Google+ Authentic Parenting: October 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tuning In: Prevention as an Alternative to Punishment

Have you ever watched your child(ren) and pretty much figured out that something "bad" was about to happen?  You know, that moment before the meltdown, the minutes before the screaming match between siblings, or the seconds before the paint crashes to the ground?

How helpful would it be if we could foresee it all coming crashing into those moments of tears, stress, sibling spats, tantrums and so on...?

Chris JL / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Punishment often follows when children have done something they shouldn't have, and yet very often undesirable or unwanted behaviors can be prevented if we just tune in.

Tuning in to our children and setting them up to succeed are wonderful ways to prevent undesirable behavior and I find it is one of the keys of making non punitive parenting successful.

In our house, I have figured out that higher pitched voices usually lead to sibling squabbles, so when I hear that particular tone of voice from one or more of the kids, I try to make myself available, be attentive and near. I don't need to necessarily intervene each time, but I try to be close by just in case.  Sometimes I can sense that help is needed and I can step in, but more and more, simply seeing me is a cue to slow down and work things out between siblings.

Not too long ago, I heard that high pitched voice.  As I walked into the playroom I could sense the tension in both my boys, they each wanted the same toy. Their voices were strained, their bodies tense and hands were at the ready! I calmly walked by, appearing to be busy, but smiled at both boys as I walked past. My six year old relaxed, looked at his brother and said "hey, let's try to figure this out, tell me your idea and I'll tell you mine!"   That was it!  I heard them talk it out and they made their own decisions - but I think my little walk by and warm smile made a difference. Ok, that, a little bit of luck and using a lot of reflective listening in the past. But, I'm pretty sure that if they had been left all on their own, they would have escalated out of pure frustration.

Prevention is sometimes so simple, putting away the breakables, stowing cleaners and valuables out of reach and so on.  Other times, it's about tuning in and figuring out these small warning signs - which can be so worth it!

So, what warning signs do you get and how do you go about preventing undesirable outcomes?

Ariadne Brill is a certified positive discipline parenting educator. She has three children, loves chocolate and is passionate about helping parents and children create harmony at home. Find Ariadne on Facebook and at the positive parenting connection


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

When Daddy’s Away (rerun)

A while back, I was asked to write an article about dealing with paternal absence. Much to our dismay, my husband travels quite a lot for his work and tends to be away for periods up to a month. Actually, goodbyes are such a big part of our lives that my daughter’s first ‘word’ at six months was ‘dada’ - with the waving hand gesture - which means as much as goodbye (‘dag’ in Dutch).
So how do we deal with these absences?

To be completely honest, I have to say we often don’t deal well with the situation, but that is due to the fact that saying bye to daddy generally means that we have to stay with the grandparents, instead of with my husband’s absence.
Here are a couple of tips on dealing with absences and goodbyes.

Image: Dreamstime

  1. A very important thing is to prepare the child well in advance: talk to them about when daddy’s leaving, where he will be going, why he is leaving and what he’ll be doing there. Quantify how long he will be gone for. When they’re older, you can talk about the times they have to sleep before they can see their father again, before that, it’s ok just to say wether it will be a long or short period - remember that time is a lot longer for a child than for an adult, so a month to them is an eternity. If they are gone fore a very extensive period, you can help your child quantify by naming specific periods in the year as tag marks, like their birthday or christmas, or the seasons: “Daddy will be back after you have opened your christmas presents at grandma’s.”
  2. Make sure not to paint the situation too negative. You are probably not happy with the situation and you might be upset or sad about it, but it is important to let your child know that there are things to look forward to when their dad’s away too: “Daddy’s going to be away, but in the meanwhile, we can go to the museum/we’ll visit grandpa....”
  3. One of the most imperative things however is your mental state. If yo are looking up against being alone with your child, the extra work you’ll have to take on, the solitude... your child will sense this and it will make the parting harder on them. So in order to avoid your blue mood, plan some fun things for you too. You can consider getting an extra pair of hands in the household, or some babysitting.
  4. Try to be around other people, for the child as well as or you. Being stuck in a house with only their mom can get very very cramped. Invite your friends over to visit, ir do things together, get your child out on play dates, see family and grandparents.
  5. Get out as much as you can. Wether it’s just for a little walk, or a trip to the grocery store, or something more planned, get out with your child. A change of scenery does everyone good every now and again.
  6. Try to have the child communicate with their father. Even when their really tiny, they benefit from hearing their daddy on the phone or seeing him through webcam. But be careful not to insist when they are hesitant. Sometimes it’s enough for them when you’ve talked to them and you can tell them that daddy is thinking about them and sends lots of kisses.
  7. When the father eventually gets back, make sure that he has some separate time with the kids, maybe they can do an activity together that doesn’t involve you. By now, you’re all craving a little attention, so it’s important not to compete with each other on this. (See it as a moment of spare time to reconnect with yourself, you’ll be more relaxed when you get your significant other to yourself).


Monday, October 29, 2012

Learning and Interpersonal Exchange (rerun)

Originally posted at The Mahogany Way.

Image: Dreamstime
My first boyfriend was a graphic designer. Through him, I learned the basics of photoshop, I learned how to make smashing powerpoint presentations, I learned to dismantle and fix a computer and I got interested in playing PC games.

When I got to university, I got involved with a teacher’s assistant in Physics. He got me interested in the basics of Physics, and he helped me along when I had to make a website for some course. I got the hang of stuff like Dreamweaver and Firefox.

Later on, I did an internship with a marketing agency, and all these skills that I had picked up haphazardly came in handy. It is rare to find a Communication Scientist who actually knows computers, beyond the basic word processing and excell sheet.

But the reason I picked up these skills - and the topic of this article - is not because I was passionate about them, or even looking for them, it was because I was passionate about the people that were passionate about them. That got me interested. 
The mere joy of doing something like that together made the exchange pleasurable, and made it a moment of learning too.

