Google+ Authentic Parenting: February 2013

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Foods For Depression?

Check out The Art of Healing Extreme Library Sale. 53 digital products: Retail Value $835.32 - bundle package is priced at $39.97. Available for 10 days only!

Written by Amanda Rose , Ph.D.

Research continues to tie the declining health of Americans to our poor diet choices. With too much sugar and too much unhealthy fats, we bulge, our hearts give out, and our brains begin to "go crazy". Something as simple as a trans-fat-laden French fry may cause depression claims a group of Spanish researchers. Indeed, you are more likely to be depressed if you rely on a regular staple of packaged baked goods and snacks or items such as fast food French fries. When you look at a vending machine with a little packaged cake inside, that is what we are talking about here.

Your first lesson: Step away from that vending machine.

The most increasingly shunned trans fat comes in the form of vegetable shortening, a partially hydrogenated fatty acid that is cheap substitute for butter and lard in baking and for high heat oils in frying. If trans-fat is a cheap substitute for traditional forms of fat, it does beg the question: What fats should we eat to avoid depression? The Spanish study does not leave readers with a lot of wisdom on this key question, but we can look to other studies and to the history of the human diet for advice.

Omega 3 In Fish Does Fight Depression

The traditional human diet has been high in the Omega 3 fatty acid found in fish and seafood. In fact, Weston Price in his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, details how traditional peoples traveled great distances to get mollusks like crab and clam, rich in Omega 3 fats and abundant in minerals. These foods have a spectrum of nutrients that can help fill your health needs whether you are a toddler, teenager, pregnant mother, or an aging grandparent.
If your diet is high in vegetable oils, you actually need even more Omega 3s. The Omega 6s in your vegetable oils compete for space in your cells with Omega 3s -- the Omega 6 oils win. Your best bet is to cut out sources of corn and other vegetable oils such as store-bought crackers and chips. You have surely already cut out trans fats as well but you should also know that your metabolism of trans fats interferes with your Omega 3 metabolism. If you eat a basket of crispy fish and chips, you need a whole lot of fish to make up for those chips.
Ideally, the fish will be wild -- wild salmon for instance. Wild fish and seafood are higher in Omega 3s than their farmed counterparts and they are generally lower in the toxins that now proliferate our waters. If you already struggle from depression, you may need even more Omega 3 for depression than that crab or salmon fillet can provide. In depression clinical trials, researchers have found high doses of Omega 3 fatty acids effective in lowering depression -- on the order of four grams a day.

Omega 9 In Olive Oil May Fight Depression

Olive oil may help fight depression. This is a new area of research but there is a lot of evidence that olive oil is good for us. It is associated with heart health, longevity, and reduced instances of degenerative diseases. It may protect against depression as well. One of my favorite meals combines Omega 9 and Omega 3 in the form of a healthy salad, with an olive oil-centered dressing, my favorite seasonal lettuce, and topped with salmon or crab. Make a dressing simply by combining olive oil with a bit of balsamic vinegar and chopped garlic. Add a bit of flax seed oil for additional Omega 3 fats.

Grass Fed Meat For Depression?

Wild game and pastured meats may help your struggle as well. In my book Rebuild from Depression: A Nutrient Guide I provide a list of "depression buster foods," foods high in nutrients associated with depression. Wild fish and wild game top the list because of the fatty acid profiles and the density of vitamins and minerals. Beef liver is actually a great example. All animal liver is loaded with B vitamins and minerals; it is also very high in fat. Note in the graph at right that the fat is more likely to be of the Omega 3 variety if the animal has been on a diet of grass. I rely on liver when I am under great stress because it helps keep my body replenished of an array of nutrients. You can find it at any health food store and will definitely want to look for the organic label in this case.

Foods For Depression

Food does affect your mood. Your brain needs the right mix of fats, vitamins, and minerals to be healthy. Some foods wreak havoc on that delicate balance and fast foods are a prime example. Other foods will help you fight depression, including fish and seafood abundant in Omega 3 and wild game with a healthy array of vitamins, minerals, and fats. Incorporate these foods into your own diet and the diet of your family. You may be surprised to find a family a little less grumpy and on-the-edge. Over time, you may even protect your aging brain from decline if you nourish it well.

Support Authentic Parenting by buying the Rebuild Book as part of  The Art of Healing Extreme Library Sale.You can also find the book on Amazon
Amanda Rose, Ph.D., lives on five acres in the Sequoia National Forest with her two sons, the second of whom was born to a depression-free pregnancy. She works with her mother Jeanie on the Traditional Foods website providing nutritious recipes and food science and health tidbits.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Three Foods to Avoid For Good Health

Check out The Art of Healing Extreme Library Sale. 53 digital products: Retail Value $835.32 - bundle package is priced at $39.97. Available for 10 days only!

