31 March 2012

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

Getting away: I needed to get away. Like whoa. I've worked nearly every single day since January in either one form or another and I'm tired. My mother's house is a perfect retreat.

Fresh air: It works wonders on children. Not quite as well on Piper as I would have liked, but still it does them good to run around for an hour or so outside without me having to curtail their exercise.

My congregation: You know I love my church, but this Sunday is my pastor's last day after 35 years of service. I can't be there, but know what they are doing for him literally brought tears to my eyes. It reaffirmed why I love them so much and why I'm so proud to be a part of them.

An interview: I'm not going to tell you what it's for, but I'm grateful for it. You'll know when something happens.

29 March 2012


I was mean tonight.

I was mean tonight when I yelled,
"Enough is enough!" and
slammed the cupboard door.

I was mean tonight because
the garbage bag pulling and
the 2+ consecutive hours of whining and
the I-can-only-sit-in-your-chair and
the I-can-only-eat-your-food and
the I-only-want-to-drink-your-water and
the I-need-to-touch-every-dirty-thing-sticking-out-of-the-sink and
the I'm-too-tired-to-pick-up-my-toys and
the I-would-rather-bash-my-face-into-a-doorknob-than-let-you-brush-my-teeth
finally got to me.

I was mean when
I sent them out of the kitchen because
yet another glass of water
was purposely spilled on the floor.

And I was mean when I said
"I can't even talk to you right now!"
because I needed a moment to calm down.

I was mean tonight
but instead of being hard on myself,

I said:

"You need a break."

Yes, I was mean tonight.

And now tonight is over.

26 March 2012

How DO you do it?

It's that time again! You might remember the great post in December 2011 that highlighted the Natural Parents Network Volunteer's most popular or favorite posts from the year. Well, we are back and this time we are bringing you a collection of posts that focus on Do It Yourself projects, How To's, Tutorials, Recipes, and anything related to a step by step guide or informational how-to.

There are a lot of really wonderful posts here and I hope that this serves as an excellent resource that you can pass on to your friends! Enjoy!

Momma Jorje: a slightly crunchy mommaJorje of Momma Jorje.com shares her Family Cloth Tutorial in pictures. She includes step by step photos with some tips for making very neat family cloth. You can find Momma Jorje on Facebook, too!

Lani at Boobie Time Blog shares "How to Help a New Breastfeeding Mom." This post provides some tips on helping a new mom while she is learning to Breastfeed. You can also find Boobie Time Blog on Facebook and Twitter.

Amanda at Let's Take the Metro shares "How I Make Cloth Wipes." This post details how Amanda made all of her cloth wipes. You can also find Let's Take the Metro on Facebook.

Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy shares "Lessons in a Picture Book." A Lesson plan for pancakes and how to make your own butter! You can also find True Confessions of a Real Mommy on Facebook and Twitter.

Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction shares "Tips for Road Tripping with a Toddler." A long car trip with a young child can be a great way to make some wonderful memories if you are prepared to meet the challenges. You can also find Monkey Butt Junction on Facebook and Twitter. 

Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares "Maple Cinnamon Swirl Bread." This recipe tutorial shows you how to make a sweet whole wheat bread with beautiful cinnamon swirls in each slice. You can also find Farmer's Daughter on Facebook and Twitter.

Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares "How To Consume Coconut Oil Plus Coconut Oil Candy Recipes." This post provides some tips on how to get your daily dose of coconut oil down the hatch. It also provides some very tasty recipes for coconut oil candy! You can also find Hybrid Rasta Mama on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Alicia at Lactation Narration gives some ideas for how to accomplish Partial Weaning for moms who would like to cut down on nursing without completely weaning. You can also find Lactation Narration on Facebook and Twitter.

Cynthia at The Hippie Housewife shares "A Learning-Rich Environment." This post provides a number of suggestions for creating a learning-rich environment and incorporating learning into everyday life, with a particular focus on the preschool age. You can also find The Hippie Housewife on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google +.

