Google+ Authentic Parenting: April 2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Gentle Discipline? Or Something Else? (rerun)

No matter how I turned it, the term gentle discipline always felt wrong to me. That's why I never had a label for it and just stuck with peacefull parenting.
Somehow, peaceful parenting seemed to sit better with me and would cover a much bigger array of things I talked about.
I often felt uncomfortable at the kind of topics that were discussed under the term, things I didn't endorse, ways of tricking the child into doing what you want them to do.

During a discussion on one of my unschooling groups I had an epiphany. It is actually the word discipline in 'gentle discipline' that did not sound right to me. Discipline means to teach, and as you might know, we unschoolers do not try to teach, we want to have our children learn naturally.
Discipline is about cooperation,in exactum, your child cooperating with you, which is leaps away in the right direction when you come from a punitive parenting system, but peaceful parenting is about collaboration, and this is quite some steps away from gentle discipline still.

In many of these post I have written about alledged Gentle Discipline, I came to the constatations that it was more about changing your way of thinking about things and following your child then it was about finding these tips and tricks to convey them.

It's not about clever ways to not have your kid walk on the table, or finding fun ways to have him brush his teetch when he doesn't want to. It's about having your children discover what they want/feel/need to do in these situations, instead of imposing things on them.


Friday, April 27, 2012

10 Steps to Cleaner Indoor Air

Did you know the air we breathe in our houses is among the most polluted? Surely we should be safe in our homes instead of being slowly poisoned! Yet our indoor air is laden with charged particles, formaldehyde and lots of other nasties.
But all is not lost! With a few simple things we can improve our indoor air greatly.

  1. Air out your house everyday for 15 minutes. This is a really simple step that can greatly improve the air in your home. Make a routine of it throughout the year.
  2. Remove your shoes at the door. Why would your shoes have anything to do with the quality of your air? Quite a lot. We bring lots of toxins in our house with our shoes. Walking through the dirt we leave on the floor makes those particles airborne and spreads them across our houses. Leaving them at the door is yet another simple gesture that makes our houses healthier. Invite guests to do the same. Organize a little shelf for shoes and leave extra slippers to use indoors.
  3. Use only natural cleaning agents. Toss out all toxic cleaners and replace them with natural alternatives. You can even consider making your own cleaning products with simple, natural and cheap products like lemon, baking soda and vinegar.
  4. Get air-cleansing plants. Many plants can act as natural air cleaners, absorbing the pollution in your home.
  5. Use as little electronic devices as possible, and if you do, pull out the plug after use. Electronic appliances charge the air, they also charge micro particles in the air, like bacteria, who then get more easily attached to your lungs after inhaling them.
  6. Get a salt lamp. Salt lamps deionize your air, give a nice light and are not very expensive. These are very useful in areas where you have a lot of electronic devices, like living room and kitchen.
  7. Use only organic fabrics in your house. I have to stress organic, because often with fabrics, natural doesn’t cut it. Cotton is known to be one of the crops most polluted with pesticides, so if you have plain cotton in your rooms, they are breathing out these pesticides on a daily basis.
  8. Remove all plastics. Plastics are a petrochemical derivative and they breathe loads of toxins into your home, especially if they are heated, or standing in the sun. For most plastic a non-toxic alternative exists.
  9. Replace fiberboard and veneer furniture with hardwood. Fiberboard and veneer are made with toxic glues. One can argue that this type of furniture is a lot cheaper than its wood counterpart, but if money is an issue, there are lots of secondhand stores selling natural wood furniture for a nickel and a dime.
  10. Don’t burn candles, and if you do, buy natural candles with an all cotton wick. Candles not only release soot in your air, many of them have a lead wick. Especially commercial scented candles contain a lot of nasties.

Is indoor air something you are concerned about? What do you do to have a healthy home?

Visit 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:

  • Jardin, Our Garden y Learning to Reciclar — Florecita at Florecita Growing Up intertwines family traditions with gardening and green living in a way that engages her 7yr old, 4yr old and 2yr old.
  • Nature Love — Alice Griffin Writings from the Wherever shares musings from a walk in the countryside with her young daughter and her hopes that by seeking out this closeness to nature, it will help her daughter to appreciate and care for the earth.
  • Online Green Resources For Children (and Parents Too) — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama links to several great online resources which help children learn about the importance of treating mother earth with love and respect.
  • Finding Nature in the City — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares simple ideas for celebrating nature with your children -- even in the city.
  • Get Green Quick: Goes Wrong — Megan at The Other Baby Blog writes humorously about her (failed) attempts to switch to natural cat litter.
  • Celebrating the Birds — Carrie at Love Notes Mama shares a dozen bird-lovin' ideas for you and your budding bird enthusiast.
  • 10 Steps to Cleaner Indoor Air  — Laura at Authentic Parenting gives a few simple tips t green up the air we breathe inside our homes.
  • Are Big Families Really the "New Green"?  — Michelle @ Grateful Moms of Many wonders how - and if - the tales our children hear influence their future
  • Toddler and Preschoolers Learning To Go Green: Six Ideas That Foster Respect for the Earth -- Mudpiemama from The Positive Parenting Connection shares six ideas for toddlers and preschoolers to learn about the importance of respecting the Earth.
  • Taking Responsibility for Our Food -- After noticing a disconnect regarding her children's view of food, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children made it a goal for her family to work toward taking reposnibility for their own food and to live more sustainably.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Surviving Your Child’s First Trip to the Hospital

