Google+ Authentic Parenting: March 2013

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday Surf: Birth, consent, adoption and food

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

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



Friday, March 29, 2013

Their Bodies Are Their Own, Debunking Society's Claims on Children

Welcome to the March 2013 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Self-Expression and Conformity 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 self-expression. We hope you enjoy this month's posts and consider joining us next month when we share about Peaceful Parenting Applied.


I set the topic for this carnival ‘Self-expression and conformity’ a while back, because I tend to think and write about this topic now and again and because I find that we don’t read about this topic very often.
In the light of the Steubenville rape case, and many other horrid acts towards people that taint the news these days, I think this is a very pertinent question.

Self expression in children s something that parents do seem to struggle with. Not a day goes by without reading some call for help: “my daughter wants to dye her hair purple.” “My son wants to pierce his ears.” “My child dresses inappropriately.” On the kinds of forums where I linger, these parents have mostly made the choice to respect their children’s wishes and now seek a way to help them navigate the terrain. Yet time and again, commenters will attack the original poster for the mere choice to follow their children, to grant their children physical autonomy.

Image: New Hair

Yet physical autonomy is what this is all about, specifically the Steubenville case. Children who do not learn that their body is their own, that their choice is to be respected do not stand up when they see other people’s bodies being violated. They do not understand the impact of violating others and they can’t fend for themselves when they are being violated.
Children who are molded and pushed and shaped into what we adults, what we as a society want them to be, lose the respect for the self and others.
Now how on earth does dying your hair lead to raping intoxicated girls?

It may not be a straight line from purple hairdye, but not respecting children’s bodily autonomy on a regular, institutionalized basis, does lead to these horrid situations.
Society has institutionalized disrespect for children. It’s everywhere. From the simple comment: “Is that what you’re going to wear?”, to physically holding your child down at the doctor’s office, to not being able to use the bathroom at school when you feel the need. Children's bodies are constatly being invaded, abused and controlled, and most often by the ones they love and trust.
Body shaming, style shaming and the repression of self-expression leads to these beliefs in the child: “I am not worthy. I am ugly. I can’t make choices for myself. I’m stupid. I don’t deserve anything. Nobody loves me. I’m just strange. I don’t fit in.”
Children who think that way grow into young adults who think that way…

How many of us thought all of these thoughts at least one time during adolescence. I’m raising my hands here. Both hands and some feet too! It’s not very hard to imagine that young adults, repeating these beliefs to themselves like a damning mantra, will make all the wrong choices.

It’s time for us, adults, society at large, to give our children their bodies back to their rightful owner. To themselves.
Freedom means your body is yours to govern. Let’s at least give our children the freedom, let’s abolish the slavery in our homes. Let’s stop acting like we know what’s best for them and instead guide them through the choices they want to make.

Your child want to dye his hair purple. Great, help him find out where he can find a non-toxic dye. Try some temporary dyes, if you want him to find out what it'll be like before he goes for something more permanent. If he goes to school and that’s not tolerated, explain the rules and maybe suggest he dyes his hair during the summer holidays.
Mostly parents want torestrict physical self expression for the way others might react, for the sake of social conformity, the "what will other people think"-mindset. Yu should care less about what 'others' think. They don't live in your house, you're not raising them. It doesn't matter if you get strange looks. You should explain this to your child, yes, but you don't need to decide for them.
Children need to feel social borders. In a way, they do certain things to create a reaction from society. Let them. Guide them through it.

Allowing your child to make choices of his own does not mean ‘unparenting’. It does not mean you're being permissive. You are still there to help, to offer guidance, to steer the water, to explain social consequences…

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 March 29 with all the carnival links.)


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Iron Intake and Your Breastfed Baby

Welcome to the Breastfeeding Support Blog Party! Bloggers around the world have gathered together to share posts which provide current or soon-to-be breastfeeding mothers with a wealth of well-researched information, personal stories, and statistics designed to help you have the most successful breastfeeding experience possible. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to learn more about this movement as well as to link to and read more informative breastfeeding support posts.


There's a lot of scare mongering from the medical establishment when it comes to breastfeeding. Statements such as 'breastmilk is low in substance x or y so you should be supplementing' are common. Yet there are reasons why things are as they are, naturally.
Let's take the case of Iron.
Iron is essential in the transportation of oxygen between tissues in the body. Iron is a macro nutrient, which means it is required by the adult human body in quantities that are over 100mg per day.

For your exclusively breastfed baby

Breastmilk is naturally low in Iron. Indeed, when we compare breastmilk to formula or cow's milk, there's a much lower occurence of iron.
However, there is a reason for this:
  • Iron in breastmilk is optimal for human babies and gets optimally absorbed. Formula needs to be fortified in iron (read artificially enhanced), which results in an extremely high iron level, because these are not optimal for the human baby and very little of this iron is actually absorbed.
  • The low level of iron in breastmilk may very well be nature's way of protecting a baby against infection, as bacteria need iron to grow.
  • Cow's milk attacks the lining of the gut and causes bleeding, which causes iron to seep out. Introducing cow's milk at a young age can therefor actually cause anemia, even though the iron level of the cow's milk may be higher (If you want to find out more about this, I suggest you read the article by Dr. Jay Gordon cited below)
A mother's iron levels, or iron intake don't change the occurence of iron in breastmilk, so supplementation on the mother's side to increase iron in the milk isn't necssary.

Source: Anton Nossik
Nature has designed things very well and all of it is for a reason, even though we may not know all of these reasons yet. Breastmilk is the natural and normal choice of food for infants, there is frankly, no comparing it to any other food. If a mother can't breastfeed, the option of donor milk should be looked into, if that's something you could be comfortable with. Trans-species feeding is always a last resort option, the optimal nutrition for HUMAN babies is HUMAN milk. Take a look at the infant feeding hierarchy to learn more about optimal foods for babies and consult paragraph 18 and 19 of the WHO document cited below.