BecomingCrunchyKelly at Becoming Crunchy shares "Kale Chips = Awesome!" This post shares a super easy recipe for making a super easy (and surprisingly tasty) snack from one of the most healthful greens around. You can also find Becoming Crunchy on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes shares "How to Move to California." A silly how-to she wrote while she and her then fiance were driving to their new home. You can also find Shannon on Pinterest, Flickr, and Google +.

Gretchen at That Mama Gretchen shares a recipe for "Homemade Fruit Leather." It's easier than you ever thought and the perfect snack for you and your family. You can also find That Mama Gretchen on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Julia at A Little Bit of All of It shares "How I Cloth Diaper (Part 1)." This post details the way Julia has cloth diapered her daughter along with the products she uses. You can also find A Little Bit of All of It on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Joella at Fine and Fair shares "Our First Sensory Bins." In this post, she shares how she made a "Scoop, Measure, and Pour" themed sensory bin, as well as an "In the Garden" themed bin. She also shares some tips for making your own sensory bins! Fine and Fair can be found on Facebook and Twitter. 

Visit Code Name: MamaFor all of you breastfeeding mamas, Dionna at Code Name: Mama has the ultimate DIY experience with the main ingredient being your breastmilk! 58 Medical, Cosmetic, and Other Alternative Uses for Breastmilk includes a cradle cap remedy, an anti-itch salve, weaning jewelry, lotion, and more. You can also find Dionna on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings offers several ideas for "Keeping a Toddler Happily Busy on a Long Flight." The list includes handmade felt activities, among many other things. You can also find Melissa on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Shannon at The Artful Mama shares "Preparing Toddlers for Birth." This post features MamAmor dolls and shows some alternative ways to talk to toddlers about pregnancy and birth. You can also find The Artful Mama on Facebook and Twitter.

Kym at Our Crazy Corner of the World shares her "Family Binder DIY." This post shows how to put together a family binder, to help organize cleaning, meal planning, shopping and budgeting all in one convenient location!

I Thought I Knew Mama: A window into the adventures of stay at home mamahood, natural parenting, & green and healthy livingCharise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares "5 Green Living, Spring Cleaning Tips." This post provides easy ways to keep the toxins out of your home and to freshen up your home for spring. You can also find I Thought I Knew Mama on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares "Daily Bread: My Favorite Whole Grain Bread Machine Recipe." This recipe is easy, highly adaptable, and a great starting point for creating your own daily (or almost daily!) homemade bread. You can also find Intrepid Murmurings on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.

Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children shares "10 Tips for Toddler Carseat Woes." Check out these ideas of dealing with toddler carseat issues without resorting to punishments. You can also find Living Peacefully with Children on Facebook.

Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares "DIY Mom's Night In." A somewhat humorous solution, this post provides exhausted Mamas the recipe for the perfect way to recharge!

Stacy at Sweet Sky shares “Ways to Bring More Mindfulness Into Your Days.” This post provides tips and tricks to bring yourself back to the present moment, so you can be the parent you want to be. You can also find Stacy on Facebook.

AnktangleAmy at Anktangle shows us how to make your own popsicle stick puzzles, a fun and simple "busy bag" activity for toddlers and preschool aged children. You can also find Amy on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Hobo Mama: A Natural Parenting BlogLauren at Hobo Mama shares "How to sew a mei tai baby carrier." The mei tai is Lauren and Sam's favorite carrier for baby Alrik: as comfortable and simple as it is beautiful. You can also find Hobo Mama on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Visit African Babies Don't CryChristine at African Babies Don't Cry shares "How to Make Rainbow Coloured Rice (Without Alcohol) for a Toddler Sensory Bin." This post provides a step by step tutorial for making vibrantly coloured rainbow rice for sensory play, includes a printable PDF. You can also find African Babies Don't Cry on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Luschka of Diary of a First Child shares "How To Send A Hug In An Envelope." This post is a creative way to send more than just the standard card to love ones. It literally is a hug in an envelope! You can also find Diary of a First Child on Facebook, and Twitter.