Written by Glori Surban

Image: Artangelo on Flickr
You feel yourself freeze as you stand there. The white walls had become synonymous with wails and whimpers of babies and children, and the fast-paced walk of people in colorful scrubs had become dizzying. You hold your breath for a minute in a futile effort to stop yourself from smelling the strong odor of antiseptic permeating the air. You put up a brave front as you struggle to fight the war waging inside you. You hold your little one as his warm body snuggles close. Your baby is sick and you feel powerless. 
Although not all parents experience this the same way, that first hospital trip (and stay) can be daunting and scary for first-time moms and dads. The fear of the unknown is enough to weaken the strongest of us. But this does not mean you cannot prepare for it. 

Get help to get there. 
Bring along your partner, a friend, or a grandparent. Another adult who can help you deal with the situation through moral support or simply someone who can get you to the hospital. Having a trusted person by your side will help keep you sane and focused, and even get you that steaming cup of coffee when you need it. 

Answer and ask all the necessary questions. 
It is your right and obligation not only to answer all the questions that the doctor will ask but also to ask all the vital questions. There is no better way to help your child than by cooperating with those trying to help. Assert and keep yourself informed of your child’s condition and never hesitate to ask about things you don’t understand. 

Stay with your child. 
Hospitals will seem like another planet for your child, and the sight of nurses, doctors, injections and other “alien” technology may scare them, so you need to be there with your little one. Reassure your child the best way you know how so you can make simple procedures such as temperature-taking easier. If hospitalization is necessary, ask about visitation hours or whether you can stay overnight if you can. 

Get your parenting gear ready. 
Ready a baby bag. No one can predict when you need to rush your baby or child to the hospital. Just as you prepared a maternity bag for the delivery, prepare a baby bag for situations like these. Stock it with a warm blanket, extra baby clothes, a feeding bottle or two, and all the other baby (or kid) necessities. You can even put in toys or books to keep your child entertained when hospitalization is necessary. We know children get bored easily, and this can distract their attention from playing with whatever hospital equipment is at their bedside. 
Keep your phone with you. In the haste to get to the ER, you may forget what could be your only mode of communication, so keep this gadget in your pocket or your bag. As scared as you might be, you need to call people: the boss, the insurance company, and the school. 
Prepare health insurance papers and extra money. Be sure that the necessary papers are always ready and that you have cash or credit with you. Preparing these things even when they are not needed will save you a world of trouble and worry. 

Most importantly, remember yourself.
Eat, rest, sleep, and accept help. Do not forget that you also have to take care of yourself. You will be of no use to your child or your family if you’re sick too. You are just as important

Hopefully, no child will have to go through a bad first hospitalization experience, and if hospitalization is inevitable, you can do something to make it a more positive experience. As with everything else in the parenting world, being calm and ready will help you and your child get through almost anything. 

About the author
Glori Surban is a nurse, and a freelance writer, who has met her fair share of hysterical and confused moms as they bring their children to the ER. She hopes that she can share information that will empower parents, especially the first-time ones, in times of need. She is passionate about discovering and learning more about her introverted personality in her blog, Crazy Introvert, and hopes that in doing so, she will be of more help to those around her.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How to discuss menstruation with your daughter (or son)

written by DeAnna L'am ~

This post is written as a follow up on the guest post DeAnna has written about welcoming girls into womanhood. Menstruation is such a taboo in our society and are hidden under a veil of shame and myth, yet they are a big part of what make us women and should be discussed properly. Many parents shy away form this topic, or cannot find the words. If you want to share your approach to your children's coming of age, or your own experiences with your first period (or, if you are a man, you thoughts on this subject), please email your story to me.