And this is where I want to get to in this article: all learning is influenced by the relationships we have with the world, but more specifically with the people around us. Wether we want it or not, it’s our grandmother’s passion for knitting that gets us taking up a few needles and yarn, it’s our mother’s hours behind a sewing machine that develops that passion in us. It’s a friend’s love for “The Hobbit” that gets you to pick up Tolkien’s books.
No man is an island, and certainly unschoolers are no exception. We are colored by the interactions with the people in our lives.

That’s why the claim that unschooling would stunt socialization is such an ignorant remark. The devoted parent of an unschooled child will actively look for interesting social interaction, will seek stimulating conversation, will circulate in environments that promote ideas - within the measure of his/her means of course.
Life learning does not happen in a box, it happens in ‘life’. And for the social being as is the Homo Sapiens, a lot of life is interaction.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Fat is Just a Word

Welcome to the October edition of Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Body Awareness.
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted Authentic Parenting. This month our participants are sharing how they activelyinfluence their children's body awareness and how they experience their own! Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


A couple of days ago, my daughter walked into the room as I was typing and said: "Mom, my calves have gotten so fat! Look at them!"
Kind of baffled and without a second thought, I said to her: "No honey, your calves are not fat, they're beautiful!"
Image: Laura Lewis 23

And then it hit me! I had just juxtaposed fat and beautiful, as if they were opposites!
That's what we do in our culture: fat is the opposite of beautiful, fat is the opposite of active, fat is the opposite of smart. In a nutshell, fat is the epitome of all negative qualities one can attribute to a person.

But I thought I was above that. I thought I at least knew that fat shaming is silly and cultural and plain bad judgement. And there I go, so fearful that my daughter might think she's fat that I go and hand her the very tool that will make her shun fat and put fat in another category altogether.

My daughter has been raised in Africa her whole life, and for her fat is not an insult. Fat is an attribute of wealth and health. Fat is quite the opposite to her as Western culture makes us believe.
All she was trying to tell me is that her calves have gotten so muscular - and they have (yes, in Sub-Saharan Africa, strong/muscular and fat are interchangeable words, isn't that a refreshing change).

Fat is not an insult.
Fat is just a word. It is the opposite of skinny, if anything, but it should not have any other connotation than that.
If anything, I am grateful that this experience has made me think. Has made me knowledgeable that I have to weigh my words carefully when speaking to my daughter about her body, and that I am not rid of the notions passé don to me by my culture.

Have you ever found your words slipping into stereotypes? How do you actively avoid them?

  APBC - Authentic Parenting
Visit 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:

  • Hybrid Rasta Mama: A reggae loving mama’s thoughts on  Conscious Parenting, Natural Living, Holistic Health and General MindfulnessSkin Color and the Mixed Race Child - As a mother of a mixed race child whose skin tone falls between her mother and father’s, Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama tackles the tough question of “is my skin light or dark mama?” You can also find Hybrid Rasta Mama on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

  • Momma Jorje: a slightly crunchy mommaKnow Your Body - Momma Jorje shares one way she encourages body awareness and autonomy in her children. You can also follow Momma Jorje on Facebook.

  • Fat is Just a Word - Laura tries to actively debunk the negative connotations of the word 'fat' after a shocking discovery, on Authentic Parenting. You can also find Authentic Parenting on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Hobo Mama: A Natural Parenting BlogYour Body is Beautiful Now - Lauren at Hobo Mama offers your body a love poem. You can also find Hobo Mama on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Does Your Daughter Feel Beautiful - DeAnna L’am of Red Moon School of Empowerment for Women and Girls writes about how Moms can model self acceptance and a strong body image for their daughters.
6 Ways for Children to Learn about Their Body - Ariadne is sharing calming yoga games, art activities and other wonderful ways for children to learn about their body over at the Positive Parenting Connection. You can also find more peaceful, positive parenting ideas and resources on the Positive Parenting Connection community Facebook page.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Us vs Them (rerun)

All the crazy after I posted Baby Envy got me thinking: is it really us against them?

Do we divide people up into categories and assess there likeness to ourselves? I have to admit, I do. It often is about dividing people up, and I can do so rather quickly, it only takes a couple of conversations for me to know if you are yes or no on the dark side ;) or at least corruptable or not.
This is about being honest here, not about being proud of it. It is about confessing. If you feel like throwing rocks at me (again) for admitting this, please do so, but think first: he who is without sin...

All this soul searching got me thinking why on earth must I do this? What drives me?
First of all, upon just a short consideration, and well, plain reason, it is very clear that there really is no us, nor is there a them. By which I mean there are no two homogenous groups of parents, nor is there a distinct line between those fictional groups.

Us and Them can be any religion or color or social class. Both may have adopted any dietary regime. Either might - or not - babywear, cosleep, breastfeed, the like. So where is the line? Where do we (I mean Us) divide the crunch parent from the 'bad' parent?

More so, why do we divide into protagonists and antagonists?

Here's what I've come up with:
  • probably one of the first books a small child is shoved into its hands is one about contraries
  • we tell them stories about good fighting evil
  • we divide them clearly into boys and girls as soon as possible
  • we tell them what is good behavior - for which they are praised, and what is bad behavior - for which they are blamed
  • we leave them little room to see the grey areas, the doubt
  • our entire culture is based upon war, upon finding scapegoats, looking for the treath, installing fear, assigning an enemy
  • our language and our thoughts are shaped by violence and xenophobia
How can we expect to grow up being inclusive people, based on all of this? Even with careful consideration, we often get trapped into dichotomy. So, in order to not have my child grow up as defensive and conflict-seeking as I am, I am going to do everything in my power to show her the different shades of grey and shield her from dichotomy and violence, until she is big enough to understand how trivial and arbitrary it all is.



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How Do We Speak To Our Children (rerun)

Language seems to make up a lot of parenting. Words really do have meaning when we talk to our children and can leave lasting impressions. Especially the ones we choose when we are angry or try to discipline them. It seems only logical to consider the way we speak to our children and the words we use when we do.

As we spent a fortnight in Turkey, I got to witness other people's parenting in actions, and overheard a lot of parent-child talk.

