai) was born in the hospital, in a fairly traditional way. Overall, it was . . . okay. In retrospect, the word that comes to mind is “satisfactory.” We did attend a birthing class for several weeks that was sponsored by the hospital, which provided us with fantastic insight and guidance into several paradigm shifts – no circumcision, vaccination choices, cloth vs, disposable diapers, etc. We prepared by reading books like “The Hip Mama’s Guide to Pregnancy”, and spent hours trying to learn all we could to have as authentic and non-invasive a pregnancy as possible. I loved the time when Ginger was pregnant; the way she glowed, all of the changes, the laughter and joy we felt, even the newness of the uncertainty – it was all part of a joyous process as we got ready for our first son. On the morning her water broke, we called the hospital to let them know we were on our way (why do people do that?), and then sat down and watched an old episode of “Colombo” and ate granola before we went in. There was no fear, no concern, just uncertainty and a bit of tingling nervousness as we readied ourselves to meet this little dude that we had been talking to all these months. When we got to the hospital, the experience became . . . clinical. The nurses were nice enough, I suppose, and they did their best to accommodate our wishes. They did induce with Pitocin a bit earlier than I would have liked, and the labor was very long. I felt so helpless . . . the woman I loved, my soul mate, my best friend, and the person who changed my outlook on life was in obvious pain and there was nothing I could do. As the minutes passed to hours with little progress (as though birth could be measured in milestones of good or bad), I felt like I was getting smaller, as though the swirl of machines and nurses and doctors somehow made me less visible – and less needed. But toward the end, when we knew we were getting close, all of that gave way to a laser focus. Ginger and I looked at each other through each contraction as though we could see into each other’s bodies, with a love and understanding that made me feel in perfect sync with her. And when we got to hold that little boy, some nine months and 17 hours after we started that journey, I was simply stunned. I was stunned at Ginger and how amazing she had been on that difficult day; I was stunned by the little precious body I was holding in my arms; and I was stunned by the overwhelming sense of love and protection I felt, so much stronger than I expected. It was a different kind of love than I had felt before – deeper, more thorough, away from my heart and my mind and into my bones, my cells, every part of me. It was a love for life, for all things, always and in all ways. And it took over my life in ways beautiful and unexpected, like it has each day since.

As the years went by and we learned more about raising a child – which was much easier now that we actually had one – we began to think of things we might do differently if we were ever blessed enough to have another. For example, Kai received some vaccinations, but we knew that we would not vaccinate our other children. We also knew that we would carry our next child in the sling more, and cuddle more. So when Ginger came to work one afternoon and blew me away with her “positive” pee stick, I just knew that it would all be okay the second time around.

And then she told me that she wanted midwives instead of doctors. And wanted to give birth at home. In water. And I freaked.

I don’t think I freaked out in an obvious way, but on the inside I just did not know what to think. I mean, my paradigms of how a child should be born had already been twisted once; couldn’t I at least hold on to something, like an OB-GYN and a hospital? I was almost consumed by worry, on several levels:
  • Would our insurance cover a home birth with midwives?
  • Did midwives have enough training to do this?
  • What if something went wrong? Wouldn’t we want to be at a hospital?
  • I had such a good rapport with our male OB-GYN; would that change with a female midwife?
In time, my hesitancy about the first three concerns melted away. There was no way in hell that my insurance would pay for it, but we had the money to pay a midwife out of pocket; plus, the difference in costs between a OB-GYN/hospital and midwife were simply staggering, somewhere on the order of 10:1. I remembered the negative aspects of our hospital experience – the machines, the induction of labor, the overwhelming sense that this most human and natural of experiences was being molded to fit a pre-defined process – and suddenly realized that having more control over the environment and choices would be a great gift. And as I learned more about our midwives, and about midwifery in general, I came to understand and respect the amazing ability and knowledge they had – so my concerns about their ability to solve problems, large or small, was also erased.

But the last problem was huge for me. With our first child, I felt truly connected with our OB-GYN. He knew so much, and more critically for me he understood a father’s perspective – what we worry about, what we hope for, and how we express it or choose not to. In all of our visits, he responded to my nervous questions with humor and candor, and I felt like we had a “guy thing” going on that made this traditionally “feminine experience” accessible to me. In short, he helped me see that it was okay to be a man and yet be fully engaged in every aspect of the pregnancy and birth, concerned and emotional along the way. For me, the joys and overall positive experience of the Ginger’s first pregnancy and Kai’s birth were enabled by his understanding and demeanor.

And now I had to deal with women. I have no problem at all with women; in fact, I like women a heck of a lot more than I like men. But I now had to take this intensely personal experience, one in which my wife and I connected on a whole other level beyond what I knew to be possible, and share it with someone who had already been there and done that.

I was sad . . . I was nervous . . . . and more than anything, I was jealous. I’m not talking “I just saw my girlfriend with another man” jealous, I’m talking about a jealousy that was all-consuming and actually depressing in its depth.

