Wednesday, April 15, 2015

How to connect with grandparents across the miles (plus Panasonic HomeTeam™ $100 giveaway!)

My kids live 3,000 miles from one set of grandparents and 2,000 miles from the other. As you can imagine, visits are all too infrequent and phone calls with little kids (aged 7, 3, and 5 months) just don't cut it, but I really want to keep my kids connected to our extended families.

That's why I jumped at the chance to review Panasonic's new HomeTeam™ app. It's a video chat specifically geared toward the grands, both older and younger. You can read books, play games, and make family connections, no journey needed.

Who here has hosted stiflingly awkward video chats between your kids and your parents or in-laws? Depending on the age levels of the littles, so much can happen. Staring. Screaming. Racing around the room like a hooligan. Interrupting every word Grandma says to show off another amazing toy. Saying inappropriate things. Thinking it's oh-so-funny to cover up the webcam with a well-placed finger. Toddling off in boredom. {Raises hand for all of the above.}


HomeTeam is here to help us out, guys. It relieves all the "but what do I do?" anxiety around video chatting between grandparents and little kids. Because it's not just video chat — it's video chat and then some! You can read books together and play child-friendly games. You finally have something just perfect for building those bridges between the generations, giving them something to do together and lending a natural flow to the conversation. Kids will remember Grandpa next time he comes to visit as the guy who plays checkers and Nana as the person who reads them all those wonderful stories.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hand family stories down to the next generation

Welcome to the April 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family History

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories, lore, and wisdom about family history. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

Cuddle up for some intergenerational emails: Hand family stories down to the next generation == Hobo Mama
Cuddling up for some intergenerational emails
Mikko is seven, nearly eight. He doesn't like to say he can't read yet — he says he's "in training." This is very true.

Since Sam and I both learned to read, organically, from a pre-preschool age, we weren't prepared for a child who was heavily resistant to the idea of decoding written language. We don't want to push him to do anything he's not ready for, but we also have relatives and neighbors and other well-meaning folk asking us repeatedly, "Can he read yet? … How about now?"

So Sam and I got an idea. We'd emphasize with Mikko how much fun reading is, and how practical as well. (He's a pragmatic soul.) We'd talk about reading as it comes up in video game screens (very important to him), we'd read aloud fun books together (Mikko and I are onto the second Harry Potter at the moment), and we'd ask for help from some of the very people expressing concern: his relations.

I emailed Mikko's grandparents on both sides and his sole, delightful cousin. I requested, if they would be so kind, occasional emails, texts, and even written letters — maybe one thing electronic a week and one thing snail-mail a month. I had an idea that if a correspondence could be struck up and the ball pushed into rolling, Mikko would get caught up in the enjoyment of the back-and-forth.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Brothers in jammies

Monday, April 6, 2015

On knowing your family is the right size

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The other night, I had a a dream that I was pregnant again. Since I don't quite remember and didn't understand, I'll spare you the weird, dream-like details of how this happened (something involving an evil queen, I think?), but whatever the cause, there I was, expecting another baby when my current one is just five months old. We would be having four children instead of the three we'd planned on.

In my dream, Sam and I had a reaction of: "Oh. Well, ok, then." I wasn't unhappy. I would embrace this child as I had the others, but…. But I'd have a newborn when this baby was only fourteen months old. I was just about to get rid of my maternity clothes (well, the ones I'm not still wearing, ahem). We had accepted that Karsten would be our last, and now here we were being thrown back into the thick of it again. I tried to wrap my dream mind around the concept that we would be a family of six instead of five — it wasn't what I'd anticipated, and it was a hard thought to surround, like something stuck in my throat.

When I woke up, I was relieved. Not at the fact that we weren't having a fourth baby, but at the fact that I was apparently more at peace with it than I'd thought.

If my subconscious was telling me a fourth would be a less-than situation, then stopping now must in fact be the right decision for us.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Two months

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I don't know if you've noticed, but things have been a little slow around here lately. It turns out it's challenging to parent a new baby, take care of and homeschool two other kidlets, run a home business, and blog. Who knew! (You can see a day in my life here.)

I thought something fun would be just to show off a few of the cute pictures of Karsten since the last time I posted a Wordless Wednesday when he was not yet two months old. He just turned five months and is a chunka-chunka burnin' love, but I've edited pictures only for the rest of two months through three months. Yup, photo editing is one of those things that's hard to fit in as well!

Anyway…here are some adorable pictures of all three kids from December and January!

Hipster baby

Mikko & Alrik writing on the sliding door with a gift of window markers from Nikolaustag

Big brother Alrik

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Calling for submissions for the April 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family History

We continue to be delighted with the inspiration and wisdom our Carnival of Natural Parenting participants share, and we hope you'll join us for the next carnival in April 2015! (Check out March, February, January, December 2014, November, September, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January 2014, and summaries of all our 2013 posts, 2012 posts, and 2011 posts if you missed any.)

Your co-hosts are Dionna at Code Name: Mama and Lauren at Hobo Mama.

Here are the submission details for April 2015:

Theme: Family History: We can see in our children how strong an effect genes have on us. Let's go ahead and face it, then: How has your family history — both recent and distant — shaped who you are and how you parent, for better and for worse? What does your children's heritage mean to you, and what are the ways you seek to pass it on to them? Do you find yourself aligning with your genealogy or branching out into new directions? Submission deadline: April 7. Carnival posting: April 14.

Deadline: Tuesday, April 7. Fill out the webform (at the link or at the bottom) and email your submission to us by 11:59 p.m. Pacific time: CarNatPar {at}

Carnival date: Tuesday, April 14. Before you post, we will send you an email with a little blurb in html to paste into your submission that will introduce the carnival. You will publish your post on April 14 and email us the link if you haven't done so already. Once everyone's posts are published on April 14 by noon Eastern time, we will send out a finalized list of all the participants' links to generate lots of link love for your site! We'll include full instructions in the email we send before the posting date.

Please submit your details into our web form: This will help us as we compile the links list. Please enter your information on the form embedded at the end of this post, or click here to enter it on a separate page: April 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting participant form