I must say that French parenting conversations are really mindblowing. The things francophone parents say to their children have yet to find a translation in English.
Here are some of the things I have overheard:
"If you put your hands down, I swear I will push your head under and not let you up again." By a mother tryng to teach her child to swim.
Other things I frequently heard was parents calling their kids "vilain", "mechant", "con" (nasty, bad and stupid, but the way I feel it, in French it is much worse).
Another great episode of parenting was when a father saw his daughter playbiting another kid, he dragged her through the little pool by the hair, screaming at her: "Oh, you're biting? Maybe I should bite you then, how would you like that?"
Other things said to kids were phrases like "Tu m'enerves, tu me fais chier..." (You're getting on my nerves, you are pissing me off - again, it sounds so much more harsh in French).

As a little side note: I don't speak Turkish or Russian, so I don't know what these parents say to their children. And seemingly Flemish parents aren't that much better, if I can base my assupmtions on the way my friend treats his daughter (You're annoying me/ If you keep whining about how your hand hurts, I'll cut it off...).

Is that the way mainstream parents speak to their children? Seriously? And everyone is ok with that? And still we want to harrass women for breastfeeding in public, but we stay quiet when shit like this happens.
And people still wonder why people do turn out obnoxious and nasty? People wonder why children 'talk back'? We just can't figure out why people don't allow each other the light of day...

Image: Bhumi Finding Herself on Flickr


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Indecisions - My Child’s Bedroom

written by Mark

Your child is ready for his or her own room. Ideas start running wild and blossoming uncontrollably in your head:  What kind of flooring would be practical? (is it best to purchase carpet or would we prefer an oak hardwood floor?); What will I do with the walls?; What colour would be the most soothing and mood enhancing? The questions are unbounded and painstakingly limitless.

At this point it should be fairly safe to assume that you have already chosen which room your child is going to be calling their own, so here’s a list of five simple things that can help put some of your choices into better perspective when it comes to the decorating stages:

  1. The flooring can often be a problem, as I found when decorating my sons room but I’m here for you to learn from my experiences. This tip is quite simple – go for a floor that is easily cleaned. You can opt for small, washable rugs so they have a cosy spot to play on. I'd stay clear of wall to wall carpet, because of the hygiene and allergy issues this can provoke (and let's not mention stains!!). Linoleum can be a rather cheap option and nowadays there are some pretty cool designs (don't think hospital flooring, because linoleum sure has evolved), laminate or tile are also easily cleaned.
  2. Children can be very inquisitive but one thing’s for sure, they’re extremely creative. With this in mind, I adopted the notion that I wasn’t about to let my son express his creativity on the walls. This then spiralled into another thought, that instead of limiting his creativity somewhat, I’d purchase a blackboard paint which I painted three feet from the floor in his room and in various spots around the house.
  3.  This simply allows the parent to draw or write educative pictures and words on the painted area also allowing your child to be as creative as they could possibly wish for. Yes - on the walls!
  4. Deciding and finding the right bedding can also be a headache. As a mother to be, I was always thinking, what if the bed is too hard? What if the bed isn’t stable enough? What type of blanket I should use? At the time I was also in the process of decorating my living room so I went to a few local shops and browsed the net where I found a few cool things on the Fashion for Home website. My search gave me the idea that buying a cot isn’t really that hard. If you find one you really love, my tip to you would be to add a bumper that safely attaches to the cot to protect baby from bashing his or her head against the cot bars.
  5. One thing not a lot of people think of when decorating their child’s room tends to be the lighting – well that’s the case with my friends and other parents I’ve spoken to during the school run! The lighting can be the difference between your child nodding off to sleep right away, quite quickly or much later than anticipated. Deciding I wasn’t going to install the usual and standard on/off switch came easy. When my eldest was younger, I noticed that that he’d fall asleep much quicker in a dimmed room as supposed to the light being on or off. Try it and comment if this works or doesn’t work for you and yours.
  6. The fifth tip isn’t really a tip; only, just remember to ensure the room is as comfortable and filled with as much love and happiness as your child could ever wish for (within means of course). It is you child's room, so it should permeate his personality, it's not a canvas to reflect thing you never got as a child. Think of it as your child’s own personal living room. Not that you should buy sofas; although it is probably a wise idea to have something to sit on. Another good idea would be to include kid’s storage furniture so you or your child always has somewhere to stack away all their books and toys.

What to do with your child’s room doesn’t have to be as stressful as it may seem and you certainly need not be as indecisive as I initially was. The house can be a pretty big a daunting place but their room should always be the place they feel most safe.

Here’s hoping these tips are helpful, even if only slightly. Enjoy decorating everyone!


Saturday, October 20, 2012

EC, an answer to colic?

Written by Maria

Elimination Communication may be an answer to colicky babies.  Most babies can express the need to eliminate through various cries: latching relatching on the breast, popping off, squirming during their sleep...  When the cries are not responded to in the proper manner, it may cause a baby distress. 
A baby, just like us, is very much aware of the pressure associated with full bladder and the rumble tumble of a stinky on the way.  They cry out in discomfort, their only form of communication those early months, through the breast, unexplained fussiness, waking during sleep to get help, comfort, from this distress.  If not met, they must pee on themselves.  

EC may reduce gas and bloating in babies. The Basic Under Thigh Hold infant pottying position holds the baby's legs up to its tummy, applying pressure, and thus allowing for gas to be released. Before I read about EC, I recall pushing my babies knees up to her chest while she laid on the floor ("as grandma said to do") because she would never burp. 

Image: bbaunach on Flickr

In our society, it is common place to leave a baby in a wet, urine filled diaper for hours. This too, may be causing great discomfort for infants.  First of all, they are sitting on something wet. No matter how expensive and state of the art your disposable is, if you pour water (or urine) on it, it is wet.  Water doesn't evaporate from it. This wetness is uncomfortable. I imagine it would feel rather like walking around in a wet bathing suit, soaked maxi pad, or soaked adult diaper.
Two, the urine could be burning the baby's skin. Maybe the baby doesn't develop full blown diaper rash but does that mean that urine - which is an ammonia based substance (something we, as adults handle with gloves) - isn't burning their skin?  Infants, with the most fragile and delicate of skin, are obviously going to be more sensitive to the corrosive properties of urine.