The jealousy sprang, in the main, from my concern that injecting a woman into the process, a woman with so much knowledge of the emotions, physical changes, and subtleties that women go through during pregnancy and birth, would serve to do only one thing – replace me. With our first birth, I felt like a translator of sorts; I could listen to what the doctor said and then reframe it later in ways that made sense so Ginger and I could discuss it and learn together. I was the one who asked the questions when things seemed strange, the one who could take our OB-GYN’s sometimes clinical attitude and add the emotional undercurrents that made it more palatable for my beautiful mom-to-be. This role helped me feel important, needed, and a critical part of the birthing process. But with that role gone, I felt just the opposite – peripheral, unneeded, an appendage to the process and to my wife’s birth experience. Our midwives and Ginger seemed speak the same language and share similar spiritual and emotional beliefs. I saw this amazing connection between the three of them and Ginger’s body, and I simply wondered how I could ever fit in and be an important part of the birth process.

If you know me at all, you know that hurt like hell.

I am compelled to say that our midwives, Tosi and Claudia, did nothing to make me feel this way; it was all me and my own insecurities and uncertainties. It was clear, eventually, that they loved Ginger deeply and connected with her. I just never felt the blessing of the same connection with them. Ginger, of course, was wonderful; she went out of her way to make me feel loved and valued, despite the fact that our second pregnancy was far more challenging than the first. With her help, and with continued work on my part, I was able to work through all of this shortly before the birth, thank God. To my surprise – and joy – it all clicked perfectly the day of Kade’s birth. During the birth itself the midwives were extremely respectful of the fact that Ginger and I needed to be absolutely connected partners throughout. They were extraordinarily non-intrusive, and fostered a feeling that they were there to assist, not control. Personally and professionally, we could not have asked for two people better suited and more loving and capable. They were amazing.

Any reservations I had about having a home birth were erased almost from the first contraction. Having our own vibe – the sounds, smells, sights, and feelings of our own things and our own home – made a huge difference in our level of connection and relaxation. There were no machines, no beeping noises, no nurses bustling in and out, no charts or rules. There was just relaxation, and comfort, and connectivity, and listening, and laughter, and tears, and love – with all four (soon to be five) of us, working together in perfect harmony to bring a new child into the world.

Poor Kade did have some difficulties getting his shoulders in the right place to come out, so we all got in the pool together to help. Because of the challenging delivery, he wasn’t too sure that he was ready to breathe and join our family; as Ginger and I knelt in the pool of afterbirth after hours of intensity, we held him, and talked to him, and rubbed him gently, until he finally took his first breath and let out the most glorious sound in the world – a baby’s first cry.

From that point, I knew that if we were ever lucky enough to have another child, we would definitely have it at home. Instead of the presence of the midwives damaging my connection with Ginger, it did exactly the opposite; their calm, soothing presence allowed us to connect deeply in our own space and in our own time. Their ability, their presence, their understanding, and their love for Ginger – their love for all of us - shone through in all they did, for the pre-natal, birth, and post-natal visits. A similar birth experience in a hospital would have seen Ginger rushed into surgery, with forceps and needles and tubes and a cast of tens of doctors. But at home, it was all us; we were responsible for bringing this kid into the world and bringing him to life. Without that experience, and without the privilege of experiencing it with people I knew and trusted, my life would be less complete.

Home births, or any non-traditional birth, can be challenging for men because it violates our status quo, pushes us out of our comfort zones, and leaves us feeling out of control. But if we can trust and be open to the fact that billions of women have given healthy, wonderful births in ways we view as “non-traditional” – even though such ways are actually traditional and natural – then we can benefit from one of the most rewarding experiences of all. We can experience a pregnancy and birth the way it was intended to be - connected, beautiful, peaceful, and in perfect harmony with nature.

Jeff Sabo is a dad and partner who lives with his family and friends in Corvallis, OR. When he's not following his various passions or hanging out with his kids, he writes a blog about parenting, partnering, and unschooling at Just A Bald Man.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

And The Winners Are...

The winners for the Luna Lunera soap giveaway are:
Karen (Momagain)
I am communicating your emails to Luna Lunera, and you'll be able to pick your scent shortly!


Everything You Want to Know About Placenta Encapsulation

I have been thinking about what we're going to do with this baby's placenta. While I am not yet resolved on the question, I am looking into the specifics of my options, so I thought I might as well share them with you.

In this article, I will look at the choices you have when you pick encapsulation, and how it's done if you were to do it yourself.

Ingesting the placenta has numerous benefits and can be done in different ways. Encapsulations enables you to enjoy those benefits for a long time. Even though the process of encapsulation does deter some of the nutrients, you have the advantage of having easy pill sized little bombs of important minerals and vitamins and you can even take them with you. Each placenta's hormonal and mineral make up is completely unique to the mother and cannot compare with any supplement or pill. Some of the benefits when taking encapsulated placenta are (1):

  • increase in energy
  • assists the uterus in returning to normal size
  • increase in mental clarity
  • hormone stabilizer
  • may help in the prevention of PPD
  • increase in breastmilk
  • milk often comes in quicker
  • shorter postpartum bleed
  • can aid in better sleep 
You can choose to have encapsulation done by a professional, or you can do it yourself. (locate a professional through Placenta Benefits, placenta bakery - US only, or Tree of Life Placenta Services - North America)

There are two methods for preparing the placenta for encapsulation: the first is the traditional Chinese medicine method and the second is the raw foods method.
Image: Danoxter on Flickr
In the traditional Chinese method, the placenta will first be rinsed and then steamed. The steaming process can be done by adding herbs to the water. Next, the placenta is dehydrated, powdered and put into the capsules. The amount of capsules you get out of one placenta varies depending on the size of your placenta. It can go from 90 to 140.
The raw foods method does not cook or steam the placenta prior to dehydration. The rest of the process remains the same. This method retains more nutrients and is more convenient for people who follow the raw foods diet to some extent. It is however not suited for all placenta's (eg when the mother had an infection during birth).

