Google+ Authentic Parenting: September 2012

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Surf

It's been quite a while since I've done a decent Surf. I have been and still am quite overwhelmed since the birth of my son. I know I shouldn't claim the postpartum period any more as a reason, but this new being, combined with the frequent moving and changing has left me quite bereft of time to spend on my blog. I miss it!

As usual, you can still continue reading on Hobo Mama, or ad your own link below if you are Surfing. The linky will go live every Sunday and you can add your link at any time during the week.
If you have a great post that would look good in Sunday Surf, feel free to email a link to mamapoekie at yahoo dot com.
If you're surfing, add your post to the linky at the bottom of this Sunday Surf. You can do that here or at Hobo Mama, your link will show up on both sites. Make sure to grab the new button either from the left sidebar or the Sunday Surf page, where you'll also find a little blurb about Sunday Surf you can copy for your post. 



Saturday, September 29, 2012

Authentic Communication (rerun)

Written by Lisa Meuser

I have been known to say that Kathrynn (7) is not the "best" of communicators..... What that means for me, is that she does not communicate the way *I* always want her to: with "clarity" and words. :)

When Kathrynn is particularly emotional, or feeling something strongly, her ability and/or willingness to communicate using words, can sometimes be almost non-existent. This is not to say that she is not communicating, because she clearly is. Sometimes she is communicating via her hands or feet. Sometimes she is communicating using her tears. Sometimes she yells. And sometimes she goes into her room, and wants no one to be near her.

The other day she had a very intense response to some information, that was so disappointing for her. She was so filled with anger! She was not interested in talking about it, or being comforted by me. She went into her room and slammed the door, sobbing. I wanted to connect with her, so i opened her door, to let her know I loved her, and to get me if she needed anything. This was met with "GET OUT OF MY ROOM" at top volume. Although at one time I would have become offended by this, or taken it personally, I knew it had nothing to do with me. A few minutes later she came out of her room looking for a picture of our family. Then back into her room she went. I heard her playing her favorite lullaby, and saw her through a crack in the door holding onto the picture of our family, as well as an herbal pillow.

Eventually she came out of her room, and she was done being angry and sad, and ready to play. Later I asked her if she wanted to talk about what had happened. She told me that she was so disappointed in X , and that she tried to make herself feel better by listening to the music and holding the picture and pillow. She told me that she wasn't sure if those things made her feel better or not, just that after awhile she did feel better.

I share this experience because her way of processing her emotions might make many people uncomfortable. Her "non traditional" methods might not even be acceptable in some households. In our household, we are learning to respect each person's journey, and how each person processes emotions differently. I absolutely love Kathrynn's process. Sure it might have made me feel uncomfortable at various times- but those are my issues to deal with. Kathrynn is not responsible for my issues.

Something else that occurred to me this morning:

Words/communication can be a tool that can lead to clarity, to authentic relationship, to connection. And words/ communication are also good for Control. I can use words to control on a variety of levels. I can try to demand the use of words, in a way to control too.

This is a very interesting concept for me to realize. Kathrynn has a friend who is quite verbal, and at times this friend gets so upset when Kathrynn is not willing to "use her words." In some ways, yes, this girl is wanting to connect via words. And in other ways, yes, this girl is trying to gather a sense control with words. I think this is a normal thing in our society- to gain a sense of control about ourselves, or our world, using words.

Ultimately, what a wonderful mirror for me!

I think at some level I have realized my part in using words as a form of communication sometimes, and control other times, which is why I no longer expect Kathrynn to communicate in a certain way, and why I have changed the way I communicate with her. And I also see that there are times when I continue to use words, and perhaps want her to "use her words", as a way to gather a sense of control about what is going on. Ultimately, that is about *my* needs, not hers.

Food for thought..... what is this communication stuff all about? Connection and control for *my* sake? Lots of yummy stuff there..... :)

I'm the mama of a wonderful 7 year old and wife to an awesome husband of 11 years!
We are life learners, and you can read more about our adventures of living a life filled with Joy in its different guises at

Image: D Sharon Pruitt


Friday, September 28, 2012

An Unschooler's Take on Lessons

Welcome to the September edition of Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Exploring and Learning.
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting. This month our participants are writing about this exploring and learning! Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


I have been brought up - like so many Westerners - with the belief that everything one wants to learn requires lessons of some sort, for how can one learn without being taught?
Having caught up with the unschooling idea, I know this is not true, I even know it from my personal experiences: we learn from life, from interest, we learn from relationships with others... much more than from any lesson.

Yet even though I know this to be true, I do get moments where I freak out. When I see a grain of talent in my child and think to myself we're missing out her prime years to do this or that. What if she never gets to fulfill a dream because we didn't enroll her in some kind of program.

Our society is geared towards pushing our child to excel, the earlier the better. After all, wasn't Mozart playing the piano at four? Don't you want your child to be as accomplished? All the while pushing parents into insecurity and pushing kids to perform better, faster and more...

Yesterday my daughter and I were watching "So You Think You Can Dance". My daughter is very physical and she was joining in with the dancers, doing head rolls and jumping all around the bed. I thought to myself we'd have to get her into dance lessons, or maybe circus lessons... or maybe she should start athletics. They have to start young don't they. Wait... I can't get any athletic classes in Liberia, should we move back here? The time we move back here she will have aged, will she be too old? Will she have missed a magical athletics career? What if she was destined to win the Olympics one day???

Wait a minute... Take a breath... What are we doing here?
My daughter is just fooling around, having fun, and I'm making it into a career...

If she ever expresses a desire to follow lessons, I will find a way for her to do so. But maybe she can learn just as much from other sources. Maybe just watching this show, watching Youtube, watching other kids, and plain trying it herself, she'll learn just what she needs.