Written by KerryAnn Foster

Gluten is a major health issue for a rapidly growing number of people, adults and children alike. Because the outdated testing methods in the US have a high rate of false negatives and there's an average of 20 years between onset of symptoms until diagnosis, trying a gluten-free diet despite a negative blood test or biopsy is a good idea. And not everyone bothered by gluten is celiac.

You can have all of those tests accurately register negative and still have a gluten intolerance that will respond to a gluten-free diet.

Gluten today is the not the gluten that our ancestors consumed. Even just 100 years ago, wheat had far less gluten in it. Hybridization and cross-breeding drastically increased the amount of gluten in wheat in order to be able to make the soft, spongy white breads that are now on the market. Ancient varieties of gluten grains did not have the stretch or the loft of today's breads; the wheat was composed of fewer genes, contained far less gluten and created a dense loaf.

Wheat is not the food of your ancestors, it is a modern invention due to breeding. If you aren't getting answers from the medical community, try a 6-week trial of a strictly gluten-free diet to see if you respond. Three months of strictly gluten-free will give you a good picture of how much your health will improve if you are intolerant or have celiac disease.
Packaged and processed foods almost always contain chemicals, additives and other products that you would not choose to consume if you knew where they came from. Many petroleum-based products are in foods now. MSG can be hidden under 35 different ingredient names and still proudly display 'MSG free' on the label. Ingredients such as
beaver anal sac glands can be made into 'natural flavors' and added to your food.

Animals can be held in filthy, horrible conditions and pumped full of antibiotics and hormones before they land on your dinner plate. When you consume real food and opt out of the factory farmed and packaged foods, you can largely avoid the issues and many, many more. As the old saying goes, garbage in, garbage out. If the food isn't nutritious and is lacking in the necessary nutrients, you won't be getting them, either, and your health will suffer.
Soy is not a health food. In addition to its highly allergenic potential, soy contains anti-nutrients and phytoestrogens that can have a devastating impact on health. Most women today are estrogen dominant thanks to xenoestrogen exposure through plastics, pesticides and more in our everyday environment. Adding more estrogen into your
body is a recipe for disaster, especially for developing children or women of childbearing age. Soy has high amounts of protease inhibitors, phytates, lectins, saponins and oxalates that prevent you from absorbing the nutrition that is present in the legume. Even though I am no longer intolerant to soy, I choose to avoid it because I believe it will be detrimental to my health

About the Author:
KerryAnn Foster is the author of Family-Friendly Allergen-Free, a 4-week menu plan for those on a diet free of gluten, dairy, eggs, and soy with a weekly shopping list for your convenience. Do you need to eliminate just one of these foods? Read KerryAnn’s section on eliminating each ingredient to help you down your own path.

This menu plan is part of the The Art of Healing Extreme Library Sale. Over 800USD worth of natural health products for only 39,97! For every sale through this site, a small amount of money goes to Authentic Parenting.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Art of Healing - Extreme Library Sale

Check out The Art of Healing Extreme Library Sale. 53 digital products: Retail Value $835.32 - bundle package is priced at $39.97. Available for 10 days only!

I'm very pleased to announce that I've signed up as an affiliate of the "Art of Healing - Extreme Library Sale". I can't wait until it goes live to but the set myself!
53 Natural Health ressources for only 39,97!

Among which:
  • Rebuild from Depression by Amanda Rose - a book I already wanted to get my hands on as it came so highly recommended in Marcy Axness' Parenting for Peace. I'll have a great guest post on this topic on Thursday.
  • Infertility: Cumulative Knowledge from Peer Review Studies, a book by Sayer Ji on Infertility. You may recognise his name as the man behind GreenMedInfo
  • Understanding the Right-Brained Child by Cindy Gaddis, an audio workshop where you learn everything about right brain dominancy (which is often linked to conditions such as learning disability and ADD). Read a guest post by Cindy here.
  • Lots of herbal and plant remedy books
  • A heap of homemade skincare books, among which the lovely Jennifer Saleem's Salves Made Simple
  • And much, much more!!!

Click here to visit The Art of Healing Extreme Library Sale.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Why homebirth? (rerun)

This morning, I read this post by Lindsey Beyerstein on Majikthise. In the post, she wonders why anybody would want a homebirth. To be completely honest, a long time ago, in a dark era, before baby came, before I ever became a crunchy, natural birth-obsessed lactivist, there was a time I asked myself the same question. I had read stories of women birthing at home. I found it strange, and found it a very treehugging-people thing.
Becoming a mom changed my views in various departments and guess what, I too became the treehugging kind. But that's another topic altogether.