So what about when your baby moves on to solids?

Baby's original iron stores from when he was born are sufficient to cover at least the first six months of breastfeeding and also a couple of months beyond that. If after this, your baby starts eating a healthy and varied diet, there should be no worries about his iron intake. (This is, if your baby was born term and with a healthy birthweight, check the KellyMom article about supplementation cited below if you want to find out which babies are indeed at risk for iron deficiency.)
Optimal iron intake though diet happens when your child eats a diet with a high level of vitamin C and Iron, as the body needs vitamin C to metabolize iron.

Good sources of iron: blood products, liver, green leafy vegetables, molasses, egg yolk, nuts and meats.

Read more:
Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding - WHO
Is Iron Supplementation Necessary? -
Breastfeeding and other Foods - International Breastfeeding Centre
Anemia in Children - Dr. Jay Gordon

This gathering of breastfeeding support comes in response to the Weston A. Price Foundation’s (WAPF) continued stance on breastfeeding, which we all have a great concern with. While the WAPF does support breastfeeding as the best option for feeding babies, it does so with a caveat. Breastfeeding mothers must follow the strict tenants of the WAPF diet and mothers who are not following their nutrient dense diet recommendations would be better off feeding their babies homemade formula (based on the WAPF recipe). In addition, they are outspoken against using donor milk. The bloggers sharing posts today are concerned with the confusion this may cause breastfeeding mothers. Not only does research support the myriad of health benefits of breast milk for babies regardless of the mother’s diet, it also outlines additional benefits of breastfeeding such as better bonding, deeper trust, and a long list of other emotional benefits. Let’s not forget the health benefits for moms!


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Do I Need to Get My Membranes Stripped at 41 Weeks Pregnancy?

BannerFans.comMany care givers will suggest stripping of the membranes when a mother goes postdue. Generally this is offered at 41 weeks. Here are a few considerations about this topic in order to make an informed decision:

What is it?

Stripping the membranes is sometimes referred to as sweeping the membranes. It is a medical procedure which detached the amniotic sac from the uterine wall. This procedure is performed by inserting a finger into the cervix and then gently prying the amniotic sac off the uterince wall.
This procedure is done during a pelvic exam and it's goal is to start labor.
Membrane stripping can be painful for the mother and can cause painful cramping before actual labor starts.

The issue with due date and term

First of all, we need to address the issue of the due date and the generally accepted term of a pregnancy, we'll find that a due date is a guess at best.

the moment of conception

It is nearly impossible to know at what time exactly the baby was conceived. Even if the couple know when mom ovulated or when they had the fruitful sexual encounter, the actual conception can be at least 24 hours away from ovulation and within three days of intercourse. So even if you're very sure about this, you can be one or several days 'off'.
It's a common known fact that a due date is actually more of a due month, as most babies are born within the period two weeks before or after the due date.

duration of a pregnancy

People tend to say a pregnancy lasts 9 months, or 40 weeks (if you calculate, you'll find that 40 weeks is over nine months, so we already have a discrepancy here). If you visit your midwife or doctor's office, most likely they will determine your 'due date' based on this idea of 40 weeks.
But these 40 weeks are a false premises! They have been coined based on so called 'evidence' in the bible of a pregnancy lasting for 10 lunar months. And even then, the 10 lunar months have been misinterpreted by Naegele, who was approximately 15 days off when he made his calculations.
Read more about this here. (so far for evidence based medicine).
It is a well known fact that on average, primipari go to due date +6 and for a second baby the average, if left alone is dd+5 (which, strangely, was exactly when my son was born).

And then still, we're talking averages here... If you have any knowledge of statistics, this means that there will be numbers going off the average on either side, and they can be far off.There have been accounts of women carrying their babies for 52 weeks and still delivering a healthy newborn. Nature just can't be forced into statistics. They may be a good way to create an expectation, to serve as a guide, but they shouldn't be the golden standards they have become today.  Statistical approaches to pregnancy may actually be harmful for you if you just happen to be one of those moms who go off that golden average!

Variation in cycles
The calculation of a due date is based on yet another average, i.e. the female reproductory cycle based on the 28 days model and an ovulation on day 14.
Again this is an average and many, if not most women will not have a 28 day cycle.
Personally, my cycle is about 33 days... there you go with you average.
This means that if you are calculating a due date for me based on a 28 day cycle, you'll be off by 5 days, no matter the calculation you would use! Even mentioning this to your doctor will often prove no avail.
Now suppose your cycle is 28 days, this doesn't actually mean that you will ovulate on day 14. SO even if you fit the average this method of calculating is 'iffy' at best.

Image: Barchbot

Determining the gestational age with an ultrasound

Ultrasounds, when done at the right moment in pregnancy, are much better at determining the gestational age of your baby than the theoretic calculations mentioned above. Yet they are obviously still based on averages.
Also, the accuracy of an ultrasound is determined by the timeframe in which it is performed.

Given all these considerations about the due date, stripping the membranes at 41 weeks, may actually be 2 weeks earlier in your case, which means you are stripping at 39 weeks or even before that, which is considered preterm by any statistical approach.

Neonatal mortality

There is no scientific evidence to date that stripping membranes at 41 or even 42 weeks benefits neonatal outcome.
One should be aware that every medical procedure performed on a pregnant woman carries risks for the mother and the baby. Making these procedures 'standard practice' without medical indication clearly goes agains the medical rule to 'first do no harm'.

With any medical procedure, the medical necessity has to be assessed. Is the mother still fit and healthy, baby moving correctly, everything seems normal, then why bring on labor?

So what about the guidelines?

ACOG itself does not recommend interfering with a pregnancy before 42 weeks. If your doctor suggest stripping your membranes at 41 weeks, refer to this.
It is also beneficial to know your correct due date, there are ways to calculate this online, study the subject first (read the article linked to above, which also explains how to do this) and knowing the date of conception.
Be very careful when you visit the OB or midwife's office at the end of your pregnancy. Some caregivers do strip the membranes at 41 weeks as standard procedure without consent. This is illegal!