Time for mommy to relax, sit back and enjoy the show!


APBC - Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic ParentingVisit The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Music As A Parenting Tool (rerun)

This post was written as a submission to the monthly All About Parenting Blog Carnival hosted at This month's theme is music and submissions are due March 3rd.

The topic of this month's carnival inspired me to write a post on how you can integrate music in day to day parenting. Not just because it is fun, or educational, or beneficial to your child - even though music ticks all those boxes - but as a parenting tool.

Soothing music
The right music can have a significant calming effect, which can be extremely useful for babies who need to de-stress in the evening, or for older kids to be able to let go and fall asleep, as transitioning to sleep, where they have to let go of control, can be very scary. It can also be a way for you to relax when you are getting stressed out. Listening to some relaxing music together can ease away the dark mood and make you more attuned to each other. You can also sing some lullabies or gentle songs to soothe yourself or your child.

Travel music
Have some music ready when you travel, wether it is by car or any other means of transportation (plain, train, bus...). Music gives your child something to focus on and makes the trajectory seem less long and more fun. You can all sing together. You can opt to keep a special CD or playlist handy for traveling purposes only, to give your child something to look forward to when on the road.
When traveling in group (or on public transportation), music can offer your child a way to escape the noise and business.
Hit CollectionYou can also keep a certain song - or several - to announce your arrival. Put it on a couple of minutes before your destination is reached and your children won't have to ask if it's "still far now" and will know the time is there to get ready for whatever it is you're about to do. When I was a child, an old Joe Dassin cassette was used only once yearly, about half an hour before we would arrive to the camping spot we spent our summers at. It would wake us if we were sleeping, and the whole family would join in singing and getting excited over the upcoming holidays. Putting on that cassette announced the end of a 12 hour drive and the beginning of vacation. (The image is from Amazon, if you click on it and buy the CD, I will get a teeny tiny incentive)

Get it out of your system
Face it. Parenting can be hard at times... Being a kid can be hard at times. There are these moments where you just can't find a way out.
Music can offer you a way out and end the stress that has been building up. Put on your favorite rock or pop or whatever it is that gets the stress out of your body and jump, dance, sing at the top of your lungs. Your child will most likely join in. Getting physical and letting out the emotions will air out the lot of you.

Transitional music
Music is a great way to transfer your child from one activity to the other. It is used in a lot of collective care facilities. You can use existing songs or make one up.
Songs can announce bath time, bedtime or help you clean up.
Establishing a musical routine can help overcome resistance to transition.

Group activity

Image: Bredgur
Music is a great way to get the whole family involved, which is especially handy when you are parenting multiples and you're struggling to get them all involved in the same activity. While other activities can be unappealing for the older kids, or not age appropriate for the little ones. When you're making music together, there's always a way to involve all of them, even if it is just by uttering tone deaf noises or tapping on a pot with a wooden spoon.
A lot of nursery rhymes also lend themselves to physical activities you can do with several kids together. Make up a silly dance.
You can even decide to do a full blown dance lesson with your kids. The steps don't have to be extremely technical. Just make it up as you go. Step sideways, clap your hands, jump up, turn... Be creative.

Hope you enjoyed the ideas, if you can think of anything else, or you and your family use music as a parenting tool too, please share in the comments below.


Monday, September 24, 2012

The Hardest Thing (rerun)

Image: Dreamstime
I’m not a perfect parent. I’m not even the parent I aspire to be, and I don’t aspire to perfection. There are lots of things I struggle with, things I have analyzed and know should change, but have yet to find an overwrite too.
Often failure and mistake as a parent is caused by falling into old patterns, patterns we need to find a way to overwrite and eradicate.
Here is a list of my hardest things, what are yours? And what are you doing to change them?

  1. Anger - Anger is my biggest problem. I have a lot of bottled anger and I still haven’t found a healthy way of working through it, one that actually works in the moment.
  2. Not yelling - rationally, I know that yelling is wrong and only makes matters worse, yet it is hard to avoid that knee jerk reaction that brings a pitch to my voice when I’m alarmed or stressed out.
  3. Unconditionality - After having being conditioned towards conditionality, it is very hard for me to shake this off and not withdraw my love when my daughter acts up. Frankly, I just struggle to remain present and loving when she is kicking or stressing out.
  4. Peer Pressure - Whenever I am in public, I notice that I have much more pressure to perform, as a good mother, a perfect wife... It is very stressful and makes me handle situations in ways I know are wrong, just to get them out of the way (which generally just doesn’t work at all). I have relaxed a lot more and I notice that I’m actually way cooler about things than my husband, while it used to be the reverse.
  5. My husband - As my husband works six days a week, it is understandable that he doesn’t have the 18 hours a day to think about birth, parenting, natural living, so obviously, there is a huge gap in our knowledge. We do have discussions about these topics, but our discussions, as our time together, are very limited. I always feel as if he is limping behind and I feel the need to correct him when he addresses our daughter in a way that strokes with the beliefs I have about parenting. It is frustrating for the both of us and I don’t quite see how we can fix this. Moreover, he’s just not that interested in those topics as I am to actually consider them those 18 hours a day.
We do plan to eventually make changes in our lives, so he works a little less and I get to work a little more and he will take up more of the parenting than he does now, but I am unsure if it will change the situation a lot.
  6. Remaining present through emotion - I have to collect all my energy not to get angry, frustrated or caught in the emotion when my daughter has an emotional outburst. Often I find it easiest to remain gentle by disconnecting, but I know that’s just a lesser evil.