I had always wanted a natural birth, which to me was just an epidural-free hospital birth with a natural onset; and no lying down on my back. (Little did I know!), but the medical world decided differently for me. I was diagnosed with GD and went on insuline shots soon after. I was told I HAD to be induced (international protocol, yeah right) and spend my labouring attached to an IV and ended up pushing on my back. As a reward, my baby was taken from me to be put on the neonatal ward for the first 24 hours of her life.  Matters worsened even further as I had a serious bleeding little time after giving birth, so I was unable to get out of the bed to the NICU to see my baby.
In a way I am happy about my daughters birth, but if I could turn back time, I might have taken action to do it differently. So slowly, the idea of a homebirth sipped in.

Now why would I want a homebirth?
The first reason is to be in a familiar environment, that you can mold to your wants (dimmed light, some music maybe...) Not the cold and unfamiliar hospital setting.
Reason number two is to not to have to dump baby number one on the grandparents for 5 days. Frankly, I wouldn't know how that would work, because they are all still working, so we would have to get a sitter? Which would be difficult because we have no home of our own over there...
Number three is the greater liberty one has when birthing at home. You can eat and drink what you want (was I ever hungry with daughters birth!). You can move around the way you want. You can give birth in whatever position you like.
Four: There won't be a dozen people walking in and out the room. With dd, I suddenly looked up to find there were 6 or 7 people around me!
Five: If there is a way to escape the overmedicalisation of birth and the train of useless interventions, I'm there!
Six: All these things add up to the fact that you can only be more sereen, which can only make labour easier.

There are probably a dozen other reasons I could come up with why a homebirth would suit me better than a hospital birth, if I would think about it longer. But you get the picture. Now this doesn't mean I think everybody should have a homebirth, but I think it's nice to have a choice, and for it to be an informed one.

Some nice articles and blogposts along these lines:
Intuition in childbirth
On fasting during childbirth
Homebirth safety
Why get a midwife? "The midwife is (or should be) an expert in normal birth, while the obstetrician must be an expert in pathology."
Afterbirth high: why not to disturb mother and child in the hour following birth.
Management of third stage of labour


Sunday, February 24, 2013

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.



Saturday, February 23, 2013

No Education? Comment Turned Post (rerun)

Dear anonymous,

You have commented on the article I wrote a while back "Why We Unschool". I started answering your comment as a response comment, but it became rather lengthy and I decided I'd rather have it up as a full blown post.

First of all I am really sorry you felt the need to post this anonymously, there is no need for this, I like a bit of debate and I am not scared of different opinions. After all, it is out the conflict of ideas that new ideas arise.
Secondly, I get that the concept of unschooling is a very scary one and it seems to go against everything we have been 'taught' (but there you have it... some enlightened reflection might just fix this problem). However, the decision to unschool my daughter has not been one we took lightly as your comment suggests it is. I find that slightly annoying, because what you say in the body of your comment proves that you have not given the topic the same consideration I have. If you had read about the topic as much and had discussed it as extensively as I have, then probably you would think about it in a different way.

But just to put your mind at ease, let me adress the issues you put forward in your comment:

  • "Homeschooling I can understand. Schools can be a scary place."
Schooling is a very recent conception. A little over a hundred years ago, all children were either un- or homeschooled. The choice to un-or homeschool children nowadays is not a matter of schools being scary, which you should know if you read the article you commented on. It has many reasons that are completely different to all parents who choose to do so. 
  • "Don’t you worry that by providing NO education for your child you are closing so many doors for her?"
With this comment I see that you are mistaking schooling for education. Schooling (by which I mean subject oriented curriculi with any degree of coercion defined as teaching) does in no way equal education. Education should be provided by parents for the larger part, wether their children go to school or not and extends far beyond curricula and subject matter. There are many things a child needs to learn that are not taught at school. I pity the parent who thinks that school will provide for the education of their child and that their 'work' ends there.
So yes, I will be providing total and utter education for my child, by which I mean that I will guide my child to learn all the skills she needs to succeed in life (academical and other).
  • Isn’t it YOUR job as her parent to TEACH HER? 
No, no it is not. Personally, I resent the idea of calling parenting a job, but this is beside the issue. It is my 'job' to guide her, it is my 'job' to help her find her way and facilitate her journey, but in no way is it my job to jam useless knowledge into her head and call it teaching. My child does however learn a great deal from me, as any child does from its parent, but most often, these are not the things we 'teach' them.
Teaching as you probably intended in your comment (I am assuming because you are talking about a job) is a top down imposition of predefined knowledge... I try not to do such a thing. I do teach her unintentionally, giving her information about things, answering her questions, spending time with her...

  • In the U.S. lack of education is the reason so many people have to work at McDonald’s and resort to crime and gangs versus earning an honest living. 
This is an entirely different topic I probably shouldn't get into for the sake of this post, but let me just say this: lack of education is not the main reason why these things happen, I could name one factor that could be one of the many underlying factors of this problem as the lack of support. But I'll leave it at that for now.