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Choosing a New Bed for Your Growing Kid

Written by Camille

Making the transition from a cot to a big-kid bed is a definite milestone for both kids and parents.
The switch generally happens between the ages two and four but most parents decide to make the switch when their little one is able to climb out of their crib or if another happy event is about to arrive.

Img Lance Shields

Whether you go for a regular bed, a bunk bed or a toddler bed for your growing kid, the first step in the process of changing bed should always be the communication. It is quite important to get your child involved in the choice of the new bed as well as the choice of the colour of the bed sheets in order to ease the transition and make sure that he or she settles well. Some younger kids will need more time to get used to a bed, as it can be difficult for them to understand that the new bed has imaginary boundaries that they have to stay within.
Small child in undershirt, ca 1905
Next step is to actually decide on the most appropriate type of bed for your child and this can take quite a while as we tend to be more vigilant when it comes to our children. How big or how small should the new bed be? What should I look at to ensure the new bed is safe? How firm should the new mattress be? Every parent asks this type of question at some point and we have gladly answered some of them below to help you choose the right bed for your growing child.

What bed size?

A single bed is usually the natural choice for parents moving their child out of a cot. However, there are two other different schools of thoughts when it comes to choosing the size of a child’s bed. Some parents prefers going for a smaller size such as a small single bed which takes a small single mattress, the width of which is closer to that of a cot bed, so won’t feel so unfamiliar. This will ease the transition but one should bear in mind that your child will rapidly outgrow the bed and need a bigger one sooner that you would expect. The second option is to go for a small double bed since it has the advantage of being large enough for a toddler and then a teenager. Whichever bed size you choose for your child, they will eventually get used to the new dimensions.

How Safe?

Considering your kid will be sleeping in this bed for years to come it is important to give thought to their safety. Make sure the new bed is not faulty, look for sharp corners, smooth the surface to get rid of possible splinters and prevent accidents that might occur. You can also install safety rails in order to prevent your child from falling out of the new bed while they get used to it. Regarding the composition of the mattress, it is always best to look for one made of natural fillings and featuring hypoallergenic properties such as memory foam mattresses which are both hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant, making them safe for children as well as adults who suffer from allergies or asthma .

How firm?

When choosing a new mattress to fit the big-kid bed you should look at comfort as the priority. The mattress has to be both comfortable and supportive to provide your little one with a blissful sleep every night. Parents are often advised to choose a softer sleeping surface such as medium mattress for a kid’s mattress in order to provide their growing bodies with great comfort and support. After all your little one may not be a toddler anymore but still is a growing kid with specific needs! They won’t need a firm mattress though as they are not as heavy as an adult, so don’t need the same amount of support.

About the author
Camille is a home furniture enthusiast and is happy to share her decoration and home improvement ideas with the community of interior lovers. Camille is writing on behalf of Wedo, an online retailer specialising in beds and bedroom furniture.


Monday, March 25, 2013

What Your Nails Say About Your Health

Image: Film Fatale

Our nails are more than just a waste product of the body, designed to protect fingertips and toes. They are also a database, telling us exactly what is going on with our health. Examining our nails can be a non-invasive way to find out more about deficiencies and our general physical condition.

But what are we looking for?
Very pale nails:
pale nails, paired with a darker rim can be a sign of severe conditions such as:
  • heart failure
  • liver disease
  • congestive heart failure
  • diabetes
  • malnutrition
  • anemia
paler nails can also be a sign of ageing

White nails with darker rims can be a sign of liver problems, especially if they are accompanied by jaundiced fingers.

Yellow nails are most likely a sign of fungal infection, in this case, the nailbed retracts and nails may start to crumble. In some cases yellow nails can be a sign of more serious illness.

Bluish nails are a sign that the body isn't getting enough oxygen. The problem could lie in the lungs or it could be a sign of heart failure.

Rippled or pitted nails can be an early sign of psoriasis or inflammatory arthritis. Pitted nails can also be a symptom of a connective tissue disorder.

Dry, Brittle, Splitting nails can be a sign of a thyroid condition. If the nail is also yellowish, this is most lkely a fungal infection (see above).

Red, inflamed nail folds can be a sign of a connective tissue disorder or a sign of infection.

Dark lines under the nail are a serious cause of concern and should be checked by an MD immediately, as they might be a sign of melanoma.

Nail biting that can't be stopped can be a sign of anxiety or OCD that needs to be treated.

Grooves (overwidth) in the nail can be a sign of iron or zinc deficiency. They also occur after illnesses with high fever or injuries of the finger.

Nail clubbing: when the fingertip enlarges and the nail curves over the fingertip, this can be a sign of oxygen deprivation. This symptom is also linked to Inflammatroy bowel, AIDS and certain liver conditions.

Hollowed nails are most likely a sign of iron deficiency, but can also be a sign of hemochromatosis, a condition in which your body absorbs too much iron from the food. They are also called spoon nails and are often carved out enough to hold a drop of liquid. They can also be a sign of hypothyroidism or heart disease.

Many nail irregularities aren't a cause for concern. If your nail irregularities are paired with other symptoms, it is imperative to get a medical check-up!


Friday, March 22, 2013

Breaking Out of Throwaway Culture in 2013

Written by Aimee Watts

For decades, disposable culture has permeated every part of our society, leading to environmental degradation, waste, and inefficiency. If your family is locked in a throwaway lifestyle, there’s nothing like a new year to make a fresh start. Here are a few trends that are helping people around the country save money, live better, and protect the planet.