Update: This is a post I wrote a while back. I must say that I have far less issues with peer pressure nowadays, and with my husband - as far as parenting goes - we are doing better. I'm working a lot on the anger issue, so you might see some post come up on that topic in the near future. It's nice to know that I am in fact growing and not standing still. With mindfulness, we can reprogram our minds and knee-jerk reactions.
What is it you are struggling with? Do you feel like you are slowly overcoming your issues? What has helped most?


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Choosing the Right Care Provider for Your Pregnancy (rerun)

Finding just the right care provider for you isn't a choice that should be made lightly. The attitude your care provider brings to your birth will greatly affect your experience. First you should ask yourself if you would prefer a midwife or an OB for your follow-ups, and where you want to give birth (in a hospital, in a birth center or at home). Always leave the option open for a hospital birth, because in some situations, you will be unable to birth in a birthing center or at home, or you might need to be transferred, so it is best to keep an open mind.

Image: David Swift Photography on Flickr
Before you pick your care provider, think about what you would like for your birth: how do you want to labour, which positions would you like to try, how do you want the baby to be handled after he is born.
Think about all these questions and write down what you would like. Write down where you are flexible and where you aren't.
Bring this list to the first appointment with your care provider and ask him about his views. You will quickly grasp his openness to your ideas. If he isn't open for a dialogue, it is best find someone else.

Shopping around for a care provider is less frequent then it should be. You can change care providers at any time during your pregnancy. You don't have to feel guilty about it, it's your body, your pregnancy, your birth. No matter what, it will be a life altering experience for you and your baby, so you'd best prepare for it and surround yourself with the best support system possible. You don't want to find yourself bickering in the midst of labour.

Feeling confident and 'clicking' with your midwife and OB is infinately more important than giving birth in the hospital you gave birth in last time around.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Make Car Rides Easy with a Toddler

For various reasons, strapping a toddler down in a car seat can be a tricky question. They don't like to be retained at an age where all they want to do is explore, and they don't yet understand the safety issue. Now how can you make car rides easy, or easier, if you have a toddler?

Find the right car seat

Image: Eric Hamiter on Flickr
If you're looking to take the stress out of putting your child in the car, there are a number of things you can do, but begin with picking the right car seat. With an uncomfortable car seat, getting your toddler in the car is never going to be easy. Buying an age/weight and height appropriate seat isn't only safe, it's also much more comfortable. A seat that fits your child is less likely to be squirmed out of while driving.
Nowadays, there is a range of car seats now available that are safe and comfortable, with some higher-end models even looking like plush lounge chairs. Consumer Reports, a non-product sponsored website and publication, provides a comprehensive buying guide here, though some advice is specific to the US.  

Explain the safety issue
As mentioned above, the issue of safety can be quite abstract for a small child. Do try to explain to your child why they have to be restraint. You can facilitate comprehension by watching some crash tests on youtube. There are some with kids who are not attached, try looking for that, or kids who are not in a car seat.
You can also show your child what velocity is about, though it is paramount that you do this safely!

ALWAYS wear your own seatbelt
We've discussed it over and over how important it is to lead by example, and nothing is less true when it comes to wearing a seatbelt. Adults tend to be sloppy with seat belts, telling ourselves it's "only a short drive", or tending too the kids requiring a bit more mobility. The message is that the rules don't apply to you, that there are exemptions, or that somehow it doesn't matter if YOU are safe.
A nice way to remember to wear your own seatbelt is to ask if everyone is strapped in before setting out.

NEVER make an exception!
Though I am not fond of the words always and never, they do apply when it comes to road safety, and being firm on this topic eventually makes it easier on the whole family, because exceptions will be tested!!

Wait it out
After having explained and having the right seat, it is still possible to encounter some rebellion. Try to wait it out.
Tell your child where you want to go (obviously this works best when your child is equally enthusiastic to leave) and then wait until they get into their seat and willingly get strapped in. Obviously this may take a while, but wait it out. If you feel you're getting frustrated, walk around the car.
If your child squirms out, pull over and wait it out again.

I did this with my daughter when she was about three and all it took was two wait outs and pulling over twice. Since, she has always been willing to strap in.

Make it fun
Having a special car fun bag, with lots of goodies you only use in the car (and when your child is strapped in), will make the journey more enticing. Put some favorite toys in there, maybe coloring supplies, some cookies and juice boxes. When your child is old enough, you can place this within their reach, so they can use it at liberty. There are special storage bags available for kids which you attach to the front seat, but a regular bag will also do the trick.
Another nice idea for slightly older children (4 and up) are foldable tablets you attach to the front seat, which enables them to draw, write etc, a bit like in an airplane.

Hopefully, these tips will help you on your trip with your toddler. What else have you found helpful when it comes to driving?



Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Louder Than Words

Recently, my daughter was having a hard time taking off her slippers. I looked down and noticed my hand extended, waiting, it wasn't meant to hurry her, but I noticed that she kept glancing at the slipper and then my hand. I quietly put my hand down. Almost like magic her struggle melted away. Smiling, she handed me the slipper and I handed over a shoe. This time I put my hands away right away.

My hands at the ready, despite best intentions I have noticed can send a "hurry up" or "let me just do this for you" message. Not always...but sometimes, like the day with the slippers, my mind was rushing and planning how to efficiently handle the hectic school pick up schedule ahead. My hands were saying what I was trying not to say out loud..HURRY UP, we are going to be late!

 How often do our actions speak so much louder than our words?

Have you ever seen a parent tell a child not to hit another child, and then proceed to give little swat on the child's bottom?

What about while having a conversation with another adult,  sternly requesting that a child not interrupt: “Don't interrupt, that’s bad manners!” or “Give me a minute!”. Later as our child is attempting to tell us something, another adult walks in and starts talking right over the child and we don’t stop the adult, no, in fact we listen intently and forget that we were listing to the child.