  • Unfortunately having no high school or college degree means little opportunity for gainful employment as an adult. Maybe it’s different where you live?
First of all, where I live is hard to define as I move every two years. Anyway, unschooling is something that doesn't exist or isn't even known in any of the countries I have lived in so far (well maybe Sweden, but I'm not sure), at least not in the deliberate and defined way as we unschoolers do it (it does of course exist in the African countries I have lived in, but we can debate wether that is out of choice or necessity - whereas for us it is certainly a matter of choice). As far as I know it is mainly an anglosaxon thing that is steadily gaining followers among other countries.
But since you bring up the US: more and more voices rise that college degrees aren't living up to their expectations, they cost a heap of money, put people in debt and don't mean you will get a (highly paid) job. Even where I come from (Belgium) a universitary degree doesn't mean you will get a job that pays a universitary level salary, or if you will even get a job at all.  

Secondly, it is not because we unschool that my child will never be schooled. That's the great thing about unschooling: we leave the choice to our child. We do not oblige them to go to school, but if she chooses to attend for any amount of time, she is at liberty to do so. This is as true for high school as it is for college or university. Some unschooled kids do decide that a degree will help them to achieve their goals in life.

Third, you talk about gainful employment. By this, you suggest that the only way to earn a living is to work for an employer. It is not so. There are millions of ways to gain a living and there are also different ways to approach the monetary system. One can choose to follow a money-led consumerist system, as the one the western world follows. Or one can choose not to. I will not go into too much detail here as this is beside the point. One can also decide to be self employed and thus bypass the 'degree-employment' connection you see as imperative.

  • "And I’m sorry but the likelihood that your child is the next LDV or Einstein is pretty unlikely…"
Why would that be so? Isn't that a very schooled attitude towards my child's possibility's? Who are you to judge? You don't even know my child or my family? If any child is to reach full potential, it surely is the child that can lay out her on path. That can follow her interests. That can become good at what she likes to do and what she is, well, good at - instead of wasting times on things that do not interest her, just because the curriculum tells her so.
Why would my child not be the next Einstein? Or why should she have to be? If we could be sure about anything, then it would be that it is very unlikely if she were to be schooled.

  •  "I hope you are teaching her to read and write."
De Smet, SD on Picasa
No, I am not. I am not teaching in a way that is coercive. Of course I do read to her and we tell stories and we play together and we look at pictures and we count and I write words for her when she asks me too, or sometimes just because I feel like it. And she fools around with crayons and pencils and the wordprocessor on my laptop... ANd believe it or not, at two and four months, she can 'read' some numbers. Maybe you think I should put her in school because otherwise her reading would be on advance compared to other kids then?

  • "I feel like it’s an injustice to so many children who don’t have a choice."
If you read the above, then you will see that unschooling is all about choice. Schooling however is rarely about choice, so your point is rather ignorant and unfounded. Maybe you should go and stand outside a schoolgate and ask some children how many of them chose to be there.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Why Is It Considered Normal To Lie To Children?

Welcome to the February 2013 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Honesty This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children. This month our participants have written about authenticity through honesty. We hope you enjoy this month's posts and consider joining us next month when we share about Self-Expression and Conformity.

I was supposed to write something about Sinterklaas (the original Santa) for this post... but since that topic was macerating, I got confronted with people lying to my children, time and again, and I felt like I had to adress this.

From my husband's coworker telling my daughter the food was finished (when it wasn't), to the gardener telling my daughter that there were big snakes in our garden, the lying doesn't stop.

Yet, when children lie, we consider it a serious offence.
And anyway you turn it, even though it's a repeat offence and even institutionalized for most people, lying isn't valued in our society.

So why should we model lying?
Is it because we lack imagination? Clearly not, because telling my daughter there are huge snakes that will bite and are dangerous is so much more imaginative then just telling her it's a deep pit, she could fall into it and break her legs.
Is it because we don't care or don't want to take the time? Again, clearly not, because both people who lied to my daughter in the recent weeks did take the time to create an imaginary tale and stick to it.

Sadly, I think the issue is much more profound. I think we lie to children v-because
  • We think they're stupid and won't understand the truth
  • We fear their reaction and want to create shortcuts
  • We don't consider that they should know the truth
  • We don't value their opinions.

People lie to children simply because they are children. Adultism at its worst.


APBC - Authentic ParentingVisit Living Peacefully with Children and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in next month's Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!   Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants: (This list will be live and updated by afternoon February 22 with all the carnival links.)