24 March 2012

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

My crock pot: Have I told you lately how I love this device? I am so, so, so grateful for it as it pumps out great (and not so great) meals every week for me.

The ability to walk: The past two days I took H & P on long walks to a playground with one in the stroller and the other on my back. I'm tired. I am also grateful for the closeness of this playground and the perfect weather to walk in.

Grandparents: I am forever grateful to each of the grandparents who watch H & P while I work because without them, I would have a lot more work to do and a lot more money to shell out. They are incredibly helpful and I am so thankful that H & P get to spend so much time with family.

The sun: I got to dry diapers in the sun this week! You know what this means to me!

Peanut butter: I go through so much peanut butter it isn't funny. Actually it is. So I'm glad it exists. Yum.

17 March 2012

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

Abundance: There is abundance everywhere and I continue to be grateful for it.

Great cookbooks: I have two cookbooks that I use on an incredibly regular basis (though I do have many random recipes that I use frequently too) and I am so, so glad that I have these items at my disposal because they help when I'm having a food/creativity mental block.

Bunny crackers: An incredible invention by Annies. Heidi and Piper go crazy for them and I find them to be quite tasty myself.

The halfway point: I love this semester, but I'm very glad to have crossed over the halfway point. The end is in sight.

Spring?: Honestly, this weather scares the crap out of me. But, in good faith, I will be grateful for the turning of the seasons and all the goodness it brings.

10 March 2012

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

My bread machine: Even though I am interested in and aiming for a more gluten-free diet, I still use my bread machine sort of frequently and I'm very thankful that I have it. Without it, I wouldn't have had fresh cinnamon raisin bread for breakfast this morning.

My tea cup: It's blue, it's a decent size and I love it.

My electric tea pot: It boils water in minutes! Tea is never far from my hands with its awesomeness on my counter.

My hot water bottle: I never thought that it would be filled with water and carried around like a baby. A baby that eats, uses the toilet, goes to sleep in the bed and gets wrapped up in blankets. I'm glad I have it for such uses when "real" baby dolls just don't cut it.

Break: This past week was spring break. Could have fooled me, but at least I didn't have to "work" every day. It was sort of nice, minus the fact that Piper's new early rising time the past two days has been 5 - 5:30 am; a new personal best. She knew it was break time.

08 March 2012

Sometimes, You Need to Sit Down to Eat

Mornings are busy. I'm sure there isn't one among you who feels differently. If you're working, getting kids to school or going to appointments, you might find taking the time to eat breakfast yourself takes a back seat. I was reminded of the importance of this the other day, though when in my morning rush, I finally stopped to savor the moment.

I always eat breakfast because I know how important it is and because I want to set that kind of example for H & P. During the week, I eat standing up. I get H & P's food first, sit them at the table and then go about doing a million "important" things. Dishes are always bugging me so I'm usually washing them while they eat. I might be also preparing Heidi's lunch for "school" and I'm probably not dressed yet. I need to change Piper's diaper, make the beds and make sure I have all the right books and notes I need. If I'm working, I'm making sure that lunch is available for them along with snacks, diapers are all set out and everything is relatively clean. All of these things take up so much time and I'm working at them with children hanging all over me saying "Pick?! Pick?!"

The other day was different. Heidi barely touched her breakfast and while Piper ate more of hers, I wasn't satisfied. I actually got to sit down in my chair to eat mine, but they had been long gone from the table by then. I decided I wanted Heidi to eat so I went over to her chair, sat down, put her on my lap and fed her. And she ate.

She ate because I was actually present with her instead of washing the "important" dishes. She ate because I was taking the time to feed her, hold her on my lap and let her know that it was important for her to eat. Most importantly was just that I took the time.