“This is my Moon Flow,” I said to Ellah, who was about 4 at the time, when she saw me changing a pad. I never saw my Mom changing pads, and hence committed to not hiding my natural flow from my daughter. Without my flow, my girl would not have been born… How could this be anything but a source of joy in my ability to give birth? An ability she will one day share!
“All women flow with the moon,” I added, “and you, too, will flow when you become a woman.” Ellah smiled with the promise, and at four years of age this was enough. I didn’t refer to the flow as “blood” until much later, since I didn’t want Ellah to associate it with an “Ouwy.” The purpose with young children, both girls and boys, is to introduce, and talk about, this natural bodily function in the same neutral way as you do when talking about eating. Gradually, as the child matures, it is good to tie the flow to its purpose, which is a woman’s ability to give life.
If you find that you have some charge about your menstruation (such as physical or emotional pain) it is best not to introduce the subject to your child until you work through your difficulty and gain some balance for yourself.
Generally, it is best not to bombard children with information, but to wait for their questions. When Ellah was about seven, she asked me where does the Moon Flow come from? My answer was inspired by the Waldorf educational approach, and I explained that the Moon Flow is “Mom’s Nest.”
“Mommy’s Nest???” she asked in amazement.
“Yes,” I said. “When a Mama bird prepares for a baby bird to be born, she makes a nest. She flies in the forest and collects leaves, feathers, boughs, branches, and bits of fluff, and she weaves a nest for the baby bird to comfortably lie in.”
“Well…” I continued, “it’s the same with me. And with all women! Every month a woman’s body prepares a nest in her tummy, where a baby can grow. Her wise body gathers tissue and blood from inside her, and makes a warm and comfortable nest. Then, if no baby starts to grow, there is no need for the nest. So Mamma’s wise body sends the nest out in a big whoosh. That’s why the flow is red, because it’s made of all the good, nourishing blood that was ready to help the baby grow.”
“Every month,” I shared with my daughter, “I thank my body for being such a miracle, and for knowing how to make a baby grow inside… I also thank it for the wisdom of letting go of the nest, when I don’t need it…” Ellah was fully satisfied. She had a clear picture in her mind, and the Moon Flow made sense to her.
Telling your child a story of this nature doesn’t only encapsulate the physical facts associated with menstruation. It allows you to start instilling the awe, which our bodies deserve for their amazing abilities. Beyond that, you are actively bucking the cultural current of taboo and shame around menstruation. You are raising a girl or a boy who will have a different narrative with which to counter the cultural beliefs when they encounter them.

photo credit: madamepsychosis via photopin cc

© 2010, DeAnna L’am, Red Moon ~ Cycles of Women’s Wisdom 

DeAnna L’am, (B.A.) speaker, coach, and consultant, is author of Becoming Peers – Mentoring Girls Into Womanhood. Her pioneering work has been transforming women’s & girls' lives around the world, for over 20 years. DeAnna specializes in enriching women's lives at any age, helps Moms develop ease & confidence about their girl's puberty, and inspires them to become conscious role models for their girls. Visit her at:

Red Moon ~ Cycles of Women's Wisdom™
Tel. 707.823.5659
P.O. Box 1251, 
Sebastopol, CA 95473


Quote of the Day

“Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people 

walk on it, the road comes into existence.”—Lin Yutang


Monday, April 23, 2012

Authentic Parent, Inauthentic Birth?

After having published my daughters birth story at her second birthday, a reader commented on Authentic Parenting's Facebook page that it was rather odd that I had an induction with AROM at a hospital. Even though that remark dates from almost a year ago, I think it would be a good thing to respond.

First of all, I haven't always been where I am right now. Parenting, to me, is pretty much a journey of self reflection and change. And inevitable on that journey, I have made mistakes, and have had to try again. That's precisely the reason why I call my daughter the trial and error child.
I have met inspiring people online who have changed my path, I have come to life-altering conclusions and I have read things that overthrew everything I believed before, like the idea of unschooling.
I am pretty much an entirely different person than who I was before I got pregnant. But of course the grain was there already.

I always wanted a natural birth for my daughter. Although at that time a homebirth was a bridge too far, I was thinking birth center. I never liked hospitals anyway and the image I had in my mind of a cold, steel and electronics filled room didn't suit me.
Being expats, we had no home of our own at the time of our daughters birth (we came to stay with our parents in Belgium when it was time to birth), so homebirth wasn't in my realm of options anyway (that I could think of). So my husband bullied me into having a hospital birth at the hospital where his mom works because it was 'so much easier'. I think it was mainly easier on his mind.  This ended up in me having an induction and having the stranded beetle.

This is painful and frustrating for me because I know all too much that I will never get to birth my daughter again.

Image: Lars Plougman
And it's so much worse because I knew... I knew all too well that I didn't want to birth in a hospital and that I didn't want to lay on my back. That I didn't want an induction. I cried throughout that pregnancy because they made me feel like shit and they said I had no other options. I allowed myself to be bullied by my husband, my family and my doctors. And in the end I just got a 'don't complain, you're baby is perfect'. Such a cliché.

Yes I did feel powerful after having birthed my child, and I loved her at once and I wanted to do it over and over again, despite all the things that didn't go my way... But the problem is that they shouldn't have gone that way. There were options.
I feel like I was this sheep being brought to the sacrifice beam...
And nobody stands up for me...

I told my husband everything I didn't want. Over and over again. Even before I was pregnant, but he says he was overwhelmed. He never reacted.

I took all this because I wasn't informed enough, I wasn't strong enough, I couldn't stand up for myself and I didn't have anyone to back me up. I seriously suffered from the good patient syndrome and I certainly liked the attention of a 'high risk' pregnancy. I know I am only partly to blame, and I have to forgive myself for it.

If anything, having gone through the process myself makes me understand that it is useless to judge people for making poor choices. There are so many things in play that sometimes bad choices are inevitable, especially when (you trick yourself into thinking you) have no choice at all.
I wished we lived in a world where we got the right guidance, where our options were clear and we were handed the tools to make those choices... so far, we are not there yet.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Four Ways to Resist Using Punishment in the Face of Misbehaviour

When faced with a misbehaving child, do you ever find it hard to choose the gentler, non-punitive approach to address the situation? Do you feel torn and pulled between what you read about and what your instincts or experience lead you to think is the right thing to do?