Now how do you do it yourself?
The placenta needs to be prepared as soon as possible after birth (unless you freeze it, then it remains good for encapsulation up to six months), within the first two days. To maintain your placenta in optimal condition for encapsulation, it should be refrigerated as soon as possible (within 4 hours after birth). The encapsulation process takes two days. 
First, you need to order an encapsulation kit, you can do this online, at a multitude of sites. For now the cheapest I have seen is at Placenta Benefits, and includes a capsule filling machine. Tou can also buy a dehydrator there.
This step by step encapsulation post in pictures explains how to encapsulate steamed and dehydrated placenta, adding dried herbs to the mix.

The standard dosage of pills is one or two three times daily the first 2 weeks postpartum, then decrease to one or two pills per day, as needed.
When you have opted for the raw foods method, capsules should not be ingested in the evening, since they could keep you from sleeping. With this method, you'll take one capsule in the morning if you wake up feeling low energy or blue, one more can be taken a few hours later if necessary.(2)

Encapsulation is not an exclusive method. The mother can still choose to first ingest a small piece raw (possibly in a smoothie or a small piece under the tongue immediately after birth), reserve a part for a tincture - which can be saved for a longer and/or freeze small parts to add to smoothies or other preparations over the days after birth or to be swallowed as is (since they are frozen, there is no smell or taste, and you would nearly have all the benefits of fresh placenta).

Before ingesting placenta in any of these forms, make sure that your placenta is healthy. If you are insecure, ask your midwife to check.  

(1) Plakoeis, Placenta Encapsulation Services
(2) Placenta Apothecary


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Breastfeeding Story in 100 Words

Can you squeeze your breastfeeding story in a mere 100 words? That's the challenge Amber McCan from Nourish poses. So here goes

I never considered breastfeeding a toddler before having my daughter, let alone tandem nursing. At the time, nursing for 6 months even seemed quite a stretch. When my daughter was born ,I got the advice to breastfeed for a year. Yet after that year, I had learned more and decided to go at least to two. Then I read some more and I knew that - for us - there was no other way but child led weaning. So now I am still happily nursing a three year old, and excited that in a few months she might be sharing mommy’s milk.

Want to have a go? Amber is still looking for submissions to publish these to her blog. Deadline is September 1st and all you have to do is email them to amber at ambermccan dot com


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Quote Of The Day

"Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again. And what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel? You must work, we must all work, to make the world worthy of its children."
- Pablo Picasso 


If Not Chores, Then What?

I wrote a post about how I oppose chores a while back, because they kill the authentic desire to help out and they are top down and coercive. Mentioning chores in a negative light, even among coercion opposing parents, seems to be another hot pickle.
Most of us have been raised with the idea that chores breed tidy children and that they foster self sufficiency, build character and what not. Still a lot of parenting experts swear by fixing chore schedules and having your children perform housework.

Image: Queerkatkitten on Flickr
Yet it seems that as soon as I mention that I don't do chores at my house, people think that I am the household slave, my child runs ruckus and is a dirty spoiled brat... You know, everything non feminist. Or otherwise I must live in a truly dirty house.
I can safely say that neither of those are true. I am in no way slave to my household or my family, and my house is fairly clean (though my standards may be a little higher still, but I think that's just being neurotic).

So what's the trick?

First of all, we have to acknowledge and accept that people hold different standards of clean. My husband and I for example hold very different ideas on how our house should be, me being at the neurotic end and he being at the more relaxed side (though I must say all these years with me must have rubbed off, because I do hear him commenting that rooms are dirty when we go somewhere else, and nowadays he does notice when the floor isn't clean).
Children form an entity on their own when it comes to cleanliness. With them being so much smaller than we are, just a small space of clear floor is already vast to them. They love cosiness and colors, and have not yet learned the disadvantage of ruckus.

Accommodating them every time they can't find something and cleaning up behind their back isn't the way to go.
We must enable them to be responsible about their stuff and it's important they know that the house doesn't go from disorder to sparkly shiny with just fairy dust.

So how do I do it.

First of all, I have to admit that I have help. Houses in Africa do get extremely dirty, and there are always insect problems, so you do have to keep the house really clean. Yet that doesn't mean I sit on my butt drinking cocktails all day (if only!).
When I do the laundry, I'll ask my daughter if she wants to help me (if she's around). Sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn't. She loves hanging up the wet clothes and turning on the washer. She's already very skilled at helping out in the kitchen. She really loves to help the cleaning lady clean the tiles in the bathroom.
Every time I am doing something, I will ask her if she feels like helping. Sometimes she declines, sometimes she helps. Sometimes she doesn't want me to do it, and then I postpone it. There is always time to clean up later.
Most children genuinely want to help out. They love it as part of their play and learn oodles from it. But that doesn't mean you have to enforce it.

Image: ThreelfByBike on Flickr
At age three, she starts grasping the idea of cleanliness, and is known to come to me carrying the piece of clothing she was wearing, exclaiming that it is dirty and needs to go in the wash. She also knows that when she spills something, it will have to be cleaned.
Though I have never forced her to clean up her mess, if she asks me to do it, I would say: "You know, you can do it too." or "We can clean it up together, I hold the pot and you put in the little beads."