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Necklines That Work for Nursing

After nursing my kids for nearly five years, I've come to realize a couple of things:

  • I don't like nursingwear because alll of that extra fabric is just uncomfortable.
  • I cannot bring myself to lift fabric to nurse, so I'm a definite over-the-top-nurser
  • Nursingwear is mostly very expensive
  • Even the expenside nursingwear is not made to last (guess they don't count for moms who nurse 5+ years)
  • It's hard to find nursingwear you like (unless you go online, but then you can't try it on)
So I decided to write this little post about what to look for in regular clothes to get a comfortable nursing wardrobe.
This post is written for mama's who like to nurse over the neckline, i.e. lift the breast out of the neckline. For mothers who like to lift the top, obviously any neckline would work.


Image: Katie Tegtmeyer
Not all haltertops are created equal. If it's a high rise top, make sure you can lift out your breasts sideways, this can be uncomfortable if your breasts are more forwardpointing than sideways. If it has a plunging neckline, you'll be fine either way.

Button down/zip down

Image: Little Doll Room
Any button down shirt or top will work for breastfeeding. If the buttons or zipper doesn't run all the way down, make sure they come at least until the middle piece of your bra, otherwise you'll have to force those breasts out. Also (and this piece of advide is not just for breastfeeding) check if the buttons fit snuggly, so you avoid wardrobe malfunctions.


Image: Lisa Humes

A strapless neckline is by far the easiest to nurse in, in any fabric. But it gives a lot of exposure, so if that's something you're worried about, then it should be avoided.


Tanjadesign on Etsy. I so want this!

Not really over the top, but no belly exposure either. Any neckline on a Kaftan will work if the side splits are large enough. Please try this though when you're fitting. A simple sidehem can easily be loosened.

Off the shoulder

Pebby Forevee on Flickr

Any off the shoulder neckline (you know the oversized 80s style neckline) will be big enough to rearrange and easily expose the breast for nursing. And don't we all just want to go back to the eighties ;). Pair it up with some legwarmers and you can pretend you're in Flashdance!

V-Neck, U-neck or square neckline

Image: zoeslollipop

All oft these can work if they are deep enough. look for something that exposes at least the base of the breast.


Onor on Etsy

Sweetheart necklines are perfect for over the top-nursing

Cowl Neckline

Device on Etsy

A cowl mostly falls deep enough to be a great addition to your wardrobe for nursing. There's also enough fabric to limit exposure.

Crossover or wrap

Image: Telltalehearts on Etsy

Wrap tops or crossed tops are often perfect for nursing, and they give nice definition to the waist.

A couple additional remarks:

  • A stretchy fabric will make nursing easier, but can show some wear and tear after a while.
  • Deep necklines work best if you're comfortable with that (less fabric pulling)
  • A good nursing bra is a plus and can be very comfortable, but if you're not willing to invest, a regular bra will work just fine - just make sure it doesn't have underwire, because they can constrict the milkducts. If you're looking for a nursing bra, I can seriously recommend Hotmilk or Amorallia
 What do you look for in nursing wear?


Thoughtful Thursday


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Should Parents Apologize? (rerun)

Some weeks ago, I had written an article about dealing with parental mistakes, and one of the steps I suggested was apologizing to your child.
I think apologizing is a good means to show your child

  • that you are remorseful
  • that you know you made a mistake
  • that you are not infallible
  • that when you make mistakes, you are not above all the others and you can’t just ‘get away with it”

A comment on my Facebook page said that this particular person didn’t agree with apologizing to your child. She said her mother constantly apologized but it had no meaning in the end.

Image: Runran on Flickr
I know all too well that not all apologies are created equal, and when someone is being apologetic without change or remorse, it doesn’t amount to much.
Apologies only work when the child sees you make an active effort to change things. When you are not about to change, when you don’t particularly think you did something wrong, indeed doesn’t amount to much.

There is a huge difference between a genuine apology and someone who has adapted a general state of being apologetic, in order to void blame, “I apologized, so Nobody needs to point fingers at me”. Hearing constant apologies for the same behavior sends the message to your child that apologies make it all right, no matter your behavior.

However, if you are truly committed to your parenting project, to change and adapt, then apologies do belong in your parental toolbox. Otherwise, you should rethink your approach.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Finding Balance

Welcome to the February edition of the Simply Living Blog Carnival - New Beginnings cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. This month's topic, our writers consider where they are with their New Year's Resolutions or new ventures of 2013. Continue your reading read on at the bottom of this post by clicking the links to the other participants' posts.


I never make New Year's resolutions, for various reasons, but mainly because I think personal growth is an ongoing thing, that shouldn't just be incited because of a random time of year.
For this year, however, I do have a goal... Well, it's more of a life goal reallybut I started formulating it around the turn of the year.

As you may know, I struggled with depression last year, and have been fighting hard to overcome it. So far, all of my efforts have been worthwile and I do find myself experiencing joy and being less and less overwhelmed.

But realizing about this depression has made me think about how we live, what we do, and how our way of life has brougt me, gradually, to the state I was in. So it became clear to me that we desparately needed change, big, uprooting life changes!