The smell of the urine could be causing distress in babies. As tiny human beings, they desire instinctively what we desire: a clean environment. As adults, we know that peeing and pooping where we eat and drink and sleep is undesirable, unhealthy, and unsanitary. To survive as a species, we have learned to pee and poop away from our living areas. It shouldn't come as a surprise that our babies want the same.

The disposable diapers of our time are a chemical cocktail. I have heard of babies getting diaper rash simply from the diaper. I can only imagine the chemical cocktail created inside one of those when ammonia based urine is added to the mixture. It is constantly recommended not to use chemicals, dyes, perfumes (such as in washing detergent, lotions, shampoos) on our babies as they may be irritants. Yet, we don't think twice about what our chemical filled disposables diapers may be doing to our babies bottoms.  The diapers could be burning their skin, itching, causing discomfort even if they don't get full blown diaper rash.  Same, may be true for the diaper wipes and diaper rash creams.  When we use a new facial cleanser on our face, sometimes it burns and we don't use it anymore.  The diapers, creams, and wipes could cause a similar reaction in an infant.  All they can do is scream in pain.  What we don't know is, is the diaper, creams, the wipes, or the urine or the combination causing distress in a baby, burning its skin, thus an explanation for colic?

I use cloth diapers and a sink, faucet, or sprayer of water. On the road, a sports bottle of fresh water and a wash cloth will suffice. And, other than the diaper rash she came home from the hospital with, once in cloth diapers, my DD has never had one since (17 months old now). And, never needed to use diaper rash creams to protect her from her own urine, she was never left to sit in it.  Nor, did I use store bought diaper wipes. I rarely scrubbed, wiped, cleaned her skin with any kind of cloth as the baby skin is so sensitive that would be needlessly abrasive. I have read, and believe because of my own baby, that EC makes baby's more efficient poopers. I noticed with my baby, if I didn't get her to the potty quick enough, she would poop some in her diaper then stop. Then later in the day, she would then go to the potty to get the rest out. If I did get her to the potty on time, then that was all her poopy for a day or even three. She gets it all out in one big push. Because you hold the baby in a "squat" position versus allowing them to poopy laying down, they can use gravity and the pressure placed on their bellies by their legs to excrete all that needs to be pushed out. And, very little if any poopy gets on the baby. Simply hold their bum under the water for some rinsing or use the sprayer.

About Maria:
I am a 34 year old mother of an 18 month old wonderful daughter.  The day she was born, I knew I wanted to understand her every cry, whimper, and whine.  I wanted to be there before she even knew she needed me. That she knew she could come to me, day or night, sick or healthy, sad or happy - no matter what.
I came from the state of North Carolina in USA, from a mother too young for children, absent father, basically living with violent, abusive alcoholic grandparents.  Luckily, I was not physically harmed, but what I saw left a scar. All I knew was disposable diapers, don't spoil the child, use the rod, formula fed, cry it out in the crib separate room babies. My lucky break came from seeing a breastfeeding mother when I was 30 years old. So, as they say, the rest is history.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Yes, Please! Facilitating Good Manners in Social Settings

Last week I shared some thoughts on how at home we do not insist that our children show their gratitude or regret because I believe it doesn’t help them learn to be genuine in their manners.  But, what about at the park, the store or a playdate?  How do we handle manners and meeting social expectation in a public or social setting?

Finding the balance between the socially demanded manners versus what I really would rather do is tricky.  Mostly, I find that my children use their manners, quite naturally, no prompting needed. Otherwise, for the most part in social settings when needed I use a mixture of modeling and hopefully what comes across as a more positive and gentle version of the prodding. 

For instance, not too long ago at the playground, my four year old was playing with a ball. He threw the ball, intending to make it fly over something, but instead it caught an adult by-stander in the face. I was several steps away, but started walking over as soon as I heard the adult start loudly with “say you are sorry! Why did you throw the ball like that?  How could you?  Why aren't you saying you’re sorry?”

As I made it over there, the person was still going on, and I noticed my son was looking down and muttering quietly “I didn't mean to...” When my son saw me he said “She isn't hearing me say anything. Ugh!”

I gently interrupted the person with “I’m sorry for whatever happened, I did not see exactly but if you could give me a moment to speak with my son -excuse us.“  We walked away, my son told me what happened, how he wanted to throw the ball over the structure but his plan hadn't worked. We kept on talking:

Me:  “So your plan didn’t work, the ball hit that person, what do you think that person is upset about?”  
Him: “maybe it hurt. …oh! That’s not good.”
Me: “uhm…now what?” (My intent in saying now what is to give my son the opportunity to come up with his own solution/plan for restitution)
Him: “Well, she was saying a lot of stuff, really mad, I think she is really mad”
Me: “I think you are right. Maybe it hurt when the ball hit and she feels mad.uhm..."
Him: “I guess I can say sorry, could you come with me?”
Me:  “Of course!”
So we went over together and my son apologized, because he decided to do so. 

Sometimes situations are more rushed that that and then I may at times use a question to guide the way. 

For example: If I sense that there is a lot of tension from the expecting adult, like another parent or family member I do catch myself saying things like “I’m going to say thank you for this lovely present, would you like to say something too?” or “It looks like Johnny is hurt. Is there something you would like to do to help him feel better?”

Asking questions like that feels like it appeases the adults and that social expectation of immediate gratitude or restitution but I do feel it does it without the totally forced custom of saying something along the lines of  “apologize right now!” or “come on, say thank you!!!!” and the famous "what are you going to say???"   Also, if  the children decide that they don't want to say anything, I respect that choice and try to remember that modeling is by far much more powerful anyways and trust that another time they may be ready to express their manners on their own.

Occasionally, there are sticky social situations where I end up facilitating the process a bit and may whisper “do you want to say thank you?” because, well, because no matter how much I know that my kids get really excited or focused on other things and that they don't intend to be rude, others may not or cannot know this, for example we may be in new social situation, and not saying anything at all just seems like it would make things tricky, but even still I do try to do it gently and with kindness and the more mindful I have become about this process the more I feel secure in simply modeling or possibly gently inviting the children to join in if they feel they are ready to do so. 