1. Repair Shops

Disposable culture caused the near-extinction dozens of repair trades like tailoring, cobbling, and small appliance repair; but in environmentally-conscious regions, these professions are making a comeback, mending tennis shoes and t-shirts as well as high-end luxury items. For a few bucks and 20 minutes of their time, not only are people saving something that would have been thrown away, but keeping someone local employed as well. Repair swaps are also popping up all over the country, where once a week or month groups get together to help each other repair their items for free. Check your local living section of your newspaper, the classifieds, and craigslist to find repair shops or repair swaps in your area.

2. Local Trade and Resale

Craigslist is nothing new, and buy-local campaigns have been around for years—but the recent trend is in specialty sites like craigslist, but only for a state or region, and only for a certain type of good or service. Sites for electronics, baby goods, produce, crafts, and services that are tailored for a specific region are great because they know what issues are affecting local communities, and are better equipped to prevent scams and spamming. It’s a great marriage of the convenience and efficiency of the internet, with the security and personality of a local market. Next time you think about throwing something away or purchasing something new, consider seeking out locals who might be willing to trade, sell, or buy.

3. E-waste recycling and repair

While it’s been almost impossible to reuse or resell broken or obsolete electronics in the past, many manufacturers are seeing the benefits of selling a more lasting, modular product. More and more companies are licensing technicians and selling “verified” parts to ensure quality repairs, so you can have a more certain, secure experience when you take your computer in for a diagnostic. The trend in PCs and tablet computers is upgradability and reparability. Starting in 2013, you’ll be easily able to add memory or fix broken screens or parts on more electronics.

4. Cell Phones

As was mentioned, local trading and selling has certainly picked up in popularity, even with expensive electronics like cell phones. Everyone knows somebody that has a drawer full of used cell phones, now 10 years old and useless. Cell phones that are 3-4 years old are still viable and highly sought after as many people can’t afford the newest $500 dollar phone, so take advantage of that and resell your old cell phone for a couple bucks. You can use established sites like eBay,, Gazelle, or ReCellular, and some malls in the United States and Europe now have vending-esque machines that can tell you how much your cell phone is worth and purchase it right then and there. If your cell isn’t worth anything, they give you the option to donate or recycle it on the spot.

5. Fashion

Perhaps one of the biggest culprits to the throwaway nature of our society is the fashion industry. Unfortunately they aren’t changing much other than the niche companies and products that encourage reusability. Rather, in line with the first point, people are not only taking their old clothes to be repaired, but they’re repurposing old articles of clothing into something fashionable. Thrift stores are becoming more socially acceptable and the norm as people use them to cheaply purchase material to create something they want. So invest in a sewing machine and start mending and creating!

About the author:
Aimee Watts is a staff writer for Mobile Moo. She has spent ten years telecommuting full-time, and loves spreading tips and advice for fellow work-at-home parents. She loves gadgets, new ideas, and skiing with her two favorite people: her husband and teenage son. They live in Evergreen, Colorado.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Book Review: Encouraging Words for Kids by Kelly Bartlett
Praise is bad for your children, it conditionalizes your love for them and forces them to shape themselves into what you desire, to win your affection. This statement has been made over and over in the peaceful parenting sphere, but what to do instead?
Does it mean we have to censor all words of kindness towards our children? Is there something we can do that shows our appreciation without these negative effects?

Kelly Bartlett gives us an entire set of positive reinforcing interactions to practice that build our kids up in their own capacities, without having to measure to our judgement. It explains the difference between encouragement and praise and helps us move in the right direction.
The book is a wonderful read filled with positivity and inspiration. A sure recommendation for anyone who wants to move beyond mindless praise.

This book encourages to move away from trying to mold children into something we want them to become, into fostering their uniqueness, their innate capacity of caring and self discipline. It is truly a great tool to have under your parenting belt. Two thumbs up!

Get your own copy of the book here.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

De-Cluttering and Moving to Minimalism

Welcome to the March edition of the Simply Living Blog Carnival - Clearing the Clutter 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 writerswrite about de-cluttering and cleaning up. Please check out the links to posts by our other participants at the end of this post.


As we're considering another move - this time to unjob, so a lot more likeable - I've come to assess al of the stuff we own. And I find it appalling!

Now you have to understand that we moved out of Ivory Coast a little over two years ago at a time of war - in an emergency evacuation. We then moved to Congo, but our container full of stuff was only shipped months after we got there. It took three months to arrive and two more months in customs and by then, we already knew we were moving to Liberia.
During that time I got pregnant and had a baby.
Obviously all of my pregnancy and babystuff was in the container, so I found myself having to buy doubles of EVERYTHING!
So now I have about 4 nursing pillows, more diapers any bub can wear, pregnancy clothes coming out of my ears :)

When things started arriving here in Liberia, I immediately had the plan to - yet again - drastically reduce what we own. (Whenever we move to a different country, we donate lots of stuff to our staff and people we know in country - and yet still, stuff piles up)

Away with all the clothes who have gotten to small, too large or damaged.
Away with all those things you never use
Away with all of the things we have double
Away with all the things you only use on occasion, like once a year, when you have a really fancy party
Away with anything that has no meaning to us

I set out three big boxes:
  • One for the orphanage
  • One to sell
  • and one for the things we want to keep.

I also started stuffing things in our luggage to hull back to Belgium.

I'm pleased to see that by now, I've filled two huge boxes for the orphanage and at least 4 normal sized boxes to sell. Yet my 7 pieces of luggage for Belgium are already jam-paked.
It frustrates me to still 'need' so much stuff. But it would be silly to buy the same things I already own yet again, and we do have a house to furnish over there.

The hardest thing will be when we move from here and I have to 'attack' the children's toys. It's easy giving away my own stuff, or even their clothes, but when it comes to their toys, I do have issues.

Do you declutter on a regular basis? What do you do with the things you don't need?



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. Read about how others are incorporating simple living into their lives via new beginnings. We hope you will join us next month, as the Simply Living Blog Carnival focuses on Going Green!