Perhaps you have wondered at some point if this non-punitive stuff will actually get the right message across or if it’s just the new hip thing to read about and then feel guilty over when it does’t play out like it was supposed to. You may wonder if your children are really going to learn about not hitting siblings if all they are encouraged to do is to go cool down.

Can children really learn without some artificial consequence like no TV privileges because they interrupted an important phone call you had to make? Can a child learn without being spanked after they have just purposely knocked down their little brother? I will not pretend to have a magic ball, but researchers have looked at this extensively and they say yes! Children are more than capable of becoming resilient, sociable, well adjusted, polite, happy beings that distinguish right from wrong without punishment.

So what’s a parent to do to override the sometimes automatic, sometimes ingrained idea that punishment must be the thing to do? Here are four steps that may help:

1. Separate child and behavior: Remember that what is undesirable is the behavior you are dealing with not your actual child. Making your child feel bad is not really going to motivate them to change – it’s going to make them…feel bad! Focus on all the positive qualities your child has and use them to find a way to overcome the behavior.

2. Examine your intent: Before making a decision on how to handle the situation at hand, ask yourself if you are hoping your child will learn something from the experience or if you somehow wish to make them feel ashamed, bad, show them who’s boss or if you want to get even. Many of us grew up in such a culture that punishment for doing something less than desirable was the norm. It’s difficult to separate those feelings now as adults. Acknowledging that we might be trying to do what was done to us is a really important step in order to move forward.

3. Cool down: The misbehavior has happened, you cannot make your child jump back in time to un-break the vase or un-say the bad words in front of auntie Sally…You do however have the choice to cool off before you address the situation. Provided everyone is safe, if you need to take a breather, say so and follow through. Not only does this model self-control, a vital tool for your children, it helps you get back to rational mode. When you are cool and calm, you can think of how to address the behavior, how to meet the need your child is experiencing and how to approach the situation so actual learning and re-connecting can take place.

4. Let go of the fear: Many parents say they need to punish so they know the message is getting across, not just to their kids but to those around them. Many parents are also afraid that if they don’t punish misbehaviors, their child will never learn. Research tells us otherwise: Children do not learn long term lessons from punishment. You can read more on that herehere…and…here!

You are not failing your child when you choose to go down a more gentle path. You are not failing as a parent when you don't punish and instead trust your child and learn to trust yourself that connection and learning will take place when the time is right. Usually that time is when everyone I calm and connected not in the heat of the moment.

So, how do YOU deal with that moment when you must make a choice on how to handle misbehavior? Do you usually react and regret it or do you cool down and connect before correcting? What is working for you? Please share your thoughts!

Peace & Be Well,

Like what you are reading? Do come join the growing community over at Positive Parenting Connection on Facebook for daily ideas, inspiration and resources!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Your Natural Kitchen Apothecary

Whenever possible, my family prefers natural cures over mainstream medicine. Over the years I have learned that I can relieve a great deal of illnesses without having to buy anything but the things I have in my home. You would be amazed how many natural medicines your kitchen harbors, so here goes: a list of everyday foods and spices that have healing powers, what they’re good for and how to use them.


Image: Alexandre Dulaunoy on Flickr
There’s probably several of these lying around in every family kitchen, and they’re useful indeed.
  • Ear infection: a roughly chopped onion wrapped in a handkerchief, tucked behind the ear will take the pain away in no time
  • Cough: Make an easy cough syrup by steeping a diced onion in honey overnight. Eat the honey one tablespoon at a time.
  • The daily consumption of onions helps your veins retain elasticity. Great prevention for varicose veins in pregnancy.
  • Onions also lower blood pressure. For the best effect, consume large quantities raw.
  • Onions reduce blood sugar
  • Bruised onions applied to burns and scalds accelerates healing.

Garlic is nature’s antibiotic. Instead of what’s generally assumed, garlic does not loose all of its healing qualities with cooking. It is anti-fungal and anti-bacterial and lowers blood pressure.
  • A clove of garlic up the vagina will ward off vaginal infection. This also works as a preventative measure and as a cure against GBS.
  • Garlic oil is probably the easiest way to ingest large quantities of raw garlic: just chop up some cloves of garlic and cover in olive oil, then use as a dip, marinade or dressing.
Because of its astringent and antiseptic qualities.
  • In the Far East, cinnamon powder is sprinkled on open wound to dry them and disinfect. I tried this when my daughter had scraped her lip and nose, which didn’t seemed to want to dry out because of the placement of the wound, and in one night, the wound was dry and a nice crust had formed.
Honey is another one of nature’s healing gems
  • Burns: Honey is used in special infused bandages in burn units. Smearing a burn wound with honey will speed up healing and prevent scarring.
Ginger works well against nausea and can be drunk as a tea or chewed on. Sugared ginger for the latter is a cheap and delicious option. ginger is also a recommended warming herb against any cold and flu type illness.

Thyme Thyme works particularly well as an antibiotic in cases of bronchitis. For medicinal use, wild thyme is preferred, but by lack of the wild variety, the kitchen variety will do.
  • A thyme compress on the head gives some relief in case of fever.
It’s well known that lemons are nature’s little bomb of vitamin C, but did you know that lemons are also anti-fat, anti bacterial, anti-histamine, anti-infective, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory? And above all that readily available and cheap!
  • You can make a lovely decongesting tea for cold type illnesses with lemon juice, half a teaspoon of grated ginger root and a spoonful of honey.
  • A lemon gargle relieves sore throats.
Be careful that lemon juice does not come into direct contact with your teeth, as it destroys the enamel.