Over the past monhs, my husband and I have re established a dialogue that had been lost in the daily struggles and habits. The dialogue does/did involve some anger, some yeling some discomfort, but it has brought us closer and made us tackle our problems as a unit, instead of just a set of individuals.
Together, we started carving a path towards a life we actually want to be living, nstead of one we just undergo.

It is scary, it takes us way out of our confort zone, it makes us question and rethink everything. But it is mainly good.

Thank you for visiting the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. Continue your reading by clicking the links of this month's posts on what simple living means to our participants. We hope you will join us next month!

  • Using Special Time to Simply Connect - Amber at Heart Wanderings begins to focus on simply connecting with each of her children for a few minutes of Special Time each day. A deeper connection and sense of joy, softening of emotional outbursts, and less sibling rivalry have resulted from this practice.
  • Redefining Simplicity - Living within our needs - Survivor from Surviving Mexico talks about how moving from a first-world country to a third world country has changed her family's perception of simplicity. Adapting to this new life has not been easy, but can be done with an attitude of gratitude.
  • Changes - Sustainable mom writes about how she is bringing back a beat to a rhythm that has been falling apart.
  • Listening to my Kids - Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs is seeking peace and freedom after over-scheduling her daughters.
  • Thankful to Begin Again - Mercedes @ Project Procastinot learns a lesson from her twins.
  • Changes for a New Year - Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children is concentrating on making small changes this year in an effort to make better habits.
  • Parenting Two: A Fresh Start - Joella at Fine and Fair embraces the transition as her family grows as a new beginning by being gentle with herself and realistic with her expectations.
  • Finding Balance - At Authentic Parenting, Laura looks at where she's gotten fighting depression and spiring to a more harmonious life. 


Monday, February 18, 2013

Introducing: Project Unschool ¨Peru

Project Unschool Peru is a life-changing event designed to inspire teens and families who wish to experience the magic of Peru's Sacred Valley during a 4-week “natural learning” retreat. In this temporary learning-community. Participants follow their own interests individually and as a group, focusing on archaeology, history, ethnobotany, sacred plants and medicines, agriculture, arts and music, sustainability, Andean mysticism and so much more.

Is this a retreat or an educational gathering?

Project Unschool Peru is a retreat that centers around the magic of co-creation of a “learning community” and embodies the spirit of “unschooling”. Therefore it is a retreat and an educational gathering. Never knowing exactly what will happen, “discovery” holds the key, resulting in knowledge gained and lessons learned. Project Unschool Peru participants learn from the environment and teach (as well as mentor) one another. Participants give as much as they receive, experiencing the greatest gift: the chance to learn, co-create, and experience the mysteries of Peru.

What inspired this retreat?

Project Unschool Peru was born from an inspired idea between me (an unschooling mom) and my unschooled teenaged son, Miro. Over the last four years, my son and I have transitioned into a unique lifestyle, one in which we do not have a permanent home, are not tied to any set schedule, and do not follow any formal learning curriculum. We travel based on our inspiration and learn naturally along the way. Both my son and I have transformed the world into our classroom, based on our individual interests and collective experiences. Peru is a special place for us. Miro and I have both fallen in love with the country's unique offerings. Together, we have been inspired to share Peru's unique history, archeological sites, models of sustainability, expressive arts, and the deep mysticism contained in the traditions, as our lives have become enriched and forever changed. We want to bring these experiences to an engaged group of interested learners, who support one another as we reflect on our own relationship to the surrounding culture. It's a powerful invitation to look at our own humanity and learn about others’.

What is a temporary learning community?

A learning community is a group of people who share common emotions, values or beliefs, and are actively engaged in learning together, both from each other and through collective experiences. The community is temporary in the sense that it will exist in a certain point in time and relies on all of its participants to come together and breathe life into it. As with other temporary communities such as Burning Man, the magic happens at a singular point in time but the effects last for a lifetime. Combining the concepts behind a learning community and the deliberateness of being temporary, the two create an intentional experience. Combined with the richness of Peru's history, culture, traditions and mysteries, a dynamic learning-community promises to support and fulfill the needs of each of its participants and creates a strong learning connection to the environment.

Four weeks is a lot to some people – can you explain why so long?

We have designed a retreat that requires the entire four weeks to experience. Each week we introduce new subjects that build upon previous learnings. There are practical reasons as well. Not only are the participants traveling to high altitudes that require time to properly acclimatize, we want to make sure our participants have time to fully immerse themselves into the culture and develop relationships within the learning community.

What might people expect to take away from this experience?

