Google+ Authentic Parenting: April 2013

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Separating Families for Birth - The Modern Way of Birthing (rerun)

Originally published at SQUAT! Birth Journal

As we are planning a homebirth this time around, I got to thinking how I would have done if I were to birth in the hospital. With my daughter being our first child, childcare during labor obviously wasn’t an issue, but now, if I had chosen that route, it would have been.
How would we have managed? Would we have been able to find someone who was ready at any time - day or night - to take care of our daughter?
And it got me thinking about something else... Sibling jealousy and the medical system’s separation of families during childbirth.

Before hospital birth was common, there would always be children around the birthing woman. They might be tactfully guided to the neighbor or a female relative, but not everywhere. Having children around and aware - to some degree - of what was going on, was normal and natural.
Yet nowadays, hospital birth and it’s separation of families has become such a normal, integrative part of our culture that we don’t think about this anymore. More so, having children around the birth space is considered odd at the least and detrimental to the child at the worst. Even when discussing homebirth, the question will inevitably be:
- “What will you do with the older child”.
When I went to visit with my midwives, they asked that exact question. At that time, we didn’t have any means of childcare, beside ourselves, so I said that she’d be fine assisting the birth, and she would be free to go or come as she chooses. She’s very much interested in birth and claims to want to catch the baby.
- “But what if she doesn’t want to be there?” was the next question.
Now personally, I don’t have any issue with my daughter coming and going as she chooses and at three and half, she can manage herself in the house, so that was just a non-issue for me. But their policy was to have someone else around for the child at worst, or to drop off the child with a relative at best.
When I uttered that my husband was perfectly capable of taking care of our daughter if need be, and that it didn’t bother me to labor alone - I might actually prefer it - they looked at me cross-eyed.

So here are some of the things I would like to address on this topic:

Image: Oana Hogrefe Photography 
  • I think it is normal and natural and even healthy for children to witness birth. This way they see that birth is just a part of life and might learn to fear it less than those generations who where kept from it (there’s always a certain mystique to the unseen)
  • I think the modern system of separating families is detrimental to the relationship between siblings. Older siblings get dropped off, because it’s the babies time, only to get picked up again, after long hours, for a short hospital visit, where mommy obviously has fallen in love with this tiny new creature. The older child can’t help but wonder if (s)he is still to be a part of the family, as they went off to have this baby on their own, and mommy and daddy seem to be too distracted to take care of their needs. Of course, this is an extreme, but it is often what happens, and with a hospital birth, the father is often overwhelmed by the responsibilities and running around he has to do, and the mother is stuck at the hospital with the new baby. The older siblings are somewhat left adrift, even in the best of situations.

There is nothing more natural then birth, and having the older siblings around (obviously with the freedom of choice to leave the room if possible, and perhaps a caretaker around to help them out a little if it’s all too overwhelming) is only natural, healthy, and good for family relationships. Birth should not be a time of separation and discontinuity, it should be a celebration of a growing family, where nobody is left out of the marvel and wonder of the event.


Monday, April 29, 2013

10 Ways to Train Your Pelvic Floor Without Exercise (rerun)

There has been some wind that Kegels aren’t the magnificent exercise they are believed to be.

A kegel attempts to strengthen the PF, but it really only continues to pull the sacrum inward promoting even more weakness, and more PF gripping. The muscles that balance out the anterior pull on the sacrum are the glutes. A lack of glutes (having no butt) is what makes this group so much more susceptible to PFD. (1)
The answer to a healthy pelvic floor, ready for birth and a speedy recovery and apt to avoid incontinence is quite simple: squats. Modern women hardly ever squat, toilets, chairs, comfortable sofa’s have made this movement nearly obsolete. But in forsaking the squat, we may have lost more than we have gained.

In this article, I want to give you ways in which to integrate squats into everyday life again. By making squatting a habit again, you are toning your pelvic floor without tedious exercise. These are regular everyday situations, in which you can just as easily squat instead of sitting your butt on the floor or kneeling (which is detrimental to the knee joint).
Image: Moriza on flickr
  1. Filling and emptying the washer and dryer
  2. playing with your toddler or infant
  3. comforting your toddler
  4. pee in the shower
  5. gardening
  6. picking things of the floor
  7. cleaning - various cleaning situations can be done squatting
  8. go camping
  9. build a barbecue pit instead of a barbecue that requires you to stand up (this is also much more convivial)
  10. filling lower cupboards
You might find that at first, the squat is uncomfortable, and you can’t hold it long. That’s not a problem and you should avoid straining at all cost. When you feel an uncomfortable stretch in your pelvic area (which is specifically common when you are pregnant), cease the squat and sit back. If your legs feel tired, stop. You have to rediscover these muscles, so don’t ask for everything at once.
Other ways to get some bootylicious are yogic squats and any type of dancing.