It's the coercion part we need to get rid of when it comes to chores and housework. And as it turns out, everyone discovers something they like to do and as such we help each other.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Quote Of The Day

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.
- Eleanor Roosevelt


It Works

I have written about my grandmother a couple of times, of how she views our parenting style as permissive, and how I would live to regret this one day, and how she defends her own abusive post war parenting style, even though the results aren't pretty. I could fill books about how her visions of parenting clash with what we are doing.
Don't get me wrong, I deeply love my grandmother, and I have inherited a lot of her character.
On trait we have in common is our stubbornness.

Image: Stephan Ullman
This holiday, we went to visit her, with our daughter, as we try to do every time we're in Belgium. Generally, we have lunch, a coffee and a chat, and by 3 we're out of the door again. Generally, my husband falls asleep on the couch after lunch (must be the restful environment). This time was no different.
Luckily, my daughter had taken a tiny nap on the way. And she was hungry.
She ate two plates of soup, finished a plate of peas and meat and asked for more, and then topped this off with one and half frangipane cake.
You can imagine my grandmother was on cloud nine, as for that generation 'eating good' (read finishing your plate and having a big appetite) is a big deal.
The whole time, my daughter was on her best behavior, playing calmly, taking a tour of the apartment without any mayhem. Drawing together with Oma...

After this visit, my Oma got on the phone with my mother and told her she had to take back what she previously had said about our parenting, because it obviously works. Yep, the same stubborn grandmother admitting that the fruit of our labor isn't rotten after all... Not bad at all!

Note: I have to admit that I as a bit surprised by my daughters angelic behavior. This is not every day! I think that she is just intelligent enough to understand what is expected of her, and 'gets' how to adapt her behavior depending on who she's with, and this at the age of three!


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Surf

Pregnancy and Birth

I've also got some wonderful giveaways (and more to come this week, so look out for that)
      Visit the newest Sunday Surfers: TmuffinLove Notes MamaBecoming CrunchyAdventures of a Thrifty Mama and Touchstonez. If you want to find out who else is surfing, go to the Sunday Surf page.
      If you've joined the surfing fun over at your blog, leave a comment below, and I will add a link to it in the next edition of Sunday Surf. Feel free to add the Sunday Surf button to your blog, you can find it on the right side of this page or under the Sunday Surf tab. Newest Surfers will be added to the following Surf, older Surfers are listed on the Sunday Surf page. If you're Surfing and you have a button for me, email it to mamapoekie at yahoo dot com.


      Saturday, July 23, 2011

      And The Winners Are...

      The winners of The Peaceful Parent Institute's Stress Release for Parents CD's are:

      • Gwenllian
      • Michelle
      • Karen
      • Carrie
      • Courtney

      Your emails are sent to Genevieve and you will receive a download code and some instructions shortly.


      Friday, July 22, 2011

      Quote Of The Day

      "It is no measure of health to be adjusted to a profoundly sick society."
      - J Krishnamurti


      The Art of Negotiation

      Negotiation is an important skill in business, with millions of books written on the topic. But in parenting, it is often neglected.
      With a headstrong three year old in my house, and a lot on my plate, I'm finding that negotiation is a life saver. And we're both learning so much from it!
      As soon as she was verbal, I started applying negotiation as a parenting tool. At the start, it was very basic: instead of using controlling language, I would give her options.

      Example: We are going to the restaurant, what do you want to wear? A dress or pants? Come with me to your room and pick something out.

      Negotiation tactics mind map - Jean Louis Zimmerman
      It's important to offer real options, and not just: pick one from these two. We have very often ended up at the restaurant with a dress and track shoes and no underwear. Or pants and a hat but no T-shirt. The point of negotiation is to achieve a situation all parties can live with, and that means that everyone gives in.

      Now at three, my daughter really grasps the concept of negotiation, and often, she will come to me when we are in conflict and suggest to make an agreement.

      I really like this tool, because it is a real life skill, and we're both learning. And this way, neither of us gets to feel like we're just folding for the other all the time. We get to make deals and revise our positions. I like that she gets that you can look at a problem from different sides and find a solution, and most often, one that suits everyone.
      Sadly, since most views on parenting are that of a top-down situation, negotiation is often not on the menu, turning kids into the same inflexible people there parents were when raising them.

      Little side note: I'm talking about negotiation, not manipulation ;)


      Thursday, July 21, 2011

      Quote Of The Day

      "Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. You don't have to like it... it's just easier if you do."
      ~ Byron Katie


      French Books For Toddlers: Part II

      Written as a submission to the Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism

      Kirikou Et La Girafe
      was one of the first text books we got for our daughter. I've read many Kirikou's so far and I think they are all amazing. The books are somewhere between comic books and storybooks and will grow with your child for year. Heck, they're even pleasant reading for adults. The drawing is gorgeous and the stories immediately transport you into his world (which for my daughter is something she can really identify with). Another one I liked in the series is Kirikou Et Les Ombres. The movies are great too.

      Jinko Le Dinousaure is a little book my daughter picked up the first time she went to the Museum Of Natural History. It's the tale of the life of an ... who is a little different. It traces the history of dinosaurs, their evolution and their decline. It touches how dinosaurs were turned into fossils. It is a very complete book, that doesn't lose it's fictional attraction.