The Project Unschool Peru organizers have designed general themes for each of the four weeks of the retreat, building upon the previous week to create a complete body of participatory learning, in relationship to Peru's unique culture. The topics explored are designed to personally challenge each participant through their own investigation, interpretation and hands on discovery and create relevance to their own lives. A selection of the themes explored are:
  • Peruvian cooking
  • Sustainability
  • Music of the Andes
  • Ethnobotany
  • Permaculture
  • Artisan traditions
  • Anthropology
  • History
  • Archeology
  • Humanity and consciousness
  • Andean mysticism
Activities include:
  • Yoga
  • Nature hikes
  • Improv theater
  • Campfires
  • Documentaries
  • Lectures
  • Discussion groups
  • Partaking in traditional Andean ceremonies
  • Visiting museums, ancient ruins and sacred sites
  • 5-day trek to Machu Picchu

What is the cost, and what does that include?

The total cost for the retreat is $3750 USD. The retreat cost covers flights to and from Lima > Cusco, four weeks of accommodations, three meals a day, six days per week. Also included are required tourist tickets that include admission fees to the archeological sites throughout the Sacred Valley, museum admissions and all ground transportation. Tuition covers all talks, guest lecturers, documentary screenings, improv theater classes, yoga classes, crafts, music, and cooking workshops. Also included in the price are daily hikes (led by a professional guide), guided meditations, and some surprise guests and events. Finally, participants will enjoy a five-day guided trek to Machu Picchu with all amenities covered. Finally, fun, learning, community, and individual transformations are all provided at no additional cost. What are your criteria for accepting people into the program? We are looking for people who are familiar with the principles of natural learning, who are open-minded and wish to experience learning as a community, as well as to enjoy the sights, sound and flavors of Peru. We require participation first and foremost. The retreat is designed for solo participating teens from ages 13-19, adults of any age, families of any formation, and couples.

Do you only accept kids who are currently homeschooled or unschooled?

We are open to all kinds of schooled, home-schooled, world-schooled or unschooled teens. However the retreat does take place during the traditional school year, June 2nd through the 30th, so parents should keep this in mind. We apply the principles of “radical unschooling.” If a participant is not familiar with those philosophies, we would ask that they become familiar with it before the retreat. In essence, we want teens who are looking for the chance to take responsibility for their own experience, and that doesn't depend on the style of their educational background. Although the retreat is designed with many activity choices, participants don't have to choose things that don’t interest them, which is part of the unschooling principles of empowerment. We encourage all the teen participants to make their own choice about the experience they wish to have. But whether the teen is unschooled, homeschooled, or taught by traditional methods, we hope each person comes to the retreat with a desire to participate in as many things that interest them. We also hope participants will discover new interests, and believe that they will become inspired to see the world through new eyes!

What excites you most about this project?

We are so excited to share the magic of Peru and its cultures and traditions within the context of a powerful learning experience. Because Project Unschool Peru centers around the magic of co-creation and embodies the spirit of a learning community, one can not predict what will be discovered, uncovered, or experienced. What excites us most is our commitment to being open to all the retreat has to offer, with the intention to experience the grandest version of ourselves. To experience that, especially in a community setting, will be pure magic. We have been dreaming of this retreat for almost a year and seeing it come to fruition is our dream.  

How do interested people contact you, and what are the steps they have to take to apply?

Our retreat web site is Here you can find all information for the application process, payments, retreat details, background, and contributors. You can also register online. We guarantee this will be a once and a lifetime experience and would love very much if you joined us. The retreat takes place June 2- June 30th, 2013


Project Unschool Peru:
email: facebook:
Lainie & Miro's Web site: Raising Miro on the Road of Life:


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday Surf - The Holistic Health Edition

As usual, you can still continue reading on Hobo Mama, or ad your own link below if you are Surfing. The linky will go live every Sunday and you can add your link at any time during the week.
If you have a great post that would look good in Sunday Surf, feel free to email a link to mamapoekie at yahoo dot com.

If you're surfing, add your post to the linky at the bottom of this Sunday Surf. You can do that here or at Hobo Mama, your link will show up on both sites. Make sure to grab the new button either from the left sidebar or the Sunday Surf page, where you'll also find a little blurb about Sunday Surf you can copy for your post. 



Saturday, February 16, 2013

Early Childhood Education – Acquiring Sign Language (rerun)

Being exposed to a number of different languages at a young age is beneficial to your child. Signing adds another dimension to this exposure because it is non-verbal, thus offering your child a multitude of tools to express himself, even before verbal skills are acquired. This can highly improve communication between parent and child.
Signing Before They Can Speak

A great deal of research has clearly demonstrated that the early years – ages 2 to five – are the best time to educate children in different modes of communication and language. This goes beyond the spoken word (though it is an optimal time for children to learn a second language); many young children have an aptitude for signing as well. 

This is not as odd as you may think. As you know, many indigenous peoples around the world, including American Indian nations, have used sign language for centuries to facilitate communication with other tribes with whom they do not share a language. Some paleontologists and anthropologists theorize that Neanderthals – who apparently lacked the vocal mechanism to produce many spoken words – depended a great deal upon hand gestures to communicate. 