  • A handful of rock salt, heated in a skillet until burning hot and wrapped in a piece of cloth makes a great pain relieving compress for ear infections
  • A teaspoon of salt diluted in lukewarm water is an effective gargle for a sore throat
Image: The Delicious Life on Flickr
  • Raw cabbage leafs relieve sore, engorged breasts.
  • Ironed cabbage leaf applied on the sore ligaments would also help against pains of rheumatism or arthritis.
Be careful when consuming anything in the cabbage family when nursing, as these greens may produce intestinal gas in your baby and cause colic.

Apple Cider Vinegar
  • To avoid convulsion in a feverish child, dip a pair of sock in a mixture of half water, half apple cider vinegar, wring and put on his feet. Put a pair of dry socks on top. This will steadily get the fever down.
  • To quickly plummet a fever, put your child in a lukewarm bath with one cup of apple cider vinegar.
If you are using every day foods and spices to heal, you’ll quickly realize that there’s a big interest in buying them as natural and organic as possible, or growing them yourself. Once you’ve tried and tasted the organic varieties, you’ll see they are much higher in taste - and in medicinal quality.

A Comprehensive Guide to Herbs And Breastfeeding. Earth Mama Angel Baby
Rosalee de la Forêt Healing Herbs e-Book.
Bartram T. Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. London, 1998.
Gladstar R. Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health. 2008
Weed S.S. Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year. 1986



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Giveaway: Poetry of a Hobo Mama - 7 Winners! {4.30; Worldwide}

This is a group giveaway with Hobo Mama, Living Peacefully With Children, Authentic Parenting, Up, Down & Natural, Code Name: Mama, Positive Parenting Connection, and I Thought I Knew Mama. Please enter at one site only. Find the section marked "Win it!" for the mandatory entry and optional bonus entries.

Poetry of a Hobo Mama: The First Three YearsIn honor of April's National Poetry Month, Lauren Wayne of Hobo Mama is offering a giveaway of SEVEN copies of her poetry book, Poetry of a Hobo Mama: The First Three Years. Each copy retails for $11.99, so the combined value of this giveaway is $72!

Poetry of a Hobo Mama is a collection of poems by Lauren Wayne, inspired by the initial three years of parenting her firstborn son, Mikko.

About the book

I sling my baby like a bindle on my back,
tramping along the tracks
countless feet have worn before.

Poetry of a Hobo Mama contains three years' worth of parenting poetry, written from the time Lauren and her husband, Sam, were preparing for Mikko, through watching him grow to three years old. She has included poems that speak of their natural parenting journey — breastfeeding, the family bed, elimination communication, and natural birth among them.

The book is a combination of free verse and more traditional poetry forms, and the topics and tone run through all the variations the poet felt when writing them: the grief of miscarriage, the anticipation of trying to conceive, the upheaval of the newborn months, the joy of parenting, and the balance of motherhood with personal passion.

Until you move away

Pillow hog and space eater,
chubby legs kicking my thighs.
Starfish hands pushing my chest
and unh unh unh in the darkness
until I roll over and let you feed.
Dream interrupter, devourer of sleep,
you take while I wait
until you move away.

Lap hog and attention seeker,
sturdy body invading my space.
Starfish hand pulling my chin
to meet your gray-green eyes,
your chatter about octopi.
Poem interrupter, devourer of time,
you talk while I wait
until you move away.

Imagining a night with full sleep,
imagining a day with concentration,
uninterrupted, unrelenting,
Dreading the day
you move away.

My review

Lauren Wayne, who we all know and love through her writings on Hobo Mama, released a poetry book about the first three years of parenting, a selection of poems she has written from 2007 to 2010. I was delighted to do a review and rightly so.

Her book guides us from miscarriage, onto birth and into parenting, with the full scale of emotions it brings. And emotional it is, her poetry. I was often brought to tears, only to suppress a giggle at the next page. From pumping, to PPD, to renewed fertility, Lauren shuns no topic.

This is poetry straight from the heart, with all the flaws and failure, all the successes and joys parenting brings. Sometimes raw and crude, other times gentle and loving, but always recognizable.

This poetry book makes you feel less alone in this often confusing journey.

About the author

Lauren WayneLauren Wayne lives and writes in the Pacific Northwestern USA, with her husband, Sam, and their two sweet boys: four-year-old Mikko (almost five, he would tell you!) and ten-month-old baby Alrik (who persistently makes the concerned face you see in the picture at right). She has been writing and publishing poetry for twenty-five years, but parenting has added even more inspiration. Poetry allows her to be honest about her emotional journey and to show an image, pin down a feeling, in a way that other writing does not.

Lauren blogs at Hobo Mama about natural and attachment parenting, and gives a behind-the-scenes look at writing at She co-hosts the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting and is a cofounder of Natural Parents Network, a site that brings together attachment parents interested in a natural lifestyle.