What about you, do you prompt your children to use good manners? Is there a difference for you in a social setting versus how it works at home? 

Photo credit: TC . / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What Are You Whining About - An Insight In Children’s Most Annoying Behavior

Whining is probably on top of the list for Most Frustrating Behavior for Parents, the shrilling voices, the repetition and the fact that we too - when we were children - were quickly suppressed when it occurred.

Image: Frotzed

But what is it all about?

Getting an insight in why whining happens will give you the tools to cope and avoid, as whining is always a symptom of an underlying condition. And, same as with any physical condition, in order to heal, we must look at the cause.

Whining is ALWAYS a symptom of imbalance.
The imbalance can be on the side of the child: tired, hungry, overstimulated... but most often, the imbalance is on the parental side.
Noticed that your children get whiney when it’s just not appropriate? Correct. They have noticed your preoccupation and react on it.

The spiral is unveiled: stressed parents get whiney kids get frustrated parents, get screamy kids... no need to finish this sentence.

Whining should therefor be seen as an invitation instead of a source of frustration.

Your child may be whining about the walk being too long or the candy not the type they want... that’s never what it’s really about. Your child is telling you: “I feel stressed”, “I am imbalanced”, “I sense that you’re not well, and it’s making me uncomfortable”.

If obvious needs for food, shelter and relaxation have been ruled out on your child’s side, then take a look at where you stand.
Have you been stressed? Have you been preoccupied? Did you take time to connect to your child?

Again, see the whining as an invitation to relax together.

Some quick fix relaxation techniques:
  • Take a deep breath together, breathe out through the mouth, repeat
  • Sit down and hug each other
  • Look your child in the eyes and tell her you love her
  • Do some yoga poses together. I like doing cat’s breathe and then child’s pose whenever we’re getting overwhelmed at my house, and my children are happy to join in. Though my son mostly just crawls under my cat and pull’s my daughter’s hair in child pose.

How do you handle imbalance in your family?

Come find me on Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest


How to Prevent Your Child from Becoming a Bully

Bullying starts as an anger issue in the minds of most children who bully other kids. The last thing parents want is for their children to be bullied, but it is equally important for parents to be sure that their own children are not the ones bullying others. Bullying needs to be dealt with right away to get the problem under control, and as parents we are most responsible for making sure this happens.

If you catch your child pushing around another kid, calling him names, or threatening him, intervene immediately. Separate the children before you start asking what happened, and don't involve any other children who may have been witnesses. Remain calm; becoming angry and screaming at your kid only reinforces the behavior you are trying to eradicate. Have your child apologize, but only after tensions have boiled down and while you are nearby.

Image: trix0r
As soon as you are aware of the bullying issue, consider why your child may be acting out. If you are going through a divorce or have gotten a new boyfriend/girlfriend, your kid could very well be angry about the situation and doesn't know any other way to express that anger. Your little bully could also be the victim of older bullies, including classmates, older students on the school bus or playground, or even his own siblings. Finding out the root cause is the most proactive way to get your child back on the right track.

Invite your child to talk about it. Most kids don't want to talk about their feelings, especially if they feel anger toward one or both of their parents, but try to make them understand that these feelings are natural and need to be addressed. Be kind and understanding, and go into this conversation expecting your child to say something you didn't think he would say. You may find that the issue was not as complex as you supposed.

Remember, too, that children do what they see us do. Every couple fights, but try to keep your disagreements to yourselves; wait until the children are at school or in bed to hash out your problems. Even your teen, who you may consider more mature, may have emotional problems that a marriage in disunity can distress even more. If talking to your child doesn't seem to work, or if you are at your wit's end with your child's out-of-control behavior, you may consider sending him to therapy or even a boys' or girls' home. Visit The Family Compass - Advice for Troubled Teens at their website,, for more advice and information.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

APBC Carnival Call for Submissions - Body Awareness

Hi all!

The Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival is back! This month we'll be focusing on Body Awareness.

How do you feel about your body? How do you communicate about your body to your child? Do you feel self love or self loathing? Are you carrying around a negative body image? What about diets or handicaps.
We want to know all about it.

Submissions are due next Monday October 22 (I'm pushing back the deadline a little since I'm a bit late with promoting!).
Carnival will go live on Friday 26th.

Send your participation to mamapoekie at yahoo dot com
In this email send me:

  • your full text
  • Title for your post
  • URL for posting, or if you don't have it in advance, send me your blog URL and send the post URL on carnival day
  • a blurb about your post (e.g. Laura from Authentic Parenting shares how continuous dieting has shaped her beliefs about her body)
Looking forward to reading all of your submissions!


Monday, October 15, 2012

Bra Fitting 101

Content provided by Kristina

Image: Saturn
Purchasing a new bra can be a real ordeal. There is so much choice and mostly they're not cheap, so it's imperative we pick right.  And picking the right one seems to be pretty difficult. Studies show that over 75% of women wear the wrong bra size! When purchasing a new bra it is important to select a style and size that fits well with one’s bust line however, this brings up the question of how to tell if a bra fits properly.

There are some keys things to look for to determine if a bra fits properly. How it fits in certain areas can tell you whether your bra fits. For instance, the centre front of the bra should sit flat against the chest without any gap. If a particular bra causing this gapping, then it is because the cup size is too small and cannot adequately support the bust.

Bras with underwires should rest against the ribcage without producing any discomfort, and there should be no breast bulging out of the cups. If this occurs this is generally due to having a bra with cups that are too small. The best way to get the right bra sizing is to use a bra calculator such as the ones found online. The cups should fit firmly without any fabric gathering loosely. If this wrinkling occurs then the cup size is most often too large. Switching to a bra with a smaller cup size often fixes the problem.
Not only is the fit of the cups important but so are the straps. They should be almost parallel without digging into one’s shoulders. The band encircling the chest should also remain stationary. If the band begins creeping up one’s back the wearer should try a bra having a band in a small size.