      Le Pantalon de Moriba is based on African folk tales, who have many versions and change depending on the audience. The book is ingeniously put together, so you can tell a multitude of stories by combining different endings to the introductions. The imagery is very reminiscent of Africa and the patterns evoke the ones used of real African fabrics.

      L'Imagerie des Arts is part of a series of picture books. My daughter really enjoys this one, and I have to say that it is very elaborate, and will even have the adult reader discover new things about the arts. it also contains explanations and craft ideas to apply the discussed techniques at home.


      Wednesday, July 20, 2011

      Quote of the Day

      “Play is the highest form of research.” ~ Albert Einstein (scientist)


      And the Winner Is...

      The Winner of the Levana Naturals giveaway, as drawn by is comment number 3: Brooke (untrained hair mom). I will communicate your email to Levana. Enjoy!


      Tuesday, July 19, 2011

      Quote Of The Day

      ‎"As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation".
      - Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler


      Approved for Little Girls: Movies

      A while back I read a post about how the majority of movies pushes women to the background, if they are there at all! In order to give our girls a positive image of women, I assembled a list of movies that pass the Bechdel test (they must have at least two female characters of which the name is known to the audience, they must talk to one another and these conversations must be about something other then men. ) and have inspiring female characters in them. 

      Children's Movies
      1. Nanny McPhee. A bit of a modern Mary Poppins. There are is a sequel to the first movie. 
      2. The Sound of Music. This old Julie Andrews movie has a multitude of attractions. First of all, the main character Maria struggles with her destiny and chooses a different path. It is also about raising kids in a loving manner instead of a strict hierarchical home, and all this against a beautiful backdrop of Austria and the tension of an upcoming war. And of course there's numerous contagious songs.
      3. Mary Poppins. Like the sound of music, this movie is about overcoming family trouble trough love and play, rather than through authority. It is such a well-known movie that I hardly need to explain further. 
      4. The Incredibles. Both my daughter and I really like this movie. I do because there are about as many male as female characters and the women are just as powerful as the men. When the superheroes fall into oblivion, Helen does fall into the SAHM role while her husband goes out to work, but I think it's also a good thing that this is not stigmatized. 
      5. Annie
      6. Alice in Wonderland. Maybe the only Disney movie that isn't about finding love for the female heroin and where she gets to do lots of problem solving. 
      7. The Parent Trap. Two twins who have been separated accidentally meet up and scheme to get their parents back together
      8. Chicken Run. When a bunch of female characters scheme to overthrow their oppressor and become free. The male savior turns out a fraud and they have to result to their own devices to succeed. 
      9. Lilo and Stitch. Lovely animation about a girl struggling to keep her sister out of the hands of social services. A very strange space creature/pet causes a lot of mayhem. 
      10. Herbie Fully Loaded. A movie about girl and a car, pretty much enough out of the typical gender pattern to be worth a watch
      11. Corpse Bride. Even though this movie does turn around love and victimization of women, it is gorgeous and the women are not without voice
      12. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Both Narnia movies picture several strong female characters and beautiful fairy tale sceneries
      13. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
      14. The Princess and the Frog
      15. Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix
      16. Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince
      17. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I doubted about including the Harry Potter movies in this list, they do not all pass the Bechdel test, but there are some very strong female characters throughout the series, and romance is but a very small part of the storyline. Harry Potter does touch some very important topics, so I did include them, and I think all of them are great to watch (not with small kids) 
      18. How to Train Your Dragon. Find the feminist review of the movie here
      19. Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton - 2010). A couple of very strong female roles in this one. Very Burton-esque movie that tells what happens after the well known story, when Alice returns to Wonderland. Maybe not adapted to very small viewers. 
      What do you think? Any children's movies you would like to add? Jot them down in the comments below


      And the Winner Is...

      The winner of the amber teething necklace by MummaRocks, as drawn through is comment number 42, Felicia. Felicia has chosen the cognac teething necklace. You will be contacted for your details by MummaRocks shortly! Enjoy!


      Monday, July 18, 2011

      Quote Of The Day

      Motherhood is the greatest potential influence in human society. Her caress first awakens in the child a sense of security; her kiss the first realization of affection; her sympathy and tenderness, the first assurance that there is love in the world. Thus in infancy and childhood she implants ever-directing and restraining influences that remain through life.
      - David 0. McKay via Positive Parenting


      And the Winner Is...

      The winner of the Nobby Organics Amber Teething Necklace, as drawn by, is comment number 5: Elizabeth (mumandroo)
      Your email will be communicated to Nobby Organics, and they will contact you shortly! Enjoy!


      Sunday, July 17, 2011

      Sunday Surf


      Arts and Crafts

      I've also got two wonderful giveaways (and more to come this week, so look out for that)
          Visit the newest Sunday Surfers: TmuffinLove Notes MamaBecoming CrunchyAdventures of a Thrifty Mama and Touchstonez. If you want to find out who else is surfing, go to the Sunday Surf page.
          If you've joined the surfing fun over at your blog, leave a comment below, and I will add a link to it in the next edition of Sunday Surf. Feel free to add the Sunday Surf button to your blog, you can find it on the right side of this page or under the Sunday Surf tab. Newest Surfers will be added to the following Surf, older Surfers are listed on the Sunday Surf page. If you're Surfing and you have a button for me, email it to mamapoekie at yahoo dot com.