We tell our child to always tell the truth, and then we go ahead and tell them a fib, a white lie of sorts, which they later realize was not the truth after all.

A child asks to show us something and we say we'll be right there only to show up 5 minutes later because the smart phone kept us so busy.  Later we wonder why the child will not budge from the computer desk when called and get mad "You should come when I call for you".

Which message is going to sink in? The words or the actions? The hurrying hands, the swatting, the interrupting...they all speak volumes over the actual words don’t they?

What happens if we take the time, if we make the time to let our heart and our intentions be kinder if not louder than words?

Peace & Be Well,


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Learn How to Use Emotional Freedom Technique with Your Family

Written by Stephanie Hope Dodd

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a crazy silly tapping technique which guides deeper and emotionally healing communication between parents and their children. EFT is an energy-based practice used by parents, therapists, healers, and coaches to bridge communication gaps, increase trust among children, and help neutralize negative emotions. Parents who practice EFT are finding new ways to engage and be in tune with their children. This is exciting news as when as a child ourselves we did not learn healthy and open communication, it is often hard to change our core beliefs with will and determination alone. So in walks this voodoo-esque, energy therapy technique, unbeknown to mainstream society and rocks the world for clearer, more open communication between parents and children.

What is this acronym you ask? EFT is a cross between self-acupuncture and self-talk therapy. It is the up and coming experimental, holistic treatment! EFT is used to neutralize negative emotions and thoughts. With its roots in chiropractic care, Chinese medicine, and energy psychology, EFT is one treatment that is easy to learn by the lay person and is effective with anyone who wants to clear and rebuild their set of emotional beliefs. Seemingly most popular today in the UK, EFT is finding its way into the homes across the globe. Like anything, EFT becomes easier and more effective with practice, but is also very forgiving and can work the first time it is used. As a parent, using EFT with your children can help your mind be more tuned into what your child is saying as the distractions seem to fade, gives you a technique to probe deeper with a set course of action to dissipate negativity, expands your child’s thought process, provides a sense of calmness, and is a facilitator to changing belief sets and traumas. All this while promoting full expression of self from your child to you!

It is in each moment of life that our children are building their own book of definitions and rules; Definitions and rules which will escort them through life. It is important as parents we begin to look for an understanding of how our children are interpreting the worlds around them because these belief systems formed in the younger years, often before the age of 6, and are the blueprint pattern to thought process and emotional beliefs throughout life. Mini or major traumas of children, when hidden away present as phobias, tantrums, and tears – behaviors which parents find difficult. In our turning culture to gentle parenting, we can choose not to buy into old beliefs which dismiss the slightest of emotions, instead choosing to recognize and discuss these emotions with our children.


To begin using EFT, we will start by learning the 9 most common acupuncture pressure points used in the basic recipe. They are pictured below:


  Before you begin, choose your emotion or event you and your children are working on. The more specific, the better. Go ahead and rate this emotion on a scale of 1-10 so there is a gauge of change. Next, begin by taking your index and ring finger of your dominant hand and gently start tapping on the fleshy part of your opposite hand between the wrist and beginning of your pinky. When possible, you will tap on your body and your child will tap on the same points on their own body. It is here that you will address the issue, trauma, emotion you wish to neutralize. It is best addressed by saying, “Even though I feel_____ or this thing happened, I truly and deeply love and accept myself.” Repeat this step three times. Then you take your key phrase – be it the emotion or the event – and repeat that phrase as you tap on the all the points in the picture, starting with the top of the head, followed by in between your eyebrows, to the outside of your eyes, under your eye, under your nose, between your bottom lip and chin, to just below your collarbone, and ending with just under your armpit. Now it is time to take a deep breath and check-in with yourself or your child and see if the number on the rating scale has changed. You will find by addressing the negative issue head on while tapping one these energy points, the disruptions to our energy field can be cleared and released from our system. Our goal is to bring each emotion as close to 0 as we can.

Does this really work? EFT has been coined “one-minute wonders” because of the immediate speed in which it decreases unwanted emotions, even more so with children. Children have young energy field with less traumas and core beliefs. Working with your child and EFT will help set a positive foundation of beliefs. Think about a belief you have carried with you in this lifetime. When do you first remember feeling like that? Most often our beliefs are related to our childhood. EFT is a tool you can use daily to neutralize events and emotions.


Like anything in life, with practice come knowledge and ease. I encourage daily tapping with your children as part of a bedtime routine. You can tap for everything good and bad about their day. You can also tap together as a family! Here are some set up phrases to help you get started. There is no one right or wrong way to EFT.

“Even though I was yelled at today… I completely love and accept myself”

“Even though I cannot sleep….”

“Even though I’m scared of the dark…”

“Even though I don’t like you going to work...”

“Even though I overhead….”

“Even though I today I saw…”

“Even though so and so said this to me/about me…”

After each round of tapping, check in to see how your child is feeling now on the scale of 1-10. As probing questions, such as how did it make you feel? Where do you feel that emotion in your body? What else makes you feel that way? Is there something else you are thinking about? You can then tap for all of these answers to help reduce the initial emotion. Allow the child to guide the answers and flow of the tapping. Offer them the chance to change the phrases and use their own words as often as you can. If your child becomes visibly upset and does not want to continue talking, you may take your fingers and with permission, gently tap on them without either saying a word. It is possible for EFT to work without any words, simply with intention. Your goal is to bridge any gaps in communication between parent and child, so it is best and most useful to make sure your child is finished with their tapping before you leave them. Some children find it most fun to instead tap on a teddy bear or favorite toy or doll instead of themselves. This is okay! EFT allows room for creativity, intuition, and making it your own way of communicating!