Today there are even more cup sizes available than ever before. This makes it much easier to find exactly the right size. Bras also come in a variety of styles for certain types of clothing as well as occasions. I specifically like the selection at My Curves and Me.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sunday Surf

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. 



Friday, October 12, 2012

What are you going to say???

Thoughts On Prompting Children to Use Good Manners.

On a Friday, not too long ago, as we left preschool with my four and two year olds, I wished some of the parents a good weekend. I did that three or four times in a row as we walked by other families on our way to the car. Ten minutes later, we arrived at the elementary school to pick up my other son. As we crossed the street my four year old belted out sweetly to the crossing guard “HAVE A NICE WEEKEND!”

It was heartwarming because so often I hear parents urge and demand “Greet her!”, “say thank you!” or prompt their children “what do you say…..?”and the so popular “what are the magic words?” And I can’t help but wonder how that child feels to be prodded, prompted and even at times nagged about using manners. 

What kind of manners are we using when we do that anyways, when we INSIST that our children say thank you, or greet someone? It’s not that polite is it?  Surely there are other ways for children to learn all these socially expected behaviors?  Can you imagine if adults went around prodding and nudging each other to say thank you? 

Is it important for children to learn socially desirable manners – sure! I would like my children to say thank you and to appreciate a nice gesture. I also hope that when they hurt someone they may say sorry. But I would rather it be voluntary, a real sorry, a genuine thank you and not the fake ”SORRY….sigh! All while the child thinks something along the lines of "i only said that because I had to...ugh!"

I cringe every time I feel the social pressure to rush my child and that apology or thank you process along because it’s expected to happen right away. Apologies, sharing, gratitude, these are processes, concepts children can learn naturally.  At home, we try not to force gratitude, sharing or apologies.  We model, wait and try to be understanding. 

The funny thing is, adults really expect children to patiently wait for oodles of things, and yet, how often do we fail to wait for a child to think about their actions, choices or words? 

A “delayed” or rather genuine "Thank You!" or apology somehow is so much sweeter and sincere! Just this past week my six year old randomly went up to handsome hubby and said “Papa, thank you for taking time to play with me last Friday, it was awesome!”  Yes, it was several days later but It was so genuine, so truthful, so very THANKFUL!

A few weeks ago I had written about how what we do and how we do things is often much louder than just the words we are using with our children. I think this is another example. Sure, we can prompt that thank you or that greeting but perhaps instead, remembering that we are our child’s role model is vastly more important than simply insisting they speak up the magic words.

Are you wondering what we do at the park, the store or on a play-date?  That is often a little tricky for us and I will talk about that next week. 

Peace & Be Well, 

Oh, are you forgetting something?? Did you like this post? What are you going to say???

Ariadne Brill is a certified positive discipline parenting educator. She has three children, loves chocolate and is passionate about helping parents and children create harmony at home. Find Ariadne on Facebook and at the positive parenting connection, a resource for gentle and positive parenting. 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Encouraging Creativity in Children

Written by Gennifer Albin

One of the most important things to me as a parent is encouraging my children to be creative, because within the creative spirit lies the path of self-directed learning and exploration. I strongly believe that learning is correlated to interest. For instance, how surprised would my science teachers from high school be to learn that I think it’s fun, if intimidating, to read about quantum mechanics now? Believe me, they would be very, very surprised. In high school, I thought science was boring.
Textbooks and lectures were boring. I wonder if a teacher had thought to approach science from a creative perspective, if my attitude might have been different. As a parent, I encourage creative pursuits in the hopes that my children will see the world from that different angle at an early age so that they want to explore and engage with a variety of topics and ideas.

There are three simple things we do in our home to inspire creativity in our children:

Image: San José Library on Flickr
1. READ! It’s such a simple thing, and we certainly hear about literacy and language development and reading all the time. But on a fundamental level, reading encourages creativity. We read a variety of books at home from nonfiction picture books to classic stories to middle grade novels, we try to let the kids choose the books and topics they are interested in.
2. DRAW! My favorite gift to give at birthday parties is art supplies. I don’t think kids can every have enough drawing paper, pencils, crayons, markers, or paint. My five year-old’s wall is covered in his artwork. He draws pictures from the stories he reads, but he’s also creating his own characters now, naming them, and telling us about them.
3. WRITE! It’s never too early to write stories with your kids. Ask them to recount their day and write a story or encourage them to write a story about a topic of their choice. You’d be amazed how coherent even a very young child’s story is. When he was 3, my son dictated a three page/ 3 line story with a complete story arc about a bubble to me. He drew the pictures and we stapled it together.
And of course, there is a lot of singing and dancing and general silliness in the Albin household.
I hope that as my children grow up they continue to look at the infinite possibility in the world, to dream a better world, and to live the life they imagine.

About the author

Gennifer Albin is a recovering academic who realized she could write books of her own and discovered, delightfully, that people would read them. She lives in Kansas with her family and writes full-time. Her debut novel, Crewel, the first in a trilogy, will be published in October 2012 by FSG/Macmillan.
You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook. She also blogs infrequently at and weekly at The League of Extraordinary Writers.
Thank you!


Friday, October 5, 2012

Choosing New Sports Shoes for Your Children

Content provided by Alex S. 

If your child is in a sport or even just active, he or she may need new sports shoes. Kids feet grow rather quickly especially between ages four and twelve when feet can grow a half size or more every six months or even faster. It is important for the growth and health of those young feet to choose the right shoes. But your child will probably also want shoes that are cute or cool as well.

Image: Caterha on Flickr
Before You Spend a Lot of Money
Because kid's feet grow so fast, it is important to show some restraint when choosing their shoes. You don't want to spend a lot of money on one pair of basketball shoes only to have to replace them a few months later, even before they have a chance to show wear.
If there are younger children it can be tempting to hand the shoes down, but that would be a mistake. Shoes set themselves to the foot's's specific morphology, and they are not the same for any two children. Moreover children's feet do not grow at the same rate, so the younger child may actually have the larger feet.
There are inexpensive shoes that last just as long and look good, so try to stick to those family budget friendly options.