How do you incorporate squats into your daily life?

(1) Pelvic Floor Party: Kegels are not Invited, on Mamasweat


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Peaceful Parenting Applied Link Up

 Welcome to the Authentic Parenting Link Up hosted by Laura at Authentic Parenting and Mandy At Living Peacefully with Children. As part of the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, we want to give bloggers a chance to link up all of their posts on peaceful parenting in practice in order to support and help other parents as they strive to be peaceful parents. Do you have posts about peaceful parenting? Share them here so that others can read about them! Be sure to check out this month's Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival all about Peaceful Parenting Applied! Consider joining us next month as we talk about Self-Love!


Friday, April 26, 2013

Peaceful Parenting in the Light of Big Emotions

Welcome to the April 2013 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Peaceful Parenting Applied This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children. We hope you enjoy this month's posts and consider joining us next month when we share about Peaceful Parenting Applied.


  It can be hard to remain cool in the light of strong emotions as a parent. Especially the ones we perceive
Dealing with strong emotions in your child
as negative. Anger, grief, pain, fear, sadness... Most of us have been quickly 'corrected' when we were younger and showed any of those emotions, and it is hard to refrain from doing so when we are faced with them in our child.

Yet there are a couple of good reasons not to 'correct' emotions, even when they are overwhelming.

  • Processing their emotions will cause less stress in the long run
  • All emotions are part of life, and should be allowed to run their course (allowing emotion doesn't mean acting upon them though)
  • Children need to learn they are the ones controlling their emotions, not anyone else, and they can only learn that by teaching themselves to gain control
  • At a young age, children aren't capable to control their emotions yet, so expecting them to do so sets both of us up for a lot of frustration

What to do instead?

  • Show empathy, but don't get sucked into the vortex
  • Step out if you can't handle it any more, take a moment to breathe and come back when you've regained your composure. If you have a second caregiver available, discuss this with them and make sure the other can step in when you're getting overwhelmed.
  • Talk it through with your child after the emotional outburst is done. Make sure your child knows that these emotions are normal and natural and it's ok to let them run their course, but that it's not ok to lash out. Talk about emotions as a natural part of conversation.
  • Protect your child. Some children can get violent towards themselves or others when they feel emotionally overwhelmed. You are the one to protect them and to hand them different solutions to handle their feelings.


Have you blogged about this topic? Come back tomorrow and link up your post on the Peaceful Parenting Applied linky

Image: rolands lakis


APBC - Authentic Parenting  Visit Living Peacefully with Children and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in next month's Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, when we discuss self-love!   Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:  
Do you have blog posts about peaceful parenting or are you looking for some tips? This month, Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children are hosting an Authentic Parenting: Peaceful Parenting Applied link up! Check it out and help build a resource for parents striving to parent more peacefully.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Why Punishment will not make children Behave (rerun)

Parents often say they want their children to behave. Unfortunately, many a parent and so called experts believe that to make a child behave you must punish them. Looking at the word behave though it means: to conduct oneself in a specified way.

As parents, then it follows that if we really want our children to behave we need to help shape and specify what way that is. One could argue that punishing a child is specifying the way. Children should simply follow what we tell them, and punishment will reinforce this. Now if specifying their behavior would be so easy as one command, one punishment, deal done, then for one, we would be grossly overlooking the fact that children are intelligent, capable and complex individuals, not drones that simply need programming.

Secondly, If children could just learn with one simple command, followed by punishment for non compliance, we wouldn’t be researching the inner workings of child development, long term impact of violence and aggression, the role of resilience, communication, attachment and so the list goes on and on… and it would bring to question why is generation after generation turning to parenting books, educators and experts for help to shape our childrens behaviour.

Choosing physical punishment, threats and pain as a means to make children behave might bring a short term sense of accomplishment, but at a big cost. In the grand scheme of things, to punish a child with a spanking, or incessant yelling it is simply demonstrating lack of control, aggression and disrespect. It is showing in essence exactly how society does NOT want them to behave.

Punishment does not teach respect: Punishment can make a child feel disrespected and confused. If we yell at a child and threaten to punish them as a means to get what we want, we cannot expect them to learn how to ask for what they need in a respectful way.