          Saturday, July 16, 2011

          Chores: Great Idea Or Epic Fail? (rerun)

          A lot of parents value chores dearly. They see it as a way to

          • teach their children responsability
          • have them help around the house
          • teach them tidyness

          When I googled the definition of 'chore' it said:

          • small routine task, especially domestic
          • unpleasant task
          This is why I don't agree with giving your chid chores
          • It's yet another form of parental coercion
          • Your children are not there to be your housekeeper
          • Chores are not a way to 'teach' your child tidyness, rather a way to teach them to dislike housework
          • In fact, children aren't thaught anything by performing chores like a monkey in a circus, since learning does not occur by applying external force
          • There is no internalization when children are made to do chores, wouldn't you rather have them help you because they want to?
          • What will your reaction be if they refuse to do the chore? Punishment?
          A little anecdote:
          My parents were very keen on chores, most of which were my job, because well, I was a girl. One of these chores I distinctly remember having to do was setting the table. Now, I do not dislike setting the table, and I can greatly enjoy making a nice table for a dinner party.
          But since this was my task growing up, this meant I had to do it any time  I as around the house. I even had to interrupt my activities to come and do it. Now while I might not have been bothered by setting the table, the mere fact that I had to do it made drag my feet. Made me stay in front of the TV a little longer, or pretend I didn't hear the call. Often with screaming, scolding and going to my room without dinner - or worse - as a result. I probably knew the outcome of not doing the chore, but being coerced into the chore was infinately worse, and made me refuse with every muscle of my body.

          Still now, whenever I am over at my parents house, and it is table setting time, I think twice. I spend a couple of minutes in inner dispute. I don't want t he praise it might get me when someone notices me setting the table. I don't want the 'shouldn't you be helping your mother' when I don't.
          Now isn't it sad that every time I want to help out at my parent's house I have to have an internal dialogue about the consequences?

          The last time my father hit me, I was 23, married, had the flu and a fever of 39 degrees, and it was because I didn't set the table.


          Friday, July 15, 2011

          Closet Parenting (rerun)

          When you're parenting against the mainstream, you get criticized. A lot. And often for every choice you make. Wether it is cosleeping, breastfeeding, babywearing, not or selective vaccinating, unschooling or any other 'crunchy' choice you make, you will always find someone to tell you - unprompted - that what you are doing is Evil and that your parenting choices will make you burn in hell. Or something of the like.
          Some counteractions might be a little less frank, but basically, it all comes down to people rather having you parent in another way.

          This can be exceedingly frustrating.

          Another reaction one gets on alternative parenting choices is a lack of understanding. It seems as if all we do is explain and explain over and over again, cite research, confirm that it isn't utter madness, that what we do is actually a well researched choice.

          Again, all very tiresome and frustrating.

          So what do we do?

           We hide. We get into the closet and only leave the door opened a little.
          It's not like we lie about it... Well, most of us don't. We just don't talk about it unless we are asked. We learned the hard way.

          I often find myself in a conversation about parenting tactics that totally baffles me, that goes against every principle I adhere to. But I know that if I speak up, first, all will go silent, and then there will be a shit storm of people telling me that their way is so much better and that I am the crazy one.

          Or when people talk to me in generalities, like all parents parent the mainstream... I don't set them straight. I have no need to explain unschooling to everyone I meet, nor do I have the energy.

          Should we be standing on the barricade and scream on top of our lungs? Is this closet parenting wrong?
          Maybe being a little more outspoken might create some awareness, indeed, but it would also generate hours of unwanted lecturing and preaching that you just can't expect a parent to take each and every day.

          Image: Marcin Wichary on Flickr


          Wednesday, July 13, 2011

          The Fragmented Night: Unschooling Sleep From Birth (rerun)

          This post was written as a submission to Enjoy Life Blog CarnivalFor July the topic is: burning the midnight oil, unschooling sleep and sleeplessness. Posts from seasoned and new unschoolers are welcome. Deadline is June 28

          My daughter slept for six hours in a row tonight! Isn't that amazing! It has happened before, she has even slept longer stretches than this, but it has been a while now.
          This actually means I must have slept about 5.5 hours, because I went to bed a little later than her and got up when she got up.
          My daughter is two.

          For a lot of people, this is extremely shocking. More so because she only went to bed at 10PM.

          There were times we did worry about her not sleeping enough. Times where we were tempted to believe the scheduling discourse, the putting her in a crib to have her sleep through the night ideas. How could we not? We've been bombarded with this silly reasoning since the day she was born:

          • can't let her fall asleep on the breast
          • can't have her in bed with you
          • have to get her to sleep through as quickly as possible
          • have to put her to bed as soon as she shows 'signs' of fatigue
          • babies have to be in bed by 8PM
          • put them down to sleep

          My smart girl never took any of that bullshit, luckily. From day one, she made it pretty clear that sleep would only occur on her terms. So she is still sleeping with us, she sometimes falls asleep on the breast - although this is becoming more and more infrequently. She asks to go to bed or take a nap when she feels like it, sometimes this is 7PM, sometimes it is 11PM. She doesn't sleep through. She is not night weaned.
          She slept in my arms on many occasions, and still does sometimes, up until she was one year old, she flatly refused to sleep alone.
          While all this is very natural to us, this is not the way it goes in most families. Most people actually think we are nutters, with the way we treat her sleep. But all we do is trust and respect her, give her options, what's wrong with that?