With practice and patience, you will find tapping becomes a quick and effective way of communicating with your children. It will give you space to hold an open forum discussion where anything said is accepted because you too, as a parent, now have a tool to dissipate the emotions, even your own guilt or fear, that may come with hearing something has these thoughts. It is a space for trust and open, honest communication. While you’re tapping, while you see changes happening with your children, consider this: It is said a child’s emotions are a reflection of your own self and childhood. Children are our teachers and may help you find pieces of yourself you’d like to change. Doing your own tapping for your own emotions and beliefs can lead you to being a happier role model for yourself and your children.

EFT is becoming mainstream thanks in part to Gary Craig. See his website here,

If you have any questions about EFT, the role it may play in your household, or stories to share, feel free to comment below or email the author at Stephanie is also available for private EFT sessions and may be done on the phone.

About the author
Stephanie Hope Dodd holds a master’s degree in psychology, is an EFT practitioner, certified yoga instructor, and Reiki Master. Stephanie specializes working with parents and children; being a guide for emotional and physical releases.You can see more information at, or on facebook(!/HopeThroughLove), (!/lilcheeze)


Monday, September 17, 2012

Doing it on Purpose

Kids seem to be great at pushing boundaries, some more than others,  depending on their character. To a tired and stressed parent, it can seem like their child is only out to torment them.

Nothing is less true...

Indeed, children push the boundaries and test their limits, but that is only their job. We shouldn't take this personal.
Kids' sole purpose in the early years is to grow and learn, and they learn by discovery. Boundaries and limits is a part of their world, so it is only natural that they test them.

Most children are extremely empirical and will test and test again to verify if they get the same result each and every time. If this is not the case, this only gives ason for retrial.

In keeping a calm composure and not letting this testing tick you off - thus, not taking it personal- in seeing this behavior as what it is: a manifestation of your child's inquisitive nature, you are offering them a strong lesson in human behavior, one that will be the ground for their future connections to other people.


Call For Submissions: September APBC "Exploring and Learning"

The Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival is back! This month's theme is "Exploring and Learning". For many of your children, the back to school craze is slowly wearing off, and for home and unschoolers, this can be a moment of reflection on how we learn without school. No matter in which format, our kids and we as parents are learning every day. Join in the carnival and give us your insights on this topic.

Submissions are due on Friday 9/21. We won't be using forms anymore, so please send your post, title, along with your name for posting, your blurb and your post's URL. If you don't know your post URL in advance, send out your homepage URL and send us the post URL on carnival date. Email them to mamapoekie @ and ariadne @

Looking forward to reading your post!


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday


Modeling Good Online Behavior for Kids

Written by Patricia Shuler

Kids are experiencing a new world online; help them navigate it safely

Most parents find themselves making up the rules for online behavior as they go. Our parents didn't have to deal with this, so we don't have much of a precedent to work with.
Whichever strategy you use to help your kids develop a healthy attitude toward technology, it's always best to lead by example.

Here are a few ways to demonstrate productive, safe, and healthy online behavior for your kids.

1. Start by browsing together

There are plenty of online rules of the road that adults take for granted, but that young children have no way of knowing. Like so many things, being online safely requires a certain degree of guidance and maturity so spend plenty of time online together, talking about what's out there, including phishing, malware, and pornography. If your kids aren't mature enough to understand these subjects, they're probably not mature enough to be unsupervised online.

2. Discuss the consequences of unsafe behavior thoroughly

You've been online long enough to know a spammy popup when you see one; but kids don't have any instinctive reason to doubt claims they read online. To keep your finances and identity safe, coach your kids extensively about the damage caused by malware, identity theft, and bad influences online. Set firm rules about how your kids should respond to interactions with strangers online, the types of links they can safely click, and which sites are okay to visit. Trust your kids, but install content filters and protect your browser history so that you can detect and handle mistakes when they happen.

3. Set limits

Image: Uros Velickovic on Flickr
One of the biggest problems that children and grown-ups face with technology is knowing when to unplug. Decide for yourself what is a healthy time for your family to spend connected; and if you work online, look for ways to control your time spent on recreational sites. If you use Chrome, StayFocusd is a good service to keep you on the right track; Leechblock is a comparable service for Firefox. Both are customizable, so you can make your own rules and stick with them. One of the easiest ways to guide your kids' online behavior is to be present for it. In my house, we don't allow laptop computers in bedrooms, the computer stays in the family room. It can be helpful for everyone in the house to have the same rules, but if that isn't feasible, at least make sure that everyone has rules and sticks with them. If your kids know when you're out of time, and they see you willingly unplug, it can be a great lesson for them (and a good way for you to stay accountable).

4. Let your kids see you have fun online, safely

Kids who get bored can range into dangerous territory online, so help them find good places to have fun online. If you stream movies or play games online, it's a good opportunity to talk about which sites are safe, and the dangers that can come from clicking banner ads or unknown items on a Google search.

Talk to your kids about how they want to spend time online so you can decide, first, if you're okay with that activity; and second, what is the safest way to do it. Make sure kids understand the dangers of sharing personal information with strangers online, as well as how to handle the anonymity of the internet with civility and maturity.

5. Model healthy use of social networks

When you and your kids are ready for social networks, talk frankly about treating friends and classmates with respect and add them to your networks so that they can see your civil, decent interactions, and so that you can handle unkind or inappropriate behavior just as you would in person.

About the author
Patricia Shuler is a staff writer from Oakland, California. Sheís an admitted tech-junkie whoís quick to share her honest opinion on all things consumer electronicóincluding up-to-date news, user reviews, and ìno holds barredî opinions on a variety of social media, tech, computer, and mobile accessories topics.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Can We Move Away from Controlling Our Children?