Aggression begets aggression: When we hit , strike, smack, swat a child we are showing them exactly how to use physical aggression to get their way. The shock value might temporarily work for some, yet have you ever seen a parent smack a childs hand and tell them “don’t hit your friend” and not too much later they hit again?

Punishment does not teach self-control: When a parent loses it on a child, yelling, hitting, spanking, yanking at it, they are not modeling how to effectively overcome stressful emotions. As stressful situations and highly charged emotions are pretty much a given in this parenting gig modeling is key. From toddlers to teens alike, making a child "shut up" their emotions by isolating them or hurting them will not help them overcome, process or learn. Watching us on the other hand, will.

Keeping cool, choosing words over confrontation, seeking alternatives over punishment, peace over violence: it can be difficult, it can take a lot of practice, it is a process. But that’s just it, parenting just like growing up and learning to behave, is a process.

What are you doing to model the behavior you wish to see in your child?

Next week on positive parenting connection I will be exploring the question: "If not punishment, then what?"


Monday, April 22, 2013

Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Common Birthday Features (rerun)

content provided by Alex S.

Image: Sakura Mutsuki on Flickr
If you have two or more kids in your home there's a good chance there's a birthday coming up in the next few months. That probably means a party, which means preparation. If you're a parent that's even a little bit concerned about the environment, a child's birthday is a good opportunity to explore green ways to go about such family and friendly festivities. Otherwise, you'll be making a big contribution to your carbon footprint. On such an important day, who needs that kind of karma for their kid?

Here are five ideas when it comes to planning a green birthday party for your kid:

Paper bags instead of wrapping paper: You'll probably be making a run to the grocery store in addition to gift shopping. While there, opt for paper bags and re-use them as wrapping paper. Online guides exist that can show you how to cut the bags for a proper fit, and you can spice them up by decorating them with stencils or glitter.

Sky lanterns instead of balloons: Everybody knows how bad balloons are for the environment. But we also know how much kids love them, so what's a parent to do when a birthday arrives? A great option are sky lanterns, which are essentially giant Chinese lanterns that hover with the heat of a flame like a hot air balloon. They are 100% biodegradable while also being 100% fireproof. They come in several colors and even in the form of an alien head, and are going to look way cooler than any ordinary rubber balloon.

Send E-invitations instead of paper ones: Depending on your child's age either you'll be handing out the invites to parents or they'll be handing them out to their friends themselves. But in both cases there's a good chance you can opt to send an email or another form of electronic invite instead of traditional cards. An email can be decorated to look as enticing of an invite as a pre-made invitation card, but unlike cards they can be sent all at once instead of labeled and snail mailed.

Stick to real plates and utensils: It's tempting to skip the mess in favor of easily-disposable Styrofoam or paper plates and plastic utensils, but it's also pretty bad for the environment. If you have enough plates, cups, and utensils for everyone, then use them instead. You can label cups ahead of time with names written on tape on the side. It's more work for you, but less of an impact on the environment.

Image: andymangold on Flickr
Encourage eco-friendly gift-giving: Going about this is key since not every parent or friend of your kid has the time or the know-how to select a green gift.  But if you can encourage guests to pick eco-friendly gift options through your invite, then do so. State that any gift is of course warmly welcomed and will be used and appreciated, but that things like iTunes gift cards and items that use minimal plastic packaging are preferred.

Before making plans for a child's upcoming birthday celebration, stop and think about the amount of trash and waste that gets generated at these events. You won't be able to prevent all of it, nor should you expect your child to suffer a lousy party for the sake of a cleaner planet, but small measures to pull off a greener get-together will certainly lead to a bigger reduction of your carbon footprint.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Keep clutter away with a great bunk bed

Written by Camille

Bunk beds are very versatile pieces of furniture that work wonders for furnishing a shared space but are also great when used to keep a kid’s bedroom tidy. Although a bunk bed is generally the go-to-choice for parents when they have to accommodate two siblings in the same bedroom, there are now fabulous bunk designs that come with storage options, allowing you to make the most of a limited space.

Bunk Bed with storage
Look for a bunk bed with storage options such as shelves or drawers, as in the example above.Drawers are a great way to save space by expanding your storage space without compromising any more floor space. They allow you to tuck all the toys away underneath the bed leaving the space clear of clutter when playtime is over.