  • 7 Tips for Cutting the Toy Clutter - In a post at Natural Parents Network, Mandy offers easy and child-respectful ideas for downsizing your kids' growing mountains of toys.
  • De-Cluttering and Moving to Minimalism - Giving up the things you own to enjoy a more balanced life, that's what Laura from Authentic Parenting is actively trying to achieve.
  • A Minimalist Clutter Bug - Destany at They Are All of Me writes about the daunting task of clearing away years clutter brought on by disorganization and dislike for throwing things away.
  • The Pack Rat Stops Here - Mercedes @ Project Procrastinot doesn't want her twins to inherit the pack rat legacy, but is not sure how to lead by example. 
  • Clutter Minimized - Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how minimizing different aspects of her life and household have changed her life.
  • Uncluttering Childhood - Are fewer toys and books harmful for your child? Does simplifying the stuff in your life, merely mean faster clean up? Find out if "less" is truly "more" for parents and kids alike at Heart-Led Parenting.
  • Lagom - A search for balance in decluttering our home and our lives, from sustainablemum.
  • Letting Go - Of Things and Thoughts - Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work rejoices in her ability to allow others to teach her to let go - of things and of thoughts.
  • From Cluttered to Clutter Free - Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses the changes she went through from growing up in a cluttered household to becoming a decluttering diva.
  • Facing the emotional roadblocks of clearing clutter - We all have reasons we hold on tightly to our stuff. Lauren at Hobo Mama offers advice for breaking through those walls.
  • Spring Cleaning with Freecycle - Amy at Anktangle shares how her Spring cleaning ritual has become much more fun (and productive!) since she's embraced her local Freecycle community and all it stands for.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Toys For Special Needs Children

written by Marcela De Vivo It’s important to find toys for your special needs child that will help them develop happily and healthily. The right toys will not only help your child’s development and communication skills, but also help them to have fun.

Take a minute to decide what specific need you are trying to fulfill for your child and choose a toy accordingly.

Social Engagement and Interaction

These toys and games will help your child to be more social with you and other children. Toys that incorporate interests that a child already has will motivate them to work more towards expressive and meaningful interactions.

The types of toys that you should look for should be simple to play with and should provide the right amount of sensory input in a relaxed setting to help reinforce successful play behaviors.
They can be played alone or with a partner.

For example, a musical instrument can be played alone or be used as an opportunity for imitation. Your child can copy you after you play, making the activity more social. This is a great time to incorporate taking turns with your child as you pass the instrument back and forth.

Emotional Development and Regulation

These games will help your child better convey and understand his or her emotions. Puppets are a great way to teach your child how to recognize different types of emotions. This activity can lead to conversations about why it is or isn’t appropriate to act a certain way in specific situations.

This also helps special needs children become more aware of social cues, therefore enabling them to better control their feelings in public and at home.

These toys will help them to connect better with the people around them.

Creative Thinking and Imaginary Play

These games aid in the development of logic, meaning your child will be able to better grasp what a friend or family member is feeling or needs at the moment.

Dolls and dollhouses with people and play food inspire creative thinking since your child will most likely build a scenario around what they are doing with the doll or in the dollhouse.

These kinds of toys and type of play greatly help children express themselves and become more confident people.

Sensory Motor Development

Image: JaneArt
Toys that aid in helping the development of motor skills that will be very important later when your child is older and possibly able to participate in more physical activities, and so will need to be aware of their bodies.

Special needs children should be given ample opportunities to enhance these skills. Toys that promote this include: bubbles, puzzles and building blocks. These toys support a haptic aspect in play in that they allow your child to touch and feel them.


Communication is key to knowing what your child needs and how they are feeling. These types of games will help get them talking to you and expressing those things in a non-frustrated way. Apps for the iPhone or tablet can be really helpful in helping a special needs child interact more with the people around them.

Proloquo2go is an app that children of varying literacy levels and speech capabilities can easily learn to use. By tapping a few simple keys on the keyboard, a child can express what he or she is trying to say. More simply, the Yes/No app provides the option to tap “yes” and “no” buttons for children with disabilities to answer basic questions quickly.

Cognition and Problem Solving

These games are a lot like the sensory motor games and will help promote a sharp memory. Mastering new skills is not only exciting, but a good confidence boost. Memory games, like Go Fish, and science kits provide a healthy, challenging learning experience.

No matter the game you choose, remember to make things fun for your child. This will ensure they continue to expand their knowledge and communication skills while playing games and having a great time.

About the author:
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer in the Los Angeles area. Her oldest son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was an infant and since then she has worked on with several special needs advocacy groups to ensure he has the best care and education possible.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday Surf: Gender, Herbal, Medicalized Birth

As usual, you can 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, March 16, 2013

Self Care and Motherhood


Self care as a mother is very important. It equips you to deal with the daily stresses and conflicts with calm collectedness. Long relaxing baths are a great way to care for yourself.
So I set out to take a bath yesterday, my baby has been sick this week and the lack of sleep and frustration made me prone to a little pick me up.
I was aiming for this! (Source: o5com)
I ran the bath and went to use the loo. Baby waddled in with the dog. Turned the tap handle to cold, pushed the lever to put the water through the showerhead and 'washed' the dog with it, flooding the bathroom.
I got up from the toilet. Put the water back on the tap. Got undressed while trying to make sure the baby didn't slip on the slippery tiles.

I got into the bath - darn I forgot that the baby had turned the cold on! So I'm now sitting in cold water. I turn the hot and slide to the back to let the cold and hot mix.

The dog drinks from the water. I shoo her away.

Water has now reached a decent temperature and the bath is full. I can now relax.
I slide down to lie in the water.

Baby takes off his shirt and 'washes' it in the bath. We play with the sirt, washing it near my feet, then behind my back and so on. Then the baby takes the shirt and waddles over to the toilet with it. "No honey!" He gives me a big smile and dunks it in the toilet.
I forgot to flush as I had rushed to keep the bathroom from flooding.

"Leave it there!" He opens the toilet. "I'll get it out for you honey, that's yucky!" He looks into the toilet. "It's ok hun, I'll get it out". He closes the toilet again and waddles off.