          Are we unschooling sleep? Maybe... Probably - in the sense that we don't fall for those obsessions about sleep anymore. It seems only logical to have her listen to her body from a young age. Maybe if we had learned it, we wouldn't suffer from exhaustion and burn-out half the time.

          Image/ Leon Bazille Perrault - Mother With Her Sleeping Child


          Tuesday, July 12, 2011

          And the Winner Is...

          The winner of Teresa Graham Brett's book Parenting for Social Change, as drawn through is comment number 14: Kaila
          The author will be contacting you shortly!

          Do not forget that there are many more giveaways to enter!


          Sunday, July 10, 2011

          Sunday Surf



          Life Learning
          Arts and crafts

          I've also got two wonderful giveaways (and more to come this week, so look out for that)
              Visit the newest Sunday Surfers: Love Notes MamaBecoming CrunchyAdventures of a Thrifty Mama and Touchstonez. If you want to find out who else is surfing, go to the Sunday Surf page.
              If you've joined the surfing fun over at your blog, leave a comment below, and I will add a link to it in the next edition of Sunday Surf. Feel free to add the Sunday Surf button to your blog, you can find it on the right side of this page or under the Sunday Surf tab. Newest Surfers will be added to the following Surf, older Surfers are listed on the Sunday Surf page. If you're Surfing and you have a button for me, email it to mamapoekie at yahoo dot com.


              Saturday, July 9, 2011

              How To Start Baby Led Weaning (rerun)

              Starting baby led weaning should, logically, be baby led. If your child can sit up and shows clear signs of interest in food, you can gradually introduce solids. In chunks, on a little plate.
              Don't bother with the cutlery just yet, feeling the food's texture is as important an experience as eating is. It isn't all about finger foods, your child can have whatever you are having (given that the no salt or honey and general logic still applies).

              Fruit and vegetables are great to start out on. Raw, steamed or boiled, try a bit of everything and see what your baby can handle. Remember that up until two years, breastmilk is the most important part of a baby's menu, so just focus on the textures and different flavors as you start off, and don't worry to much about how much solids your child is having. What's most important is that he learns to appreciate different food sources.
              If your baby seems to enjoy these experiences, don't hesitate to introduce fish or poultry.
              You can also have your baby decide what he wants to eat, by having him on your lap and letting him pick off your plate. Do whatever feels right and natural to your family.

              Baby led weaning is not as messy as one might think. Yes there will probably be yoghurt facials and strange soups, but you would have much more of a mess if the food was pureed, and those really do go everywhere. It's very easy and there's no extra work. All you have to do is trust your child.



              Friday, July 8, 2011

              Quote Of The Day

              Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.
              ~ Buddha


              The Problem With Praise (rerun)

              Praising our children is somthing deeply embedded in most parents parenting kit. It seems only natural we want to let our children know they are doing something wonderful, that they are doing something taht makes us happy and that we are proud of them.
              Yet now it seems praise is a bad thing? What to make of this?

              It is true that praise can be detrimental. In fact, when we praise our children we are passing judgement, we are telling them what you are doing NOW is great, so in their minds, they make up that all the other behavior is not great.
              The thing with praise is that it is about what is right/kind/good to you, it does not internalise the value of behavior.
              Most often, parents who praise their child also do the contrary, which is pointing out the bad behavior. Most often this is procured by shame, telling them they are a bad kid (when they do x or z). It lets the child know that your parental love is tied to conditions, that it only exist when the child behaves in the manner you like them too.

              Not praising your child doesn't mean you don't appreciate your child or that you let them get away with unwanted behavior.

              So how do you take on parenting without praising or shaming?
              Proceed by using the language of non-violent communication: describe the acts your children has done without judging them, neutral. Then tell them about your feeling and needs or the feelings and needs of a third party. Inform them what you would rather have them do, give them options.

              Your child hits the dog:
              You say: You hit the dog. That hurts him and he does not like that. If you would like to play with the dog, throw the ball and let him fetch it. Or you can give him a cuddle or stroke him.


              Wednesday, July 6, 2011

              Quote of the Day

              “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”

              -Mahatma Gandhi


              Tuesday, July 5, 2011

              Intimacy And The Lack Thereof In Hospital Birth

              I read a wonderful article about the intimacy of homebirth on Midwifery Today. It made reminded me of an anecdote I would like to share with you here.

              When I was at university, every student had to get a medical check up during their first year, as a part of a long term survey. Of course so did I.
              You were to strip down to your undies (if I remember correctly, women could keep their bra) and be measured, weighed, patted, touched. At the end, I remember having to do a squat and bend forward. All this under the seeing eye of a male doctor and a male medical student. I was 18 at the time, so that male med student could be considered my peer. And have I said I was standing there in only a thong and a bra? And they were fully dressed.
              After all this patting and squatting etc, they took my bloodpressure. I should add I normally have a very very low blood pressure. Not this time. It was sky rocketing.
              Now, here's the joke. The doctor asked me if I was anxious or unsettled.
              I asked him how he would feel in my situation.
              Now I was not a very prudish or inhibited person, imagine how it would be like if I were.