Three Sleeper Bunk Bed
If the space is very limited and the two kids are far apart in their ages, a three sleeper bunk bed is also a good choice. The top bed can accommodate a single bunk bed mattress whereas the bottom has a double mattress, offering a larger sleeping area for the older child. A three sleeper bunk bed also comes with more spacious drawers so that you can really make better use of the small bedroom space.

 L-shape twin sleeper
This type of bunk bed features a perpendicular arrangement of the bunks, allowing you to place a wardrobe or desk as well as a bed underneath the top bunk. This arrangement is perfect for two children close age sharing a room but also works well as a spare bed for friends staying the night.

 Futon Bunk Bed
Furnishing a kid’s bedroom with a futon bunk bed is one of the greatest space saving solutions. The space underneath the top bunk bed is used to accommodate a study space composed of a desk, a chair and a futon chair that can be turned into a bed when having friends to sleepover.

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.

Image source: Wickerfurniture


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Five Easy Ways to Create a Safer Home (rerun)

Content provided by Alex S.

It is common to hear a news story every evening about a home lost to a fire or a home that was burglarized or invaded by criminals while the owners were vacationing. When homeowners hear those stories, they want to take steps to improve safety in and around their own homes, but they are often at a loss on how to get started.

Keeping your kids safe in your home, image: LouisvilleUSA

1. Check the Perimeter 
A simple walk around the home outside will reveal different things that could easily become a safety hazard. Take a pen and notebook and write down things while asking pertinent questions. Is it too dark along a sidewalk or stairs at night? Are there any motion lights to illuminate both guests and intruders? Are there bushes or hedges that need trimmed to eliminate hiding areas for criminal activity?

2. Check Inside the Home 
Ask the same questions used for the perimeter check along with ones specific to indoor security. Are the locks on the doors adequate to deny access to a determined intruder? Could a person just break the glass on a door and unlock the lock from the inside? Is there a carbon monoxide detector on every level? Does each floor and every bedroom have a working smoke detector? Do family members know how to safely answer the door and even the phone?

3. Addressing Specific Hazards 
Are there any electrical hazards such as overloaded outlets or lack of ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) plugs for outdoor outlets and bathrooms? What safety protocols are rigorously followed for burning candles in the home? Is there a fire escape plan implemented with regular fire drills?

4. Addressing Community Hazards 
Is the home in an area where there are climate, geological or man-made threats? Some homes have nearby railways that transport dangerous chemicals thus requiring an evacuation plan for the home's occupants. Some may live close to a nuclear reactor or chemical plant that has specific instructions for residents in case of an emergency. Earthquake, tornado and hurricane zones have their own safety protocols.

5. Home Security System
Last but definitely not least is the early warning potential of a new wireless alarm such as the ones available at Statistics have proven that homes with monitored alarm systems are safer. The system can include perimeter protection, smoke and carbon monoxide detection and even wireless security cameras.

The latest features allow control of the system through a smartphone with the ability to see what the security cameras at home see. The new systems offer great peace of mind, especially for those who must leave pets at home or have children who get home before Mom and Dad do. A few simple steps can make any home safer.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Green Renovating: A Lot, A Little, Not So Much

Welcome to the April edition of the Simply Living Blog CarnivalGoing Green 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, we write about going green and environmentally friendly living. Please check out the links to posts by our other participants at the end of this post.


Eco renovating series
When you decide about green renovating or building, there are a couple of things you have to take into consideration. The major components in an environmentally friendly renovation project are time, style, price, health and environmental impact.
Obviously time, style and price are very personal, and I won't go into those with this post.

I wanted to talk about healthy versus environmentally friendly.

Contrary to what many believe, they are not one and the same. Sometimes environmentally friendly products can be bad for you health.
Think about products using recycled content. Great for the environment, doing something with waste instead of just having it lay there, but the toxicity of the initial content didn't diminish, just by being recycled.

The same thing goes with using 'environmentally friendly' products.
When making a decision one must take the time to look very closely at the products you are about to use. What part of the process is environmentally friendly? Is it also good for your health? What substances does your product contain?

It also has to be noted that even natural substances can be toxic to man and impair the air quality in your home. Certain toxins can be filtered out by using plants, but it's better not to invite them into your home in the first place. 

This is all very superficial, I know, I just wanted to write something general before I go in depth in further posts, because you really have to go look at every specific material in depth and it will take several posts to go into this.
When you go beyond the very basics of materials that have always been used by man since time immemorial (earth, plant, untreated timber), there will always be toxins involved. In order to live completely toxin free, one should have an idea of every step in the production process of every product one is about to use, and in a complex global market, this is hardly ever the case.
In a renovation project, you're bound to have to use products that work for the existing structure, and you often will not be able to only use the basic unspoiled materials.