I get back to the relaxation, slide into the water.

Two seconds later, I hear strange sounds. The dog is licking my hair. I shoo her away.
Baby came back too.
He pulls my nose with his sharp little nails (when am I going to catch him asleep to cut these sharp little claws?). I sit up to avoid further damage to my facial features.
Baby waddles to the side of the tub, wants in. I take him into the bath, he doesn't like it. He physically tries to remove me from the bath.

I get out, wrap the both of us in a towel, go to the bed and nurse him.
My husband and daughter walk in: "Did you have a nice bath"
I look at him frazzled: "I didn't even get to wash my hair".
"Ok, I'll take the baby into the kitchen."

My husband walks off with the baby, dogs and daughter. I get back into the tub. The water is cold now. I run some more hot water. Slip back into the water. Everything is calm now, I can relaxs.

Thumping on the bathroom door: "Mama! Mama! Mamamamamamamamamamama!"

My husband: "I really can't keep him there."
Baby walks in again, tries to physically remove me from the bath again.
"It's ok, I'll come out, I'll just wash my hair.'
I wash my hair. "Mama! Mama!"
Baby cries.
I rinse my hair. "Mama Mama!"
Baby cries.
I use conditioner and rinse again. 'Mamamamamamamama!"
Baby cries.

I get out, take the towel, take the baby. All is well.

Next time, I'm taking a shower.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

March APBC Call For Submission: Self-Expression and Conformity

APBC - Authentic Parenting

Welcome to the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children and Laura at Authentic Parenting. We hope that you will join us on the last Friday of each month as we share posts about simple living in our lives. Submission deadline will be the Friday before last.

Self Expression and Conformity

Kids like to test the margins of where they can go, wether with their behavior or their looks, but where do you draws the line. Is there behavior you don't tolerate or image alteration you would prohibit? How far do we go to conform and do we take our children along with us? Is the image we portray important, or can we just skip the boundaries all together. We would love to hear your input.
Submission date: March 22nd
Carnival date: March 29th

How to join in?

To submit an article to the blog carnival, please e-mail your submission to mandy{at}livingpeacefullywithchildren{dot}com and mamapoekie{at}yahoo{dot}com, and fill out the webform by March 22nd. Please write a new, unpublished piece for the carnival. We will e-mail you with instructions before the carnival date. We ask that you publish your post on March 29th.

Please do:

  • Use your creativity
  • Write an original, previously unpublished post on the given topic
  • Be respectful
  • Spell check your post

Do Not
Use excessive profanity or promote violence against others

As the co-hosts of the carnival are advocates of peaceful living and gentle parenting, we ask that you not post about non-gentle practices or violence toward others. While we will not be editing your articles, we do reserve the right to not add your post to the carnival if it is not on topic, is poorly written, or goes against the guidelines which have been set forth.

Why Participate?

Blog carnivals are a great way to generate blog traffic and build a supportive community. Your blog will receive links from many other blogs and you and your readers will have the opportunity to discover other blogs with similar goals in mind. Please join us as we embrace Authentic Parenting! We hope you will consider joining us every month as we discuss ways to live and parent authentically.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How to Prevent Hemmorhoids During Pregnancy and Birth

During pregnancy, many women develop hemorrhoids for a number of reasons. Due to a sluggish digestion, brought on by hormones, constipation can be an issue. Constipation can lead to the formation of hemorrhoids. The additional weight in the abdominal area and the strain the growing uterus causes on the pelvic area can impair the return of blood flow from the arteries in the lower limbs, causing a heightened pressure on the veins. All these factors add up to a heightened risk to develop hemorrhoids.

Also during the birth itself, there is a great deal of pressure being exerted on the anal region, which can lead to hemorrhoids. But there are ways of prevention, and they are quite simple:

  1. Drink lots of water - water is needed to keep the digestive system working. When you're pregnant, your need for water increases, so you should stay hydrated in order to keep the digestive system working optimally.
  2. Eating a diet high in fiber with lots of fruit and vegetables keeps the digestion running smoothly. Stay away from processed and sugared foods, as they slow digestion.
  3. Mild excercise (walking, swimming) keeps the circulation optimal
  4. If you're suffering from constipation, you could consider drinking prune juice, eating dried prunes or adding some agar agar to your diet. These are all natural remedies that aren't harmful to your baby.
  5. Don't push while on the toilet! A squatted position is better for the natural elimination of excrement. If you're having a hard time, you could consider putting a stepstool in front of the toilet, so you have a more natural position. The pushing of your legs onto your abdomen creates a natural massage that eases elimination.
  6. Don't hold it in: use the bathroom when you feel the need. Holding it will cause extra pressure on the anus.
  7. Don't sit or stand for long periods of time, this also increases pressur on the lower arteries.
  8. Don't sit on the tolet for hours, this position also causes strain on the anal region.
  9. During birth, applying counterpressure on the anal region not only offers relief, but can actively assist in the prevention of hemorrhoids. There are actual devices for this purpose, but plain manual pressure will do just fine.
  10. Birthing positions also have an effect on the pressure in the anal region. Obviously the stranded beetle is the one where anal pressure is the greatest and should be avoided.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Discussing Sexuality and Objectification With Your Child

Welcome to the March 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Tough Conversations
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have spoken up about how they discuss complex topics with their children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


My daughter is a Deep Thinker. Even when she was very small, she would utter these deep philosophical statements:
"Mom, is the night like death?"
"Mom, why do people die?"
"Mama, why do people make babies?"
"Why did you make my brother?"
"Why didn't you have another baby than the Little Buddha?"b(why did this baby come and not another one)

I've always considered honesty the best approach, but when it comes to philosophical questions, there often aren't any quick scientific responses. We're a non-religious family, so religion is not an answer to these questions.
So how do I respond?