Parents often talk about wanting or needing to control and correct their child’s behavior. Yet, wanting to control another being is tricky if not impossible. Sure, it is important that our children not run into the parking lot, it would be easier if they didn’t spill paint onto the ground and certainly a lot less stressful if they didn’t fight with their siblings.

The thing is, often, what has happened…has happened. Let’s say your child already announced that they hated the gift from their auntie, or the paint is already all over the carpet, or the water is already flowing from the table onto the ground…it’s done! The opportunity to control every little moment is well and over. Controlling our children is just not truly possible, and even if we do manage to do so with demands, coercion and harsh correction it comes at a high cost to the parent-child relationship.

As parents, we cannot undo actions, we cannot un-spill the milk, un-hit the playgroup pal or take that bite away. We can however use moments that have gone badly as learning opportunities for ourselves and our children.  What’s more, we can prevent quite a lot by being present. We can encourage and help with the clean-up, model apologies and most of all, we can choose or learn to prevent many things.

Now, I’m not talking about hovering and preventing any and all mistakes, but rather, creating environments and situations as well as instilling habits that facilitate the prevention instead of focusing on the need for control and harsh correction after the fact.   

Moving away from the desire to control, the need for constant correction and instead focusing on encouragement and prevention can be challenging, but also incredibly rewarding.

My 4 year old son loves helping me wash the dishes.  The floor invariably becomes soaking wet. I could try to teach him how to keep the water in the sink, I could show him the puddle and admonish him for the giant mess… I could deny him access to the kitchen as it would keep the floor dry. Well, I love his company, and he can scrub pots and pans with so much enthusiasm! The wet floor is something I’ve decided is inevitable for now. One time when I noticed the wet floor, I handed him a towel, we stepped on it and mopped the water away in some sort of silly dance type move and now he has taken on the drying up of his own puddles as soon as he is done with the washing.

When faced with a situation that I wish I could control I think about instead: “How do I encourage?” and “What if anything do I need to do, to set my child up for success?”  "What is realistically acceptable for me and my child?"  Sometimes, it’s as easy as stepping back and watching things unfold. Other times it’s about putting certain things away. Often it’s just about facilitating the process or modeling so my child can ultimately make a good decision on their own – like having towels accessible so my son can mop up his own spills.  

The more prevention, connection and encouragement I can give my children, the more the need or illusion of control melts away. And correction if needed can be done gently, which I will talk more about soon!

What do you think, is moving away from the desire to control children possible? Tell me what you think - I would love to hear your thoughts on this!

Peace & Be Well, 

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Recovery and Renewal Bone Broth (rerun)

Written by Christina Gabbard

In Chinese medicine, the “postpartum period” refers to the four months following labor and delivery, the first month being the most important time for the new mother to take special care of herself.  It is not until the end of the 4th month after delivery that the yin and blood are considered full again and the womb meridians Ren Mai (Conception Vessel) and Chong Mai (Penetrating Vessel), are fully recovered.
During pregnancy, a woman’s blood volume almost doubles in order to support the placenta and the developing baby.  The “work” of labor and delivery and blood loss during delivery of the baby further deplete the mother’s qi and blood.  And because breast milk is formed from the same substrate as blood, breastfeeding is comparable to a constant loss of blood.  For all these reasons, women are often deficient postpartum.
Bone broth nurtures and renews the blood and qi and is easy to make, but does take a good while to cook. You can use any kind of bones you have access to. Most common are beef and chicken bones, but you may also use lamb, turkey or any other bones you can find. Everything MUST be Organic, Free Range, No Hormones, etc.

How Does It Aid In Recovery and Renewal Postpartum ?
A few key constituents –

Cartilage: formed primarily from collagen and elastin proteins, but also contains glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), chondroitin sulfate, keratin sulfate, and hyaluronic acid. The cartilage from joints is the kind incorporated into bone broth. It’s useful for:
• Strengthening the bones and support joints and tendons postpartum.

Bone Marrow: There are 2 types of marrow in bones, yellow and red. At birth, all bone marrow is red, and as we age it gradually converts to the yellow type until only about half of our marrow is red. The red marrow is an important source of nutritional and immune support factors extracted in the cooking of bone soup. It contains myeloid stem cells which are the precursors to red blood cells, and lymphoid stem cells, the precursors to white blood cells and platelets.
• Red blood cells carry oxygen to other cells in the body
• White blood cells are essential for proper functioning of the immune system
• Platelets are important for clotting

Glycine & Proline: Both are particularly important amino acids present in bone broth. Glycine is a simple amino acid necessary in the manufacture of other amino acids. It is a vital component in the production of heme, the part of the blood that carries oxygen. Proline is an amino acid essential to the structure of collagen and is therefore necessary for healthy bones, skin, ligaments, tendons and cartilage. It has also been shown to have a beneficial effect on memory and in the prevention of depression. Both are needed for:
• Soft tissue and wound healing
• Healthy connective tissue
• Effective detoxification by the liver
Production of plasma

Minerals: They are necessary for the development of connective tissue and bone, create electrical potential that facilitates nerve conduction, and are catalysts for enzymatic reactions.
• Calcium is necessary for healthy bones, muscle contraction and relaxation, proper clotting and tissue repair, normal nerve conduction, and endocrine balance.
• Phosphorus is necessary for the generation of energy in the body. It is also a critical component of cell membranes and helps regulate intracellular pressure. A deficiency in phosphorus can lead to symptoms such as fatigue and weakness.
• Proper nerve transmission, muscle contraction and relaxation, and parathyroid gland function are dependent on magnesium

Basic Recovery And Renewal Bone Broth Recipe
4 quarts cold filtered water

2 tablespoons vinegar (draw the minerals out of the bones)

1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped

1 bunch parsley
Marrow Bones- use only organic, free-range, hormone-free animal bones such as beef knuckle bones or a whole chicken

• If using a whole chicken, cut off the wings, remove the neck and cut both into pieces. Remove fat glands gizzards from the cavity.
• Place marrow bones or chicken and pieces in a pot with water, vinegar and all vegetables except parsley.
• Bring slowly to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top.
• Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 8 hours. Cooking longer will give a richer and more flavorful broth.
• About 10 minutes before finishing cooking, add parsley.
• Remove marrow bones or whole chicken / pieces with a slotted spoon, reserving the meat for other use.
• Strain the stock into a large bowl and refrigerate until the fat rises to the top and congeals.
• Skim off the fat. Refrigerate or freeze for future use.