For us, health and time were two important factors in our renovation project, which means that at some points, we had to use materials that were less 'green' than what I would pick if I had full options, and at some points, the greener alternative just turned out to be less healthy.

I find solace in the fact that at least I am trying to make an effort.


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 eco-friendly living solutions into their every day lives. We hope you will join us next month, as the Simply Living Blog Carnival focuses on Going Green!

  • Green Renovating: A Lot, A Little, Not So Much - Laura at Authentic Parenting ponders about the many things that have an impact on eco-friendly renovating
  • Growing Native in My Flower Beds - Destany at They Are All of Me takes the guilt out of her flower habit by switching from high maintenance flowers to native plants which not only lessens her gardening load, but also benefits the local wild life.
  • Baby Steps - Kellie at Our Mindful Life shares how her family became more sustainable, one step at a time.
  • A Greener Holiday - Sara from Family Organic discusses the overwhelming amount of "stuff" that comes with every holiday and talks about how to simplify instead. 
  • Forcibly Green--Obligatory Organic - Survivor at Surviving Mexico talks about her family's evolution from passive to active green and sustainable living.
  • Giving It Away - Juliet Kemp of Twisting Vines writes about the role of Freecycle, the giant karmic lending library, in her simple and green living.
  • Simply Sustainable - Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses her family's attempts to live in harmony with the earth by living simply and more sustainably.
  • How Does Your Yarden Grow - Alisha at Cinnamon&Sassafras writes about an ongoing permaculture project, converting her grass lawn into a mower-free paradise.
  • Green? - Is it about ticking the boxes?  sustainablemum shares her thoughts on what being green means in her life.
  • Using Cloth Products To Reduce Household Waste - Angela from Earth Mama's World shares how her family replaced many disposable household products with cloth to reduce their household waste.
  • Going Green in Baby Steps - Joella of Fine and Fair shares some small, easy steps to gradually reduce your environmental impact.
  • Are You Ready To Play Outside?! - Alex from AN Portraits writes about gardening, and playing in the dirt, and how it's O.K. to get dirty, play in the dirt, play with worms, for both adults and kids.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Perfectly Imperfect Art of Handmade

Written by Darcel

If someone would have told me 10 or even 5yrs ago that I would learn to knit and actually enjoy it, I would've rolled my eyes and laughed in their face. I thought doing things like sewing, crochet, embroidery and knitting were for old women to do in their rocking chairs. My mom can sew and crochet, her mom did the same....I'm sure it was something that's been passed down through the generations. I can admit when I'm wrong, sometimes. I learned to knit last year, I was 32 and have been in love every since. I learned from and YouTube videos. Many of my friends are very crafty and I love reading blogs by other crafty people. I can knit and crochet, but I prefer to knit....I like the feel of knitting and the way the stitches look.


Why didn't someone tell me how therapeutic knitting is!? I joke all the time that it's my therapy - but it really is. I love how my body relaxes and my mind starts to wander. The repetition and the feel of the yarn(especially if it's wool) gliding over my hands. Dare I say that knitting is almost as good as chocolate? I've come to many decisions after a good knitting session. I love how portable it is and if I don't get much of anything else done during the day, if I was able to get in a little knitting then I feel like I accomplished something.

My kids like to get in on the action every now and then. I made them a yarn basket filled with scrap yarn, crochet hooks and a set of knitting needles. My oldest daughter is eight and she prefers to crochet. At the moment she's still getting the hang of making a chain stitch. My middle child is five and she prefers to knit. This is the cast on method that works best for her. Both girls enjoy playing on the looms and finger knitting My 2yr old son enjoys jabbing the yarn with a giant crochet hook or cutting up the yarn with scissors. The girls get frustrated when they have to start over but I keep reassuring them that I have to start over after doing this for a year, and there are people who have been knitting for 20+ years that need to start over from time to time.

Last October I decided to open my store on Etsy after several people suggestion I give it a try as a way to make extra money. The process has been fun and challenging. I try to update the shop with new items once a week, and I'm looking forward to getting out to the Farmer's Markets and Craft Fairs this spring/summer. Anything you see in the shop can be custom made in your choice of colors...if there's something you don't see in the shop but would love to have I'm also open to doing customs that way as well. There's nothing like creating something for yourself or as a gift to someone with your own two hands. I get where the love for handmade comes in now, especially in this machine produced society we live in now. When something is handmade it's perfectly imperfect and I love that. Every person has their own style, their own process, and that's part of what makes handmade items so beautiful and treasured.