Choosing the Right Size and Fit
A child's shoe should fit securely with about a thumb's width of space between the toes and the end of the shoe. There should be nothing that is pinching or hurting the child. Don't assume that the shoe will "stretch out" or get broken in and be okay because it is likely that they will cause blisters and pain before that ever happens.
A shoe made out of certain materials will not stretch out - like rubber or plastic - the fit it has will be the fit it will have, for the life of the shoe. Leather is a better material for shoes, as it breathes and sets itself to your child's foot. If your child has specific foot issues, it is best to seek the help of an associate who can give you advice about proper support and fit considerations.

Including Your Child in the Decision
While you are footing the bill for these shoes, your child is the one who will be wearing them. Make sure that they are included in choosing those shoes, at least to some degree. Set a budget before going to the store and discuss the kind of shoes that will and will not be allowed to be purchased that day.
If your child is playing a team sport, make sure that there are no requirements for style or color that must be adhered to. Some parents may choose to buy two pairs of sports shoes if they can afford them so that the team shoe can be kept for that sole purpose.

A plain shoe can be jazzed up inexpensively with cute laces. Laces can be changed to match outfits quickly and easily. Before you agree to plain white shoes, think about how your child cares for shoes and other items. If you know they will be filthy in a week, it might not be worth it. Plain black shoes can be boring, but will hide the dirt for far longer.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Babies Don't Spoil: Affection and Attachment Matter!

Long ago, a notion came about that babies could be spoiled by love. Parents were instructed to change, feed and interact with a baby in a detached manner…how sad to think about all the missed gazes, the gentle touches and magical moments. 
Thankfully, this notion of spoiling babies with love has long since been proven false, not just by mamas and papas that trusted their instinct but by science as well. 
Did you know that not only can you not spoil a baby with love but that the bond of love deepens as you actively care for your child? What an incredible thing love is!  Love, the nonverbal emotional connection between child and parent, the attachment bond, impacts the future mental, physical, and emotional health of a child. 
Current research tells us that babies that are shown and given more affection early in life  and have their needs met become more empathetic, better at self-regulation and better at understanding others later in life. 
Some wonderful ways to love babies?
Nourish with loving touch - My favorite memories with all three babies were those early morning feedings as the sun was coming up - all was still, all was well... Regardless if you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, gaze into your babies eyes, touch their skin softly, enjoy the still quiet moment together! 
Keep baby close to your heart - I loved baby wearing, it is an amazing way to connect with baby and it's practical too! The beat of our hearts is the most magical lullaby. 
Respond Tenderly- I used to love watching my little babies faces and the way they would crinkle up a certain way or another, coo and gently swat their hands to let me know what they needed.  The more you bond and connect with your baby the more you will recognize what your baby needs; feeding, changing, cuddling, a sweet song, a stroll in the fresh air. 

Babies really do biologically expect to have their needs met - this only makes them feel more secure, loved and wires their brain just right to grow up healthy and strong. So, go ahead, don't be afraid to pick up, comfort, love and meet your babies needs. 
Were you ever warned or scared that you would spoil your baby?

Ariadne Brill is a certified positive discipline parenting educator. She has three children, loves chocolate and is passionate about helping parents and children create harmony at home. Find Ariadne at the positive parenting connection, a resource for gentle and positive parenting. 


Connecting To Nature (rerun)

Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Growing in the Outdoors
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they encourage their children to connect with nature and dig in the dirt. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Many of the choices we have made in life were based on a desire to live more authentically, closer to nature and the nature of man. The decision to swap the stressed Belgian life for a relaxed lifestyle, staying home instead of working outside the home, and unschooling all brought us closer to the essence.
Finding a pace of life that is guided by the rising of the sun, the following of the seasons, and the weather conditions made us more connected, to ourselves and as a family.

Something I find very important is for my daughter to be connected to the things in everyday life. To know them, so they’re just a part of her. Like where the food comes from, how her clothes are made... so she may take nothing in life for granted, but also find a great joy in the little things.

One thing we have done to establish this connection to nature and life is try to cultivate our own vegetables I have this far-fetched dream of being self-sufficient, but we’re not nearly there.
Our first efforts started in Cameroon before the little one was born, but had little result, as we had a huge problem of theft and bad soil. After her birth (we had moved again) we gave up until we moved yet another time - to Ivory Coast. Here we did our first real attempts to have a vegetable patch that could sustain us for a big part, or at least fill the days where we didn’t have access to fresh vegetables. So we successfully grew lettuce, cucumbers, spinach, celery, leeks, zucchini and aubergines. The daughter always tagged along to pick some basil or chives, to water the seedlings, or to thin out the young sprouts.

Upon arrival here in DR Congo, there was already a vegetable garden, as vegetables are scarce and very expensive, so here, being self-sufficient isn’t just a dream of folly, but a necessity.
However the vegetable garden wasn’t continuously replanted, so we put our shoulders under it and started sowing.
We eat nearly daily from the garden, and each time, I pick the vegetables with the little one. She loves to carry the basket while I pick the ripe beans or aubergines. She did some sowing with the two young guys who also live in the communal house with us and loved getting her hands dirty to tuck the little grains away. She single handedly planted some passion fruit cuttings and three pumpkin plants.

As a little side note: we do have gardeners to help us take on this tremendous job. When my daughter does the planting, she goes with one of them (I am there too, but I just let them play), who is really gentle and sweet and explains her each step he takes to her.

You don’t need a lot of space to cultivate some of your own vegetables, and you don’t need to aim for self-sufficiency immediately either. A few pots in the kitchen can harbor herbs, a pot on your terrace can grow a little shrub. Just being around these home grown vegetables and herbs and fruits will make you and your child reconnect with the basics.
Even if your child is still really small, they can be a part of the sowing and harvesting, albeit in a carrier.