In fact, recent research suggests that sign language is innate. An article published in the Boulder Daily Camera in 2003 presented strong evidence that babies as young as six months old communicate with their hands: 

" 6 to 7 months, babies can remember a sign. At eight months, children 
can begin to imitate gestures and sign single words. By 24 months, children 
can sign compound words and full sentences. They say sign language reduces 
frustration in young children by giving them a means to express themselves 
before they know how to talk." (Glarion, 2003)

The author also cites study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development demonstrating that young children who are taught sign language at an early age actually develop better verbal skills as they get older. The ability to sign has also helped parents in communicating with autistic children; one parent reports that "using sign language allowed her to communicate with her [autistic] son and minimized his frustration...[he now] has an advanced vocabulary and excels in math, spelling and music" (Glarion, 2003).

The Best Time To Start

Not only does early childhood education in signing give pre-verbal youngsters a way to communicate, it can also strengthen the parent-child bond – in addition to giving children a solid foundation for learning a skill that will serve them well in the future. The evidence suggests that the best time to start learning ASL is before a child can even walk – and the implications for facilitating the parent-child relationship are amazing.

Co-written by Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas
Emily and Kathleen are Communications Coordinators for the network of  Texas child care  facilities belonging to the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose child care schools.  Primrose Schools are located in 16 states throughout the U.S. and are dedicated to delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning® curriculum throughout their preschools.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Art Journaling Group: Lesson VI - Mixed Media

Every week, Authentic Parenting hosts an art journalling group. You are welcome to join in at any time. We do a new assignment each week, and participants can send in a picture their creation via email (mamapoekie at yahoo dot com) by Wednesday the next week.

New assignment: 

For this week's assignment, we're going to use mixed media, which basically means, you can use just about anything you can find: paint, doodling, marker, collage, trash...  Assignment due Wednesday 20/2

Some ideas:

As usual you can find more inspiration on my pinterest Art Journaling Board

Last week's results:

And here are the results of last week's assignment, which was 'acrylic paint'.

Want to join in?

You can join in our weekly art journalling group whenever you feel like it! Just start journalling and send your picture of the last assignment by Wednesday of the next week. 
The goal of this group isn't to show off our work, it's to get a consistent creative outlet in our lives. There are no age limits in our art group, so you can get messy with the kids!

previous lessons:


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thoughtful Thursday


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Changing the Words You Use To Describe your Child

I have written before about how I dislike labeling kids. Wether positive or negative, labels are not a very good thing. Yet the fact is, over time, we do 'label' our kids. We start holding beliefs about them. Some are positive, others are negative. As conscious parents, it is important to investigate these words that come to mind.

Adding words to character is a particularly tricky thing to do, as the words you use to describe your child may turn into labels and that can bring a whole set of fixed beliefs for your child.
Make sure all words you use are positive ones. Even for a character trait you may perceive as negative, there are positive words. Using these positive words will also change your mindset and will make the love flow more easily. 
You can use the words whenever you see a negative, but it's most important to name the inherently good things too, the things that don't annoy you.
With training, you'll be able to see the 'bad' traits emerge in 'good' situations, too.
  • Being energetic doesn't mean being aggressive.
  • You're very energetic! Look at how you just climbed that tree!
  • I see you're very determined. (Here the parent could see the trait as stubbornness, instead naming it 'determination' changes something from a negative to a positive)
I can highly recommend reading 'Raising Your Spirited Child' by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka if you want to learn more about this exercise. Another book that deals with this topic is Shefali Tsabary's 'The Conscious Parent'.

Both books offer the exercise of writing down everything you feel is negative about your child and then  investigating this list and trying to find positive words for the negative ones you have written down. This exercise springs out of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis of linguistic relativity, which states that language determines thought. With other words: the words you use to describe your child determine what you think of her. 
Personally, I think it's more of a cycle: what you think is how you talk and how you talk will influence your thought... But anyway you turn it, it's an interesting exercise and we will only grow by doing it and practicing to use positive words.

Another interesting point to consider in this, and why it's even more pertinent, is that the beliefs you hold about your child, the words you use, will become their ingrained belief system. If you frequently tell your child 'You never listen', your child will integrate that sentence. Later in life, your child may actually become a bad listener, because he's fulfilling the prophecy.

So to get you started: here's a handful of positive words you can use that can easily replace some negative ones that are often being used about kids:
energetic, fearless, persistent, passionate, careful, prudent, strong, inventive, curious, determined, straightforward, creative, innovative, proactive, gentle, strong willed, driven, reflective, cautious

You can see that these are all traits that are valued in adults, so it's time to start valuing them in your child!

What are some of the negative traits you see in your child? How could you turn them into positives?

Added to Tuesday Baby Link Up