If you're thinking of taking up a hobby but your worried that you might be too old, or that something like knitting is for old women, I say give it a might surprise yourself. Knit and crochet is great for helping kids with fine motor skills, learning and working with math, children with Sensory Integration Disorder, relieving stress and anxiety in adults, and it's fun!


About the Author:
Darcel is a Mama to three children. She has a passion for and often writes about Motherhood, Birth, Breastfeeding and Unschooling.


Friday, April 12, 2013

April APBC - Call For Submissions - Peaceful Parenting Applied

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.

Peaceful Parenting Applied

This month, we would like to focus on practical solutions for maintaining the peace. Many parents struggle with implementing positive parenting theories in real life, so we want to hear from you about tactics, tips & tricks and solutions. Gentle parenting is not just a theory, and we want to prove that to our readers.
Submission date: April 20th
Carnival date: April 27nd

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 April 20. 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 April 27.

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.


Monday, April 8, 2013

10 Things I've Learned about Eco Renovating

As you might remember, we bought a house a year ago and were keen on renovating it, ecologically. It has been a year (well, less than a year since we started renovating) and what have I learned?

this is what the living room looked like, originally

  1. Healthy and environmentally friendly aren't one and the same. At certain points, you'll have to make choices. For us, the health aspect comes first.
  2. In a market where environmentally friendly renovating is a very new concept, such as Belgium, the few contractors who do are overbooked and overpriced.
  3. In renovating, it is often the house that will decide for you. Many things are just not possible because of what you have to work with. We decided to put in a new floor on the ground floor and thought we had lots of options. Yet when push came to shove, all we could put in was ceramic tile (something I was fiercely against) because we couldn't go deeper than the existing tile level.
  4. You can't really plan your renovation, there will always be things that come up and distort your plans. We had wood panelling that turned out not to be wood panels, but asbestos! We had a solid wood floor that turned out half eaten by some bug. We tore down casings and found great industrial strength beams...
  5. Research is key. Everyone and their grandma will have opinions for you, quite often contradictory, so you really need to research things yourself. Contractors will often have their own agenda for telling you what to do, so the only way to find out is get online and read read read until you get a grasp of the subject.
  6. Use what you have. Most contractors will try to have you do the newest thing which often means breaking down more than you'd like. Consider this well before you embark. Breaking down stuff means more time and more money and often it's not even the best option, it's just the easiest option not to have to work around the existing things. We were told we had to take off the entire roof because the way it was done in the fifties isn't the way it's done now (from an isolation perspective). Quite hesitant, we talked to many people who had some experience with roof isolation and found out it was possible to isolate without renovating the roof, and that the roof is actually quite sound and still has many years in it.
  7. Be prepared to make compromises. Even if your budget was limitless - which most often it is not - the house will put restrictions on what you can and cannot do. See point 3. And then obviously the budget comes into play and will rule out many things for you.
  8. Make smart budgetary choices. Sometimes, you have to spend some extra money to get a really good feature, at other times, you can go for the cheaper choice. It's up to you to make the right decisions here. We went for windows that were more expensive than what we could have put in, as we chose windows with separations, but they add a lot of value to the house and a plain window wouldn't have looked right for the period of the house (built in 1950). On the first floor, I chose the cheaper fiberboard doors. Less environmentally friendly and not solid wood, but they still look great and don't devalue the property.
  9. At a certain point, you'll just have to get cracking. This again may need some compromise, because you just need to get a move on and you'll have to do with what you've got.
  10. Don't fear the initial mess. You'll come to a point, somewhere along the breaking down, where you'll wonder if you've just ruined the place. Everyone gets there :) Don't worry though, mostly, you're very close to the build up at this point. Just don't bring in family to see your house at this point.
    Our hallway, at that point where we thought we'd broken the house
We've now finally arrived at the point where we can start building up again, so the end is near and the fun work can start. I promise to go more in depth about certain choices and options when I have pictures to illustrate.


Friday, April 5, 2013

Emotions Aren’t a Parenting Tool (rerun)

Most of us have grown up with emotions being a dictate for our behavior... Not only our own emotions, but also the emotions of others. Fearfully rowing between the rocky waves of the anger, the guilt, the joy and sorrow of parents and caregivers, what have we learnt?
Nothing much, except that we should always, ALWAYS put other people’s emotions before ours, that emotions are scary and how to use our own emotions to manipulate others.