              This anecdote is rather silly compared to the invasion of her privacy a women birthing in a hospital faces. Yet we wonder why labouring in a hospital setting is infinitely more difficult. We wonder why labour stalls. The birthing woman does not have the right to complain or even to feel invaded. She is but to suck it up and stop whining.

              No matter how you turn it, having someone stick arms and hands and utensils up your private parts is an invasion of your privacy. Laying in a room naked where anyone who feels like it can come and go as they please is uncomfortable to say the least. Women should not have to 'get over it' and 'conform to the system'. We should not be shamed and belittled because we are embarrassed. It would take a seriously devoted exhibitionist not to feel embarrased in this situation.
              These feeling are real and valid and should be taken into consideration. The system should conform to us, rather than the other way around.  Remember that much of this touching and feeling and prodding that is considered routine is not evidence based or even remotely necesary in most cases. Consider that in any other situation, touching and feeling a vulnerable woman's private parts without her consent is a serious violation of the law.

              Until 'modern' obstetrics validate the basic rights of the birthing woman, until the system accepts the effect of a birthing woman's emotions on labour - as what might be the most important, determining factor of labour, there will be no significant change in hospital birth.


              Sunday, July 3, 2011

              Sunday Surf


              • Wise words by my dear friend from Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond (for those who are on FB, yes, she is blogging again!)


              I've also got two wonderful giveaways (and more to come this week, so look out for that)
                  Visit the newest Sunday Surfers: Love Notes MamaBecoming CrunchyAdventures of a Thrifty Mama and Touchstonez. If you want to find out who else is surfing, go to the Sunday Surf page.
                  If you've joined the surfing fun over at your blog, leave a comment below, and I will add a link to it in the next edition of Sunday Surf. Feel free to add the Sunday Surf button to your blog, you can find it on the right side of this page or under the Sunday Surf tab. Newest Surfers will be added to the following Surf, older Surfers are listed on the Sunday Surf page. If you're Surfing and you have a button for me, email it to mamapoekie at yahoo dot com.


                  Saturday, July 2, 2011

                  Banishing Negativity (rerun)

                  Every time I have a conversation with other European parents, I notice how they only focus on the negative. How parenting seems such a burden and how their kids - to them - are such brats.
                  I strikes me how few positive things these parents say about their kids, and when they do, it is often followed by a 'but' that annihilates anything great they might have said about their child in the words prior to that.

                  It makes me wonder what brings on this negative thinking about parenting and children.

                  Is it because they don't want to brag about their children. Is it because Western culture has tricked people into believeing that parenting is hard work, a job. Is it because we have become so individualised we can't see joy in sharing our space, time and ressources?

                  If they really think it is such a burden to be a parent, then why do they have children in the first place, most often even more than one? In our western world most children are planned, and even badly desired. Then why bitch about them all the time.
                  Nobody forces people to have kids. There might be a cultural expectation of couples to have children (and preferably two), but that doesn't mean one cannot escape this paradigm. And if after one child, you are really baffled about the extent of 'work' it is, or find out you don't like being a parent, why then have another child?

                  I can understand parents sometimes have the need to vent a little, to commiserate, some days really are hard and it can be exhausting to parent in the kind of society we live in, where we have to do everything alone. But there are joys to parenthood too, and I bet even the most whining parent loves their child dearly.

                  So for today: a little exercise: whenever you catch yourself talking about your children, investigate what you say. Avoid the negative. Do this often enough and you might even find yourself enjoying this parenting gig.

                  Image: Quinn.Anya on Flickr


                  Friday, July 1, 2011

                  Art Or Mayhem?

                  Welcome to the 2nd Annual Carnival of Gentle Discipline!

                  This post was selected as one of the Crème de la Crème of gentle discipline blogging! Click on the image to view more Crème de la Crème posts!

                  Image: Oana Hogrefe Photography
                  I am currently working on a little knitting project: a protective case for my dear friend Mackie, the laptop, without which none of these articles would be written and which has followed me to numerous destinations. Given the traveling we do, the case we bought when we first got this laptop was getting dirty, but also worn out, and one of the zippers is half torn out.
                  While I was happily knitting away, my daughter embarked on a little project of her own. She took the three big balls of yarn and started to spin them around her slide.

                  I did tell her not to do so, because the thread would get all tangled. But then I reconsidered and came to the following conclusion:

                  • the three balls of yarn are less expensive than therapy and knitting is highly therapeutic
                  • after months of clinginess (not to interpret in a negative way, she was right to cling to the only constant in her life with all of the changes and stresses we went through), I could use a little time for myself while my daughter spent some time on her own too
                  • running around with the balls of yarn are also a form of creative expression
                  • she was having a great time
                  • so was I
                  • cleaning up the yarn wouldn't take much more time then say, cleaning up her art supplies after an afternoon of painting and coloring and cutting
                  So I stopped whining and let her at it and happily knitted away. In the end, we both stopped our activity and I looked at her slide. I wish I could have taken a pic, but by the time I thought of it, I was already halfway through untangling the threads. 
                  This was what went through my mind: if done by an adult with a name in the art world and placed in a museum of modern art, people would come and look at it in awe... How often do we crush their creative expressions, just because we consider their impulses strange, or we think of the mess it might cause or the inconvenience. Why on earth would a couple of balls of tangled wool stress me out?

                  This was yet another lesson for me to reconsider my controlling impulses. To always question my interference... 
                  And yet I know that many many people would think I am crazy for 'allowing' her to do this.