Lauren and Mikko grace the book's cover — that's Lauren and Mikko breastfeeding in public on a Seattle beach when Mikko was just a few months old.


You can purchase your own copy of Poetry of a Hobo Mama at Amazon and CreateSpace. It's available internationally and on Kindle through Amazon. The list price is $11.99 for the paperback and $9.99 for the ebook.

Just for our readers, Lauren is offering a 20% discount on all book orders through CreateSpace only. (Amazon unfortunately won't allow coupon codes.) Enter code SAP84AYJ during the ordering process.


For your own chance to win one of seven copies of Poetry of a Hobo Mama, enter by leaving a comment and using the Rafflecopter system below.

Contest is open WORLDWIDE.

MANDATORY ENTRY: Share one of your favorite parenting moments.

We will draw one winner for each blog, so we'll also ask which blog you're entering from.

Leave a valid email address so we can contact you if you win. Email addresses in Rafflecopter are not made publicly visible. Please leave the same valid email address in your mandatory comment so we can verify entries.

Since this is a joint giveaway, the Rafflecopter form is the same across each site. You may enter at one site only, but please do visit and enjoy all the sites!

See the Rafflecopter entry system for bonus entries to increase your chance of winning after completing the mandatory entry. All bonus entries are entered into Rafflecopter. Give it a try, and email or leave a comment if you have any questions!


Zoe & Sprout Review and Giveaway (US/Can)

Zoe and Sprout are an online retailer of printed shirts and onesies, for toddlers and babies. All of their products are made in the USA and they also carry a nice selection of organic printed items.

We received a Black sleeved Big Sis Longsleeve to review. My daughter was absolutely delighted with a garment that stated her newly acquired position in our family! The shirt is really good quality: she wears it every time it comes out of the wash, and it still does not show any signs of wear. The “Big Sis” print is a very cute design, with bright pink lettering and a little bow over the I.

The printed longsleeve T-shirt is sold for 21USD

Zoe and Sprout are offering a T-shirt or onesie of your choice to one winner. This contest is open to US and Canadian residents.
To win a shirt or onesie of your choice, enter our Rafflecopter system. Make sure to leave a valid email address, so you can be contacted in case you win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Monday, April 16, 2012

How to Deal with Teen Smoking

written by Pasha Lubeck

A lot of people start smoking in their teens. There are a number of causes; peer pressure, stress, and the desire to be “cool” are among the most common. It certainly doesn’t help that a number of tobacco companies seem to target young smokers in their marketing campaigns, making cigarettes highly desirable for plenty of reasons. There's also the fact that sound substance abuse education ideas sometimes fail to reach these kids. Teens can sometimes get into the habit simply because they’re surrounded by it.

What should parents do to prevent or deal with their teen’s smoking habit? Here are a few helpful tips to keep teenagers away from the temptations of tobacco:

• It might seem disconnected, but parents need to assure their teens of their love and support. There may be setbacks, bumps, or hurdles along the way, but this must remain constant. Without the support and structure that parents provide, adolescents are more likely to give in to smoking and other risky behaviors.

• Learn the reasons why teens smoke or start smoking, so you can address the root and discourage the habit. Is it peer pressure? Most teens or children start smoking because it was offered to them by a friend. Teens have to realize that they shouldn’t feel pressured to do something. Immaturity and insecurity are often the foundation of giving in to peer pressure—it’s connected to the motivation to smoke because it looks good, cool, or grown-up. Tell your teens it’s cooler to simply be yourself.

• Avoid judging your teen if you discover that they have a hidden smoking habit or continue to fall again into the habit. This will only justify the behavior in her eyes. It will be a cause for rebellion or isolation. Address it in a calm manner instead: for instance, ask her about the cigarettes you found. If she lies or is rude, remain calm and work toward finding the root of the problem. Losing your temper will only cause your teen to retreat into rebellious behavior.

• Help your teen realize she doesn’t need it to feel better or to function normally. Any form of addiction is simply your body thinking it’s dependent on a substance like nicotine to survive, which is what makes it hard to quit. If your teen can stay away from cigarettes for a prolonged period of time, she’ll learn that she can get along just fine without smoking.

• A teen who smokes should realize that smoking is just plain dangerous because of what it does to the body. Media is just as much to blame for giving an attractive image to smoking. Use media this time to do the opposite. With a language of openness and acceptance, your teen wouldn’t mind watching a documentary with you about the harmful effects of smoking. The trick is to find something that isn’t too preachy. There are many well-made and entertaining documentaries and even fictional movies like The Insider that address smoking as a health hazard.

Even better, have a chat with your teen about the effects of smoking on the human body. Not only will it create that important personal connection with your child, but it also establishes you as a reliable contact person for life matters. Use this as an opportunity to build trust between you and your teen.

About the Author:
Pasha Lubeck is a single mom to two beautiful boys and a part-time designer for Kichler Lighting. She was peer-pressured into smoking as a teenager but eventually decided she didn’t like how it smelled or tasted.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Surf

I've teamed up with Lauren from Hobo Mama to make Sunday Surf even more interactive. From now on you can link up your Sunday Surf at the bottom of my weekly Surf, or over at Hobo Mama. The linky will go live every Sunday and you can add your link at any time during the week.