You know how people say that children are manipulative creatures? We are the ones teaching them to be.

Every time an adult tells a child not to do X or Y or “mommy will get mad”...
Every time we use our emotional outburst to sanction children...
Every time we yell at our children...
Every time we physically assault children (call it spanking or whatever)...
We are showing our children how to do the same. Yet emotions aren’t a good disciplinary tool, quite the contrary.

Obviously, all of us are entitled to our emotions, and it is healthy to feel them, but they should never be used to get a reaction from another person. Emotions are just your body’s response to a situation, nothing more. Pinpointing your emotions and working through them is a good thing. Finding out why you are feeling this way is good to.
Instead of telling your child not to do X because you’ll get angry, tell them the exact reason why this situation is ticking you off.
E.G. "Don’t tear down the wallpaper. I really like it this way. I spent a lot of time decorating the room. Let’s keep it nice the way it is.

Not giving full disclosure of why things make you angry or sad is pretty confusing for a small child. Give them the credit they deserve and don’t take the short cut telling them you’ll get angry. When you are feeling angry, do tell your child, but realize it is not them making you angry, it is the reaction your body and mind chose to come up with.



Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Chance or Choice (rerun)

Written by Cindy Crosby and originally posted on Birth Smart

Many people believe that birth is very uncontrollable and the kind of labor you have is “luck of the draw”. And while that is true in a sense, I also KNOW that there are specific practices that can reduce a woman’s risk of various complications happening (like good nutrition, exercise, or not hiring the Dr. with the 70% c-section rate . . .). Birth is an experience of a lifetime and has emotional and physical challenges no matter how the birth story unfolds, but in my work, I am constantly reminded that women have more power than they realize to create the birth experience they desire. Three women I have recently helped to support illustrate this concept well.


Marian . . . a very average-sized woman . . . recently woke up during the night with a contraction and less than 2 hours later calmly pushed out a 9 lb 4 oz baby. Things went very smoothly and, frankly, she made it look easy. Most importantly, she was ecstatic to finally hold her healthy new baby in her arms and provide him a safe and peaceful entrance into the world.

Her birth had uncanny similarities to one of my own (and Kristin and Beth who I recently worked with) and I can just imagine that she will soon hear the same common phrases: “Wow, you were so lucky to have that fast/easy labor” or “I might have gone natural too if I had a labor like that”.

There’s a lot more to Marian’s story, though, than a 2 hour labor. First, I know that she was committed to avoiding medical interventions unless they were truly necessary, including induction. I also know that she carefully chose a doctor who would support this view. Her labor actually started with contractions on and off for weeks, a lot of late pregnancy discomforts, daily exercise, and several instances of “almost active labor”. The afternoon prior, she had five hours of consistent contractions that she suspected was her labor. When they stayed steady, but did not progress, and then eventually stopped, she knew it was not yet ‘the real thing’. Though this was her 4th baby, it was her longest pregnancy and every day that she went past her expectations (about a week longer than any of her others) was a trial of her faith in the belief that her body would birth her baby when he was ready to be born. Knowing that one of her previous babies had been 10 lbs nagged on her faith a bit as well, as I’m sure you can imagine.

So it certainly wasn’t easy . . . physically or emotionally. But it was the price she chose to pay for her “easy birth”.


Tamra recently gave birth to her second baby. Her first birth was about three years ago, and while it was a positive experience overall, she had a few bumps in the road that she did not want repeated (namely: an allergic reaction to epidural and assisted delivery). So this time, she approached her birth with the intention to avoid interventions, if possible, and set herself up for success by choosing a birth location and midwife that seemed supportive of her goals.

She was very successful. In fact, she gave birth to baby number 2 without any problems whatsoever . . . and guess what? This baby was A FULL POUND HEAVIER (almost 9 lbs) than her first baby who required a forceps assist to be born.

Before you start thinking her birth was easy, let me tell you about the days leading up to it. As a working mother, Tamra had a lot of pressure on her and was exhausted with the end of pregnancy discomforts. She knew the risks of induction and wanted to avoid it unless it became medically necessary. Unfortunately, this was easier said than done when the OB backup for her midwife started to pressure her to induce. There was some question about her due date and though she knew she had barely passed her true due date, the doctors put her at 41+ weeks. She was monitored closely and all signs indicated that the baby was doing very well, but their standard of practice was to induce at 41 weeks (despite ACOG defining term through 42 weeks). They threatened to pull her midwife off the case if she did not consent to induction. She reluctantly scheduled the induction, but did not feel good about it (and the fact she was bullied into it). She called back and made her case for letting labor begin spontaneously. After consulting with the midwife and backup OB, they finally agreed to her request to postpone the induction and retain the midwife for her care.