I wrote an article some time ago how I treated the topic of death. Even though I do fear death, not for myself, but for my loved ones, I did not find this a particulary tricky subject.

Strangely though, even though I am pretty outspoken about sexuality, heck I even wrote my thesis on the subject, when it comes to discussing this topic with my daughter, I find myself grasping for words.

Sexuality suddenly seems like a much more difficult topic. There are so many things at stake.

  • I want my daughter to grown up confident about her sexuality.
  • I don't want to determine her sexuality
  • I don't want her to grow up that any sexual preference is preferred above another
  • I don't want her to grow up with the idea of sin etc
It becomes clear that I know a lot of what I do'nt want, but then what do I say?
This is the message I want to carry out:
  • You can love anyone you want when you're ready for love
  • I love you, no matter who you love
  • Sex can be a lovely, joyful experience
  • You choose when and with whom you have sex
And as if it isn't complicated enough to send out these messages to my daughter, popular culture comes to mess things up!
A couple of days ago, she was skimming through a magazine. Mind you, an interior decorating magazine, because I don't have glossy women's mag's at home for the specific reason of how they portray women. She came to me showing one of the pictures in the magazine, about toilet paper. It showed a woman being pressed up against a wall and a man... well... harassing her.
"Mommy, why is that man forcing her to kiss?"


Another moment, we were watching a show and a woman gets raped by her husband:
"Mommy, that lady doesn't seem happy about that, then why are they having sex?"


Obviously, we didn't watch that show with her in the room anymore (It was The Borgias... not child friendly!).

Another movie showed female strippers. Mind you this was a 'family friendly' comedy
"Mommy, why aren't you happy that these ladies are dancing naked?"

Image: Miss Karen
How do you explain rape to a four year old? Or commodification and objectification of women? All of these things are normal in our cuture and kids are being bombarded with them, even if you do pay attention...
For the latter, since she was asking about my emotions, I could answer: "I don't like that women are being forced to do things they aren't comfortable with for the sole reason of making money. I think it's sad that we as a culture have to subject women to these jobs."

But how do you explain rape and rape culture? I am at a loss.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: 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 updated by afternoon March 12 with all the carnival links.)
  • A Difficult Conversation — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is keeping her mouth shut about a difficult topic.
  • Discussing Sexuality and Objectification With Your Child — At Authentic Parenting, Laura is puzzled at how to discuss sexuality and objectification with her 4-year-old.
  • Tough Conversations — Kadiera at Our Little Acorn knows there are difficult topics to work through with her children in the future, but right now, every conversation is a challenge with a nonverbal child.
  • Real Talk — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama explains why there are no conversation topics that are off limits with her daughter, and how she ensures that tough conversations are approached in a developmentally appropriate manner.
  • From blow jobs to boob jobs and lots of sex inbetweenMrs Green talks candidly about boob jobs and blow jobs…
  • When Together Doesn't Work — Ashley at Domestic Chaos discusses the various conversations her family has had in the early stages of separation.
  • Talking To Children About Death — Luschka at Diary of a First Child is currently dealing with the terminal illness of her mother. In this post she shares how she's explained it to her toddler, and some of the things she's learned along the way.
  • Teaching 9-1-1 To Kids — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling talks about the importance of using practical, age-appropriate emergency scenarios as a springboard for 9-1-1 conversations.
  • Preschool Peer PressureLactating Girl struggles to explain to her preschooler why friends sometimes aren't so friendly.
  • Frank Talk — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis unpacks a few conversations about sexuality that she's had with her 2-year-old daughter, and her motivation for having so many frank discussions.
  • When simple becomes tough — A natural mum manages oppositional defiance in a toddler at Ursula Ciller's Blog.
  • How Babies are Born: a conversation with my daughter — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger tries to expand her daughter's horizons while treading lightly through the waters of pre-K social order.
  • Difficult Questions & Lies: 4 Reasons to Tell The Truth — Ariadne of Positive Parenting Connection shares the potential impact that telling lies instead of taking the time to answer difficult questions can have on the parent-child relationship.
  • Parenting Challenges--when someone dies — Survivor at Surviving Mexico writes about talking to her child about death and the cultural challenges involved in living in a predominantly Catholic nation.
  • Daddy Died — Breaking the news to your children that their father passed away is tough. Erica at ChildOrganics shares her story.
  • Opennesssustainablemum prepares herself for the day when she has to tell her children that a close relative has died.
  • Embracing Individuality — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy addressed a difficult question in public with directness and honesty.
  • Making the scary or different okay — Although she tries to listen more than she talks about tough topics, Jessica Claire of Crunchy-Chewy Mama also values discussing them with her children to soften the blow they might cause when they hit closer to home.
  • Talking to My Child About Going Gluten Free — When Dionna at Code Name: Mama concluded that her family would benefit from eliminating gluten from their diet, she came up with a plan to persuade her gluten-loving son to find peace with the change. This is how they turned the transition to a gluten-free lifestyle into an adventure rather than a hardship.
  • How Does Your Family Explain Differences and Approach Diversity? — How do you and your family approach diversity? Gretchen of That Mama Gretchen shares her thoughts at Natural Parents Network and would like to hear from readers.
  • Discussing Difficult Topics with Kids: What’s Worked for Me — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares parenting practices that enabled discussions of difficult topics with her (now-adult) children to be positive experiences.
  • Tough Conversations — Get some pointers from Jorje of Momma Jorje on important factors to keep in mind when broaching tough topics with kids.
  • Sneaky people — Lauren at Hobo Mama has cautioned her son against trusting people who'd want to hurt him — and hopes the lessons have sunk in.
  • Mommy, What Does the Bible Say? — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work works through how to answer a question from her 4-year-old that doesn't have a simple answer.
  • When All You Want for Them is Love: Adoption, Abandonment, and Honoring the Truth — Melissa at White Noise talks about balancing truth and love when telling her son his adoption story.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Becoming a Foster Parent: How to Make it Work

Being a foster family is a very specific situation, unlike any other, you are supposed to love a child as your own, but only for a while. Hosting a foster child can be very rewarding, it can be life saving for the child, but it is always difficult and puzzling.