Dental Care

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. 



Thursday, April 12, 2012

5 Types of Behavior that Should Ring an Alarm Bell

Like most human beings, children are not very straightforward about their emotions. Especially when they are very small, they simply do not have the words to talk about their feelings, and even as they grow older, feelings can be so complex and subconscious that they cannot voice what is bothering them.

Image: Libertygrace0 on Flicr

  1. Secretive behavior: When your child starts hiding products of their mischief, or wounds, there is reason to be concerned. In either case, your child fears your reaction, either because they think you won’t believe them when they tell you what really happened (this often occurs in cases of abuse), or they think you’ll be angry or tell them ‘I told you so’. In any case, what your child needs now is understanding and lots of love. Even if your child has painted a postmodern version of the Sistine Chapel on your walls, and is now trying to hide up in fear of the consequences, what your child needs most now is a hug and a listening ear. It might be counterintuitive if they’ve gotten into all kinds of mischief, but what a child needs most, even if they’ve been erroneous, is love.
  2. Lying: A narrative lie here and there is not an issue, quite on the contrary. Making up stories about things that happened can be a way for your child to voice his inner fantasy world, to create a narrative and to play with language. However, if your child lies about wounds on their body, or ‘misbehavior’, there is reason to be concerned. In both cases, as with the point mentioned above, this can mean that they are scared of the consequences or fear your reaction. Again, the remedy here is lots and lots of love, being there for them, not judging and letting them know that you care, unconditionally.
  3. Aggression: Like lying, scanning the scope of one’s physical strength and the occasional aggressive tendency is often quite normal. Especially in preverbal children, biting and hitting is not something to be worried about, as it is often a means to show overwhelming emotion (which can - quite strangely - even be joy), in this case, it is a matter of handing your child the right way to express his or her emotions: “I see you are very happy that your friend came over to play, instead of biting her, you can give her a hug”, make sure to model the right behavior and not to get frustrated or scold your child. If the aggressive behavior persists and occurs frequently, you might consider if your child is struggling with deeper underlying emotions. Aggression can be a reaction to verbal or physical aggression by caregivers, it can also be a reaction to change or grief. Talk to your child if you think this might be the case. Sleeptalking can be very effective in this situation. Reading books and watching media about what lives in your child’s mind can be an effective way to establish communication.
  4. Seemingly endless, recurrent tantrums: Tantrums are another part of growing up. Frequency and scale of the tantrum depend highly on the demeanor of your child, and on the issues he or she is dealing with. If your child is throwing tantrums all the time (eg daily), and they last very long, it might be time to step in. First, make sure that the tantrums aren’t due to food issues, certain dyes and additives can create extreme behavior in small children, as can food intolerances (gluten or dairy). Secondly, figure out whether there’s a rhythm to your child’s tantrums, if they stop/decrease in frequency if your child gets some sleep during the day, or an extra snack between mealtimes. Tantrums can also occur if your child is indoors too much or lacks connection, make sure his ‘cup is full’: that you spend enough time connecting as a family. Don’t get overwhelmed during your child’s tantrum. It may seem violent and intolerable even, but all your child needs now is your presence.
  5. Change in Demeanor: A sudden change in your child’s behavior and character is definitely alarming. If your otherwise happy child suddenly becomes silent, or your outgoing son becomes timid, dig into what is happening in his life to find out what is going on. Your child can be reacting in this way to a change, or as a result of grief or it can be a reaction to abuse.

All of these behaviors will only be strengthened by harsh, punitive measures. When a child lashes out, all he is looking for is love and understanding. It may be hard if you don’t understand your child’s behavior, but looking into the underlying reasons may give you the compassion and empathy you need to remain calm and caring. If you are struggling with these types of behavior and don’t seem to be able to remain positive, seek out help in your community or online. Feel free to drop a line below if this is your case.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Call for Submissions-Authentic Parenting Carnival April 2012

Authentic Parenting, teamed up with Mudpiemama's: Positive Parenting Connection, will be hosting the April Carnival on Authentic Parenting on April 27th.

This months topic is: Celebrating our Earth - Green living
Authentic parenting, green living and celebrating nature tend to go hand in hand. How do you foster respect for the earth in your children? What steps has your family taken or would like to take towards a greener future? For the month of April, share all your tips, tricks and experiences on going green.

Submission date: April 20th.
Carnival date: April 27th.

To enter, please compose a new post on the chosen topic and email mamapoekie {at} yahoo {dot} com and ariadne {at} brillweb {dot} net no later than 11PM GMT on March 24th 2012. Once you have emailed your submission please fill out the submission form:

Image: nuttakit /


Introducing: The Eco-Friendly Renovation Series

As I was packing up yet another rental we’d been in over three months, this time with a four week old on my arm and a very demanding 3,5 year old running around, I knew I’d had enough. We have been moving around continuously for over six years, hulling around more and more stuff, ping-pong-ing between parents, inlaws and rental homes during the holidays and inevitably causing friction, in everyone.
So - since we’re not ready yet to give up our expat lives and want to see more of the world as a family - at least for the holidays we wanted a place to come home to. With two kids and a dog, we’re past the luxury hotels and a home of our own seemed like a good idea.