Bone Broth Possibilities Are Endless!
• Season and consume as a hot drink with any meal or as an energy-giving snack.
• Use as a base for soups
• Use as a base for gravies and sauces to go on veggies
• Use in place of water when cooking grains, beans, pasta.
Tip: You may also use a crock pot to make this recipe even easier. Enjoy!

Article references:
Broth is Beautiful - Sally Fallon

Traditional bone broth in modern health and disease - Allison Siebecker; Townsend Letter 2005

Christina Gabbard, CPES AKA Carolina Placenta Lady, is a Certified Placenta Encapsulation Specialist and Mentor serving natural mommies; health minded women who have an interest in the TCM properties of encapsulated placenta for alleviation or prevention of post-natal depression, "baby-blues". She resides in Charlotte NC with her husband, three daughters and too many Yorkies!


Friday, September 7, 2012

Is it OK to Let Children Struggle?

Do you rescue your kids? Say, if they have forgotten their lunch at home, or a toy at a friend’s house, will you turn around and go get it? What about when they are struggling with a new skill or with a problem, do you swoop in and fix it? Is it OK to Let Children Struggle?

The other morning we were headed to school, I heard a huge gasp and “I forgot my folder and my watch!” I could have gone back to the house, but I didn't do it. I wanted to. I wanted so badly to just turn left instead of right and head right back home to make it all better. I wanted to swoop in for the rescue, and yet, I didn’t. I didn’t because I try to remember not to rescue all the time, actually I try not to rescue unless there is imminent danger or potentially disastrous consequences.

In this case, the forgotten watch and the folder were unfortunate, frustrating and certainly upsetting, but not leading to any disasters so no rescue was needed. Sure, in the first week of school leaving a folder at home was not so great, If I didn’t know better, I could see the potential for the teacher to think that we are an irresponsible bunch, or that my son could feel potentially ashamed, and yet, I knew I could trust his teacher and knew she would not actually shame him at all. (She didn’t.) So I didn't turn around. Was I being a mean, tough, terrible mama? Or a follow through - give the kid some credit to figure this out mama? 

The thing is, I don’t intend to be a mean mama, but I do want my son to know he is responsible for remembering his own things for school. He has a schedule on the wall and a shelf that is for his school items, right by the shoes and coats, we set that up together, we have talked about it and we practiced. The excitement, the “new” factor in all of this simply distracted him, that one morning. My son was not happy about this…for about 30 seconds. Then he quickly thought of a solution.
“Mom, when you come to pick me up at lunch time, could you bring the folder with you? That way if I have any papers, I can put it in the folder then. It’s on the shelf, you know, where I was supposed to have gotten it from. Oh, please and thank you, thank you, thank you.! ”

There were no giant tears, no meltdown, just the realization of the mistake and thinking of solutions. I didn’t have to rescue him after all, because he was capable of doing it himself. And the next morning…the natural consequences were the best teacher; he remembered his folder, and his watch and his snack and everything else he needed to take to school.

Ok, so that works well for the school aged child, what about the little ones? This past week someone told me it was really mean of me to let my children struggle. My daughter who is 27 months was struggling to get her leggings on herself, I stayed by her but did not help. She was grunting, talking to the pants, “oh my foot stuck..sooo stuck…AH! now not stuck anymore..other foot stuck…awhh” Then I watched as this person advanced tried to help. “Here, I will do it FOR you”… Surprise, the person was met with one confident and fierce “I DO IT MYSELF!” and my daughter, happily continued her struggle... by choice! When she was finished with those leggings, she said "I did it! So tricky! I did it!" and walked away. Those words, that smile, that confidence, that is why I let her struggle. Because it's not a struggle that is full of suffering or sadness, it's a struggle that is full of learning - real, raw, amazing learning!

Frustration, struggles, making mistakes, those are all such wonderful learning opportunities. Of course, being responsive, empathetic, helpful is all really important too – here we are trying to strike a balance, find the right amount of one and the other…it’s not easy, like anything with parenting, it’s never quite simple or easy but yes, I am alright letting my children struggle, try, fail and try again. We welcome mistakes here, we encourage independence with realistic expectations, we support the falls but not necessarily by rescuing but rather by providing the space in which the kids can find, make & create solutions. Do I inadvertently swoop in from time to time? I’m sure I do J
What about you? Are you letting your children struggle?
Peace & Be Well,

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Importance Of Family Dinner (rerun)

Over the weekend, my little family sat together at the table to enjoy several meals together. I deeply enjoy when my family is sat down around the table, but it doesn’t happen too often. Breakfast I eat alone, since my husband doesn’t eat in the morning and my daughter eats much later than I do (she takes bubuh before she gets up, so she’s not hungry until at about 9AM). At lunchtime, my daughter is generally asleep by the time my husband arrives and when dinnertime comes, she is too busy playing and running around, which often means that my husband and I have to eat separately - because one of us has to join in the fun.