Interestingly enough, she ended up going into labor the day of the scheduled induction. She was thrilled, relieved, and proud that her body initiated labor on it’s own. She was able to labor in water and give birth on a birthing stool with support from her husband, midwife, and doula. She was surprised when she realized how big her baby was, but she had been telling herself all along that her baby would be the perfect size for her.

She was right.


Vanessa, a first time mom prepared well for her birth by choosing a supportive provider and committed to avoid induction without a medical reason (are you seeing a pattern here . . . ?) She had her own emotional and physical challenges during pregnancy and as time went on, there were some concerns about her baby. Her midwife kept a close eye on the baby and eventually determined with Vanessa that a medical induction was warranted. Vanessa was frustrated because she knew that induction brought increased risks to her and her baby (higher chance of fetal distress, c-section, etc.), but as she carefully weighed the benefits and risks of continuing the pregnancy vs. inducing, she felt that induction was the best for her baby. Though it wasn’t what she had planned and hoped for, she could feel confident that she wouldn’t have regrets . . . knowing that she made an informed decision.

When she arrived the next day for her induction appointment, the midwife checked in on how the baby was doing and she showed some very positive signs of improvement. At that point, they reevaluated the situation together and decided to cancel/postpone the induction. I know Vanessa and her family counted this as a miracle. And it was. But I also see the miracle that occurred months earlier as Vanessa chose a provider who supported her choices and shared her values.

In all my experience, I don’t think a provider cancelling a scheduled induction is a very common practice. In general, our maternity care system sees very little risk (if any) to induction.

About five days after the would-be induction, Vanessa gave birth to a tiny, perfect little girl who came on her own time. Her mama was well prepared for the long but unmedicated labor that brought her into the world and so grateful to hold that loved baby in her arms for the first time.

So . . . chance or choice?

I am confident that these three women made choices along the way that made huge positive impacts on their birth experiences. Though we can’t know what would have happened if different choices had been made, I firmly believe that the outcomes could have all been very different.

I constantly hear women say that “their bodies just didn’t work”, “they couldn’t dialate”, or “their doctor MADE them get induced/have a c-section”. But what if they really did have a choice? What if they could have given their bodies more time to prove that they really did work? Or what if they communicated more effectively with their provider about their preferences? Or what if they changed providers when they discovered incompatibility? Or what if women who chose to be induced owned that choice by saying, “I chose to follow the recommendation to be induced”. Even that simple shift in language, shifts the power in our experience. If we don’t believe that we have choices, our births DO just happen to us and it is “luck of the draw”

. . . But if we want a birth experience that isn’t based on chance, we can learn about and start to recognize the many choices available to us.

Cindy Crosby was an ESL teacher whose life changed forever when she picked up her first pregnancy book almost 9 years ago. Ever since, she has studied and experienced all things birth and along the way become a certified doula and childbirth educator. She is an expert at supporting and communicating with women right where they are. She blogs and provides online childbirth education resources at She has enjoyed many wonderful opportunities and life experiences, including living abroad twice, and currently lives with her husband and three children in Derby, Kansas, USA.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April Simply Living Carnival: Call For Submissions

Welcome to 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. We hope that you will join us on the third Tuesday of each month as we share posts about simple living in our lives. Submission deadline will be the second Tuesday of each month.

Going Green 

Just as simple living and voluntary simplicity have become catch phrases, so too has the phrase going green. How do green practices affect your decisions? Do you find that your simple lifestyle is in tune with environmental issues? Perhaps you have a practice or product which simplifies your life. Submission deadline: April 9. Carnival posting: April 16.

To submit an article to the blog carnival, please e-mail your submission to mandy{at}livingpeacefullywithchildren{dot}com anddelilahfineandfair{at}gmail{dot}com, and fill out the webform by April 9. 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 April 16.

We want you to use creativity and to express yourself as you see fit. To that end, you are welcome to post at your discretion with a few guidelines in mind. Please be respectful in your posts. Avoid excessive profanity and poor grammar or spelling. As the co-hosts of the carnival are all 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.

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 Simply Living through Simple Living! We hope you will consider joining us every month as we discuss ways we simplify our lives.