We went to visit houses in the region of Flanders where my parents live, and I fell in love with the second house we visited. We returned there two days later, made an offer, and a couple of tension-filled hours later, the offer was accepted, and meanwhile the house is ours.

As we’d only be living in the house a couple of months a year, we had decided we’d rent the house as a holiday home for the remaining months.

The house we bought was built in 1950 and has some stunning period features. Nothing much has been done to it since its built as it was still inhabited by the original owner until her death. This brings us to renovation galore!!

Our garden and outhouse

the double living room
In renovating this house, we want to use materials that are kind on the environment and that will cause as little air pollution as possible. Ever since we signed the agreement, I have been researching ecological building and decorating options, and have found that this is a very deep subject, that requires a lot of research.

Since I’m doing this research anyway, I’ll be sharing it with you in a series. You can consider this my official announcement for the Ecological Renovation Series. If you are knowledgeable on the subject and feel like writing about it, feel free to email me, so we can discuss a subject. Send your inquiries to mamapoekie at yahoo dot com.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sit Back, Relax and Unschool Hygiene

Welcome to the April 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Personal

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 stories, tips, and
struggles relating to their children's personal care choices.


Many momisms (regular, annoying and denigrating sayings only mothers seem to handle) deal with hygiene: “Did you brush your teeth?”, “Go wash your hands”, “Brush your hair”... Most of these phrases, we utter almost without realizing we do... and certainly without realizing how disrespectful they are. Place yourself in your child’s position: would you feel empowered if someone asked you if you washed your hands before coming to the diner table?

True, our children need to learn proper hygiene in order not to get ill, or make others ill. But in Western society, our hygiene standards are way out there, to a degree that it’s not even healthy anymore... and weren’t we just using these hygienic rules to promote health? A little dirt strengthens the immune system and too frequent washings are damaging to our skin and hair.

So how do you find a middle ground? How will your child learn to manage his or her own hygiene without becoming a stinky person everyone avoids and without constant reminders?

  1. A big part of your child’s learning experience of hygiene is modeling: If your child sees his parents take frequent baths or showers, brush hair and teeth, wash hand before eating, when cooking and after using the bathroom, he’ll internalize hygiene.
  2. When your child is a little older, you can start talking about why you wash your hands and brush your teeth. Tell them about bacteria and cleanliness, about cavities... Books and youtube videos are a good help in this department. When explained in a suitable language, kids pick up easily on the why and will be willing to partake in his own hygenic management.
  3. All things considered, it’s also important for your child to see cleanliness as something enjoyable rather than something he or she needs to do. This way, he’ll internalize hygienic standards. Getting a cool toothbrush or some nice bath products (or making your own) can be just the incentive your child needs to get clean.
  4. And last but not least, make sure your child does not feel punished, shamed or coerced into cleanliness... Most parents think they have to enforce hygiene and this is exactly what makes children rebel.

So sit back, relax and let the cleaning take its natural course. If your child feels empowered and enjoys the washing and getting clean, odds are that there will be very little issues in getting clean. And if your child does need a nudging, make it fun and gentle.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon April 10 with all the carnival links.)


Monday, April 9, 2012

KidsBlanks Review and Giveaway


KidsBlanks by Zoëy sells a great variety of children and baby items. They are a wholesale site, and sell at very light prices. As the name of the brand suggests, most of their products are blanks, so if you plan on getting creative and like to customize garments yourself, this is the place to shop. Aside from the blanks, they also have a nice selection of cute printed garments, such as dresses and onesies, with very original prints and colors (ladybug dress anyone?).

Little Buddha snuggling at the breast with his new blanky
I received a onesie (Damask print) and matching blanket and a pair of babylegs for review.
I was really happy with the babylegs, as they are a sleeker fabric than the other babylegs I had, who are mostly a thick knit. The lighter fabric made these babylegs great for warmer days (the others aren’t recommendable in an African climate). Little Buddha didn’t quite fit in them when he was born, but now he’s gained some chubbiness in the legs, they are great. They’re also a bit shorter than regular babylegs, which makes for a less bulky fit on a small baby.
I liked the fit and fabric of the onesie, though the black print does wear with frequent washings.
The blanket is a large rectangular shape in a lightweight fabric, which makes a great wrapping blanket. As the fabric is really light, wrapped, this blanky makes for a very small package, which is ideal for traveling, It even fits in a small diaper bag.
The Damask print onesie

the leg warmers - I received them in brown

Other items I like are the printed dresses, the Tutus and the booties.

Kid’s Blanks is offering a 25 USD gift certificate valid on all items marked LG, as these are wholesale prices, the 25USD will go a long way! This contest is open to US residents only.
Enter the Rafflecopter system to get a chance at this lovely prize. Make sure you leave a valid email address in the system so we can contact you if you win.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday Surf

I've teamed up with Lauren from Hobo Mama to make Sunday Surf even more interactive. From now on you can link up your Sunday Surf at the bottom of my weekly Surf, or over at Hobo Mama. The linky will go live every Sunday and you can add your link at any time during the week.

Pregnancy and Birth

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.