I've been letting other things get in the way of spending real time with my children in the morning. That is not to say that I do not spend any time with them at all and in fact, I habitually drop things that I'm doing to go and just sit with them on the couch for a few minutes. But since I value breakfast so much, I need to make more of an effort to make it a meal.

Every other meal we eat, we all sit down at the table, without fail. Breakfast should not be an exception. Dishes can wait. Clothing can *sort of* wait. They can't. They are watching me every moment, using me as a gauge for their own future behavior and this is not something I want them to repeat.

I had my reality check the other day and I'm listening. If nothing else, I will eat three meals a day, at a table, with my children.

05 March 2012

Why I'm Attracted to Homeschooling/Unschooling

*Note: For the purpose of this post, I will be using the terms 'homeschooling' and 'unschooling' interchangeably. I am fully aware that they are not the same thing, but since I am not giving a lesson explaining their differences, (and I'm interested in both of them) I will be using both words throughout.

I've been meaning to write this post for a long, long time, but just haven't managed to hunker down and do it. A while ago, my cousin-in-law specifically requested a post such as this one and I am pleased to finally be delivering it to him. I hope it lives up to his expectations.

Quite some time ago, I was completely against homeschooling. I never had a bad experience with it, and I actually knew some people who were home schooled, but I thought that public school would give my future children a better view of the world and they would be exposed to more variety than at home. This was something my husband and I agreed on before we even got married, so I figured we were set.

Then, I had my children.

Like every parent, I want them to have every opportunity to expand, practice and exercise the talents that they have been blessed with. The idea that these gifts could be squashed or refuted by a teacher or a school is actually terrifying to me. I want to nourish each gift H & P have been blessed with and I'm not convinced that public school can do this. So let's look at a short list of the reasons I'm actually attracted to homeschooling and unschooling.

Freedom: I love the concept of school freedom. They can go to school anywhere, do a wide variety of things every day, use different curriculum or no curriculum at all depending upon their interests and have infinite opportunities for hands-on learning. This amount of freedom, to hand-pick what they will study, is also incredibly terrifying. Nevertheless, it is a process I would love to undertake if it meant that I could provide the freedom for them to blossom on their own time.

Individualized Curriculum: Yes, I'd like H & P to learn all they need to learn to be "successful" in life, but I would also like for them to do it on their own terms. If I can teach them math through art or science only through hands-on experiments, and that's the way they want to learn, they will actually want to do it. Children are not robots and should not be forced to fit some sort of pre-molded curriculum set if it doesn't work for them.

Unlimited projects: If I want to teach them how to cook at age 5 by actually cooking in the kitchen, I can. If I want to teach them science by planting and maintaining a garden, I can. If I want to teach them history by actually visiting a historical place during the school year, I could do that too. The project ideas are unlimited for homeschooled children because you can do so much more with a small group than you can with a large group. (Yes, I realize schools have plenty of projects and they take field trips, but it is still harder to give each child individual attention during that project or trip if there are 30 of them.) The possibilities for fun things to do with them are so exciting!

Options: Just because children are homeschooled, doesn't mean they can't participate in school activities if they choose. They could still be in band or sports, they could certainly take dance lessons or piano lessons, and if they wanted to, they could go to school! *gasp!* There are always options available for homeschooled children to be like "regular" kids as well as to make friends and "socialize" as often as you want.

College students are in charge of their education. They choose where they want to go, what courses to take and when to take them, and what their major area of study is. Why is it that younger children are not trusted to do the same? I trust my children and their inner guidance and I would relish the chance to support their own decisions about school.

03 March 2012

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

Two years with Piper: Two whole years! Happy Birthday!

Spring Break!: Even though I still have to do a ton of work, I get an entier week off where I don't actually have to teach. This was a brilliant idea.

Washing machines: I've done so many loads of laundry in the past three days it's incredible. Without a washing machine, I would not have slept and would have instead been up all night soaking things in the bathtub.

Dryers: Same reason as above.

Friends: I always love my friends and I am grateful for the time I get to spend with them.