Family dinner is generally a much appreciated moment in families, and sadly, this often brings in some coercion.

Image: Beverly & Pack on Flickr
Let’s look at why family dinners have gotten so important.
During the day the whole family is outside the house, so dinnertime is the only moment in the day that a family can be together.
We have been completely brainwashed by the “three meals a day” advice
Most families cook dinner in the evening, so they feel like it’s disrespectful to the cook if some members of the family decide not to partake
Shared food tastes better
We have grown accustomed to the idea that some rules - no matter how arbitrary - need not be broken

Together time
For un-/homeschooling family, this is an argument that doesn’t really apply, because generally at least one parent spends a big chunk of the day with the kids. Even when children do attend school, one can ask himself if sitting around the table because they have to is the kind of interaction a parent wants with his child. Wouldn’t it be a better idea to let go of a forced family dinner and join in the children’s play after eating? Forcing someone to join in a collective activity is not Authentic communication, or genuine togetherness. It is artificial. So if togetherness is what you are looking for - seek out your child, instead of forcing him to be with you.
Then how will they learn good manners at the table? How will they learn to appreciate shared meals?
Simply by observing yours. And it’s not as if they will never share a meal with you. If you give them the freedom to choose, you might be surprised at the frequency of shared meals, and you will grow to enjoy the ones you do share even more, because they are Authentic (and sometimes rare). As children grow up, they can be more inclined to eating together and might grow to value shared dinner as much as you.

Three meals a day?
I have said it before and I will say it again: the three meals a day advice is something that has been disproved over and over again. Yet it is a persistent bastard for numerous reasons - reasons on which I will not elaborate for the sake of the length of this post. In big lines, it is best to eat when one is hungry. Your family member will not all be hungry at the same time of night, and it would be quite torturous to deny a hungry child food just because you’re having dinner in an hour. For a small child especially hunger is very much a NOW thing, and their conception of time is different from yours. So if you tell them not to eat NOW, you might just tell them they won’t eat period.
As children grow up, their grasp of time does change, but that doesn’t mean their biological rhythm does, neither does it mean that they will not be ‘busy‘ when dinnertime arrives. Their busy should be respected as much as you expect them to respect yours.

I think the idea of children being disrespectful to the cooking parent is a big can of worms. I won’t go into this as deeply as I would like because I have been lengthy already and this post is not nearly finished.
First of all respect is something we cannot demand. It is something you can receive, but never by force. You needn't cook dinner every night to gain your child’s respect. You just need to treat him with the same respect you feel you deserve.
But maybe this whole respect thing is just a cover up. Maybe what you are really looking for is praise, and you might feel praised if everyone gathers around the table to eat you delicious concoctions.
I bet they are delicious and I bet you did spend time on them. But here you need to internalize your feeling of self worth. Cooking something delicious for yourself is just as important as cooking it for someone else. You don’t need an audience for validation, you can acquire that yourself.

Breaking the rules
Yes, you might get weird looks when friends come over and your child is playing while you have dinner. They might even remark it. But what is more important? Your family’s happiness or wether your friend thinks you’re crazy (probably they already do anyway). If you choose to go a different path, you’ll be raising eyebrows along the way. That doesn’t mean what you do is wrong.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Just Relax-The practice of Yoga Nidra (rerun)

Written by Indra Singh

This post is part one of a two part article, check in next week for the second part.

The world is certainly changing and lifestyles are not the same as what they used to be. Children are being brought up in a world so full of technology and constant stimulation that it is no wonder that they often find it difficult to find peace.

Over the past ten years there has been a large increase in illness: conditions such as asthma, migraine, diabetes and digestive disorders and more than enough there is no real medical answers to these problems because the main source of these problems lie rooted in the change of ideals. The need for more money, higher paid jobs and materialistic desires all add to the upheaval in our natural rhythms.

Whether you’re a tense person or not it is very rare to live life totally tension free, as somewhere in the body tension will accumulate, we have all experienced that right? – It may be physical, mental or emotional.

Yoga deals with the individual as a whole “the union” of all the body’s systems. If there is tension in one part of the body it will usually affect another area and this can become a vicious circle. When we practice yoga nidra or deep relaxation it affects the body on every level and is more rejuvenating than any amount of sleep. Thirty minutes of yoga nidra is equivalent to two hours of deep sleep.

During this time of relaxation, not only does your body relax but with regular practice you can reform your whole personality, release old habits and restructure new more positive tendencies.


There is no better time to start this practice than when you are a child. Once children are open to these techniques they will have the capabilities of being able to deal with the stress and strain of modern life and the pressure it can bring. All that is required is the capacity to listen and be able to follow instructions from the person guiding the practice. Timings can be reduced depending on the age of the child or the length of their attention span.


Quite often it is thought that when we relax we need to divert the mind with distracting activities such as television and computer games. These activities only act as added stimulation to what is already active inside the body and mind. To experience true relaxation it is important to stay consciously aware and this can be achieved through the practice of yoga nidra or deep relaxation.


Yoga nidra and relaxation are achieved by the ability to look inwards and not to be distracted by outside influences, although to do this there is no need for concentration. It is not about allowing yourself to fall asleep but about being on the edge of sleep and wakefulness. By achieving this it is possible to feel complete mental, physical and emotional relaxation…..

Next week we will discuss the actual practice

Indra is a Yoga teacher, mother and writer and has published various articles on the importance of yoga for children and the family.
Her mission is to educate people from the heart; especially children, about the wonders of yoga practice and how it can benefit and balance us on all levels and that learning the basic yoga tools to support everyday living is of vital importance in today’s society.
Find Indra on these websites: indrasinghyoga.comchapatis and potatoeswww.elephantjournal.com
Indra on Twitter & Facebook