When you intend to be a foster family, there are many things to consider in order to make it work. I consulted with foster parents, children who were in foster care and parents who had their biological children in foster care. Here are some ‘rules’ we came up with:

  1. The first and most important rule is to understand the baseline: These children need a temporary home and ultimately will be placed with their biological parents or family. Fostering sometimes leads to adoption, true, but it should not be seen as a way to adopt.
  2. Fostering a child should never be about the money. It is about offering a child a safe haven!
  3. Expect it to be hard. You will have to love unconditionally, but temporarily. This is a great challenge, and often the child will not make it easy on you. From a former foster child: “Foster kids come with baggage, we come with behavioral problems when we are little, we come from sexually abusive, physically and emotionally abusive backgrounds. We are going to make mistakes. We are going to learn the hard way at times. We are going to make you sad and make you want to give up at times... LOVE US ANYWAY. Keep believing in is. Do it anyway. Love us anyway. Believe in those kids when we can't believe in ourselves.
  4. Love the child as your own. Foster children need to feel loved and accepted more than anyone. They have been uprooted, some more than once.
  5. Present your child as your child, not your foster child or newest addition. This child needs to feel accepted, part of a family, not just a passer by, even though he may be. For this moment in time, this child needs to be safe and wanted in your home.
  6. Don’t judge the child, his upbringing or his biological parents. Don’t jump to conclusions. Your child’s upbringing is as much a part of him as his body, so judging will only leave your will confused. You will never have the whole story. From a mother whose children were put in the foster system: “I was reunited with my 18yo and my 17yo two years ago. They went into foster care and were adopted when they were small. I was accused of endangerment for letting their father care for them while I worked. They were found walking down the street alone. I was in a very difficult situation and wasn't able to get them back."
  7. Don’t think of yourself as a savior, think of yourself as a safe and loving haven along the way. “You cannot save everyone, but you can put your oar in to a persons life, and pull a couple of strokes in the right direction. Then all you can do is hope the current carries them the rest of the way safely. If you can see yourself as a part of a chain of people who will all love this kid, all trying to help them to their path, rather than a saviour of some kind, it might be for you.”
Writing about topics like these is not easy. I want to thank all of those who helped me write it from the bottom of my heart. The people who responded to my request on my Facebook page and who emailed me, whithout you, this post wouldn't have been possible.
Opening up your home to a foster child is a wonderful thing to do. I hope this post inspires some people to become a safe haven for children who are in need of one. I hope it can offer some guidance and will bring some love in the hearts of these children.

Read my article 'Foster Care: Giving Homes to Children Who Need One'


Saturday, March 9, 2013

8 Ideas For Getting Your Pre-Baby Body Back (rerun)

Let´s be honest, having babies changes our bodies forever. Those pregnancy hormones along with cravings, eating enough to grow a healthy baby and support good milk supply and then the exhaustion of caring for a newborn sure can take a toll on any new mom. Add in subsequent pregnancies and balancing life with a child(ren) and a baby can sometimes leave little time for preparing the most nutritious meals, going to the gym or to have an exercise routine.

So what’s a mom to do to get that pre-baby body back? Here are 8 gentle (no crash diets) ideas to explore:

1. Accept that change will take time. It took nine months for that baby to grow and for your body to change. It might take nine months or even longer for your body to change again. Make a plan or take things in stride, accept that finding time to change your body shape might not be your highest priority as a new parent.

2. Accept that some things will not change. As your baby grew your rib cage expanded and your pelvis had to stretch to birth your baby. Thanks to a hormone called relaxin your ligaments loosed to help those changes. Relaxin also travels the whole body so for some it means longer or wider feet...forever…I sport a scar from my first birth which was a cesarian. Although hidden, it will always be there and over time I have learned to love it.

3. Breastfeed: Breastfeeding is normal and a natural way to nuture a baby. As a side factor, some moms find breastfeeding boosts their weight loss. Breastfeeding induces a flow of hormones in the body that help the uterus contract back to pre-baby size. Breastfeeding also boosts oxytocin which can help you feel happy and relaxed. To produce milk you naturally need energy and holding baby while feeding does as well so you burn calories. It’s not a guarantee as it’s just one of those things that works for some moms, not so for others.

4. Practice baby wearing: Aside being a lovely bonding experience, keeping baby close also triggers “mothering” hormones which can increase happiness and overall mood. Being happy about life generally translates into being happier about your own body/self image. It also means you are carrying 4lbs, 6lbs, 10lbs however much it may be along with you as you move about the day.

5. Create a workout plan that is baby friendly: Taking daily walks with baby, trying a mama-baby yoga class, signing up for a stroller meet up are all ways to add exercise into your week without loosing connection to baby.

6. Gift yourself time for self-care: Involving dads and/or another trusted care giver to stay with baby while you take an hour or two to work out, meditate, jog, whatever it maybe is not only ok for baby but very healthy for you.

7. Try to get plenty of sleep. Safe co-sleeping, napping when you can, getting plenty of rest will help you feel better and your body work better.

8. Nourish your body: Sure sometimes things will get hectic it will be hard to cook the most nutritious meal, but whenever possible stick to whole foods and healthy choices. If you stock up on healthy snacks and avoid buying foods that are not so good for you, it makes it that much harder to eat those foods you wish to avoid.

Post pregnancy body shape acceptance can be a struggle. Sometimes it’s important to embrace ourselves just as we are, and then change when and what we can when the time is right.

I love to say this to my children “we all come in different shapes and sizes but our hearts were built the same so we can love each other which ever way we are.”

Are you struggling or at peace with your new body image? Which of these ideas have worked for you or will you try? What would you add to this list?

Peace & Be Well,

Image: luigi diamanti /