If a child sees the care it takes to grow a vegetable and takes pleasure in helping it grow, battles over eating your greens will diminish. It is when there is no connection between the person and the earth that we are wasteful and lack gratitude.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Get Out!Momma Jorje gives reasons she doesn't think she gets outside enough and asks for your suggestions on making time for the outdoors.
  • How Does Your Garden Grow?The ArtsyMama shares her love of nature photography.
  • We Go Outside — Amy at Peace 4 Parents describes her family's simple, experiential approach to encouraging appreciation of nature.
  • My Not-So-Green Thumb — Wolfmother confesses to her lack of gardening skills but expresses hope in learning alongside her son at Fabulous Mama Chronicles.
  • Enjoying Outdoors — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine describes how her children enjoy the nature.
  • Five Ideas to Encourage the Reluctant Junior Gardener — For the rare little ones who don't like to get their hands dirty, Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers tips for encouraging an early love of dirt (despite the mess).
  • Connecting to NatureMamapoekie shares how growing your own vegetable patch connects your child to nature and urges them to not take anything for granted.
  • The Farmer's Market Classroom — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction shares how the Farmer's Market has become her son's classroom.
  • Seeds — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment's hubby Ken shares his perspective on why gardening with their kiddos is so important . . . and enjoyable!
  • Toddlers in the Garden — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares her excitement as she continues to introduce her toddler and new baby to the joys of fresh veggies, straight from the garden.
  • Nature's Weave — MJ at Wander Wonder Discover explains how nature weaves its way into our lives naturally, magnetically, experientially, and spiritually.
  • Becoming Green — Kristina at Hey Red celebrates and nurtures her daughter's blossoming love of the outdoors.
  • Little Gardener — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis looks forward to introducing her baby girl to gardening and exploring home grown foods for the first time.
  • Cultivating Abundance — You can never be poor if you have a garden! Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on what she cultivates in her garden . . . and finds it's a lot more than seeds!
  • Growing in the Outdoors: Plants and People — Luschka at Diary of a First Child reflects on how she is growing while teaching her daughter to appreciate nature, the origins of food, and the many benefits of eating home-grown.
  • How Not to Grow — Anna at Wild Parenting discusses why growing vegetables fills her with fear.
  • Growing in the Outdoors — Lily at Witch Mom Blog talks about how connecting to the natural world is a matter of theology for her family and the ways that they do it.
  • A Garden Made of Straw — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares tips on making a straw bale garden.
  • The Tradition of Gardening — Carrie at Love Notes Mama reflects on the gifts that come with the tradition of gardening.
  • Gardening Smells Like Home — Bethy at Bounce Me to the Moon hopes that her son will associate home grown food and lovely flowers with home.
  • The New Normal — Patti at Jazzy Mama writes about how she hopes that growing vegetables in a big city will become totally normal for her children's generation.
  • Outside, With You — Amy at Anktangle writes a letter to her son, a snapshot of a moment in the garden together.
  • Farmer Boy — Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares how her son Joshua helps to grow and raise their family's food.
  • Growing Kids in the Garden — Lisa at Granola Catholic shares easy ways to get your kids involved in the garden.
  • Growing Food Without a Garden — Don't have a garden? "You can still grow food!" says Mrs Green of Little Green Blog. Whatever the size of your plot, she shows you how.
  • Growing Things — Liz at Garden Variety Mama shares her reasons for gardening with her kids, even though she has no idea what she's doing.
  • MomentsUK Mummy Blogger explains how the great outdoors provides a backdrop for her family to reconnect.
  • Condo Kid Turns Composter and Plastic Police — Jessica from Cloth Diapering Mama has discovered that her young son is a true earth lover despite living in a condo with no land to call their own.
  • Gardening with Baby — Sheila at A Gift Universe shows us how her garden and her son are growing.
  • Why to Choose Your Local Farmer's MarketNaturally Nena shares why she believes it's important to teach our children the value of local farmers.
  • Unfolding into Nature — At Crunchy-Chewy Mama, Jessica Claire shares her desire to cultivate a reverence for nature through gardening, buying local food, and just looking out the window.
  • Urban Gardening With Kids — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares her strategies for city gardening with little helpers — without a yard but with a whole lot of enthusiasm.
  • Mama Doesn't Garden — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life is glad her husband is there to instill the joys of gardening in their children, while all she has to do is sit back and eat homegrown tomato sandwiches.
  • Why We Make this Organic Garden Grow — Brenna at Almost All The Truth shares her reasons for gardening with her three small children.
  • 5 Ways to Help Your Baby Develop a Love of the Natural World — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama believes it's never too early to foster a love of the natural world in your little one.
  • April Showers Bring May PRODUCE — Erika at NaMammaSte discusses her plans for raising a little gardener.
  • Growing Outside — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers how to get her kids outside after weeks of spring rain.
  • Eating Healthier — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey talks about how she learns to eat healthier and encourages her children to do the same.
  • The Beauty of Earth and Heavens — Inspired by Charlotte Mason, Erica at ChildOrganics discovers nature in her own front yard.
  • Seeing the Garden Through the Weeds — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro talks about the challenges of gardening with two small children.
  • Creating a Living Playhouse: Our Bean Teepee! — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares how her family creates a living playhouse "bean teepee" and includes tips of how to involve kids in gardening projects.
  • Grooming a Tree-Hugger: Introducing the Outdoors — Ana at Pandamoly shares some of her planned strategies for making this spring and summer memorable and productive for her pre-toddler in the Outdoors.
  • Sowing Seeds of Life and Love — Suzannah at ShoutLaughLove celebrates the simple joys of baby chicks, community gardening, and a semi-charmed country life.
  • Experiencing Nature and Growing Plants Outdoors Without a Garden — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares some of her favorite ways her family discovered to fully experience nature wherever they lived.
  • Garden Day — Melissa at The New Mommy Files is thankful to be part of community of families, some of whom can even garden!
  • Teaching Garden Ettiquette to the Locusts — Tashmica from Mother Flippin' (guest posting at Natural Parents Network) allows her children to ravage her garden every year in the hopes of teaching them a greater lesson about how to treat the world.
  • Why I Play with Worms. — Megan of Megadoula, Megamom and Megatired shares why growing a garden and raising her children go hand in hand.